Last Week in Sports (3/5 – 3/11)
When the Browns are suddenly looking like a contender, you know we had a good week in sports.
The NBA and Mental Health
DeMar DeRozan opened up about his battle with depression in a seemingly out of the blue tweet on February 17 that has been gaining positive momentum, and the NBA responded with reinforcements.
When asked about the tweet, DeRozan told reporters, “It gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.” Perhaps unintentionally, DeRozan sparked a conversation about what it means to struggle with mental health as an individual in the limelight and specifically as an athlete in a culture of “toughness.”
Then, last Tuesday, Cavs’ big man Kevin Love chimed into the discussion with a piece for The Players’ Tribune called “Everyone is Going Through Something.” In it, Love describes his first experience with a panic attack, during a game against the Hawks, which led him to examine his fear of seeking out a therapist: “To me, it was a form of weakness that could derail my success in sports or make me seem weird or different.”
While the ideas expressed in the piece are simple, the action of speaking publicly about mental health as a star NBA player could help young people around the world understand that getting help or speaking to someone about inner struggle is actually a mark of strength. Following Love’s article, Kelly Oubre Jr. commented on his own fight for mental health on the Washington Wizards’ Tipoff podcast. Between the three of them, DeRozan, Love, and Oubre may just be saving lives.
The Browns Are Ready to Play Football
The Cleveland Browns have apparently awoken from their pro football hiatus, fortifying their team for actual competitive play with several pieces last week. QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Jarvis Landry will be joining them this season, giving them a potentially impressive passing game with TE David Njoku and WR Josh Gordon already on the squad, and Green Bay’s favorite corner, 25 year old Damarious Randall, is coming aboard as well.
Though some speculate that the Browns are still gonna take a shot at a long-term QB prospect this draft, the fact that they signed the 28 year old Taylor may mean they are looking at drafting RB Saquon Barkley. That would be quite the stout offense for a team that’s had more interceptions than touchdowns in the last three years. If they fall apart again, all eyes will be on the coaching staff.
Other big moves include the Rams acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib after he rejected a trade to San Francisco. The 49ers thereby snagged star cornerback Richard Sherman. Losing Sherman was the final undoing of the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom after DE Michael Bennett agreed to sign with the Eagles. Bennett reinforces the Super Bowl champions’ already league-best defensive line.
Oscar Valdez Defends His Title
In what was a brutal fight of the year caliber bout, Oscar Valdez defended his featherweight title against Scott Quigg on Saturday night. There was some uncertainty that the fight would actually take place after Quigg missed weight by nearly three pounds the day before, but Quigg committed to paying Valdez an undisclosed amount from his purse and Valdez agreed to go through with it despite hesitation from his camp.
Even though the fighters only landed about 25 percent of their combined punches, the fight was a gruesome offensive display. Headshots and nose blows abounded, and in the fifth round, Quigg landed a right hand that broke Valdez’s jaw. The bloodiness of the match was remarkable, but the fact that Valdez fought through his jaw injury for the win, blood leaking out of his mouth, was especially stunning.
Behind every offensive to the head by Quigg was a slightly more powerful response to the body from Valdez that led the judges to side unanimously with the defending champ. With his fourth title defense under his belt, Valdez is ready to move towards unifying titles. After the fight, he called out his featherweight peers: “We are ready to fight other world champions in the division. We want all the big names.”
Jake Arrieta to the Phillies
Two-thousand-and-fifteen Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jake Arrieta has signed a three-year $75 million contract with Philadelphia that, in combination with their other short-term $60 million signing of first baseman Carlos Santana, makes it look like the Phillies believe they have a shot at a World Series. It would be a tremendous leap forward for a team that finished only 66-96 last season, but it’s not out of the question with J.P. Crawford sliding into shortstop for some added defense and big hitting second baseman Scott Kingery ready to jump out of Triple-A and into the starting lineup at some point this year. Cross your fingers Phillies fans, a weakened National League might be sleepy enough for you to strike.
Let the March Madness Commence!
*Airhorn* T-minus three days to make your bracket! This year’s March Madness contenders were locked in yesterday, so you can officially make your picks for the college basketball championship tournament and place your bets. The number one seeds are Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, and Xavier. Virginia is hot off an ACC tournament win where they successfully implemented their hypnotizingly slow pace to lull opponents into a stupor. Number two seeds include Cincinnati, Purdue, Duke, and the defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels.
In what’s been a controversy-laden few months for the NCAA, they hope to put that behind them for the tournament. Shortly after the championship game, however, a committee led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to release their recommendations for the organization amid allegations by the FBI that several teams are bribing recruits. Three teams that were being investigated were notably left out of the tournament by the selection committee: Oklahoma State, Louisville, and USC.