Getty Images

Bob Costas, appearing Wednesday on the MLB Network, called it Hall of Fame purgatory. 

Maybe they can set aside a place in the vestibule of the Cooperstown shrine for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, unquestionably two of the greatest players ever to play baseball.

They could even put them on the floor, so people can wipe their feet on the game's recent history. Isn't that what the Baseball Writers Association of America is doing?

Neither Bonds nor Clemens will be making the trip to Cooperstown this summer—a hearty congratulations, by the way, to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, who all made the Hall in their first year on the ballot—leaving the BBWAA riding a collective high horse away from the time in the game's history they like to call The Steroid Era.

Getty Images

Jameis Winston had a household nickname before he ever took a snap in college.

As the 2013 college football season rolled along and Florida State was outscoring every team it faced by an average of nearly 40 points, the legend of "Famous Jameis" grew and grew, nearly as big as Johnny Football; bigger, still, than RGIII.

The difference between Winston and the two most recent Heisman Trophy winners before him, however, is that Famous Jameis won a much more important trophy to end his season, both for his own legacy and his school.

"Jameis grew up unbelievably tonight," an emotional Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN's Heather Cox after Florida State came from behind to beat Auburn, 34-31, in the BCS National Championship on Monday. "Tonight's probably the best football game he's ever played, because he struggled early, and that's what big-time players do. When the money is on the line, they can suck it up in the fourth quarter and do what they have to do."

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If I ran the Cincinnati Bengals, I'd probably fire Marvin Lewis after losing in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year, this time with a 27-10 home defeat to the San Diego Chargers.

When I mentioned that on Twitter, many Bengals fans—and more levelheaded football pundits—thought I was crazy. Lewis led Cincinnati on three consecutive trips to the playoffs from a division that routinely features Super Bowl champions…and the Browns.

Fire the guy? He should get a raise!

Or should he?

In today's NFL, is getting to the playoffs merely enough? Are we that hell-bent at celebrating parity that simply being in the top half of teams year after year warrants celebration and retention? 

The Bengals are one of just five teams in the NFL to make the playoffs each of the last three seasons. Three of the other four—New England, Green Bay and San Francisco—have made it to or won the previous three Super Bowls, while the fourth—Denver—won the AFC West three consecutive years, securing home-field advantage each of the last two. 

USA Today

Chris Kluwe is a pretty brave dude.

In addition to making a living kicking a football while trying to avoid 300-pound gladiators, the nine-year veteran punter has been an outspoken gay rights advocate despite being part of an NFL players' fraternity that hasn't exactly been open to that viewpoint. 

Kluwe penned an op-ed for Deadspin that ran on Thursday afternoon in which the former Minnesota Vikings punter called his former bosses "two cowards" and his position coach "a bigot." 

Getty Images/Otte Greule Jr.

While the NFL's 12 playoff teams gear up for the second season, the league's other 20 franchises begin the long offseason path of reconstruction and redemption. The year 2013 was unkind to many an NFL franchise, with other clubs seizing the opportunities given from the misfortune of heated rivals.

The year's most successful teams managed to stand strong in the face of adversity, winning in spite of what seemed like insurmountable challenges presented at the start of the season.

New England had one of the most bizarre and tumultuous offseasons in recent memory, but 2013 was another stellar year for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who are clearly still at the top of their (and the) game.

The Denver Broncos lost what felt like its entire offensive line, and all Peyton Manning did was destroy every single-season passing record he could. Green Bay, thanks to a lot of help from the failures of its division rivals, weathered the storm of losing Aaron Rodgers for far too long during the season to get back to the playoffs, inexplicably, again.

USA Today/Cary Edmonson

Reseed the NFL playoffs.

This is an argument we make every year, and every year, those who make the argument are right: The NFL playoffs need to be reseeded—not just after each round, but before the start of the postseason tournament altogether.

If the playoffs are a true test to find the best team in football, then the league's owners owe it to their fans and everyone involved with the league to structure the playoffs properly, once and for all.

When I asked the league this week about plans to reseed, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told me, "This is a topic that the Competition Committee discusses every offseason and will review again this year. A number of clubs have expressed the importance of winning their division. This results in hosting a playoff game and reinforces the divisional rivalries during the regular season." 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

"We're from Philadelphia and we fight."

If Chip Kelly doesn't lead the Eagles to the playoffs, he can always fall back on an obviously lucrative T-shirt slogan career.

Kelly told reporters after Sunday's game that his team lines up and plays the opponent it is asked to play, no matter what. This Sunday it was the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears, who Kelly's Eagles waxed to the tune of 54-11 on Sunday Night Football

Next Sunday, the Eagles get NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, in Dallas, also on Sunday Night Football. Kelly is ready for another fight.

Getty Images

As 2013 comes to a close, well, it certainly was an odd year.

Every year has a tone. It seems like the most memorable stories of 2013 happened off the field, in board rooms and, sadly, court rooms. Even the biggest stories to take place during actual games had as much to do with players getting hurt, choking, being accused of cheating, biting or walking out as successes we've grown accustomed to remembering.

Just by the nature of the way our industry is constructed—where in most competitions there is a winner and a loser, and at the end of every campaign, someone is crowned a champion—there are positive moments, but were there that many among the most memorable of the year? A few.

With 2013 shoehorned between a year that boasted the Summer Olympics and Euro 2012 and one that will feature the Winter Olympics and World Cup 2014, the opportunity for positive stories worth remembering seems far slimmer by comparison. This year in sports had an empire-striking-back vibe. And no...I’m not suggesting that Alex Rodriguez is a modern-day Skywalker.

Getty Images

Last week, NFL legend John Madden said resting a team's top players in a league with only 16 regular-season contests "affects the integrity of the game."

Madden was talking on the NFL's channel on SiriusXM this past Wednesday, specifically in response to the Washington Redskins' decision to bench Robert Griffin III for the remainder of the regular season for what head coach Mike Shanahan has led the public to believe is the quarterback's own protection.

Madden's longer quote, via, was not just about the Redskins, but a forewarning to any NFL team that takes its foot off the regular-season pedal at the end of the year: 

As much as I love Madden and—like many gridiron fans—long for the simpler days of smash-mouth football, this is not the 1970s anymore. Madden's logic is antiquated, outdated and old school for all the wrong reasons.

USA Today

The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced on Monday, and the players invited to the ceremony in New York on Saturday are a star-studded list of college football's best, including Jameis Winston of Florida State and five other guys who have no chance to win.

For weeks, the trophy seemed to be Winston's to lose, and the only way he could have possibly lost it was if his recent legal issues kept him off the field. Morality—sorry, they use the word integrity—is apparently a big part of the Heisman Trophy process. (More on that in a bit.)

Winston was publicly cleared of all impropriety before torching ACC foe Duke in the conference title game, making the road to the Downtown Athletic Club an expectedly fruitful one.

The other finalists—Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, Tre Mason of Auburn, AJ McCarron of Alabama, Andre Williams of Boston College and defending champion Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M—will take the trip to New York City for ostensibly nothing but a few handshakes, bus tours and a free dinner or two.