In Overturning Taylor Hall's Jaw-Dropping Go-Ahead Goal, The NHL Made It Clear That They Tooootally Have Their Priorities Straight
You really have to hand it to the NHL. 'Tis the season for resolutions, and in erasing a goal that stood well more than an outside chance of being on every season long 'Top Ten' list, they got a head start on reinforcing their priorities prior to the turn of the calendar.
You might say there was nothing definitive about the footage that turned some heart-stopping hand-eye coordination into an unfortunate afterthought. However, what says "we must do everything possible to create more scoring" quite like giving the benefit to doubt when one of your most electrifying stars gives even the most casual of fans a reason to talk about your product? Seriously, that millimeter of space that may or may not have existed between the ice and Taylor Hall's skate as the puck passed over the blue line may seem like an obnoxiously insignificant reason to take a goal off the board, but when the all-important integrity of the rules is potentially at stake? I would much rather have goaltenders defend soccer-sized nets while wearing youth shin guards than ignore it in the name of transcendent skill...
Look, I know I am biased, but the truth of the matter is that I am not pissed that the overturning of a goal that was originally called as such cost the Devils a game. It sucks to blow a two goal lead to a bottom feeder, but - after ripping off five straight home wins - they probably could have used a let down game (no matter how complicit the refs were in making it head in that direction) prior to facing a divisional opponent they have yet to prove themselves against. The last thing a young team heading to play a perennial (regular season) powerhouse on the wrong side of a back-to-back needs is the false confidence provided by an extra point they didn't totally deserve. We'll know in a few short hours whether or not last night was a minor setback for a major comeback, but it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that it could have served as the reality check they've avoided throughout a surreal winning streak.
That said, I am pissed that due to a nonsensical decision that flies in the face of literally every other rule the NHL has enforced in an effort for more offense, I won't soon be seeing what was one of the year's most brilliant displays of offense. Taylor Hall made Robin Lehner look more stupid than his own suggestion that the entirety of the sports world is colluding against the city of Buffalo, and he did so after swatting an airborne puck backwards to himself. If you're not a Devils fan then this blog is perhaps the first you've seen of it, and that just feels wrong. The one superstar who somehow manages to end up on the ass end of every 50/50 call had a highlight stolen from a reel that's already exponentially longer than that of New Jersey's last 3-4 seasons.
The thief, you ask? The league that swears up and down that it will do anything to create more goals....as long as it doesn't involve getting rid of momentum-shattering, excitement-draining challenges in which centimeter-sized judgements are made by someone squinting at a television screen.
AJC- Sean Payton said he regretted making a choke gesture toward Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.
“Listen, the mistake I made that night was letting my emotions get the best of me,” Payton said during a conference call with the Atlanta media on Wednesday in advance of a rematch Sunday. “It’s the same thing that we talk about with our players all of the time. It wasn’t good and I felt like as that game went on, it even affected me in calling plays. I’ve got to better that way. It was frustrating from some of the officiating. But you learn even when you’ve been in this thing as long as I have. It’s something that you regret and you look back on ‘what are you doing?’ So, I think that’s the thing that bugged me for the better part of the week.”
I only have one problem with Sean Payton trying to get in the head of an opposing player who - somewhat forgetfully in all this - went on to nearly fumble away the game later in that very same fourth quarter, and that's the fact that he didn't own up to it earlier. This incident surely would have came up at some point during the week leading up to a quick rehashing of a heated rivalry, but the Saints' head coach could have saved himself some questioning if he just came clean on what was a fairly harmless jab at the Falcons' inability to avoid abject failure.
And honestly, I don't know why he felt like he had to play dumb. Engaging an opposing player with the universal gesture for crumbling under pressure isn't the most professional thing that an authority figure can do from the sideline, but - since the target of it even appreciated the competitiveness it took to do so - I have a tough time feeling differently. I guess it could become a problem if Sean Payton spent a majority of the game screaming at those who he's supposed to be game planning against like an annoying little brother that had nothing better to do than draw a reaction, but there's nothing wrong with the random act of mockery. I don't want him to start making all the calls out of anger and frustration, but that gut of his is pretty damn accomplished.
So yeah, not all that concerned that a little trash talk completely threw off the game management of someone who generally thrives off feel, even if that feel was the fist of the officials pounding on his team's prostate. Considering that same type of passion was largely absent the last few seasons, I think I'm actually inclined to welcome the occasional mishap in harnessing it. Especially if it ends up being directed at the fucking Atlanta Falcons.
Because Saying The Right Thing Would Be Far Too Easy, Cam Newton Cited The Legal Process In Defending Jerry Richardson
ABCNews- Newton said he left Sunday's meeting feeling "disgruntled'' that Richardson planned to sell "because this is a person who has enlightened me on so many different types of things, on and off the field.''
Newton emphasized that the allegations against Richardson -- who, according to SI, settled with at least four former employees to keep their accusations private -- are just that: allegations.
Newton found himself in a similar spot while at Auburn. His father was alleged to have shopped his services to Mississippi State for up to $180,000 before Newton ultimately went to Auburn, where in 2010 he won the national title and Heisman Trophy.
"I basically almost got an NCAA ... almost been suspended, just off an allegation,'' Newton said Wednesday. "That's how I feel about it. Not comparing apples to apples. It's still something somebody said. When I went through my allegations, it was all false.''
Newton made it clear that he takes charges of sexual harassment seriously.
"But allegations, that's a different thing,'' he said.
"In this day and time, it's almost, you're automatically guilty until proven innocent rather than, in the rights of the judicial system, you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
"...Nothing was actually proven. It's just another person's word against another person's word. Needless to say, I still think extremely highly of Mr. Richardson. I don't even know any of the sources. I'm reaching to find it. I take sexual assault extremely serious, and I didn't want to offend anybody by that. Just having a lot of allegations thrown at a person isn't fair.''
Newton admitted that the days since the SI article was published have been difficult.
"I was scared on Sunday. I'm still scared now, not knowing what to even expect,'' he said. "When you hear a report about Mr. Richardson, a person that we all, as an organization, have so much respect for and the people who did come out saying certain things about racial slurs, sexual assault ... it's still allegations.''
Richardson's decision to put the team up for sale didn't sit well with Newton when he was informed of it during Sunday's meeting.?
"I didn't approve of it,'' Newton said. "For him to be ejected from my life, from the sports side, I don't even know how to handle that.''
Welp, at least he's consistent. I mean, not when it comes to doing what he gets paid handsomely to do in quarterbacking the Carolina Panthers, but - if snapped to for a judgement regarding a situation where the trials and tribulations of women (or minorities, for that matter) in the workplace can be trivialized - that completion percentage is damn near 100%.
And look, Cam Newton does have a point. It's just not remotely close to being relevant here. Given the cultural climate, we absolutely should need more than an allegation to slam the proverbial gavel in the court of public opinion. You know, such as a laundry list of oddly specific allegations (you don't fabricate something as strange as an in-office request to shave your legs) that - when heavily investigated - turned out to coincide with significant payouts made to multiple allegers of a multitude of discriminatory transgressions. We are talking about an 81 year old billionaire that reacted to this news by almost immediately deciding to sell his pride and joy despite having a 13 foot statue of himself erected on its doorstep. Donald Sterling tried everything short of treating African Athletes athletes with respect in an effort to keep the Clippers, and that's because even that half dead racist knew that relinquishing the reigns to his team served as an obvious admission of wrongdoing.
At the very least, Jerry Richardson is on the ass end of innocent until presumed guilty, and it's in a much, much more incriminating way than assuming that a college athlete knew this father was trying to extort money from prospective universities. Much like the subordinates working under the Carolina Panthers' newly disgraced owner, not all allegations are treated as equal. It's a good thing they aren't, because if a scorned football booster were as trustworthy as an office full of female employees who had good reason to actively avoid their boss on Casual Friday then Cam Newton's list of accomplishments might not include a National Championship or a Heisman Trophy.
So can someone sit Cam Newton down and read him Sports Illustrated's deep dive into the past of the guy who had his underlings refer to him as 'Mister' while running a subservient operation in which that "term of endearment" would probably be more accurate if the first vowel were changed? Unfortunately, the route he is taking in jumping on the offensive for a guy that didn't even try to defend himself is basically a fade pattern away from the truth, and - as hard as this may be for Cam Newton to grasp - it's one that is all-too-familiar to women.
I don't care how close he is with Jerry Richardson. There should be no qualifier to "I take sexual harassment very seriously...", and especially not from someone who is months removed from learning firsthand that the fairer sex is more likely to be subjected to unfair treatment while working in sports. The legal process is important when it comes to putting someone in prison, but when it comes to officially declaring them a scumbag that abused their power? I think I'm just fine indicting via the process of common fucking sense.
LaVar Ball Says He's Starting A Semi-Professional Basketball League To Compete With The NCAA, And There's Only One Problem With That...
SLAM- Big Baller Brand CEO LaVar Ball revealed on Tuesday the Junior Basketball Association, a league that will pay top high school prospects up to $10,000 per month and serve as an alternative to the current 8-month college pit stop for one-and-done hopefuls. BBB tells us that LaMelo Ball will be among the players participating in the new league.
LaVar has shared the following statement (below) with SLAM:
"We have officially launched our own pro basketball league called the “Junior Basketball Association,” sponsored by Big Baller Brand.
The JBA is the very first junior pro basketball league of its kind.
The JBA will cater to the top ranked high school basketball prospects in America.
All nationally ranked high school seniors, whose main goal are to reach the NBA, will be offered an opportunity to join the JBA, turning pro straight out of high school and bypassing the usual college pit stop.
The participating players will be paid up to $10,000 per month, as they prepare to enter the NBA Draft the following year.
The JBA league is for basketball players who intend to pursue the sport professionally.
With the introduction of the JBA, allowing the NCAA to regulate and control the eligibility status of top basketball prospects will no longer be an issue.
There is no need to partake in an institution that claims its purpose is not to help you prepare for your professional career.
The recent statement from the President of the NCAA Mark Emmert when commenting on the recent withdrawal of LiAngelo Ball from UCLA sums it up:
“Is this a part of someone being part of your university as a student-athlete or is it about using college athletics to prepare yourself to be a pro? If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.” -Mark Emmert
And we agree!
For decades, the NCAA has run a business that has exploited thousands of teens, while college institutions, coaches, media conglomerates, and corporate sponsors have all profited from the model.
The JBA is a long-awaited solution to this ongoing problem.
Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.
For updates visit jbaleague.com"
Look, I don't think I am being overly skeptical in saying there's reason to doubt whether or not LaVar Ball - the purveyor of all things pompous - can independently run a professional basketball league that's capable of competing with the NCAA for talent. After all, the venture that's being used to fund said league is a sneaker company that took 6-8 months to fill $595 dollar orders with Payless-level shoes that may or may not have come in the style or size that you ordered. Credit to him for blabbering his way into successful side hustle, but let's just say that the Big Baller Brand business model has more of a "fool me once..." sort of feel.
Admittedly, I love the sound of a true developmental league that prepares it's players for the future while reimbursing them for the god-given abilities they put on display in the reputable venues of major cities across the country. Unfortunately, it rings just a wee bit hollow when its Commissioner is the same loudmouth that took damn near an entire human pregnancy to slap together an aborted version of egregiously overpriced athletic footwear that would be lucky to survive a brisk jog around a windy block. In essence, if LaVar Ball's track record speaks then you'd have to be pretty fucking desperate to willingly board a money train with a greedy, untrustworthy conductor.
That being said, it's nothing short of amazing that in trying to dismiss LaVar Ball as a worthy adversary the head of a multi-billion dollar operation basically wrote the mission statement for a league that could hypothetically (though hardly realistically) rival his own...
If nothing else, Mark Emmert disingenuous bullshit opened the door for an entrepreneur far more savvy than LaVar Ball to take advantage of what is the peak of hypocrisy. Now, if it were that easy then someone undoubtedly would have already thought of a way to compete with college basketball, so it's vintage LaVar Ball for him to think he's some sort of pioneer that's set to mastermind the most cutthroat of market in catering to kids who also pissed away their eligibility or engaged in international theft. Still, the idea itself is not nearly as dumb as the person trying to "speak it into existence", and the man who could theoretically lose the most from it voluntarily told you why.
Russia's Punishment For Their History Of Olympic Doping Is Essentially That They Now Have To Dress Stupid While They Compete
TheComeback- The Russian Olympic Assembly recently voted to participate in the 2018 Olympics under a neutral flag, which is allowed by the International Olympic Committee as long as those granted permission to compete agree to follow outlined rules...
...that means there will be a Russian hockey team in the games. Earlier this week, a possible leaked image of the proposed jersey for the “Russian” team were unearthed to give a glimpse as to what the team could look like. It basically looks like the generic hockey team’s uniform you create in a video game’s custom-team mode...
Ha! Take that Russia! That'll teach your most prominent athletes to stop compromising the integrity of international competition by transfusing their blood with that of the region's most fertile steed! This might seem like slap-on-the-wrist public shaming that would have a more dire effect on the reputation of a runway model. However, if overused sports' cliches have taught me anything it's that it's basically impossible for The Red Army to either feel good or play good when they look like they've been clothed by The Salvation Army. Bet they won't be able to fully appreciate the experience while having to glance down at their boring ass uniforms and accept that they are merely a resident of their country, as opposed to a representative for it. Suck on those semantics, you unsportsmanlike substance abusers.
Honestly, I don't particular care that the Russian training regime is more dependent on needles than the art of acupuncture. They tend to be sub-par in the only sports that I care about, so maybe those growth hormones were necessary in making sure their athletic performance on a global stage wasn't embarrassingly pubescent. I suppose that remains to be seen as their upcoming inclusion is coming at the expense of both drugs and what little fashion sense they appeared to have.
That said, if you're the IOC maybe it's smart to set a precedent that creating a culture of unlawfully playing above the field for years on end isn't only punishable by the wearing of a jersey that might as well say "I did Russian steroids and all I got was this stupid t-shirt". Keeping in mind some of fads I have fallen victim to in the past, throwing on something that serves as a scarlet letter for a week or two seems like a pretty small price to pay to continue playing for a gold medal. Especially since surrounding a boring logo with generic font is generally the way in which locally-run youth leagues weed out the kids who don't have a true love for the game.
Look No Further Than Their 6 Pro Bowl Selections For Some Clarity On The Success Of The Saints' Season
Perhaps it's that going on a 10-2 run after starting off the season in hauntingly similar fashion has made me greedy, but my first thought after seeing that a half dozen Saints were selected to the Pro Bowl was that it wasn't enough. Admittedly, I don't particular care about who is rostered for a meaningless game in which the most successful teams won't even be participating. However, when you have a 38 year old pocket passer, his first passing option, and both running backs all on said roster then you should probably open up a spot for at least one of the five players that have excelled in opening up opportunities for them. Popularity contests don't win playoff games so it's hardly something to dwell on, but the O-line selections weren't only offensive by position.
Anyway, on to the those whose play was deemed worthy of a hopefully-soon-to-be-refused spot in the Pro Bowl...
Two rookies, two running backs, two defensive players, and somehow the biggest surprise is that a Saints' wide receiver has finally been acknowledged for his efforts. Seriously, it's Michael Thomas having what should have been a foregone conclusion prove fortuitous that has me the most dumbstruck of all the selections. I know he's reached rarified air in becoming just the second wideout ever to snag 90+ passes in both of his first two seasons, but considering the way Marques Colston was all-but-ignored throughout the entirety of his illustrious career? It was starting to feel like his successor was going to have to add to his totals by catching someone outside and showing them those hands in person.
Between Drew Brees sipping from the fountain of youth between handoffs, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara putting up unparalleled numbers and becoming the first duo to get voted in together in 42 years, Marshon Lattimore transitioning to the pros more fluidly than his hips in dominating at the most difficult of position, and Cam Jordan triple-doubling down on his case for Defensive Player Of The Year, there's no shortage of seemingly outrageous storylines to pursue. Unfortunately, other than Michael Thomas representing the one position that's gone over a decade without getting it's due in an offense that dominates annually, they have all been discussed ad nauseam.
The Saints have been making history this year, but they've been doing so in such a consistent fashion that them reaping the rewards from said achievements already seems like old news. So the best thing I can say about this team isn't that their top players got picked to go on vacation and sleepwalk through a football game that no one is watching, but rather that every single one of them gave the voters no goddamn choice. All that's left now is to see them keep up that peerless performance through January so that they are too busy celebrating a Conference Championship to care about some selection to a gimmicky All Star Game.
I don't mean to play the pessimist here, but are we sure that Charlie Villanueva get robbed and not repo'd? Let's be clear, that's not me calling into question the former Huskie's ability to manage the finances he must have built up over a decade long NBA career, but rather an inability to comprehend someone confidently putting aside time during a pilfering to undue plumbing if not contractually obligated to do so. I don't want to put all thieves in a box or anything, but - unless HGTV turned dark and desperate after enduring a massive budget cut - it's tough to envision the type of person who breaks and enters into someone else's home doing so in an effort to completely refurbish another residence.
Regardless, Charlie Villanueva seems pretty confident he was burglarized, so - in giving him the benefit of the doubt - I must demand that we, as a society, be better as people. I know it's damn near impossible to recalibrate the moral compass of criminals, but this? This is too far. There's something to be said about having a "pot" to piss in, and in taking a former NBA player's porcelain throne they didn't just disrespect his property and peace of mind, they disrespected his 'me time'. And during the season in which it's needed the most, no less!
Assuming those that break into high end homes to steal crappers don't limit themselves to the taking of one toilet, Charlie Villanueva literally needed to walk himself out back like a goddamn dog just to take a leak while waiting for the police to come to the conclusion that he wasn't actually joking. So as hilarious as it must have been to see his face as he stared confusingly at the hole in his bathroom floor, it's equally as chilling that someone went to such lengths to belittle him as a man. During even the most unlawful of acts, the sanctity of another man's shitter should never be sabotaged. If for no reason then because even the most thorough of home owner's insurance policies can't reimburse that amount of indignity endured by having to hold it in your own damn house.
The Pacers Blew A Sure Win With A Laughable Last- Second Turnover, But At Least They Learned A Valuable Lesson
Look, the easy thing for the Pacers to do would be to criticize one of their players for lobbing up a cross court prayer with mere seconds remaining in a game that he could have hypothetically iced from the free throw stripe. On the contrary, the difficult thing to do after a tough loss is to think critically about what can be learned from it.
Luckily for the Pacers, there is a lesson to be taken from a defeat that was snatched from the jaws of victory and it's that Bojan Bogdanovic is not cut out for crunch time. I mean, let's ignore that he's a valued member of the starting lineup whose typically safe with the ball and shoots over 86% from the line, because that turnover is enough to force last minute roster turnover. Literally all he had to do was turn his back, absorb some contact, and try to knock down a couple wide open 15 foot shots, and instead he looked like he would have rather been holding onto stock in ENRON than an NBA licensed basketball.
I actually liked the Yugoslavian forward when he was member of the Brooklyn Nets, but the instincts that tell a well respected shooter to toss a ball aimlessly into an atmosphere patrolled by a defense minded team while owning a one point lead and possession can never again be trusted outside of the first 47 and 3/4's minutes of an NBA basketball game. The Indiana Pacers had potentially their biggest win of the season ripped right out from under them, but hey - at least they know what substitution they can make to avoid the rarest of embarrassing endings in the future!
Perhaps the concept of lightening the delivery of injury-related news by blaming something so innocent and obscure that even the most impassioned fan would be forced to laugh at it was lost in translation? That's the only explanation I can think of, because - outside of Martin Perez sleepwalking into a bullfighting arena while wearing red pajamas - there's nothing guilt-free about breaking your elbow in a confrontation with cattle.
Admittedly, it's hilarious to see the phrase "incident with a bull" written out as if bulls are commonly participants in your average, every day incident, but it's more so in a "wow, what a moron" kinda way as opposed to a "haha, what a freak accident!" kinda way. Like, if I had to guess, the Rangers pitcher who makes $6 million a year off the use of his left arm luckily had the right one stomped on after inevitably being thrown from a top the back of irritable livestock. I have no proof that was the case, but the plot holes in an explanation that's only slightly less incriminating than a "playing in traffic while blindfolded incident" aren't exactly a fit for the type of benefit of the doubt you'd hope to give a professional athlete who hurt himself doing something undeniably stupid. I am not exactly a PR professional, but the negligence out only works when you verbally commit to a story in which you're not complicit in diving elbow-first into living, breathing, charging, or bucking danger.
Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, Mike Tomlin And Ben Roethlisberger Think Someone Other Than Themselves Is Responsible For What Happened On Sunday
Wait, wait, wait...do you mean to tell me that with the final minute of the 4th quarter clock ticking in a one score game and a quarterback frantically running down the field doing pirouettes with his hands crossed in the form of a 'T' that an NFL official assumed that the then losing team was looking to call timeout?!
Some nerve! How dare a professional referee put two and two together!?! If I know anything about the Pittsburgh Steelers it's that they tend to be more successful when they fly by the seat of their pants, so one could easily surmise that a blatant example of situational officiating did - indeed - cost them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
I mean, clearly the only thing that stopped their go-to play of rushing to the line, faking a spike, and throwing the ball to the only other offensive player that appeared to have a pulse while the entire secondary had primary coverage on him was that it wasn't run 30 seconds earlier from 3 yards back. Damn ref sabotaged the whole game "plan" by equating the universally understood hand signal for clock stoppage with a strong suggestion to stop the clock. Shame on him for not ignoring Ben Roethlisberger since clearly he does best work when his head coach has no idea what he's thinking as he makes shit up on the go.
In all seriousness, this is why the Steelers - as currently constructed - are no real threat in the AFC. How the hell could they possibly do what it takes to win consistently as a team when they've never, ever actually lost as a team? I don't think there is a single franchise in professional sports that points as many fingers or makes an many excuses as Pittsburgh, and I say that knowing full well that Doc Rivers is still active in professional sports.
Let's just take a quick look at their efforts in trying to prove they should have won a game that they - themselves - actively lost with what may have been the dumbest throw throughout an NFL season that has become infamous for piss poor quarterback play. First, they whined for the longstanding catch rule to be repealed solely because it would have behooved them in one particular instance. Now, Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger - who oddly enough are now on the same page after originally just blaming each other - have taken it upon themselves to defer that blame to an official who took the most obvious, unmistakable cue in all of sports.
I honestly don't know what's more pathetic; The fact that days later they are still crafting narratives of foul play to explain the foulness of their own play, or that this flat out fabrication is the best that the two of them could manufacture on 36 hours notice.
You Need To Listen To Two Ottawa Senators' Broadcasters Discussing 'Grindr' Without Having Any Clue What It Actually Is
OutSports- Ottawa Senators hockey announcers Dean Brown and Gord Wilson were promoting their post-game radio call-in show on TSN1200 Saturday for the game against the Montreal Canadiens when the discussion veered into, of all things, the gay meet-up app Grindr.
Timothy Burke of Deadspin captured the audio, but here is a transcript:
Dean Brown: “Gord and I ... [will take] calls, questions, emails — Tinder, Twitter, Grindr — all the social media stuff. They'll have that going on after the game tonight.”
Gord Wilson: “Grindr?”
Brown: “Well, I don't know what any of them do, so I just mention them all.”
Wilson: “Is Grindr a thing?”
Brown: “I guess so, I don't know what it is though.”
Wilson: “Wow, I can only imagine what's found on Grindr or who's found on Grindr.”
Brown: “I think it probably has something to do with those Mix Masters, those grinder attachments.”
Wilson: “OK, uh-huh”
Brown: “Probably all the things you can grind with one of those machines, cheese, vegetables. We'll get Matt to figure out what that is and let us know what Grindr actually is. I heard it and know it's part of the social media thing. Not that I’m old and not into this.”
Not for nothing, but this entire interaction - completely free of it's inherent hilarity - is quite the endorsement of homosexuals and their ability to market themselves better than heterosexuals. Let's be real here. Tinder got mindlessly included in that extremely random list of irrelevant social medias due the popularity of the name, but Grindr got obliviously lumped in due to the catchiness of the name.
Now, I'd absolutely love to find out where Dean Brown was when he overheard a conversation that made mention of a gay "dating" app that apparently stuck with him through to the broadcast. However, the fact that his partner heard it - presumably without any prior knowledge - and immediately knew they had ventured into questionable territory is a testament to how edgy said app sounds.
It's 2017 so there's not anything weird or out of the ordinary about homosexuals wanting to sex each other up in a timely manner, but it's safe to say that the creators of Grindr were successful in having their product sound out of place as a way of contacting two older men interested in fetishizing nothing more than a repressed professional sport. Sports radio might be filled with blow hards, but - since the hosts generally do an anti-climactic job of providing stimulation - it's probably for the best that one of them was instinctually able to hear the need for a disassociation when the other completely misread the context of his technological eavesdropping.
They are both a ways away from the loop, but at least someone in the booth had an elementary enough sense of brand awareness to realize that nothing about the name Grindr lends itself to conveniently offering crappy, frustratingly uninformed opinions about hockey. Shockingly, it wasn't the guy that thought meat pulverizers had their own means of online communication.
Despite Adam Henrique's Best Efforts, The Devils Proved Victorious During Retribution Night At 'The Rock'
Truth be told, it was tough to feel anything but good for Adam Henrique last night. As odd as it was to take any sort of satisfaction in the play of someone that took the ice in a jersey that was decidedly not red and black, the man that became lovingly known as 'Rico' handled his return in such a flawless manner that the only type of hostility in the crowd was temporary self loathing. After all, he did exactly what any self respecting ex is supposed to do. He got a little sentimental, showed a lot of appreciation, and - though it will go largely unspoken - came out as ready as ever to flaunt his entire array of goods to the franchise that decided they'd already seen the best of them.
Never mind that it was his picture perfect break out pass that kickstarted the Ducks' second goal of the night...
...because as he followed it up by alleying the puck over the head of the player he was traded for, you couldn't help but feel like Adam Henrique had something gut-punching in store for the oop...
Now, it's fair to ask where that move was throughout the extensive scoring drought he trudged through shortly before being moved, but - if I had to guess - I'd say it was probably tucked neatly into the back of the closet next to the little red dress that's saved for only the most jilted of lovers. In the same way that makes you hesitant to check a former flame's Instagram, that "how you like me now?" moment that completely posterized Sami Vatanen and undoubtedly overshadowed his first point as a New Jersey Devil was annoyingly well deserved.
Unfortunately, for him anyway, it wasn't enough to swing the outcome of a game that proved why Adam Henrique was expendable in the first place. Aided by Ryan Miller's inability to age gracefully, the Devils comeback victory over the Ducks highlighted their depth at forward. Miles Wood Tasmanian'd the Devils back into the game, Jesper Bratt whipped them back to even by putting a little cherry on the top shelf, and Stefan Noesen - with the help of the birthday boy, Brian Boyle - provided a painful reminder to his former team that there were more than two players in the building who were looking to prove a personnel decision regrettable. New Jersey put up five goals and they didn't even need a single point from the three players manning their top line to do so.
Facts aren't as glaring as flash, so it's easy to consider Adam Henrique the winner of the breakup since his complete and utter emasculation of the player that was deemed more valuable by the market will rightfully be rewound on every end-of-year hockey highlight reel. That said, as heartbreakingly true as it is, last night was the perfect example of why both parties are potentially better off without one another.
Adam Henrique won the battle, the Devils won the war, and - in a game that was far too emotional for a mid-December tiff between two out-of-conference opponents - both had their chance to feel better about a split that was somewhat silently imminent. For a fanbase that will forever have a special place in their heart for Rico (and vice versa), that really was the best possible outcome.
P.S. My heart just grew three sizes...
Davante Adams And Thomas Davis Made Peace After A Dangerous Hit, But Some Random Redskins Linebacker Wasn't Having It
The nutcase of the peanut gallery:
Credit to the Redskins linebacker who inserted himself into this interaction unprompted for reasons unknown. He might have zero regard for the health and/or livelihood of his peers, but at least he was able to provide us a reminder that sometimes it's not the people you are arguing with who are your biggest adversaries, but rather the people who are doing a piss poor job listening.
In this particular case, the back and forth took place online between empathetic participants and the third party instigator was very much on his own in his undying love of causing brain damage, but had it taken place in a bar? This is the kind of mutual understanding that gets missed due to the encroachment of the disproportionally aggressive.
I think we can all relate to Thomas Davis in the sense that we've all been made to look worse by someone doing a crappy job of taking our side, and if you haven't then you're probably more of a Zach Brown. Or, to be more clear, you're probably more of an insufferably belligerent caveman that's just tries to pick unnecessary fights because human suffering is your favorite sport.
Now granted, human suffering is inherently a part of football, but - knowing what we know now - it probably shouldn't be the part that any athlete prioritizes or appreciates. The normal human response is to apologize for nearly decapitating a defenseless receiver with a hit that could be used as the preeminent example for both targeting and leading with the crown of the helmet. Unfortunately - just like not every boozehound cares enough to handle their liquor - not every person that's crazy enough to sacrifice life and limb professionally does so begrudgingly.
First and foremost, the play above is not - by league definition - a catch. In fact, it's not even particularly close. A failure to admit that has absolutely nothing to do with the NFL's inconsistencies regarding similar plays, but rather your own stubbornness in continuing to think that their rulebook was written in a language we call common fucking sense. If I were commissioner then the Steelers would have won on a play in which an athlete wrapped his hands around the ball, fell over the goal line untouched, and didn't maintain somewhat arbitrary control when he hit the ground a second or two later. However, seeing as the person who is has had one of his minions explain it ad nauseam, can we stop with the "no one knows what a catch is" nonsense? Any professional football fan that was up in arms by that ruling is actually a bigger asshole than the professional football fan that doesn't think the rule - as written - needs changing. If you fall while making a grab then hold onto the football like it's your first born child, because only idiots that like having the same damn conversation 4,000x over will have sympathy if you don't and it ends up getting aborted. It's that simple.
Even outside the correct ruling on a crappy rule, the Pittsburgh Steelers have no one to blame for yesterday's loss but themselves and all that fault can fall on this egregious display of arrogance...
I can't believe this still needs to be said but anytime you run a play in which the intent is to outsmart Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots there is about a 98% chance you're only actually outsmarting yourself. I don't know whose call it was, but Ben Roethlisberger tried to pull the wool over the eyes of a team that has proven - time and time again - that they are ready for just about everything, and how did he do so? With a fake spike that ultimately resulted in his own team playing two-on-nine against an opportunistic secondary with the only option (other than the right option of throwing the ball away) being a player who was blanketed in red flags in the most high danger area of the field.
If you take the stage out of then thinking that play was actually going to work and following through on it when it quite obviously didn't might just be dumber than throwing from the one yard line when your running back possesses the mode of the beast. I mean, pulling a real life rabbit out of his own ass may have been a more effective trick play than the highly observed "gotcha" of the quadruply covered slant pattern. Mike Tomlin and company can take the solace in the fact that they played the Patriots to within a play without the best wide receiver in football, but the actual play itself serves as a reminder that it probably won't matter who's active for the Steelers in the postseason since it's the most pressure packed moments in which their own brains aren't. The only thing more difficult than beating the Patriots physically is beating them mentally, and attempting the latter has consistently left the aggressor looking like the dunce.
I have a question for the entirety of the Metropolitan Division...
Look, it was no more than about 13 months ago that the New Jersey Devils overcame the absence of Taylor Hall to pick up an extremely unexpected win against one particularly star-studded team from Texas. That win gave a false sense of confidence to both a team and fanbase that - despite expectations that were as meager as the amount of talent - they could compete in one of the most tightly contested divisions in hockey. What followed, of course, was potentially one of the most depressing months in franchise history that ultimately gave way to a season so dejecting that the finale of it felt like a mercy killing.
I say that to say this. It's a good thing that I typically need to be fooled more than once before I learn my goddamn lesson, because managing a victory over that exact same Dallas Stars team with a similarly depleted lineup has me ready to declare the Devils legitimate postseason contenders. If I'm wrong again then shame on me, but what New Jersey did in bouncing back from the weekend from hell to kick the crown off the Kings prior to picking up three points without three members of their top six is the type of thing that playoff teams are capable of. Getting contributions up and down the lineup when said lineup looks like something that was produced by a random name generator is a sign of the cohesiveness necessary to consistently play above your pay grade. It wasn't always pretty and it required the help of some exemplary goaltending. However, the Devils never looked overmatched over the weekend, and with a trio that was at one point considered their top line sitting in a luxury suite, they damn well should have.
As has been the case since the dropping of the first puck, John Hynes is continuing to make decisions that turn out so well that they seem like absolute no brainers in retrospect. There's not a more perfect example of that than the decision to put Travis Zajac between two fast, feisty puck battlers in Blake Coleman and Brian Gibbons. I almost can't imagine a scenario where all three don't get the best out of each other, and that's been a theme throughout a roster that - pending the imminent return of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri - looks exponentially deeper now than it did in September. The play of Brian Boyle has been so intriguing that it's turned his dominance of cancer into a secondary storyline. Stefan Noesen just finished riding a scoring streak gave some giddy up to a team that desperately needed it. Miles Wood looks more like an NHL player than unleashed bull with each passing day. The defense hasn't given themselves any reason to get talked about since last weekend, and - considering they are the most noticeable when they are at their worst - that's actually the highest of compliment. Need anymore evidence that all is currently going right? Even Pavel Zacha hasn't wronged his way off the ice as of late!
Things could easily turn with a goddamn gauntlet of divisional games on the horizon, but it's not the early wins that has me sure that this rendition of the Devils isn't going to negligently wander off a cliff during their hike up the standings. Rather, it's the fashion in which they've recovered from both injuries and devastating losses in keeping their bottoming out process to but a blip on the radar.
NFL Officiating Sucks, But - If The Index Card Incident Is Any Indication - At Least It Sucks With Conviction
Let us not discuss the absurdity of using folded sheets of looseleaf to haphazardly make millimeter sized measurements to decide a game whose result could theoretically have multi-million dollar ramifications. In fact, let's not even discuss the physical impossibility of a football having reached a first down marker if some two-ply index card can be fit between both the football and the first down marker.
Instead, I ask of you to consider the firmness with which a professional official casually busted out an office supply to deliver a completely non-sensical judgement call. If only for one second, the certainty with which Gene Steratore signaled for a fresh set of downs persuaded me into thinking "oh yeah, that makes sense", and I refuse to believe I'm the only one.
Now, that personal ruling was quickly flagged, challenged, and overturned by my own dumb brain, but an NFL referee armed with what was soon-to-be trash reminded us that the best way to win with a losing argument is to make it with conviction. Granted, the visual evidence of a television broadcast doesn't exactly help that argument, but you can't tell me that the definitiveness with which he followed that protocol didn't temporarily make you feel like you were stupid for questioning the legitimacy of it in the first place. I couldn't even tell you my own birthday that confidently, yet Gene Steratore was so impassioned in thrusting his arm forward that you would have thought that he, himself, broke three consecutive tackles in getting the ball to the last link of the chain. That assertiveness - as well as one-to-three too many adults beverages - is all it took to leave me feeling momentarily Half Baked into agreement...
All in all, what a fitting celebration to cap off a game that felt like it spent three and half hours swimming in place. I'm not sure if there's anything to the concept of teams "not getting up" for certain opponents, but - as pesky as the Jets have been this season - letting them hang around with Bryce Petty at quarterback felt like it required the Saints to go comatose during a lazy Sunday afternoon nap. Between the inexcusable turnovers, unimaginative offense, and subpar run defense, a must-win game spent far too much time within sniffing distance of a disastrous loss. I suppose some credit has to go to an opponent that didn't crumble while being the led by the most cookie cutter of questionable quarterbacks, but it's more so an indictment of the team that lacked focus during the most obvious of trap games.
Now, perhaps it's not a surprise that the Saints couldn't keep the entirety of their attention on a bad out of conference opponent that was sandwiched in between rivalry games that became decidedly more heated as of last week. Still, it was mildly disappointing that the frustration from last Thursday combined with suspiciousness of some of the NFL's decisions since didn't have them thirsty for an ass-whooping. I think everyone from Sean Payton on down would tell you they expect a more complete performance come next weekend, but it would have been nice if they got a head start on playing complimentary football prior to playing heads up for their division.
It's a nice change of pace that the Saints are finally talented enough to coast through the occasional game as if winning it was a forgone conclusion, but if they want to make the most of that talent then similar efforts are going to have them wondering what could have been sooner rather than later. A pass rush that is non-existent outside of Cam Jordan displaying an NBA Jam-esque ability to swat every pass that enters his orbit? A downfield passing game that's completely and totally reliant on Michael Thomas? Simply not going to cut it if this team wants to exact revenge on the Falcons, and exacting revenge on the Falcons would say a hell a lot about this team as it nears the postseason.
Sidenote: Mark Ingram deserves all the credit in the world for taking advantage of a revamped offensive line and defying common sense by becoming a more dominant running back with age...
Somehow The Person With The Puck On His Stick Wasn't Solely Responsible For The Worst Breakaway Ever
Shockingly, it's not for the player that turned a breakaway that spanned half the damn rink and a quarter of the period into an egregious display of prudence that almost assuredly left Iowa Wild fans in need of a cold shower, but I do have one question here.
That question is "where were you on that one, dipshit?", and it's directed at the trailer that did everything in his power to seem powerless in his outright attempt to leave his teammate looking stupid. Like, did 44's wheels get stuck in a mud puddle at his own blue line? Did he have something other than the sure goal he would have scored on his mind when he decided to make the announcer sound like a jackass for confidently declaring it a 2-on-0?
Sure, in retrospect, Luke Kunin (the Minnesota Wild's 2016 first round pick) should have been a little selfish and proved his worth to the NHL club by beating an AHL-caliber goalie instead of going with the untried and untrue technique of boring him out of position. However, if we are going to make a dead XBox controller comparison then it is much more fitting of the guy who coasted his way out of two step lead in the race to backdoor only to let the puck hit his lifeless stick and flub off into the corner when he got there five seconds too late. Other than the back checking defenseman, this video doesn't really make anyone look good, but it's the guy whose lack of urgency made it seem like he was camera shy that really enhanced the bad.
Anthony Barr (The Player Whose Hit Injured Aaron Rodgers) Received A Less Than Pleasant Parcel From A Packers Fan
Well - in fairness - this random, irrational, hate-filled SOB does have a point. I mean, Anthony Barr didn't have to continue to play through to the whistle and make sure that the most dangerous quarterback outside the pocket didn't make him look stupid with a juke or a pump fake. He could have sparred Aaron Rodgers' shoulder the brunt of what would be considered a routine hit if it were delivered to anyone else on the field by letting up and ignoring the violent, inhumane nature of a profession that could just as easily be taken away from him if he starts showing compassion on the job.
Personally? I would have steered clear of wishing a life threatening injury - by way of a reference that stopped by topical about 35 years ago - on a linebacker that did nothing more than back his line in a way that would have been considered "pussy shit" during the playing days of Darryl Stingley (RIP), but let's not let Anthony Barr completely off the hook here. If he wanted to jeopardize his career by taking a split second to worry about that of someone that's both much more prosperous and protected then he could have coddled and swaddled a vulnerable opponent instead of viciously tackling him during a game of tackle football.
Sure, some might consider it a little presumptuous that one disgruntled fan penned a death threat on behalf of the entirety of the Green Bay Packers organization. However, if there's a fan that I want speaking for a franchise then it's the type of bastard that's courteous enough to censor the word "shit" when trying to spell a severed spine into fruition.
"Find your zone and just stay f—ing locked in. The media is going to ask you what I told you right now. Tell them nothing. Just be aggressive every single day.
It’s white noise to you. That’s all it is. Alright? Let’s go."
I know what you're asking yourself, and the answer is yes - I do see the irony (i.e hypocrisy) in making LeBron's relatively ordinary pep talk newsworthy when the thesis of it was that the media turns the relatively ordinary into headlines.
That said, it's not LeBron's insistence to stay focused, be aggressive, and block out distractions that I care to discuss, but rather the insistence that that overly typical advice stay classified. Like, we had to use the stalker-esque software of Harriet The Spy to unveil the most empty of inspirational speeches? It's cool that LeBron wanted to privately share words of encouragement with a younger player that deals with a familiar amount of scrutiny, but treating those words like they were National Security codes seems a bit excessive. Honestly, "tell them nothing" is the type of command you expect to hear muttered into the ear of a hostage who has a six-shooter jammed into their spine, not spoken by a savvy vet to a struggling rook from under the cloak of a decidedly non-soundproof jersey.
Don't believe me? Just look at the blank, wide-eyed stare of Lonzo Ball as LeBron basically whispered sweet, suggestive nothings into his ear. That's the appearance of a guy whose listening far too intently considering the subject matter. I bet he walked away from that interaction feeling the same way you or I feel when a friend tells a story that they so drastically oversold that it appears to end on the crappiest of cliffhangers. Considering I was left saying "wait, that's it?", I can only imagine the 20 year old who had to verbally agree not to disclose his high school-level consultation felt the same.
Of course, if LeBron really wanted it to stay a secret then he would have delivered his all-important message somewhere other than the middle of a professional basketball court in front of tens of thousands of people with easily accessible means of technology, but - as we know - he subscribes to the "pics or it didn't happen" philosophy.