Baker Mayfield Is Releasing A Pre-Draft Documentary, And - For His Sake - I Hope It's Boring As All Hell
As much I think that NFL GM's, as a collective, view Baker Mayfield through a "less is more" prism, I don't want to judge this documentary before I actually see it. It very well could be an insightful look into the journey of a misunderstood kid with something to prove that only stands to increase his standing throughout a league in which he hopes to make his presence immediately felt.
That being said, if that's all this really is then the most controversial thing it should feature him doing is him slicing his avocado toast diagonally. If he's trying to set himself apart then he should probably only do so by swapping out lettuce for spinach in his dressing-less, pre-workout salad. Like, best case scenario, this documentary puts Baker Mayfield's biggest fans right to sleep. If he wants to get out ahead of the pre-draft hole poking then the only things we should see Behind Baker is a tape measure that reads 6'3. In order for the production of this video to do right by him in the NFL's eyes, it would have to be half Rocky-montage, half him sitting in a dark room watching game film with a bible in one hand and a 300-page playbook in the other. For it to not get instantaneously labeled a distraction by a league that considers every single thing that doesn't earn them money to be a distraction then it better paint the cocky Heisman Trophy winner like a complete loser. The way the league categorizes personalities at the quarterback position is basically 'paint drying' (Russell Wilson) or 'problem child' (Johnny Manziel), so let's hope there's no 'CAUTION: WET APPETITE' signs necessary after the release of a doc-u-series that is just as likely to hurt his draft stock as it is to help it.
If, after losing a game in which they thoroughly dominated the Winnipeg Jets to absolutely no avail, you had told me that the Devils were on the verge of going 3-1 during the start of a hellish, season-defining road trip that included playing two of the best teams in league in the two most difficult buildings in which to get a win then I'm not sure I would have been able to withhold side-splitting laughter. Hell, not only would I have taken this start to their pre-postseason if it were offered to me on March 9th, but I would have placed it atop it's own shrine and tried to bow it into existence on an hourly basis.
Simply put, as much belief as I had in the Devils to put forth max effort in their bipolar quest to put an end to a 5 year playoff drought, I had just as much disbelief that it would be enough to end the 10-game win streak of a juggernaut, overtake the overwhelming house odds in Vegas, or rebound against a tough, heavy team who was just as desperate for points. The Devils got quacked back to reality by the Ducks, but that seemed like a more of an inevitable letdown than a huge disappointment after surviving in Nashville, catching a heater in Sin City, and silencing LA in a way that gave true Kings fans flashbacks when half their season ticket holders thought 'Kopitar' was the name of the newest magical weight loss pill. It may not be reflected in the obnoxiously unforgiving standings, but what the Devils have done in the last week and half is more than could have possibly been expected of them prior to embarking on thee most daunting stretch of schedule.
Now, that being said, there's still a hell of a lot they need to improve on if they still want to be sitting pretty as they come out of it. First and foremost, the slow starts need to speed the hell up, because a lot of fortuitous bounces have kept them from biting the Devils in the ass. There's something to be said about weathering the initial storm while on the road, but damn near drowning under a monsoon of shots seems like a dangerous game to play when you're a team who statistically (5 wins when trailing after the first) has issues swimming upstream. Even in winning efforts, a couple of the first periods as of late have been hard to watch, and that includes those that have ended with them in the lead.
The defensive breakdowns are inevitable when the quality of competition is high, but I don't think it's too much to ask that they be limited to forced errors. Some of the failed clears have been the result of nothing more than a lack of focus, and the same can be said about opponents left unchecked in front of the net. I don't want to single any one play or player out, but if I were to do so I'd probably choose one of the 15-20 times that Damon Severson and John Moore looked as though they rested up for Anaheim by partaking in Southern California's finest of homegrown herbal remedies. They haven't been the only mistake prone defenseman but they have been the most disaster prone, and that doesn't bode well for a team whose recovery time consistently falls a bit short.
While it would be insanely easy (damn near necessary) to argue that it made very little sense (debatably zero) not to give a start to Cory Schneider on the ass end of a road back-to-back when his services will - like it or not - eventually be needed, the goaltending hasn't been a problem as much as it has been a reflection of what's in front of it. There have been stretches where Kinkaid has stood on his head, but what you should probably expect out of him is what you saw in the last two games. The Devils made the Kings look harmless for the final 40 minutes and Keith Kinkaid posted a shutout. They made the Ducks look like world beaters, and they rocked Keith Kinkaid's world. Considering Cory's struggles (that have been wildly overblown, mind you), a repeat of the former would go a long ways into getting him back on track if is in between the pipes tonight.
As for the offense, it truly is crazy how quickly things change. It feels like no more than one extensive morning seat on the toilet ago that Taylor Hall was futilely dragging his team to the finish line. Now, in the most unfair sense of the word, it's "fair" to argue they could stand to see more out of him. That's not a knock on his play as much as it is an acknowledgement of how stellar it was prior, but - as the old saying goes - you need your best players to be your best players come playoff time, and if this isn't being treated as playoff time then their playoff time is ticking. The rise in secondary scoring has been awesome. From Blake Coleman and Michael Grabner beating the monkeys off their backs, to Pat Maroon being a seamless fit in a once unfilled role, to Brian Gibbons reminding everyone that he's the rare case in which his presence makes the heart grow fonder, to Nico's flashes of brilliance. They've ironically showed a bit of depth as injuries continue to test it. That said, there's a reason Taylor Hall is a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate, and it's not because this team is at it's best when he looks like one of the guys as opposed to thee guy.
With only ten games left, it goes without saying that every single one of them is vital to their playoff hopes. The next three certainly don't get any easier, but it's not so much that the Devils need to worry about playing harder as it that they need to concern themselves with playing smarter. Luck was on their side throughout their three game win streak, but they're going to need more than luck if they want to stop that all-too-familiar transition into what would be a fateful losing streak.
Prior To Their First Game Against Former Teammate Tomas Plekanec, A Handful Of Canadiens Sported His Patented Turtleneck
I'm not going to act like I feel any sort of way about Tomas Plekanec's kinship towards the players which he shared a locker room that he called home for well over a decade. In fact, if I were to act in the interest of full disclosure, I might offer this anecdotal insight into just how many fucks I give about any and all things Montreal Canadiens...
That said, I would be lying if I said it wasn't cool to see former teammates bust each other's balls in a way that reminds us that relationships in sports easily surpass sweater color. It's too often that we expect professional teams to get along in a way that is fitting of old friends who begrudgingly interrupt the streak of inside jokes to slam Jameson shots, only to assume that same closeness will automatically exist elsewhere when the business side of sports breaks that bond. Becoming a professional athlete means following an inherently unpredictable career path, but it's still largely bullshit that we completely discount what makes them people when they fall victim to the fickleness of being a player.
Considering he's in the midst of an 8-game scoreless drought as a Maple Leaf, Tomas Plekanec probably appreciated the hell out of having his unorthodox look mocked by people doing it to his face out of love rather than having his lackluster production mocked behind his back out of spite. No one should feel bad for a guy who got traded from the pit of misery to playoff contention, but anyone that has developed alliances that exist well outside the locker room should at least relate with how brightly he smiled when he saw a familiar face popping out of the reptilian-top of an all-too-familiar undergarment.
As much as I want to crush this presumptuous officiating crew for pinning the criticisms from every outspoken fan in Toronto on their innocent head coach, I can't say it's not a phenomenon that I've encountered in my day. My parents always used to tell that I was solely responsible for the actions of every one of my guests. Now granted, as regrettable as some of the company I kept was, their ability to create chaos was far more controllable than tens of thousands of people with varying levels of intoxication, but - even if it wasn't - you can bet your ass I was getting blamed for every single thing that went wrong. Of course, I just assumed that was their way of easing the burden of parenting by avoiding confrontational conversations with the neighbors, but - with 8 seconds left in an out of reach game - I can see why the referee also took the easy way out in restoring order. Sometimes when playing the disciplinarian you just have to slap the only wrist within your jurisdiction, even if ends up making you look like an audacious official who can't be trusted to keep his focus during temperamental times.
I Refuse To Believe That Michigan's Hero, Jordan Poole, Cut Short His Celebration To Write A Comprehensive Greek Mythology Paper
If the intent is to make the work load of a student athlete seem harder to undertake then I can't imagine too many scenarios where I wouldn't be on board. It's far too often that college kids who are enrolled in a full slate of courses while participating in sports that are a paycheck away from being considered semi-professional don't get nearly enough credit for their management of priorities. Therefore, I'm typically all for any story that works against the notion that being involved in athletics makes school easier.
Unfortunately, the story of the student athlete who did this...
...and was welcomed back to the locker room like this...
...while this awaited him back on campus...
....put a halt to the celebration of his unlikely heroics just so he could do this is unfortunately beyond my ability to suspend disbelief...
Never mind Greek Mythology, because the idea that a newly minted campus legend put aside an unquantifiable amount of praise from his peers to type up some intricate ode to Odysseus might as well be American Mythology. Unless Jordan Poole is looking forward to a future in foreign false narratives, Greek Mythology is one of the classes you take so you can feel comfortable relaxing on your responsibilities.
That's not even to say that he didn't write said paper, but it is to say that it didn't need to be any longer than "Zeus was a Greek god whose bolt was capable of everything...other than nailing a buzzer-beating three pointer to send his school to the Sweet 16" to net him an 'A' for the most minuscule amount of effort. I'm sure the transition from campus king to procrastinating undergrad was a rough one, but let's not act like Jordan Poole had to bang out a a dissertation on the downfalls of humanity mid-tournament.
Tyronn Lue Is Stepping Away From Coaching The Cavaliers Due To Health Issues, Potentially Per The Request Of LeBron James
Cavaliers- "After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.
I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.
While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.
I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization's support throughout." - Tyronn Lue
All "LeBron is literally a coach killer" jokes aside, I think the NBA - as a whole - needs to hear the following. They might want to take both a seat and a deep breath because this might come as a shock to the entire association, but...it's just fucking basketball.
I know, I know. It seems like so much more in the moment, but - despite what the overwhelmingly amount of media-driven scrutiny might lead you to believe - it really is just a game. Mental health is obviously a serious issue, but the fact that it looks as though it's running rampant through a particular sports league is more than a wee bit concerning. First it was DeMar DeRozan with depression, then Kevin Love with a full-blown anxiety attack, then Kelly Oubre's internal struggle, and now the head coach of a team who has been to three straight NBA Finals is suffering from the type of insomnia that leaves bags burning under his eyes as the morning light shines through?
I mean, if there's anyone who would have reason to succumb to stress then it's the guy who was supervising a season of The Real Housewives before his entire roster got turned upside down and he was tasked with turning a group of castoffs into a formidable team in two months time. Like, perhaps this is the reason more organizations don't put an unforeseen amount of pressure on their coach by going full-NBA2K at the trade deadline.
Still, I can't help but think we should install a reality checkpoint before these guys get to the breaking point where the pro sport they are involved is less hazardous to their health than the strain it puts on their psyche. I can totally understand why interactions like this might have a coach up all night pondering what the hell he did to deserve being made to look like a child that broke something while playing ball in the house by someone they are technically in charge of...
...but christ. If this isn't just the "nice way" of the Cavaliers bending over backwards to keep the the most needy superstar in the history of sports happy when he's on the verge of free agency (and it could absolutely be nothing more than that) then it's a sign that basketball is being taken far too seriously. That's apparently not the greatest of news for anyone associated with a player who is just nearly as destructive as he is dominant. Lives are more important than the sport they are involved in, but LeBron James - at least in part - is ruining the former by way of the latter.
After Bowing Out Of The NCAA Tournament Having Blown A 22 Point Lead, Cincinnati's Coach Let It Know That He Cares Not About Sweet Sixteens
But, don't you have to make it to the Sweet Sixteen to have even the slightest chance at a National Championship? And, doesn't using a Sweet Sixteen appearance as a recruiting tool hypothetically make it easier to draw the players necessary to get to a National Championship? I don't know. I just thought that maybe, just maybe, a bunch of relative accomplishments (cough,cough::Sweet Sixteens::cough,cough) stacked on top of one another would strengthen that thing they call a resume that is used to by National Championship-hungry programs when sifting through candidates for their head coaching position.
You know what? Never mind. Mick Cronin pulling the cancer card out of the thinnest of air was a bit of a dirty trick, but - even more so - it was a sign of a man who was desperate for answers after his second seeded team made a 22 point lead disappear in well under one half of play. It may have sounded like he was throwing shit at he wall in hopes of getting something to stick. I, on other hand, think he was throwing his heart at the mercy of the court of public opinion, and - as a member of the jury - I am deeming it innocent enough. There's probably a better place for the "this 68-team college basketball tournament is completely meaningless unless you win it" mindset than the stage of said tournament that's used to showcase the sport you've devoted your life to, but - contrary to the "survive and advance" mantra - he is right is saying it's not exactly a life and death situation. That's probably why most tend to steer clear of comparing it to one, but - considering the electrocardiogram of the contest in question - I'm not sure he had any other available analogies at his disposal...
ASAPSports- Q. Do you guys feel like you really were able -- Texas Tech is a 3 seed. You were really able to play with them and maybe were under seeded?
KYLE KELLER: I don't know. There's 68 teams in the tournament seeding that to me doesn't have anything to do with it. I coached the No. 1 seed in the tournament. We didn't make the Final Four. So to me seeds don't matter.
When the game starts, the game starts. And that's what we try to convince our kids. Our kids didn't -- they got to play against some dudes they knew. Ty knew some guys on their team. And the millenials today, they don't even watch college basketball. A lot of our guys didn't even know who those cats were because they don't watch the game. They're on their phone and doing that kind of stuff. I hate to say it, but as much as you or I or anybody in here watches the games, they don't. Or the NBA. They might watch the slam-dunk contest in February on TNT or whatever, but that's about the extent of it.
Can you believe it? The goddamn millennials are back to their shamelessly destructive behavior, this time ruining a sport that is 100% dependent on their participation. Too busy looking at their stupid phones while balancing both their education and their athletic schedule for zero dollars/hour to think about how damaging the complete randomness of rare opponents is to March Madness. Honestly, it's about time someone shed some light on these lazy kids who don't even consider sacrificing the entirety of their social lives to catch up on the tendencies of all 100+ teams they might potentially face in a tournament that prides itself on unpredictability. Kyle Keller might not be up-to-date on topical slang terms, considering he unironically referred to his opposition as "cats", but I'll be damned if he doesn't have a completely objective grasp of generational flaws.
Admittedly, I didn't foresee a day when "they don't watch enough TV" became a viable criticism of college kids, but it definitely fits the millennial profile to look towards a higher-up (like a coach) for a helpful handout (like a unique game plan). Can kids these days even say they truly care about winning when they'd rather InstaSnap during dunk contests than scout the entire national landscape of college hoops on the off-chance they get pitted against an unfamiliar program that's built to expose their weaknesses?
I know it seems weird to take a big ol' dump on the priorities of their entire demographic immediately after your team almost pulled a huge upset, but millennials from a 14th seeded Mid-Major would want a pity pat on the back after losing a late lead to a superior team. If only Stephen F. Austin were slightly less addicted to technology than literally everyone else in their age range and put down their tweet machines to preemptively pick up Texas Tech's defensive positioning. We would probably be sitting here talking about their title hopes instead of how the most flawless coaching performance in the history of college basketball got sabotaged by a widespread social media obsession.
I don't say the following to kill the buzz of bringing back a player that, when healthy, helped to lighten the egregiously heavy load of the Saints' do-it-All Pro defensive end, but rather to state a fact. Alex Okafor did a hell of a job balancing a previously lop-sided defensive line, but increasing his salary by 150% on a two-year deal when he was only able-bodied enough to "prove it" for a little over half of his one-year deal is a sign of how much of a premium has been placed on quality pass rushers. I think he fits into a system that was far more effective with him than without him, but - generally speaking - athletes whose effectiveness is predicated on short bursts of speed aren't supposed to have leverage while recovering from Achilles injuries.
That may sound like a pessimistic take on a move that solidifies the only level of the defense that has gone unaddressed since the start of free agency, but - in actuality - it's just an acknowledgment of how difficult that level of the defense is to address. Even a rehabbing Alex Okafor is the best supplemental sack specialist the Saints have had since Junior Galette went full-Junior Galette, so signing him at a cost that might be considered an overpayment for someone in his position from another position was a necessity. Especially since the only other reliable alternative at this point would have been to tack on an arm and a leg to that $5 million dollar price tag to make a seemingly impossible jump up in the draft, and I highly doubt New Orleans was rushing to make a pass at Bradley Chubb.
There is risk involved with committing to Alex Okafor, but it's a hell of a lot less than the risk involved with committing to Ndamukong Suh and - not to doubt Mickey Loomis incomparable cap crunching - but I highly doubt they'd be able to do both.
Tom Benson Passed Away At The Age Of 90, But What He Was Able To Build In New Orleans Has No Expiration Date
To be quite frank, I am in no way qualified to write a tribute that comes anywhere to close to doing justice to Tom Benson's professional importance. As fans, we typically have a greater appreciation for the more public figures that have a tangible impact on the games that we find ourselves wholeheartedly invested in. That, of course, is a very simpleminded approach to sports, seeing as New Orleans might not have a home team to call their own if it weren't for the the late, great owner of the Saints. Still, it would be disingenuous of me to act like my greatest memories of Tom Benson aren't of him triumphantly twirling his patented umbrella and of him graciously passing the Lombardi Trophy to his brilliant head coaching hire who helped recruit a future HOFer to play quarterback. That's a pretty huge disservice to what he's meant to the business that he left in a far, far better standing than it was in when he acquired it, but - since those running the show from behind the scenes are likely to gain notoriety for the negative - remembering Tom Benson as a shockingly fleet-of-foot fan doesn't seem like all that bad of a legacy to leave.
People in such powerful roles aren't always what you might call...umm...approachable, so it's not even just the success of a franchise that survived a season and stadium altering storm to serve as inspiration for a region that was left in ruins by said storm that should have you in awe of Tom Benson's achievements. Rather, it's the amount of players - both current and past - that have come out in droves to show love for the man, and now legend, they called 'Mr. B'. The concept of franchises as "families" is one that is largely bullshit, but there's certainly something to be aid encouraging organizational kinship through action.
Now, I have a better chance of understanding the aerodynamics that keep jetliners in flight than I do of understanding all that goes into owning and operating a sports team, never mind two. Therefore, hearing about who Tom Benson managed to be as a person while engulfed in a business as cutthroat as professional sports is much more impressive to me than any day-to-day operations. If the thoughts, prayers, and general sentiments of those that worked most closely to him are any indication, who the Saints' owner was as a person was more or less the selfless ambassador of a state that benefited greatly from the life he led. So, on behalf of those, much like myself, that too often completely ignore the tip top tier of the team they root for, here's to Tom continuing to craft the 'Benson Boogie' for all of eternity. Something tells me it won't be a passing fad in the city that would have never had the opportunity to call themselves champions without him...
At the risk dehumanizing a player by referencing the sentimental value he possesses, I really can't help but appreciate this move far more than the addition of any old backup offensive lineman. It's not that I don't understand how important it is to have a player who is familiar with the system that can admirably fill in up and down a quality line that lost its most savvy veteran to retirement and its most trusted depth player to free agency. Still, as far as the 2009 Super Bowl Saints are concerned, those big, fat, diamond encrusted rings on their fingers will always factor into how they are judged. Admittedly, I haven't kept a close eye on the trajectory of Jermon Bushrod's career after he departed New Orleans, but the fact that he helped host the city's first party with the Lombardi might leave me inclined to believe that he's still got some gas in the tank until long after his transmission has quit on him.
I suppose it also helps he got Sean Payton's seal of approval. It's always good when the football minds make decisions based on the future, as opposed to fawningly reminiscing about the past. That said, you could tell me that Jermon Bushrod was only brought on board to fill the void left by Zach Strief's championship pedigree and I would consider it money well spent. Best case scenario is that he plays sparingly, but if the worst case scenario comes to fruition and he's left protecting Brees' blindside then at least he'll have some hands-on experience paving the way for a long playoff run on a young, upstart O-line.
So, the only remaining question is...who's next?
Neymar Honored The Late, Great Stephen Hawking By Tanning Shirtless In A Wheelchair, Or Something Like That
What, it's no longer the thought that counts? All the sudden, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery? Any other long standing figures of speech we plan on denouncing in wagging the finger at a world renowned athlete for honoring the deceased in a way that trivialized Quadriplegia?
In all seriousness, I can why this tweeted tribute to someone who overcame a hell of a lot more than some tender tendons is problematic. Unfortunately, considering the source, I just can't get too worked up over this particular act of online stupidity. After all, it's not like I'm surprised that a soccer star with international celebrity is a self-involved narcissist. Hell, if there's a sport in which over-the-top vanity is expected from its participants then it's the one played predominantly by people with product in their hair. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you walked into a World Cup locker room 30 minutes prior to the match you might be met by a scene straight out of Project Runway. Therefore, the idea that Neymar tried to make someone's death about himself is no more shocking than the amount of baby oil Cristiano Ronaldo uses to lather the abs that he had bronzed and mounted above his mantle.
And let's take a look at things relatively. To those that are at high risk of having their legs cut out from under them by a sharp, freshly cropped blade of grass, a sore metatarsal and a sprained ankle might as well be an incurable degenerative disease. You know how many attempts it must have taken to capture Neymar with a smile on his face during this uncandidly candid shot? Probably had to hold down the picture button for two whole seconds before he was able to turn that discomfort-induced frown upside down, and we have the gall to criticize him for not being handicapped enough to compare himself to someone that revolutionized science without the use of his limbs?! For shame.
Chimezie Metu Had Quite The Message For USC Fans That Were Upset He's Sitting Out The NIT, If Those Even Exist
Theoretically, I agree that it's absurd for fans to criticize a promising player that chooses to ensure his health prior to embarking on a career long journey to secure the bag when the alternative is participating for an unhonorable mention in a glorified loser's bracket. The NIT may technically be part of the postseason, but - considering it's currently being used as an experimental period to test new rules and game formats on amateur athletes like they are mice in a perfume factory - it's really no more important than your run-of-the-mill exhibition. Expecting a player who is well on his way to the pros to risk worsening so much as a hangnail just so he can finish out an underwhelming season in a meaningless tournament that realistically offers no reward in return for that risk is flat out stupid.
Actually, now that I think about it, it's so far beyond stupid that I have a hard time believing that USC fans were bombarding the mentions of their soon-to-be-former star player once he announced that he was opting out. Perhaps there was a handful of overreactive alums that have season tickets, paint their faces for home games, and feel oddly compelled to sneak down into the student's section who let their frustrations be known, but so many that it required a public justification? I have my doubts.
La La Land doesn't just loathe losers, they typically ignore them completely. Therefore, as nice as it would be, I can't imagine sports fans in Southern California are incensed by having their opportunity to be the proud alums of the 69th best team in the nation sabotaged by forward thinking.
So while I don't think that Chimezie Metu owes anyone an apology for looking out for his future, I think his conscience might feel a bit differently. It took him mere minutes to get overly defensive, and I can't imagine those on the offensive were privy to power in numbers. This is a complete guess, but that thread of tweets reads like the publicizing of an inner battle more than anything else. I say that because the fact that you can pretty easily walk through Los Angeles without seeing 'Trojans' inscribed across too much outerwear come March is a sign that their twitter army probably lacks depth on the front lines.
The Saints Finally Got Frisky In Free Agency, And The Reunion Is Back On But With A Much Different Guest Of Honor
This reunion might not have the same pop of the one that would have brought back one of Drew Brees' all-time favorite targets, but - if only because it makes one less former player to serve as a haunting reminder of badly the Saints' defensive coaches failed them in the past - I feel inclined to celebrate it nonetheless.
Watching the Eagles' Super Bowl run wasn't just painful because the Saints were merely ten seconds away from having the opportunity to put an abrupt end to it, but also because Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson - two players who were apparently unfairly maligned in New Orleans - made significant contributions to it. Now, the latter might not have lived up to his draft status the first go around, but the same can be said about an all-too-suspicious amount of players that went onto bigger and better things after making fundamental football look far too hard during similarly tumultuous tenures in 'The Big Easy'.
It's arguable that he was on his way to doing so in the black & gold, but what Patrick Robinson has done since leaving the Saints is morphed into one of the best slot/nickel corners in the NFL. So, if going back and watching his game-altering pick six in the NFC Championship Game doesn't wash the bad taste out of your mouth then the fact that he's proved his worth for three separate teams over the last three seasons certainly should. The Saints got much, much better at a position that requires a very specific skill set, and - from an optics standpoint - it doesn't hurt that they retroactively boosted their 2010 draft grade in the process.
I'm not going to pretend I spent a lot of time watching the New York Jets, never mind giving the eye test to specific members of their defense. That being said, if the eye-popping numbers don't tell Demario Davis' story then I'd hope that the grading of people far more studious than myself would....
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't exactly think you need to do a brain swap with Bill Belichick to come to the conclusion that you don't rack up 135 tackles as the league's 8th most efficient linebacker without having sideline to sideline range in today's NFL. I'm not quite the second coming of Mike Singletary, but 5 sacks and 15 additional close calls seems like a hell of a lot from the second level.
Lost in what was a long-belated defensive resurrection was that playing with the lead allowed the Saints to mask a suspect run defense, and Cam Jordan's DPOY-caliber season allowed them to squeak by with a lack of secondary pass rushing options. It appears both of those have been addressed with the addition of a versatile veteran coming off a career year whose attitude looks as though it will be a seamless fit with a young, rambunctious group that only stood to improve even without reliable reinforcements...
If absolutely nothing else, this gives Saints fans their "Jonathan Vilma" when they try to force comparisons between this team and the one that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy nearly a decade ago. To some, the "quality" of reminiscence might be just as important as his ability to bring 3-down stoutness to the middle of a defense whose primary strength is its secondary.
I don't want to be too critical here because I actually respect the hell out of Evan Turner for sacrificing his mentions to bring light to the stupidity of some sports fans, but I think a public announcement that could potentially be interpreted as "I'm riiich, biaaaatch!" is more of a 'lastly' than a 'first off'. Regardless of what could be inferred by his measly 8.1 points per game, he earned every cent of that 4 year, 70 million dollar contract the second he found someone dumb and desperate enough to put both it and a permanent writing utensil in front of him. That said, you kind of lose the attention of the people you're trying to reach with your message when it kicks off with a "kiss my ass" to the collective audience.
But that's really neither here nor there. Not only because the perceived tone of that quote leads me to believe that the source of it doesn't particularly give a shit, but also because the spirit of the statement is far more important than the order of it. I know this might be difficult to understand for some, but professional athletes don't write their own checks. Sure, it's easier to criticize those whose flaws can be easily pointed out live on television by millions of people, but it's ridiculous to take your frustrations out on the person whose salary serves as an anchor rather than the person that dropped it.
Simply put, if you've got a gripe about money then you've got nothing more than a gripe about management. I'm sure Evan Turner would prefer to have his performance meet his price tag, but he doesn't owe anyone an apology for being given his bread instead of baking it himself. He earned that money, even if he mostly did so by taking advantage a shortsighted GM who was scouring an overly generous free agent market.
Anyone who has got beef with Evan Turner is basically saying they would rather maximize their potential than maximize their profit, and considering their potential more than likely falls far short of that of a professional athlete, I think it's safe to say they are talking out of their ass.
A Sports Anchor In Raleigh Added Some Southern Comfort To The News Of The Carolina Hurricanes Choke Job
Not going to lie, that was a pretty funny bit. I already knew exactly what happened to the Carolina Hurricanes in their hilariously demoralizing loss to the Boston Bruins, yet still I was caught off guard by the broadcast footnote that was "...and the B's scored 5 straight in the third to win 6-4". If there is anything more satisfying than a good, old fashioned long con then it's self-deprecating sarcasm, and this homer-heavy breakdown of the Canes' game turned nightmare managed to combine both seamlessly.
Truth be told, I wish more regional sports' coverage of bad teams was like this. When a season is inevitably headed towards being a complete train wreck why not do whatever is necessary to derive some laughter in the final moments before fateful impact? I can promise you that when a plane is going through the most traumatic of turbulence there are more people aboard it that are looking for one last person to fuck as opposed to crafting harsh criticisms of the pilot, so why is it so hard for sports fans to make the best of bad situations? Objective analysis has its place too, but that place is not the evening time slots of local news networks whose target audience is trying to find a way to get over season-defining losses rather than reliving them. Credit to Mark Armstrong for recognizing that and not highlighting the 90 second stretch in which it took the Bruins to tie the game with three consecutive goals that came faster than Rick Pitino on ecstasy...
Drew Brees Turned Down Bigger Offers, And Both Parties Upheld Their End Of The Bargain In Keeping Him A Saint
ESPN- Fifty million dollars over two years might not sound like much of a discount. But considering that Drew Brees' latest extension with the New Orleans Saints includes just $27 million guaranteed, he might be as much of a bargain as anyone who signs in free agency this year.
A source said that at least one other team was willing to give Brees $60 million guaranteed over two years to try and woo him away from New Orleans.
“I’d be lying if I said it [wasn’t hard to weigh maximizing his value and raising the bar for other players versus helping the team],” said Brees, who was once a prominent member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee.
“Because I know that when any player does their deal, they typically look at the comps and base their deal on those -- and what is 'market value.' ... I’m sure that one of these quarterbacks coming up -- Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins -- is going to set a new mark."
“But for me, this was about putting our team in the best position to go win a championship in the next few years. ... I’ve made it very clear from day one that I was always gonna be a New Orleans Saint as long as they would have me."
“I love my agent. I think he’s the best there is. ... But at the end of the day, my intent was much different in regards to building the team," said Brees, who noted that it was interesting to hear what other teams were willing to pay him for the first time in 12 years, since teams were free to negotiate with Condon when the "legal tampering" window opened on Monday.
"I've never had a chance to hear that, except for when I was hurt back in 2006,” Brees said. “But in most cases when my agent would begin to open his mouth about another team, I would not even let him finish the sentence."
I can't say I am surprised that someone who, despite rapidly nearing the big 4-0, still maintains top five talent at the quarterback position turned down far more alluring offers than the team-friendly deal he ultimately accepted in remaining the face of a franchise that he helped to resurrect. Business is business, but there was no reason to believe that he didn't mean it when he said he would be a New Orleans Saint for as long as the organization would have him. That's a credit to both his undeniable kinship to the city as well as the love and loyalty that exists between him and his kindred spirit in Sean Payton. However, let's not lose sight of the fact that were probably having a much different conversation if the team that asked him to compromise was closer to 0-2 form as opposed to being damn close to contending for a championship.
All the credit in the world goes to Drew Brees for taking a hometown discount on - at the risk of doubting his agelessness - what could easily be the final pay day of his career. However, at the very least, an honorable mention has to be offered to the likes of Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton, and Jeff Ireland for building a complete team, seemingly out of nowhere, that made taking less money seem like a worthwhile sacrifice for their savior. Drew Brees may be the most understanding athlete to ever strap on a jock, but the leap of faith required for a future first ballot HOFer to commit the twilight of his career to a team that was marred in mediocrity and couldn't get out of its own way financially would make the Grand Canyon look like a puddle of piss. The Saints' braintrust had to be looking into a black & gold tinted rearview to believe that their roster was far closer to surpassing expectations than it appeared, and keeping disbelief in their blind spot ultimately paid off in that their quarterback's new contract doesn't seem anywhere near as impossible to pay off.
To the Saints' last two draft classes I offer the sincerest of gratitude, and to the feet of the men that orchestrated them I offer my lips. The Saints looked dead in the water before resurrecting themselves in a way that made it far easier for someone who could have easily set an asinine market to selflessly decide to keep walking on it for a franchise that has too often required him to be superhuman. I don't know where the franchise would be if last year's all-too-familiar start were a sign of things to come, but I do know we wouldn't have considered it anywhere near as inevitable that Drew Brees would continue to vehemently pledge his allegiance to it while better offers sat on the table.
As disappointing as it is that there will be no Jimmy Graham reunion in New Orleans that fully mends what was a seemingly broken relationship, it is pretty damn fitting that a disagreement over his value was the only thing standing in the way of a mutually beneficial reconciliation. I guess this is just another case in which I should have been careful what I asked for, because while I wanted the Saints to do it for old time's sake, I wasn't referring to them fighting to a stalemate in a monetary tug-o-war with a dynamic yet flawed offensive weapon. Oh well, I guess the Saints' hole at tight end is still one that's in desperate need of filling, but considering how familiar this all feels, I wouldn't be surprised if all they really missed out on was the opportunity to debate a player over a self-proclaimed position change.
The bad news is that the Saints' third down offense still needs some fixing, but the good news is that I don't have to look like a hypocrite for celebrating the return of a player whose weaknesses were far more glaring when he was viewed as a number one option. The truth is that I said some things that, while true, may have been exaggerated by spite, so - from a personal standpoint - it's nice that I won't have to force down my pride for the time being.
Now, I would have gladly welcomed the taste of my own foot if it meant a re-creation of an offense as unstoppable as that of 2011. However, if Jimmy Graham was too rich for the Saints' blood then it's safe to say, as is the case with most sequels, that the blown budget wouldn't have been worth the finished product. Simply put, without even seeing the Packers offer, I can say that whatever the Saints saved by matching it can be more efficiently allocated than by adding a luxury lifeboat to an already formidable offensive fleet. Considering how many times Sean Payton has worked his magic in finding diamonds in the rough, spending money on proven players to help the front seven and provide depth to the secondary were much more pressing needs than another pass catcher.
That doesn't mean it wouldn't have been pretty awesome to see Drew Brees exploit defenses with an old friend that who hasn't completely aged out of being a matchup nightmare, but knowing that it leaves them free to improve an up-and-coming defense makes it a missed opportunity that's easier to get over.
Long Time Official Ted Valentine Wasn't Assigned To The NCAA Tournament, And He's Handling The News As Expected
ESPN- Well-known NCAA referee Ted Valentine, who officiated the Final Four last season, will not be working NCAA tournament games this year -- and he told ESPN it's because of fallout from the incident in which he turned his back on North Carolina's Joel Berry II during a game in January.
"This is not right, it's just not fair," Valentine told ESPN. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm being punished unjustly."
Valentine told ESPN he was informed by NCAA coordinator of officials J.D. Collins of the decision just prior to working the Wichita State-Houston AAC semifinal game on Saturday.
"I asked him why," Valentine said. "We talked about the Joel Berry situation and how he had a discussion with the Big Ten. But I told him, 'I fixed the situation.'"
"I screwed up," Valentine told ESPN about the January incident. "But I went back a week later and apologized, and he and I were joking and kidding. It was no big deal. I even pulled him out of a situation where he could have gotten a technical foul."
For reference, this is the sequence in question...
In theory, I agree that one unfortunate and since resolved incident shouldn't be enough to bar a proud, accomplished official from his sport's biggest stage, but what makes anyone think that's the case here? We are talking about a guy who's supposed to remain unmemorable by profession who boasted the nickname 'TV Teddy' long before he childishly turned his back on Joel Berry. Who cares that he was assigned to last year's Final Four? If we're talking about last year then lest we forget that over-indulgent officiating became the lead storyline of a National Championship Game that was ruined by it? Seems pretty damn reasonable to proactively attempt to avoid a similar situation by dismissing the official who - by moniker - is most likely to make himself a storyline.
Also, I can't help but wonder if Ted Valentine has even taken a second away from playing the victim to look in the mirror and consider that he might currently place a higher value on himself as a referee than the NCAA does. Never mind the infantile showing up of a player that had every right to question the officiating, because missing the crucial call late in the stages of a close, in-conference game that led to said silent treatment was just as inexcusable a sign that his showmanship is no longer worth it. I don't know if it's the fact that Ted Valentine thinks he's the star of the show that has the NCAA phasing him out, or if it's that he's done a lesser job directing said show as of late. I do know there is reason to believe it's a little bit of both.
As unfair as he thinks it is that he's being left out of the NCAA Tournament, that personal "injustice" pales in comparison to how wrong it is that during the week in which we should be highlighting the efforts of hundreds of college athletes, we are talking about someone being left out of a supplementary role that's largely merit based. Maybe the Joel Berry incident was the last straw, but it sure as shit wasn't the first strike, so Ted Valentine should have silently taken a seat on the bench and waited to see if he got another at-bat. I can't believe he couldn't figure this out on his own, but instantly turning his absence into a distraction only validates it.
A Kings' Fan Had His Face Bloodied By A Puck, And Took An Inordinate Amount Of Time To Seek Medical Attention
Ahhh, hockey culture. The only sport in which taking a blunt object to the face and uncontrollably gushing blood from between your eyes is an act more prideful than actually catching it. I want to say this dude, who I would imagine was at least mildly drunk, was perhaps a little too pleased with his immediate need for stitches considering his victory lap lasted about 3x longer than most people within a two seat radius would have liked. Still, you have to give the man credit for trying to "play" through his injury as every germaphobe in attendance was having an anxiety attack. You legit would have thought that wayward puck was headed to the back of the net in the final seconds of a series clinching playoff game with how pumped he was after blocking it with his face, and that's the type of enthusiasm necessary to make onlookers forget that it only did because he wasn't paying enough attention from his ice-front seats. The celebration was probably a bit too self-aggrandizing since he accomplished less than Marcia Brady in displaying the same proclivity for taking one off the nose, but that's what you get when you mix the bright lights of Los Angeles with hockey's bloody badges of honor. Fifteen seconds of fame, a battle wound, and a Kings win...what more can a narcissistic fan ask for!