I Condemn The "Devils Fan" That Showed Up To Eric Lindros' Jersey Retirement In A Scott Stevens Jersey, But I Do Have A Confession To Make
While I wholeheartedly enjoy the trolling of both Philadelphia and it's fake tough/easily provoked fanbase, I think I have to draw the line at wearing the knockoff jersey of the division rival who cut short the career of the legend being honored on the night in question. If there's one instance in which Flyers fans didn't deserve to be reminded that Scott Stevens lowered the boom on their championship aspirations by railroading a guy whose endless potential was limited by his elementary inability to keep his head up when crossing the blue line then it was when his number was being eternally raised to the rafters. This "Devils fan" should have been sitting in the home of a real franchise that only canonizes those that have actually won championships as "his team" pulled off one of their biggest victories of a bounce back season. So yeah, if you told me his brains were splattered across Broad Street then I'd say that justice was served by some trash-on-trash crime. That douche represents nothing more than a good riddance, so hopefully he got exactly what he asked for.
That being said, I do have a confession to make. When I first saw this photo, I laughed. I didn't laugh for long, nor did I feel good about laughing, but - in the interest of full disclosure - a snicker preceded my acceptance that this was an objectively inappropriate thing to wear to a commemorative ceremony for Eric Lindros. Perhaps it wouldn't have been such if Flyers' fans - who root for the only team in the NHL that still thinks gooning it up is a good way to win hockey games (AKA employs Radko Gudas) - weren't constantly trying to retroactively rewrite a two decade old rulebook in an effort to discredit the abject excellence of a 'Hall Of Fame' leader and defenseman. I can't be sure because Philly fans will never be able to think logically as it pertains to Scott Stevens, but that's the rationale I'm rolling with in making myself feel better about instinctually (and shamefully) finding the ultimate act of disrespect humorous.
It Looks Like Jets Wideout Robby Anderson Had A Rough Night, But Let's Not Jump To Any Conclusions Here
You know, in situations like this it's important to note that these are just charges. Nearly a full dozen of them that were responded to by police officers whose presence apparently went ignored, but just charges nonetheless. Need I remind you that we live in a country where innocence is presumed and guilt must be proven? I haven't a single detail surrounding what appears to have been Robby Anderson's decision to break every rule of the road within one single joy ride, and therefore I refuse to proclaim him a criminal.
Plus, his internet alibi - while not incredibly articulate - seems pretty bulletproof....
I mean, nothing screams "unlawful arrest" quite like ominous social media usage right around the hour in which it allegedly took place. I'm not going to go as far as claiming he's wrongfully accused, but who has the time to commit nine crimes in one night when they were busy publicly airing their familial frustrations to fans? Sorry, but I'm going to need some concrete evidence if you expect me to believe that Robby Anderson lifted himself from the couch during his online therapy session to partake in some vehicular misconduct. Doesn't sound like the guy I know (well, more accurately watched on TV) that surely would have learned from a similar experience that occurred less than a year ago and has him oh-so-patiently awaiting trial, but I should note that I've been wrong before...
For Saints' Fans That Somehow Aren't Already Used To Unbelievable Losses, Here's A Video Detailing How The 'Minneapolis Miracle' Was Just One Big Conspiracy
Look, every fan has their own way of coping. Me personally, I'm more of a "stare blankly at the television while my soul takes a leave of absence from my body and spend the next few days stewing in the solitude of a dark room" kind of guy, but I'm not here to tell anyone how they should go about recovering from what was one of the most crippling defeats in sports history.
I do, however, have one question, and shockingly it's not "what do you think Cam Jordan bought with his earnings after colluding with Marcus Williams to throw an NFL playoff game?". Instead, my question is what does one stand to gain from repeatedly watching the play that broke their spirit in slow motion while producing a voiceover so ominous that it would make the directors of Black Mirror feel the need to go outside and get some UV rays? Truly convincing yourself that the Saints were on the take doesn't seem like all that bad of an idea for the time being since next September feels like it about 10,000 haunting flashbacks away from coming to fruition. I just don't understand how that helps the healing process when next football season starts and the inevitable urge to start rooting for the same players that you accused of conspiring against the franchise are once again leading its defense?
Never mind the fact that Case Keenum was stepping up in the pocket and Cam Jordan's momentum would have had him closer to sacking his kid's lunch than the Vikings quarterback, because I'd rather trust that an All-Pro defensive end misread his pass rush (he didn't) than think he's a criminal who can't be trusted. Not only does it make far more sense for a 21 year rookie to make a stupid mistake than for him to wait until the last play of the game to unleash his maniacal money making scheme that required an opposing wide receiver to defy physics to stay in bounds, but it also makes cheering for his comeuppance during the next number of years far more palatable.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you should do whatever you need to in helping to ease the pain of watching Stefon Diggs waltz into the end zone with no time left. But - and this is a huge but - if you happen to choose the method of spending hours and hours crafting a video whose cinematic value makes every 9/11-related YouTube with 113 views seem Oscar-worthy then you're a shortsighted loser who should probably put that time to better use...by finding a way to microwave your tinfoil cap while it's still atop your head.
I'm not saying this was anything other than the result of a 7-footer enthusiastically spreading his pterodactylian wingspan after adding to an insurmountable lead over the top team in the Eastern Conference on the night in which he received the designation as one of its All Star starters. But man, if there is an NBA player who wouldn't give a fuck about delivering a slap upside the head of an unsuspecting opponent if it meant giving properly lauding his own bucket then it's Joel Embiid. Like, I don't think he saw Jaylen Brown in his blindspot, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he knew there was an object in his rearview and didn't give a damn about checking how close it appeared before swerving into its lane.
For better or worse, Joel Embiid is unapologetically himself. Look no further than him poo-pooing the fall of the person he just swatted in the eye-ball during one of the most situationally unnecessary celebrations you'll ever see for proof positive that the only decorum he trusts in is that of 'The Process'. The Sixers center is as dangerous as the fast developing kid in middle school that doesn't know his own strength when he's on an NBA court, but it's not a lack of awareness that has him accidentally doing damage, but rather a complete and utter lack of fucks. See further example below:
He can't. He won't. He doesn't.
As much faith as I generally have in just about everything Taylor Hall does, all those doubts crossed my mind within the split second in which he outraced Evgeny Kuznetsov to the puck only to effortlessly chip it past him. Maybe it was the Devils' lack of overtime luck recently that had me feeling cynical, or perhaps it was my vantage point that me questioning whether or not he would pursue the most acute of angles as the math appeared to be just as daunting as the Capitals' backcheck. Whatever the case may be, I learned a valuable lesson that will hopefully benefit my blood pressure for the foreseeable future: The physics of Taylor Hall's skating are not bound by the laws of geometry. You would have thought he was on the ice with beer leaguers as he stopped in at the bar for last call, and he did so in such a casually dominant manner that it could only bear comparison to a Russian that shall remain nameless.
Now, getting a live look at the next episode of the breakout season of The Taylor Hall Show wasn't the only thing to like about the New Jersey Devils win over the only team that sits atop them in a stacked division. The smothering defensive effort that held one of the best offenses in the NHL to all of 6 shots through the halfway point, and a paltry 19 in a game in which they were playing catch up was about as encouraging as a Ray Shero pep talk. The penalty kill - led by the iron shins of Brian Gibbons - was incredible against a unit that tends to make the very best look incredulous. Drew Stafford literally stiff-armed the monkey off his back prior to roofing a backhander. Miles Wood flashed the type of finish that could prove his pesky union with Pavel Zacha and Kyle Palmieri to be a lasting one. Sami Vatanen lent the offense a trifecta of helpers from the defensive end. Keith Kinkaid continued to find a way to keep Cory Schneider's illness-related absence from the net from infecting the rest of the team. Mix in a performance so unrelentingly possessive that it would make a jealous high school girlfriend seem easy going and a disparity in shots that'd make you think the scoreboard operator feel asleep on the control panel, and you get a true team effort that - despite the blown lead - was every bit deserving of two points in the standings.
That said, if you left that building with anything other than the main impetus behind last night's optimistic outlook on your mind then you're not the type of person I'd want to grab a beer with. Taylor Hall's superstardom took center stage when his team needed it the most, and I'll be damned if it didn't swing what could have been a deflating defeat into an ending so happy that it make an Asian masseuse reconsider her career path. The Devils played one of their best, most complete games of the season on both sides of the puck, but - when push came to shove - it was Taylor that made sure Ken Daneyko could unload the line he's more than likely had in his back pocket for months. Hall's well that ends well, indeed.
Apparently There's Only One Thing Stopping Manny Pacquiao's Promoter From Setting Up An April Fight In Las Vegas...Hockey Season
LBS- Manny Pacquiao’s promoter is hoping to put the Filipino fighter back in the ring in April in Las Vegas, but there is a potential conflict with the city’s NHL team.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported this week that Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, is trying to put on a boxing card for ESPN on April 21 at T-Mobile Arena. The card would feature Bud Crawford against Jeff Horn, as well as a Pacquiao fight. But there is a potential conflict with the Vegas Golden Knights standing in the way.
The NHL playoffs begin on April 11, and the Golden Knights are looking very likely to make a playoff appearance at minimum. For that reason, the venue might be needed to host a playoff game.
I suppose an argument could be made that it went on life support when the biggest PPV of the year consisted of a 40 year old coming out of retirement to fight someone from an entirely different sport. However, I think we should start getting our condolences ready, because if playoff hockey gets priority in Las Vegas then boxing has flatlined. Seriously, what's the equivalent? The CFL taking primetime slots away from the Maple Leafs? I know there are a probably a bunch of big money contracts in play that give the Golden Knights the rights to their building and all that jazz, but strictly from an optics standpoint alone? The day the NHL starts calling the shots in the gambling capital of the world is the day in which the sweet science of mano a mano fisticuffs has been put down for the count.
Like, dig a hole in the desert, toss in every pair of Everlast gloves you find, and have Don King set up the funeral arrangements, because rings will have officially given way to rinks and the most notable fights will be fought by those on skates. It won't ever be forgotten, but if it's getting bullied around the schedule by playoff puck in Adult Disneyland then boxing might as well be gone. After all, it's biggest allure is the braggadocio, and there's nothing to boast about if the league that just hired KKKid Rock to perform at their 'All Star Game' is calling shotty as Sin City's "main event". It's been long suffering for a while now, so what better circumstances for its swan song than the initial face-off to the best postseason in sports for the upstart organization experiencing their inaugural entry into them?
I say this knowing full well that if not for one mind-blowingly miraculous play I would fully endorse their work here, but fuck 'NFL Films'. You want to cut to a head coach who basically slapped fate across the face when it was just starting to doze off by prematurely mocking the home fans while an ill-prepared defense took the field then go right on ahead. But I will not stay silent after a 22 year old 'Airhead' addict - who is exponentially more humble than his play on the field - was made to look like a cocky asshole while he was enjoying the fruit (snacks) of his labor. That camerawork was both instigative, unprofessional, and a stain on the superior standards set forth by the late, great Steve Sabol. He probably rolled over in his grave faster than Marcus Williams trying to make a game-winning tackle when he saw the final edit, and I wouldn't be a Saints fan if I thought otherwise.
In all seriousness, I'm glad Alvin Kamara put this dude in an online bodybag. Lord only knows how often I would be made to look like an ass if I had a camera following me around at all times, and I'm not even the type to shamelessly seek attention by way of twitter trolling. Of course, the '3 God' is getting the attention he so desires, but not without the painful reminder that he desperately needed help from someone that could record the audio to him ripping open some candy and have it get 1,000x more clicks than Soundcloud Skim Thug's greatest hit.
Mel Kiper Jr. Has The Browns Taking Josh "Not Rosen" Allen With The First Pick Overall In His Mock Draft
Contrary to how it sounds, an "NFL mock draft" is not meant to make a mockery of the NFL draft. Therefore, you might find it stunning to see that a noted expert in the field chose a college quarterback that averaged 139 passing yards and just over one touchdown in 13 games against second rate competition as his top prospect in the pool. After all, there in no shortage of quality signal callers that would appear to be both available and far more efficient than someone who completed just over half his throws.
That's why it's important to note that Mel Kiper Jr. isn't picking for himself. If he was, I highly doubt that the Wyoming quarterback whose first round stock became that of the laughing variety during a lackluster junior season would be his most prized future pro. He's picking for the Browns, so any type of half-assed logic that he uses in justifying Josh Allen's regressive resume as that of a top pick can be attributed - at least mildly - to their history of dumbass personnel decisions at that particular position.
Think about it the following way. Who would be more stupid, Mel Kiper for believing that Cleveland would board the hype train for a guy whose arm strength bears an indirect correlation to his accuracy, or us for thinking it's completely out of the realm of possibility that they'd once again miss the boat on someone special?
If any other organization were inept enough to go winless then it would be fair to assume that Mel got his Josh's mixed up when his moose seeped into his scalp. Perhaps he is super high on a guy who is far better in stature and theory than he has been in (a lack of) execution, but to have him the highest? Well, that would require taking into account the fact that the franchise picking first overall is the same one that went with Deshone Kizer instead of Deshaun Watson.
Dwight Howard Was Plucked From The Bench By The Wizards To Take Meaningless Free Throws, And Proceeded To Celebrate After Making Both
And for that, I will never forgive the Washington Wizards. As annoyed as they think they were watching an athletic specimen of the highest order celebrate consecutive made free throws like they were back-to-back championships, it can't possibly compare to how annoyed I am that - while getting their doors blown off - they went out of their way to set the scene for self awareness from one of the most unlikable players in league history.
Dwight Howard generally looks like a disingenuous jackass in just about everything he does, but in blowing kisses and ballooning his balls after being brought off the bench by the opponent to complete the most minuscule of tasks? He was actually embracing how rare it is for him to do so. It may have been an obnoxiously overzealous act of mockery, but since the target of it was his own damn flaws, I can't help but tip my cap to the seven foot sociopath who appeared to learn how to laugh at himself by way of ironic peacocking.
So yeah, I do think that the Washington Wizards owe the entire NBA community an apology. The only thing that the vagabond known as Dwight Howard is less likely to do than come in cold and be money at the charity stripe is for him to happen upon a moment of self realization. Somehow, their futility enabled him to do both in the matter of a minute, and - for the briefest of seconds - made him look like a...(audible gasp)...relatable human being.
Honestly, I feel bad for Kris Dunn, and it's not just because he turned a successful uncontested dunk attempt into an immediate need for medical attention faster than a short white kid using an unstable pile of props to achieve viral glory. That's certainly part of the pity, as that fall was so disturbing that I couldn't even sneak in a proper belly laugh without feeling like a huge dick when the camera quickly scanned back to him and his displaced incisors. However, I also feel bad because - as it stands to the casual fan - that might as well be the only thing Kris has ever Dunn in his NBA career.
From disappointing as a lottery pick, to being thought of as part of an objectively comical return in a trade for an NBA star, to running the point for a team that no one outside of Chicago cares to watch. It took Kris Dunn undermining every one of his childhood trips to the orthodontist for him to (literally) make his mark on the hardwood. Like, only after watching him slightly disfigure his smile did I care enough about the 5th overall pick in the 2016 draft to stat check and realize that he's turned himself into a fairly productive player at the professional level. In reality, his 14/6/4 averages for a team that hasn't been anywhere near as bad as previously thought should be his crowning achievement, but he'd have to damn near double those numbers while leading a push for the playoffs to achieve the type of attention he's getting for the face-plant responsible for his crowning appointment.
I know there have been no shortage of jokes made at the expense of NBA players whose attempts at "fighting" tend to top out at malicious shoves. However, is there anything that encapsulates just how lost the art of punching has become in basketball quite like a professional athlete catching all air with a haymaker that looked to have been thrown by the old drunk sitting alone at the end of a dive bar?
On the scale of false machismo, an argument can be made for a group of Houston Rockets players conspiring to bust in the locker room of the Clippers through a secret back-alley solely to take non-violent umbrage with the attitude of one of their injured players. Still, there's just something so perfect about Arron Affalo putting all his fury, strength, and weight into trying to clean Nemanja Bjelica's clock and ending up just another hand that swings around it. I mean, that was one of the most earnest attempts at an in-game chin check of an unsuspecting opponent that I have ever seen, and not only would you need a TI-83 to calculate it's closeness, but it resulted in the same type of finale you expect to reach when roughhousing with your little brother. If that's not proof that ball players really aren't about that boxing life than I don't know what the hell else you need to see (or not see) from men of superhuman strength that - at their most enraged - always seem to end up in a position to be easily held back.
Vikings Fans Are Donating By The Thousands To Saints Punter Thomas Morstead's Charity For Some Odd, Yet Awesome Reason
TheAdvocate- Thomas Morstead might be taking the torn cartilage in his ribs back to Minneapolis sooner than expected.
Morstead, whose toughness and class in Sunday's playoff loss to the Vikings inspired Minnesota natives to start donating to his charity, pledged on Wednesday to personally deliver a check to Children's Minnesota if this week's donations hit $100,000.
What You Give Will Grow, Morstead's foundation, has already pulled in more than $60,000 in donations, most of them from the Minnesota area.
A Vikings fan started the movement on Reddit after Morstead punted in obvious pain during the playoff game, then came back out onto the field and shook several Minnesota hands as part of the Saints group that was forced to come back out of the locker room for the NFL-mandated conversion try.
Morstead's foundation, What You Give Will Grow, is primarily focused on fighting pediatric cancer.
Children's Minnesota is a not-for-profit system that includes two hospitals, 12 primary-care clinics, nine specialty-care sites and six rehabilitation clinics.
Look, I'm not usually one to critique the reasoning behind the rapid influx of money into a cause as objectively good as the health of kids, but - solely out curiosity - Huh? What? Why?
The Minnesota faithful - who are a less than a week removed from wanting a bounty put on the happiness of all Who Dat's - are now donating tens of thousands of dollars to the charity of the Saints punter because he played through an injury he obtained making a tackle that robbed them of a punt return touchdown? All the sudden Vikings' fans are philanthropists because a member of the opposing team came back out of the tunnel to stand their in physical and emotional agony while they lined up to take thee most celebratory of knee?
Again, unbelievably happy that ailing children are the beneficiaries, but - unlike Andy Dalton closing his eyes and throwing the Bills a postseason bone - Thomas Morstead isn't the first fundraising NFL player to show some class while persevering through pain in the last 17 years.
That's why I have absolutely no choice but to presume that this is just a combination of midwestern generosity and goodwill mixed with a touch of pity. If literally paying whenever your team pulls a rabbit straight out of their ass is the new fad then I can definitely get on board, seeing as I would gladly have made it rain on the foundation of his choosing if Stefon Diggs' lace had come untied and tripped him into fumbling out of the end zone. However, I just want to be clear that the protocol after experiencing the most unlikely of victory has shifted from buying the bar a round to donating to the riddance of disease amongst our youth. Not only because it's a shockingly positive change for a largely degenerate demographic, but also because it's one that makes a hell of a lot more sense than pledging payments on behalf of a banged up punter for being a good sport.
In The Curious Case Of Fragile Egos, Paul Pierce's Looks A Bit Feeble In Making It Difficult For The Celtics To Pay Tribute To Isaiah Thomas
“Everybody’s getting a tribute video now. You play for a team, you get traded, you get a tribute video. Now, I’m not saying Isaiah shouldn’t get a tribute video. On February 11, the night I get my jersey retired, I’m not sure I want to look up at the jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights. After all the years I put in … hopefully the Boston Celtics will do that for me. I’m not sure if I want to see an Isaiah video that night.” -Paul Pierce (h/t FTW)
I don't want to make it sound like I can't sympathize with Paul Pierce. If I were in his shoes and had an ego so inflated that it had gotten to the point where thee most minor and unintentional of needling could make it burst, I too might want the evening of my long overdue number retirement all to myself worse than that 'Real Housewife'-in-the-making from Willy Wonka...
That may read like a sarcastic dig at the person who can't stand the thought of a face other than his own gracing the screen of the JumboTron for even thirty seconds out of what is sure to be a four hour canonization of his career, but that's only because that's exactly what it is.
Don't get me wrong, Paul Pierce has gone above and beyond in giving Celtics' fans and the franchise a reason to dedicate the entirety of a night to celebrating the endless amount of buckets he brought to Boston. He is the embodiment of an era that was capped off with a championship, and therefore he is an incomparably bigger piece of their history than Isaiah Thomas. He did plenty of sacrificing to earn the honor of having his jersey raised to the rafters, so he shouldn't have to spare even a second of his ceremony.
That doesn't change the fact that he comes off as a narcissistic infant by making a huge stink about an inconvenience as insignificant as a pre-video ad-play. If anything, the difference in ovations - measured by both decibel and duration - would show exactly how much more Paul Pierce means to those in attendance than the guy whose last two seasons are worthy of a timely hat tip, so being unable to put a small percentage of personal pride aside seems rather petty. Not even Isaiah Thomas' loved ones would mistake the commemoration as "shared", so maybe hand over one single fry as opposed to looking like the fucking 'Hamburglar' of tribute time. The night is most certainly Pierce's, but would letting a deserving player momentarily hold his place in the spotlight while he took the quickest of tinkle really have ruined it for him?
The Ref Who Tossed A Player Out Of The 'Music City Bowl' For Next To Nothing Has Received Death Threats
TheComeback- Pac-12 referee Chris Coyte and his crew have been the target of threats and harassment by fans in the wake of a controversial decision to eject Kentucky running back Benny Snell from the Wildcats' 24-23 loss to Northwestern in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 29.
Coyte's decision to eject Snell for making contact with him was widely criticized after video replay showed minimal, inconsequential contact between the two following a play early in the second quarter. In an interview with a pool reporter after the game, Coyte reaffirmed the decision to eject Snell, and the Pac-12 later stood by the call.
In the days following the game, Coyte received a barrage of threatening calls to his cell and office phones, sources said, as did the commercial real estate association he belongs to.
The harassing calls began to die down until last week, sources said, when a letter from Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart to the Pac-12's vice president of officials, David Coleman, critical of Coyte and his crew was made public by the Lexington Herald-Leader, which reported it obtained the letter through an open records request.
I typically hold myself to a standard that is at least slightly higher than placing empty threats on the lives of referees, and if I were to feel strongly enough to consider homicidal harassment, it certainly wouldn't be due to an ejection from a bowl game that is only meaningful in terms of the money it brings in.
That's why it feels weird saying that Chris Coyte brought this bloodthirsty backlash upon himself, but - after viewing the play in question - he kinda, sorta did...
We are at a point in which accepting a job officiating college football is liable to get you "constructively" crucified by way of various mediums. That might not be fair or rational, but it is factual. So maybe, just maybe, keep that in mind and be better than making game-altering decisions because your pride was hurt by a player refusing your help. Crappy calls happen, but it they usually happen because football is a violent game played at an incredibly fast speed, not because the authority figure making the crappy calls had his fragile sense of self compromised by someone that just got trucked by about 800 pounds of muscle. You'd have to be an idiot to agree with that off-handed ruling, and that's exactly what the person responsible for it did by doubling down after the game.
So, if I had one piece of advice regarding this story then it would definitely be to steer clear of antagonistically contacting the personal numbers of those that wronged the young adult(s) you were rooting for in a game of very little consequence, especially weeks after the fact. However, if I had two pieces of advice regarding this story then the second would be to steer clear of being a self-important, overbearing asshole when whistle-blowing during a college football game that features a team from the South. While the first is undoubtedly the biggest problem with sports fandom, the second has become the biggest problem in sports officiating.
With Two Goals In Two Minutes, The Oft-Banished Devils' Defenseman Helped Put An End To Their 6-Game Losing Skid
I got to say, with the way it began, the finish was anything but predictable. That's not to say that this Devils' team hasn't proven capable of overcoming far, far more than a one goal deficit against a team that's recently been on the receiving end of more high-dangers shots than the guest of honor at a 21st birthday party. However, the way in which John Moore couldn't have done less in both creating and preventing a breakaway goal against felt like a bit of a bad omen with the way things have been trending as of late. For a team that is unquestionably at it's worst when they are giving the puck away unforgivable fashion, starting off a game that was pretty close to must-win territory by wrapping a gift for a 25-goal scorer provided some immediate room for pessimism...
Luckily, the one player whose presence in the lineup (or lack thereof) has become extremely polarizing put forth a performance that will surely warm everyone to the idea of keeping one of team's most talented defensemen out of a luxury suite. If all Damon Severson had to do was play like someone other than Damon Severson to earn the trust of his head coach then faith absolutely must have been restored by back-to-back rockets that made me do a double take at the back of the jersey from which they came...
If logic prevails, that's one personnel decision that can be put in the past, because - with some of the dumbass decision making we've seen from the defense - you might as well find a spot for one of the few players that can limit it by providing offense.
Keith Kinkaid recovered nicely, and it was also great to see Kyle Palmieri stay hot with an absolute snipe while finding himself on a line that got him going so quickly that it might as well have been ingested off a desk out of love for a stripper. Giving Pavel Zacha a consistent role on the roster is just as important as no longer having to remind yourself that Damon Severson is still on it, and - in conjunction with the sporadic-yet-effective efforts of Miles Wood - Palmieri did just that. They were absolutely dominant together in a way that would have demanded the spotlight if it weren't thee night in which one defenseman's vindication was vital in providing a much needed, relatively easy victory.
Washington State Quarterback Tyler Hilinski Was Found Dead In His Apartment From What Looked To Be Suicide
Twenty one years of age. A college quarterback. A kid who turned in a signature come-from-behind win with one of the many relief appearances he made for a pass happy school in the PAC12. According to every overdone movie about college sports, that's not the type of person you expect to find laying lifeless on the floor of his apartment after deciding that a life that had hardly started yet wasn't worth living.
But I guess that's the takeaway here. There is no stereotypical suicide victim. Depression doesn't have a particular lifestyle, bear a certain facial expression, or portray a singular demeanor. If it did, then the person who was in the midst of the All-American dream with a smile consistently draped across his face wouldn't be the one that fell victim to a nightmarish mental state.
It would be doing a complete disservice to his memory, so I'll stop short of wondering aloud what specific type of torment could infect the mind of a young kid to the extent that ending it all seems like the only solution, but I'll be damned if hearing such sad and unexpected news doesn't beg the question.
If nothing else, let Tyler Hilinski serve as a cautionary tale. Even those in the most envious of situations can suffer from their own personal demons. It doesn't mean every person that seems a little out-of-character is suicidal, but it does mean that it's a lot less distressing to genuinely ask someone how they are doing than it is to get over a death that you potentially could have aided in preventing. It's doubtful that they could have, but Tyler Hilinski's family and friends are currently thinking about ways in which they could have seen this tragedy coming, so - whether you're depressed or around someone who might be - don't let his shocking death be in vain.
I have always appreciated rooting for a team whose head coach's competitive fire can be seen burning through the lens of the nearest candid camera, so I'm not going to let a play that defied one-in-a-million odds completely change my stance on Sean Payton's sideline personality. That said, is waiting merely 20 more seconds to find out if the wound is actually deadly before trying to rub salt in it too much to ask?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for good playoff fun. Unfortunately, I find nothing wholesome or hysterical about trying to justify why the head coach of an NFL franchise who has been on the ass end of faaaaar too many a backdoor pillaging was busy mocking Vikings' fans during the waning seconds of a road playoff game instead of doing...well...literally anything other than tempting the most gruesome of fate.
Now, of course I don't think that Sean Payton would have been teaching fundamental tackling techniques to the team's most trustworthy safety if he wasn't preoccupied doing some premature trolling, but that's not really the point. Full disclosure? I'm not actually sure what the point is, because Stefon Diggs walk-off touchdown was far more of a miracle than it was a coaching mistake. However, I am sure that the last thing I wanted to do today was learn that someone whose extracurricular antics have already blown up in his face once this season chose to engage in them again when said season was on the line. I love Sean Payton, but any real Saints' fan knew not to peacock around the ring before the opponent was officially pinned. He really set himself up to look like an huge asshole, and - by proxy - I also feel like a one for previously encouraging the type of behavior that was immediately followed by the football gods delivering the most soul-shattering of 61 yard strikes.
Who dat say they gonna jinx them Saints?! We dat, indeed.
Ah yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A group who, time and time again, has proved that superior skill alone can't win football games as they continually take the emphasis off pretty much all the things that the characters in The Wizard Of Oz were desperately seeking. Maybe this seems counterintuitive given the fact that football is a physical game that's largely predicated on getting the better of the person lined up across from you, but - as the failures of a team with transcendent talent at multiple skill positions and a Super Bowl champion both on the sideline and under center has proved - it's also an intellectual game in which heartless tin scarecrows rarely ever succeed.
Obviously it would be disingenuous to call a playoff participant dysfunctional, but I'll be damned if the most enigmatic and ego-driven team in the NFL isn't a slight drop off in talent away from showing it's full array of foundational flaws. Winning cultures typically drowned out distractions, while some of the most important members of the Steelers organization basically scaled the highest of mountains to plea their case for focus-diverting attention.
In the last two weeks alone they had their offensive coordinator get injured in the type of NYE bar scuffle that you'd expect out of someone whose young enough to be his son, their superstar running back threaten early retirement, and one of their veteran defensive backs guarantee victory in a game they won't even be fucking playing in. Call me crazy, but I hardly find it to be a surprise that the execution was off and the play calling was questionable when the team in question was approximately as mentally prepared for an opponent that already kicked their ever-loving ass earlier in the season as they were to begin shit talking their opponent after next. Accountability is usually a top down trait, so 'shocked' isn't exactly the word that comes to mind when you tell me the team whose head coach is infamous for finger pointing failed to meet expectations.
Honestly, it's almost poetic that the Steelers' season unofficially ended when they handed the Jaguars a field goal with a laughably unnecessary onside kick, because being too scared to trust your defense in a big spot against Blake Bortles was an undeniable sign that their bravado is complete bullshit. They are a team in uniform only, because there's nothing they have said or done that would lead you to believe that Mike Tomlin's locker room is a cohesive one.
The Saints, And Specifically Marcus Williams, Received A Warm Welcome Upon Their Return To New Orleans
Sometimes I think that I'm a heartless sports fan that has a dystopian view of professional athletes as only players as opposed to people. Luckily, it's pretty easy to log on to Twitter, read through the hateful criticisms from entirely anonymous jackasses threatening lives they could not possibly understand due to the result of a game they have no real involvement in, and come to the conclusion that - as many names as I have cursed - my fandom is still pretty grounded in comparison to those that trash houses, burn belongings, and threaten homicide.
On a day like yesterday, every Saints' fan was looking for a reason to feel better about themselves, and I found mine when I couldn't help but summon what little soul I had left in smiling at the overwhelming amount of support Marcus Williams received from the kind of fans that don't mind putting a face and a name to their thoughts and opinions. Remaining relatively classy in defeat is admittedly the least fulfilling of moral victories, but believing in this young, talented, and close-knit team's ability to accomplish bigger and better things in the future means believing in their promising rookie safety's ability to overcome the most dispiriting of disasters.
What giving Marcus Williams a hero's welcome upon his return home lacks in logic, it makes up for in sentiment, so I don't mind being a bit sappy after an overachieving season that no member of the Who Dat Nation could have objectively predicted - regardless of how it ended.
The real ones got your back 4-3...
Just When You Thought The NBA Reached Its Peak As A Soap Opera, The Rockets And Clippers Lived Out A Locker Room Reality Show
Coming up next after the break, will the head of the NBA Player's Association and his squad of goons make it over to enemy lines in time to silence the injured son of his former coach and cause enough of a contentious scene to lead into the next episode of Rockets Vs. Clippers? Stay tuned...
I mean, didn't like their attitude? Didn't like their goddamn attitude. Under the "leadership" of one player that wasn't fond of the general disposition of his former team in his return, the Rockets navigated the back channels of the Staples Center in an effort to form a two front attack on the home team's demeanor. I have no doubts that the uber confident and unreasonably loud enigma that is Austin Rivers in a walking boot had some less than kind words of instigation for the Houston Rockets. However, the reasoning for a postgame, locker room blitzkrieg being the same as that of every drinking throwing incident on The Real Housewives Of Wherever-the-fuck is a surefire sign that the NBA is quickly morphing into an organized bashing of bravados that would be fit for MTV's primetime lineup.
Now, I'd be lying if I said that didn't make the product all that more intriguing, but - considering the pettiness of those that go well out of their way to engage in nothing more than pushing matches - saying you're watching sports when you tune into a professional basketball game is only half true. It hasn't reached a Kardashian-level of shameless programming, but I'll be damned if it hasn't adopted some of their more...umm...eclectic entertainment tactics. I can still technically say I don't watch reality television, but if those that do were following the story of CP3 and his new teammates bombarding the dwelling of his old teammates to wag their fingers and give an injured opponent a piece of their mind then they might vehemently disagree with that notion. Right, Blake?