Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
TAMPA — Henrik Lundqvist was alone in the dressing room, his goalie pads still on and his face in his hand. His New York Rangers cap was pulled low, and his back was up against the back of his stall. He stared straight ahead.
After a few moments, he picked up a water bottle and drank it empty, then threw it onto the ground. He reached over to unstrap the Velcro on his left pad – thwatch, thwatch, thwatch – and then he sat back again. He put his hand to his brow and left it there, covering his face again.
This is one of the greatest talents in his sport and he is in crisis. Lundqvist has given up six goals in consecutive playoff games, ceding what was a 1-0 series lead and is now a 2-1 deficit to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has allowed more goals in these three games than he did in all seven games against the Capitals in the last round. Including the regular season, Lundqvist has allowed five or more goals only six times, yet four times against these Bolts. On Wednesday, the final goal – the winning goal – was a shot he said he didn’t even pick up.
“We know what we’re gonna do,” Johnson said, “even before we get the puck.”
As Patriots-NFL tensions de-escalate, deflate-gate focus returns to its proper place: On Tom Brady's role in scandalEric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
Our long national nightmare could be ending. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has laid down his arms by publicly agreeing not to appeal the NFL's deflate-gate decision. Commissioner Roger Goodell has accepted his old friend's bro-hug and, we can surmise, will show leniency in future decisions.
There's just one problem, and it's the original problem: Tom Brady's role.
What can Brady say, either in a news conference or in an appeal, that helps him emerge unscathed?
There are two exculpatory possibilities: first, that the footballs were never deflated to an illegal extent, and second, that the footballs were deflated without Brady's knowledge. The second possibility has to be dropped. Brady is one of the most respected figures in the sport; two equipment guys aren't going to go rogue and then send "jocular" texts like those listed in Wells' report.
But a plea deal still implies guilt, and that's a stain Brady would have to get rid of.
Basically, it was an "Ask Tom" response.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago
Naturally, the backup to Tom Terrific looks like he's straight out of quarterback common casting.
"He's a good-looking Italian cat," says Jimmy Garoppolo's college coach, Dino Babers.
But as with Tom Brady, there's an underdog mentality to the second-year passer out of Eastern Illinois.
"He's not a wimp," says Babers, who is now at Bowling Green. "Don't let the Superman look fool you. He's not Clark Kent."
Garoppolo will have to step into a phone booth over the summer, as his job is to keep the New England Patriots afloat until Brady returns from his suspension after Week 4 (assuming No. 12's appeal for his role in deflate-gate falters). The good news is that if he struggles, Patriots fans will blame NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for it. The bad news is that he's playing for the same head coach who benched Jonas Gray after a four-touchdown game, so Garoppolo had better impress some people.
He has already impressed the people who have seen him play in meaningful games.
He'll get his wish.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
This wasn't punishment for illegal footballs. It was a condemnation of the Patriot Way.
Somewhere along the line, the debate over what happened in the hours and minutes leading up to the AFC championship game in January went beyond air pressure and weather conditions, and became a referendum on the character of Tom Brady and his franchise. That much is clear in the letter that Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of operations, sent to Brady on Monday, which assails him for undermining the "integrity" and "public confidence" in the sport. Nobody would jump all the way to that level of criticism for similar crimes, like warming up a few footballs on a cold sideline.
No, legal precedent is not what this is about. It's about character precedent.
Do the Patriots abide by the spirit of the rules? Did Brady abide by the spirit of this investigation? The league's decision flashes a strong answer: no.
And whether Pats fans like it or not, it was Brady who helped the league make that choice.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago
TAMPA, Fla. – Donovan Smith came to rookie camp with a sheet of names.
Listed for the rookie offensive lineman were several former Penn State players who had advanced into the NFL. It was a crib sheet made by the school for those embarking on their first year in the league. Got a question or a problem? Call a fellow Nittany Lion.
Smith, the Bucs' second-round pick, has already dialed a lot of people on that list.
"You don't realize how long [the year] is," says one of Smith's phone friends, John Urschel, who just got through his rookie year with the Baltimore Ravens. "Everyone tells you but you never believe it."
It's fairly impossible for rookies to fully understand how difficult the year ahead will be. They have worked their entire lives to get to this exact moment, where they put on an NFL uniform for the first time. It feels like it should be the mountaintop, but it's also the bottom.
These are the days when the "made it" mirage often turns into reality. Rookies have to take someone else's job. They have to manage their own money. They have to forage their way through a new city. And they have to be largely alone.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago
This is the Winston Way, the infectious and not-quite-corny enthusiasm that navigated scandal and silliness over two conference championship seasons at Florida State. He has lost only one game since leaving high school, and he carries himself like more titles await him. In Winston's world, winning is always imminent.
Here, though, the memory of winning is faint. The last playoff victory for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came in the 2002 Super Bowl, and there have only been two playoff games since. While Winston's football history is only victorious, his new team can be summed up in what head coach Lovie Smith said Friday: "If you look at our record, we're still 2-14."
So this is it, the merging of leaps-and-bounds Jameis and the baby-steps Bucs. The question for this season is whether Winston will be dragged down or whether he'll drag his teammates to higher ground.
"Jameis is Jameis," said rookie offensive lineman Donovan Smith, as if he'd known Winston for 20 years. "He makes light of every situation. He makes you feel comfortable with everything."
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago
TAMPA — Well, if P.K. Subban is going down, he’s going down swinging.
The Montreal defenseman stood at his stall after a 6-2 Game 4 romp here with his arms folded, his red Habs ski hat on, and his skates planted under his sturdy frame. He looked and spoke like someone who is on the brink of the conference final, not the brink of elimination.
“I don’t listen to the media a lot,” he said. “But I don’t like being called out for how I play in the playoffs. Personally … I take it personally. I don’t want to hear that. I think it’s [expletive].”
He went on, saying “a lot of us are sick and tired” of being called out and criticized. Yes, it’s the old chip-on-the-shoulder, us-against-the-world grist that every athlete in the world uses. And yes, the Canadiens probably deserve some skepticism after going down 3-0 to a Lightning team they swept last year. But the energy among the Habs is real, and palpable, and this group wants to be the first in the franchise’s long, storied history to win a series after going down by three games.
“We owe it to our fans, to ourselves, to go back to Montreal,” Subban said. “It’s gonna be a tough game for them to win, that’s for sure.”
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago
It began as an intriguing statistical correlation. It blew up into a national debate. Now it's a civil engineer's redemption song.
And it might also be evidence that make Tom Brady and the New England Patriots look even worse.
Back in January, after the deflate-gate story broke, a civil engineer named Warren Sharp put together some numbers that led him to a surprising finding: the Patriots are very, very good at holding onto the ball; and their ability to do so improved significantly after Brady and other quarterbacks pushed for a rule change allowing teams to provide their own footballs for games.
"Based upon the data we've collected and the probabilities, it definitely is extremely unlikely that their ability to hold onto the football would change so much and be as far away from the rest of the NFL," Sharp said back then. "It's extremely unlikely."
Sharp didn't expect to be vindicated.
That re-opened the door to the possibility that Sharp was onto something.
Morris took it a step further:
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 20 days ago
Last December, several major professional sports leagues were called to Congress to testify on their efforts to combat domestic violence. The proceedings grew heated, with NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent becoming emotional over his own experiences as a child, and more than one accusatory exchange between public officials and representatives of the sport.
One league that was not brought before Congress: the WNBA.
Four months later, on April 22, one of the nation's most celebrated women's basketball players, Brittney Griner, was arrested after an altercation with her fiancée, Glory Johnson, who also plays in the WNBA. Both suffered minor injuries, including bite marks and a bloodied lip, according to the police report, which classified it as a domestic violence offense. Griner acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, vowing, "it will not happen again." She pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and began 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling.
So it's hard to see how an investigation is moving forward.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago
CHICAGO – Dorial Green-Beckham knows. He's aware. He should have been picked a lot higher in the NFL draft, and a lot richer.
"I let my state down," he said Wednesday. "I apologize for that."
Green-Beckham now gets a shot in a new state, Tennessee, after the Titans took him with their second-round pick here Friday night. He fell so far that the team could afford to trade its No. 33 overall choice away to the New York Giants and still get him several picks later.
Green-Beckham's numbers say superstar: 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, 4.49 speed. His NFL.com overview, however, is full of red flags: "was dismissed from Missouri program after being subject of burglary and assault investigation by police … allegedly pushed a female down some stairs during the incident … arrested twice for marijuana-related incidents … arrested along with two other men after police found a pound of marijuana in their car … arrested along with two teammates after they were allegedly caught smoking marijuana in a campus parking lot …"
"I accept that."
"I need to put myself in better situations," Green-Beckham said on Wednesday.