'Dancing With the Stars': All Hail the NFL

Tonight's cuppa: decaf Irish breakfast tea

What's up with football players and "Dancing With the Stars?" What's up with me and football players and "Dancing With the Stars"? I like a good gridiron match-up as much as the next girl (OK, maybe a little more), but these guys are also scoring TDs in the ballroom and winning my heart.

Jerryrice_annatrebunskaya_dancingwi In season two, wide receiver Jerry Rice was Mr. Smooth, stepping his way to second place with hard work and humility, and the patient instruction of pro dancer Anna Trebunskaya. I was very impressed.

In season three, running back Emmitt Smith surpassed Rice's Mirrorball_2 performance and added the show's incredibly ugly mirror-ball trophy to his three Super Bowl rings, under the tutelage ofCherylburke_emmittsmith_dancingstar the talented pro dancer Cheryl Burke. Judge Carrie Anne Inaba kinda fell in love (and so did I).

In season six last year, defensive end Jason Taylor stood tall with partner Edyta Sliwinska and showed off surprising grace and Jasontaylor elegance to come in second (and only one spot above his bestest buddy on the show, actor Cristian de la Fuente). I know somebody won last year, but I only remember Jason Taylor.

That is, until this season, when defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who's a few inches shorter than Taylor (6' 6" vs. 6'2") but a few pounds heavier (244 vs. 300), blended Rice's work ethic with Smith's effortless charm and Taylor's statuesque presenceWarrensapp_dancingwiththestars_240 to be a dance-floor powerhouse. On Monday, he did a "Matrix"-flavored paso doble with partner Kym Johnson that was at once strange, beautiful, powerful and sexy.

It so impressed the judges that Sapp and Johnson were asked to do an encore on the Tuesday-night results show. Sapp, of course, survived elimination, which fell instead on Kim Kardashian and her pro-dancer partner, Mark Ballas.

They may not always win on the show, but the men of the NFL (and, have you noticed, not a QB among them?) have done the league proud and proved that a guy who knocks other guys on their butts for a living still retains the sensitivity and class to show a woman a good time on the dance floor.

Now, when is the first quarterback going to step up and take the "Dancing" challenge? It's not as if they're uncomfortable in the spotlight. Maybe we can talk Brett Favre into it, if he ever actually retires for good, that is.

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