Who’s on First? A Weekly Sports Column

England’s captain to stand trial

John Terry, a defender for Chelsea of the Barclays Premier League and the captain of England’s national team, will go to trial on July 9 on charges of racial abuse stemming from an in-game incident back in October. The incident in question occurred during a match between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea on Oct. 23, during which Terry is accused of shouting racial slurs at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. At a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, Terry’s legal team entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the prosecution will be using lip readers, YouTube videos of the alleged incident, and testimony from players, including Ferdinand, the target of the alleged abuse, to make its case. The date of the trial is important for English football fans, as it will take place a week after the conclusion of this year’s European championship. All signs point to Terry participating in the tournament, something that isn’t sitting well with everyone. The case has been developing since December, when, according to the Associated Press, England’s Crown Prosecution Service decided there was enough evidence to go forward with the charges of “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress which was racially aggravated.” Terry has maintained his innocence from the beginning, as Yahoo! Sports reported that the defender insisted that he has “never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count[s] people from all races and creeds among [his] closest friends.” If Terry is found guilty, he faces a fine of up to £2,500 ($3,900).

Is Indy still Peyton’s place?

For once, the Super Bowl might not be the biggest story in town. Despite there being plenty of buzz in the host city of Indianapolis over this Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown between the New England Patriots and New York Giants, the real buzz-worthy football story in the Racing Capital of the World features the hometown Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, the franchise quarterback who may be on his way out of both the city and the game of football. After missing the entire 2011 season recovering from multiple surgeries, speculation has swirled that Manning may be considering retirement. Manning has denied those reports and recently told ESPN that he “really feels good,” but he may not be welcome back in Indy regardless of whether or not he keeps playing. Manning and Colts owner Jim Isray have had a war of words of sorts in the media recently, with Manning unhappy with the amount of turmoil surrounding the organization and Isray calling Manning “a politician.” The turmoil Manning spoke of is the tumultuous state of the Colts organization: the team went an NFL-worst 2-14 this past season and recently fired its vice chairman, general manager, and coach. Isray must decide by March 8 whether or not he will pick up Manning’s $28 million dollar option for the 2012 season. Even if they lose Manning, a franchise quarterback who started every Colts game for nearly a decade, Colts fans have a bright spot to fall back on: their team has the first-overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, and a potential franchise quarterback is there for the taking.

Neck injury for Crosby

The hits keep coming for Pittsburgh Penguins’ superstar Sidney Crosby. Crosby, the face of the NHL and arguably its most talented player, has suffered at least two concussions in the past calendar year and is now dealing with a “soft tissue” injury in his neck. Crosby has been sidelined recently with motion and balance issues, and it’s been reported that those troubles may be the result of this previously-undiagnosed neck injury, not another concussion as had been feared.

Crosby, who has been out since the first week in December, was treated by a specialist in California who gave him an injection to treat the swelling last week; another physician in Philadelphia said that it was possible that the type of tissue damage Crosby has could indeed cause symptoms similar to those of a concussion. The neck injury news comes a few days after a Canadian website reported “the possibility” that Crosby actually had two broken vertebrae in his neck, an injury that would have been far more serious and likely would have ended Crosby’s season. Crosby, allegedly unhappy with the treatment he’d gotten from team doctors in Pittsburgh, sought out independent specialists in Atlanta and Utah; according to Yahoo! Sports, one of the specialists Crosby saw, Utah-based specialist Alex Guerrero, came after an endorsement of Guerrero from superstar pal Tom Brady, who worked with the specialist while recovering from knee surgery. Brady is now fully recovered and is playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday; Penguins fans are undoubtedly hopeful that Guerrero can work similar magic on their fallen star. The good news for Penguins fans is that the doctor Crosby saw in California, Dr. Robert Bray, reported the neck injury is now fully healed and that Crosby is in no additional danger. Crosby is skating again and will likely be allowed to return to game action after all of his symptoms subside.

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