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What have the psychologists done to Boller we all know?


I'm going to get an appointment with the Ravens' sports psychology guys this week, then I'm going to write War and Peace and Gone With the Wind all rolled into one.

How else do you explain the amazing transformation of Kyle Boller? One week, he's --- how do I put this gently? - Kyle Boller, and the past two weeks he has been Johnny U. without the high tops.

The only thing that stands out was the day that Brian Billick told everyone that the Ravens were thinking of getting a little deeper into young Kyle's head. The team has a couple of sports psychologists on staff, and, apparently, it hadn't crossed anybody's mind up to that point that Boller's happy feet and his trouble making good decisions might have something to do with what was going on upstairs - and I don't mean in the coaching booth.

Of course, nobody is going to come right out and admit that every time Boller fell down untouched in the pocket it was really a Freudian slip, but he definitely looks more relaxed and confident ... and there really isn't any other explanation for such a dramatic change in his on-field personality.

The Ravens would have you believe that it is just the result of better offensive line play and more time with his feet on the ground, but I think that it's just a matter of his head finally being in the right place.

Next time on Dr. Phil ...

Everyone in the press box at M&T; Bank Stadium was treated to a surreal sight last night - Vikings officials glued to the television monitors rooting unabashedly for the Green Bay Packers in the early game of the evening NFL doubleheader.

"That's the first time that's ever happened," said a member of the Minneapolis/St. Paul media contingent.

The Vikings don't have a more bitter rival than the Packers, but they needed the Chicago Bears to lose to retain a decent chance to make the playoffs. No such luck.

All I wanted for Christmas was a 60-point performance from Kobe Bryant on yesterday's NBA doubleheader ... either that or the chance to watch Officer Shaq handcuff him at midcourt and dish him off to his new coworkers at the Miami Beach PD. Now, that's an assist I'd pay to see.

I would have been good either way, because I really don't have a big rooting interest in the whole Kobe-Shaq rivalry, which has become as much a Christmas tradition as the Yule log or the Comcast replay of the Pam Shriver tennis event, which filled the huge void between opening presents and the NBA doubleheader on ABC.

Really, the day was a vast sports wasteland until 3:30 p.m., when the Los Angeles Lakers-Miami Heat showdown tipped off. I know that the first half of the doubleheader between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons was considered a pretty interesting matchup, too, but because I'm not a big NBA fan, it's tough to get up for any game involving the Pistons that doesn't degenerate into some kind of off-court melee.

Like last Christmas, which was much more hyped because it represented the first meeting between Kobe and Shaq after their split, Kobe got his points (37) and the Heat held on at home to win.

I could have sworn I heard one of the commentators giving Bryant credit for being a "coach on the floor" with the young Lakers team, but it rang kind of hollow as he was going 0-for-8 from the three-point line and 12-for-30 overall.

The Lakers are a much better team with Phil Jackson back in charge, but the whole Kobe and Friends thing is hard to get excited about, even for a lifelong Lakers fan.

Could someone tell Kwame Brown that when you get a great pass under the basket, it's OK to take the inside shot. Some players even find that to be preferable to the off-balance, midrange turnaround.

Brown did do a good job of shoving Shaq around during the Lakers' third-quarter comeback, but I couldn't help but notice Jackson hanging his head after one of Kwame's famous kick-outs. I saw the same kind of body language from Eddie Jordan a lot last year.

Instant update: I take it all back. Kwame just got another great pass, took my advice and missed the layup. Then he went up against Alonzo Mourning and got rejected faster than my credit card at the Macy's After-Christmas Sale.

I suppose that the Redskins fan and I could have bridged the Christmas sports gap by watching our own TiVo replay of Saturday's big victory over the New York Giants - if I had TiVo. I've heard that it's the only way to go, but I'm a dedicated low-tech guy who doesn't like to see the 'Skins win once in the same week, much less see it happen again.

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