It's over. The Bryce/Manny saga is FINALLY (!) over. Thank goodness it is because I am goddamn tired of the endless speculation about where Harper or Machado will sign. Boring tidbits about the latest Bryce Harper/Manny Machado news will be no more. Now there are some free agents that can help a team out, i.e. Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. But this off-season period, coupled with the advent of spring training, puts a cap on this off-season. Who were the winners of this off-season and who blew their chance at stealing the spotlight?
History of the first African-American NFL player can be a bit complicated. There's African-American players who've signed contracts and were player-coaches. Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall were the first African-American NFL players in the league, making their debuts in 1920 (the NFL only had player/coaches back then, so Pollard was the first black coach as well). But who was the first African-American player drafted in the NFL?
George Taliaferro was the first African-American player drafted in the NFL, taken in the 13th round of the 1949 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Taliaferro never played for the Bears, though; he elected to play for the Los Angeles Dons in the All-American Football Conference. He did enter the NFL after the AAFC in 1950, going on to play for the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He made the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons (1951 to 1953).
Taliaferro was a versatile player, playing seven positions in his football career--quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punter, kick returner, punt returner, and defensive back. He ended his football career with 2,266 rushing yards on 498 carries, 15 rushing touchdowns, 95 receptions for 1,300 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns, and 1,633 passing yards with ten touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981, starring on a Indiana Hoosier team that went 9-0-1 in 1945. Taliaferro passed away last October.
Photo Courtesy of Indiana University
Two storied NBA franchises are in a funk right now. The Boston Celtics have lost three straight and are in a heap of dysfunction right now. The Los Angeles Lakers are 3-7 in their last ten games and sit at 29-31 and three games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Both legendary franchises need to turn their fortunes around before it's too late. The Celtics have Kyrie and plenty of talent, but Kyrie may be gone by the end of the season. The Lakers have LeBron, but also have a bunch of listless players. Which franchise will be better off in the end?
The Celtics seem like the team that will be better off for a couple reasons. One, they play in a top-heavy Eastern Conference. They only have three games left against the top four teams in the Eastern Conference and one of those teams is without their superstar, Victor Oladipo. The Lakers have challenging games ahead of them, including games against Milwaukee (twice), Toronto, Golden State, Denver, and Oklahoma City. The Lakers also lack talent on their team, arming themselves with a barren bench. The Celtics don't seem to have that much of a problem there. The only issues that have plagued the Celtics this season are chemistry issues and injuries.
It won't be the same old NBA without these two storied franchises missing the playoffs. However, Boston should be safe considering they're 9.5 games ahead of the first Eastern Conference team out of the playoff picture, Orlando. You will also hear a lot about these two teams when Anthony Davis is involved, too. A superstar like Davis can turn one of these franchise's fortunes around quickly. In the mean time, these two franchises will have to work their way into the playoffs if they want to get in.
The Carolina Panthers actually started the 2018 season great with a 6-2 start. However, they ran out of steam and finished with a 7-9 record. What can Carolina do to get back on track and contend for a Super Bowl?
The Atlanta Falcons continued their fall from their Super Bowl 51 choke job, ending up with a 7-9 record. Injuries, especially on the defense, played a major role in Atlanta's paltry record. How can Atlanta rebound to become Super Bowl contenders again?
There's been a lot that I've thought about in my life recently. What path do I want to follow? Do I want to settle down? So instead of fretting over these questions, I decided to compile a bucket list of what I want to do with my life. I hope this list will help me stay focused on my goals so that I can eventually get to these goals. This list is put in place to help me understand that I don't have to do this in one sitting. Anyway, here is my bucket list:
Photo courtesy of VisitCalifornia.com
Zion Williamson recently suffered a freak injury when his Nike shoe unraveled in a rivalry game against North Carolina. Zion's injury is only day-to-day with a Grade 1 sprain on his right knee, but the injury doesn't just prompt questions of if high school players should be drafted in the NBA or not (personally, I think they should). Who can take down Duke and their dominant five-star players in a one-and-done situation?
Any hope of getting Gareth Bale from Real Madrid may have gone out the window, for Bale has expressed no interest in returning to the Premier League. Granted, Chelsea can still make a move for Bale. However, they'll have to compete with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur for his services.
That's not all, though. FIFA has handed Chelsea a two-year ban on transferring players under the age of 18 for breaching rules in relation to youth players. The breaches cover 29 players, but Chelsea confirms it was 92 players that they were charged with (Chelsea did not sign all the players). Chelsea also breached the rules of third-party ownership among the players.
Right now, Chelsea is in a battle for fourth place in the Premier League along with Manchester United and Arsenal. However, Chelsea's had a bad week and that may derail things from here on out. Chelsea F.C. fans certainly hope that isn't the case.
Hallelujah, spring training is here! We can finally enjoy long summer days, warm weather, and baseball! What may seem like a sport where everyone is trying to lose leaves room for some potentially surprising teams. Who is set to shock the world and possibly make the postseason?
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers didn't have a spectacular 2018, going 6-9-1. What can the Packers do to regain their NFC North supremacy?
My life! Food, sports, school. It's what it is!