Despite The NFL's Thumb Remaining Up Its Ass, Nickell Robey-Coleman Has Been Fined For His Helmet-To-Helmet Hit On A Defenseless Receiver
Well, I'll be damned if this never-ending nightmare hasn't finally spawned an opportunity for humor. That humor may be as dark as I've kept my bedroom in mourning the loss of a stolen season, and I might still be a solid month away from remembering how to smile or laugh at it. Still, it's impossible to deny the half-assed hilarity in the NFL being caught in the Catch-22 of wanting to stay silent in waiting for the backlash to blow over while feeling legally obligated to prove that they definitely, totally, and genuinely still care about putting their foot down in regards to player safety.
That picture is worth a thousand flags. A blatantly intentional helmet-to-helmet hit is worth $26,739. But the mental image of Roger Goodell cowering under his desk while launching the grenade that Nickell Robey-Coleman, in conjunction with gutless officials, officially made a mockery of the NFL's prioritization of head injuries at a time that also called into question the entire of its "integrity" in front of millions of people? That's worth...well...the type of masochistic amusement that's best enjoyed under the comfort of your own comforter after the imbibing of warm liquor. Of course, that's assuming you can continue to suppress the type of spite that will eventually/inevitably lead all Saints' fans to have a psychotic episode somewhere down the line.
Also, best of luck to Nickell Robey-Coleman in his appeal. I'm sure publicly and continually puffing out his chest about his attempted beheading of the player he failed to actually cover during the biggest play of his life will serve him well throughout the process...
There's A Better Chance I Watch The Super Bowl (I Won't) Than Treat This 'Sean Payton To The Cowboys' Rumor As Anything More Than A Pounding Of Sand
Full disclosure, I hardly have it in me. This week has sucked the passion for football straight out of my body, and it's that same passion I would typically apply in verbally wiping my ass with the 276th Sean Payton-related rumor that's been spread throughout the last five years. This particular one was started by...wait for it...a Cowboys' scout that's probably pretty tired of having the picks on which he stakes his reputation underutilized by Jerry Jones' ginger, clap-happy puppet. Therefore, it's undeserving of the type of piss and vinegar I would usually pour into such a shameless grasping at the ankles of the Saints' long-time head coach.
And look, I get it. Sean Payton has roots in Dallas. He has a history with the Cowboys, and - for some ungodly reason - shares a mutual respect with the half-dead dickhead that's been sabotaging his own dysfunctional franchise by overvaluing his opinion for years. There are plenty of dots to be connected, and yet not a single one of those connections is as strong as the bond between him and the future Hall Of Fame quarterback with which he has a storied, sentimental history and a damn near a telepathic relationship.
I know the Saints' franchise currently appears vulnerable, but we're talking about a young, Super Bowl-worthy roster with a collective personality, mentality, and attitude that perfectly mirrors that of its architect. By years of design, this Saints' team is Sean Payton and Sean Payton is this Saints' team. It's not remotely close to out of the question for that to change when Drew Brees rides off into the sunset, but - even though it's currently enduring the darkest of days - New Orleans still has a very bright immediate future. I know it's become a bit of an annual tradition to prematurely pack Sean Payton's bags for him every offseason, but let me offer the Dallas Cowboys and their entitled, bandwagon fans a phrase they've probably become pretty familiar with over the last two decades...better fucking luck next year.
Bill Vinovich, The Referee Whose Crew Forever Stained Super Bowl LIII, Is Also A Thin-Skinned College Basketball Official
My first instinct was to crucify the most well-to-do league in all the land for hiring part-time, two-sport referees to officiate the most intricate of athletics on one of its biggest and most consequential stages. After all, as the saying goes, "jackass of all trades, master of none". However, being that what's done is done, I'd actually rather Bill Vinovich continue to get airtime after the NFL season reaches a conclusion he made damn sure to be tainted. Lord knows his primary employer doesn't have the testicular fortitude to throw him under the bus, so the best the Saints and their fans can hope for is as many drive-by shoutings at possible.
The only three people on the entire planet who didn't immediately recognize that play as pass interference happened to be staring directly at it, with whistles tucked up their tight little sphincters, from between 5-35 feet away. I'm no mathematician, but I'm going to say the odds of that are a little too low for it to be a coincidence, so the non-call heard round the world was more a result of a chicken-shit motive than any sort of mistake.
For that reason, I hope Bill Vinovich and Co. get shamed back into the hole their heads might as well have been in as they robbed the New Orleans Saints of a Super Bowl appearance. It's definitely petty for a frustrated fanbase/franchise to hope that one play haunts them for the rest of their undeniably disgraced careers, but at least they'll know the feeling as that same play is going to haunt said fanbase/franchise throughout the remainder of its history.
So for those that might happen to stumble upon Bill Vinovich reffing basketball, or buying groceries, or quietly having a cup of coffee, or attending the funeral of his professional reputation, don't be shy in reminding him of his unforgivable fuck-up. Might seem a bit harsh...until you realize there's an entire Who Dat Nation that still can't turn on the TV, pick up their phone, leave the house, or close their damn eyes without being painfully reminded of it.
As One Of The NFL's Most Well-Respected Ambassadors, Ben Watson Called Out Roger Goodell For His Cowardly Silence Since Sunday
Sighhh. I'm exhausted. I'm just emotionally exhausted. The constant replaying, by it in my head or on my TV, of the most egregious uncalled penalty in sports' history has basically left my football fandom (not to be confused with Saints' fandom) in need of a dirt nap. So no, I personally don't care to hear whatever predictable and contrived horse-crap someone making tens-of-millions of dollars a year to take bullets for billionaires might begrudgingly be forced to mutter to a franchise and fanbase that had a Super Bowl appearance unlawfully ripped from their grasp. Much like every single coping mechanism, it's just not going to help ease the pain of a stolen season.
The ideal of integrity has long been lost on the NFL. Therefore, the belief that their Commissioner needs to be forthright so as to protect whatever shred of it somehow remains is actually pretty laughable. Having already remained silent through far more severe circumstances (see: domestic abuse) than anything that might play out on the gridiron, I can't - in good conscience - pretend I'm surprised that Roger Goodell has been as quiet as an alley rat in hoping this product-compromising embarrassment too shall pass.
That, of course, doesn't mean it didn't please me to see Ben Watson, who has been one of the NFL's consummate good guys for almost as long as some rookies have been alive, demand an explanation on behalf of an entire Who Dat Nation who has yet to let it pass. While the rest of the league yearns for the Saints and their fans to get over a historical screw job, someone who almost certainly lives by the motto "everything happens for a reason" is still impatiently waiting for something that resembles even the shittiest of reason, as empty as any subsequent apology might ring.
I think all the petitions, billboards, and lawsuits are more than a little much, but there's something to be said about not letting go of a blatant breach of trust until the multi-billion dollar business that oversaw it, at the very least, publicly acknowledges it. Call it "crying" if you want, but one of the loudest and proudest football cities on the planet isn't going to shut the hell up until they get some sort of answer. Even if it's bound to be an inherently and insanely unsatisfying one to a legion of fans and, more importantly, the pro's pro who is speaking for them and his tortured team after watching his surreal career end on an obvious injustice.
It Appears We Have Two Sides To The Story Of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare "Biting" P.K. Subban's Finger In A Scrum
Ha! Classic mix-up! Did one professional hockey player go out of his way to treat an opposing professional hockey player's hand like a chew toy, or was it simply the all-too-common case of a professional hockey player falling victim to the dangers of playing a non-consensual game of dentist with another professional hockey player? A mystery for the ages, as the world will more than likely never know!
As is the case with all stories, I'd imagine the third side is the closest to the truth. Unfortunately, that's exactly what makes it the least transcribed historically.
If I had to guess? P.K. Subban probably gave Pierre-Edouard Bellemare something far too similar to a Mr. Socko, and - in turn - the latter decided to explore the most trusted route to getting a grown man's dirty ass mitt out of his mouth. It seems like a bit of a dramatic overreaction to freak out over having your protected finger nibbled on, either incidentally or intentionally, when you forcibly put said finger in a position where it might be mistaken for bait, but that doesn't necessarily make either tale especially tall.
As far as I can tell, it was just a quick miscommunication between two NHL players that probably need to be reminded of basic boundaries so as to avoid resembling babies from a viral video while playing hockey at its highest level...
Here's A Headline You Didn't Expect To Read: There Are Now Odds On The UFC Fight That Derek Carr Challenged Stephen A. Smith And/Or Max Kellerman To
The back and forth...
Annnnd the inevitable betting odds...
While I'm not exactly the first to take that an NFL player, no matter his age or position, would be a safe bet to beat the brakes off a 51-year old analyst with no athletic background, winning that hilariously hypothetical fight is a lot less important than the war the Raiders' starting QB just lost.
Whether or not Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman have a point about Derek Carr's job security in Oakland/Las Vegas is incredibly irrelevant, because instigating him into gifting them endless content is the victory of all victories. Like, the fact that a professional athlete in the year 2019 would, either knowingly or unknowingly, feed the boisterous beasts that are shameless sports' media blowhards almost makes me as concerned for his future as his actual play this past season.
Of course, I'll never know what it's like to be targeted by professional antagonists who never really have to answer to their own bullshit, but I do know that the worst possible response is to take the bait. Derek Carr basically swallowed the whole damn reel by going the "oh yeah, well I'll kick your ass" route, as it is as obvious an admission of defeat as you could possibly come across in an argument. That entire exchange is a hilarious indictment of how much of a circus sports' talk has become, no doubt. However, it's a far worse look for the face of a franchise that was deemed guilty by an unforgiving juror of his own peers of shedding tears this season than it is for two dudes who are only made stronger by scrutiny.
Reggie Jackson Photobombed A Blake Griffin Postgame Interview As He Was Criticizing The Pistons' Lack Of Focus
There's two ways to look at this...
1) Reggie Jackson picked the worst possible time for postgame hijinks, as he looked very stupid inserting his shit-eating smile into a serious discussion of which he wasn't invited, or...
2) Reggie Jackson picked the perfect time for postgame hijinks, as he basically interrupted Blake Griffin's appraisal only to prove it entirely accurate by being far too excited about holding on to a victory over an equally bad Pelicans' team.
As awkward as it was to watch, I think I'm rolling with the latter here, as I don't think a point has ever been cased quite as quickly as the assessment that part of the Pistons' problem is that they are made far too merry by mediocrity. As evidenced by the towel he draped over his unmistakably frustrated face as soon as he realized what was happening, Blake Griffin likely wanted to use it to ring his tone-deaf teammate's neck in that misread moment. In retrospect, however, there's something very settling about having a somewhat unsavory observation about your own team accompanied by immediate visual evidence.
Photoshop Detroit's record into that screenshot, throw it up on the projector during film study, and you have yourself a pretty powerful message about complacency. I don't know if that's more to the credit of Blake Griffin's leadership or more to the credit of Reggie Jackson's jackassery, but the combination made for an undeniable indictment of a team that now has no choice but to plead guilty to the charge of being too easily appeased. Especially since killing the messenger isn't liable to do them any good...
PJ Tucker Was Straight Stupidified By An In-Bounds In His Direction While The Knicks Scooped It Up To Cut The Rockets' Lead To One In The Final Minute
So, the easy joke to make here is that every extra in the Rockets' one-man-show has become so unfamiliar with receiving the rock that one was taken aback by it like he was blinded by the spotlight until the Knicks helped themselves to two free points in crunch time.
The thing is, I'm not so sure that's as much of a punchline as it is the only actual explanation for PJ Tucker appearing as though his controller shut off in the final minute of a one-possession NBA game. Other than the otherwise savvy veteran expecting James Harden to swoop in, snag his most prized possession, and dribble the air out of in en route to his home at the free throw stripe in adding to another insane offensive effort, what else could have possibly been going through the mind of PJ Tucker as he treated a live ball as if it had either fangs or cooties?
It's not often that the most hilarious way of viewing a laughable blooper is also the most logical, but - assuming one of the NBA's preeminent hustle players wasn't body-snatched by JR Smith - I can't think of a better reason for that brain fart than a fear of interfering with the beard. It's almost impossible to hate on what James Harden is doing in making history on a bi-weekly basis...
However, considering how often they stand around watching, it would make sense if the first instinct of some of his teammates was to do just that when unexpectedly offered the rarest of opportunities to handle the ball. Well, at least it would make more sense than any other excuse PJ Tucker might have for being stunned stiff like the loose ball just pulled a loaded gun on him.
Sigh, did he really have to get a car involved? Seriously, had PJ Williams gotten blind drunk and done literally anything other than gotten behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in the wake of the 'NOLA no-call' then I'd be able to blame it on the ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-asshole officials who flipped the entire temperament of substance abuse in New Orleans by way of their untimely cowardice. The defense of being driven to drink would totally hold up so long as he didn't return the damn favor. I can totally sympathize with drinking more and caring less, as - other than hopelessly attempting to raise my spirit by way of a raised spirit - I haven't given a single fuck about a single thing since the Sunday afternoon that stole my soul. You just can't be excused for doing so while having the pedal to the medal of a death trap.
Sean Payton should have seriously considered making the Saints put their keys in a bowl before embarking on any sort of entirely understandable binger. After all, if PJ Williams, or any other Saints' player for that matter, had gotten arrested for being either drunk in public or drunk and disorderly then that case would be dismissed faster than every one that anyone could make me for me to actually watch a tainted Super Bowl. Instead, he learned no lessons from the black dot punctuating Willie Snead's DUI-enabled demise in an offense of which he had previously proved himself pivotal. I don't know what's going to happen with PJ Williams in free agency. I can't imagine he did himself any favors by following up a season in which he went from a certifiable scapegoat to a steady slot corner by weaving through traffic with booze on his breath when he would have been pardoned by the Who Dat Nation for engaging in almost any other type of destructive behavior with booze on his breath.
P.S. We should have known he was on one...
Luka 'Lou Ferrigno' Doncic Turned His Jersey Into The Deepest Of V-Neck After Coming Up Short On A Halftime Heave
Well, I suppose we can add that to the legend of the ridiculously talented rookie who already appears well en route to making multiple organizations look historically stupid for passing on him.
Personally, I would have saved the unveiling of the Hulkamania-inspired show of strength for after a game-winning three that came on a 6.5-foot step back that defied the bounds of both biology and physics. In my opinion, busting out the jersey tear due to the frustration of missing on an inconsequential halftime heave seems like both an overreaction and a complete waste. I mean, it was still funny to watch an NBA player rip right through his uniform with ease, but doing so after a play that actually meant something would have packed far more a punch. Even if it does speak to Luka Doncic's absurd skill-set that a prayer of a forced, off-balance floater from three-point range falling short leaves him as internally infuriated as the average NBA player might be made by botching a wide-open lay-up in a big spot.
I'm going to go ahead and suggest something that might be unpopular around parts of the internet that might not want to spare the person who has served as the NHL's most consistent punchline of one last hilarious left hook. Is it at all possible that the organization that kept a woefully inept team-builder employed for multiple seasons during which he counterproductively worked in opposition of the best hockey player in the world is worthy of more blame than the recently canned GM himself?
Of course, the sequence of events that have played out in Edmonton over the last couple days isn't a great look for the guy that finally performed his way out of a high-profile job. It's just undeniably a worse look for the franchise that let him go out with the type of bang that makes you wonder if an idiot is as problematic as his enablers. Allowing Peter Chiarelli to ink a 30-year old goaltender with less than 30 games of NHL experience to a sizable long-term contract (3 years, 4.5 million AAV) while in the process of being pushed off the plank would be absolutely asinine. However, against all odds, that being the case might actually be more encouraging to Oilers' fans than learning that Mikko Koskinen's deal was ultimately signed off on by those that are going to have to decide on Peter Chiarelli's replacement.
Theoretically, we're talking about a guy that has been personally responsible for far too much stupid to be deemed a scapegoat. After all, his masterpiece of mediocrity managed to spawn it's own motto in "the trade is one for one". That said, assuming he wasn't left alone to oversee an objectively idiotic overpayment during one of his last days on the job, that's exactly what he is as it pertains to the final move made on his watch. Things could change if Mikko Koskinen continues to be a solid starting goaltender. However, as that definitely still remains to seen, the Edmonton Oilers potentially made Peter Chiarelli's resume look even worse than it already was on his way out the door, which is as impressive as it is frightening for their future.
Dee Ford Wondered Aloud Whether He Really Lined Up Offsides After Costing His Team A Conference Championship-Clinching Interception
Just for the sake of giving him an entirely accurate answer, let's go to the tape...
Uh, yup. Dee Ford was, in fact, line up offsides prior to a game-changing play that could've otherwise easily sent his team to the Super Bowl. Actually, he lined up so far offsides that I might even go so far as saying that him being unaware that he did so might be more concerning in the long run than him getting caught trying to sneak out a slight advantage before such a critical snap.
Of course, there's a chance he decided to actively take the "ignorance is bliss" route in returning to the sidelines, but if that ignorance was actually genuine then my man's inability to perceive the depth of his own spatial awareness is nothing short of career-threatening. If I were one of his teammates, the only answer I would have had for him would be a clutching of his cheeks and a guttural scream, because that question is psychosis-inducing. Like, Dee Ford either needs a cornea replacement or a class in condescension, because either his vision was impaired or his voice was patronizing. Those are really the only two options, as his obvious and entirely unnecessary infraction was quite literally noticeable from the nosebleeds.
While Mum Is The NFL's Word, Nickell Robey-Coleman Continues To Publicly Brag About His Uncalled Penalties
For those keeping score at home, a shutout is very much still on the table. As of now, the proverbial JumboTron currently reads...
Number of times the NFL has publicly addressed a blatant helmet-to-helmet hit (remember when those were still being emphasized ad nauseam?) on a defenseless receiver who was yet to be within 10 feet of the ball going unpenalized: 0
Number of times the player who desperately delivered the dangerous hit has publicly bragged about/celebrated intentionally cheating his team into a last chance at a championship: 3
Full disclosure, the last thing I wanted to hear after the Saints were victimized by grand theft was an apology from a getaway driver like Roger Goodell. There's nothing the Commissioner of the NFL could possibly say that would make anyone feel better his own handsomely compensated officials altering the course of history with their gutlessness. That being said, he should still probably say something, or really anything, about the huge stain the shield incurred on Sunday afternoon.
A flag not being thrown was nothing short of an absolute embarrassment for a league that swears up and down that they care about head injuries. Yet, somehow and someway, the situation has become even more embarrassing throughout each passing day of silence since. Nickell Robey-Coleman is on social media taking a pathetic sense of pride in his ability to damn near decapitate a sitting duck, and the bajillion dollar business that's spent countless man hours hopelessly/disingenuously trying to model itself as something remotely close to safe can't even be bothered to remove their iron thumb from their ass and say so much as a sorry. Loyal football fans, outside of all 356 that reside in Los Angeles, have every reason to lose as much trust in the on-field product as they already have in the handling of off-the-field transgressions, and the league that thrives on their obsession can't even muster up a public apology.
I know I only speak for a majority of Saints' fans that, due to nothing more than the love of their own team, will be all-in on the NFL again next year. Still, this quiet cowardice that has allowed for a professional player to puff his chest out and peacock in the wake of his uncalled penalties, like someone making it rain out of the sunroof after successfully robbing a bank, only makes the decision to not watch the Super Bowl an even easier one.
The Officials From The NFC Championship Game Had To Change Hotels After Receiving Threatening Calls From Saints' Fans
PFT- The officiating crew from the NFC title game faced harassment at their hotel Sunday night after the game, forcing them to change hotels, John Kryk of the Toronto Sun reports.
The officials were escorted, with heavy security, from their downtown hotel to a suburban hotel, according to Kryk.
One official received multiple harassing phone calls before a local law enforcement officer took the phone and ordered the caller to cease and desist. Via Kryk, security remained at the hotel all night to assure the officials’ safety.
I say the following as someone who would have had to learn that Bill Vinovich and his band of stripped cowards kidnapped my entirely hypothetical child to sell into the sex trade, Taken-style, to feel compelled to stalk out their boarding arrangements and offer a "I will find you, and I will kill you"-esque threat over the phone...
Boo, fucking, hoo.
Seriously, I could not possibly care less that a city that was robbed of an opportunity to participate in it's second Super Bowl made those that did the robbing feel unwelcome within its confines. After all, the moral responsibility that fans have to put aside their irrationally emotional attachment, take a couple hundred deep breaths, and understand that it's just a game pales in comparison to the referees' professional responsibility to call it as they see it in making sure said game is officiated competently, never mind fairly. Since the latter wasn't fulfilled, I'm not about to demand that the former be filled. Especially since all the bandits in question knew damn well that a flag should have been flung, but decided against being the one to do so for no other reason than the woefully hypocritical goal not to decide the outcome of the NFC Championship.
It goes without saying that the failed to achieve that goal, as an intentional attempted beheading of a defenseless receiver whose brain was rattling by the time the ball arrived is what allowed the Rams to access their last remaining path to the Super Bowl. So while I'm not the type to play the part of the belligerent boogeyman, I hope the referees were scared. If only because scaring them straight (out of a job that would be better done by technology) might be the only way to ensure that another team, fanbase, and city doesn't have ever right to feel as though they were cheated by a crooked agenda. Do the most simplistic aspect of your goddamn job, or some of the impassioned people whose fiscal and emotional spending is directly responsible for making it a full-time job are going to take issue in ways you might find threatening. In this specifically suspicious case, I can't even blame them.
Saints' Owner Gayle Benson Put Forth A Perfect Public Statement Both To And On Behalf Of The Who Dat Nation
NewOrleansSaints- Yesterday’s result is still difficult to accept for all of us. I am thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game. Getting to the Super Bowl is incredibly difficult to do and takes such an unbelievable commitment from a team and support from its fans. No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field. As is clear to all who watched the game, it is undeniable that our team and fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday. I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations - fairness and integrity.
Our entire team is humbled and grateful for the support shown by our fans over the course of the season. It has become common for teams to proclaim that they have the “best fans in the NFL”. I do not believe there is any debate, however, that we truly have the most inspiring, committed and passionate fans in all of professional sports. This is true whether you are from New Orleans or part of our family of fans from the entire state, region and country.
The truth is we are more than team and fans- we are a family. As a family we celebrate together, support each other and sometimes suffer together. This past season has been especially meaningful to me as we honored my husband. I will never be able to fully express my appreciation for the way all of you have supported me and our team in honoring Tom Benson’s legacy. I know he is proud of this team and our fans.
While the way this season ended has left us all frustrated and disappointed, I am comforted knowing we will respond the way our community always responds - with resilience, fierce determination and love for each other and the Saints.
I have had many blessings in my life, perhaps the greatest is being born in New Orleans and having the opportunity to be a part of the Saints family with you. Next season starts now and I can’t wait to share it with you again. - Gayle Benson
As someone who knows full well that Roger Goodell would only work without precedence in exercising his unlimited power towards the Saints if it meant cutting their legs out from under them as a Super Bowl contender, you won't me signing any useless petitions to retroactively reverse the outcome of the NFC Championship. What's done is done, even if what was done is a huge disservice to the entirety of the professional football, the whole New Orleans Saints' organization, and their loyal legion of distraught fans.
That being said, it's refreshing to see someone as typically tight-lipped as a first year owner pull no punches in speaking, quite clearly and frankly, out against the league on behalf of those that feel nothing short of robbed by one of the most unjust results in its history. As evidenced by the love shown to Marcus Williams following an implausible loss that somehow was comparatively made easier to swallow this past Sunday, Gayle Benson is absolutely right. The Who Dat Nation is very much like an extended family in being largely comprised of a passionate and compassionate group of supporters. Look no further than the deafening decibel level in the SuperDome for all the proof you need that those for which she speaks are debatably the best fans in all of sports. Still, her decision to serve as a mouthpiece for the the front office, the coaches, the players, and - by and large - the entire city of New Orleans speaks even higher volumes about how tightly-woven the Who Dat Nation is as a community.
The fact that this particular Saints' locker room legitimately felt like a brotherhood makes the outward agony of a veteran leader like Mark Ingram all that much more excruciating to commiserate with...
Therefore, credit goes a fairly unexpected source in defending her "house", in honor of the pride and joy of her fallen husband, more gracefully than any other person either fiscally or emotionally invested in the success of the team that calls it home could possibly be expected to for the foreseeable future. It hasn't exactly been a hard bar to step over, but Gayle Benson - in her first year of outright ownership - has been more publicly forthright and critical about a play that absolutely demands an explanation (regardless of whether or not it would come within 1,000 miles of sufficing) than the scared silent brand that was made to look like a multi-billion dollar bush-league by it. That's nothing if not worthy of the unifying encouragement of another WHO DAT!?
I don't even really know where to start.
This was supposed to be the team. This was supposed to be the year. Vindictively, in making up for the year-long reoccurring nightmare that was the Minneapolis Miracle with a dream season. Commemoratively, in honoring the passing of their late, great owner Tom Benson. Timely, in giving one of the best quarterbacks of all time another massive addition to his resume before his age eventually caught up with him in the twilight if his career. Capably, as there wasn't any one huge deficiency to point to on a team that was rife with young talent. Culturally, as I struggle to remember a locker room that was as genuinely inspired by their love of one another as well as the undeniable bond they developed with both the city and fanbase. Their current construction makes it so that their championship window isn't quite closed, but make no mistake...this was supposed to be the team. This was supposed to be the year.
Now, at the peak of their powers, the Saints would have run roughshod over an opponent that was basically left trying to read lips as the SuperDome spent the majority of the first half deafening their eardrums. Holding merely a 13-10 lead at halftime was a huge disappointment considering Todd Gurley's biggest contribution was in handing the ball right back to a team that typically murders their opposition with momentum in the merciless confines of their own building. The opportunity to pin a figuratively and literally rattled Rams' team to the mat was absolutely there early on, and they were basically left lying lifeless in the middle of the ring until they caught their breath - plain and simple.
The offense failed New Orleans in big spots. Sean Payton made some suspect calls, Drew Brees made some off-target throws, and the usual suspects in the passing game weren't quite able to make up for a running game that was stuck in the mud. Then, when things did come together and they finally regained a two score lead in the second half, the defense had its own turn in disappointing on a crucial drive. As is usually the case when the consensus two best teams in the conference face off, it became a hard fought game in which one single play could eventually make the difference. It probably shouldn't have had to, but it did.
And when it did, after the Saints, despite a myriad of mistakes, had worked their way into a position to run that one play, it wasn't any one player from either team that was left to decide it's outcome. That's what makes the mourning period following this loss so much more heart-wrenching than that of that one fateful night in Minnesota. The fact that the Saints weren't even allowed to let a sure victory slip away on their own accord this time around. With a mind-numbing non-call on a play that should have been penalized six different ways to the Sunday after next, the officiating stole a Super Bowl appearance from the Saints. The Saints put themselves in a position to have it stolen, and they had ample opportunity to steal it back, but a vulnerable victim is still a victim. If the bargain basement bar for supervising professional football was met by those standing within feet of a collision that will clock in as the number one no-no in the NFL's next Illegal Defense For Dummies video then, pending a chip shot field goal from one of the league's most consistent kickers, the game is over. It's really that cut and dry.
So, while I'm not one to claim the fix was in or call into question conspiracy theories, spare me the "missed calls went both ways" narrative, because if that was a missed call then it was only missed in the way that I might "miss" making eye contact with an overeager homeless person. Labeling it a judgement call is only accurate if the decision to put on pants before heading into the office is also a judgement call, because making it required nothing more than the bare-minimum in terms of upholding professional responsibility. The referees didn't want one of their flags to end the game undramatically, even though it would have been one that definitively proved they really are prioritizing head injuries and helmet-to-helmet hits, so one took his hand (that instinctually shot directly to his belt) off his in actively allowing the Los Angeles Rams a second life...
Again, when you blow a 13-point lead at home there is no shortage of woulda, coulda, shoulda moments that you're left to live with. Still, none of them, and I mean not a single one, was anywhere near as egregious as the most blatantly ignored pass interference in the history of interfered passes. I typically bemoan the practice of searching for excuses following even the most disheartening of defeats, but the officiating of the most crucial play to that point in a Conference Championship was inexcusable. It's not even worth listing out all the parties that know that to be true, because everyone (including the player who delivered the hit) not tasked with maintaining the integrity of a multi-billion dollar product would have done a better job of doing so. The Saints cost themselves plenty of breathing room in a game they eventually went on to lose in overtime, but in no world in which referees have retinas should they have cost themselves a victory. That was the work of a cowardly officiating crew that determined the outcome of what was supposed to be a special season in completely counterproductively trying not to determine the outcome of a game. Credit to the Rams for weathering the storm and taking full advantage, but the wrong team is representing the NFC on the biggest stage in sports, whether the right team did everything in their power to avoid that being the case or not.
The Knicks Went To London And Lost On A Buzzer-Beating Goaltend, Which Is International Marketing At Its Most Genuine
There's no two ways about it, this is just a hilariously fitting ending. I can't say the Knicks put their best foot forward on foreign soil, as they blew a 19-point lead by scoring all of 11 points in the 4th quarter before beating the buzzer by tardily swatting their way into the loss column. However, London was definitely left with the perfect impression of the unmistakably blue and orange foot they did manage to trip over.
Without doing much research, I'd say it's debatable whether or not the Mecca of basketball has even been a first-hand witness to a moment quite as Knickerbonkers as that one, which is certainly saying something given a recent history that's as deprived as it is depraved. If the goal of global marketing is to give the rest of the world an honest look at all the NBA has to offer then the rest of the world is well on it's way to knowing the nightmare that is New York Knicks' basketball. I just hope they aren't disappointed when the next improbable contribution to the tank isn't quite as creative.
The Saints Targeted Fletcher Cox On Taysom Hill's Fake Punt, Though I Highly Doubt Anyone Would Have Stopped Him Anyway
Some people are going to shame Fletcher Cox for taking the NFL equivalent of a smoke break while on the punt return team. For a multitude of reasons, I won't be one of them.
First of all, the Eagles' stud defensive lineman was hurt on the play (potentially due to not being fully prepared to get bulldozed by three blockers and ball-carrying battering ram), and I don't think the recipe for the fat 'L' he took calls for the addition of any more salt to the wound.
Secondly, I'm pretty sure the success of every fake punt in the history of fake punts has been dependent on the receiving team treating it like an actual punt, and I have a hard time believing that you'll find too many star players risking injury (yes, I see the irony) by busting their balls on every run-of-the-mill change of possession.
Lastly, even if this particular one did, Fletcher Cox would need cement feet and about 6 extra thighs to have held his ground strongly enough to bear the brunt of the bowling ball that is Taysom Hill and his brigade of blockers. Fact is, I saw that play coming from a mile away, due to both the score at the time and how unstoppable it seemed. Credit to Sean Payton for dissecting every tenth of a second of film to ensure its success, but it would be silly to act as if the Saints' Swiss army knife absolutely needed the help of a defensive player who was going through the motions to carve out a single yard of space for himself. If Taysom Hill slipped on the stairs he probably be two flights up by the time he completed his fall. Therefore, while I'm glad he wasn't, I'm calling bullshit on Fletcher Cox being able to prevent that momentum-swinging conversion even if he was fully engaged.
The Coaches Of Both UConn And Tulsa Got Tossed For Nothing More Than Exchanging Some Words And Attempting A Handshake To Smooth Things Over
One job. Literally one job, and - as anyone who has tuned into March Madness recently can attest - it's certainly not to get calls right with any sort of consistency. Instead, it's to handle any cantankerous situation that might arise during heated competition in such a way that allows for the show to go on featuring as many important characters as possible. In college basketball especially, figures don't get more key than those taking the temperature of their young teams from the sidelines, and these genius officials tossed them both over a disagreement that clocks in at about 2 clenched fists out of 10 on the aggressiveness scale.
Honestly, I've seen more impassioned arguments during a Sunday trip to ShopRite, and these refs decided that the only way to settle it was to make a huge scene out of an attempted handshake. I say the following not to discount any of the half-dozen block/charge calls that were undoubtedly botched in that same damn game, but that was one of the most egregious acts of officiating I have ever seen. Gross incompetence. A mountain made out of nothing more than an emotional molehill. You would have thought that Dan Hurley's 5 fingers violently struck the face of Frank Haith as opposed to being calmly placed in front of it as a peace offering. Never mind reading a rule book, these clowns couldn't even read the damn room, which explains some of the illiteracy we see written into the game script come tournament time.
A Humbled Kyrie Irving Called LeBron James To Apologize For How He Acted As A Young Player In Cleveland
All jokes aside, as there are plenty to be made, this is pretty cool. I mean that as both a moment of self-awareness in which two former teammates who together became legends in bringing a title to Cleveland officially let bygones be bygones after their ugly break-up, and as a reminder that dealing with younger people can be just as hard as their head.
I don't think there's too many people out there that thought LeBron James always went about his off-the-court leadership in the most unifying of ways. Therefore, the fact that Kyrie Irving now sympathizes with some of his passive aggressive power plays truly is a testament to how frustrating the process of turning children into champions can be. Kyrie Irving reportedly went multiple playoff rounds giving the team he helped deliver a championship the silent treatment, so it's fair to say he was sometimes a dick in response to LeBron monopolizing the management of the Cavaliers. As it turns out, nothing will paint you a clearer picture of your juvenile jackassery than the next generation. So credit to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the rest of a young Celtics team that's struggled mightily with maturation this season, as their understandably adolescent attitudes helped force a phone call that pride had previously cut the proverbial cord on.
I doubt that guilt had been weighing on Kyrie Irving as much as the Celtics struggles, but he certainly proceeded to put it to one the best teams in the conference like he had gotten something off his chest, back, or mind...
P.S. Talk about timing...