I don't like it. Some might expect that to be followed by "....I love it", as I tend to default to putting my full support behind each and every move made under the advisement of Sean Payton, but - in this case - I'm genuinely despondent to the idea of Brandon Marshall in black & gold.
I have no doubts that I'll get over it the first time Drew Brees takes advantage of his undeniable size, strength, and catch radius with an unstoppable back shoulder throw, but - until that inevitably comes to fruition - I'm going to remain skeptical about bringing in a man who has managed to journey around half the league without appearing in a single postseason game. Obviously, having a penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time while playing a position that doesn't typically alter the playoff picture isn't entirely his fault, but how often he's been deemed an attention-hungry distraction along the way sure as hell is.
As I've stated ad nauseam since this search for a volatile veteran receiver began, I think the Saints' collective culture is strong enough to absorb almost any one personality. That said, I've always gotten the vibe that Dez Bryant's petulance was a result of a genuine - though occasionally misplaced - desire to win games, whereas Brandon Marshall's was the result of a somewhat disingenuous desire to win camera time. I can't imagine that perceived selfishness will show itself throughout the remainder of what immediately became the most promising season of his career, as he knows better than anyone that this is more than likely his last opportunity in a league of which his lack of a postseason resume is a running joke, but I'd be a fool to be surprised if it does.
Sarcastically speaking, while I liked the idea throwing up the X, I'm not particularly fond of the Saints getting in bed with everybody's ex. It should be pretty easy for Brandon Marshall to prove me wrong with an MVP-caliber QB throwing him the ball, but he's given plenty of reasons to question his ability to quietly carve out a complimentary role for himself in an offense that doesn't particularly need him. There's no risk, as he can easily get canned with the quickness, but the true reward would be him casually catching a couple balls a game while keeping his mouth relatively shut.
I generally disagree with the premise that numbers never lie, as the sport of football provides far too many stats that can be played around with in crafting whatever story it is that you're trying to support. That said, this specific stat being linked to this specific team in this specific division during this specific season is simply too telling of a tale...
The Washington Redskins, in being historically predictable in their unpredictability, sit comfortably atop a division that, in its entirety, is boring at best and brutally uninteresting at worst. While somehow having a leg up on the reigning Super Bowl champions, the most impressive thing about Alex Smith and Co. is that you've been able to turn them off following the first points of the game while feeling pretty damn confident that you won't miss even the most minor of shifts in momentum.
Of course, this streak is already improbable and thus freakishly unsustainable. However, for the six days in which it will continue to remain in tact in all it's inglorious glory, we should appreciate it for what it is. That, of course, being an irrefutable reminder that being consistent, even if it's in inconsistency, is all it takes to lay claim over the NFC East in 2018. Fittingly, nine straight games without one single lead change is the closest thing to the statistical equivalent of the tenures of Jason Garrett and/or Eli Manning, in that it's only interesting in how long it's painful predictability has managed to last in an otherwise volatile league. The NFC Least is back and the Washington Redskins, with both their front-running and back-tracking ways, are simply the perfect team to have a stranglehold of it.
Sean Payton, In A Way That Only He Would, Absolutely Obliterated A Pesky Fire Alarm In The Visitors' Locker Room Yesterday
I got to be honest. For the first in months, I find myself disappointed by a Sean Payton-related story. A shattered fire alarm preceding an arsonist-esque incineration of the Cincinnati Bengals had all the makings of a mind game/motivational tactic that went just a little too far. Imagine the littering of the locker room with mouse traps to remind his players "don't eat the cheese", but on the type of steroids that might have someone destroying private property in an uncontrollable rage...
That's what I immediately presumed to have happened when I heard that a safety system had been pulverized by an emotionally aggressive head coach that loves nothing more than going to extravagant lengths to inspire his team. I swear, it didn't even cross my mind that the smoke detector might have interrupted him first, because I had already connected the dots of deductive reasoning to conclude there was a reverse psychology to him intentionally smashing an alarm to light a fire under the ass of a locker room that might have felt a little too comfortable after beating the Rams.
That line of thinking might sound very stupid to an outsider now that we know it's not the case, but - prior to this past week - you could've said the same about a head coach in the NFL getting far enough under the skin of an opposing cornerback that he'd respond with the threat of a contentiously shared local delicacy. To think that even someone as unpredictable as Sean Payton would beat the hell out of a fire alarm to prove a point might seem unrealistically reckless, but so did him partaking in a mid-season interview during which he threw rocks at the shield of the league that actively tried to get him kicked to the curb. We're talking about a competitive, competitive S.O.B. that spent the bye week internet trolling a frienemy. The choke sign to Devonta Freeman didn't exactly work in his favor, and the SKOL clap gone horribly, horribly wrong backfired in brutal fashion, but Sean Payton has spent the last year and change painting his magnus opus of not giving one single flying fuck.
So yeah, he may not have destroyed a fire alarm in the process of using it as a prop to galvanize his team. However, the Bengals calling the cops on Sean Payton exclusively is evidence that it's not entirely out of the question that he might do such a thing during a season in which his petty and combative personality might actually be reaching its peak.
X Marks The Stomp: The Saints Didn't Even Consider Punting While Marching Into Cincinnati And Marching All Over The Bengals
Put the narrative to sleep. Not for the night, week, month, or year. I mean put it to sleep, sleep. Like, pull the damn plug. The truth is that it's been on its death bed since the Saints ruthlessly ran a then promising Bills' team (my, how things change) into their own turf to the tune of six rushing touchdowns last season, but yesterday proved that whatever life was left in the idea that New Orleans struggles outdoors during games in which the home fans are in need of outerwear is no longer worth living.
As if building their own 50 burger with extra cheesing and all the sauce wasn't impressive enough, the Saints felt not one single need to punt on an afternoon in which they spent the entire 4th quarter putting the ball into the belly of the type of running back that makes you refer back to your game program (shoutout, Dwayne Washington). Long story short, the Bengals couldn't even stop them when they were actively pumping the brakes to stop themselves.
The bulldozer of momentum that the Saints are typically seen riding in the SuperDome rolled over Cincinnati in every facet of football and Marcus Williams' late second quarter interception-turned-backbreaking Michael Thomas touchdown might as well have served as the height of its powers. As evidenced by the multiple sideline shots of Sean Payton and his stable of thoroughbred running backs (like the one below) laughing and dapping alongside the wreckage, the second half was absolutely nothing more than a formality after the way in which a thorough dismantling of a first half ended.
After the Saints spent basically the entire last week in the news cycle, it feels weird that it's taken until the third paragraph to mention the focal point of those somewhat schizophrenic headlines. However, I think yesterday's demolition of a prospective playoff team really speaks to how quickly the name 'Dez Bryant' made people lose sight of the fact that the Saints were in the midst of a seven game streak that had just been punctuated by a 45 point effort and a double-digit win over the last of the NFL's undefeateds. That's not to say the abrupt subtraction of a high profile addition didn't also have the Who Dat Nation aboard the type of 24 hour emotional rollercoaster that's usually reserved for meth addicts, but the Saints never needed Dez Bryant. And honestly, that makes it all the more awesome that they did feel as though they needed to pay him tribute time, and time, and time again as if - in how long it takes me to remember a stranger's first name - they had already figured him part of the family.
I know there's a very co-dependent/'part and parcel' relationship that exists between a winning culture and winning football team. However, the fact that one day spent inside the doors of the Saints' locker room is all that was needed to turn a potentially problematic personality who may very well never take a single snap in black & gold into a valued member of the organization speaks deafening volumes. As favored teams floundered due to mid-season malaise, the team that actually was due for a letdown game drew motivation from the absence of a player they've embraced as their own despite him providing them nothing more than a little mid-week excitement.
Whether the off-the-field cohesion that had them celebrating with more X's than the groom in the most doomed of marriages is as important as the on-the-field cohesion they displayed in making the Bengals look like a Pop Warner team is a rhetorical question. The fact is, you don't respond to the most disheartening of season-opening defeats with an 8-game win streak without those things working in tandem.
If you're looking for the 'TL; DR' version then here it is, in both play and personality, this Saints' team is special and they are proving it on a weekly basis. The reigning Super Bowl champs are up next on the schedule, so I wouldn't suspect a lack of inspiration ahead from what might just be the most dangerous and close-knit of rosters led by someone who's playing like he's 39 going on 25.
Dez Bryant Was Helped Off The Field With What's Feared To Be A Torn Achilles, So That Was Fun While It Lasted
As much as this could potentially suck from the perspective of Saints' players and fans that were really juicing themselves to witness the world premiere of Flexes and X's: The Unstoppable Story, this is much, much worse news for a proud and highly competitive player that was finally getting a long overdue opportunity to prove he's still got it. Love him or loathe him (since there are very few that fall in between), Dez Bryant really looked to have played his cards right in returning to the field in a situation that could best help him pen a tale of redemption which would include a special vindictive aside in primetime at Jerry's World. Unfortunately, injuries are and will always be those random, unpredictable Jokers in the deck.
Now, it's fair to wonder whether or not he's already lived out the last and least chapter of his career. It bears mentioning that the fear of a torn achilles is much easier to recover from than an actual torn achilles, so it's still 'wait and see' for the time being. Still, getting helped off the field during his first practice of a season for which he was still conditioning is just an awful sign. Hope for the best and expect the worst, as they say, but man...what terrible, terrible luck if the fears of both the Saints and, more importantly, Dez Bryant do come to fruition.
Of course, if one were to look past what very well might end up being one of the shortest and most overhyped tenures in the history of professional sports, the Saints would still have to be pretty damn happy with where they currently sit. They'd still want another complimentary pass catcher, as Dez Bryant would make the fifth player of his position group to end up on IR. However, the beauty of making moves when you're 7-1, at the top of both your division and conference, and are fresh off having hung 45 on the head of the last undefeated team in the league is that you don't necessarily need them to work out.
I think Dez Bryant, as a player and personality, had the potential to be an excellent addition to an electric offense, but it's not like the Saints had seen enough of him to mourn his subtraction. I'm sure the mood of the room is somber, as they seemed to have rallied around the arrival of a guy that, reputation aside, seemed relatively well-respected by most of his peers, but that room still has more than enough reasons to have Super Bowl aspirations. If/when they are reached, 'X' will more than likely mark the spot of quite the unfortunate and unforgettable footnote.
Illinois' Guard Trent Frazier Told On Himself After Being The Beneficiary Of A Bad Over-And-Back Call
And there is your not-as-friendly-as-it-seems-on-the-surface reminder that sportsmanship, much like everything else in life, is circumstantial. Credit to Trent Frazier for upholding the integrity of the game, I guess, but you are outside of your mind if you think he would have done so in a game he thought he had the potential to lose (they won 99-60, for the record). Illinois basketball will undoubtedly benefit from plenty of atrocious calls over the course of the year, so let's revisit how honorable their starting guard is when the ball ever-so-slightly grazes his leg before going out of bounds with two minutes remaining in a one possession conference rivalry game.
To be honest, if I played for Evansville, who neither you or I knew existed before two minutes ago, I would have been insulted by such a "selfless" act. That's a prideful group of student athletes on the other end of that court and they just got treated like a goddamn charity case. Think back to college. The only time you ever offered the people on the other end of the beer pong table the opportunity to shoot first was when you were certain their dumb drunk ass was going to miss, so spare me this "sportsmanship" nonsense. The only time a competitor gives up any sort of competitive edge is when they don't see their competition as such.
Now, I don't think Trent Frazier was trying to be disrespectful, but if I were the opponent that was granted an extra possession due to his convenient moral compass I would have bounced that damn ball right off my foot on the inbounds. If I am more than likely going to lose anyway then I am going to lose with my dignity in tact. That Evansville player might play for a cupcake squad, but that doesn't mean he needs nor wants a generous bite of anybody else's dessert in the form of a righted wrong. Let him take his 'L', bad call (that he was looking forward to bitching about later) and all.
The Mothers Of A Youth Team In Ukraine Did A Sexy Photoshoot In Hockey Gear, Thus Ensuring Their Children Grow Up To Have Trust Issues
Oh no. Oh no, no, no. Unless this was just an elaborate scheme in which to save money on hockey sticks by getting their children to take up sports that can be played alone behind the sanctity of bedroom doors that will now remain dark and forever locked, this was a terrible idea. Like, might as well throw those pictures together in a magazine and title it Mommy Issues, because there is no unsubscribing from that lifetime subscription.
To be clear, I'm all for women with children continuing to embrace their femininity, but...goddamn...invest in a spa day or something. Hit up a nude beach and plant your freak flag right next to your umbrella. I know Europe is a hell of a lot less repressed sexually, but I have my doubts about it being so progressive that barely pubescent hockey players are mature enough to accept, understand, and embrace their mothers' desire to express themselves by way of showing the bodies in which they were produced.
I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this photoshoot was, but if it was to fundraise then I think I speak for the entire team in saying they'd much rather stand outside a grocery store with a tin can and puppy dog eyes. Hell, they'd probably rather raffle off their own organs on the black market if the alternative was to give their friends and foes a visual aide to refer to in half-joking about fucking their mom. At that age, seeing the chick from Varsity Blues in a whipped cream bikini was life changing for all the right reasons, so I'd imagine seeing your mom in a glove and blocker bikini on a public platform is equally as impactful for all the wrong reasons. I feel bad for these kids now, but not nearly as bad as I'll feel for them when they are undergoing bi-weekly therapy sessions as adults that can no longer watch a hockey game without having a manic episode.
Marcus Peters Is Big Mad At Sean Payton, Because Being Upset With Himself Is Apparently Out Of The Question
Here is the thing. After twelve plus years, Saints' fans have become too familiar with Sean Payton's personality to think that Marcus Peters is completely unjust in his overreaction to a statement of the obvious. It's very possible, if not insanely likely, that the pettiest of pro football coaches was unable to hold his tongue and poured a little fuel on a fire after orchestrating the all-out torching of a cornerback who, as evidenced by his response, is plenty talkative in his own right. I don't know what was or wasn't said down on the field, but if Marcus Peters and Sean Payton did exchange some words then there's not a single doubt in my mind that the latter earned every last ounce of the "bowl of gumbo" that the former is apparently arranging they share.
That being said, if you consider talking truth to be the same thing as talking trash then the truth is probably that you're trash. Again, Sean Payton probably did add a little Southern spiciness from the sidelines. However, everyone with a functioning set of eyeballs and either a financial or emotional investment in the New Orleans Saints liked the matchup of Marcus Peters on Michael Thomas. In fact, to even call it a matchup is disingenuous, because the guy that whined and cried his way out of Kansas City was entirely over-matched in trying to stop someone who's season-to-date supports his social media presence in proving him unstoppable.
I'm not going to say that I saw a dagger of a 72-yard touchdown followed by the surprise appearance of a sentimental cellphone coming prior to the snap, but I would have bet my whole damn wallet on the ball being thrown to Michael Thomas as Marcus Peters was desperately waving his arms around as if being left on an island had him feeling like he fell out of the boat. That's just a fact.
The Saints asked the same question 11 different times prior to that point in the game, and the Rams "best" answer would have gotten them kicked out the damn classroom. Of course Sean Payton felt comfortable making it a clean dozen when the game, more or less, hung in the balance. That's not "shit talking", that's truth telling. Therefore, though he appears timely in calling for the check (picture above), maybe Marcus Peters should get in the film room and stew over his own failures instead of worrying about splitting one with an opposing head coach who's as good at scheming his way behind a defense as he is at chirping his way under its skin.
They say that winning cures all, and with the Devils not doing much of that these days each hiccup has grown louder and more pronounced. None the least of which being a devastating shock to the immune system from the hands of the Senators, of all opponents, that exasperated each and every vulnerability within a team that looked like it turned the lights off, cuddled up in bed, and decided to just sweat out a vomit-inducing defeat instead of actually doing a single thing to combat it. Simply put, playing the right way and getting back on the right side of the scoreboard with some consistency is the only thing that will truly nurse New Jersey out of their state of nausea.
That being said, the return of a player whose absence has been felt through both sickness (this miserable 2-6-1 stretch) and health (their 4-0 start) isn't the worst prescription I could think of. Now, I'm not putting the entire hose on the slender shoulders of Jesper Bratt and asking him to extinguish the raging dumpster fire that the Devils were on Tuesday night. However, if you ask Marcus Johansson during a moment of weakness what it's been like trying to coax goals out of the cluster of mediocrity that's joined him on the second line then he'd almost certainly tell you he's been longing for the season debut of the second year Swede. Other than Cory Schneider, who apparently only starts on nights in which his team experiments with pregame Ambien, no one on the roster has had their performance more stifled by their surroundings than MoJo. Conservatively speaking, he should probably have about 3x as many assists as he does, and if he were flanked with just a little bit of finesse then it's a distinct possibility that the Devils wouldn't be leaning on their first line more shamelessly than Jesper Bratt leaned over his toilet while "eating" during his liquid diet...
Of course, it will probably take him a little while to get acclimated to the game speed having not yet participated in a contest with actual consequences this year, and the line of him, Seney, and Johansson is probably better in theory until they work in some more practice. Still, the puck skill, creativity, and ability to go for an extensive skate on a frozen puddle that Jesper Bratt brings to the lineup is sorely needed on both the second line and the second power play unit. Despite his struggles to end last season, that much has been made blatantly obvious this season. His absence has made the heart grow fonder, if only because it's cooled everyone on the Devils' offensive depth.
Welp, if nothing else, Russell Wilson is who we thought he was. Shoot? Gosh-darnit? Mix in a "frick" or a "fudge" and you have the holy (don't forget, this is a God-fearing man we're talking about) trinity of outrageously over-the-top attempts to avoid you using bad words that the Seahawks' straight-laced quarterback would undoubtedly refer to as cusses. Seriously, take away the video and that audio sounds like the reading of a script for a Russell Wilson parody skit.
Now, I don't want to be the hard ass that encourages a person who feels uncomfortable doing so to curse, but...like...goddamn it...would it really have killed him to take the Lord's name in vain just one time in commandeering an uncommonly combustible collection of players? Pretty sure the Father forgives all sins, so a couple of the linguistic variety that made the most devoted member of the congregation's unorthodox work environment just a little less awkward would be worth nothing more than a couple words of absolution in the confessional booth.
To be fair, I have no idea what was going on behind closed doors when Seattle appeared prime for a dynasty. However, if the jaw-jackin 'Legion of Boom' was being led into battle with a "LET'S GIVE 'EM HECK!!!" while Marshawn Lynch was prepping to "run through a ma'fucka face" then I can kind of see how what was a perfect marriage on the outside eventually crumbled on the inside. Richard Sherman was out their kicking asses and taking names while Russell Wilson was out there patting asses and learning baby names. The most eccentric of locker rooms in a sport that's predicated on violence led by a man who actively censors himself on the sidelines. There's nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but what a gosh-darned dynamic that must have been.
To be honest, I'm kind of at a loss for words. Cocky doesn't begin to do it justice, and I don't love the negative connotation of arrogant in describing a play that was only as pompous as it was pretty.
By tipping his cap to 'The Mailman' mid-game, Aaron Gordon delivered in a way that could make Amazon Prime eat its heart out, as the time between the opportunity clicking in his head and the execution of the full package getting dunked on our doorstep makes same-day air look like snail mail by comparison. Prime Karl Malone included, there ain't a postman in the business that could match the aggressiveness of that shipment. That's how criminal the misconduct was in breaking the social norms of both basketball and society.
Dropping dunk contest 48's off the alley in traffic during a regular season game is just a patently ridiculous proposition, and Aaron Gordon did it spontaneously while soaring above both the rim and an opponent who once jumped over the hood of a car. Simply put, that had to come compliments of the United Pose-terization Service, because the Fed's might need to be called after he Ex'd everyone else out during a picture perfect oop.
Update On The Jimmy Butler Saga: He Casually Played Some NBA Basketball With His Shooting Hand Down His Shorts Last Night
Perhaps I should have lent more credence to Tom Thibodeau's stubbornness, because I must admit that I never, in my wildest dreams, foresaw Jimmy Butler's extremely inevitable eviction from Minnesota getting to this point. That said, I couldn't be happier that it has, as I am very here for every hilarious...ahem...stroke of genius that Jimmy Butler has brought to the NBA canvas in painting himself as an unrelenting asshole. Assuming he didn't jam his finger in the revolving door of Andrew Wiggins' defense, I have no choice but to assume that this was neither his first nor last, but definitely his most literal attempt at telling the organization that employs him to hold his dick.
The truth is, I really shouldn't endorse a professional athlete treating a game that he's getting handsomely compensated for like a one-man pettiness exhibition, but - in my heart of hearts - I just can't get enough of Jimmy Butler one-upping himself in trying to bully his way off a team that continues to call his "bluff" while he's clearly showing a upper hand.
Everyone loves the cult-classic Office Space, and what we are witnessing is the closest thing to it playing out in real life. Like, this saga doesn't even need a Milton. Screw the red stapler. By going to such extreme lengths in doing whatever the hell he wants with his only repercussion being a complete lack of repercussions, Jimmy Butler is basically torching the Minnesota Timberwolves' credibility as a franchise. Playing consecutive possessions of professional basketball, during which he was in man-to-man defense on the ball, with his shooting hand down his shorts is as ridiculous, if not more so, than drilling down the walls of your cubicle without consent. If absolutely nothing else, the...ahem...balls it takes to do either are worthy of reverence.
“Ya know what? I’m a pussy. You’re right. I wouldn’t fight ya, but you’re a terrible hockey player. No. It’s painful for me to watch. Fuck you’re horrible”- P.K. Subban
And here we have the inherent dangers of punching up unknowingly being put on full display for a nationwide audience. Given the relative irrelevance of the source, P.K. Subban probably didn't have to justify a chirp as uninventive as "you're a pussy" with a response, but he really dropped the mic that he had no idea he was being picked up by in launching a truth bomb directly at the gut of Nikita Zadorov. Not for nothing, but - hyperbolically speaking - I might rather have a labia for lips than be that disrespected by my own peers. What "oh yeah, well you're a terrible hockey player" lacks in wittiness, it more than makes up for in effectiveness, as that message rang loud and clear enough to...well...come through the television of literally everyone watching.
Punching down is considered unbecoming in most scenarios because it's simply too easy, but the shitshow of sight and sounds that is a professional hockey rink is unlike most scenarios in that the ability to verbally eviscerate a lesser opponent is something to be proud of. You don't have to look too deep into the shallow stats of a fairly big failure of a first round pick to see clear that an opposing coach's nightmare of a Norris Trophy winner, be he overly dramatic on the ice or not, did just that...
If T.J. Oshie Didn't Draw A Game-Changing Headshot From Evgeni Malkin Then He Sure As Hell Stenciled Around It
I tend to err on the side of caution with these collisions, so I'm not about to be up in arms over a 5 minute major and a game misconduct that followed the letter of the law as it pertains to hits to the head. Evgeni Malkin tried to run a little routine interference and, though all he really did was lift his arm in preparation for impending contact without so much as veering off course, he caught an opposing player in a vulnerable position in the form and fashion that the NHL is trying to shun out of it's game. Hockey is as hard and fast a sport as sober sex so determining the acceptability of what's happened in the moment is as much of a results-oriented business as ass play. Simply put, the result of the above run-in appeared ugly enough to warrant an ejection.
Ahem, that being said, if a corresponding suspension were to come then it would be more than fair to question whether T.J. Oshie suckered Evgeni Malkin into a luxury suite. I'm not definitively saying that the Capitals' forward intentionally drew a head shot, but I am also not saying that he has too much integrity to do so...
Let's put it this way, if Captain America wasn't basically begging a rival to take the bait then the only other alternative was that he was playing the game so recklessly you'd think he was actually wearing a suit of armor.
Some scorned Capitals' fans are undoubtedly going to need to schedule a visit to an orthopedic surgeon after popping their arms out of their sockets by reaching so far as to compare this hit to the dozen or so times that Tom Wilson has bruised the brain of an unsuspecting opponent. Ironically, what they don't realize is that the argument they've already made in defending their own is made laughable by acting as if T.J. Oshie was some sort of innocent victim.
It's one thing to have your head down looking at the puck as you cut into the danger area of the ice, but it's a whole 'nother level of carelessness to be hunched over with your head up as you skate face-first into the shoulder space of a bigger, stronger player. Given his very recent history (below), the lack of effort that T.J. Oshie put into fighting his way around the NHL equivalent of a moving pick was almost comical, even if him being flung to the ice grabbing his face was not.
Again, Evgeni Malkin threw himself at the mercy of the court when a head, not surprisingly one that's attached to a bit of an agitator, that actively put itself an inch and a half from his arm became too much to resist. However, if players are going to be held at all responsible for their own safety then a suspension for a potential sell job that got an opposing superstar tossed from a game in which the aggrieved party was able to pretty easily shake off the cobwebs and score the game-winning goal would be a bit much, in my opinion.
UPDATE: Holy crap, both he and they actually agreed with me...
Nikola Jokic Got Fined $25,000 For Dropping A "No Homo" In A Postgame Interview, Which Is As Funny As It Is Wrong
Just one question before we begin. Exactly how offensive is it to find the idea of an internationally born athlete getting fined for dropping a long out-of-style slang term in semi-broken English to be absolutely hilarious? I totally understand the reasoning as to why the phrase "no homo" had to be phased out and replaced by a much less aggressive term like "pause" in making sure statements that aren't meant to be deemed sexually explicit aren't interpreted as homoerotic. It implies a certain level of phobia to the idea of same sex relations, and that is - in fact - bad. However, it being casually dropped in a postgame interview by a European player who didn't consider that it might be problematic to use throwback rap records as a makeshift Rosetta Stone is - in fact - funny.
Nikola Jocic got himself PAID, so $25,000 is basically chump change, but I still think we should have given him a one-time pass on the whole "insinuating that being gay is gross" thing. After all, aren't we now a society that is (at least in theory) sensitive to all races, religions, nationalities, and sexualities? Shouldn't that include being understanding of the trials and tribulations of a young Serbian fella who is just trying to do the impossible by navigating English ebonics that change as often as the cultural landscape of the NBA without accidentally implying that his primary defender is hung like a horse?
As someone who sees Milan Lucic's preposterously premeditated act of interference as only slightly more egregious than responding to any clean, hard bodycheck by dropping the gloves with an unwilling participant, I still think the NHL's Department of Player Safety should have made him sit a couple out in a luxury suite.
The hit, in and of itself, wasn't all that bad relative to the one that it was in retaliation to...
However, as a matter of principle, I can't help but think that a league that's trying to discipline big dumb animalistic violence out of their game does itself a disservice by not coming down harder on a player that's built like a rhinoceros who lurked in the shadows of his eventual prey like a goddamn great white shark before mounting and pounding it like an enraged gorilla.
Mathieu Joseph probably deserved to have his ass meet ice, and - since "developing" the scoring touch of a T-Rex - Milan Lucic basically only gets paid $6 million a year to make sure that it does. Still, I'm not sure how, in good conscience, I'm supposed to apply the "predatory" label to any hit if stalking someone the length of the rink with the laser-like focus of a wild feline is worthy of no more than the smallest of five-figure fines.
I would say that it's a "no harm, no foul"-type situation, but at least a little bit of damage has been done to how the NHL designates and defines their most punishable acts of aggression, since a beast-like bullying apparently doesn't count as a predatory act. Probably would have been best for them to stay on-brand semantically, as Milan Lucic's absence from it only stood to enhance their product anyway.
The Only Uber Disjointed Team That Looked Like They Were Along For The Ride In Ottawa Last Night Was The New Jersey Devils
To be honest, the phrase "compete level" is already growing pretty old. There's only one thing I hate more than cliches, and it's overused cliches. I hardly see him as the problem, but John Hynes has been so aggressive in going to the well of effort-based adages that he doesn't even have to be the one to bring them up in trying to explain his team's otherwise inexplicable struggles anymore...
Unfortunately, I'm just not sure there was anything more apt to criticism than their effort last night. The Devils spent the first half of the first period creating the type of contrast that has drunkards covering their eyes and squinting away from the sun when they walk out of dive bars mid-day, as the lopsided beatdown that followed was only made all the more painful to watch by what preceded it. Never mind the flipping of a switch, it was honestly as if someone cut the power lines to their pulse the second the first line continued their torrid tear in jumping out to a two goal lead. There are ebbs and flows to every game, but there are also drug addicts that would have a hard time comprehending how rapidly the Devils went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in having a withdrawal from working hard.
It's John Hynes' job to play exterminator in coaxing out whatever crawled up the Devils' ass twelve minutes into a game they had already proved winnable, but I too might be at a loss for an original answer if my team randomly decided to toss a working arrangement directly in the trash. Against an opponent that was still saying its our father's and hail mary's after going full Taxicab Confessions in roasting its coaching, New Jersey turned into the team that looked like it had gone comatose during the last three weeks of film study. Whether it was following the puck like a pack of first graders or getting bent over backwards in just about every board battle, the Devils were somehow left more desperate for a reliable Lyft than the Senators were a week ago. After putting forth a masterpiece against the Penguins a night earlier, a young team whose only success has come when they've out-worked opponents didn't even have the decency to conjure up a cough before clocking out early.
Of course, there were some obvious flaws at fault. The first line was creating just about all of the offense. The team defense was about as brutal as the actual defense was expected to be this season. Drew Stafford literally stinks on ice. Miles Wood finds the confines of the penalty box far too friendly. Damon Severson has been a stud as of late, but - as evidenced by the game-tying goal - his wires still get crossed whenever he steps foot in the blue paint and the glitch results in him momentarily forgetting that goals are scored with sticks. That said, as has been the case far too often, no one thing sabotaged the Devils' hot start more so than their own collective lack of competitiveness. The following opinion is definitely influenced by recency bias, but it already seems as though the Devils have completely lost focus and checked out of more games this year than they did all of last year, and the embarrassing amount of blown leads turned blowouts reflects just that.
In theory, that should be a more fixable problem than a lack of speed or skill, but it's also one that's hard to repeatedly answer to without sounding like a broken record of overplayed hits.
As it pertains to Cory Schneider, I don't want to hear it. It was always going to take him some time to get comfortable following hip surgery, and - by playing two of their worst games of the season in front of him - his teammates have afforded him absolutely none of it. I don't know that he'll ever get back to being the backbone we saw in the playoffs, but I do know that it'll be impossible to tell if five players continue to stand around mesmerized by the puck (much like below) while he's in net. For whatever reason, the Devils go braindead when backstopped by #35, but - while he hasn't been good - I have hard time blaming him for the type of mental block that teams who are worth a damn can bust through. I've accepted that Cory Schneider might, in fact, be done, but I decline him being anything close to the main reason they lost a game in which they appeared to misunderstand the meaning of the phrase "quit while you're ahead".
I want you to do yourself a favor when it comes to making a premature judgement on how Dez Bryant could possibly fit into a Saints' offense that, from a pure production standpoint, doesn't seem as though it offers enough opportunities for a risk-matching reward to an aging, temperamental wideout who, in the past, has shown himself unreliable in route running and receiving.
I want you to temporarily torture yourself by thinking back to this past Monday night and the relatively hard to watch primetime game in which Dak Prescott's stagnation as a franchise quarterback was made clear by going up against Marcus Mariota, of all people. I want you think back to the blankness of the look you saw on the face of Jason Garrett as the camera scanned the sidelines to find the Cowboys' coach once again putting his hands together instead of putting the pieces of his broken offense together. I don't want to let Dez Bryant completely off the hook, as he is noticeably in decline as a player who relied heavily on his athleticism early in his career. However, the Coach/QB tandem from which he was released, while existing in the NFL, simply isn't of the same league and/or playing the same sport as the one he'd be joining in New Orleans, and at least half of that tandem has the self-awareness to know it...
Not all the problems that existed towards the end of Bryant's days in Dallas can be solved by the most refreshing of scenery change, but both a roster that's built to take him on as a humbled player and a locker room that's built to take him in as a proud personality sure can make those problems seem less pronounced. Dez definitely isn't who Dez thinks he is at this point of his career, but if he was waiting for an opportunity to be a shit-stirring starter than a small, midseason offer from a selfless team like the Saints isn't the one he would have accepted. We wouldn't have learned whether or not the following was true of Dez while he was in Dallas, but assholes have a way of altering their attitude when winning a championship is a legitimate possibility.
New Orleans has a #1 receiver, and they don't even really need a #2 receiver. They just want someone who brings an otherwise absent skill-set to a banged up position that lacks proven depth, and the brilliant braintrust that capped off a 7-game win streak with a 45 point performance over one of the top teams in the league will figure out the rest along the way. It's not up to idiots like us to carve out a complimentary role for Dez Bryant. It's up to the constantly scheming and endlessly creative coach that turned a back-up clipboard carrier into the type of weapon that coordinators see piercing their playbook in their nightmares. I think he can make some room for the extensive resume of a competitive player amongst a receiver room in which all of one player has more than 12 catches on the season.
Again, it's both impossible and disingenuous to completely separate the struggles of the Dallas Cowboys and the enigmatic playmaker they deemed expendable from an already impotent offense, but - as Ted Ginn Jr. proved last year - an accurate, catchable ball makes a world of difference to players with otherwise suspect hands. Simply put, at that stage of sensational season, Sean Payton wouldn't bring in Dez Bryant simply because his name is Dez Bryant. He clearly sees something in him, which isn't all that surprising as his size, strength, and leaping ability weren't the cause of his decline. Whether the fit will be a good one remains to be seen, but if there is an organizational culture that values a little piss & vinegar, doesn't mind throwing up the 'X' at the critics, and can pull off just about any look offensively then it's that of the New Orleans Saints.
Stars' Goaltender Anton Khudobin Kept It Really Real In Relaying How he Planned To Rebound From A Tough OT Loss To His Former Team
Not that Anton Khudobin really gives a damn, as evidenced by the candidly relatable answer he gave in responding to last night's OT loss to his former team, but he's officially got a fan in me. You can take your cliches and shove 'em up your ass, because when the mood of the Stars' goaltender in shining a little less bright he's going to scream some shit and break some shit like every other irritably competitive S.O.B. that finds expressing their anger in healthy ways to be highly overrated.
Personally, I appreciate how open he is about it, as there is nothing a peeved fan wants to hear less than one of the many loose translations of "we'll get 'em next time". Sometimes the best way to let off some steam is to just get hot by way of bothered, cool down, and then do it all over again until you've pissed yourself all the off and are running on E. After all, the key to not going to sleep angry is taking all your frustrations out on other people, places, and things before laying your head to rest. Pretty sure I saw that on an episode of Dr. Phil...or maybe it was Jerry Springer.
The Saints Brought Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, And More In For Workouts As They Try To Solidify Themselves At Wide Receiver
A ringing endorsement for Cameron Meredith, this is most certainly not. I don't know if the holdup is physical, mental, or some combination of the two, but the man who was signed to compliment the passing game alongside Michael Thomas has been sporadic at best in his contributions. Add to that the fact that Ted Ginn Jr. is on IR, Austin Carr is underwhelming, and Tre'Quan Smith is still coming into his own as a reliable receiver, and it's not hard to see why the Saints might want to add someone with more of a track record to their receiving core.
That's not to say that any of the names above really excite me, as there is a reason they are all available. Aiken's first name might as well be 'Kameh', and give Brandon Marshall enough time alone with it and and he could sour a relationship with a watermelon. However, I do think that Sean Payton is exactly the kind of coach that could coax the best out of someone like Dez Bryant. I wouldn't have been on board with the idea at the beginning of the season, as the options seemed plentiful in a way that made up for being unproven, but if they really feel as though they need another playmaker on the outside then one that wears a chip on his shoulder that sort of matches that of Michael Thomas could be interesting.
I don't know that any flawed, aging wideout is going to make all that much of a difference in an offense that's got no shortage of weapons, but there were a couple of jump balls that fell harmlessly to the ground in big situations on Sunday and for what Dez Bryant lacks in fundamentals he makes up for in the size and strength he brings to the position. Plus, after seeing how irked some were by Michael Thomas' salute to both Joe Horn and Saints' history, I kind of just like the idea of doubling-down by adding another personality to a room that's shown itself entirely capable of integrating them.
Of course, these workouts could very well just be due diligence. Still, adding a scorned Dez Bryant that's spent way too much time on the scrap heap not to be humbled doesn't seem like anywhere near as awful an idea as it once did, though I'd definitely stop short of calling it a great idea until proven otherwise.