Steve Jacobson in Newsday: "My favorite football-and-wine story comes from the time Chuck Noll was lifting the Pittsburgh Steelers from decades of failure to four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
"Noll was a connoisseur of wines in a city where fine wine was hard to find; he had a case of choice stuff flown back from California with the team equipment. The case came down the baggage carousel bleeding red from one corner.
"The trainer rushed to open the box and exclaimed: 'Eleven bottles special reserve, one bottle injured reserve.' "
Trivia time: Who was the first NFL player to catch three touchdown passes in a postseason game?
Still talking: Buddy Ryan, Arizona Cardinal coach, is already looking ahead to next season, while admitting he overrated his offensive players. But he's high on his defense.
"Our defense is solid," he told the Boston Globe's Will McDonough. "We're as good as anyone in football. San Francisco's defense is overrated, and Dallas is only good when they have the lead and can pass rush all the time."
Yeah, Buddy, but they're still playing.
Hoop junkie: Cedric Ceballos of the Lakers, on why former Phoenix Sun teammate Charles Barkley can't retire:
"He won't have anything to do. His whole life is talking to the media, shouting at fans, getting technicals, being Charles.
"You take that away from him, he ends up being nothing but a below-average golfer."
Say what? Scott Hoch, veteran PGA Tour pro, analyzing Nick Price and Greg Norman: "Nick plays the game the way it should be played, but Norman plays the way you want to see it played."
Early shower: Greg Lloyd, Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker, on Coach Bill Cowher:
"To make his point, Bill will turn you around and spit in your face. But there's mutual respect. You just try not to look at him much."
Prove it: Notre Dame linebacker Jeremy Nau in a Chicago Sun-Times interview before last Monday's Fiesta Bowl game with Colorado:
"I know we're a better football team than 6-4-1, and I think everyone in the media knows it but just doesn't want to admit it."
As the Irish lost to Colorado, 41-24, we still won't admit it.
Who's on first? A horse from South America had recently arrived in trainer Richard Mandella's barn at Santa Anita, and Chris Baker, Mandella's assistant, asked jockey Kent Desormeaux to exercise the newcomer.
"Work the horse Off The Record," Baker said. A puzzled Desormeaux replied: "You mean you don't want me to tell anyone?"
Looking back: On this day in 1972, the Lakers defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 134-90, for their 33rd consecutive victory, still an NBA record.
Trivia answer: Tom Fears of the Rams against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 17, 1950.
Quotebook: Minnesota's Pat Durham after a recent inartistic 82-81 victory over the Clippers: "We're the Timberwolves. We don't rely on artistic performances."