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Boxers earn their money saying things that might get people to buy tickets. So it wasn’t exactly surprising when Floyd Mayweather Jr. suggested to Ricky Hatton the other day that they might enjoy being prison cellmates together.

News photoBig talker: WBC champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., seen after winning a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya on May 5, is famous for his trash-talking antics before and after fights.
AP PHOTO

It’s not likely to happen, just like Mike Tyson never followed through on his threat to eat Lennox Lewis’ children. But what separates boxing from other sports was that Mayweather didn’t seem terribly worried about offending prison inmates or other portions of the population with his comments.

Turns out he was right. There was no outcry, no demands for an apology. Hatton himself laughed it off because, like most in boxing, he’s heard it all before.

Those who don’t make a living getting punched in the head need to be more careful. For some, trouble lurks almost every time they open their mouths.

Boo Weekley surely understands that by now. The golfer who spent the year entertaining the media with his country bumpkin view of the world found himself in China this week where local reporters were interested in his thoughts.

The exchange went something like this:

“What did you know about China before you came here?”

“Not much.”

“Anything?”

“No sir. Rice.”

No one ever accused Nick Saban of being funny. But he coaches football at the University of Alabama so he can pretty much say whatever he wants without fear of repercussion unless he crosses the state line.

So when Saban compared his team’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe to some of the more cataclysmic events in American history, such as Pearl Harbor and the 9-11 attacks, people in Alabama merely nodded in agreement and allowed it could be even worse if the Tide followed that with a loss to Auburn.

For those outside the state, a Saban flunky was called in to assure us that Saban was merely using “two tremendous examples that everyone can identify with.”

He may be right. I know that next time I ponder the consequences of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor I’m going to think about how great it would be if the Alabama football team responds just as well to its tough times.

It’s the job of the media, of course, to get athletes and coaches to talk, though most often they have little of any redeeming interest to say.

Maybe it’s today’s pampered athletes who are to blame. Former Cowboy Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson talked a lot of trash in his day, too, but he had lines that withstood the test of time, like the one about Terry Bradshaw’s intelligence before Super Bowl VIII.

“He couldn’t spell ‘cat’ if you spotted him the C and the T,” Henderson said.

Or maybe it’s the questions being asked leading to bland answers. Except on special occasions like Thanksgiving, when Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna, who talks often about his deep religious beliefs, was asked what he had most to be thankful for.

“That I don’t have to go to hell,” Kitna replied.

Next question anyone?

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