What was the best in sports this week? What was the worst?
Let’s do this.
WORST: Hello, Free Agency!
Nothing gets you ready for NFL free agency quite like an emotional goodbye from a player you’ve loved forever. That was Devin Hester’s Facebook post to Bears fans this week. It started out ominous.
“To all my Chicago people … I can’t thank you all enough for my time in Chicago.”
“I’ve always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like.”
Awwww, man. Devin Hester was the only thing that made the Bears bearable.
“Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart”
“and if I am fortunate enough to break the return record, we will have all broken it together … no matter where I am.”
Good Lord. WHY AM I WEEPING?
Free agency is awful.
On the other hand …
BEST: Everything Devin Hester Did
When you think about it, Hester’s a guy who had no business playing a decade as a star in the NFL, but somehow pulled it off anyway. He had one skill — otherworldly speed — and best-case scenario, he fit the exact profile of a guy who explodes as a return man for one or two years, the league figures him out, and then he just disappears.
But that never really happened. Even last year, he averaged a respectable 14 yards on punt returns and 25 on kickoffs. He never really figured out offense (or defense, when he played corner that one year), but that just enhanced the legend. Devin Hester was a football player who existed for one purpose, and that was to do this:
And this, which didn’t happen with the Bears but gets included because it’s the craziest return I’ve ever seen:
He’s probably not going to the Hall of Fame, but Bears fans will remember him forever, and I will, too.
Once the trauma of that facebook post wore off, the news wasn’t even that sad, for the simple reason that it gave us an excuse to remember Devin Hester. There’s never a bad time to talk about Devin Hester. For about eight years, anytime someone mentioned Hester’s name, football fans went nuts. That’ll probably be true for a long time. As legacies go, you could do a lot worse.
WORST: The Nick Saban Rule
In case you missed it, a group of college coaches proposed a “10-second rule” that would force offenses to wait 10 seconds before every snap on offense. People behind this proposal say the fast offenses are creating a player safety issue, even though there’s not really data to support that idea.
Just as important: Cracked-out offenses like Auburn have always been the best part of college football. Especially the past few seasons. This is supposed to be the sport where you see coaches try every crazy scheme you ever dreamed up with video games, except sometimes it works and turns into the best offense in college football. Who could possibly be against this?
Good ol’ Saint Nick!
According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, only 25 of the 128 coaches in division one were in favor of the rule. But as Nick Saban said this week, “I don’t care about getting blamed for this. … somebody needs to look at this very closely. The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic. What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.’“
You know what though? This rule is a horrible idea, but having Saban involved makes this whole debate worth it. We now have conclusive evidence that Saban hates the most exciting football. All our jokes about him hating fun have no been validated forever. God bless Dr. Nick Saban and his cigarette science.
BEST: Recruiting Videos
One highlight of the 10-second rule? It gave us this, from Rich Rodriguez and Arizona.
And that sent me down a wormhole of old recruiting videos that ultimately ended with Every Day Should Be Saturday and this Clemson video from 1981. God bless everyone.
BEST: That Man Is Not Jameer Nelson
There are a number of reasons to hate Twitter. It will suck time from your day and keep you from being a real productive adult. It’s full of jokes that are all kinda clever but also generally pretty cynical and mean, and this will ultimately just bum you out if you spend too much time with it. It’s horribly addictive, and it will make things like “reading a book for 45 minutes” seem impossible because OMG you could be missing some awesome GIF. Twitter is a place that feels important until you talk to normal people who have no idea what Vine is, and then you remember that like 95 percent of society doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s Oscar tweets.
On the other hand, I’m never giving up Twitter.
Where else could you find out that someone spent an entire morning impersonating Jameer Nelson and signing autographs at Epcot?
WORST: Parody Accounts
… and then five days later you find out that Epcot thing is a parody account, and you think seriously about swearing off Twitter until the end of time. Goddamnit. I so badly want that Jameer impersonator to have been real.
WORST: Ball So Hard Motherf—-rs Wanna Fund You
Wait … don’t.
That should’ve read “don’t wanna fund you.”
Harvard went through this exact process over the past year or so. After announcing a $100 million research grant that was to be cofunded by the NFL and NFLPA to study the effects of football on the brain, it turns out … nope, the NFL’s not into that. Read the whole story from Outside the Lines if you’d like satisfy your monthly quota of depressing stories about the NFL and how they do business. It’s only the first week of March, and you’re already done!
BEST: Rob Ryan at Mardi Gras
Just when I started to wonder why I like football, we find these pictures of Rob Ryan as grand marshal of a Mardi Gras parade, and BOOM, now I remember. Rob Ryan redeems everything.
WORST: An Empire in Shambles
It’s bad, people. Kentucky was losing to Alabama at halftime the other night. Alabama! I don’t even know if people in Alabama know their school has a basketball team. Before that, losses to South Carolina and Arkansas (at home, for a season sweep). The preseason no. 1 team in the country is struggling hard right now.
Because this is college basketball, Kentucky’s struggles immediately turn into a referendum on John Calipari’s character as a leader and his soulless approach to recruiting. Maybe this is all karma! Someone actually wrote this week that it’s time to rethink the Kentucky title teams from a few years ago, because those weren’t really Calipari’s teams. It’s one of the most reliable laws in sports: College basketball people HATE John Calipari. When he’s winning, it’s because he’s cheating. When he’s losing, it’s proof he was never a good coach anyway and we get headlines like “You Made Your Bed John Calipari, Now Lie In It.”
So, as someone who’s always enjoyed the anarchy Calipari injects into the college hoops landscape, this is depressing. Life’s more fun when Kentucky is winning and driving stodgy columnists insane.
Is Calipari ridiculous? Of course. Was he an idiot for calling this the best recruiting class ever and predicting doom for the rest of the country in March? Totally. One hundred percent. But if you’re looking at what’s wrong with Kentucky this year, it’s not really about Cal, as a leader, or his approach to rolling out the best freshmen in the country every year.
No, Cal just needs a point guard. The Harrison twins have struggled all year long, and as things have gotten worse, the season’s unraveled. The same thing happened with Ryan Harrow last year. If you look at the Calipari teams that have been good over the past few years, they’ve all had good point guards — Derrick Rose at Memphis, and then with John Wall and Brandon Knight with the Wildcats. His title team a few years ago was always going to be good with Anthony Davis, but the real genius of that season was how much better Marquis Teague got as the season unfolded. I’ll always be convinced that’s why Kentucky won that year; Cal turned Teague into a good point guard.
He hasn’t done that with the Harrison twins this year, and … it’s getting pretty ugly right now. That’s on Cal. But don’t make this a bigger deal than it has to be. Kentucky will be fine. They just need a great point guard to max out all that talent. Which is to say, Calipari’s Kentucky program really isn’t that different from any other powerhouse in college basketball.
BEST: Deonte Burton From Nevada
Good God. On any level of basketball this year, nobody’s topping that.
WORST? BEST? BUCS.
These are the new Bucs uniforms from Nike. Note the alarm clock numbers, and laugh at how awful they are. Sure, go ahead.
I’d laugh, too, if these were made by Adidas. But this is a Nike product, which means it’s an Illuminati product, which means it doesn’t matter how bad these uniforms look right now. The true genius of Nike is that it can make anything cool. Right now, in March, those jerseys look stupid. Like something out of the arena league or some awful create-a-franchise experiment in Madden.
By Week 3, you will have forgotten how stupid they look. They’ll just be normal.
By Week 10, you’ll stumble across a Bucs game on RedZone and find yourself thinking, “You know what? Those Bucs are jersey are actually kinda awesome.”
And that’s what Nike does. It has been incepting your brain and convincing you to like ugly products for 30 years now.
That’s true power. That’s what the Illuminati look like in real life.
(Note: Only click that link if you’re ready for truth. If you wanna keep living with the sheep, then bleat bleat, go buy Nikes.)
BEST: Bring Back the Dinosaurs
On the one hand, it’s an obvious ploy to capitalize on ’90s nostalgia. On the other hand, those Raptors jerseys were totally awesome. We can never have too many dinosaurs in sports. Forget Drake the global ambassador, just change the logo back to the red dinosaur and watch the Raptors become 200 percent more popular.
BEST: It’s LeBron’s World
“I’m not making excuses, but I’m not a big fan of the jerseys,” said James, who had 19 points. “Every time I shoot it feels like it’s just pulling right up underneath my arm. I already don’t have much room for error on my jump shot. It’s definitely not a good thing.”
LeBron has spoken for the rest of us. I don’t know whether it’s actually affecting his jump shot, but nobody’s a big fan of those stupid short-sleeve jerseys. It’s like the new ball experiment 10 years ago, except the NBA’s shown no signs of slowing down with any of this. But now we have an advocate, and he’s also the biggest superstar basketball has.
Before you solve tanking and the age limit and the playoffs and All-Star Saturday, please, Adam Silver, just get rid of those stupid short-sleeve jerseys. Listen to LeBron James.
(Oh, LeBron did something else this week? That was pretty cool, too.)
Winning at life, forever and always.
BEST: Oh, Come On
It’s getting ridiculous at this point, Giannis. This is just out of control. Check out Amos’s feature on him for more. At some point soon, Giannis is going to grow up and just be a regular dude in the NBA. We’ll still love him, but he won’t be the adorable teenager who walks around wide-eyed at everything and marvels at the Milwaukee landscape. I’m excited for that era of Giannis, because he’ll probably be an incredible player by then, too.
That’s the only way this gets better. When Giannis grows into his body and starts being more terrifying than adorable on a basketball court, the best part of watching him dominate will be looking back on this rookie year. Every anecdote, every goofy photo, every Vine. It will all be so much better when this guy is one of the best players in the NBA.
WORST? BEST? Kareem.
BEST: Arizona Showtime
Speaking of Kareem … You can end your week reading this excellent excerpt about the Showtime Lakers parties in the 1980s. But just know, nobody’s ever gone harder than Boris Diaw in 2007 Scottsdale.