‘J’ Talking: New Year Means More Awesomeness to Consume

WRITER’S NO MAN’S LAND

For the first time in weeks I began to type words onto a blank screen again. I went on to write five pages! As time passed since I had written my last anything, I started to think to myself Have I lost my ability to write? The short answer is no. When you’re given the gift of any talent by God, it’s always with you; if you feel as if you’ve somehow become untalented, you’re not. It’s a mental state we put ourselves in. We’re locked in place. Inspiration, creativity, ideas, thoughts… nothing is flowing. Even the things we love and are passionate about don’t provide the same safe space of comfort.

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The Flat: Coach firings start with Jeff Fisher

UPDATE: Gus Bradley. Rex Ryan. John Fox. Mike McCoy. Todd Bowles. Jeff Fisher. Chuck Pagano. Marvin Lewis. Sean Payton. 

Those nine names of NFL head coaches is the running list I had in mind to be fired either sometime throughout the season or on Black Monday — the day after the regular seasons ends; in that order too, from left to right.

Somehow Gus Bradley has survived his way to Week 15. Rex Ryan is out of a job come that fateful Monday. And if the Jets keep performing the way they have been, Todd Bowles is going to coach himself out of a job after just two seasons in the Meadowlands, but he’s probably going to be given one more season. Everyone else is based on how their respective teams finish in the final three weeks. Fox is likely gone and McCoy is 50/50. Pagano, Lewis and Payton are all safe.

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In Blake Francis, Wagner has a shooter with a point guard mentality

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

IN LOSING, THERE CAME A LEADER

The Westfield Bulldogs of Chantilly, Virginia, lost the 6A state championship to the Colonial Forge Eagles of Stafford by the final of 47-46 to end the 2014-15 season. And although it may have been a disappointment, it helped give rise to the leadership of one of their own: then-junior guard Blake Francis.

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The Flat: Cowboys are team to beat, not the best

Here’s how the NFL playoffs are shaking up as we watch Week 14:

As the NFL enters the final quarter of the season… 19 teams are either in or within 1 game of a playoff spot.

A photo posted by NFL (@nfl) on

Let’s take the No. 1 seeds first. The Cowboys, as I wrote in my title, are the team to beat in the league, but not the best. They’re certainly a very good, even a great, team, but when it comes playoff time there’s going to be a team that pushes up against how they play: chew the clock with smart, efficient, big runs with Ezekiel Elliot and downfield throws with Dak Prescott. As for the Patriots, they’re well-coached and QB’d, but their defense is shaky.

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The Flat: Rob Gronkowski’s third back surgery ends his season

We were dealt quite a bit of breaking news on Thursday: Patriots’s four-time pro-bowl TE, Rob Gronkowski, is out for the remainder of the 2016 season. He underwent back surgery on Friday, his third such procedure since 2009.

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The Flat: Tony Romo should be exemplified

When I was a kid, I grew up in a Giants household. I can remember to this day my dad making sure we went to Sunday mass early enough to be back in time for his New York football Giants at 1 p.m. He then could be seen sitting on the couch yelling in pure frustration and excitement from kickoff until the final snap of the game. He still does so.

My dad is a true Giants fan; he bleeds blue. So it’s quite something that he never pushed his fandom onto my brother and I. His example of not forcing us to, in this case, root for a team that we may or may not have necessarily felt invested in just because he was lives on with us. How so? My brother is a Packers cheesehead and I’m all in on Tom Brady and the Patriots. 

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The Flat: Albert Breer answered a Twitter question of mine

A neat thing happened when I tweeted at Albert Breer, The MMQB senior writer and someone I listen to and read frequently, a question about the Raiders: he answered it on his podcast The MMQB Podcast with Albert Breer!

My question:

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Michael Carey: A Seahawk flying under the radar no longer

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

“No limits, I don’t want any limits. When you limit yourself, you fall short. I want no limits, so I’m going to go hard and keep praying to God for no limits at all.” 

– Michael Carey, Wagner Seahawks senior guard, on what legacy he wants to leave behind as a player

TO BE CONSIDERED FAMILY, TRUST

Wagner head coach Bashir Mason called Michael Carey on the phone during his recruitment to see if he’d fit the team’s brand. That identity he was looking for is synonymous with Mason’s play as a former Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year at Drexel as a freshman in 2003-04, just that: Defense. And it’s not only play on the court he keys in on, it’s how you conduct yourself off it around people on a daily basis and, of course, your teammates.

The thought behind it is simple: “Attitude next play.” What that phrase means is all the minute parts of the game that don’t appear on the back of a player card. It’s defensive deflections, offensive rebounds, taking charges, diving on the floor and assists. Also, it’s coupling the physical with the mental side of not becoming overly caught up in either a positive or negative way and moving on.

With all this in mind, Carey sold Mason on adding him to the roster by saying the following: “If I trust you, I’ll run through a wall for you. And if I don’t know why I’m running through a wall, I’m going to keep running until you tell me to stop.” After hearing that, Mason knew in that very moment Carey was the kind of player he wanted and one he’d like to coach because of the level of seriousness he gave off.

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Wagner sticking together to win it all through attitude

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

Former four-year Wagner veteran forward Josh Thompson remembered one experience at Wagner right away that he sees as shared with his teammates and family in being a part of something bigger than anyone: beating the Pitt Panthers in their own Petersen Events Center, who Thompson recalled being ranked No. 15 in the country at the time.

What it took to achieve what seemed prior to that game as a daunting task was Thompson and his fellow Seahawks knowing they had to go onto the Panthers’ home court and believe in each other. By doing just that, they made it come true through playing the game the way they always did.

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The Flat: Trade deadline comes & Jamie Collins goes

As I was leaving work around 3 p.m. Tuesday, I pulled out my phone from my pocket to check if I’d missed any calls, texts or notifications. It was the usual on the first two fronts, a few family and friends reaching out, but the third was the unusual one. “BREAKING: Patriots trade Pro Bowl LB Jamie Collins to Browns for third-round compensatory pick.” My initial reaction was understandably shocked, however, once it sunk in I wasn’t surprised.

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The Flat: Domestic violence is most serious of NFL’s other issues

On Tuesday Oct. 25, the Giants released their now former kicker Josh Brown, who was suspended for domestic violence a mere game until more information came to light. First off, good on New York for putting team first and realizing how bad Brown was to their brand. In having someone like that in your lockeroom, you’re pretty much condoning the act he’s connected to. Up until they finally rid themselves of him, they were only distancing themselves through their words and not sort of actions.

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St. Francis Brooklyn building toward what they can become

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I was a breaking news intern from Jan. to Aug. ’16.]

After experiencing an historic 2014-15 season, when St. Francis Brooklyn tied a program record with 23 wins and earned their first Northeast Conference championship since 2003-04; plus an appearance into the National Invitational Tournament for the first time since 1963, finishing off 2015-16 with a 15-17 record was a step back of sorts, and early indications from college basketball insiders seem to think another may be on its way this year.

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Upcoming season could be return to form for LIU Brooklyn

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I was a breaking news intern from Jan. to Aug. ’16.]

Since being named LIU Brooklyn’s head coach in 2013, Jack Perri has seen his team teeter like a seesaw.

His first year showed off his ability toward continued success, and to no surprise due to his knowledge of the program after having spent seven seasons as an assistant under his predecessor Jim Ferry, the current Duquesne head coach.

Perri led his players to a 20-14 record in that 2013-14 campaign, which garnered the Blackbirds their third consecutive Northeast Conference championship and also rewarded him with the Joe B. Hall Coach of the Year award, given out annually to Division I first-year head coaches.

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Core group and depth two more keys to success for Wagner

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

Whenever every new season is fast approaching in mid to late-October, basketball coaches know every team is at the same place. They have a vision as to where they should be, and work toward reaching that point.

For a second time already, and the 2016-17 campaign hasn’t even begun, Wagner head coach Bashir Mason referenced the 10-win 2014-15 season when he had seven new players — five of which were freshmen. He said it was difficult starting all over again from the ground up because coaches and players alike were learning new things.

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The Flat: New info on Giants kicker Josh Brown surfaces

After serving a one-game suspension to start the 2016 NFL season for domestic violence, Giants kicker Josh Brown looks like he’s headed toward more games to sit out this year or even being left without a job completely. Either or would be a just punishment, although he should’ve been given a much harsher penalty the first time around. Call me a jaded Patriots fan, but why does Tom Brady serve four games for allegedly being involved in the deflation of footballs while Brown receives one for physically harming his wife?

The NFL has already walked a fine line in how it comes down with a verdict in situations such as these. Need I remind you of Spygate and Ray Rice? For whatever reason, it punishes one athlete or organization differently every time. It’s worth listening to the Saints’s QB, Drew Brees, who eloquently puts the league in its place on this very subject in a podcast interview with the MMQB’s Peter King, which I embedded below in my weekly suggestions. Why is that? If you do wrong, you should be punished accordingly.

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