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!
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Drew Brees Remains In New Orleans For Two More Years And 50 More Million Dollars
Oddly enough, given the loyalty that he and the Saints have shown towards one another throughout what has become one of the most successful and productive marriages in the history of both free agency and football as a whole, I actually think Drew Brees' track record of contract negotiations is a preeminent example of just how painstaking the business side of sports can be. What New Orleans did by signing the embodiment of their franchise to a two year, 50 million dollar deal that will likely bring him to the verge of retirement was nothing more than the inevitable, yet - even at their most imminent - those dealings still went down to the 11th hour.
Of course, I know it's more complicated than figuring out the term, the final figure, and how much of it is guaranteed. Still, it's pretty indicative of the penny pinching process that my dumb ass would only have been two million guaranteed dollars off if I had made a prediction on how things would play out two months ago. Obviously I think the calls placed by the Vikings, as well as a handful of other unnamed teams, to the representation of Drew Brees were cut shorter than those made by a delivery person standing outside a hot-boxed apartment building. Regardless, the fact that the Saints let it get to a point where they were able to be made legally is a sign of just how stubborn and unwavering the two sides were in desperately wanting to prolong their relationship.
As for the deal itself, it seems about right for an aging quarterback who couldn't be more significant to the success of an otherwise young team. He definitely could have gotten more elsewhere, but it feels like a fair compromise for a player and an organization that work far better as a tandem.
It may have been in a losing effort, but Drew Brees proved during the last game of the Saints' season that they desperately need him if they want to make the most of their improved defense and multi-faceted rushing attack. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if another quarterback, e.g. Lamar Jackson, were brought in later in the offseason to ease the transition of a future first ballot HOFer going triumphantly into the night after winning another Super Bowl, but that's a conversation for another day. Today is a day for Saints' fans to use the faux relief of a fateful signature as a reason to pop their heads outside an open championship window and breathe deeply the smell of an appropriate amount of optimism. As if there were any doubt, Drew Brees remains a New Orleans Saint and - if only for a couple hours - all remains right in the world of sports.
Larry Nance Jr. Better Become A Hell Of A Lot More Famous If He Wants To Get Away With Blowing Off Young Fans
The following might read like an odd thing to say about someone that couldn't walk through some sort of campus in the middle of the day without getting approached by a stranger. That said, the real problem Larry Nance Jr. encountered here is that, theoretically speaking, he could totally walk through some sort of campus in the middle of the day without getting approached by a stranger. I don't want to get into a debate as to whether or not professional athletes should always feel obligated to interrupt their own day to appease fans of even the most innocent of age, because we wouldn't even have to if the Cavaliers' up-and-coming utility forward were more famous.
I guess what I am saying is that this video is not an undeniable indictment of Larry Nance Jr., but rather an undeniable indictment of his level of celebrity. I don't know that he's truly an ungrateful asshole, but I do know that his autograph better be in higher demand if he doesn't want to be one pepped step away from looking like one.
Consider the following. LeBron James probably blows off hundreds of kids every single day of his life but no over-protective mother has ever deemed him some sort of dream ruining dickhead. That's because those kids usually resemble a hysterical pack of hyenas, and none of them will ever be able to casually walk up to one of the most recognizable people on the planet and make eye contact with him as the only other person within the shot of an onlooking smart phone. Essentially, it's best to become a star prior to acting like one, because - as unfortunate as it is how often we forget that pro athletes are people too - the visual of reversing that order and going 0-1 as opposed to 0-10,000 appears pretty damn shitty without context.
In Announcing His Retirement, Zach Strief Gave The Saints A Pretty Good Reminder Of How Much He'll Be Missed
I got to be honest, I would have welcomed a bit of heads up that Zach Strief was planning on both comedically and emotionally jerking at the tear ducts of every teammate, coach, executive, journalist, and fan that came to appreciate what he consistently provided on and off the field as one of the longest tenured New Orleans Saints. Seeing as his retirement was foreshadowed, I don't think the announcement came as much of a surprise, but I certainly didn't expect it to have me all up in my feelings on a Monday afternoon. That's probably my fault for not realizing that having chemistry with the only player he didn't outlast (::knock on wood::) wasn't the only good reason that Zach Strief was also able to block aside the cold-blooded business of pro sports as he remained a beloved member of one, and only one, ever-changing locker room for well over a decade. Still, I doubt too many considered that the Saints long time offensive lineman was going to step to the mic and humbly wax poetic about the Saints in an emotional way that gave all those invested in their success a much greater appreciation for it.
As fans, we like to baselessly believe that all the players we root for are a part of a fantasy land in which our favorite teams are run flawlessly. While that's never true, I think the picture that Zach Strief just painted told a story of not just the career of a selfless player, but of an admirable organization that he helped mold. It's tough not to respect just how intertwined the two have become through the ups and downs of a franchise that had no idea it was selecting its right tackle of the foreseeable future when they made a 7th round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. They are obviously glad they did, but don't take my word for it, because there's no shortage of people who know far better what Zach Strief has long meant to a team that will miss his unifying, experienced, and good-humored presence no matter how talented they are in the trenches...
If The NCAA Didn't Consider The FBI's Investigation During 'Selection Sunday' Then I Somehow Have Even Less Respect For Them
I don't want to say the tweet above is full-on bull feces, because dying on a hill doubting the NCAA's seemingly profound inability to save their own face is just not something that I am willing to do. I'd think it "never came up in the room" because taking the opportunity to sidestep further bad publicity when it's presented to you can quite easily go without saying, but let's not forget the lack of self awareness of those who were talking. If for no other reason then they can't possibly be expected to avoid tripping over their own tail, the decision to actively withhold the spotlight from universities that are currently squinting in the direction of the law's collective MagLite is one that might not be so obvious.
That being said, it absolutely should be. We're talking about college sports programs that have drawn the ire of the same organization that's tasked with tackling terrorism. I too find it laughable that the FBI figures it a federal offense that some unpaid laborers are being financially incentivized under the table. However, considering that they apparently do, it's probably best that the business whose model encourages such practices doesn't let their most red-handed of participants join in the most high-profile of reindeer games when given the option not to.
If you want to argue on behalf of the justice system's mantra of "innocent until proven guilty" then be my guest, but do so knowing that - even prior to these allegations - there was nothing just about the way the NCAA operates. Sure, I feel for the athletes who got denied the chance to go dancing, but turning away those most likely to cut the line as the bracket neared capacity would actually be the most honorable thing that the NCAA has ever done...even if it would "hypothetically" be an act of self preservation.
Someone has to be left on the outside looking in, and I can't think of a group that's less deserving of one shining moment than those that are suspected of cheating their way to nothing more than mediocrity. I don't even particularly care about colleges illegally paying their players, but if you're going to risk your reputation for a shot at glory than your RPI better be beyond reproach. There's no shortage of indefinite factors that play into Selection Sunday, so I think it's safe to say that even felonies that are debatable in nature meet the low bar of valued variables when it comes to deciding on bubble teams.
SportsNet- NHL players and coaches have been vocal in their criticism of goaltender interference calls and non-calls this season and the league wants it to stop.
The topic will be addressed at the upcoming general managers meetings later this month, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
“We’ve been talking for a while about how this issue will be discussed but I think there’s going to be another pushback and that comes from Colin Campbell, who runs the NHL’s hockey operations department, who’s going to give the message across that it’s not OK to have the type of criticism we saw from [Toronto Maple Leafs coach] Mike Babcock [earlier this week],” Johnston said Saturday during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
Johnston added: “There’s a feeling at the league office that this is not something that’s productive to the process whatsoever, the amount of complaining that’s gone on about it. … So there will be a continued discussion about where this is going, what’s happening, and the league has tried to be as transparent as it can with these rulings but certainly the message will be, ‘Don’t air your public laundry here to the press.’”
For what it's worth, the NHL doesn't differ all that much from just about every person reading this. Maybe we should demand more of a multi-billion dollar business that's often relatively successful despite itself, but let's not act like having their flaws candidly discussed is something that most people are open to. Hell, if I wasn't so tired of being cautiously pessimistic following the scoring of almost every goal, I might even be able to relate to the NHL's unwillingness to accept responsibility for their own inability to change for the better. I'm not an entity that prides itself on being the home of the most talented hockey players on the planet, but if I was? Boy, I would really hate to hear how badly I was self sabotaging their entertainment value. Having to address every single problem that pops up due to my own failure to be proactive? Yikes, that sounds exhausting.
Now, I suppose you could consider it a "to whom much is given, much is expected" situation, but much is also given to NHL players and coaches, so they too should be expected to do the near impossible by keeping their mouthes shut when the fruits of their finest efforts are made rotten by inconsistent replay reversals. Granted, all they are really asking for is some clarification on plays that undeniably have a lasting impact on the outcome of games that could hypothetically come to affect their job security, but is a common understanding really worth forcing Colin Campbell, Gary Bettman, and his boys to take a long bias-free look in the bathroom mirror?
Full disclosure, I would be much closer to being on the league's side if they just came forward and said that what they were actually just tired of is watching clips of Mike Babcock making the same complaint over, and over, and over again through the scrunched facial expression that looks like it belongs to someone whose beer is eternally bitter and whose lip eternally smells of a freshly fertilized toilet. More people could get behind that cause than one that's aimed that letting the NHL carry on business as counterproductive as usual.
The Saints And Drew Brees Are Experiencing "Miscommunication" In Trying To Get A Deal Done Before Monday
I suppose it was only a matter of time, and I say that not because the deadline was looming, but rather because prior negotiations between the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees have - even at their most inevitable - always been clouded with an air of uncertainty. This news popping up out of nowhere is slightly discouraging, but it's only a break from what was anything but the norm. The way the two sides have been fawning over their future together this offseason has been the exception, not the rule, so a little bit of untimely "miscommunication" is nothing compared to what's sickened Saints' fans in the past.
That said, what in the actual fuck is this "miscommunication" we are speaking of? You know what I consider "miscommunication"? When I tell the dude at the drive-thru that I don't want cheese on my burger only to end up with cheese on my burger, and that's resolved with nothing more than an awkward convo and the swallowing of pride that looks a hell of a lot like spit. I'd say the fate of a resurgent franchise is a little more important than my dairy intake, so it would be great if the two parties could stop hammering out the details of a deal by way of string-attached solo cups from across the yard.
Now, I still don't have much doubt that Drew Brees, when all is said and done, will be back in the black & gold and competing for another Super Bowl next season. Still, it would be great if "both sides are pinching pennies tighter than the cheeks of their grandchildren" wasn't worded in a way that makes it sound like the Saints are one bar of service away from losing their future HOF quarterback for nothing. Hey Mickey? Drew? Can you guys hear me now? Stop coyly negotiating like two crazy kids who are unsure what they want out of the relationship, and get this shit done so my sphincter can unclench and I can get mine done. Thanks a million...or 20-25.
After 26 Straight Games Played With At Least A Point, It's Time To Fully Appreciate Both Taylor Hall And His Streak
What a ride. What a fucking ride. Let us, for the sake of the journey's significance, forget that it carries an asinine asterisk, endured more valleys than peaks, and came to an abrupt halt in a head-on collision with the drunken, swerving reality that is the Devils' dwindling playoff aspirations. What Taylor Hall has done all season, and specifically since the turn of the calendar, is thrown a young, inexperienced team on his back and dragged them to the doorstep of the postseason in a way that not only makes me question how much he can squat, but also a way that has never been seen before in New Jersey. Of all banners that hang amongst the Prudential Center, I can comfortably say that none of them are the result of such an extensive period of heavy lifting by one player, and that's why said player is the first in franchise history to have a legitimate shot at winning the Hart Trophy.
Now, the fact that it took something as fragile as a historic point streak (blow me, Bettman) - that he was about a half inch away from continuing - for his name to get legitimately included in the conversation probably says a lot about how much emphasis the simple-minded voters put on statistics. Regardless, whether or not he wins it, the man that leads the Devils in scoring by a margin that's so laughably large that tears would form in your eyes before you were able to double check it has been as/or more important to his team's unexpected success than anyone in the league since the first puck drop of opening night. If numbers are the barometer then consider that throughout the streak Taylor Hall had a hand in 38 of the 77 (an outrageous 49.3%) goals the Devils scored. That would be impressive enough, if - and only if - it didn't include the three games in which he wasn't even dressed.
But, you know what, fuck the numbers. That's a weird thing to say about a run that was contingent on them, but there's been nights where that 50% figure felt like a disservice to the Taylor Hall's relative value to his team. The more eyes that have been on him as he's dominated alongside a teenager - and for a majority of the time, two - the more often he's left them clouded with dust from the wheels of a one man breakout. Every time he's taken the ice he's been the best player on it, and he's needed to be for a group that often doesn't know it's ass from it's elbow without him.
If I absolutely had to offer an analogy, I would say that Taylor Hall taking it upon himself to go streaking saved the rest of his teammates from looking more hopelessly vulnerable than 'Frank the Tank' trying to hunt down a 24-hour KFC with his dick flapping in the early morning winds. The only difference is that most of them have been a bit more noticeably cold, if you know what I mean.
Tallying thirty-eight points (18 goals, 20 assists) in twenty-six games - with no shortage of those games ending in a way that left even the most agnostic of Devils' fans saying "thank fucking heaven for Taylor Hall" and the most god-fearing of Oilers fans burning crosses while tearing into an empty tub of ice cream - is unreal. What they have meant to an organization that's trying desperately to put an end to a five year playoff drought, however, is truly something that can't even be quantified.