Best Sports Stuff Right Now: Trash Talk, Final Days and the New GOAT?
A week headlined by Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady is bound to go down as a classic.
The NFL spit out arguably its four best quarterbacks for a wild conference championship week. It's amazing for sporting fans, though far from the only thing to look forward to right now.
With NFL teams moving, drama in the Big Apple and a possible Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor showdown still a thing, among many other happenings, sports fans can't afford to blink.
As 2017 continues to try to one-up its predecessor, the biggest winners remain the fans. Here is a look at the best sports stuff happening right now.
Obama Bids Farewell to the Sporting World
It's only right President Barack Obama's last sporting-related event at the White House honored the Chicago Cubs.
If there was one thing that personified the unpredictability of 2016, it was the Cubs doing the unthinkable and shattering a 108-year curse by winning the World Series.
Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post painted the situation perfectly:
"They said this day would never come," Obama said, opening his remarks, as the crowd roared with laughter. "Here is something none of my predecessors ever got to say: Welcome to the White House, the World Series champion Chicago Cubs. . . . It took you long enough. And I’ve only got four days left."
The Drama in New York Is Just Beginning
Drama between the New York Knicks and star Carmelo Anthony is only just getting started.
The Knicks are only 18-24 despite bringing on Derrick Rose and promising a brighter future. Rose hasn’t been an adequate scapegoat because it’s not cool to knock a guy who left his team for personal reasons.
So the blame falls on Anthony, who responded to rumblings about his unwillingness to waive his no-trade clause with the above quote. There hasn’t been any sign the Knicks actually want to get rid of their best player, but give the rumor mill a few months to work its magic and we’ll talk again.
Unstoppable Le'Veon Bell Has Steelers Thinking Lombardi Trophy
The Pittsburgh Steelers have waited a long time to unleash Le’Veon Bell in the playoffs.
It finally happened in the opening round against the Miami Dolphins, where Bell ran for 167 yards and a pair of scores. Pittsburgh breezed 30-12. The divisional round was trickier, but Bell ran for 170 yards on a 5.7 yard-per-carry average in the 18-16 victory.
Now Bell has the Steelers thinking Super Bowl. All he has to do? Outpace Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxborough. No pressure.
Mayweather-McGregor Talk Isn't Stopping
Anyone who wants to come at a guy nicknamed Money better do so correct.
UFC president Dana White just learned this the hard way after offering Mayweather and McGregor a cool $25 million apiece to do their hypothetical boxing match.
Fans can look above and see how the offer panned out.
Mayweather-McGregor is probably more anticipated than Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao at this point, so Money is liable to scoff at almost any offer. Until he doesn’t. We’ll have to keep waiting.
Mike Tomlin Throws Down the Gauntlet
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown made a bit of a mistake recently, casting a look into the team's locker room following its divisional-round win.
There, one could overhear head coach Mike Tomlin unload on the New England Patriots.
ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler captured the situation:
Brown's 17-minute broadcast caught Tomlin saying the Steelers "spotted these a--h---- a day and a half" of preparation, referring to the Patriots, who beat the Houston Texans in their divisional-round game on Saturday night. The video was removed from Brown's Facebook page on Monday morning.
The Steelers rallied behind Brown regardless.
The Patriots, though, just got a bit of bulletin-board material. Anyone else ready for the AFC title game?
America's Team Takes an L, with the Fallout Just Beginning
America's Team took a terrible loss Sunday, with the Green Bay Packers squeezing past the rookie-led Dallas Cowboys.
As one can see from the image above, mistakes were made.
Look, the Cowboys were fun. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are fun to watch and have plenty of contending years left. But certain parts of the fanbase...overdid it.
Now the Cowboys enter an offseason where fans will second-guess head coach Jason Garrett's time-management skills, wonder if the team should trade Tony Romo, buy new televisions and cover up bad tats.
Rams Quietly Go Young While Chargers Steal the Spotlight
The Los Angeles Chargers took plenty of heat for the announced move away from San Diego, not to mention the silly logo fiasco.
The Los Angeles Rams look like a team headed in the other direction, especially while flying under the radar and naming Sean McVay head coach. McVay is only 30 years old, so it would seem like a big negative, but many in the know have been quick to praise the move.
The MMQB's Peter King detailed the challenge awaiting McVay:
At least McVay knows the lay of the land. If his marriage with Goff works, he’ll be around for years, long after the next Rams stadium in Los Angeles opens in 2019. If not, he’ll join the long line of coaches who went somewhere with a bad or shaky quarterback situation, struggled to turn the team around, and couldn’t survive. He might be a kid, but he knows the NFL drill about patience. If you don’t win, there isn’t any.
Is McVay the right man to groom Jared Goff and build a winner? If the Rams keep flying under the radar while the Chargers hog the spotlight, he just might be.
The Nets Quietly Have a Dynamic Duo
Few actually watch the Brooklyn Nets right now, which makes sense because only those who enjoy tests of endurance and patience would willingly watch an 8-32 team.
Too bad, though, as most are missing the development of something special, as ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe wrote:
But in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, the Nets have two versatile kiddos flashing more playmaking chops than anyone expected at this point. That is the value of tossing young guys into a free-flowing system where everyone is allowed to attack scrambling defenses off the bounce. Players get to test their limits, and in some cases, discover they can do things at the NBA level that were supposedly closed off to them.
Indeed, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has flashed on just 21.7 minutes per game, and Caris LeVert isn’t far behind. If the Nets can grab a few nice complementary pieces, a turnaround looks likely sooner than most would have predicted.
In a broader sense, the Nets have confirmed that throwing the young guys out there regardless of the outcome is a good way to develop talent.
Falcons Finally Get a Chance to Steal the Spotlight
It’s about time the world paid attention to Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons drummed up 11 wins this year while Ryan looked like an MVP favorite with 38 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. Yet, as Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier pointed out, most wanted to talk about the Dallas Cowboys and other teams.
"The Falcons are the NFC's best team. No one noticed because their schedule was difficult, they lost a few close games and they just couldn't compete with America's Team and the dueling Best Rookie Ever nominees when it came to getting the national spotlight," Tanier wrote.
Now the world has to pay attention—Dallas took the heartbreaking loss and Atlanta crushed the Seattle Seahawks 36-20.
Maybe some would rather focus on Aaron Rodgers now. The Falcons probably wouldn’t mind, as it gives them another chance to shock the globe in the NFC title game.
WWE Bids Farewell to a Legend
WWE lost one of its most recognizable faces recently with the death of Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.
WWE.com posted a statement on his passing:
Snuka is regarded by many as the pioneer of high-flying offense because of his Superfly Splash from the top turnbuckle. His dive off the top of the steel cage onto Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden as hundreds of flash bulbs went off will forever live as one of the most memorable moments in WWE history.
Rest in peace, Superfly.
Meet Golf's Next Big Superstar
Tiger Woods is back in 2017 and all, but this calendar year might finally be the reveal of the sport's next big star.
His name is Justin Thomas, and it's one worth committing to memory. He's now won two events in a row, posting a crazy 270 at SBS Tournament of Champions before smashing records with a 253 at the Sony Open.
Did anyone mention Thomas is just 23 years old?
While grabbing some reaction from Thomas, Golf Digest's Brian Wacker captured some praise from huge names as well:
"It was a very fun week," said Thomas, who finished seven strokes ahead of second-place Justin Rose and eight ahead of Jordan Spieth, who said he felt like he was playing in a different tournament. "This win meant a lot because of how I did it. The first wire-to-wire win. I had a hard time getting focused up there today. I was nervous today for the first time I've felt like that in a long time."
Fans can tune in for Tiger if they want. Thomas might rip their attention away and never let go.
Aaron Rodgers Headed for GOAT Status? Stay Tuned
We have to talk about Rodgers at some point, of course.
Rodgers has been downright unbelievable, leading his team on an eight-game streak. The latest victim was those Cowboys, the 34-31 affair. Even though Rodgers lost some notable marks during the struggle, he still furthered his legend.
In fact, he might have taken another step toward being the greatest of all time, as ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor wrote:
It didn't matter that his streak of 318 consecutive passes without an interception was snapped Sunday, or that his streak of 24 touchdown passes without an interception -- the second-longest streak in NFL history to Brady's 26 in 2010, according to the Elias Sports Bureau -- also died inside AT&T Stadium. Rodgers walked out of the building with a lifetime memory nearly the equal of his one Super Bowl triumph six years ago. "This one's special," he said, "more special than we've had around here in a while."
Seriously, though, imagine if Rodgers called his shot and the Packers actually ran the table.
Not only that, imagine if he outclasses Ryan in Atlanta before taking down Brady in the Super Bowl. The GOAT status might arrive sooner than later, folks.