The Steelers wide receiver and former Super Bowl MVP won the title with professional partner Kym Johnson, besting actresses Kirstie Alley and Chelsea Kane to become the season 12 champ.

Ward was chosen by viewer votes combined with judges’ scores. All three couples emerged with perfect scores after dancing Tuesday night, which kept the competition tight. Ward came into the season finale tied for first place with Kane, who finished in last place when the votes were tallied. Alley finished second.

The 35-year-old Ward is the second professional football player to win the “Dancing” crown. Emmitt Smith won in 2006.

Tom Zbikowski, is hanging up his boxing gloves for now so he can “transition back to football.”

The Ravens safety has said that he is pausing his boxing career because he wanted to show his teammates that he is serious about getting ready for the 2011 season. He said the decision was tough and he enjoyed the opportunity to fight for Arum again.

Zbikowski told the Los Angeles Times: “It was time to start the transition back to football…My teammates are starting to organize some workouts, so it’s just time to head back (to Baltimore). Wish I had more time to do both…As tough as it is to turn yourself into a fighter, it’s equally as tough to transition into an NFL player.”

Zbikowski was 3-0 in his return to the boxing ring during the NFL’s work stoppage and is 4-0 in his professional boxing career.

The rich may get richer!

Former North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson visited Auburn on Tuesday and is considering a transfer to the defending national champions. Although he only has one year of eligibility remaining, he graduated early from NC State, making him eligible to play immediately.

Wilson threw for 3,663 yards and 28 touchdowns last season at NC State. But NC State coach Tom O’Brien, decided to go with Mike Glennon as starting quarterback after becoming frustrated with Wilson dividing his commitments between football and baseball.

Wilson, an infielder for the Asheville Tourists, a Class A minor league team of the Colorado Rockies, has been granted a release from NC State and

Auburn, which lost Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton to the NFL draft, has had no quarterback emerge as the Tigers’ clear starter during spring practice.

He’s a better passer than Cam, but obviously doesn’t have the strength or size. Nonetheless, if he went to Auburn…O boy…

#PAUSE

Click HERE to vote. My top 15 are below, post your’s in the comments.

  • 1.Ray Lewis
  • 2.Patrick Willis
  • 3.DeMarcus Ware
  • 4.Clay Matthews
  • 5.James Harrison
  • 6.David Harris
  • 7.Jon Beason
  • 8.Terrell Suggs
  • 9.Tamba Hali
  • 10.Brian Orakpo
  • 11.Brian Urlacher
  • 12.LaMarr Woodley
  • 13.Lawrence Timmons
  • 14.Jerod Mayo
  • 15.Lance Briggs

Yesterday (May 16th) the team announced via Facebook, that they have declined to be this year’s featured team on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” The show, provides an in-depth look at a team during training camp and is widely considered one of the best quality reality shows on television seeing how it’s shot more documentary-style than reality.

The Bucs, were favored because of their on-the-rise new young team, and very quotable free-speaking head coach, Raheem Morris. It was also believed that the Bucs would jump at the opportunity to be featured on the show in an effort to bring publicity to a successful team, that most of the nation knows nothing about. The team also failed to sell out a home game this past season, and had to wonder how the show’s exposure may have influenced revenue.

Ultimately, I guess management took note of how much unwanted media attention the Jets received after being featured last year, and decided against it. A Buccaneers team official has stated that “Hard Knocks” could still be a possibility in 2012 though.

Days following his controversial Twitter posts, Mendenhall has been cut from his Champion sportswear endorsement deal. In response to America’s celebration of Osama bin Laden’s death, Mendenhall tweeted:

“What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…”

“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”

This lead to much media criticism and debates on free speech and whether athletes should be allowed on Twitter. Mendenhall, is widely recognized as one of the league’s intellectuals so his left field statements aren’t a total surprise but the day following his posts he did issue an apology for any misunderstanding.

Champion sent the following statement to ESPN.com Friday:

“Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall, who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr. Mendenhall could continue to effectively communicate on behalf of and represent Champion with consumers.

While we respect Mr. Mendenhall’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship. Champion has appreciated its association with Mr. Mendenhall during his early professional football career and found him to be a dedicated and conscientious young athlete. We sincerely wish him all the best.”

My Take:

Being the outspoken person that I am, I actually respect him for voicing his opinion. Although it may not have been the best career move, he still felt a personal need to address what he and many others viewed as madness and hypocrisy. Although I may not agree completely, he wasn’t being controversial or aggressive, he was simply laying out the facts; which are: We only know what we’ve been told and shown. Being a free spirit obviously comes with its risks.