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Usual Suspects

Can Jesse Lumsden elude the Mantracker’s tackle? Add to ...

If Jesse Lumsden is worried about time sneaking up on him, it’s hard to tell. The Mantracker catching up to the former Hec Crighton Trophy winner? That’s a different story.

Lumsden announced his retirement at 29 from the Calgary Stampeders this year to concentrate on making the Canadian Olympic bobsleigh team as a pilot. A series of injures convinced the former McMaster University star (who had NFL stints with the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks, and with three CFL teams) to change course in his life. And to keep a few steps ahead of a forbidding mounted figure in hot pursuit of him in the wilderness.

To mark his appearance with sled teammate Justin Kripps on the TV show Mantracker this Sunday night (OLN Canada), Lumsden is staging an event to raise his 2011-12 licence fees for the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation circuit. The event at the Flames Central lounge in Calgary will also raise money for multiple sclerosis research. What everyone really wants to know is did Lumsden and pal Kripps get caught in the woods outside Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., by the Mantracker?

Lumsden, who hasn’t seen the final product, is not allowed to say. What he can say is that the two-day chase through the bush was unique and exhilarating. “I tell you what, it was all fun and games till he came hauling ass up behind us,” Lumsden told Usual Suspects on Sportsnet Radio Fan 960 in Calgary. “Then you realize it’s go time. We heard him. I had to take half a peek to realize this guy on a horse was coming for us.

“There are some really exciting points that have got to be in the episode where he might have seen us, but we definitely saw him. There were some real mind games going on. We pushed the envelope, we wanted to test the limits.”

Lumsden had enjoyed seeing NHL star Shane Doan and his brother on the show earlier, so when his agent called to say there was an opening, it was a no-brainer. Like any good athlete, Lumsden studied tapes of previous shows to get an edge. “It’s a workout like I’m not used to,” Lumsden said. “There’s endurance stuff, [but] I’m into sprints. The mental toughness had to kick in to grind it out. Because it’s a grind.

“You’re carrying a pack, 30 pounds on top of the weight you’re carrying yourself. I lost a couple of toe nails, but that’s the extent of it. If you make it through the first day you crash for the night. [At first] we were like, ‘We’re going through the night,’ But I’m, ‘Mm-mm, I needed to lay down.’ We started talking about what happened [that day], reminiscing ... then it was, ‘Go to sleep!’”

Ironically, Lumsden ran into the steely-eyed Mantracker Terry Grant at the Calgary Stampede, where the meeting was less dramatic than on the show. Lumsden says he’d love a second chance. “Let’s go some place like Arizona or Hawaii. Shane [Doan] and I would make a good all-star crew; we’d give him a run for his money.”

Satellite squeeze

Say this, it’s never boring at The Score. The network announced this week that its Score Satellite Radio programming was disappearing from Sirius satellite radio because of Sirius’s recent the merger with XM. With the union there will be limited bandwidth, and so The Score was informed it would not be carried any longer.

The content, with its occasional profanity and abrasive edge, was aimed at a younger demographic. For some it was unlistenable, for others it was iconoclastic. Which pretty much describes all new media these days. A Score source told Usual Suspects in an e-mail that while some jobs and shows would disappear, much of the podcast material “will continue to live and thrive on our other platforms, be it TV or online or mobile. Also a majority of those who worked on the channel will be remaining with our company.”

Bubba trouble

To a particular generation, Bubba Smith was more famous as a forbidding all-pro defensive end for the Baltimore Colts. To a later generation, however, the ex-athlete who died this week at 66, was a gentle comic character in the Police Academy films and a spokesman for Miller Lite beer.

In a series of witty commercials, Smith and other former jocks personified the frat-boy humour that thrives for today’s young men. The Mike Tyson vignette from The Hangover had its origins in classic Smith performances like the one with fellow gridiron legend Dick Butkus. RIP Bubba, you gave the kegger a good name.

Who’s got tickets?

Slate.com has a fine piece on how ticket resellers like StubHub and the economic malaise in the United States are negatively affecting tickets sales at sports events. An erosion of the ticket-buying base is concerning for all sports, none more so than the NHL, which still heavily relies on gate revenue. While the NFL reaps a majority of its revenue from TV, the equation is reversed for the NHL.

The NHL regularly produces rosy attendance figures, but those numbers are often at odds with the empirical evidence of acres of empty seats – especially in U.S. cities. Even in some Canadian cities, the number of tickets handed back for resale – numbers are never publicized – is a concern. Expect to hear about how tough things really are, however, when the NHL goes to renegotiate the next collective agreement with its players.

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