CBS begins its Thursday night primetime NFL package with the Ravens-Steelers game, and its choice for the opening musical sequence generated even more buzz than expected.

In the same way that the old Monday Night Football on ABC had Hank Williams Jr., and NBC's Sunday Night Football had Faith Hill and now Carrie Underwood, CBS tapped Rihanna and Jay-Z to perform at the top of the telecast each week. The song will be Run This Town.

But it won't happen this week. CBS decided Thursday to pull the segment with Rihanna and Jay-Z for this game. Why? Consider this extraordinary dynamic:

The game is in Baltimore, and the biggest sports story this week has been the video of former Ravens running back Ray Rice punching out his then-fiance in an elevator.

Rihanna was the victim of domestic abuse in 2009 when her boyfriend at the time, Chris Brown, assaulted her.

Jay-Z was attacked in a hotel elevator by a woman in May. His sister-in-law, Solange Knowles, kicked and slapped Jay-Z and swatted him with her purse. He got his hands up to protect himself, but he does not strike back:

Call it coincidence. Call it unfortunate timing. It is just impossible to overlook the way that the backstories of Rice, Rihanna and Jay-Z cross over.

"It's important to realize we are not overreacting to this story but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told SI.com about the decision to shelve the Rihanna/Jay-Z spot. "We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone and coverage. A lot of the production elements we wanted in the show are being eliminated because of time or tone."

Rice knocked out Janay Palmer in the elevator of a casino in Atlantic City, N.J., on Feb. 15. Video of Rice dragging her out of the elevator surfaced just days later.

The second video showing Rice's punch is ghastly enough, but when contrasted to the Jay-Z elevator footage, it only underscores the point that President Obama made in a White House statement on this matter: "Hitting a woman is not something a real man does."

Another intriguing twist is that in March the NFL Competition Committee debated whether the league should penalize players who utter the n-word on the field.

The original version of Run This Town includes it along with other expletives and R-rated content.

Rihanna is reportedly a finalist, along with Katy Perry and Coldplay, to perform at halftime of the Super Bowl this season. She held a concert for the NFL in the week before Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.

The Lakers failed to reel in any big-name free agents this summer, but they did get a first-round pick and Jeremy Lin from the Rockets. All things considered, that's OK, according to Hall of Famer Jamaal Wilkes:

When Linsanity struck nearly three years ago, Jeremy Lin's story was a heartwarming tale. He climbed over obstacles in college recruitment (eventually starring at Harvard) and NBA D-League deployment (eventually getting his shot with the Knicks) to become the first bona fide Asian-American basketball star.

What gets lost in his story is that while Lin is serious on the court, he is a riot in his free time. Just a few weeks ago, Lin posted a video of him smushing his mother's face into her birthday cake.

Lin has taken his comedic tactics a step further. To celebrate the unveiling of his wax figure at Madame Tussauds museum in San Francisco, Lin made an appearance ... pretending to be a wax figure. Here is Lin in his fresh new Lakers jersey -- he was traded from the Rockets on July 13 -- startling visitors:

The day at the museum gave Lin, who grew up in the Bay Area and attended Palo Alto High School, a chance to bond with his mother without a cake.

He also made an appearance with the wax figure, Lin in a purple jersey, while wearing street clothes.


There is also a wax figure of Lin at the Madame Tussauds in Beijing. That one features Lin next to Yao Ming with both wearing Rockets jerseys.

LeSean McCoy had a rather successful opening week on the field. He rushed 21 times for 74 yards and caught six passes for 41 yards. The Eagles defeated the Jaguars 34-17, outscoring Jacksonville 34-0 in the second half. Philadelphia was the only NFC East team to start the season with a victory.

On Monday, McCoy expressed frustration, not at the game, but at his waiter, a man named Rob Knelly, at a Philadelphia restaurant called PYT. After eating lunch in a party of four, McCoy picked up a $61.56 tab. However, the running back, who signed a five-year $45 million contract in 2012 with the Eagles, left a 20-cent tip -- or 0.3 percent of the bill.


Post by PYT.

While PYT clearly jumped to Rob's side, McCoy's teammates backed the two-time Pro Bowler. Evan Mathis, the Eagles' Pro Bowl guard, even commented on the PYT Facebook post to show his support.

McCoy faced social media attacks for his tipping. The fantasy megastar was unhappy with the service, but didn't get into details, according to tweets from Philadelphia Daily News reporter Les Bowen:



Knelly is a megastar in his own right among Philadelphia-area servers, even though he has said he is a Ravens fan. In the City of Brotherly Love, Rob and PYT have faced McCoy head-on. Rob is an even more popular face in PYT, where McCoy's receipt now stands on a refrigerator.


Post by PYT.

McCoy and the Eagles leave town this weekend for a Monday Night Football affair in Indianapolis on Sept. 15. The team returns to Philadelphia against NFC East rival Redskins on Sept. 21.

Edited At 3:40 p.m. ET:

On Tuesday afternoon, PYT owner Tommy Up issued this statement on Facebook:


Post by PYT.

For at least one game, J.J. Watt proved he is more than worth the money that the Houston Texans committed in making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.

During the Texans' 17-6 home win against Washington, Watt registered two tackles for losses including a sack, blocked an extra point, recovered a fumble and batted down a pass. Watt also was credited with five hurries on Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.

This earned Watt the postgame interview on the Fox broadcast with reporter Laura Okmin, and naturally the topic of his new six-year, $100 million contract -- including $51.876 million in guaranteed money -- popped up.

"I Googled, 'What do rich people buy?' because I don't feel like a rich person, and I don't really try to act like a rich person, so I don't know what they buy," Watt said to Okmin. "I didn’t really like the stuff I saw, so I'm gonna stick with my humble lifestyle and just keep working out."

So what are the actual search results for "What do rich people buy?" The first entry is a Houston Chronicle article about that begins with the line "It appears some people have more money than sense." The second is quite the meta development: It's The Big Lead's recap of Watt's quote to Okmin.

"The goal is always to be underpaid,'' Watt told reporters after the win against Washington. "You never want to be that guy that people say: 'He got money and shut down.'"

When stories began to circulate in August about how there was supposedly dissension among players on the Houston Rockets, Deadspin provided some nice context with a post titled Game Of Telephone Unfairly Paints Howard And Harden As Bad Teammates. Here is Harden himself addressing those issues:

This NFL season has kicked off with more fanfare than ever before, and excitement for the sport isn't limited to the United States.

For the first time in the league's history there will be three regular-season games played abroad, all of them at Wembley Stadium in London. The games will come on Sept. 28 (Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins), Oct. 26 (Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions) and Nov. 9 (Dallas Cowboys vs. Jacksonville Jaguars).

As the NFL increases its footprint in Europe, it's only natural to wonder when it might it might look there for a permanent team. And, for that matter, whether it will even be the first North American sporting league to have a team on another continent.

Commissioner Roger Goodell in July said he thinks a team in London could be "five or ten years away," and that's a sentiment echoed by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

As amazing as it sounds, that may even be a conservative estimate. A FoxSports.com report from November 2013 suggested that a team could be in London by 2017. That team, which might be the Jaguars, would likely play its home games at Olympic Stadium. The NFL has made no secret that it is pushing the Jaguars, who have one of the smallest domestic fanbases, toward London. Jacksonville is in the second season of a four-year plan to play a game in London each year from 2013 to 2017.

"We want to create an identity, a bold, ambitious franchise that is aggressive and forward-thinking on the field and away from the field," Jaguards owner Shad Khan when the team announced the plan in 2012. "We want to be the kind of franchise players want to belong to, sponsors want to be part of, and Jacksonville is proud of. ... The key point is to sell Jacksonville to the world. We are a well-kept secret, but after today, that's not going to be the case."

Because of the NFL's short season (eight home games), a team in Europe seems more feasible than it would in the NBA or the MLB. But those leagues are as international-minded as the NFL, and former NBA commissioner David Stern has grand visions for multiple teams in Europe. Stern, who said there will be NBA teams in Europe within 20 years, dreamed of an international division in which teams in cities like London, Paris and Rome competed against each other.

Ambitious? Sure. But the NBA is growing at an unprecedented rate, and as evidenced by the expanding percentage of foreign players in the league, a European division might not be a pipe dream.

Even America's pastime, Major League Baseball, is looking beyond our borders. Commissioner Bud Selig is pushing regular season games in Europe, and an announcement of their whereabouts may be imminent:


There are no shortage of hurdles for these leagues, including establishing foreign fanbases, fair competition and dealing with the cost and travails of long travel. But in terms of popularity and finances, these leagues are in unchartered territories. In that sense the foundation for a European franchise is already set, the only question that remains is when.

Frank Caliendo is on a roll right now. In the past year, he unveiled a 30 For 30 mockumentary and a Best of the NFL program for ESPN. Then this summer his Morgan Freeman rendition of LeBron James' Decision 2.0 letter might have been his best work.

Caliendo is back with the Morgan Freeman impressions. Appearing with ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike on Thursday, Caliendo went back into Lucius Fox/Red Redding/John Rawlins form. This time, Caliendo read Allen Iverson's "Practice" rant in Freeman's voice.

A decade ago, if Caliendo told someone he would make a living primarily from doing sports impressions, he would have been considered crazy. The comedian has certainly found a niche (or, should we say, he's found his "answer").

For old time's sake, here is Iverson's 2002 rendition. Cue Larry Brown cringing.

It doesn't take a tennis superfan to know that the state of the sport for the once-powerful American men is in unchartered territory.

For the second straight year, the country that produced John McEnroe, Andre Aggassi and Pete Sampras did not have a representative in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Both Sam Querrey (below) and John Isner were ousted in the third round. Since the tournament was founded in 1881, these are the only two years in which no American man has failed to advance past the third round.

This is simply the latest nadir in an era full of them for American men. Each year, it seems, the state of the sport becomes worse and worse.

The Americans' poor play has dramatically affected TV ratings and led to the resignation of Patrick McEnroe from his post as the head of player development for the USTA.

And while the results are clear, perhaps most perplexing for those that play and follow the game is the exact cause of this struggle.

"I don't know what's missing," Isner said during the U.S. Open. "I don't focus on that. I just focus on myself. It's not my concern."

Some experts have pointed to the dearth of clay court tournaments for American juniors as a possible root of the issue.

"We need to change the amount we play on clay," Brad Gilbert, a former player, coach and current ESPN analyst, told the Wall Street Journal. "I feel like all the big junior tournaments, everything should be played on clay. That's what the rest of the world plays on in South America and Europe, and we haven't embraced that."

The lack of familiarity with clay has been on display at the French Open where, despite a an encouraging showing this year, Americans seem to struggle more than any other major tournament.

Another potential explanation for the sluggish play of American men is the globalization of the sport. Not only are more and more major tennis tournaments relocating abroad (California, for example, now only has one significant tournament), but about half of all NCAA tennis players are from foreign countries. As the sport expands, one would naturally expect a larger competition pool to challenge the once-dominant Americans.

Finally, and perhaps most difficult to swallow for fans looking for a specific cause, is the notion that these things move in cycles. Europeans are dominating international tennis now, just as Americans did 15 years ago. Perhaps once Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray age out of the sport a new crop of Americans will take their spots.

Or, maybe, the scope of the question is too big. Rather than focusing on American players as a group, perhaps we should be taking a more micro perspective.

"At the end of the day it's an individual sport," Querrey said. "I don't really care too much. I want all the Americans to do well, but I want them to do well for them."

The FIBA World Cup tournament is underway in Spain, and the U.S. team features the likes of Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis. Norm Nixon, a two-time NBA champion with the Lakers, says his preference would be seeing college players rather than pro stars. The 1992 Olympics was the first international competition to include NBA players.

Nixon shared this thoughts while attending the Harold & Carole Pump Foundation's 14th annual celebrity dinner in Century City, California.

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