Sports

If it seems too good to be true...

Kansas State basketball players Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly are serving suspensions for receiving impermissible benefits on the purchase of clothing at a Manhattan department store.

The rules are the rules, and they should have known better. Here's some advice to college athletes: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Their teammates and fans will have to suffer through the suspension with them as the Wildcats roll into conference play without their two seniors. But it has to be a little tough to swallow when their friends on the K-State football team will be at the Pinstripe Bowl this week in New York receiving swag from the bowl committee.

Pinstripe officials haven't disclosed just what will be in their gift bags to players, but according to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, here's what some of the other bowls are giving out this year: portable speakers, watches, backpacks, belt buckles, footballs, sunglasses, leather duffel bags, sweatshirts, beach towels, hats and Christmas ornaments. Sounds pretty good, right? Yeah, those are the little things.

The most popular item seems to be the "gift suite" for electronics. Players pick out what they want and take it with them or have it shipped to their homes. Some of these gift suites are worth up to hundreds of dollars. The Capital One Bowl is giving out a $420 Best Buy gift card. Other bowls are giving away Xbox 360s, Ipods or cameras.

BCS championship participants are expected to receive a PlayStation3 and a flatscreen TV to play it on.

Somehow bowl swag is no sweat to the NCAA rules committee... as long as those players don't try to sell it. But the five Ohio State football players who were caught selling championship awards and equipment and exchanging autographs for tattoos won't be punished until next year . . . when most of them will probably be playing in the NFL.

At least the NCAA is inconsistent.

What's in a name _ Say what you want about the need for 35 bowl games. I'm not going to fight it because I'm always up for watching a game, even if the teams aren't great. It beats the alternative on a cold December night, which is... no football games.

But here's one thing that's seems out of place. Imagine one of these guys 45 years from now saying to his grandkids, "It was the greatest sports moment of my life. I intercepted a pass and ran it back 73 yards for the game-winning touchdown. We'd won the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl!"

Or this: "I'd dreamed about winning the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl my whole life."

Now I know those bowl committees have to take whatever endorsement deals they can get, but most of the names just don't have much of a ring to them. It's more of a hollow clank. At least we have a few years to go before the "Cheap One-Way Tickets To The Moon Bowl."

Favre watch — With a final tackle to the frozen turf on the University of Minnesota field Monday, Brett Favre's career finally came crashing to an end... we think.

For the past five or six years we've been bombarded with the "will he or won't he" speculation that follows Favre everywhere his Wrangler jeans take him.

I enjoyed watching him play because I never knew what would happen next. It was a car wreck or a coronation on every other play. That's exciting football. But I got really tired of all the Favre talk during the week and in the offseason because I knew exactly what I'd get: That same kind of drama.

The guy will have retired from three different teams. I guess that's just one more record to add to the list. But for me, the "walking away" talk started way too early and lasted far too long.

Christmas spirit — Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest has been called selfish, out-of-control and worse during his NBA career. He went into the stands to fight a fan during the "Malice At the Palace" in 2004. He caused a rift with his Pacers teammates early in the 2005-06 season when he demanded a trade and then threatened to sit out the season to record a rap album.

Saturday Artest auctioned off his NBA Championship ring for over $500,000. Another selfish move? Hardly. Artest plans to donate the proceeds to benefit mental health charities. As a person who says therapy has helped him through tough times, Artest is trying to give something back.

Add this to the list of adjectives used to describe Artest: thoughtful.

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