We're dealing with emotional stuff

Stuck in a post-Thanksgiving malaise? Catch one of the 37 illnesses floating around Kansas? Already so overwhelmed by the coming holidays that you haven't had a spare minute for sports?

Here's what you missed last week:

Hines Ward takes on the NFL.

The NFL's attempt to eliminate potentially dangerous hits seems admirable enough, but it sure can be confusing for players who are being fined for plays that were legal at the start of the season (and frequently aren't drawing penalty flags during games now).

It also makes players like Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward question the league's sincerity.

"They league doesn't care about us, anyway," said Ward, a 13-year veteran and the leading receiver in Steelers history. "They don't care about the safety of the game. If the league was so concerned about the safety, why are you adding two more games on? You talk about you don't want players to drink... and all you see is beer commercials. You don't want us to gamble, but then there are (NFL-endorsed lottery scratch-off games)."

And you complain about a league, but that league's made you rich....

Jon Gruden takes on Derek Anderson.

Gruden was really unlikable as an NFL coach — seemed like he was always throwing his players under the bus, and he had that perpetual smirk, too.

So it's reassuring that he's unlikable as a broadcaster, too.

During this week's Monday night telecast, he chided Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson for smiling on the sideline during the Cardinals' loss. Guess he would've preferred a smirk.

Derek Anderson takes on the media.

Anderson's having a bad year. A bad few years, really. And then the ESPN cameras catch him at just the right moment — or wrong moment — and the football world sees him chuckling on the sideline during a loss. And then, in the postgame interview session, a reporter from the Arizona Republic asks him about it. And keeps asking, until Anderson has had enough:

"I'm just telling you right now what I do every single week. Every single week I put my freakin' heart and soul into this. I study my (behind) off. I don't run out there and laugh. It's not funny. Nothing's funny to me. I don't wanna go out there and get embarrassed on 'Monday Night Football' in front of everybody."

And that's how a three-second interlude that meant nothing near the end of an insignificant game and didn't bother 97 percent of the people who saw it became a national story for a day.

Scorned Clevelanders take on LeBron James.

Sort of.

Cleveland fans wanted to ruin James' day on Thursday, his first game in town since leaving the Cavaliers, but there's only so much you can do when he's playing for a good team and the team you're rooting for is bad.

So the fans booed, and they held up signs, and by halftime they realized it was all kind of futile. But they get bonus points for their final chant: "Scot-tie Pip-pen!"

Eric Wynalda takes on greed.

The World Cup chose its home for the 2022 World Cup, a decision that doesn't rate real high on the interest meter of most American sports fans — except when soccer's governing body doesn't pick the United States, it picks Qatar.

There are things about the decision that confuse Americans. We don't know how to pronounce Qatar. We don't know where Qatar is. We don't know why our grade-school teachers lied to us, insisting the Q is always followed by a U. Many things confuse us.

But one thing seems pretty odd: Former U.S. national team player Eric Wynalda's pronouncement that it's all about money.

"Basically, oil and natural gas won today. This was not about merit, this was about money," Wynalda said.

Sure, they have oil. But our money's still good, Eric.

Rich Rodriguez takes on non-believers (with special appearance by Josh Groban).

Rodriguez, Michigan's football coach, has three years left on his contract, but his 15-21 record, NCAA violations and a boss that didn't hire him make his future pretty tenuous.

So he got a little emotional Thursday night during the team banquet. But doesn't everyone get emotional when they listen to Josh Groban?

During his speech, Rodriguez talked about his faith in the program, then talked about how Groban's "You Raise Me Up" inspires him. Then he had the song played as Rodriguez, his wife, Rita, athletic director Dave Brandon and players stood on risers with their hands held above their heads.

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;

When troubles come and my heart burdened be;

Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,

Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You can feel the uneasiness from here....

"I truly want to be a Michigan man," Rodriguez said.

Yeah, then you might want to stick with "The Victors" next time you're looking for a song with a Michigan vibe.