As the Pittsburgh Steelers opened their 2019 preseason with a rather impressive victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-28 on Friday night, the weekend ended on a sad note when their wide receivers coach Darryl Drake suddenly passed away early Sunday morning at the young age of 62.
The official cause of his death has not been released yet but it affected the team deeply. The official announcement from President Art Rooney II was as follows:
“We are at a loss for words following Darryl Drake's passing this morning. Darryl had such an impact on the players he coached and everyone he worked with throughout his entire career. He was a passionate coach and had a tremendous spirit toward life, his family, his faith, and the game of football. Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his three daughters, his grandchildren, and his entire family during this difficult time.”
Mike Tomlin also spoke to the media regarding the loss of his coach:
“Darryl was a close friend and had a tremendous impact on my coaching career. He was an amazing husband, father, and grandfather, and it is difficult to put into words the grief our entire team is going through right now. Darryl loved the game of football and every player he ever coached. We will use our faith to guide us and help his family throughout this difficult time. My heart and our prayers are with his wife, Sheila, and Darryl's entire family.”
This was just the second season on the sidelines with Pittsburgh for Drake where he had previously held the same position with the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017 and with the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012. Drake also played football, first for Western Kentucky University as a wide receiver finishing his career there in 1978. He did make it to the pro level joining the Washington Redskins in 1979 then heading north where he played in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1981 then returned to the NFL for a short stint with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1983.
Before coming to the NFL, Drake held a number of positions for these college teams:
A New Level of Ridiculousness
The Antonio Brown saga has reached a new level of stupidity. Not only has the former Steelers standout sidelined himself with an injury to his feet from going unprotected into a Cryotherapy chamber in France, now comes word that he is refusing to report to the Oakland Raiders because the NFL will not allow him to wear the helmet he has placed on his head for the last 10 years.
Because his helmet of choice exceeded the 10-year age limit, the league has ruled he can not use it. Therefore, Brown is threatening retiring over the issue and at worst if he is forced to wear it, he has indicated that he will hold the National Football League liable if he suffers a head injury while wearing the helmet they are forcing him to wear.
Even more idiotic is that his new head coach Jon Gruden stands behind him on the issue. However, what else would Gruden say anyway? His front office gave A.B. millions of dollars in a trade with Pittsburgh to play in Silver and Black and not Black and Gold so this is what “Chuckie” said:
“There's been a lot of reports out there. I can't say I agree with all of them. But I support this guy. I think that's what needs to be said. This foot injury wasn't his fault. This was a total accident. It really wasn't his fault and it's a serious injury. I know some people are smarting at it, but it's really not a laughing matter. The guy was hurt, he's innocent, and he didn't do anything wrong. And the helmet thing is a personal matter to him. He has a strong feeling about what he's worn on his head and we're supporting him. Whatever his decision is, we'll stand by it, but we're confident that he's going to be a huge factor for the Raiders for years to come.”
Good luck with that Gruden. The Raiders are in for a very long and trying season if Brown does in fact end up showing up. But the longer he is out, the more drama there will be for the league’s absolute #1 drama queen.
Riding the Tank
In the NBA often you will hear the term “tanking.” That usually refers to a team that stops trying to win games in an effort to finish with a worse record so that they can obtain a better draft pick. It appears that the Pittsburgh Pirates are “tanking” in Major League Baseball. The first half of the season prior to the All-Star Break, the Bucs were competitive and even within reach of a wild card or better a division title shot.
On Sunday, July 7 the weekend before the break, Pittsburgh was 44-45 and 2 ½ games behind first place. Since that time, the team has gone 3-24. That’s right you did not read wrong. They have lost 24 of their last 27 including their eighth straight loss yesterday to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates have lost nine of their last 10 and their season was over a long time ago. They are now 15 ½ games back in last place and they WILL NOT be catching fourth place Cincinnati who holds an 8 ½ game lead over the hapless Buccos.
It’s gotten so bad for Pittsburgh that they have now given up 644 runs to opponents this season while scoring 100 less. It will be interesting to see how many fans show up at PNC Park the rest of the way for the final 45 games. The last time the Pirates were home on August 7, only 12,885 showed up to watch the Milwaukee Brewers hammer the Bucs 8-3. First half offensive star Josh Bell has slumped as well in the second half now hitting .284 and only having 29 home runs has relinquished the RBI lead to Freddie Freeman who with 95 runs batted in is now two ahead of Bell. Once among the home run leaders, Bell is not in the pack anymore falling far behind the N.L. leader Christian Yelich who has smacked 39. While the Pirates’ faithful did not expect a division title this season and perhaps not even a wild card, this is not what they thought would be the end result.
A Real ZZZZZ Fest
This past Saturday MMA was back in action with “UFC Fight Night: Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2.” If you hung around long enough to watch the main even between flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche, did you then make it through all five rounds? In a very uneventful bout, Shevchenko played it safe and carried Carmouche for five rounds, never really putting her in much danger and for Carmouche, she never even got close enough to the champion to sway the judges in her favor.
It was a “safely” fought fight for the champion which came to a surprise after her tremendous knockout by a head kick to Jessica Eye her last time out. All three judges scored the fight 50-45 and it was truthfully that much of a disparity. The highlight of this card had to be in the co-main event where Vicente Luque rearranged the face of Mike Perry over three rounds and winning a split decision in a fight that really could have gone either way. But Perry had his nose broken in what has to be the worst broken nose ever in the MMA.
Coming next weekend is one hell of a card at UFC 241 when the rematch between heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former champ Stipe Miocic goes down. Miocic tries to get his belt back from the man who took it and he says he will become champion again. In the co-main, it should be fight of the night when two men who have have smack talked each other for years and were supposed to fight earlier than this go at it. Anthony Pettis takes on the returing Nate Diaz in what even might end up being the fight of the year.
Yoel Romero fights Paulo Costa in what should also be a great fight and then there are nine other fights on the card. My predicions on the big fights of the main card come later this week. In other UFC news, another great matchup was made this weekend when at UFC 243, Dan Hooker gets into the Octagon with Al Iaquinta on October 5 in Australia. That will on the same card as the middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whitaker.
Simply the Best
In other sports news, if you like gymnastics then you know that Simone Biles has won the United States title this past weekend and she did it with emphasis. She became the first woman in almost 70 years to win a sixth American title. She also landed what is deemed a very difficult triple double.