No one wants to be on HBO's Hard Knocks. No one.
It's one of the coolest shows on television. The behind-the-scenes, all-access, really real, ground-breaking reality show has been going strong since 2001.
But inside the cloak-and-dagger world of the NFL, the last thing head coaches want is cameras cramming into every nook and cranny of their organization. At the very least, it's a distraction. At the very worst, it's a competitive disadvantage....
This is a story about a well-intended photo op that had some good in it and some bad. It involves Tampa Bay's most famous face, one of its most struggling schools, and perhaps a blind spot when it comes to how little boys and girls view the world and how the world views them.
Over the course of about 40 minutes, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston delivered a good message — a heartfelt, you-can-do-anything message to young kids who probably can't imagine that even being close to true. For many, it might have been the first time anyone ever told them such things....
02/22/17 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Who is the Lightning's best player? Who would you call The Franchise?
Think of it like this: If there was an expansion draft right now and you could protect only one player in the organization, who would that player be?
Give me Nikita Kucherov.
There are other good options.
There's Steven Stamkos, though the captain has been out with a knee injury. There's defenseman Victor Hedman because you don't find elite defensemen hanging around every street corner. Some would say Jonathan Drouin because he's only 21 and has dazzling offensive skills....
02/19/17 TV and Radio
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports:
Sunday was Hockey Day in America as the country celebrated the great game of hockey. Saturday was Hockey Day in Tampa Bay as the Lightning celebrated the game locally.
So the whole weekend should have been a blast for Tampa Bay hockey fans. But excuse them for feeling a bit sour these days because of the discouraging Lightning season....
PALMETTO — Whitey Adams loves golf.
Every morning, right before the sun comes up, the 78-year-old gets out of bed inside his Rock Hill, S.C., home, grabs a few golf clubs and walks 500 yards to the driving range.
He hits ball after ball after ball.
A former club pro, he can't get enough of it. He plays as much as he can — with his buddies, with his grandson. He tunes in to the PGA Tour every weekend....
Who is the best commissioner in all of sports?
It's not even close. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA.
Silver brilliantly executed his skillful leadership abilities in the past several days when the New York Knicks became an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.
By now, you've seen the hideous highlight of former Knicks great Charles Oakley and the security staff of Madison Square Garden turning the World's Most Famous Arena into the NBA's version of the Royal Rumble. Pushing, shoving, finger-pointing, trash-talking. I kept waiting for Patrick Ewing to come off the top turnbuckle with a foreign object....
02/13/17 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — First day of spring and the Rays are talking playoffs.
Just like every other team in Major League Baseball.
That's what the first day of spring is all about.
High hopes. Big dreams. A full tank of optimism.
That was the vibe Monday when the Rays opened spring training with a news conference. The Rays are undefeated in news conferences.
It's the actual games that have been a problem. At least, that was the case last season when they won 68 and finished in last place....
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from the weekend in televised sports.
Saturday night's Golden State-Oklahoma City game on ABC was the most entertaining sporting event in quite some time.
Strange to say that when it was just one of 1,230 regular-season NBA games and it wasn't even close in the second half.
Two things made it special: the intriguing story line and ABC's near-perfect coverage of it. The story was Kevin Durant returning to OKC for the first time after spending eight seasons there and leaving in free agency for Golden State last year....
Tiger Woods' bad back could be our good fortune.
Woods announced Friday that he won't play the next two tournaments he had planned to play so his back — out of whack with spasms — can heal.
Now pull out the calendar and do some simple math.
He is going to skip the next two PGA Tour tournaments. He isn't qualified to play the week after that. So that means the next possible tour place he could play is …...
02/09/17 Lightning Strikes
This Lightning season has not turned out the way we thought.
The Lightning should be on cruise control, gliding to a fourth consecutive playoff spot. It should be talked about as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Instead, the Lightning is fighting for its playoff life. It is a pedestrian 24-24-6, and if the playoffs started today, the Lightning would not be in them.
What the heck has happened?...
02/08/17 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA -- Where has that team been?
The magic returned Tuesday night at Amalie Arena for the Lightning.
Ben Bishop pitched a shutout. Nikita Kucherov had a pair of goals. Jonathan Drouin added a goal. And the Lightning blasted the Kings, 5-0, for the team's first back-to-back victories since right before Christmas.
All's well again, right?
Eh, not so fast. A tough back-to-back trip is coming up with games against the Wild, which might be the best team in hockey, and the Jets. This feel-good vibe could be erased in a span of 24 hours this weekend....
The New England Patriots did the impossible Sunday.
No, it wasn't coming back from a 28-3 deficit. No, it wasn't winning the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. No, it wasn't winning their fifth Super Bowl.
As impressive as all of those things were, it doesn't compare with this:
They became likeable.
That's right. Likeable.
The team that cheated and has the robot coach and the quarterback with the perfect life that, up until now, we've envied more than admired. The team that loves to play the woe-is-us, life-is-so-unfair victim after it was caught with its hands in the cookie jar. The team with the annoying fans who act as if the world is out to get them....
02/05/17 TV and Radio
Great game? Well, that likely depends on who you were rooting for Sunday. Great broadcast? You bet. The Super Bowl likely was viewed by more than 100 million people. That will make it the most-watched TV show of the year. And though we won't all agree on how Fox did with its broadcast, here's one opinion.
The game broadcast
Though there are many pieces to a broadcast, it all hinges on the broadcasters. When you have two of the best in the business, as Fox does with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, you're already ahead of the game....
Happy Super Bowl Sunday. Welcome to big game No. 51. And what better way to celebrate our sports national holiday than by looking at the 51 people and personalities who will make Sunday special? We have Patriots and Falcons. But we have so much more, too. Super Bowl commercials. Halftime shows. Pregame shows. Shows with puppies.
So, enjoy the day and keep an eye out for these 51.
02/02/17 Human Interest
A moment. That's all it is. A moment in time.
A snapshot. Literally.
It happens in a blink of an eye, yet it captures so much more. It encapsulates a daylong event, or a yearlong performance, or maybe even one's entire life.
That's what a photo does. One shot tells a story greater than the split second of time it shows.
When it's done right, it's more than a photo of a touchdown or home run or dunk....