Tis the season to be jolly. Tis better to give than to receive. Hoping to achieve both ends through one means, tis the time to bestow upon our unsuspecting friends in the sports world their annual holiday gifts:
Mark Richt: Five more yards. Or ten more seconds.
Paul Johnson: A new sombrero. And a new defensive coordinator; preferably one who approaches the brilliance of the offensive coordinator.
Atlanta Falcons: May the new-found toughness they displayed against the Giants last throughout the playoffs.
Atlanta Hawks: Notice. Who’d have thought that Danny Ferry could turn over most of the roster, jettison the Hawks’ best (O.K., highest paid) player, and, voila! wind up with a real team. You know, one that makes the extra pass, helps out on defense, obviously enjoys playing together, and displays a chemistry lacking in previous decades. The general populace hasn’t caught on yet. Understandably, given the Hawks history. But if they keep playing like this, people will notice. And the myriad empty seats at Philips Arena will disappear.
Los Angeles Lakers: Another superstar. Adding the last ones worked so well.
LeBron James: Seriously? After the year he had, he should be gifting all of us!
Chad Greenway: The Vikings linebacker, who encouraged fans to show up for the Bears game "super-duper drunk" gets to play every game for the rest of his career as a member of the visiting team. In Philadelphia.
Gil Hodges: A call from the Hall.
Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa: No call from the Hall.
Brian Gregory: More low expectations. Shhhh! Don’t let on that he’s putting together a nice team over at Tech’s new arena. They’re doing just fine flying under the radar.
Mark Fox: Someone-anyone-who can put the ball in the basket, besides Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. If not, a ghostwriter to assist in penning a sequel to Jimmy Breslin’s "The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight."
B.J. Upton: A season that justifies his new contract. Impossible? How about a season where he justifies his new contract by simply playing hard every day?
Fredi Gonzalez: A leadoff hitter who can play leftfield. Wait! Why hasn’t anyone realized that the Braves have already reacquired the solution to the puzzle: welcome back Jordan Schafer!
Jordan Schafer: Potential realized. Or a rules change enabling him to steal first base.
Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: A good history lesson on the economics of the cold war.
Miami Marlins: A new owner.
Boston Red Sox: The humility that should come with spending an entire season learning how the other half lives.
Bobby Valentine: A long, long, long retirement. Did I mention long?
Arthur Blank: A dapper new stadium with the owner’s box located right on the Falcons’ sideline.
NFL fans: An end to the Saints bounty story. Enough already!
New England Patriots: A trip to the Super Bowl to face any team other than the Giants.
Peyton Manning: Another Super Bowl title, to match little brother Elisha.
Bill Belichick: A personality. Or the semblance of one.
Troy Aikman: I mean, the ability to, I mean, open his mouth without saying "I mean" as often as he draws a breath. I mean, aren’t the excessive "I means" annoying? See what I mean?
BCS: A spot on Comedy Central. They’ve now made a farce out of what are supposedly the top bowl games, ideally the biggest rewards for the best teams. With all due respect to Northern Illinois and Louisville, they have no business being here. Doesn’t anyone recall what happened when Hawaii tried to play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl five years ago?
Western Kentucky President Gary Lansdell and Athletic Director Todd Stewart: You fools hired Bobby Petrino. You’ll get what you deserve soon enough.
Gene Chizik: Ahhh, the memories.
John L. Smith: Another chance. Wonder what’s up with that Weber State coaching situation?
Derek Dooley: Another chance. This time with a real defensive coordinator.
Tom Tuberville: A fresh start. What conference is Cincinnati in today?
Joker Phillips: Who?
Notre Dame: All the luck the Irish have ever mustered. They’ll need every bit of it.
Nick Saban. A game face. No, that’s his normal face.
And to all of you loyal readers, peace, love, and happiness now and throughout the new year.