Shanoff's WUC: NFL Sked, Ben, Tebow, Baby KG

Today's Calls: Saints vs. Vikings, McNabb vs. Philly fans, Ben Roethlisberger vs. the NFL (and Byron Leftwich), Tim Tebow vs. the NFL Draft Green Room, Kevin "Big Ticket" Garnett vs. Glen "Big Ticket Stub/Big Baby" Davis, Reggie Bush vs. Lloyd Lake, Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard vs. History, Terrell Owens vs. Mike Shanahan, Edinson Volquez vs. Bud Selig, Jason Heyward vs. Lance Berkman, Jim Delany vs. Big Ten Expansion and More. ↵

↵Donovan McNabbThe Opening Pitch: The sophistication and power of the NFL is on full display. ↵

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↵The was, predictably, an Event. The league kicks off with Saints-Vikings, not only a rematch of the most recent NFC Championship game but the most anticipated match-up of the season, almost "Daytona 500" in front-loading the best. ↵

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↵The most intriguing game on the sked? Donovan McNabb returning to Philadelphia, on Oct. 3. Pundits weighed in with teams that looked like big schedule winners (Ravens, per Florio) and losers (Texans, per Iyer). ↵

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↵But that savvy management of its product extends into today: While analysts and fans are digging into the schedule — and looking ahead to tomorrow's dramatically revamped Draft — the league is going to try to slip through a suspension of one of its biggest players today ... to the extent that you can mitigate this kind of embarrassing news, the league will. (Let's set the over-under at 6 games.) ↵

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↵Take heart: The league's control isn't total. They really want Tim Tebow — the biggest star of this (or any other) NFL draft — to be in New York for the event. Even hanging out in NYC last night, he hasn't committed yet to being here tomorrow night ... or Friday night. (And maybe that uncertainty is the point.) You can have Tebow Fatigue, but admire his independence from the script. ↵

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↵Still: This is a league at the height of its power — and powers. With the biggest football day of the year — other than the Super Bowl — coming tomorrow. ↵

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↵And Pittsburgh's backup plan is ... Byron Leftwich.) ↵

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↵NFL Watch: Tebow Tracker. Short of a team like the Bills trading up into the 20s to get him, the most likely scenario that has Tebow going in the 1st round is to the Vikings at No. 30. Many will consider a "Favre-Tebow axis" to be an event-horizon moment. ↵

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↵Reggie Bush scandal: Settled! Was it the threat of a sworn deposition, exposing all of his (and USC's) secrets, that made Bush settle with Lloyd Lake after all these years? Now why would you be so cynical? (Oh yeah: Right.) ↵

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↵NBA Playoffs: Big Ticket Stub! Maybe KG should throw elbows and get suspended more often, because the Celtics appeared to play with a playoff fire that they haven't displayed since they won the title two years ago. (Big Baby: 23 and 8? It's like he WAS channeling KG.) ↵

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↵Lakers hold off Thunder: OKC is getting closer and showing plenty of competitive grit against the defending champs. It's like Jordan and the Bulls in '86 against the Celtics; give 'em five years. Otherwise, 2-0 is 2-0: L.A. is still in control. ↵

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↵Meanwhile: The Suns made it clear that the Blazers' Game 1 win in Phoenix was an anomaly ... The Hawks are going to be a very tough test for the Magic in the East semis (yes, I'm presuming a series W for ATL over Milwaukee). ↵

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↵NBA Tonight: What was I saying the other day about the interminability of the NBA Playoffs? It's Wednesday and the Magic-Bobcats and Mavs-Spurs are still only on Game 2. Can you imagine MLB if they put two full days between same-city games? ↵

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↵NBA Awards Season: Dwight Howard is Defensive P.O.Y., and I can't imagine how anyone could have voted for another player besides Superman, who had one of the most dominating defensive seasons of all time. He led the league in blocks and rebounds for the second straight year (he is the only player ever to do it twice). ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Hey, it HAS felt like a while since we had our last major suspension for PEDs. Edinson Volquez now goes from being remembered hazily for that surprise 2008 season to being remembered as the guy banned 50 games for PEDs in 2010, hazily protesting it was the "fertility drugs." ↵

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↵More: ↵

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↵— J-Hey Mania: Seriously, can't be stopped ↵

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↵— Lance Berkman is back: And the Astros win ↵

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↵— Good for what ails the BoSox: The Rangers ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: J. Sanchez (7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K) ↵

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↵— Hoodie Watch: MLB OK with Maddon fashion! ↵

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↵— Condolences to the Rockies family ↵
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↵NFL Offseason: McNabb wants to play with T.O. in D.C.? Leave it to Mike Shanahan to be the humorless adult in the room and say no. ↵

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↵More: Jason Taylor joins the Jets, adding yet another big personality to a team that is already full of them. You get the sense Taylor likes the idea of playing in New York more for the media spotlight than the actual football. ↵

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↵Big Ten Expansion: Don't expect commish Jim Delany to say anything specific about conference expansion today (even though you KNOW it's in motion). ↵

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↵NBA Draft Early Entries: Still more enter what is shaping up as the deepest draft in years, a trio of big men: Tiny Gallon, ↵Luke Babbitt, and Samardo Samuels. Size will help their cause in draft evaluations. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Happy retirement, Lorena Ochoa. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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