Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo has his own weekly radio show, and most of the time the show focuses on basketball.

But just like any man with an hour of air time at his disposal, Izzo isn't afraid to get a little self-indulgent at times. In addition to being a great basketball coach, Izzo is also a skilled accordion player.

In the spirit of the season, Izzo whipped out his accordion on the radio, and brought in his players to sing "Jingle Bells" as he played. The result is beautiful.

More accordion magic:

It's stuff like this that makes it easy to see why Izzo is such an effective recruiter and coach. Players love him, and he works hard at building relationships and connecting with his teams.

We're all just lucky that we get a taste of the experience ourselves.

No word yet on when Izzo's album will drop.

Matt Stainbrook is a fifth-year senior, the second-leading scorer for the Xavier basketball team, and a 6-foot-10 oddity that draws attention wherever he goes.

And, when he's not playing Xavier basketball or pursuing his MBA, Stainbrook spends his time as a driver for Uber.

In a video from ESPN, Stainbrook talks about his weird second life as a driver-for-hire in his 2004 Buick Rendezvous.

It's a nice job because it allows Stainbrook to work odd hours around his busy schedule. Uber provides a weekly paycheck along with the ability to meet strangers and chat them up.

Although Stainbrook doesn't care if they aren't interested in talking back.

"I feel people out," he told ESPN. "I'll ask a couple of questions and I can usually get the vibe. ... I can read people and if they're not really wanting to talk or they really want to have a conversation."

Stainbrook's income is useful because he chose to have his full scholarship given to his brother, who was a walk-on at Xavier. The undergraduate tuition is much higher than the graduate rate -- roughly $40,000 per year compared to just $14,000 for Stainbrook and his MBA studies.

The center decided he could save his family a huge chunk of change by giving away his scholarship, and his Uber earnings help further.

According to Stainbrook, some passengers recognize him, while others don't. Some simply marvel at his size, while others try to sneakily take photos of him.

It's all good to Stainbrook, who enjoys the experience of being an Uber driver. Even if sometimes it means giving rides to people just after they've been fired. He remembers one woman in particular who got into his car with a box of her belongings.

Said Stainbrook: "It was silence for the whole ride."

LeBron James' business acumen has been celebrated informally, but now a new honor has boosted the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar to new heights.

James has become the first active athlete to make SportsBusiness Daily's list of the 50 most influential people in sports. The list is usually reserved for commissioners and owners.

James and the Cavaliers' owner, Dan Gilbert, are ranked 26th. Here's what the publication had to say about the duo:

"Two figures connected for different reasons. Gilbert was surprisingly successful in luring James back to Cleveland and has the Cavs profiting greatly from James’ homecoming. Gilbert also is greatly influencing the makeover of two American cities with his investments in Detroit and Cleveland. James has transcended his status as an athlete, virtually single-handedly defining the NBA free agent market for a second time while continuing to rule the endorsement world and keep his hands in several business ventures"

James dictated the NBA free agent market last summer, as every major free agent waited on him before making a decision. James also cleverly signed a two-year deal with the Cavaliers, anticipating that the new salary cap that will kick in after the 2015-2016 season will allow him to demand more money.

Only 29 years old (he'll turn 30 later this month), James has been praised by none other than Warren Buffet for his business acumen. Endorsements included, James is the highest-paid player in the NBA and the third-highest paid athlete in the world.

James and Gilbert were in good company. The list included NBA commissioner Adam Silver (No. 1), ESPN president John Skipper (No. 2) and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (No. 13), among others.

One generation after Michael Jordan famously eschewed political stances on the grounds that "Republicans buy shoes, too," athletes aren't nearly as afraid to remain neutral on subjects that matter.

Recent protests and social movements triggered by events in Ferguson and across the country are pushing professional athletes to use their public platforms in advancing issues they care about most.

Quietly, LeBron James is becoming one of them.

Ever since his Miami Heat posted a hoodie-draped homage to Trayvon Martin following his shooting death, James has been less and less afraid to insert his voice into issues of race.

Last spring, he called for the NBA to remove Donald Sterling as the Los Angeles Clippers owner after tapes revealing Sterling's racist comments were leaked to the public.

James has also made some carefully weighed remarks regarding the more recent social unrest taking place across the country. While acknowledging that problems exist, James also wanted to steer clear of inciting any additional violence.

"It's a sensitive subject right now," James said to CBS Sports. "Violence is not the answer; retaliation isn't the solution. As a society, we just have to do better."

James also addressed the issue of race in the NBA during a sit-down interview before the start of the NBA season:

As athletes become more comfortable with taking a stand, the spotlight inevitably shines brighter on that world's most visible personalities. James is adept at handling this pressure, only commenting in a careful manner without making statements too strong in any direction.

But he's making comments nonetheless, which is an important step.

"It doesn't matter if you're an athlete or not," James said to CBS Sports. "If you feel passionate about it or it hits home for you, then you have the right to speak upon it. That's why we have freedom of speech. I've never shied away for something that I feel for or people or families that I feel for. That's just who I am.

"But I don't think we should add pressure to anybody, first of all, that doesn't have the knowledge about it, that's not educated upon it to speak about something you don't know about."

In other words, James doesn't want to feel pressured to say anything. But he does want to be a part of the conversation. At this point, it seems the Cavaliers star is trying to figure out how he wants his voice to be involved.

Ndamukong Suh may be known for his dominating style and accusations of dirty play. But with Suh, most things are calculated.

Even in the prime of his NFL career, the defensive tackle is already looking ahead to his life after football. And, to the surprise of no one, he's already calculating that phase of his life.

Step One: Make friends with billionaires.

As revealed in The Wall Street Journal, Suh has fostered a friendship with billionaire Warren Buffett, catching dinner with him every so often and building toward a post-NFL business career. The pair have some common ground: Both graduated from the University of Nebraska, where Suh was a Heisman finalist. Buffett still lives in Omaha.

So far, Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has been impressed with Suh's business acumen.

"I’m just glad he's not running against me for a board spot," Buffett told the WSJ. "Everyone tries to hustle sports stars. I think he knows I'm not trying to take him. I'm not trying to get involved in his finances."

Buffett is far from Suh's only business connection. His network of high-level relationships include basketball star turned restaurant tycoon Junior Bridgeman; Joe Moglia, the former TD Ameritrade CEO who now coaches football for Coastal Carolina; and Magic Johnson, whom Suh met with over the summer.

"I took 10 pages of notes," Suh said.

Suh said he spends his off days during the season talking with advisors and reviewing business contracts. Although he's letting his agent handle his impending free agency, Suh is very interested in the deal-making side of business.

And he could have a lot of capital at his disposal in the near future. Suh is already at the end of a $60 million rookie contract, and he's poised to make much more this summer as a free agent.

Buffett praised Suh for using his football stature to make business connections. The two were initially brought together through former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, and he said Suh is smart to recognize that people want to have a relationship with him.

"If you’ve been a football star at Nebraska, a lot of people say hello to you," Buffett said.

Wondering if Buffett has advised Suh on the financial ramifications of running up fines from the league office.

LeBron James's gradual rise as a one-man media mogul continues this weekend, when his new children's show debuts on Disney XD.

Titled Becoming, the show will feature one athlete in each 30-minute episode and trace their path from childhood to stardom.

James said he came up with the show concept after realizing his kids didn't have very many options for watching sports shows for kids. 'Becoming' is an answer to that need -- and one James hopes will appeal to parents as well.

The show is one of two upcoming shows involving James. The other, a basketball comedy based on James' life, has been picked up by Showtime and does not have a debut date yet.

'Becoming' will first air on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET on Disney XD. The show will be re-aired by ESPN two weeks later ahead of a national broadcast of a Cavs-Nuggets game.

Here's a sneak peek at the new kid-focused TV show:

By Jordan Rabinowitz
Lost Lettermen

Former Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski made headlines last year when he decided to retire from the NFL at just 28 years old, with mileage left in the tank, to become a firefighter. But a year later, he still has no regrets.

"I miss the people in football, it's not that I wanted to leave that,” Zbikowski said over the phone from Chicago. "I think it was the culture. It was time for me to venture out and find something new in my life."

The decision to walk away from football was "no big thing” according to his dad, Ed, and Tom agrees. “I think the choice wasn’t that tough. It was just the adjustment afterwards. It’s taken about a full year and I’m still working on it. But I think the decision was a lot easier than I thought it was gonna be."

It’s been particularly odd for Zbikowski, who says “having an extensive amount of down time doesn’t really play well with my personality.” But next month he begins a six-month stint at the Chicago Fire Department academy, where he will train to become a third-generation firefighter, joining his grandfather, uncle and brother.

More Lost Lettermen: NFL's 50 Biggest Draft Busts Ever: Where Are They Now?

He had hoped to enroll in the academy in March, but there was a backlog of applicants, so he and 20 others were deferred until the fall.

“The firefighter thing I’m becoming more and more excited about," Zbikowski said. “From the outside looking in -- not that it was a backup plan -- but I knew I needed something in line to do as soon as I was done playing football. I’m not really one to take too much time away from things.

"I feel like it’s all the good things that I liked about the football life: the camaraderie, dealing with the chain of command, having a common bond with someone that's next to you, male or female. Dealing with the things you've got to deal with and still doing so much good for the community is something I really look forward to. I think I'm going to flourish at that kind of organization that a lot of proud people have done in Chicago for many years."

Zbikowski is also a passionate boxer who's been getting in the ring since he was nine years old and trains with Javan "Sugar" Hill, nephew of late legendary trainer Emanuel Steward. But along with departing football to start his new life as a firefighter, his other passion had to take a backseat too.

“It’ll be painful to have to put boxing on hold,” Zbikowski said. “But having perspective on things, the fire department is what I’m gonna make a career out of and is more important than trying to have a couple of prize fights here and there."

More Lost Lettermen: 21 Reasons People Hate Notre Dame Football

Clearly, Zbikowski is a man of many interests, which further makes his decision to leave the NFL more palatable to people still perplexed at giving up that kind of fame and paycheck. Not only is Zbikowski content no longer playing football, he hardly even watches the game anymore.

"Football's boring, man," Zbikowski said. "I don't really like watching football that much to be honest. I don't know if that’s weird or if other people are like that. Chuck Pagano, now that he's the Colts head coach, they’re the only team I really watch with a careful eye because of the relationship with Chuck over the years. He was my first position coach in Baltimore and has always been a good friend to the family and a very good mentor, friend, coach to me over the years."

By the sound of it, Zbikowski was simply done with the game and that was just his life's natural progression.

“You know it’s not gonna last forever, as much as some people want it to or think it will," he said. "God knows you’re not gonna make those weekly checks doing anything else, but at some point how important is money to you?”

In fact, he's also done with even identifying himself as a football player.

More Lost Lettermen: 21 Things Hiding in College Sports Logos

“I’m looking more or less to close that chapter and just be known as me,” Zbikowski said. "No other job are you really just labeled like you are as an athlete -- 'You're Tommy, you’re the football player.' You know? No. I’m me. I’m just me. I'm the personable, fun-loving, adventurous person. No label, no nothing."

-- Jordan Rabinowitz is the managing editor of LostLettermen.com. Follow him on Twitter @JordanRab.

Literally and figuratively, Shaquille O'Neal is larger than life.

The 7-foot-1 future Hall of Famer, who retired after the 2011 NBA season, has managed to maintain and convert his high profile image into a considerable fortune. According to a recent New York Times story, O'Neal took in $21 million last year thanks to his business deals and work on TV. That would mean O'Neal was paid more by endorsers than Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose will make this year in salary.

In fact, only five NBA players will make more than $21 million in salary for the 2014-15 season: Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

When it comes to endorsement money, which is even harder to parlay into a fortune, O'Neal bested every NBA player except LeBron James, Bryant and Derrick Rose.

So, how does O'Neal manage to keep his fortune alive? Through TV, movies and more business deals than most people can wrap their minds around.

In the past year O'Neal appeared regularly on TNT’s “Inside the NBA" as well as in two films, Blended and The Lego Movie. He's also maintained a men’s jewelry line at Zales, a sneaker line at J. C. Penney and a suit line at Macy's (in case anyone was wondering, O'Neal himself wears a size 60XL).

Scott Cacciola of the New York Times recently traveled to Atlanta to attend the Shaq Summit, a gathering of all of O'Neal's business enterprises. According to Cacciola, 19 companies attended the event.

“You can only maintain visibility with young people for so long,” Jim Andrews, senior vice president of the sponsorship and consulting research firm IEG, told Cacciola. "But of most retired athletes, he probably has the best shot of maintaining that sort of relevance because of his personality, and his willingness and ability to do TV shows."

Always known for his humor and unique insight during his playing days, O'Neal has built an enormous following on social media. His Twitter account was the first to be verified and his 8.8 million followers on Twitter makes him one of the most followed athletes in the world. That enormous platform has advertisers drooling. Here are some examples of how O'Neal uses Twitter to promote products:




Unlike some former professional athletes, O'Neal is also savvy with how he spends his money. Despite what some may remember from his episode of MTV Cribs, O'Neal is actually quite frugal. Even with an estimated net worth around $250 million, O'Neal "only" spent $235,000 on a 2012 housing purchase.

According to Forbes, the only retirees of Big Four sports that make more per year than O'Neal are Magic Johnson ($22 million) and Michael Jordan ($90 million).




In Los Angeles, hot blondes are like food trucks: There's one on every block and they're hard to tell apart. But watching Erin Andrews sip a smoothie just a quarter mile from the Hermosa Beach pier, you can tell she's different. For starters, she's probably the only one with her hair pulled back and hidden under an L.A. Kings ball cap. And listen to her talk: You don't typically hear laser-sharp sports analysis coming from Hollywood starlets. Which, of course, Andrews is not.

After graduating from the University of Florida, where she studied communications and was on the dance squad, Andrews began covering the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Sunshine Network. Then she moved to Atlanta to report on the Braves and Hawks. After that it was the NHL playoffs with ESPN, and then on to the MLB, NBA, NFL, college football, and eventually a bigger contract with Fox Sports. The woman has been a bottle rocket blasting through the echelons of sideline reporting. (Cut through the fluff with Erin Andrew's 3 Tips for Better Interviews.)

But maybe you weren't paying close attention until her famous interview last year, when Richard Sherman blew up like Randy Savage preparing to stuff someone into a choke-hold. The cornerback had interrupted a pass to the 49ers' Michael Crabtree, securing the Seahawks' spot in the Super Bowl. When Andrews asked about the play, Sherman used the live mike to explode at Crabtree: "Don't you open your mouth about the best! Or I'm gonna shut it for you real quick!"

When you view the outburst on YouTube, you can see the moment when Andrews begins to realize that something newsworthy is happening. "I had no idea he was going to go there," she says. "My next question was going to be about the Super Bowl, but he took it somewhere completely different."

Much of the poise she shows in the clip comes naturally to her. But pulling it off game after game -- on live TV -- wouldn't happen if she didn't understand the angles of each game. That's why she spends her downtime analyzing tape, poring over postgame reports, and exchanging intel with onscreen partners like Troy Aikman and Michael Strahan. (Stressing out, don't panic. Tame the tension with these 6 Ways to Calm the Heck Down.)

"The prep is insane," she says. "For me it's morning, noon, and night. When I'm getting ready for a game, nothing else matters." After a pause, she adds: "I don't know as much as Troy Aikman, so I feel like I have to overcompensate."

Catch that competitive streak? You probably have one too. At its essence, her job is about digging up information and making connections -- skills we could all be better at. So as soon as you're ready to take your career to the next level, learn how from the woman with the microphone.

Recover Your Fumbles
Andrews's first big break out of college was with Turner Sports. It was a studio job, and she sucked at it."I was, like, 'Back to Skip Simpson and Joe Caray,'" she says. (Uh. . .Joe Simpson and Skip Caray? Yeah.) Even though she loved the industry, she wanted to be closer to the action, and her discontent was holding her back. When Turner let her go after two years, she understood why. (Steer clear of the 6 Epic Work Fails You Don't Know You're Making .)

Embrace change
Even if you're working in an industry you love, your current job might be a poor fit. "You could be in an environment that saps you of passion," says career coach Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide. So if your work is suffering, start looking for a place that does things differently. Just be careful that you're not leaving a job on a sour note. "You still want to get the reference," says Cohen. "In this market, you'll need it."

Force the Play
Andrews knew where the network crews bunked when games were in town, so she went to the hotel, found an ESPN producer at the bar, and said, "Hi. I want to work the NHL playoffs." Later, when an executive called, she launched immediately into her assessment of a penalty from the previous night's game. His reply: "That's all I wanted to hear -- that you actually know what you're talking about."

Network with purpose
You can blanket a cocktail party with business cards and still not land one good contact. "So be strategic -- even scheme a little--to meet the right people," says Cohen. And once you've introduced yourself to your target, let him or her know what you have to offer -- even if that's just a unique viewpoint on a hot-button industry topic. "What can you say that sets you apart from everyone else?" asks Cohen. "That's your competitive advantage." (Break down barriers between you and other people. Nail these 13 Insanely Simple Ways to Be More Likable.)

Follow a Leader
Eventually ESPN assigned Andrews to Major League Baseball. Problem was, she didn't yet know the players well enough to score the interviews she needed in order to hunt down story lines. Her break came from a mentor, former broadcast partner Rick Sutcliffe. A retired pitcher, Sutcliffe walked Andrews into the clubhouse saying, "Guys, she's one of us." Like that, the athletes became receptive.

Make a trade
A seasoned mentor can fast-track your career. But people will invest their time and trust in you only if you help them long before you need anything in return. "The standard advice should be upgraded from 'Find a mentor' to 'Earn a mentor,'" says Jill Geisler, a leadership and management expert at the Poynter Institute and the author of Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know. "A mentor isn't a drive-thru at McDonald's." So make yourself valuable; then ask for help.

Run the Option
When she was offered a hosting gig on Dancing with the Stars earlier this year, Andrews recognized an opportunity to break away from her routine. "On the sidelines, I don't typically have time to cut up or make fun of people," she says. In other words, DWTS gave her the chance to have a little fun using the skill set she had spent years mastering. As a result, her personal brand grew even bigger.

Find your second career
Your current strengths are more valuable and more transferable than you realize, says Cohen. "Say you're a science teacher who wants to go into sales. Aren't you already convincing students to get excited about your product, science? That's what marketers do. And you even have the students' test scores to demonstrate your success."

If you're looking to break out of a rut, get creative and think about how you can make a similar crossover. (Be better than the competition with these 5 New Tools for Career Success in today's workplace.)

In the more than 10 years since he left the NFL, Keith Mitchell has undergone a transformation. Once a ball-hawking linebacker playing at the edge of control, Mitchell has found his inner calm through yoga.

According to a profile in
For The Win, Mitchell first discovered yoga following a serious spinal contusion sustained while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Pro Bowler said he suffered from paralysis for about six months, during which time he began using meditation as part of his rehabilitation program.

Mitchell also adopted the practice of conscious breathing on the recommendation of a nurse. At the time, Mitchell was desperate for a source of healing. But once his physical abilities returned, Mitchell began taking an interest in yoga.

Meanwhile, his NFL career had been cut short by the injury. But in the aftermath of that profession, Mitchell found yoga to be a source of understanding the NFL experience. He now views the traditional views of masculinity -- which dominate NFL culture -- as a suppression of expression, and an emphasis on the "alpha male or gladiator in sports."

Part of Mitchell's current crusade is to connect with young boys and adult males alike to expand their conception of what it means to be a man. Meanwhile, he has become a sought-after yoga teacher, one who has become a sort of icon within the yoga community:

At a time when the NFL's hyper-masculine culture is under fire by society at large, Mitchell's story is particularly relevant. Once a willing participant in that ugly NFL mindset, Mitchell has found a much more rewarding happiness away from the field.

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