A sports world nod to Queen Elizabeth: She was the Cal Ripken Jr. of royalty | David Whitley

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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 Before we get into a scandalous week in sports, let’s briefly join in the period of mourning at a former world power.

RIP Nebraska. And maybe the New England Patriots.

But seriously, we’d be remiss not to tip our bonnets to Queen Elizabeth II, the Cal Ripken Jr. of monarchs. She was Queen for 25,783 straight days. I don’t care how many seaweed smoothies Tom Brady drinks, he won’t be taking snaps when he’s 96.

The year Elizabeth assumed the throne, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and the Lakers won the NBA title. The Minneapolis Lakers. Even more amazing, the Detroit Lions won the NFL championship.

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Man (nor woman) hadn’t broken the 4-minute mile. Julius Boros was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner with $37,033. Steve Spurrier was in first grade.

Not many knew it, but Queen Elizabeth was a huge Gators fan. Not many knew it because it probably wasn’t true, but she did like sports, if you consider cricket a sport.

Her passion was the ponies, and she owned 22 thoroughbreds that won races at Royal Ascot.

Like Ripken, the Queen was reliable, devoted to duty and had a perpetually stiff upper lip. Two days before she died, Elizabeth met with incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss to formally ask her to form a new government.

It couldn’t have been easy, but the Queen played hard until the final buzzer. One of her many sporting traits that should never go out of style. 

Big winner of the weekend: Sun Belt Conference football

Stud of the Week: The Sun Belt Conference. Marshall beat Notre Dame, Appalachian State beat Texas A&M and Georgia Southern beat Nebraska. If this keeps up, Jimbo Fisher will be asked to form a new government away from College Station. 

Financial Stud of the Week: Dethroned Huskers coach Scott Frost. If he’d survived until Oct. 1, his buyout would have been $7.5 million. Losing to Georgia Southern was such an ego blow, Nebraska fired him Sunday even though it will have to pay him a full $15 million buyout. Well played, Frosty.

Scandal of the Week: The chess world is in turmoil after 19-year-old Hans Niemann beat five-time world champ Magnus Carlsen, who implied Niemann was cheating. Investigators determined that one of Neiman’s rooks was underinflated. Niemann blamed it on his team’s equipment manager. ...

Qatar officials warned last week that visitors to this fall’s World Cup would face fines and imprisonment if they try to smuggle alcohol into the country. The Jacksonville Gator Club immediately started offering seminars on how to sneak booze into sports events. ...

Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher makes $9 million a year. Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark makes $900,000 a year. Advantage: App State. ... Queen Elizabeth attended an Orioles-A’s game in 1991 and met the teams in the dugout beforehand. A’s manager Tony LaRussa said players were told to “be natural” while meeting the Queen. Jose Canseco promptly offered her a vial of human growth hormone. ...

DeShaun Watson got a guaranteed $230 million contract, but ESPN reported Lamar Jackson could only get $133 million in guaranteed money in his extension offer? That’s what he gets for having only one massage therapist who gives actual massages. ... Nine-year-old Keith Richards was a choirboy at the Queen’s coronation in 1953. He only looked 57 at the time.

Scandal of the Week II: An Orlando City employee was accused of spying on a Sacramento City practice before the U.S. Open Cup final. Orlando City coach Bill O’Belichick said the employee was just videotaping Sacramento’s formations for a TikTok video. ... Point guard George Washington III decommitted from Ohio State last week. The Buckeyes plan to replace him with John Adams III. 

Royal Redux: UPI noted the Queen wore a “below-the-knee blue and red dress, black gloves and three strands of pearls” to the 1991 game and referred to baseball caps as “bonnets.” And apparently thinking she was at a Dodgers game, Her Majesty left after the second inning. 

Patriots update: I’ll stop making Deflategate and Spygate jokes as soon as New England makes the playoffs without Tom Brady. ...

Texas A&M has 56 players who rated as 4- or 5-star recruits, with a combined NIL salary of $37.6 million. Appalachian State has one four-star who gets a free pizza every week from a Boone, N.C., Domino's. Advantage: App State. ... Deion Sanders’ QB son, Shedeur, gave all his Jackson State teammates $350 Dr. Dre Beats headphones. Not to be outdone, Texas A&M’s NIL collective hired Dr. Dre for a private halftime concert in the Aggies’ locker room Saturday. 

Marcus Freeman career tracker: No Notre Dame coach has started 0-3 since the British Monarchy formed in the 10th Century. Contrary to media reports, Keith Richards did not sing at the first coronation. 

Clarification: Lamar Jackson said the Ravens actually offered between $160 million and $180 million in guaranteed money. He’s said he’s waiting on a counteroffer from Texas A&M before deciding his next move. 

This Just In: Qatar says it will allow World Cup fans to drink heavily when their favorite teams have to face Sun Belt opponents.

Aggies Update: I’ll stop making NIL jokes as soon as Jimbo Fisher teaches one of his QBs how to throw a spiral. 

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Until next week, here’s hoping somebody asks Charles III who died and made him king.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.

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