Last Week In Sports | 1/1/18 – 1/7/18
Welcome to 2018! Here’s a recap of last week’s biggest stories.
IT’s Hips Don’t Lie
After a 7-month hiatus from the hardwood, Isaiah Thomas was back in uniform Tuesday and absolutely balling. Despite speculation that Thomas would not be the same after aggravating an injured hip in last year’s playoffs, IT proved he was as speedy and dextrous as ever, notching 17 points in 19 minutes on 6 of 12 shooting against the Trailblazers. While some still think that Cleveland got the short end of the stick by trading All-Star guard Kyrie Irving for Thomas, the 5’9,” MVP-caliber point guard is ready to earn his keep (and maybe a max contract) in “The Land.”
Trouble in New England
If the rumors are true, a Shakespearean rift has brewed between the Patriots’ three heads of state in owner Robert Kraft, QB Tom Brady, and head coach Bill Belichick. According to several ESPN sources, the trouble began when Kraft forced Belichick’s hand in a questionable trade that sent backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco for a measly second-round pick. Since starting Garoppolo at quarterback, the 49ers (a team that could not win to save a child’s life) has won five games straight and Jimmy G ended the season with the highest QB rating in the NFL.
Apparently, Brady, now 40, believes he can play at an elite level to the age of 45 – something that has never been done in the NFL’s history – and felt threatened by Garoppolo’s presence in the locker room. Meanwhile, Belichick, easily the best coach in the NFL, may now be exploring a move to the New York Giants. Losing Belichick would likely mean the end of the Patriots’ almost 20-year domination of the league that led to seven Super Bowl appearances and five rings.
First Week of the NFL Playoffs
The first week of playoffs have proven the NFL is as utterly unpredictable as ever. The Titans completed a historic second-half comeback win over the Chiefs on a 19-point run jump started by a touchdown pass that QB Marcus Mariota completed… to himself. On top of that, the Jaguars won their first playoff game in 10 years on gutsy QB runs by Blake Bortles and forcefield defensive plays in the box. And the Falcons are looking like the NFC champions they were last season after beating the heavily favored Rams with high-precision throws by QB Matt Ryan.
The last game of the weekend, Panthers at Saints, was colored by an absurd amount of dropped passes by Panthers’ receivers that Saints’ QB Drew Brees was able to capitalize on masterfully to come away with the win and defend home turf.
Jon Gruden is Back in Black
Following the firing of Jack Del Rio, ESPN Monday Night Football commentator and ex-coach Jon Gruden has been re-named the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. While coaches that take a long break from the league don’t generally have a good track record upon returning, Gruden is known for his deft use of a horizontal pass attack structure that should suit young QB Derek Carr perfectly. In his stint with the Raiders in the late 90’s, Gruden brought them to three straight playoff appearances and became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl the year he was traded to Tampa Bay. With his “showtime” personality and aggressive play-calling style, Gruden seems to be a good fit for the Raiders as they transition from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020.
First Openly Gay U.S. Winter Olympics Athlete Selected
Despite placing fourth in the U.S. Figure Skating Championship on Saturday, Adam Rippon was selected Sunday by the U.S. Figure Skating selection committee to represent the U.S. in South Korea. While a controversial choice to some, the committee made the decision based at least partly on “athletes track records’ in international competitions.” The last time an openly queer athlete represented the United States in the Olympics was in the summer of 2004. This year, the 28 year old Rippon is ready to break the LGBTQ barrier and hopefully bring us home the gold alongside Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou.