The Beat

January 08, 2007

"RUMOR DOES not always err," wrote Tacitus, and so it is with the latest whispers about Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who was said to be dating an American Idol. "That one is true," Romo told the Charleston, Ill., Journal-Gazette/Times-Courier recently, confirming that he is involved with singer Carrie Underwood and not, as had been speculated, Jessica Simpson. The 2005 Idol champ (below) had a Texas Stadium field pass for the Cowboys' Christmas game against Philadelphia and was seen hugging Romo before the kickoff. Later, TV viewers saw Underwood, who was sitting in owner Jerry Jones's box, celebrating a 16-yard scramble by Romo, who has since clammed up about their relationship. "[Football] is what I do," he said after Dallas lost 23--7 to the Eagles.

"Did you ever have to make up your mind?" wrote John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful, and Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie might want to download that oldie from iTunes. McKinnie has been spending some quality time with Venus and Serena Williams lately, and his intentions are unclear, possibly even to himself. "Can't date both of them," he says, "but maybe one of them." McKinnie told SI that he treated the Williamses to tickets for Minnesota's Nov. 19 game in Miami, and Venus returned the favor by giving him tennis lessons. McKinnie also celebrated Christmas with the pair. "Right now we're just friends," McKinnie says, but he suggested that his friendship with Venus, especially, could lead to something else: "Who knows?"

Tiger Woods celebrated his 31st birthday last Saturday by announcing some happy news: He and his wife, Elin Nordegren, are expecting their first child this summer. Woods has often said he was eager to have kids. "We couldn't be happier, and our families are thrilled," Woods said on his website. "I just wish my father [Earl, who died in May] could be around to share the experience." Woods also said last week that he will skip the PGA's season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Maui. "I'm going to stick close to home for the next few weeks," he said, "which will allow Elin and I to spend more time with our families during this very special time."... Life is also changing for one of Tiger's golfing buddies. Last Friday Michael Jordan and his wife, Juanita, divorced after 17 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. Juanita, who met Jordan at a Chicago restaurant during his second season with the Bulls, filed for divorce in 2002 but withdrew the petition. The couple will share custody of their three teenage children.

Not every basketball player turned music mogul suffers the fate of Ron Artest, whose debut album, My World, was critically panned and sold just 343 copies in the first week of its release. Sixers forward Chris Webber produced a song on Grammy-nominated rapper Nas's album Hip Hop Is Dead, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart last month. Webber's song, Blunt Ashes, has been singled out by reviewers, including ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's, for its creativity. Says Webber, "I really don't care about views and perceptions. I'm doing something I love."

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

The president of an Italian soccer club received a bloody goat's head wrapped in Christmas paper from an anonymous fan.

PICTURE THIS

Few people are as intimate with the English turf as Sam Thomas would be a half second after this photo was snapped. The jockey had his mount, Armaturk, in the lead in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park on Dec. 27 when the horse stumbled, and Thomas left the saddle. It would be a happy landing, at least. Both Thomas and Armaturk were unhurt, and the race was won by 4--6 favorite Voy Por Ustedes.

They Said It

BERNIE BICKERSTAFF, coach of the 9--21 Bobcats, on the contribution of Michael Jordan since he became a part owner last June:
"Well, he just hasn't scored enough."

PHOTOETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES (UNDERWOOD) PHOTOREBECCA NADEN/PA-EMPICKS/ABACAUSA.COM (PICTURE THIS) PHOTOCHUCK BURTON/AP (BICKERSTAFF)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)