44-year-old surfer rides tallest wave ever

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44-year-old surfer rides tallest wave ever

From Comcast SportsNet

HONOLULU (AP) Dude, that was the gnarliest wave ever. Guinness World Records says so.

The record-keeping agency is acknowledging a 44-year-old Hawaii pro surfer for catching a 78-foot wave off the coast of Portugal, saying the November run beats a 2008 record by more than 1 foot.

Big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara of Haleiwa, on Oahu's North Shore, told The Associated Press that the ride of his life was a fluke.

He said he originally didn't want to attempt the waves that day after wiping out numerous times on even bigger swells in the same spot, above an undersea canyon known as one of the biggest wave-generators on the planet.

''I was really beat-up that morning,'' he said. ''This day, I did not want to get out of bed.''

He changed his mind at the urging of friends, once they got into the ocean and he helped others catch a few waves.

''Everything came together,'' McNamara said Thursday. ''Everything felt right.''

Video of the run shows a minuscule 5-foot-10-inch McNamara against a wall of water as he lets go of a tow rope and begins riding down the wave at Praia do Norte. He briefly disappears into the break about 10 seconds into the run, then speeds up and remerges from the wave's tube as the swell quickly dissipates.

''I knew it was big, but I didn't know how big,'' he said.

McNamara said he didn't care at first about whether the wave was a record, but was urged by the townspeople in Nazare, Portugal, to get some kind of confirmation. He said he sent the footage and pictures to surfing legend and Billabong judge Sean Collins, who guessed the wave was 85 to 90 feet tall. Collins died in December.

The official record comes after McNamara was awarded 15,000 for the ride at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in California last week.

Judges for the awards, considered the official arbiters of big-wave surfing, pored over footage and high-resolution still images from several angles to calculate a more accurate estimate, event director Bill Sharp told the AP.

They used McNamara's height in a crouch and the length of his shin bone to help compare it to the wave's top and bottom, Sharp said.

''You can't deny how big it was for that moment,'' Sharp said.

Sharp said surfers don't often get a chance to catch waves so big. He put the achievement on par with other infrequent athletic feats like four home runs in a game - which Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton achieved this week - or a perfect game.

''But add to that the fact that the stadium could collapse on you at any second,'' he said.

McNamara, who began surfing at age 11 and went pro at 17, said the achievement became more important to him when he realized it could help him urge more people to follow their passions.

''The world would be a much better place if everyone was doing what they wanted to do,'' he said.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the Bears getting better?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the Bears getting better?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) plus former Bears Jason McKie and Patrick Mannelly join Kap on the panel. The Bears win but are they getting better or did they just crush an awful team?

Rajon Rondo gets suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team. Will he be suspended again?

Plus CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes has the latest on the Chris Sale watch and does Big Ten Champion Penn State have a legitmate gripe about not making the playoffs?

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman finalist, so can he stop the Big Ten's drought from reaching a decade?

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Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman finalist, so can he stop the Big Ten's drought from reaching a decade?

Michigan's Jabrill Peppers is a Heisman Trophy finalist. Can he stop the Big Ten's Heisman drought from reaching a decade?

We'll find out when Peppers travels to New York for the Heisman presentation, where he'll join fellow finalists Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, DeShaun Watson and Dede Westbrook.

Peppers has already taken home plenty of hardware this season, named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. He's also a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Bednarik Award.

Peppers is a true do-it-all threat, playing in all three phases of the game. He's the third-leading tackler on Michigan's nation-best defense with 72 total stops. He also has 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Peppers also racked up 751 all-purpose yards: 310 via the punt return, 260 via the kick return, 167 rushing, 11 on an interception return and three receiving yards.

If he wins, Peppers would become the first Big Ten player to win college football's most prestigious award since Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. He'd become the third Wolverine to win, joining Charles Woodson (1997), Desmond Howard (1991) and Tom Harmon (1940). If Peppers doesn't win, the Big Ten's Heisman drought will stretch to 10 years.

This season, the Big Ten doesn't need a Heisman victory to cement its status as the nation's best conference. It's done that already with three teams in the top six and four in the top eight of the final College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State, ranked third, will compete for a national championship for the second time in three seasons.

But certainly hardware helps the perception of a league. Of the nine who have won since Smith, five hailed from SEC schools, two from the Big 12 and one apiece from the ACC and Pac-12.

Two seasons ago, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon finished second, the best finish for a Big Ten player since Smith's win.

Twelve players from Big Ten teams have finished in the top 10 in voting since Smith's win:

YEAR PLAYER SCHOOL PLACE
2015 Ezekiel Elliott Ohio State eighth
2015 Connor Cook Michigan State ninth
2014 Melvin Gordon Wisconsin second
2014 J.T. Barrett Ohio State fifth
2014 Tevin Coleman Indiana seventh
2013 Braxton Miller Ohio State ninth
2012 Braxton Miller Ohio State fifth
2011 Montee Ball Wisconsin fourth
2011 Russell Wilson Wisconsin ninth
2010 Denard Robinson Michigan sixth
2008 Shonn Green Iowa sixth
2008 Javon Ringer Michigan State 10th