July 10, 2019
Tonight is the annual ESPN ESPY Awards and it starts at 8:00 inside the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles with host Tracy Morgan.
Naturally, the late Jimmy Valvano’s inspiring ESPY Awards speech of 1993 is being talked about again, an emotional speech just months before his death due to cancer. If you missed the speech you must have been living in a cave or perhaps you were not born yet, but I have it for you in today’s videos. If you are not touched in some fashion by Valvano’s words, they you simply aren’t human. It’s truly emotional and very inspiring.
As for tonight’s awards, the major ones are listed below and I’ve bolded and italicized who I believe should and will possibly take home the honor in those respective categories.
BEST MALE ATHLETE
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE
BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE
BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE
BEST NFL PLAYER
BEST NBA PLAYER
BEST WNBA PLAYER
BEST MLB PLAYER
BEST MALE GOLFER
BEST FEMALE GOLFER
BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER
BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER
BEST NHL PLAYER
BEST MMA FIGHTER
I’ve talked about the forthcoming National Football League season several times since the 2018 season ended but more so lately because of all the buzz about the Cleveland Browns. With their roster moves and draft, all the sudden the Brownies are media darlings and so many experts and others are predicting they are making a return to the playoffs in 2019 and some say they will be division winners.
I’m not buying in. Not until they actually prove they are as good as people think they are. Cleveland hired a new head coach this year and he is Freddie Kitchens. Who? He’s 44 and has NEVER been an NFL head coach. So in his first season he will turn this team into a playoff contender? Don’t get me wrong. It can be done. But take a look at the list of head coaches who had very successful debuts in their first season on the sidelines for their respective teams:
Some of those names have very impressive resumes while others date back to the beginnings of pro football. Regardless, Kitchens resume is not so impressive. His coaching career began in 1999 with Glenville State University where he was in charge of the running backs and tight ends. The following year he was a graduate assistant at LSU. On the move again in 2001, Kitchens became the running backs coach at North Texas University for three seasons.
Kitchens doesn’t stay in one place too long. For the 2004 and 2005 seasons he coached both the backs and tight ends for Mississippi State. The now Browns head coach would get to the NFL in 2006 when the Dallas Cowboys hired him as their tight ends coach. Again switching teams, Kitchens was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as the tight ends coach in 2007 and he finally stayed put somewhere putting in 11 seasons after coaching the tight ends, quarterbacks, and running backs. Joining the Browns in 2018 as first the Associate Head Coach and Running Backs Coach, he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator before being named to run the team with all the changes they made.
What major changes did Cleveland make? Aside from the draft selections, the following veterans joined the team:
So this and what they had already on the roster puts them ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers or even the Baltimore Ravens who won the AFC North in 2018? Come on… Some of the expert’s predictions for the Browns and the AFC North for the 2019 season follows.
Predicted record: 11-5
The NFL gave the Browns a December made for a playoff run. They close versus Cincinnati, at Arizona, versus Baltimore and at Cincinnati.
Predicted record: 9-7
The NFL gave the Steelers quite the midseason break with a Week 7 bye, followed by three consecutive home games, against the Dolphins, Colts and Rams. The Steelers will go 32 days between road games with that setup.
Read the analysis from Jeremy Fowler:
For the fifth consecutive year, the Steelers open up the season away from Heinz Field, including their third prime-time road opener in the past five years. Pittsburgh will enter that opener coming off two straight preseason road games. On the back end, the Steelers will end the regular season with back-to-back road games for the first time since 2015. The trip to New York will be especially sweet, with former Steelers tailback Le'Veon Bell waiting in Jets green. But the NFL gave the Steelers quite the midseason break with a Week 7 bye, followed by three straight home games against the Dolphins, Colts and Rams. The Steelers will go 32 days between road games with that setup. Though success doesn't carry over from year to year, it should be noted that six of the Steelers' opponents posted at least 10 wins last season. Four of the Steelers' last seven games will come against divisional opponents.
The Steelers and Patriots are tied for the most Super Bowls in NFL history with six apiece, which must make it painful for Pittsburgh to watch New England celebrate its Super Bowl 53 victory on opening night. The Patriots and Steelers open the season on "Sunday Night Football" in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where Pittsburgh hasn't won with Tom Brady in the lineup (0-5). Pittsburgh's last showing in New England was a lopsided 36-17 loss in the 2017 AFC title game. But the Steelers gained confidence with a 17-10 win over New England in Heinz Field last season, and they will be eager to start hot in Gillette Stadium -- especially with Steelers killer Rob Gronkowski out of the lineup.
The Steelers have become a fixture on the prime-time schedule, and 2018 is no different with five appearances, including two Monday Night Football matchups. The loss of Bell and Antonio Brown didn't sway the networks from selecting Pittsburgh, which gets two "Sunday Night Football" games in the first six weeks. The Steelers are usually an easy call because they win games, have a loyal fan base and heighten drama. And they could add prime-time games if networks flex them late in the year. But with the Cleveland Browns serving as the trendy pick in the AFC North, the Steelers must earn their billing. The Steelers and Ravens are set to break a 12-year streak of prime-time games against against each other.
Dan Parzych, NFLspinzone.com
Cleveland Browns: 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7
Isn’t it crazy to think how much can change in a span of a year for the Pittsburgh Steelers when it comes to their offense? For years, the Steelers were always viewed as a team with one of the most high-powered offenses since they had Ben Roethlisberger had Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to work with. It was one thing for Pittsburgh to lose Bell in free agency to the New York Jets as expected, but watching the Steelers trade Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders came as a bit of a surprise. Realistically, one would think that a team like Pittsburgh losing two key weapons like these guys would result in the team taking a step back in 2019, but that may not be the case.
There’s a reason Big Ben has always earned heavy praise for being one of the toughest quarterbacks in the NFL when looking at some of the monster games he’s put together over the years. And while it was frustrating to lose both Bell and Brown in the same offseason, the Steelers should be just fine with other players stepping up to take advantage of the situation on offense. Of course, if this doesn’t happen, chances are Mike Tomlin will easily find his name on the hot seat, but there’s no reason to be thinking that way at this point in the offseason. With the Steelers anxious to make up for missing out on the playoffs last season, don’t be surprised if this team plays better than expected in 2019, even without Bell and Brown.
Jason La Canfora, CBSSports.com
2019 NFL predictions: A way-too-early look at who'll be division winners and playoff teams
Cleveland. I'm buying the Browns. Big time. All this talk about juggling personalities and keeping all the receivers fed and happy is a debate for another day. Right now Freddie Kitchens is in a honeymoon phase and I expect this team to be young and hungry and out to make some noise. Love some of the additions to the staff – head-coach-to-be Todd Monken in particular – and the Browns are finally ascending at the right time, with the rest of this division in turmoil or rebuilding or just hiring a baby-faced head coach themselves. Who knows if they will be able to sustain things there, and that ownership group will always give you pause, but I will ride this team in 2019.
AFC Wild Cards
Kansas City and Baltimore
Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report
After missing the postseason for the first time in five years in 2018, the Steelers endured a rocky offseason. Tailback Le'Veon Bell left in free agency to sign with the New York Jets. Pittsburgh traded star wide receiver Antonio Brown to Oakland. And inside linebacker and cornerback remain potential problem areas on defense. The schedule-makers didn't do the Steelers many favors, either. Beginning with a road game against the Patriots in Week 1, the Steelers have seven games against 2018 playoff teams. While Pittsburgh has a talented offense helmed by a future Hall of Famer in Ben Roethlisberger, it won't be a playoff team.
Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report
Cleveland Browns Prediction: 10-6
Despite the buzz in Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Steelers could still win their division. The Browns have to put all their talent together before they can prove worthy of an AFC North title. Baltimore Ravens signal-caller Lamar Jackson will have to show more of his arm talent. It's unclear what to expect from the Bengals under a new coaching staff.
Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction: 10-6
The Steelers traded their best player, Antonio Brown, to the Raiders, but the roster still has solid playmakers at the skill positions and a top-notch offensive line. JuJu Smith-Schuster seems like he's ready to lead the wide receiver corps. The USC product finished sixth in the league in receiving yards last season. Donte Moncrief and James Washington will fill the complementary pass-catcher roles behind him. Running back James Conner possesses dual-threat capabilities similar to Le'Veon Bell's; he logged 1,470 yards from scrimmage in 2018.
Over the last two seasons, Pittsburgh ranked first in sacks (tied with Kansas City in 2018), and that pattern should continue with multiple pocket-pushers across the front seven. Edge-rusher T.J. Watt and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward lead the charge. The front office added rookie linebacker Devin Bush and cornerback Steven Nelson to patch up blind spots in coverage. The Steelers play two of their toughest opponents at home (Rams and Colts). In their AFC East matchups, the Patriots and maybe the Jets—if they're in the playoff hunt Week 16—pose a major threat. Tiebreaker rules could decide the AFC North leader between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
ESPN NFL insider Dan Graziano
The Cleveland Browns will win the AFC North
Steven Ruiz, USA Today
Steelers miss playoffs
So are you drinking the Kool-Aid? I’m certainly not. I actually think the Steelers are an improved team and with mouthpieces Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell no longer wearing the Black and Gold, that’s an upgrade believe it or not mainly in the locker room and on the sidelines. Pittsburgh has the pieces still to build a Super Bowl contending team. What’s taking place with the Browns is the “hype” and that’s a dangerous game to play especially for Freddie Kitchens who now has tremendous pressure on his shoulders to create a winner and reach the post season in his very first season at the helm.
Oh…by the way…there was a Major League Baseball game played last night and it was the annual All-Star game. A snoozer that saw Josh Bell get one hit but his National League teammates lose to the A.L. 4-3. That’s seven straight for the American League and I watched just a few innings and got tremendously bored. This game is simply not the kind of All-Star game I used to watch in the 1970s.
The fact that Fox had both managers “mike-d” up and talking about raising money for cancer while the game was going on was tacky enough and for me it just didn’t feel like a true baseball game. They have cheesed up the sport as they have done in other sports as well and it is an utter disappointment. I find it ridiculous that the winner of the Home Run Derby the night before New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso defeats another rookie, Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the title and with it a prize of $1 million. All that money for essentially taking batting practice.
That derby should be enough proof of why today’s young athletes want so badly to become professionals. EASY MONEY. All you need is the talent to go pro and you become an instant millionaire…for playing a goddam game. RIDICULOUS.