We could be nice. We could ease into this thing by talking about how hard Doug Martin worked in the offseason to become leaner, stronger and faster. • We could talk about that easy smile or his aw-shucks, I'm-just-here-to-help-the-team humility. Maybe throw in an anecdote about signing autographs to show he remains a fan favorite. • But let's get straight to it, shall we? • When you talk about the Bucs running back, the first place — really, the only place — to start is here: • Hey Doug, you any good anymore? • Or, to be even more blunt: What the heck happened to you? • Martin gets it. He knows what we're talking about. • "This league," Martin said, "is about what have you done for me lately?" • Lately, Martin hasn't done much....
Sixteen games. That's all it took.
Sixteen games to use up all the mulligans Lovie Smith might have had when he took over as coach of the Bucs.
Sixteen games to go from honeymoon to hot seat. That's the way it works in the NFL. That's the way it works when you take a bad team and somehow make it worse.
That's what happens when you are the coach of officially the worst team in the NFL....
This is for you, Patriots fans.
It's not that people outside of New England hate the Patriots because they are too good. They hate them because they are too arrogant.
Too arrogant. Too smug. Too full of themselves.
They are a great organization, no doubt. A tremendous team, for sure. Best ever? Yeah, maybe.
No question, however, they are the biggest self-entitled whiners in the history of sports....
07/27/15 The Heater
Here we are again.
Days away from a trade deadline, and the Rays are in baseball purgatory. Not quite good enough to feel optimistic about their playoff chances and not so bad that they can be completely counted out.
This is starting to become an annual quandary with the Rays. Should they be buyers or sellers? Go for it or pack it in? Trade for now or trade for the future?...
07/18/15 TV and Radio
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones gives his Two Cents on the latest happenings in the sports.
Now that the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati has passed, can former Reds star Pete Rose please go away? Seems as if I saw him more last week than when the guy played.
Enough with the tributes. Enough of the sob stories about how he's banned from baseball. Enough....
When golf wunderkind Jordan Spieth won the Valspar Championship right here at Innisbrook back in March, he was asked if he wanted to be the next Tiger Woods.
He said no.
Spieth meant no disrespect to Woods, but he said he wanted to be the next Rory, meaning Rory McIlroy — the No. 1 golfer in the world.
These days, it's Woods and McIlroy who would like to be the next Jordan Spieth....
Each year, going all the way back to 1954, Sports Illustrated names a Sportsman of the Year.
While it's just the opinion of a magazine, that magazine is one of this country's great institutions and a pretty good arbiter when it comes to choosing the most outstanding sports figure of the year. Usually there is little debate about the selections, which have included some of sports' legendary names — Jordan, Gretzky, Ali and Tiger....
07/12/15 TV and Radio
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
ESPN recently cut ties with Bill Simmons, the creator behind its grantland.com website and its 30 for 30 documentary series. After planning to move its radio duo of Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic to New York City, the network abruptly announced the Mike & Mike show would stay at its Bristol, Conn., headquarters. Now comes word that Keith Olbermann (right) is parting ways with ESPN. Meantime, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that the network could face some "tough negotiations'' soon with high-priced talents such as Mike Tirico, Michelle Beadle, Adam Schefter and Colin Cowherd....
For much of the past 15 years, we've heard as much about what Serena Williams isn't as opposed to what she is.
She isn't a hard worker. She isn't committed to her sport. She isn't about tennis as much as she's about fashion and pop culture and being a celebrity.
Can we just stop already? If you say such things, you'll soon find yourself on the wrong side of history.
Let's talk about what she is instead....
What do fireworks, soccer and bars have in common?
Well, handled responsibly, they are harmless activities that can be a heck of a lot of fun. But as we've seen recently, such endeavors can wreck a sports career if you're not careful.
A golf star blew out his ankle playing soccer. An NFL star nearly blew off his hand playing with fireworks. And a college quarterback blew his scholarship by throwing fists in a bar....
07/05/15 TV and Radio
Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.
Yes, it had the benefit of the tournament being played in time-zone friendly Canada, and yes, it had the benefit of having an outstanding American team. Still, Fox's coverage of the Women's World Cup was superb.
Many were skeptical that Fox would be able to match what ESPN has done with recent World Cups, but the network did itself proud the past month. The studio shows, mostly hosted by capable Rob Stone, were best when former players Alexi Lalas, one of the most honest analysts in the business, and Ariane Hingst were featured. And Fox smartly called upon rules official Dr. Joe Machnik, who pulled no punches in criticizing controversial calls when required....
07/04/15 World Cup
Here's a great story uncovered by ESPN writer Kate Fagan about Abby Wambach, one of the stars of the U.S. women's soccer team.
When Wambach was a freshman playing at Florida, the Gators took on powerhouse North Carolina in the 1998 national championship game. With underdog Florida holding on to a precarious 1-0 lead over North Carolina, which had won 14 of the previous 16 national titles, Gators coach Becky Burleigh gathered her team during a TV timeout and was searching for just the right final words of encouragement, one last pep talk to get her team to hold on....
07/02/15 Lightning Strikes
Time to let go of the animosity and the bitterness. Forget the messy ending. Now is the time for appreciation and admiration.
Now is the time to remember and bid farewell to the sensational career of perhaps the greatest athlete in the history of Tampa Bay sports.
Marty St. Louis — our Little Engine Who Could, the former Lightning star who led the franchise to its only Stanley Cup and the author of one of the most iconic moments in Tampa Bay sports history — announced his retirement Thursday at age 40, thus ending 16 spectacular seasons that were as unlikely as they were brilliant....
07/02/15 Lightning Strikes
Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk called him the most important person in franchise history. Another former captain, Vinny Lecavalier, called him the best teammate he has had. Current Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said no other player has influenced him more.
But former teammate Dan Boyle put it best. He said Thursday was "a sad day."
Simple, but true. Marty St. Louis, perhaps the greatest player in the history of the Lightning, retired Thursday after 16 NHL seasons. St. Louis, 40, ended his career with the Rangers, but it was his 13 seasons in Tampa Bay that featured the best moments of his career, including a league MVP trophy and the 2004 Stanley Cup win....
06/29/15 Lightning Strikes
There are 18 men who decide who gets into the Hockey Hall of Fame. They are good men, all of them.
The list includes brilliant hockey minds such as Scotty Bowman and Bill Torrey. It includes former superstars such as Luc Robitaille and Igor Larionov. It includes knowledgeable media members such as broadcaster Mike Emrick and longtime Sports Illustrated writer Michael Farber.
These 18 men know the sport. They know the history of the game. The job they have been assigned is not an easy one, and they take that job very seriously....