Ernest Hooper, Assistant Sports Editor

Ernest Hooper

Assistant Sports Editor

When I look in the mirror every morning, I realize I like the guy looking back at me. Don't get me wrong. The man in the mirror comes with flaws. He needs to eat less, exercise more and try not to get so caught up in his own thoughts. But I still like him. I like having a wife willing to put up with all my flaws after nearly three decades of marriage. I like that God has blessed me with three children -- two sons and a daughter -- who have grown to become great young adults. I like that every morning I awaken excited about journalism, the awesome opportunity to connect with readers in ways both big and small. I love coffee, but serving Times readers represent my true caffeine. Most of all, I like that guy looking back at me -- all of his loves, all of his memories and all of his weird personality traits -- because he's still pushing to do more, be more and learn more. Nothing matters more than looking in that mirror and appreciating the man who looks back at me because that drives me to be better.

Lightning enjoys spirited practice in preparation for Sharks

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy works to make a save during third-period action against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday at Amalie Arena. The Lightning hosts the San Jose Sharks Saturday. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Tampa Bay focused on speed with one game left before its bye and the all-star game.

Roundtable: Who will win Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship games?

Rams quarterback Jared Goff again faces off against Drew Brees on Sunday. This time, it'll be in the NFC Championship game. FILE -  (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
The Saints host the Rams in the NFC Championship game and the Chiefs host the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. We ask our team who will prevail.

Roundtable: Can Kerwin Bell be the answer to USF’s offensive coaching woes?

New University of South Florida offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell, former Florida Gator, speaks with media about his new position and plans for the season during a press conference at the Selmon Center on campus on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
He guided the Division II Valdosta State Blazers to a national championship, but can he make the leap to D-I and guide USF's offense? We ask our team.

Roundtable: What’s more likely to happen in 2019: Rays make the playoffs or Bucs have a winning season?

New Bucs coach Bruce Arians (left) and Rays manager Kevin Cash (right.) [MONICA HERNDON, CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
Is there a better chance of Bruce Arians reversing consecutive losing seasons or Kevin Cash producing a year even more magical than 2018? We ask our team.

The Times Roundtable: Arians’ early handling of Winston begs a question

Bruce Arians (left) poses with general manager Jason Licht after last week's introductory  press conference. Arians has made it clear Winston is his quarterback and this is Winston's team. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
The new coach says this is Jameis Winston's team. Is that the right declaration?