[Editor's note: This story was initially published on April 17, 2012, early in the season in which Madison Bumgarner and the Giants would win the second of their three World Series titles since 2010.]
HICKORY, N.C. – This is a beautiful place to be laid to rest. A little cemetery by a little church by a little winding road. The headstones all look pristine, facing the white spire of the church like worshipers in pews. On a nice day, they gleam. But there's something else here – something unique: the names on the graves.
Many are the same.
Bumgarner. That name is on one tombstone after the other after the other. So many Bumgarners have lived here over the past century that the locals refer to this tiny area of rural North Carolina as "Bumtown."
About 100 Bumgarners still live here today. Just down that hill is a 76-year-old lady named Mary, living alone and going strong. And across the street from the Bumtown graveyard is her son, a tall, bald man with a vaguely familiar, lopsided smile.
"Welcome to nowhere," says Kevin Bumgarner, 51, standing in his garage.
Nowhere? Well, in a way, yes. The local paper, the Hickory Daily Record, explains it this way:Wed, Oct 29San Francisco3 - 2Kansas CityGame Recap
Jameis Winston may have shut out Bo Jackson, but he has not turned his back on all advice from former college legends. In fact, former Florida State Heisman winner Charlie Ward has grown closer to Winston over the past several months.
Ward even visited Winston at his house over the summer, after the infamous crab legs incident. "I've talked to him a little bit more than last year," he told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday night.
That doesn't mean Ward is an enabler, though. Asked if Winston's behavior has frustrated Ward, he said, "Yes. Like my own son frustrates me."
Ward, who is now the head football coach at Booker T. Washington High in Pensacola, Fla., has tried to help Winston deal with the pressure and make better decisions. "I always tell him, 'Humility wins in the end,' " he said.
Everyone saw what happened to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
More important: what didn't happen to the Cowboys that night.
The sight of Tony Romo immobile on the turf at AT&T Stadium and Brandon Weeden throwing warm-up passes had to send a chill through the folks of Dallas like a $20 drop in the price of oil. Romo slowly got up and ambled off the field after suffering a back contusion, and Weeden was charged with saving the day.
He nearly did. The Cowboys sent the game into overtime before Colt McCoy won it for the Washington Redskins.
The sky did not fall with Romo out of the lineup. Weeden was solid, completing four of six passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys scored 10 points in the short time Weeden was at the helm, and that says something about this version of the team.
It's not Romo or bust. Not anymore.Sun, Nov 210:00 AM PSTArizona at DallasPreview Game
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports4 days ago
NEW ORLEANS – Maybe it's time to stop relaxing in Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers' much-discussed urging for fans to "R-E-L-A-X" after a loss to the Detroit Lions last month led to a new momentum for the season, but that screeched to a halt here Sunday in part because of some too-cute play-calling, a hamstring injury to the quarterback who holds this team together and a no-punt game in a dome where stops are mandatory. A very winnable game cratered into a 44-23 loss to the struggling New Orleans Saints.
Rodgers played down his leg ailment, insisting he won't miss any time, but there are deeper issues beyond that. The Packers didn't force a punt all game for the second time this season, and they couldn't do much of anything on offense with Rodgers even a little bit hobbled.
Still, after the game, head coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed, "I don't think they slowed us down at all offensively," and Rodgers backed him up by saying, "We would have had to score 45 to win and we could have."
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
BATON ROUGE, La. – The kicker was ready.
With chaos around him and all kinds of noise drowning him, Ole Miss' Gary Wunderlich belted practice kick after practice kick into the net on his team's sideline as time seeped away. Long snapper Will Few hustled over to him with less than a minute to go in a three-point game against LSU, pointing to his own eyes and then at Wunderlich. It was almost time. Few doubled back. The kicker nodded and jogged toward the bench and onto the field.
Moments later, he jogged off.
In what may haunt Rebels fans for weeks and even years, Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze made a staggering error against LSU that could cost his team a shot at the first college football playoff. He pulled Wunderlich off the field and put his struggling quarterback, Bo Wallace, back onto it with nine seconds left in a 10-7 game. Wallace threw an interception and then grimaced as he watched the replay on the big screen in the corner of a deafening stadium. Then he jogged into the locker room with two seconds still on the clock.
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
There was a time when no praise was too strong for Seantrel Henderson.
Then there was a time when no scorn was too strong.
These days, Henderson gets little of either. And it might be the best thing for him.
People knew Henderson's name before he was old enough to drive. He got a scholarship offer to Notre Dame when he was in ninth grade. He was named Rivals' No. 1 prospect for 2010 while it was still 2008 and still finished at No. 2. He was 6-foot-8, 337 pounds at age 17.
He was strong enough to play in the NFL before he was old enough to play varsity football and he was agile enough to play prep hoops along with it. His high school position coach once said he could "dance on a light bulb." If there was one high school player in 2010 who was most likely to get his name announced on the first day of the 2014 NFL draft, it was Seantrel Henderson.
Then everything began to slowly unspool.
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports9 days ago
The headlines and photos are enough to scare anyone.
"The number of people infected with Ebola in western Sierra Leone is increasing to more than 20 deaths daily," one newspaper reported on Tuesday. "Forty-nine new cases were confirmed on Monday."
Here in America, the fear has spread from the disease itself to the nations plagued by the disease. A Texas college rejected two student applicants because they were from Nigeria even though that nation has successfully contained the disease. For people who have roots in affected African countries, it's beyond hurtful. It's personal.
Olympic gold medalist Jeneba Tarmoh is one of those people.
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
The Seattle Seahawks cleaned up a problem in their locker room.
Now they have a new one on the field.
Whatever tension Percy Harvin caused in Seattle – no matter who he punched or didn't punch, irritated or didn't irritate – he could stretch a defense like few other players in the NFL. The same can be said for Golden Tate, who left Seattle via free agency. The Seahawks have suffered without Tate, and now they will suffer without Harvin after Friday's shocking trade to the New York Jets. That pain will be hard to immediately alleviate.
With all due respect to Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson doesn't have many weapons left. And if you want to know the special challenges of having a talented young quarterback with a power rusher and not much on the flanks, just ask the San Francisco 49ers. That's who the Seahawks are now, and it's not a compliment.Sun, Nov 21:25 PM PSTOakland at SeattlePreview Game
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
A Browns quarterback has captivated the city of Cleveland, vaulting the team to a 3-2 record with his creative play and lifting his jersey sales to fifth in the NFL. And along the way, he’s created a ripple of controversy with comments that have ignited concern about whether Cleveland will be able keep him long-term.
We’re talking about Brian Hoyer.
Leading a maniacal comeback over the Titans and then following it up with a beatdown of the rival Steelers has led to Hoyer’s Captain Phillips moment. He is the captain now. The local boy who was supposed to capsize in the wake of Johnny Manziel’s arrival in Cleveland is now 6-2 as the Browns’ starter, completing 60 percent of his passes, including seven touchdowns against one interception this season. One of the more popular hashtags on Twitter among Cleveland fans is now #johnnywho.
Perhaps the best example of the sea change comes from Browns superfan “Pumpkinhead” (real name: Gus Angelone), who showed up at the draft in New York and shed tears of joy when his team picked Manziel. Now he’s “behind Brian 200 percent!” and has made T-shirts with sayings like “Brian Cleveland” and “Home6rown Hoyer.”Sun, Nov 210:00 AM PSTTampa Bay at ClevelandPreview Game
- Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
On Sunday morning, before he runs out onto the grass at Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers linebacker Sam Barrington will think back to a cab ride he took when he was 16 years old. He will be grateful, and heartbroken, and inspired.
Eight years ago, Barrington was a 16-year-old sophomore at Terry Parker High in Jacksonville, Fla. He didn't have his driver's license yet, and there were times when his mom was too busy to take him from football practice to his night job as a cook at Zaxby's. So Barrington called a cab.
On one afternoon, a taxi driver picked him up and introduced himself.
"My name's Travis," he said.
Barrington didn't speak a lot, so the ride was mostly quiet.
The next time, though, Travis Newsome came around again and the two of them started talking. Travis was a football fan.
"Are you on Rivals?" the cabbie asked.
"Not yet," Barrington said. "I guess I haven't made a splash yet."