Michael Costantino went through a long and arduous qualification process simply to step into the ring against Nathan Ortiz this weekend, and he made sure to validate his pre-fight hard work with a stellar performance.

Costantino, who was born without a right hand, took down Ortiz in two rounds Saturday in Brooklyn. The 33-year-old cruiserweight is believed to be the first one-armed man to fight professionally in New York.

"I just wanted to show people that in life, if you ever feel like you’re not good enough or you feel down that anything is possible,” Costantino told the New York Daily News after the fight. "I wanted to show people that if you work hard and believe in yourself that you can achieve what you set out to do."

Costantino uses his right arm, which only extends to his wrist, mostly for defensive purposes. No matter, as his left hand proved too much for Ortiz.

The New York State Athletic Commission made Costantino jump through several hoops before fighting Ortiz. In addition to a pair of pre-match physicals, the Commission asked Constantino to wrap his hands Friday before the weigh-in to see how he covered his right limb.

In fact, boxing writer Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com wrote that for Costantino, getting approved to fight professionally may have been harder than the fight itself.

"I felt good out there," Costantino said. "If this is how these fights are going to be, why wouldn't I want to continue my career?"

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

Full Story >>

Thanks to a new study, teenage athletes may have a legitimate excuse to press the snooze button.

At a conference of pediatricians, researchers from Children's Hospital Los Angeles presented a study that found adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less.

For the study, researchers surveyed 112 middle and high school athletes at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif. They found that hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury. The study had 54 males and 58 females.

"While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills," said author Dr. Mattew Milewski, "nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population."

The researchers also discovered a link between age and injury. They found that the likelihood of injury increased 2.3 times for each additional grade.

"When we started this study, we thought the amount of sports played, year-round play, and increased specialization in sports would be much more important for injury risk," said Dr. Milewski. "What we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school."

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

Full Story >>

Jeremy Lin has a lot to prove. Yes, he was a global cultural phenomenon last season when Linsanity ran wild, but it was too small of a sample size to expect sustained excellence.

Says who?

Says Jeremy Lin.

In a GQ feature that hits newsstands next week, Lin not only understands the skepticism about his game, he buys into the thinking.

"People are always saying, 'He's only started twenty-five games, there's so many uncertainties.' And I agree," Lin tells GQ. "I totally agree. I don't know how my next season's going to turn out. The things that I struggled with before last year, I'm going to struggle with next year -- there's that learning process. Just because you have x amount of good games doesn't mean that you have drastically improved as a player. It just means that what you could do is finally being shown. But I have to get better."

Lin averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists with the Knicks last season. He joined the Rockets this summer when the Knicks decided against matching Houston's free-agent offer sheet of three years and $25 million.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

"I just need to focus on improvement on my end," Lin says. "I totally hear and agree with people who are like, 'He still has to learn. He's not established enough. He hasn't done it long enough.' I agree with them. I mean, obviously I don't always agree with everyone who says, 'He's at most a backup point guard,' things like that. I'm trying to find a balance. I'm not like the next Michael Jordan, but I'm also not what everyone saw me as before I started playing in the NBA, either."

Although Lin's rise from undrafted benchwarmer to international icon was largely a feel-good story, there was notable backlash in the media. Whether malicious or inadvertent -- and there was both -- the coverage triggered a racial debate that centered around the rarity of an Asian American male athlete becoming a pro sports sensation. But Lin shrugged off the insults.

"In my younger days, it would make me really angry. I would just get really pissed," Lin tells GQ. "I think the comments in college were pure racism. Stuff that was said by opposing players, opposing fans, opposing coaches. So none of this was even close to that."

Lin acknowledges his success was all the more surprising to fans and media simply because there are so few Asian American males in pro sports.

"There's a lot of perceptions and stereotypes of Asian-Americans that are out there today, and the fact that I'm Asian-American makes it harder to believe, even crazier, more unexpected," he says. "I'm going to have to play well for a longer period of time for certain people to believe it, because I'm Asian. And that's just the reality of it."

More From GQ:
--The 18 Worst Decisions In Sports History
--GQ's Sexiest Women Of 2012
--A Brief History Of The NBA's Style Evolution
--Kate Upton's Sexy GQ Photo Shoot

Full Story >>

If there's one thing we know about concussions, it's that we don't entirely understand concussions. That lack of comprehension manifested itself in the controversial way two football teams have dealt with the head injuries to their star quarterbacks.

Robert Griffin III, the second overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft, and Everett Golson, the starting quarterback of the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish, both suffered concussions in recent weeks. Their stories have become cautionary tales for collegiate and professional teams dealing with head injuries to star players.

Golson's concussion occurred Saturday, during Notre Dame's win over the Stanford Cardinal. The redshirt freshman took a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter, and he subsequently sat out the rest of the game. During a news conference on Sunday, head coach Brian Kelly said Golson was still "a bit symptomatic," but added that if all went well, Golson should be cleared to practice Tuesday.

Chris Nowinski, the co-director of Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and an expert in the field of traumatic brain injuries, was irked by Kelly's timetable and the expectations placed on Golson.

"It only adds pressure," Nowinski told the Chicago Tribune. "That information shouldn't be known. If the doctor actually said, 'I am confident he'll be ready Tuesday,' that should not be for public consumption. We know symptoms don't always show up Day 1."

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

As it turns out, Golson was not cleared to practice Tuesday, but Kelly did not rule him out for Saturday's game against BYU. Kelly said Golson has one more cognitive test to pass before being allowed to practice, and even if he did not practice Wednesday, he could still be cleared to practice Thursday and "help" the team Saturday.

Griffin's concussion occurred two weeks ago against the Atlanta Falcons when the heralded rookie took a hard hit from linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in the third quarter. The Redskins announced that Griffin had been "shaken up," and he did not return to the field. The team came under fire for using the phrase "shaken up."

"I'm not sure if it’s an appropriate phrase," said coach Mike Shanahan. "I think I use it all the time: 'This guy looks like he’s shaken up.' And that doesn’t mean he’s got a concussion. That’s why they go through these procedures, because they don’t let someone like me make those decisions, which they shouldn’t, because we’re not experts in that area. But the people that are experts, if you think a guy has something wrong with his head, we let the experts look at it."

Griffin was cleared to practice last week and dazzled in his return to the field Sunday. He threw for one touchdown and rushed for two others, including a spectacular 76-yard scramble. Still, some former players think he should not have been playing at all.

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber wrote that by benching himself, Griffin would have demonstrated to other football players that there is no need to rush back from a concussion.

Hunter Hillenmeyer, a former Chicago Bears linebacker who himself suffered multiple concussions during his playing career, told the Chicago Tribune that Griffin's position may have affected his ability to return.

"Only when it's a marginal player who can afford to be held out do teams err on the side of caution," Hillenmeyer said. "The conflicts of interest where trainers and doctors are paid by the team creates a situation where everyone's job, to some degree, depends on getting players back on the field as soon as possible."

While the Redskins have been criticized for their reporting of Griffin's injury, the NFL Players Association lauded the team for its handling of Griffin in the days following the concussion.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

Full Story >>

ThePostGame: What were your thoughts about the replacement referees?
DREW BREES: There's no possible way you can get them trained fast enough or well enough to put them in the position ... They just don't have the instincts. This is their first go-round. They've never done this before. It's not like a seasoned, NFL referee, who we all know by name. We all know them by their first names. For that matter, we know these refs other occupations; we know how long they've been in the league. We've played multiple games with these guys and established a rapport. There's a relationship there and you know they are the best at what they do.

TPG: Is the team's bounty controversy still an issue with you?
BREES: They accuse us of having a bounty program and all this other stuff, and yet they have no evidence to really back that up. To be honest with you, I'm really focused on the season and trying to win football games. We've had kind of a tough start here, but we're trying to get things back on track. I'm very much focused on what I can do as a quarterback to help this team get back on track.

TPG: If you ask the average fan who the best quarterbacks in the NFL are, you will most likely hear Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, and even Cam Newton and Michael Vick seem to be talked about more than you. As a Super Bowl champion and the guy who broke Dan Marino's passing record just last year, do you feel underrated?
BREES: I try not to worry too much about that. Obviously, you want to be respected as a player, but more importantly, you want to be respected for the way that you handle yourself on and off the field and how you represent your team and your family. Those are the things that are most important to me.

TPG: So you're competing against yourself, trying to get better every day, rather than comparing yourself to the competition.
BREES: Always. Never satisfied, never complacent. Always striving for more and embracing the challenges as they come.

TPG: And you're playing for wins, not stats.
BREES: Yes, although certainly your on-the-field performance is important because it's what gives you the platform and the opportunity to do some of the things you're able to do off the field, like what we do with our foundation (The Brees Dream Foundation).

TPG: A lot of fans don't really care about the Pro Bowl, especially compared with other leagues' All-Star games. What do you think about it?
BREES: As a player, I enjoy the experience. I enjoy being around the guys, I enjoy the week -- practices, being around guys from other teams and being exposed to other offenses and coaching staffs. For me it's a learning experience. And the Pro Bowl is supposed to be a reward for a hard-fought season, for playing well.

TPG: What about the level of competition during the game?
BREES: I guess the complaint is that the level of competition is less than what people want to see. I would say that for at least the first three quarters, guys are definitely taking it easy. But when it gets to the fourth quarter, guys kick it up a notch, because everybody's competitive and everybody wants to win. But also, guys are worried about getting hurt. I hurt my elbow in the Pro Bowl back in February 2007, which is not what you want to do. And I know other guys who have gotten hurt. So there's certainly guys who, maybe their contract is up. You're telling me they're going to put themselves at risk in a game that doesn't mean anything for the rest of their career? And it's not like the NBA, MLB, where the games are midseason. Some of these guys [in the Pro Bowl] maybe haven't been practicing for four or five weeks.

TPG: What do you think could help increase the Pro Bowl's popularity?
BREES: Some people say to move the game prior to the Super Bowl. I know some of the problems could be maybe alleviated by moving the game, but I know that I enjoy the experience with the guys. Certainly when I'm playing, I'm trying to score. I'm trying to help my team win, and in the process put forward my best effort.

TPG: And I'm sure it's fun to play with all of the greatest receivers in the league.
Brees: Absolutely, it's awesome. It's a blast.

TPG: You've been a guest on "Entourage," but what are some of the other cool things that being an NFL star was allowed you to do?
BREES: "Entourage" was a cool experience. I've been able to go on five USO trips. One of them was to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which was a thrill. I got invited one morning to get up and do PT [physical training] with the Marines, which is actually what inspired our pregame chant for the 2009 season when we won the Super Bowl.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

TPG: Tell me about some of the other USO trips.
BREES: I got to go skydiving with the Navy Seal Leapfrogs and the Army Golden Knights. I got to fly with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.

TPG: What's the significance of wearing No 9?
BREES: Ted Williams. He's a guy who I really looked up to growing up. He's a left-handed hitter. He's the best hitter of all time, in my opinion. I tried to model my swing after him. My brother and I had this little VHS tape that we used to watch every Sunday morning before church, called "The Golden Greats of Baseball." Ted Williams, No. 9, along with a lot of the other greats in baseball history. I've always been inspired by his career, his military service, in World War II and the Korean War, so my baseball number became number nine, and I just carried it over to football when I made it in the NFL.

TPG: What do you want your legacy as a football player to be?
BREES: I'm so focused on day-to-day, living in the moment. I'm hoping I can have a very long, healthy career. Play as long as I can, try to stay at as high a level as I can. When it's all said and done you can evaluate me at that point, but right now it's about making the most of every day and trying to win.

TPG: You just did a commercial for Pepsi, and we understand there's a secret involved.
BREES: Filming the commercial with Pepsi was really fun. There's a band in the commercial with me, and I'll tease you with this: I'm a member of the band for a short period of time.

Full Story >>