Here in the shadowlands, the field is short. It is only the journey that is long.
For a decade, Adrian McPherson has chased a season such as this one. From league to league, from team to team, across the border and back, McPherson kept chasing football one end zone at a time. He went from scandal and headlines to the fringes of the game, watching, waiting for his opportunity.
Finally, when the world was prepared to forget his name, McPherson has caught up to the potential....
The heat of the afternoon beat down on the Tampa Bay Bucs Monday, no doubt a by-product of the warm and fuzzy feelings between a football coach and his quarterback.
It was the start of the spring practices, and Greg loved Josh and Josh loved Greg and all was good in the land of the Bucs, where every drop of sweat cascaded like a heart drawn on a window pane.
Yes sir, they are quite the couple, coach Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman, his quarterback. Their initials are carved in the nearest oak....
05/18/13 The Heater
If the disappointment had come from the usual suspects, perhaps you could better understand it.
For instance, if the betrayal had come from the offense, if the bats were as small and powerless as they were in the old days, you would simply shake your head and sigh. Frustrating times at the plate are familiar to Rays fans, after all. You have taken that ride before.
If the failure had come defensively, you might even understand that. Over the past half-dozen seasons, the Rays have been pretty good defensively in most years. But last year, the gloves became leaden and the throws became wild. You have seen spotty play in the field, too....
05/15/13 The Heater
More than anything, maybe what David Price is allergic to is the 2013 season.
And opposing bats.
And third innings.
And two-strike pitches.
In Wednesday night's edition of The Price is Off, it was an injury that, at first glance, seems relatively minor. Price lasted seven whole outs before leaving the game against the Red Sox with tightness in his left triceps....
They traded for an island in Darrelle Revis. They brought in a heat-seeking safety in Dashon Goldson. They drafted a corner they like in Johnthan Banks.
Whee, says Danny Sheridan.
Sheridan, a nationally known sports handicapper, was so impressed that he expects the Bucs to win … seven games.
Seven? Last year, when their secondary consisted of men chasing after buses, they won seven games. Last year, when they were historically bad in the secondary, bad beyond belief, they won seven times....
05/11/13 The Heater
Even today, it is not as simple as mother and son. Even on Mother's Day, there are different forms of caring beyond childbirth, different ways of making a difference in the life of a child.
Consider, for instance, the women who own a piece of Matt Joyce's heart.
Today, Joyce will start his day by sending a text to his older sister, Danielle. After all, Danielle was always his fiercest defender. Today of all days, she deserves to hear a kind thought from Joyce....
In the collective memory of Tampa Bay sports, he is running still. A decade gone, and Ronde Barber is gaining on forever.
Even now, Barber is racing down the sideline of Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The yard markers blur in front of him, and the Eagles disappear behind him. The stadium has fallen deathly silent, as if Barber's interception hit the mute button on an entire city.
It has been 10 years since The Pick, 10 years since Barber snuffed out the Eagles' last chance by intercepting Donovan McNabb and returning it 92 yards to the end zone, slaying demons every 10 yards along the way....
05/08/13 The Heater
As he lay on the ground, deathly still, he was unsure what had happened to him. Blood was flowing from his left ear, and he felt pressure on that side of his skull. For a moment, J.A. Happ was as uncertain as anyone of just how seriously he was injured.
A day later, and he cannot wait to get back to get to the mound.
This is the insanity of the position. A batted ball had caromed off his skull, and already, Happ was talking about his return. The Blue Jays left-hander had collapsed in a ghastly image, and he wants his next chance. It is not an exaggeration to say that an inch here or there, and Happ could have died....
05/06/13 The Heater
Seven to nothing. They held a 7-0 lead, and they could not close it out.
Not at home.
Not against the last-place Blue Jays.
Not in a game they needed to win.
Instead, the Rays clawed at their collars, and they tried to clear their throats from something thick, and little by little, they went about blowing another lead. Once again, mediocrity rose up to grab them and pull them deeper into the ooze of fourth place....
For the dirty-work position at nose tackle, you do not build a player all at once.
Before you get to the gloriously wide smile and thick biceps of Akeem Spence, for instance, you must first know about the shy kid with the heavy accent. You must know about the boy who stood in the shadow of his father.
He was 6, fresh from Jamaica, and the other kids could not understand him when he spoke. So he didn't speak much. He faded into the back of the group....
Eventually, once they find out who this kid is, once they are able to pick him out of a lineup, the fans of Tampa Bay are going to fall in love with Mike Glennon. • Odds are, it will happen long before Glennon earns it. • Picture it now. He will stand there in his cap, waiting and watching, as Josh Freeman throws an incompletion. And the fans will cheer for Glennon. He will take his place beside offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, and Freeman will throw an interception. And the fans will write sonnets to him. He will pace down the sideline, and Freeman will settle for a field goal. And the fans will throw their hands into the air and announce it is Glennon's turn. • By then, you will be telling your buddies how you knew about Glennon's potential all the time. • This happens everywhere, of course. When it comes to quarterbacks, fans always love the other guy. ...
If this is the end, if this is really the NFL slamming the door on Tim Tebow's career, then there are two ways to look at it.
One, Tebow got robbed.
And two, Tebow robbed the Jets.
There is no other way to look at it, really. Either the Jets wasted Tebow's time, or he wasted theirs. Either he could have done more, and darn the Jets for not recognizing it, or he was lucky to have a job. Either the Jets were afraid that Tebow would succeed and get in the way of Mark Sanchez, or they were frightened that he would embarrass them further....
Yeah, but what about the pass rush?
The Bucs are better today, no question about that. The flames in the secondary have been doused. The locker room is crowded with young, impressive stars. The team feels good about itself, and considering its immediate past, it should.
On the other hand, what about the quarterback's bouts with inaccuracy? What about the tight end? What about right tackle? What about a starting strongside linebacker?...
04/24/13 The Heater
His night was done now. The ball had sneaked into rightfield, and the best reliever in baseball last year was warm, and the meat of the Yankees lineup was coming to the plate.
So Alex Cobb snarled at himself, competitor that he is, and he waited for Joe Maddon's long journey from the dugout.
And then the darnedest thing happened.
The crowd started to boo, long and loud. Fernando Rodney, the Rays' terrific reliever, was on his way to put out the fire, and the crowd was booing. Maddon, the two-time American League manager of the year, was making a move, and the crowd was booing....
Even at first glance, you can see the stardom rise off of Darrelle Revis.
He strides into the interview room — without a limp, by the way — and the room is his. He is happy, and he is rich, and he is a Buccaneer. From the moment he leans into the mike with his soft voice and his hard eyes, he has the crowd in his grasp.
He also holds the answer to Mark Dominik's career....