Oh brother, I suppose it was only a matter time before someone whose name is preceded by Sister decided to play the role of Mother Teresa and definitively refer to the hypothetical favoritism of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If I have learned anything from televangelists, it's that the virtuous can only consistently open their mouthes for so long before they sound holier-than-thou, so I suppose Sister Jean deserves the benefit of the doubt for keeping her antiquated beliefs to herself for four whole rounds.
Plus, it's tough to be too hard on this old bird for chirping on behalf of beyond the clouds, because the truth is that God probably does favor the NCAA over the NBA. After all, the values of Catholic church and the priorities of college athletics align pretty nicely. If you believe everything you read then God appears to have a particular fondness for forcing his following into abstaining. Sex and money might not be the exact same vice but they do typically go hand-in-hand as the respective fruits forbidden of those that want to go to heaven or compete in amateur hoops. Christians call it lent and student athletes call it a season, but - at the end of the day - young vulnerable boys are being taken advantage of and ain't nobody getting what they really want.
Sure, the professionals that are lucky enough to be fairly compensated and receive a cut of the unlimited revenue they almost exclusively bring in play a much more aesthetically pleasing brand of basketball, but God values pro bono over proficiency. Well, that is until the collection plate gets passed around, and it would be rather hypocritical of him to get mad at the NCAA just because their "collection plate" just so happens to look like the swimming pool of Scrooge McDuck...
My apologies everyone. I'm afraid I may have misled you with the picture above. There's no doubt that it was quite awe-inspiring to watch Sidney Crosby, once again, flash Neo-esque hand-eye coordination that made you question whether you were under the influence of the red pill or the blue pill while staring at the replay in disbelief like it was the work of whoever produced the NFL's Fantasy Files commercials. Unfortunately, the following feat is not the one of which this blog pertains...
You see, no matter how hilariously ironic it might be, I just can't find it in me to laugh at yet another super original "he hit a walk-off on Opening Day!" joke. In fact, those of you that are in hysterics over a high-level hockey highlight should be ashamed of yourselves for overlooking the clear and distinct hazard to the health of the man responsible for it. Sidney Crosby will still be a person when his playing days are over. Therefore, I refuse to focus on a regular season overtime goal as opposed to the attempted murder that preceded it...
You might say that the porn industry would have long been bankrupt if lightly prodding a breast with a stiff object truly caused such a visceral amount of pain and suffering, but I say we give the benefit of the doubt to someone whose proven that the only thing that needs embellishing is his personality. With a record that's sooooo clean of unnecessary dramatics, I'm forced to assume that batting a puck out of mid-air for the umpteenth time wasn't the most noteworthy thing Sidney Crosby did last night, but rather that he was able to get back on his feet to do so after absorbing such a brutal stabbing. So continue to heap praise if you so choose, but you won't catch me writing about a silly little goal. Not when I'm still sweating out the fact that I was so close to writing an obituary.
In all biased seriousness, Crosby's game-winning goal is only taking home the bronze in most re-watchable clips from last night's feisty contest between the Devils and Penguins. Diving due to the mild dirty work of someone who is the furthest thing from scummy is one step up on the podium, and - sorry Sid - but taking home the gold is Blake Coleman's mimicry of Phil Kessel in a hot dog eating contest...
P.S. I truly am not concerned with who the Devils play if they happen to get in to the playoffs, but - oddly enough - it would be awesome to see a series between them and the back-to-back champs. Not just because they are 3-0-1 against the team that turns Blake Coleman into a human highlight reel, but because the matchup makes for highly entertaining hockey games that have gotten more and more chippy as the season has progressed. It's almost definitely not going to happen in the first round, but it would be a lot cooler if it did.
The Following Is Not The Plot Of A Sports Movie That's So Bad You Can't Turn It Off: A 36 Year Old Accountant Helped Backstop The Blackhawks To A Win Last Night
Don't even lie to yourself, you'd watch it. You'd feel a hell of a lot of shame for wasting time on mindless entertainment as the credits rolled on an unrealistic tale of a 36 year old accountant living the life-long dream of every person who has ever laced up a pair of skates post-college by getting forced into NHL action by an absurd set of circumstances, shutting the door on seven straight shooters, and becoming the one-off justification for every man that still clings to a boyhood fantasy by playing in leagues whose start times lend themselves to the fitting nightcaps of shared adult beverages. Still, you'd watch it.
So, I guess the good news is that we don't have to wait for some desperate screenwriter with the bargain basement creative wherewithal to manufacture a subpar script and hire a bunch of struggling actors to make a straight-to-DVD movie that would have to jump through a few judicial hoops to boast the only appropriate title, Bad News Blackhawks. You see, Scott Foster saved the cinematic world from itself by stealing both the spotlight and a preposterous plot from a hypothetically and hokey hockey movie. We had the pleasure of watching a guy that reminds every middle-aged beer league bum of themselves get his moment of glory, and we didn't even have to feel guilty about it!
Near midnight face-offs? Curtailed REM cycles? Slight hangovers and workweek aches-n-pains? Here we come, and this time it's with the reinvigoration of the previously unheard rationalization that we're not just wasting time, energy, and money on a thankless and painstaking passion!
Scott Foster didn't just do the unthinkable by stepping off the street to deny the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Paul Stastny, and Tyler Myers only to step back on it with numbers that are more flawless than any he's ever crunched highlighting his 14 minute professional career. He didn't just do the unthinkable by providing aging drinkers disguised as athletes an irrational aspiration that's slightly more commendable than slugging the entirety of a 24 pack out of a $10 trophy. He also did the unthinkable by requiring the forced and dramatized film that follows to be preceded by the most skeptism-inducing "based on a true story" in the history of Hollywood.
Sidenote: The dude who works in debatably the most boring profession imaginable gave one of the most personable interviews I can remember hearing from a hockey player this year. Obviously circumstances made both the self-deprecation and the laughs easier to come by, but his now former teammates, whose work can't be done on a calculator, might want to take notes on sounding a little less calculated in every goddamn thing they say publicly.
Opening day is supposed to be the one day that off kicks off every 162 game season that is universally lauded as a joyous occasion. Doesn't matter if your team is expected to defend their title or offend their fanbase, because - if only for one afternoon - the sun shines a little bit brighter, the birds chirp a little bit louder, and the beers go down a little bit smoother once meaningful March baseball starts being played.
That's why you really have to hand it to Derek Jeter. The pessimism that has been forced upon the entirety of the Marlins' organization and everyone that has a vested interest in their success is so unprecedented that it's actually impressive. I mean, even Mets fans were downright giddy in anticipation of the first pitch of 2018, and they have longstanding - and somehow still relevant - Family Guy jokes dedicated to the annual and inevitable demise of their drunken delight...
Meanwhile, in Miami, things are so dismal and depressing that not only were fans ready for the art of that hyperbolic joke to imitate life, but they actually preemptively prepared for it by crafting their own shame shams. Think about pissed you have to be about the state of a franchise to sit down with scissors and a shopping bag during a morning off from work in an effort to show your frustrations with a 0-0 team, and then tell me this blatant tank hasn't already crushed the souls of approximately 20% of its loyal clientele.
I want to say that was a nightmarish start to what promises to be the longest of seasons, but - assuming they didn't swing by Stop & Shop just to leave their message sitting under their seats unsent, those two couldn't have dreamt up a scenario in which their expectations would be met so swiftly.
In Continuing His Rookie Year From Hell, Markelle Fultz Accidentally Bumped Heads With Joel Embiid And Knocked Him Out Of The Game
I feel bad for the kid. I truly and genuinely do. He's a 19 year old whose confidence issues are surely made worse by the pressure he must feel having been traded up for by the team whose lineup he couldn't even crack until last week. Then, what happens when he finally remembers how to do something as simple as take a jump shot without looking like he's shooting a medicine ball? He throws a wrench right into the spokes of The Process by incidentally head-butting it's namesake into a hospital bed.
Now granted, the collision was initiated by Joel Embiid, but if you think that made Markelle Fultz feel less responsible as he watched his teammate - the injury prone freak who has the potential of a generational superstar - grabbing at his head as he writhed around in pain then you're probably the type to assume that divorce doesn't effect the children of it.
It's not entirely his fault, but the way his season is going it's not outlandish to think that Markelle Fultz would instantly incinerate if he walked into the church of Sam Hinkie. If one of his college teammates called him after last night's game and asked him how awesome it was to play in the NBA there's about an 80% chance that his answer would sound at least vaguely familiar to the following...
Simply put, the kid needs some new Friends. If not because they would give him a therapeutic outlet then because it hasn't been his day, his week, his month, or even his year.
Moral of the story? Much like girls, superstars don't poop. If nothing else, that ridiculous implication certainly explains how LeBron James was able to (allegedly) gain seven pounds during a playoff game.
Let me tell, this was some real eye-opening insight from Kevin Durant. Can you even believe he returns home after crunching down a gluttonous amount of gorditas only to run straight to the shitter? Here I was thinking that he was especially gifted, but it turns out his human body also reacts biologically to the ingestion of artificial Mexican laxatives in meal form! The NBA player whose skill set was previously unforeseen from someone of his size and the rest of us, kindred spirits by way of burrito-induced bubble guts and Taco Bell-abused bowels. Almost makes me want to do a quick crunchwrap cleanse and hit the hardwood to see if I too can become a generational matchup nightmare by consistently hitting pull-up jumpers from 30 feet out. All this wasted potential in a 5'10, mildly athletic frame that's also capable of digesting fast food in a way that makes the last five minutes of the ride home an intestinal grudge match.
In all seriousness though, this was an insulting attempt at sounding relatable. Of all the daily activities that he partakes in, the only one that came to Kevin Durant's mind as relatively ordinary was that one time a chalupa left his body quicker than it entered it? He honestly would have sounded less condescending and more self-aware if he said "I incessantly search my own name, anonymously talk shit, and troll the internet in the third person just like a normal person!".
What's that largely arbitrary and incalculable number of hours that Malcolm Gladwell assigned to the achievement of greatness in a particular field? Ten thousand, was it?
Well, I guess we owe Salvador Perez a congratulations for easily surpassing that checkpoint as a professional catcher of baseballs, it's just a shame that it had to come at the expense of his expertise as an individual. Poor guy was too focused on keeping his eye on 92 MPH breaking balls in as their bottom dropped out into the dirt while squatting in the most unorthodox of positions that he forgot how instinctually dodge discomfort when it's not an occupational hazard.
Seriously, the only way that transporting luggage could possibly be anymore convenient is if they invent hover suitcases. I'm pretty sure the last piece of baggage that was manufactured without rotating wheels was released during the steroid era and recalled by the time the MLB choose integrity over entertainment. Accidents happen, but they are more likely to happen when you're carrying heavy shit that, by name, is meant to be lugged and not lifted.
I want to say this is one of many freak injuries experienced by finely tuned professional athletes over the years. Unfortunately, outside of the inopportune timing that is the eve of Opening Day, I see nothing all that crazy about someone that puts an ungodly amount of stress on his lower body tearing a ligament while haphazardly walking up slippery stairs with his hands full. I'm not nearly hypocritical enough to not be able to see myself doing something just as stupid/clumsy, but - as someone that doesn't have a 162 schedule to worry about - there's less asked of my knees than those of the average gold digger.
The Devils Have Now Won 40 Games For The First Time Since 2012, And Here's To 41 Not Giving Me Agita
That close. That fucking close. It's impossible to say what would have happened if the Hurricanes had extended their lead to 3-1 early in the second period, but it's definitely not overly presumptuous to assume that the Devils were an unmade desperation save away from having a disastrous blow dealt to their playoff hopes.
As it was written, I can't say I'm surprised that a dead-in-the-water Carolina team that Randy Newman would consider less worthy of life than people under 5'5 forced New Jersey into catch-up mode by taking advantage of a bi-polar first period. Making things interesting against uninteresting competition has kind of been the Devils' M.O. throughout the second half of a season that, when charted, surely looks a hell of a lot like the EKG of someone having a heart attack.
That said, never has the constant peppering of an opposing goalie felt like as much of an incoming health crisis as it did last night. That's due, in large part, to the fact that each passing game is more 'must win' than the one that preceded it. It was probably enhanced by the history of heartbreak that's come at the hands of that particular visiting team. Maybe, just maybe, the uncontrollable thumping in my chest was just a sign that I should look into a prescription pill addiction if Damon Severson and John Moore are going to continue being a self-destructive pair that makes drunken college couples seem cut out for the long haul by comparison.
Whatever the case may be, it feels odd referring to last night's win as the Devils 40th of the regular season since the tension in the building was thicker than you'd expect to experience during the month of March. The focus and puck security better start matching the circumstances because there's not always going to be a Darling like Scott available to help dig the Devils out of dire straights.
A win is a win, especially this time of year. However, if game-tying powerplay goals in the second period against inferior competition are going to continue to feel as relieving as a post-coffee potty break then the push they've put in to get to where they are in the standings could easily get wasted with nothing more than a lazy dump....or whatever else you could consider the hockey equivalent of a discourteous flush.
Make Room On The Tour Bus, Ben Watson Is Coming Aboard As The Saints Continue To Get The Band Back Together
The Saints are getting the band back together! I suppose it bears mentioning that the band only broke up after failing to strike gold, but the instrumental pieces are in place for this sequel to be one of the few that defies disappointment.
Unfortunately, as if you needed anymore evidence, this is thee most official of admissions that the Coby Fleener signing was a huge mistake. The Saints let a 34 year old walk and spent a bunch of money trying to reinforce his vacated role with youth and potential only to find themselves happy to bring back that same player in the same role at 37 years old. As much as that's a credit to the ageless athleticism of Ben Watson, it's just as much of an indictment of the person whose subpar performance made for a rekindling with the NFL equivalent of a senior citizen. In essence, nothing says "I royally fucked up" quite like sandwiching a defunct marriage to a younger women with relationships featuring the same damn person.
Now, normally I would temper my expectations regarding the addition of a skill position player who is so far on the wrong side of thirty that he can barely even see the right side of thirty in his rearview, but there's something to be said for Ben Watson having already proved the exception to that generalization. That's not to say I foresee flashes of '15 when he was padding stats like a poor man's Jimmy Graham, but I do expect him to at least match the numbers he put up in a much less proficient offense last season. As sobering as the following piece of information may be, doing so would somehow exceed all the contributions that Sean Payton got from a position that he has an undeniable affinity for this past year...
I fully expect them to look for a long term solution in the draft, but bringing a friendly face into a familiar formula turns a "must" into a want in the short term, and does so at quite the discount to what it would have cost them to add that other former tight end.
I'm not going to lie to you, that clip doesn't do much for my argument that a sport that has a 162 games throughout their regular season doesn't need a preseason. I'm not even much of baseball fan, but as a sports fan in general? All the out-of-market exhibition games that feature players who are largely half-assing it were just made worth it by watching the apple damn near mimic the tree while in the familiar backyard in which it originally grew.
To my point, it is pretty telling that it took such an absurdly fateful set of circumstances for something noteworthy to happen during spring training, but even I'm not stubborn enough to downplay the significance of watching the city of Montreal and the forgotten Expos' fans get treated to an undeniably incredible case of deja vu. Vlad Jr. didn't just showcase shades of his senior in the building that the latter called home when he became just that. He basically went back in time and held up a mirror to some of his most awe-inspiring moments of his father's early career with the unmistakable swinging of a bat while north of the border. Tough to argue that the win was entirely meaningless when the moment that punctuated it was anything but.
Lowering Your Helmet To Make A Tackle Is Now Illegal In The NFL, Which Really Begs The Question...How Does One Tackle Legally?
May? Per se? Fuck it, let's throw in a 'perhaps' and 'woulda, coulda, shoulda'. Definitive terms be damned! If the concept of something as seemingly simple as a catch has taught us anything it's that constant doubt and a complete lack of clarity makes the disciplining of plays that happen dozens of times per game all the more fun! Rules were meant to be broken, and nothing guarantees that they will be quite like making it so that every routine tackle can arguably be interpreted as a penalty! If there's anything the NFL viewing experience lacks it's pretty yellow projectiles, and this change all-but-assures that you'll have the opportunity to look towards the top of screen to catch one in all its glory after every two yard run!
Look, I get it. You don't exactly have to be on the NFL's front lines to come to the conclusion that the first priority in "protecting the shield" is avoiding a nationally televised death during the war against concussions. The Ryan Shazier injury was wayyyy too close to terminal for anyone's liking, and this rule change might as well be in direct response to it. It's quite obviously just a way of covering their own ass come the next inevitable reminder that football - even at it's most cautious - is an inherently dangerous sport that lends itself to tragedy, but even if protecting the players from themselves is just a byproduct of the damage control I appreciate that it's being taken into account.
I just have one stupid question, how exactly does one tackle legally? I think I speak for all the players, coaches, and fans in suggesting an online tutorial (preferably dramatized by Dean Blandino, if he's available) that shows the proper way to take athletes who are asininely big, fast, strong, and agile to the ground without hitting them up high or ducking your head down low. By legislating tackling more strictly than the brain injuries caused by it, the preeminent tackle football league in the world has somehow redefined the word. Therefore, I think we all need a vocab lesson here. As I understand it, the preferred method of defense is now to throw your arm out in the general direction of an offensive player's ankles and hope they trip over it. Is acting as an unexpected curb to the ball carrier really the most rightful way to stop him short of first down, or am I misinterpreting an impossibly interpreted regulation?
I know this decision was made to deter players from going head first into battle, but it's morbidly comical that the braintrust (<----ironic word choice alert) of a multi-billion dollar operation sat down, tried to think of ways in which they could limit the amount of lifeless bodies, and their only solution was to throw weighted laundry at them. I'm not sure I should have expected anything else from a league whose business model is made impenetrable by continually blaming their players instead of tarnishing their brand by accepting its unavoidable brutality.
Thanks To A Season That's Been Inexplicable In Every Way, The Devils Have Me Worried About The Carolina Hurricanes
Home for Winnipeg.
At Las Vegas.
At Los Angeles.
At San Jose.
Home for Tampa Bay.
Not only did the Devils survive that absolute gauntlet of a late season schedule, but they somehow connected on more punches than they took in keeping their feet in a playoff spot that was in peril before they hit the road for a six-game stretch that's as intimidating as any you could realistically draw up while looking at the NHL standings. It wasn't without it's bumps and bruises. They definitely got knocked down, but - by rebounding to take two of top teams in Eastern Conference to task on consecutive nights - they got up again in a way that makes Chumbawamba look like nothing more than a bunch of binge drinking Brits that can't handle the occasional mixing of liquors.
5-3 overall. 4-2 in some of the most difficult buildings the league has to offer. 2-0 in a back-to-back against stellar in-conference teams that both owed them a beating. Considering that run of play, there's no reason for anyone even mildly invested in the success of the New Jersey Devils should be experiencing anything other than this type of loving feeling...
So why has my sphincter remained tighter than a fully refrigerated pickle jar all day, you ask? Why does a team that will be on the ass end of a back-to-back on the road with a depleted lineup, subpar goaltending, no practical motivation, and a recent string of luck that can be best summed up in the following GIF have me worried for the Devils' playoff lives?
Because playing up and down to their competition is what the Devils have done all year. It doesn't matter that Keith Kinkaid is currently as hot as a pistol, or that a bunch of the kids (mainly Nico, Coleman, and Butcher) have traversed whatever rookie wall they might have hit at the most opportune of time, or that Sami Vatanen has proved as studly as the man he was traded for, or that the only bottle Taylor Hall is consistently hitting is the one that resides atop the opposing goaltender's net, or that the lineup is getting healthy and mighty close to taking shape for the first time all season. If the Devils don't come out trying to jam a pillow over the mouth of a team that's looking to be put to sleep then they are begging to have the Goodwill they've collected the last two weeks bagged up and tossed in the dumpster.
I don't think anyone expects New Jersey to rattle off seven more wins to end the season, but - theoretically - they shouldn't come any easier than this one. They'll still need some help, but if they don't help themselves - when the standings provide no excuse for a letdown - then they might not even deserve it. They've put themselves in a tenuous playoff position by losing games just like this one, but if there's ever a time to help Dallas and Edmonton help you then it's tonight.
Jon Gruden Wants To Eliminate Instant Replay, And His Return To Coaching Has Become All The More Intriguing
Let's look past the fact that apparently a newly hired head coach that signed for one hundred million dollars over the span of the full decade he was given to either prove himself or receive the largest unemployment check in the history of the American workforce has no idea that you can't review pass interference, or any other penalty for that matter. I would find that somewhat concerning if I were a Raiders' fan, but that's one big "if" that allows me to brush on past an exceedingly strange display of professional perplexity.
Plus, the real storyline here is that Jon Gruden the television analyst and John Gruden the NFL head coach are two completely different people that can't coexist in the world at the same time. That may seem like a fairly ridiculous conclusion to jump to...until you consider that the former has spent countless hours talking his way through coach's challenges while the latter apparently has no idea where, what, or how they can be used. As far as I can tell, the Jon Gruden that's going to take the sidelines come September has been cryogenically frozen since 2008, because that's the only explanation for him going from a nauseatingly optimistic NFL enthusiast to him actively trying to set the sport of football back to the technological equivalent of the stone ages.
He, more than almost anyone, should know just how untrustworthy the eyes of those tasked with following the biggest, fastest, and strongest athletes on the planet while they engage in organized violence can be, and he wants their retinas to replace the the replay system? Either this is a Multiplicity situation, or someone blew on the Nintendo-style coaching cartridge that's been collecting dust in his closet and stuck in the back of Jon Gruden once he got his new gig. Either way, it's going to be mighty fun to see the initial results of his ten year plan that is apparently nothing more than "don't die"...
Hmm, sounds familiar....
Christ on the cross that was ugly, and I don't mean that as a explicit statement that takes the Lord's name in vain, but rather an acknowledgement that standing around watching a man get railroad spikes driven into his limbs would have only been equally as cringeworthy as that interview. I would say that Ronda Rousey took it a step too far in shaming someone for misspeaking, but acting like she had absolutely no idea what Mike Golic was alluding to was actually the best acting she's ever done!
And so continues the tour of Ronda Rousey being the most emotionally fragile person to ever achieve national notoriety through the fracturing of limbs. God bless her for parlaying her MMA career into other business opportunities, but God forsake her being such an easily offended ninny at the mere mention of the sport that made her rich and famous.
Seriously, the last time Mike Golic got such an irritable rise out of someone was when he failed to put the toilet seat down. As far as sports media personalities are concerned, his lines of questioning are basically the equivalent of slow-pitch softball. Yet, the person who was once one of the most intimidating fighters in the world swung and missed so hard that she hurt her own damn feelings.
I'm truly glad that Ronda Rousey has found success in another walk of life after she looked like she sleepwalked into competitive bloodsport the last time she stepped into the octagon. However, if that walk of life is going to continue to lead her down a path as public as a WWE tarmac then she better cut out the snarky bullshit every single time someone mentions her only reason for relevance. Simply put, she doesn't have to be able to go back in time to accept her past in a way that doesn't make everyone feel super uncomfortable in the present.
To be honest, I'm a bit concerned that the remaining structural flaws in the Saints' lineup are ever-present to those whose resumes of roster construction begin and end with Madden. We walk a weird line as fans, and it's one that borders on wanting to know what were talking about and also trusting that the people actually pulling the strings know a hell of a lot more than us. Simply put, if fan polling ran the free agency frenzy then New Orleans would be so far in over its head financially that Mickey Loomis couldn't even shovel their salary cap out of its cemetery plot. Therefore, it's a rare occurrence when the suggestions of the insatiable come damn close to mirroring the desires of the vigilant. If only due to unfamiliarity, this offseason has reached a scary, scary place in that apparently everyone wants nothing more than reliable pass catchers and viable pass rushers.
To his credit, Sean Payton has never been shy about addressing his team's wants and needs. That said, he's also rarely - if ever - sounded so adamant about fulfilling them while the manners in which he can efficiently do so are slowly dwindling. I suppose it's easier to sound confident about prospective additions when two of those three prospective additions don't necessarily have to be starting caliber players and your Assistant GM has proven proficient in pulling diamonds out of the rough throughout the draft process. Still, Sean Payton seems oddly uncompromising in a way that leads me to believe they aren't leaving a single stone unturned in building a championship-level team that's rock solid from the first man through the fifty-third.
Of course, that may seem pretty obvious considering Drew Brees' age and the Saints' Suh-sabotaged standing in the NFC arms race, but rarely due the observations of the largely oblivious resemble the to-do lists of those tasked with checking off the chores. The annual smokescreen has been lifted, and it revealed priorities that are so inarguable that it almost makes me want to argue them out of fear that I know too much.
For that reason, I'm glad he decided to mildly fog up his draft board with this gem...
Todd Bowles Fell Hard Off The Analytics Wagon In Explaining Why The Jets Traded Up To Get The 3rd Overall Pick
And there it is. Unmitigated proof that, even during the most blindly optimistic time of the year, the Jets still can't help but suppress their fans' confidence in the future. Against all odds, the reactions to their decision to make a substantial trade that's likely to have long-term ramifications came back overwhelmingly positive. For the first time in a long time, they actually seemed like they actually had a organizational plan in place...annnnd then their coach opened his mouth to answer a harmless question and discouraged everyone with a vested interest in his team by making it seem like he's numerically challenged.
I have no doubt that the Jets had eyes for that 3rd spot because it would give them some options in their seemingly never-ending search for a franchise quarterback, but how Todd Bowles was unable to convey that message without making it sound like he uses two hands to count to five is something I am unable to wrap my brain around this early in the morning. The media in attendance basically played a game of "pick a number between 3 and 5" and an NFL head coach whose qualifications are still in question responded with "6...wait, no...7". If Todd Bowles didn't have the personality of a pet rock that somehow got into its owner's supply of ambien I would assume he was trolling. Instead I'm just left wondering if he's strolling through Sesame Street trying to find summon Count Dracula for a math tutorial while the rest of the league is deciding whether or not it wants to fully embrace the arithmetic of advanced analytics.
Now, none of that changes the fact that the Jets will more than likely select the kid that they expect to thrive under center for the next 5-15 years, but it does ever-so-slightly change the narrative that they have all their ducks in a row when they can't even tally up prospective ducks without looking like quacks. Simply put, nice things - like hope - are not long for those that have been beaten into submission by the New York Jets' continued incompetence.
The Saints Lost The Ndamukong Suh Sweepstakes To The Rams, Which Sucks More After Seeing The Details
Well, shit. And to think, I had already ironed out the kinks in my "Suh did the Saints a favor by going elsewhere" take before the 305 pound, irritable bull of a man trampled it to pieces by settling for a manageable one year deal with an in-conference contender.
It was probably the haunting memory of the salary cap crucification that was the Jairus Byrd experience that had me feeling skeptical about going all the way in on a player to serve as a final piece to Drew Brees' championship puzzle, but one year? One f'n year!?! Not even the most heavy-footed of diabolical douchebags could crush the incredibly cohesive culture that the Saints have built in a single season. Here I was resting myself assured that the team that signed Ndamukong Suh away from New Orleans would have to worry about their long term investment getting sued for going full-Donkey Kong on an opposing quarterback, but a contract that expires come season's end? Mickey Loomis has taken bigger risks than that at the craps table. A measly fourteen million? He's cleared more room than that while on the crapper.
Simply put, this sucks. It sucks to miss out on a player whose combination of size and skill is as enticing as his character is detestable that could have made a questionable defensive line dominant, helped to free up a DPOY candidate instead of complimenting the actual DPOY, and balanced out a secondary-centric defense. It sucks to watch yet another NFC team get even stronger than they already were. And it damn sure sucks to see them do so at a bargain rate that has very little, if any, long-term downside.
If the Rams' locker room were a beaker then you might want to stand the fuck back and cover your eyes when their personalties start mixing. However, if they manage to avoid an organizational implosion then a Wade Phillips' defense that's now equally as scary on the gridiron as it would be in a back alley will prove a far tougher test for a Saints' team that, comparatively speaking, is only marginally better on paper.
With a one year deal that one of the most "strictly business" players in the NFL will have to play relatively nice to match in annual salary next summer, I can't even lie to myself by saying that his presence as a disruptive force on the field is compromised by his proclivity to become a disruptive force off the field. Unfortunately, as undeniably unlikable as Ndamukong Suh is, I'd be lying if I said that the truth didn't hurt.
As much as we all want to believe that ceremonial acknowledgements of death are celebrations of life, I think it's safe to say that they are typically referred to more fondly than they actually feel in the moment. Much like everyone reading this, I have been to more wakes and/or burials than I would prefer and - no matter how alleviating the reminiscing can be at times - the somberness of the atmosphere dampens the mood to something significantly less than you might expect from honorary festivities.
Not that there's anything wrong with family and friends modestly cloaking themselves in black to damn near silently offer a final goodbye to a loved one. That said, I don't think I'm alone in saying that - prior to watching a pulsating procession in the name of the man they called Mr. B. - I have never been dealt FOMO from the collective paying of homage to someone I have never met in person.
So, all due respect to everyone that's ever arranged a funeral that didn't include thousands of people marching through the street to the beating of a city's heartbeat, but what everyone even mildly associated with his extensive Saints/Pelicans family did for Tom Benson was truly celebrate his life. It was genuinely New Orleans, as was the person it loudly, proudly, and merrily memorialized.
Former NHLer Georges Laraque Accused Taylor Hall Of Going To Rehab During The Summer In Which He Was Traded To The Devils, Before Quickly Walking Back That Baseless Claim
Former Oilers enforcer and now Montreal radio host Georges Laraque revealed that Hall's darkest secrets prevented him from staying in Edmonton, and that they even became a huge roadblock in the Oilers looking to trade the top forward.
"Hall had problems off the ice, and went to rehab during the summer of his trade (2016)," revealed Laraque on CHOI Radio X 98,1 Quebec during "Le show du matin week-end with Alex Leblond", as reported by RadioEgo and translated from French. "When he got to rehab, word got out across the NHL that the Oilers were looking to move him because of it. It reminds us of the Zack Kassian case. When everyone in the league knows the player's dirt, it's normal that the player's value is going to drop."
Laraque added an element that sounds extremely serious and controversial about Hall, but leaves everyone on the edge, and with the worst of their own imagination.
"He absolutely had to leave Edmonton, no question." (h/t HockeyFeed)
If you were still questioning how low those associated with the city of Edmonton and/or the Oilers organization would stoop in justifying what's quickly turning out to be one of the most laughably lopsided one-for-one trades in sports history then you've got your answer.
Rock fucking bottom. Remove the scum from the earth and underneath you just might find "media" types/wanna-be insiders like Georges Laraque treating unsubstantiated allegations as fact in hopes of making the franchise with whom he holds an allegiance look slightly less stupid for shipping off a Hart Trophy candidate for a second pairing defenseman. I thought scapegoating a 24 year old with maturity issues for the entirety of a losing culture that existed prior to his arrival and has somehow transcended the efforts of a generational superstar following his departure was a cheap shot, but not even someone performing fellatio in a submarine could sloppily deliver this low of a blow.
The truth is, it's readily apparent that Taylor Hall did absolutely have to leave Edmonton. Not only because he clearly needed a change of scenery as player, but because only in Edmonton could the partying (that I'm sure was debatably in excess, given the circustances) of a multi-millionaire who spent his early 20's playing a whole hell of a lot of meaningless hockey games for an irrelevant and unaccountable organization get turned into an implication of, at minimum, full-blown alcoholism. Only in Edmonton could a biased, anonymously sourced accusation pop up as "breaking news" damn near two years after the entire league would have had to stay completely silent about a first overall pick with substance abuse issues that required medical attention. Hell, even on the off-chance Taylor Hall did seek treatment and - against all odds - it somehow remained a secret, he deserves praise for triumphantly overcoming an addiction as supposed to having it belatedly used against him by a third party doing suspiciously-timed damage control at the expense of a person who is currently at the peak of his professional career.
Taylor Hall himself has inferred that he's done a lot of growing as both a player and a person since coming over to New Jersey, so - if he even addresses this nonsense - it will probably be with the acceptance of one of the fastest apologies ever offered. That said, I can promise that those who've cherished his incredible comeuppance first hand won't be so forgiving.
On behalf of all New Jersey Devils' fans, fuck Georges Laraque. At his best he was a fight-picking goon, and somehow his post-retirement gig is even more harmful to those that are still employed by a sport that now requires far more talent than he ever had. The only thing more pathetic than a former athlete demeaning a current athlete by overblowing his or her personal issues in the undying search for attention is saying "sorry" approximately six minutes later. I think the goon that's thrown his last televised punch might even be less skilled as a radical radio personality than he was as a hockey player, and...well...that's saying something.
A Recently Fired Saints Cheerleader Is Suing The Organization For Discrimination, Which Feels Like A Long Time Coming
NYTimes- Like a lot of people in their 20s, Bailey Davis has an Instagram account. And as a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, Davis said, she followed team rules and made the page private so only people she approved could see what she posted.
But when she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit in January, Saints officials accused her, despite her protests, of breaking rules that prohibit cheerleaders from appearing nude, seminude or in lingerie. For this indiscretion, and amid an inquiry about her attending a party with Saints players — another regulation that she denies violating — Davis was fired after what she said were three largely trouble-free seasons.
Now Davis has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws. The complaint accuses the Saints of having two sets of rules — one for the team’s cheerleaders, who are all women, and another for its players.
The complaint, which asserts that the rules in New Orleans reflect outdated views of women, follows a number of gender-related struggles in the N.F.L. over domestic violence and sexual harassment among players and league employees.
According to the Saints’ handbook for cheerleaders, as well as internal emails and text messages reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with Davis, the Saints have an anti-fraternization policy that requires cheerleaders to avoid contact with players, in person or online, even though players are not penalized for pursuing such engagement with cheerleaders. The cheerleaders must block players from following them on social media and cannot post photos of themselves in Saints gear, denying them the chance to market themselves. The players are not required to do any of these things.
Cheerleaders are told not to dine in the same restaurant as players, or speak to them in any detail. If a Saints cheerleader enters a restaurant and a player is already there, she must leave. If a cheerleader is in a restaurant and a player arrives afterward, she must leave. There are nearly 2,000 players in the N.F.L., and many of them use pseudonyms on social media. Cheerleaders must find a way to block each one, while players have no limits on who can follow them.
The team says its rules are designed to protect cheerleaders from players preying on them. But it puts the onus on the women to fend off the men.
“If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,” said Sara Blackwell, Davis’s lawyer. “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”
It is not clear if the cheerleading squads of other N.F.L. teams have similar policies, though Blackwell said she had come across information suggesting the Saints were not alone.
At the risk of making it sound like I condone the extensive and lopsided lengths that an NFL franchise apparently goes to in hopes of keeping the hands of their players out of the pants of their cheerleaders, doesn't it feel like this story was inevitable? Not to trivialize the plight of poorly compensated eye candy, but if wasn't a plight they willingly signed up for then this would most certainly not be the first we would be hearing of it.
There's been a lot of times in which the increasingly common stories of sexual harassment and/or gender inequality have left me appalled. This, unfortunately, was not one of those times. It's certainly not fair/right/moral that a cheerleader would have to immediately ask for a to-go box if an athlete she tangentially works with wandered into the restaurant where she happened to be dining, but I'm a little light on shock and awe that that's indeed the case. We are talking about a league that was decades late on even pretending that they care that far too many of their employees are domestically abusive. Therefore, I wasn't exactly taken aback when I read that the demands they make of those who are paid minimum wage to maintain a nearly impossible standard of pretty are higher than those they make of the athletes whose efforts make the ludicrously profitable product possible.
I would agree that it's insane to fire a cheerleader for wearing a one-piece bathing suit on her personal Instagram account when that's basically a three-piece business suit in comparison to her workplace attire, but it's also pretty insane that the cheerleading profession has survived the first three months of 2018. The idea that the repetitive clashing of skulls in organized warfare that's cheered on by oddly excitable women with long legs and exposed midriffs is thee most wholesome of entertainment isn't some new phenomenon that's exclusive to the Saints' organization. It is, however, one that is maintained by antiquated rules and regulations that promote objectification in a way that's only "bested" by the the business model of titty bars. Being tasked with protecting themselves against the advances of intimidating athletes shouldn't be an occupational hazard and being fired for failing to do so most definitely makes for a solid case of unlawful termination, but let's not like NFL cheerleaders signed up for the peace corp and got sold into the sex trade.