Anyone Who Dares To Question Mackenzie Blackwood's Athletic Ability Should Be Prepared To Get Dunked On... Literally
Oh? So, it's like that?
I don't think anyone who has witnessed almost any one of Mackenzie Blackwood's starts during his stints in New Jersey this year needed to be reminded that his best attributes are his size and athleticism. The kid has quite literally stretched the parameters of what can be expected from young and unproven mid-season call-ups, especially considering he plays a position as pressure packed as goaltender for a team as fundamentally flawed and as physically beaten up as the New Jersey Devils. Still, I feel as though I just watched him take about six less gather steps than James Harden before jumping flat off two feet for a two-hand throw down on an NBA hoop through a monocle, as it really put in perfect perspective his physical capabilities.
Perhaps my brain isn't programmed to translate lateral explosiveness to vertical explosiveness, but I did not see foresee him turning an ability to shoot quickly from post-to-post from across the ice into an ability to casually dominate the post from above the rim. For the sake of the Devils' foreseeable future in between the pipes, it's a good thing he grew up in Ontario. After all, had he seen asphalt and picked up a rudimentary understanding of how to dribble a basketball on it during his childhood there's no telling which 12-man bench his athletic career might have taken his white, puck-magnetized ass to the end of.
Retirement Has Never Looked Better On Anyone Than It Does Former Browns' Stud Tackle Turned Stud Human, Joe Thomas
Oddly enough, I don't think Joe Thomas' transformation is anywhere near as shocking as the visual of it obviously is. That's not take anything away from the work he's put it in at both the gym and in the kitchen since hanging up his cleats as much as it is an even bigger credit to the work he had to put in on the field and in the cafeteria to do those cleats justice as one of the best tackles in all of football for over a decade.
I guess I just can't be all-that-stunned that someone whose always had an astronomical amount of athletic ability now looks the part after being freed from having to eat small cattle daily just to satiate the size necessarily to protect NFL quarterbacks from gassed up goliaths. I definitely didn't foresee him looking like he'd be a major mismatch for almost any linebacker if asked to run a seam pattern after spending no more than a year removed from an NFL offensive line. However, it's not like there is anything natural, normal, or comfortable about consuming 10,000 calories a day and carrying around 300+ pounds of mostly muscle if you don't absolutely have to.
Clearly Joe Thomas had to have himself on quite the regimen to go from a barrel-chested Paul Bunyan to a Bachelor contestant in the turn of one calender, but I think what's really being undersold here is the ruthless regimen he had to be on during his entire professional career to having him operating as a mobile brick wall to furious and fast freaks of nature.
Penguins' Fans Started A "16,000!" Chant In Honor Of The Amount Of Days The Flyers Have Gone Without Winning A Stanley Cup
While I typically take issue with those that swing down, as Penguins' fans undoubtedly did by verbally donkey punching a Flyers' organization that hasn't won a championship since attempted murder was both encouraged and celebrated on the ice, the rules are definitely different as they pertain to rivalries. Therefore, I can't help but credit Pittsburgh, as a collective, for speaking for their sizable portion of bandwagon fans in keeping an eye on 44 year's worth of calendars only to give Philadelphia a 5- figure reminder of their futility as a franchise.
I honestly didn't know the Flyers' perennial failures could be made to seem even worse, but slapping a number on it really draws more negative attention to their accomplishment of going nearly four a half decades without an accomplishment. A dollar for every day that Broad Street has been left pumping the tires of bullies as opposed to winners and Flyers' fans wouldn't even need to hopelessly play the 50/50 in hopes of financing a few more years of season tickets on which the investment is otherwise unreturned.
Pretty incredible when you think about. 16,000. Penguins' fans almost had to let them hear it loud enough for Doc Emrick to feel obligated to soften the blow of downright disrespect. After all, that milestone might actually be harder to reach than the promised land that Flyers' fans have been left somberly staring up at since the mid-70's. Certainly would be for the one particularly prodigious playoff performer rostered by their in-state rival for which nearly all of Philadelphia harbors an obsessive inferiority complex.
It Didn't Take Long For The Saints To "Center" Themselves, As They Already Filled The Spot Vacated By Max Unger In Signing Former Viking Nick Easton
The good news is that, between the quickness with which they solidified an timely weakness and Sean Payton's retrospectively suspicious identification of interior offensive line as an offseason need, it can be inferred that the New Orleans Saints weren't anywhere near as taken aback by the otherwise out-of-nowhere retirement of Max Unger as their fans were...
The bad news is that Nick Easton wasn't on the level of his predecessor prior to spending an entire season recovering from neck surgery, when he was being switched between guard and center, and thus probably isn't worth a cap hit comparable to the one that was just taken off their books.
All in all, it's a moral(e ) victory to be able to bounce back from such an impactful loss of talent so quickly, but it's still a decided overall loss with how much trustworthiness and leadership are leaving the building. The Saints also emptied out their change purse to keep Cameron Tom within the organization, so having two players with the potential to fill Max Unger's immovable shoes is a hell of a lot better than getting caught with their pants completely down. That said, as tends to be the case when perennial Pro Bowl caliber protectors call it quits, there's undoubtedly more skepticism regarding the Saints' offensive line now than there was on Saturday morning.
Nick Easton came undrafted out of Harvard, which - as evidenced by the immortal career of Ryan Fitzpatrick - buys him the assumption of on-field intelligence. I'm not so sure that says anything about him being able to keep Drew Brees' jersey clean, but it's at least something Saints' fans can use to sell themselves on his ability to start in the oft-pressured middle of a line in which knowledge is almost as good as power. The quarterback he'll be playing in front of has a tendency to make lineman look better with his pocket presence, but - for the time being - we'll stick with labeling the Saints' reconstructed situation over center as "could be better, could be worse". That's not all that awful considering the caliber of player and person they were left trying to replace.
Max Unger Is Surprisingly Sailing Off Into The Sunset, Concluding What Was A Smoother Ride Than The Saints Could Have Possibly Hoped For
It would be a huge disservice to the decade of dominant service Max Unger put in as the head of security at the oft-rushed gates to the thrones of the most notorious of vertically challenged quarterbacks to start off by talking about what the loss of Max Unger means to the immediate future of the Saints. The totality of his career is more than deserving of quite a few characters before tossing his name from the depth chart and flipping the script to the next chapter of the Saints' interior offensive line.
After all, we're talking about a guy that was so consistent in solidifying one of the only positions in which success can be measured by anonymity that he turned the most unforgettable of majorly forgettable first round busts, in Stephone Anthony, into a minor mistake. Meanwhile, his impact was larger than that of the infamous matchup nightmare he was, in retrospect, basically traded straight up for. You aren't supposed to be able to get rid of otherworldly weapons the likes of Jimmy Graham and live to tell the tale, never mind ultimately thrive in doing so, and I think it's fair to say that deal was made to look better and better with each passing day. That's no small feat for a center. Drew Brees executes his most surgically precise dissections from a clean pocket, and he was hardly ever done dirty with Max Unger snapping him the ball. The importance of that can't be overstated with how key the offensive line, by way of run and pass blocking, was to the Saints' resurgence the last two seasons.
I don't know that his retirement can be seen as entirely unexpected, as he's been successfully stonewalling 300+ pound physical freaks of nature for a full decade, but it certainly wasn't something that was foreseen outside the closed doors of the organization. Needless to say, it's an unpleasant surprise, as his largely penalty and pressure-free tenure in New Orleans was more pleasant than anyone could have imagined when it started. Hats off to him for being put in the precarious position of making up for the absence of someone who was larger than life in the Saints' offense....and, more importantly, succeeding.
In an expedited form and fashion that hardly allowed for the collective breath of the Who Dat Nation to be bated, the hole left on the line by the final farewell of a Pro Bowl caliber talent has already been filled, albeit in a way that makes for less stable grounds. However, it's not as much the loss of Max Unger's talent as it is the loss of his leadership and his fit in a locker room with boat loads of unfinished business that concerns me. The Saints were seemingly constructed perfectly last year, so every non-returning piece feels like one painstakingly pulled from an untouched Jenga tower. That's almost certainly an overreaction, but - no matter how good Nick Easton or Cameron Tom end up being - Max Unger's retirement definitely hurts the continuity of a roster that holds both a special and spiteful place in the heart of Saints' fans. He's earned every ounce of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his unforgiving labor, but he will be missed by the team for which he was somehow as durable as he was dependable in his captaincy.
John Elway's Reasoning Behind Trading For Joe Flacco Is Refreshing....For Every Other Team In The Broncos' Division
Seems as though I owe somebody an apology. Here I was assuming that all John Elway did by trading for Joe Flacco was further his annual streak of starting new and disproved quarterbacks that happen to be insanely average, at best, in the most basic of skill-sets. How could I have been so careless to do so without keeping some toast handy to make use of any potential egg off my face?
I mean, who could forget that the young and spry 34 year old is only now entering the prime* of his career as someone who has already put together an extensive resume of near flawlessly snatching the ball directly from the taint of an offensive lineman in just 11 short years of playing the quarterback position professionally? Me, that's who. I somehow let the indisputable fact that Joe Flacco is still 16 whole years away from being eligible for an AARP card slip my mind, and thus lost sight of the idea that he's still yet to have played out the promise of his golden years.
For that, I offer my deepest apologies to John Elway, the whisperer of all tall quarterbacks who can throw a football far, have the discipline in their inherent lack of mobility to never stray too far from under center, and are just young enough to understand all-too-well the value of a full eight hours of sleep. And they say his personnel decisions in the passer department are too heavily influenced by his own career path, HA!
* ...or is it twilight? I always get those mixed up. Whatever, they both sound good, right?
Assistant Coach Rick Kowalsky Forgot To Take His Skate Guards Off Before Practice, As The Devils Continue To Find New Ways To Risk Injury
Well, other than the fact that Rick Kowalsky's entirely avoidable spill was met with jeers and cheers as opposed to a 911 call and a vague timetable for recovery, everything about this scene sounds fairly fitting of the Devils' season. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, especially when you don't do the most fundamental of things right.
Honestly, the most shocking part about this is that it ended up being worthy of laughs, for if one of the few NHL mainstays left in the lineup had forgotten to uncover their blades you can rest assured they would have been leaving the ice immobilized with a day-to-day "lower-body injury". Go figure, the only person in the locker room that can take a fall and get right back up is the assistant coach that can't even remember to take his skate guards off prior to hopping on the ice. Perhaps that's what he should have spent the first drill teaching them since practice most certainly doesn't make perfect a powerplay that features Drew Stafford.
Anyway, in reading the tone of the team's reaction, it sort of sounds like this Benny Hill moment could crack the Top 10 of the Devils' most galvanizing moments on the road this season. I say that not because I think John Hynes' locker room is as figuratively fractured as it is literally fractured, but rather because they have only won 9 nine games away from home this season. Let's hope that blooper rounds out the list, for with the way things are trending they are better equipped to rally together for a fluke funeral than a third period comeback in an unfamiliar building.
A Former Teammate Of Ben Roethlisberger Is Accusing Him Of Once Fumbling On Purpose, Which Is Telling...If Not True
Look, I'm not about to go pixel by pixel in dissecting the perceived intentions of the players in a clip of a completely meaningless play made in an old game in which the outcome was already a foregone conclusion. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger fumbled intentionally to prove to Todd Haley that he is every bit the hard-headed, overbearing dickhead his now former offensive coordinator is, or maybe his fingers were half as fat as his face as he happened to clumsily jam the ball off the torso of his fullback in the most harmless of situation. It's not really my place to say...or even care really.
Unfortunately, it's also not really the point whatsoever. The actual point is that, all bias aside, you can't tell me with a shred of certainty that Ben Roethlisberger is above intentionally putting the ball on the turf as part of a tenuous tantrum. More importantly, someone that played a small role alongside him seems perfectly positive that that's exactly what his teammate did, despite said teammate playing a position in which leadership is absolutely paramount.
The truth is, it doesn't really matter whether or not Josh Harris is right or wrong. What does matter is that nothing we've seen or heard from or about Ben Roethlisberger leaves you feeling inlined to give him the benefit of the doubt in regards to what is an otherwise preposterous accusation. The fact that I used the word 'maybe' even once in a blog about an NFL quarterback possibly fumbling on purpose and putting at risk the health of those that are tasked with diving into a heap of superhumans in hopes of recovering said fumble is more than enough of an indictment of said NFL quarterback's personality.
I think you need to dedicate an entire floor of your facilitaties to the maintenance of Antonio Brown's mental state, so I'm certainly not placing the Steelers' damn near weekly subscription of issues squarely at the feet of Ben Roethlisberger. I am, however, saying I can't put it past him to "trip" over those feet in an orchestrated and counterproductive act of assholery, which is not exactly the lack of trust you'd prefer to have in someone who, contrary to popular belief, fancies himself a leader.
The Ultimate Backfield Bromance Has Been Broken Up, Though The Bond Between Mark Ingram And Alvin Kamara Will Never Die
This feels wrong. It just does. Even the greatest of things come to an end, especially in a business as cutthroat as professional sports, but you simply can't convince me that one of the coolest and most captivating running back tandems of all time didn't meet it's demise prematurely. It was always going to suck when I no longer had their shared postgame interviews to look forward to. However, being of the half-educated belief that if free agency was simulated 100 times over that 99 of those times would lead to Mark Ingram spending approximately the next three years seamlessly playing off Alvin Kamara, both on and off the field, makes this split suck harder than the most disconcerting of pornographic images.
Considering the context clues - be it the timing of his replacement, the rumored demands of an agent who was playing hardball, or the more than manageable discrepancy between what he eventually got from the Baltimore and what he was offered by New Orleans - I just can't shake the feeling that this officially disproves the idiotic notion that everything happens for a reason. Mark Ingram is supposed to be a Saint, making the fact that he no longer is that much harder to digest...
At the end of the day, it's impossible not to behold the beauty of a bond that was forged so fluidly that it got one of the all-time greats at their position shipped out of town in no more than a few weeks time. Mark Ingram welcomed the emergence of Alvin Kamara with both figurative and literal open arms, as the two instantaneously became brothers/best friends while in the process of becoming record-setting backfield mates. That friendship obviously isn't fleeting, but what had become a charming, bi-weekly look into it sure is.
The culture in New Orleans can't be attributed to one man, but Mark Ingram was definitely a leader to what became a selfless and cohesive locker room in what he did for Alvin Kamara, as well as what he allowed Alvin Kamara to do for him. I'm near certain the Saints will be fine in leaning on Latavius Murray to help lighten a heavier load for one of the most dynamic and versatile playmakers in football. However, what the ladder has with the guy that the former is replacing is so much more special than 'fine'. Therefore, it's going to take a while before I feel fine about no longer having a first hand look at the deeeetails of boom and zoom buddying up on or around the football field, because almost everything about the situation, other than its result, tells me the opportunity for them to do so beat overwhelming odds in being missed.
It doesn't take a mathematician to add up the bottomline of a set of decisions that were motivated by financial security and come to the conclusion that Le'Veon Bell ultimately lost in holding out for a full season in the prime of his career. Pending potential disaster, which was always the stick-in-the-craw caveat that inspired one of the league's most dynamic offensive talents to sideline himself, he'd likely be a richer man down the line had he accepted the Steelers initial long-term offer. Combine that fact with the lack of compassion fans typically feel for professional athletes that look out for their own best interests, and have a formula that adds up to Le'Veon Bell becoming a punchline of a cautionary tale for the best players at a position in which age and value are basically awaiting an ugly and inevitable head-on collision.
That being said, of course Le'Veon Bell doesn't regret his decision. We're talking about a guy that took a year long sabbatical from getting battered, beaten, and bruised only to return to work and guarantee himself 33 million dollars with the signing of one single signature before even having to "clock in". It might not be the most profitable one, but that sounds like a pretty fucking sweet deal to me.
Forget about the opportunity cost of the franchise tag he refused to play under, because I'd be willing to bet that you can't put a price on getting out of bed every morning without aches and pains. I'm sure Le'Veon Bell missed both football and the sizable paychecks come with it, but he sure as shit didn't miss waking up every Monday feeling like he got hit by a car every Sunday. Even if you set aside the prideful principle of the matter, which really should count for something, an absolute workhorse of a back gave his body, and likely his brain, an unprecedentedly extensive chance to heal as he enjoyed the fruits of his labor that had already ripened. It's easy to look solely at the difference in money since that's what made a mess of things in the first place, but Le'Veon Bell came back from a vacation longer than most maternity leaves and, at the bare minimum, tripled his career earnings to date with one stress-free stop at his new office. If he lost then nobody is winning.
If you don't know what he's referring to then you don't deserve to, but in the interest of full disclosure...
And all the sudden, after approximately 24 hours of unforeseen uncertainty, a deal that was once thought to be imminent now appears to be signed, sealed, and delivered in a legendary fashion that makes a day's worth of anxiety a small price to pay. Learning of this news by scrolling across that tweet on my timeline legitimately got me excited for the Teddy Bridgewater era in New Orleans, as if...::knocks on wood::...it's not at least one season of Super Bowl contention away from coming to fruition.
To be honest, it's almost impossible to view what is basically just a one-year signing of an insurance policy who still has a lot to prove in a rational context. This is a case of Teddy Bridgewater blatantly pandering to Saints' fans on the anniversary of the most impactful day in franchise history, and - in doing so - drawing all the parallels that every last member of the Who Dat Nation has probably already pondered a dozen times over. A 32nd overall pick and former starting quarterback in his late 20's overcoming a career threatening injury, receiving a skeptical reception from the Miami Dolphins while on the open market, and choosing to put the fate of his future in the hands of Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints? Teddy obviously isn't remotely close to Drew, but I'll be damned if the former didn't just paint a picture worthy of its own street-side mural of him walking in the latter's impossible-to-fully-fill shoes.
Of course, the date of Drew Brees' swan song has yet to be scheduled, so we could very well be having the same discussion next offseason, but that's not the point. The point is that the Saints took a calculated risk in trusting that their culture could make it pay off, and it did in a big way with Teddy Bridgewater having enough faith in and fondness for a franchise with whom he spent only a few months to spurn a starting gig. You don't turn down a bird in the hand for two in the bush if you don't love being a Saint, and you don't make a mention of the fatefully familiar set of circumstances that brought Drew Brees to New Orleans exactly 13 years ago without having some intention of putting your own personal spin on a sequel of sorts.
This decision speaks volumes of both the foundation and the collective personality that's been put in place in New Orleans. We'll see what the future holds, but you simply can't read that tweet from Teddy Bridgewater (and read into the good will of his $7.25 million being fully guaranteed) and figure it anything other than unbelievably bright until proven otherwise.
As Is Tradition, Mickey Loomis Did Some Magic Math In Restructuring Drew Brees' Contract, Only To Follow It Up By Inking Malcom Brown To Solidify The D-Line
First and foremost, whew. Not that it's as much of an actual relief as it is a fiscal relief that the Saints are setting themselves up to burn a whole hell of a lot of dead money in tribute to the illustrious career of Drew Brees for years after it ends. but rather that the re-re-re-re-restructuring of his deal is what's come to signify that the offseason has been turned on. Like the lighting of the torch at the Olympics, news that Drew Brees' cap hit has been tinkered with in giving a middle finger to the future of the franchise should be the first to break as the unofficial opening ceremony to free agency. Loomis math is a tradition like no other, so it's nice to see that Mickey has finished working his magic in mixing up a bunch of numbers in a pot and somehow cooking up some inconspicuous cap space.
Now, the first allocation of said cap space isn't the one that's going to work the Who Dat Nation into a frenzy, as Malcom Brown is neither built to catch passes over the middle or succeed HOF quarterbacks, but it's one that was necessary nonetheless. With Sheldon Rankins starting next season in recovery, David Onyemata awaiting his punishment for prescribing himself herbal remedies internationally, and Tyeler Davison treading water in the free agency pool, there was a hole in the trenches. Something tells me a 320 pound former first round pick is just the type of person to fill it.
Depth up and down the defensive line was one of the pleasant surprises of last season, so it's good to see it addressed in a fiscally fair form and fashion headed into next season. Expecting first round production would be a fool's errand, but the Saints aren't paying for that as much as they are paying for a slight upgrade who gives them starting experience at nose tackle and allows for the potential of Taylor Stallworth to come along slowly as part of the rotation. You can even tack on the added bonus of him going from one team that knows how to develop d-lineman to another team that's suddenly become great at developing d-lineman. Either way, it's tough to find flaw in the move. You know, so long as you don't hold it against Malcom Brown that his name is neither Jared Cook or Teddy Bridgewater.
Open Up, Time For Your Daily Dose Of Bullshit: The Lakers Reportedly Considered Trading LeBron James At The Deadline Due To Frustrations With Klutch Sports
Oh? Is that right? The organization whose glory years were fueled by star power legitimately thought about throwing the biggest fish in the history of free agency, who they hooked by happenstance, to the highest bidder months after having spent years standing idly by while every potential prized catch stuck up its dorsal fin and ignored their bait entirely? That's how it went down? The Los Angeles Lakers, whose basketball operations are run by the eternally grinning titan of tampering, have too much integrity to let LeBron f'n James and his team call admittedly regrettable shots on the heels of 8-straight Finals appearances? Jeanie Buss, of the family that let an oft-injured Kobe Bryant ride out a two year, 48.5 million dollar severance package that actively hindered the development of a young team, has too much pride to left the most impactful addition in NBA history make the business side of basketball more difficult? A franchise that has always been absolutely shameless in pursuit of top-end talent was pushed to their wit's end by their most prominent player ever being insanely predictable in sticking to that same team building strategy? That's the story we're rolling with?
Look, this isn't news. Not just because they didn't do the unthinkable by trading LeBron James, but because they only "intended" to in the same way you might "intend" to break-up with your girlfriend when you hang up the phone and tell your friends in confidence that you're tired of her shit. I have very little doubt that the Lakers were pissed off when they got caught off guard by the misguided power play made by Klutch Sports. However, I have ZERO doubt that whatever was said about 'The King' being insatiable as a historically heavy-handed and high-maintenance presence that blurs the lines between player, coach, and GM was said purely out of frustration.
The Lakers moving on from LeBron James, with over three years left on his deal, before even putting a right-hand man (aka scapegoat) alongside him is the most laughable load of bullshit that's ever been wafted within my sniffing distance. The Lakers' front office sitting around angrily offering up empty threats to do so in between repetitive and futile attempts to reach Dell Demps in hopes of trading the entire goddamn team for Anthony Davis, on the other hand, is not.
TheAthletic- The switch to a single non-waiver deadline on July 31, which according to sources will be among the rules changes Major League Baseball and the players’ union adopt this season, will eliminate the indecipherable trade waivers in August, baseball’s version of the U.S. tax code.
The idea, first proposed by the union, is to protect the competitive integrity of the 162-game regular season, create more certainty for players and force teams to decide earlier whether they are buyers or sellers.
As someone whose eye doesn't often behold the beauty of baseball during any month other than October, I'm typically pretty hard on a league as ruthlessly repressed by oft-unwritten rules as the MLB. That being said, I'm not one to deny credit where it's due, and - boy, oh boy - is credit due here.
I mean, the level of compromise is almost unparalleled. Only one deadline? Not even one post-deadline deadline? Surely there are more pressing matters like making sure every player who shows emotion in the heat of the moment feels the wrath of doing so, but deciding they could benefit from bringing a little clarity to their competitive integrity? What a novel concept! Cutting the amount of single, solitary cut-offs for prominent player movement down to...a single and solitary cut-off for prominent player movement? How the hell did they ever come up with such a profoundly unique idea? Talk about risqué! Only giving organizations one final opportunity, after four months of watching their teams play damn near daily, to decide whether or not their current roster is either worthy of improvement or demanding of destruction? I'm not sure those profiting hand over iron fist as Major League executives are ready for that type of pressure, but I sure am willing to find out!
Honestly, I'd love to sit here and mock the self-proclaimed stellar reputation of the MLB, but I can't help but commend them for finally discovering the definition of the word 'deadline'. If you're not progressing then you're regressing, and how can you even argue that they haven't pulled miles ahead of their competition by pioneering the introduction of clear-cut, cutthroat consequences to the business of professional sports?
Ring the stale booze out of what was Justin Verlander's month and a half old Astros' jersey, because making it so that you can't drastically alter the outcome of the imminent postseason by doing the equivalent of being eligible for an A+ while turning in your paper laughably late is worthy of a cheers!
A Night After Getting Embarrassed In Calgary, The Binghamton Devils Put The Flames To The Edmonton Oilers' Playoff Hopes
While I would gleefully give back the coinciding two points in the proverbial one-legged race for increased odds in the draft lottery, I can't help but feel like last night's convincing win was just as important as making another small but steady contribution to the tank. It definitely didn't seem like things could get much worse than being on the ass end of a 6-goal third period while Johnny Gaudreau beat a shit that probably clocked in at 3x his body weight out of the Devils' defense. Needless to say, the tape certainly didn't do anything to wipe clean the feeling that they'd thoroughly soiled themselves...
That's why it felt good to spoil another underwhelming season for an organization that ultimately serves as the rest of the NHL's constant reminder that someone always has it worse than you. A group that rosters potentially the most dynamic player in league history got the brakes blown off playoff hopes that had already hit the skids by a glorified AHL team that was playing their second night of a back-to-back on the forever unforgiving Western Canadian road trip. The Devils realistically have no business beating anyone with a lineup that makes that of the first preseason game seem strong, never mind handily beating a desperate team with fresher legs in their own building.
Need a little optimism during a dreadful year? Look at the contracts attached to the clown shows that put forth an undeniable awesome effort in a 60+ second scrap. The Edmonton Oilers are paying a premium for every single one of those punches for the next four years whereas the Devils are just going down swinging because they (and, more specifically, he) have so little to lose...
It has absolutely sucked being a Devils' fan that silently roots for a good effort and a bad result as they play out an otherwise meaningless stretch, but let last night be your evidence that it's a hell of a lot better than being an Oilers' fan. A team that had scored 7 goals in the 6 games prior to their current road trip nearly matched that total in having a stat night that shot out the bulb on Edmonton's last glimmer of hope. With the amount of injuries they've suffered, New Jersey has seemed destined to be a dumpster fire. However, with all due respect to the following players, I can't possibly conjure up a worse fate than having another 100+ point season for Connor McDavid pumped out to pasture by Kenny Agostino, Kevin Rooney, and John Quenneville.
It wasn't just nice to see that the Devils hadn't completely quit on themselves. It was also nice to see that, even while woefully undermanned, they are still capable of making other teams completely quit on themselves. Again, I'm not happy about picking up two points in the standings, but I am happy about denying them from a team that makes everyone feel better about themselves at a time when the Devils needed to do just that. Therefore, I'll consider that completely imbalanced...ahem...one for one trade-off to be an indisputable overall victory.
Any sentence that contains both the name Kobe Bryant and the acronym 'GOAT' is bound to automatically start a civil war of circular arguments and entirely biased internet opinions. However, upon hearing this story, I can't help but think that awarding the Black Mamba the title of greatest and most versatile venom spewer is worth the risk.
Put aside the actual playing of basketball, as rings and things aren't what's being measured here, and focus on how goddamn impressive it is to be multilingual in mind games. Kobe Bryant being well enough versed in Bosnian, of all dialects, to let a foreign opponent know that not even being raised on the opposite side of the world can save him from a customized tongue lashing is the stuff that legendary lunatics are made of.
So say what you want about his standing amongst the game's all-time greats, but don't tell me it doesn't take an unprecedented level of near-psychotic competitiveness to be the walking, trash-talking Rosetta Stone of perfectly translated insults. Kobe Bryant wasn't content with just letting you hear it while kicking your ass. He was going to make sure you heard it loud and clear in a familiar tongue. GOAT-level combination of savagery and adaptability, indeed.
Perfect. Just perfect. I say that, without a shred of sarcasm, not as someone who thinks it's an entirely huge deal that Antonio Brown is late to the first obligation he's had on the calendar since he got shipped out of Pittsburgh due, in small part, to his tendency to...well...do whatever the hell he wants whenever the hell he wants to do it. Rather, I say it as someone who is intrigued by just how much of disaster this unholy alliance could prove to be.
Never mind the stats he'll undoubtedly put up, because a relatively directionless team that's going nowhere quick bringing aboard the ultimate 'live fast, die young'-type character has endless comedic potential. Therefore, while I don't think something as relatable and harmless as running late should be the muse for a bunch of Bay Area think pieces, I'm hoping that his tenure starting off with an unexcused absence at an event geared entirely towards his presence is a sign of the melodramatic and moronic nonsense to come. I can't think of a coach/QB combo less qualified to deal with the shenanigans of a freshly and handsomely paid AB than Jon Gruden and Derek Carr, and it seems as though he didn't want to set expectations too high on day one by saving those shenanigans for his second or third day on a new job.
UPDATE: It appears his tardiness may have been related to him getting a haircut and memorizing his patently ridiculous lines to give off the vibe to his new employer that he's not anywhere near as batshit crazy as he actually is...
Wil Lutz Contract Now Matches The Level Of Comfort He Provides, As He Has Signed A Massive Extension With The Saints
I don't know if you can truly put a price on having the opportunity to breath easy with an unclenched sphincter every time the fate of a game is planted firmly on the foot of your kicker. However, after having suffered through what felt like a decade of the Saints hosting season-long tryouts in hopes of finding a mildly loyal leg, I'm willing to definitively say that price would even be higher than the market-setting extension that Wil Lutz just signed.
In the last three seasons alone, the guy who was presumed to be just another inevitably forgotten name on a long list of fickle feet probably added that many years and more to my life span with how consistent and confident he's been in spots big and small. A lot has changed since 7-9 was a way of life in New Orleans, and perhaps the most underrated of those changes is being able to damn near guarantee at least an automatic three points within the opponent's 35 yard line. It's probably better left unsaid that the Saints have found some fucked up ways to lose games over the years, but not having to worry about the polarizing practice of placekicking and all its moving parts has really helped to dull the feeling of impending doom.
Simply put, Wil Lutz has been nothing short of money since Sean Payton, by a painstaking process of elimination, finally pinned the tail on an absolute donkey of a kicker, so it's about time his salary matched his success rate. Especially since it stays with the trend of compensating and keeping in tact one of the best and most tight-knit special teams units in the NFL. Don't even act like you can't feel the love...
The Internal Screams Of Saints' Fans Can Be Heard From Space, As Mark Ingram Just Signed With The Ravens For A Repulsively Fair Price
Half a million dollars per season. That's it. That's all.
There was one thing capable of putting out the fire that was sparked in Saints' fans when they indirectly learned of a beloved, long-time team leader having already worn the Fleur-de-lis for the final time. That thing was an absolute albatross of a contract would allow everyone to be happy that Mark Ingram finally secured his long-overdue bag, as well as glad that the cap-strapped team with which he grew from a scapegoat to a galvanizing force - both on and off the field - didn't meet the contractual demands of a 29 year old running back. Twenty-one million over three years, or something north of it, and I'd be able to stomach the idea of Latavius Murray taking over the reigns that he'll never be able to pull as prominently as the player he's replacing. Instead, an integral piece of a Super Bowl caliber team has a new home due to a breakup over the monetary equivalent of trivial matters. Half a million dollars per season. That was ultimately the disparity, as if the thought of Mark Ingram in colors other than black & gold hadn't already made me sick enough.
There's fingers to be pointed everywhere. At the Saints for not being more patient. At Mark Ingram's agent for being too greedy. At the entire concept of free agency, during which time is of the essence and markets can be so easily misread. Much like those that take sides after a divorce, I want to be able to lay all the blame on one person, but the truth is that marriages don't end without regrettable mistakes being made by both parties.
Knowing what they know now, I have the sneaking suspicion that both the New Orleans Saints and someone that embodies absolutely everything that they currently stand for would have been more than happy to extend their relationship by another three years for the more than fair price of fifteen million. If they could turn back time, I'm near certain they could have found a way to work things out.
What makes this change so painful isn't that it happened as much as how it happened appearing to be entirely avoidable. All else being so damn close to equal, New Orleans would rather have Mark Ingram and Mark Ingram would rather be in NOLA. There's very little doubt in mind that that's the case, just as there is very little doubt in mind that neither feels great about the results in the immediate wake of their business decisions. To consider each other 'the one that got away' might be a bit overdramatic, but I presume you'd be hard pressed to find a player in that locker room - from Alvin Kamara to Cameron Jordan and everyone in between - that isn't heartbroken by the absence of what was an unmistakable part of its soul. Especially now that said absence has proved completely unnecessary. Mark Ingram overplayed his hand, the Saints folded theirs too soon, and both are going to need to work on their poker face if their disappointment is anywhere near as palpable as that of the fans.
The Worst Run Franchise In Football Traded One Of Their Best Players To An Upstart Team That's Quite Familiar With That Designation
Rest easy, degenerate gamblers. While you might be a couple idiotic picks away from having to search the couch cushions to keep the lights on, you most certainly didn't bet $35 million dollars, albeit indirectly, on the cowardly corpse of Eli Manning to lead a team to contention without an offensive line...
Much like drafting someone with generational talent at #2 overall, signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a monster deal carrying enough dead money to fill a casket that would need a dozen pallbearers if moved wasn't the problem. The problem was thinking those weapons would translate to wins with someone who was more likely to sack himself than attempt a pass longer than 20 yards at the helm. The issue isn't that the Giants sucked last year. The issue is that Giants were the only ones that didn't realize they were going to suck last year, and that lack of self awareness led to the type of mismanagement that borders on malpractice.
Dave Gettleman, in his infinite wisdom, basically threw a beautifully woven tapestry over a hole in the roof, as if that was enough to keep the Giants' house in order. Now they have to pay out the ass for what were inevitable damages instead of just fixing the actual problem in the first place. This isn't even a retrospective view, because everything that happened over the last year was a foregone conclusion. Eli Manning was bound to be bad. Odell Beckham Jr. was bound to be underutilized. The latter bitching about the former was bound to be the result. You'd have to be more near-sighted than a quarterback that didn't look further than -2 yards down the field not to foresee that. Call me crazy, but that's not a characteristic I look for in any General Manager, never mind one entrusted with rebuilding a floundering franchise from the ground up.
What's funny about this is that the Giants, in dealing with the Browns, have basically become the Browns. I suppose that could change as soon as the upcoming draft, but - as of right now - they are a woefully run organization the likes of the one they've both taken over for as such while also helping to turn them into a division favorite. Baker to Beckham, along with the rest of Cleveland's weapons, is going to be a constant reminder of how badly this whole situation was bungled for no other reason than to spare the feelings of the otherwise apathetic face of the New York Giants' franchise.