— Santa delivers just to good little boys and girls. Big bad boys and girls have to fend for themselves. Luckily for athletes, they have plenty of cash to do just that.
Unfortunately, today’s athletes tend to show very little imagination in the gift department. They get up on Christmas morning in their monstrous mansions, program the GPS to find the living room, and scamper down to the 40-foot Douglas fir that’s serving as the Christmas tree. Underneath, they find little boxes containing diamonds — appropriately made from the same stuff as lumps of coal — that cost enough to feed Haiti for a month. In the driveway, decorated with a bow on the hood, they might find a turbo Porsche to add to the 18 cars already parked in the garage. They get the best Blackberries and iPhones, the biggest HD screens and most ridiculously expensive home theater systems.
It’s all so predictable. But that’s what you get when Santa’s not involved. If he delivered the goodies to grownups on Christmas Eve, a lot of people in sports would get what they need instead of what they want.
If I were Santa, I know what I’d load my bag with:
For Terrell Owens, a good book to read during his many contemplative moments — “Chicken Soup for the Egomaniac’s Soul.”
For Plaxico Burress, a lecture from his mom about how if he buys that gun, “You’ll put your leg out.” Also, a course in firearm safety.
For Alex Rodriguez, a date with an actual woman containing more than 10 percent body fat and untouched by plastic surgery, macrobiotic diets and spiritualistic mumbo-jumbo and who doesn’t come with an entourage of paparazzi. Believe me. He’ll thank me for it.
For Manny Ramirez, a contract clause wherever he ends up allowing him to wear his hair however long and in whatever style he chooses — as long as his average exceeds .320.
For Pittsburgh, a Major League baseball team. If I find two in my bag, Kansas City gets the other one.
For ESPN, a conscience. Also, one SportsCenter anchor who lets the highlights speak for themselves.
For college football players, a championship decided on the field in a legitimate playoff system.
For Tom Coughlin, another round of apologies from everyone who ever said he was too old-fashioned to coach modern football players.
For Tiki Barber, an interview with Coughlin.
For Cleveland, a championship of any kind. And if there isn’t one in the cards in the near future, LeBron James’ signature on a new Cavaliers contract.
For the Cubs, a first-round playoff victory. Forget the World Series for the present. Let’s take this thing one stage at a time.
For Tom Brady, not a damned thing. He’s got three rings. He’s got Gisele Bundchen. He’s got a repaired knee. He’s got the single-season passing records. Let Gisele think of something to give him.
For Jerry Jones, the wisdom to take a step back before he gets a terminal case of Al Davis Syndrome — if he doesn’t have it already.
For Al Davis, a vacation to a remote tropical island — and no return ticket.
For Phil Mickelson, a lifetime supply of range balls imprinted with Steve Williams’ head. Let Stevie be the ball. Mr. Phil is the club.
For Steve Williams, a muzzle equipped with a lock whose keys have unfortunately been lost.
For Tiger Woods, a welcome-back party to the PGA Tour hosted by Padraig Harrington — who’s sitting in Tiger’s chair.
For Tony Romo, an interview that doesn’t include one question about either Terrell Owens or Jessica Simpson. The added benefit of such an interview is that it will be really short.
For Brett Favre, a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the question, “Are you coming back next year?”
For the Tampa Bay Rays, three more October victories than they had last season.
For Philadelphia, another championship by any team in anything less than another 25 years.
For David Stern, another Lakers-Celtics final, but this time one that goes seven games.
For Roger Federer, a book to read: “How to Win on Clay.”
For NASCAR, a surviving American auto manufacturer to provide cars to race and paid employees to pay to watch the races.
And for my readers — both of you — a year and a world that’s better than the one we’re leaving behind.