Happy Turkey Day.
And, speaking of turkeys, today the tradition continues. It's our annual Turkeys of the Year in sports.
The tradition was first started by my friend and former co-worker Patrick Reusse, the longtime brilliant columnist at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. I worked with Pat in Minneapolis for a few years and the one thing I brought back with me to Tampa Bay was the list celebrating (or mocking, if you will) those in sports who acted like clowns, boneheads, numbskulls or creeps over the year.
This is my 11th year in doing this list for the Times, and past winners (losers) include Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the NFL, Phillies fans and, well, the NFL again.
So as you're waiting for your turkey and the all the trimmings, sit back and enjoy our nominees and choice the 2018 Sports Turkey of the Year.
The nominees …
I've seen plenty of rotten NFL quarterback play this season and you're telling me Colin Kaepernick can't even get a tryout? Not even a look-see? A phone call? The Washington football team just lost Alex Smith for the season with a broken leg and it would rather bring in has-beens such as Mark Sanchez, T.J. Yates and E.J. Manuel and Kellen Clemens. Are you serious? Don't tell me there isn't a conspiracy to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL.
The defending-champs are 4-6 and are likely to miss the playoffs. They are coming off an embarrassing 42-7 loss to the Saints – the worst loss ever for a defending Super Bowl champ. This season has gone so badly that last year's Super Bowl victory is starting to feel more and like a fluke, a one-hit wonder.
Tampa Bay Bucs
What a complete dumpster fire. Another losing season on the way and another season of missing the postseason. This debacle of a season started with a Jameis Winston suspension and likely will end with another house-cleaning. Our long nightmare continues.
USA Ryder Cup team
In-fighting. Whining from constant whiner Patrick Reed. And they were blown out. Definitely not par for the course for what you expect from a team representing the USA.
All those who predicted a horrible Rays season
Count me among those who thought the Rays would lose 90 games. Instead they won 90, proving they might know a little more about how this baseball thing works that the rest of us.
The NHL's leading head-hunter. The Capitals forward was suspended four times in a 105-game span, including for a hit in a preseason game. He should have been suspended a couple of other times, too. No player in the league is more disrespectful and dirty than this guy.
Another NHL cheap-shot artist who has added a new weapon to his arsenal: his tongue. The Bruins pest licked his opponent last season. Twice! Including the Lightning's Ryan Callahan in the playoffs. That's just gross, dude.
Back in September, the Mets third baseman dove into the stands and snagged a foul ball. One problem: the ball in his glove that he showed the umpire wasn't the ball that popped into the air. Frazier never caught that ball. Instead, he picked up a rubber ball that was already in the stands. He played it as if it was an out and the umpires bought it. Cheater!
The Steelers running back will skip the entire NFL season because he didn't want to play under the franchise tag (about $14.5 million) for fear of getting hurt going into free agency. That's his right, of course, but he comes out looking like he only cares about himself as the Steelers and new running back James Connor roll along without him.
During his All-Star Game appearance, the Brewers 24-year-old reliever was discovered to have sent out a bunch of racist, homophobic, misogynistic and threatening tweets when he was 17. Let's not use the excuse that he was just a dumb kid. By 17, you know the difference between right and the hate he was pedaling. What's worse: he got a standing ovation from Milwaukee fans in his first home appearance after the disgusting tweets became public.
Chucky has messed up two great franchises. First, he left Monday Night Football and the new booth of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland has been a wreck. (Although, don't blame Booger; he has been solid.) Then Gruden has done his best to run the Raiders into the ground. I get that the Raiders a rebuilding, but the poor folks of Oakland deserve better before this teams moves to Las Vegas.
USA Gymnastics/Michigan State
More than 330 gymnasts came forward to say that former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State trainer Larry Nassar took advantage of his position to sexually assault them. And USA Gymnastics and Michigan State knew nothing? They either turned a blind eye or weren't even paying attention. Either way, it was grossly negligent. Nassar is now serving a sentence of 40 to 125 years, but why should anyone ever trust Michigan State and, especially, USA Gymnastics for how they bungled what happened and continued to be tone deaf after Nassar's horrific actions came to light?
And the 2018 Sports Turkey of the Year is …
Urban Liar. The Ohio State football coach kept a domestic abuser on his staff for years and then double-talked and threw his wife under the bus when confronted with evidence that he knew about it. We always had a suspicion that Meyer didn't rate high on the moral scale, but this pretty much proved it. Sadly, it also proved that Ohio State cares more about football than anything else when they merely suspended Meyer instead of firing him.