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Twining’s Take on the week in sports: lingering lockout, Tiger’s breakup, Le Tour

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I listen to a lot of talk radio during the day, and recently I’ve noticed that my talk-radio and sports-radio topics are starting to overlap. On the talk radio side, everybody is worried about the government defaulting on its debt. President Obama is working to achieve a specific goal but opposing him is House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio who seeks a different goal.

If you’ve been following the progress of labor talks in the NFL, you’d know a similar battle is taking place between Roger Goodell, representing the owners, and DeMaurice Smith, representing the players

Our elected leaders assure us a deal will get done to avoid a default before the August 2 deadline. Similarly, Goodell ensured fans he was confident the lockout would be resolved in time to play the Hall of Fame Game.

It appears the Hall of Fame Game will be the only casualty of the NFL lockout as Adam Shefter reported on ESPN.com that both sides had agreed on the new collective bargaining agreement.

Now that it appears Goodell’s assurances have come true, I hope President Obama can follow through on his as well.

Before we delve into golf’s big break-up and cyling’s biggest race, let’s begin this edition of Twining’s Take with some extended thoughts on the NFL lockout.

Lingering NFL Lockout

Given everything I’ve heard this past week I’m not sure I’m ready to trust the reports that both sides have agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Apparently, sources for both the owners and players say they have reached an agreement on the remaining issues with the 10-year labor deal. The only hang-up in finalizing the new deal is a majority vote from the players.

It’s unlikely the players would turn down the new deal because no CBA has been turned down by players after owner approval.

As glad as I am the lockout is coming to an end, I’m as equally frustrated that it didn’t end sooner.

Initial reports indicated the CBA agreed upon by the owners was the same CBA they were discussing in March. Why then wasn’t it approved in March?
The owners basically waited as long as they could before the Hall of Fame Game was cancelled to vote. By doing so, they didn’t allow enough time for the players to ratify the agreement in time.

Instead, for the first time in 46 years, no Hall of Fame Game will be played in Canton, Ohio. In turn, the Hall of Fame could an estimated $1.5 million from its $20 million operating budget. That’s nearly 8 percent.

I’m disappointed the NFL owners couldn’t get their act together. I just hope the extended time off for players and coaches doesn’t hurt the game. I have a feeling we’re in for a sloppy season.

Breakup of the decade: Tiger Woods and caddie Steve Williams

Like the rest of the golf world, I was shocked when Tiger Woods announced he was ending his 12-year relationship with caddie Steve Williams. Williams had remained with Tiger during the golfer’s public downfall and said he was shocked by the firing.

“You could say I’ve wasted the last two years of my life,” Williams said on Television New Zealand. “I’ve stuck with Tiger and been incredibly loyal. I’m not disappointed I’ve been fired — that’s part of the job — but the timing is extraordinary.”

Tiger Woods and Steve Williams

The timing actually couldn’t be better for Williams, who caddied during 13 of Tiger’s 14 Major victories. He recently manned the bag of Australian Adam Scott and now will be able to caddy for him full-time. At least Tiger waited until you found other work before letting you go.

For Tiger, leaving Williams was never going to be easy, but like most breakups it’s for the best.

Stuck at 14 Majors, four behind Jack Nicklaus, Tiger was in dire need of change. He left coach Hank Haney and is now continuing his transformation by parting ways with Williams.

Sure, these may seem like drastic moves for a golfer who needs consistency off the course as much as he does on it. But if Tiger is really trying to put the past two years in his review mirror and focus on the immediate and long-term future, firing Williams is the right move.

Tiger needs a fresh perspective on the course. What he was able to do with Williams on his bag was incredible, but after such a long working relationship, there can’t be much Williams can provide Tiger on the course that Tiger doesn’t already know.

Tour de France

The grueling, bloody, crash-filled 2011 Tour de France came to a close today with 34-year-old Cadel Evans sipping champagne and celebrating joyously along the Champs-Elysees in France.

Cadel Evans

Evans, who finished second in both 2007 and 2008, became the oldest Tour winner since World War II. After the consecutive runner-up finishes, Evans was expected to challenge for the crown last year, but a vicious fall resulted in a fractured elbow and a disappointing finish.

He finally secured the highly-coveted title and because just the third non-European champion. Americans Greg Lamond, who won in 1986, and Lance Armstrong are the others.

“I hope I brought a great deal of joy to my countrymen, my country,” Evans said as he took his spot atop the winner’s podium. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor to fly the flag over here.”

Evans secured his victory with a solid effort in Saturday’s time trial, during which he overcame a 57-second deficit to three-time runner-up Andy Shleck. However, entering Sunday’s final stage, Evans lead was less than two minutes.

Although I commend Evans on his stellar time-trial, it is unfortunate the final meaningful stage of the Tour doesn’t take place with competitors on the road at the same time.

There was such a small gap between first and second place, it would have been awesome to see Shleck and Evans battle it out on the final day.

After two week race with dangers at every turn, it seems anti-climactic to crown a champion the day before the race ends.

Photos courtesy Petit Brun and Keith Allison via Flickr.

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