Cubs flags and banners decorated grave sites all over Chicago

He’s remembering tonight.

“I like to reminisce,” he says. “I ain’t got that much else to do. It’s one of the few joys of getting old.”

As much as a sporting contest, Friday night’s game served as a portal to that time and place. Cubs flags and banners decorated grave sites all over Chicago; at one suburban cemetery, an old man in a Cubs jacket laid a pennant in between his mother and father. At Rene’s apartment, while the game stretched out on TV, Rene and Helene talked about the past. Two of his daughters hung out, and they heard some stories for the first time, leaning in rapt, desperate for every detail because soon it will be too late to ask. Every Easter, the union boss gave him a chocolate egg with a dollar bill in it. Sometimes he and his friends rented a party room in the local auditorium, bought some luncheon meat and a case of beer. He played softball for a team named the Jokers.

“I’ve never seen him this good,” his nurse says.

The girls pour a round of drinks from the Blue Label bottle in the seventh inning, and his nurse says that he can have a sip. The hot whiskey hits his throat and stuns him a little. When the Cubs lose, he curses in Flemish — the language of his parents, still burned into his memory — and sinks back into his chair. His time is running short, but tonight, he was living, surrounded by his wife and two of his girls and by the memory of his departed son. He sat in his chair, watching one of the last baseball games he’ll ever see. His eyes sparkled, and he looked content.

Curry’s progression demonstrates how he has epitomized grit in multiple ways. As a prep player, he had to ignore doubts about his ability to overcome a small frame to be a contributor in college — famously not getting a scholarship offer from an ACC school — let alone in the NBA. Having established himself as an NBA player, Curry subsequently had to deal with the setback of recurrent ankle injuries, resulting in surgery that limited him to 26 games during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

This time around, Cleveland saw its early 12-point lead turn into a one-point deficit with 2:37 left in the fourth thanks to DeMar DeRozan scoring 22 of his 32 points after halftime. Yet, remarkably, the Cavs won by going to Irving with less than a minute left even though he was just 1-for-9 in the fourth quarter up to that point.

“I mean, the fourth quarter is usually money time,” Irving said. “I’ve always felt that way since I’ve kind of played basketball, but having the trust of your teammates and trust of the coaching staff, it means a lot. It goes a lot further than I think people realize.”

Deprogramming the overconfidence from achievement (the championship) or complacency from assignment (a regular-season game versus a playoff game) also is a lot more difficult than people realize, to be sure.

Yet Cleveland has done an admirable job of it so far. On ring night, the Cavs waxed the New York Knicks so as to not spoil a great event for their town with the Indians’ World Series opener going on simultaneously. And on Friday, they outplayed a Raptors team that spent its offseason stewing over how close they came to knocking off the Cavs, not celebrating over how great it felt to knock off the Warriors.

Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics is one of a handful of coaches, including Pete Carroll of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, who have built more lasting relationships with Duckworth. She spoke to the Celtics last season before a game in Philadelphia, and Stevens’ endorsement appears on the back of her book, alongside those of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell.

Texas A&M suspended a coach for derogatory sexual humor, and it wasn’t his first offense

Texas A&M offensive line coach Jim Turner was one of two assistants suspended for two weeks without pay on Friday night, after images of sexually suggestive slides from a presentation at a football clinic for women held on Wednesday went viral.

I received four pics from the Texas A&M Talk Chalk event on Wednesday. Here is Pic #1

— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) July 29, 2016
It turns out Turner is no stranger to using sexual humor and making some of those around him uncomfortable.

“Mark [Sanchez] threw a good ball, and I saw the ball at the last second,” Taylor said. “I don’t know why I threw one hand up, why I didn’t put my left hand up. It just all happened real fast. By the time I turned my head and threw my hand up, the ball was in my hand. It all happened really quick.”

Perhaps after this dynamic catch, many others will join me in the world of Jordan Taylor fandom.

Training camp is back and EVERYONE IS ON THE PUP LIST! What’s the deal with this rash of injuries? Real or imagined?

Conditioning tests suck. They’re terrible and pointless, especially for football players.

Mike Wallace was the victim of a conditioning fail and the Ravens made it really weird.

The Jets re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick. The whole scenario was dumb, and might not mean squat for them this season. They probably should’ve given Geno Smith a chance.

RG3 has already won the Browns QB competition. So now what?

Pete Carroll and Mike Zimmer both got contract extensions. Good moves! And a lot of teams are going to be mad they didn’t hire Zimmer when they had a chance.
A discussion of the Rooney Rule and coach hiring.

You can listen above, or you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, if that’s your sort of thing.

Of the four, Smith is probably the one who could fetch the most in a trade, but even releasing him is an avenue that the Jets have to consider. The team could also cut Petty, but it would be hard for Maccagnan and Bowles to stomach shipping off a draft pick who hasn’t even seen the field yet, especially when Smith is set to become a free agent after the 2016 season anyway.

C.J. Anderson to miss a few weeks, possibly more

Two days after getting their struggling ground attack back on track in a victory over the Texans, the Broncos are bracing for the absence of their starting running back.

C.J. Anderson is expected to miss at least a few weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported, via sources informed of the injury.

Anderson is seeking a second medical opinion on the knee. Depending on the results, it’s possible that he could miss the remainder of the season, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Rapoport further explained that it’s “essentially unprecedented” to trade a franchise player because the new team cannot sign the tagged star prior to the start of free agency.

In which case, the selling team can’t expect to receive more than a mid-round draft pick in return for a half-season rental. Since the Bears will likely be awarded a mid-round pick in the compensatory process should Jeffery seek greener pastures in free agency, there’s little incentive for a trade.

Receiver-needy organizations such as the Eagles, Buccaneers and Bills shouldn’t count on Jeffery as a fall-back option if trade negotiations for 49ers speedster Torrey Smith fall through.

“Definitely been medically cleared to play,” Jackson said of McCown. “We’ll see how it goes throughout the week”

Getting in a full day of practice Wednesday is a great sign for McCown’s availability.

While injury prone, McCown is a solid passer who has proved he can move the offense. Getting the vet back on the field should especially open up the deep passing game. While Kessler displayed solid poise and accuracy, the field-stretching element was noticeably absent. With McCown returning, expect more deep shots to Terrelle Pryor inserted back onto the play-call sheet.

Titans trade Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles for offensive line depth

The Tennessee Titans parted ways with Dorial Green-Beckham after only one season, trading the former second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for offensive lineman Dennis Kelly, the team announced on Tuesday morning.

Green-Beckham, 23, starred for Missouri right away as a freshman in 2012, but was dismissed by the program in 2014 after his sophomore season following a series of legal troubles, including a pair of arrests on drug charges. He transferred to Oklahoma, but never played for the team before entering the 2015 NFL Draft.

Kelly played in multiple spots along the Philadelphia offensive line and most recently made two starts at right tackle for the Eagles during the 2015 season.

Harrison told his Facebook followers on Tuesday morning that he was even drug tested by the league this week. He and the other players also submitted affidavits denying the use of PEDs and citing the lack of any existing or credible evidence, but the league rejected their affidavits.

All of this is unnecessary and heavy-handed. Charlie Sly, the man at the center of the Al Jazeera report, recanted his statement. And the league’s drug testing should determine whether or not the players are using PEDs.

The union is fighting the NFL’s demand for interviews with the four players, but it won’t get anywhere. Like it or not, all of this is well within Goodell’s authority in the CBA, the labor deal that the players and owner agreed to in 2011. The commissioner’s power was recently affirmed by the courts, in both the Adrian Peterson case and DeflateGate. In fact, the later case essentially signed off on Goodell’s power to suspend players for not cooperating.

Once again, there isn’t a damn thing the players union can do about it, at least not until 2021 when the two sides have to sit down and hammer out a new labor deal. But the NFL isn’t going to cede ground on the commissioner’s power so easily. If players are going to change that, they’re going to have to fight, and that will mean a strike and missing game checks, something they didn’t have the fortitude to carry out last time. (It didn’t help their cause that the NFL had a billion dollar strike fund of its own).

It’s unlikely that it’s going to happen in 2021 too, so you better get used to the idea of Goodell removing your favorite players from the field on a whim for some perceived infraction like not turning over a cell phone or denying him the chance to look a player in the eye, which is some antiquated bullshit that’s a poor stand in for the due process that got sacrificed in the last labor deal.

Washington was a mess, and no match for the Steelers in 38-16 loss

If you checked the box score just prior to the half, you might have been surprised to see that the Pittsburgh Steelers were leading Washington. The statistics for each team were pretty similar through the first half, but Pittsburgh was able to capitalize on Washington’s mistakes and overcome their own, earning the win with a final score of 38-16.

Washington looked solid early, sustaining drives but settling for field goals on its first two possessions. Bashaud Breeland helped out, picking off Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ second possession, but 24 unanswered points for the Steelers in the second and third quarters created what would become an insurmountable deficit for Washington.

Rams’ Aaron Donald ejected after scuffling with a 49er and making contact with a ref. It’s got to be frustrating being one of the game’s best players stuck on a team that is never going anywhere near the playoffs.

Colin Kaepernick responds to Trent Dilfer comments. Dilfer had pointed comments about Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem. Kaepernick responded after the 49ers’ Week 1 win.

Colin Kaepernick’s protest is working. The ugly internet comments aside, a lot of people are actually thinking about what Kap is saying about how minorities are treated in America.

Washington was a mess, and no match for the Steelers in 38-16 loss. Washington couldn’t get out of its own way, and the Steelers took advantage. For instance, Washington paid big money for Josh Norman, then let Antonio Brown demolish its second-best CB. Part of Washington’s problem was a schematic decision allowed Brown to feast on Bashaud Breeland while Norman stood on the other side of the field.

Even Jay Gruden acknowledged that he got “outcoached.” He added that there “could be merit” to the idea of letting Josh Norman cover a team’s best receiver. YA THINK???

Antonio Brown air thrusted 5 times, which was one too many to not get flagged. Five times was apparently too many.

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a knee injury. He says he’s fine, but Steelers fans are watching this situation nervously.

DeAngelo Williams is still a beast. The Steelers leaned on Williams for 26 carries and six receptions, and they got 143 rushing yards, two touchdowns and another 28 yards receiving. Not bad!

Adrian Peterson will be out months after knee surgery

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus. On Thursday, the Vikings announced that Peterson had successful lateral surgery and no other issues with his knee were found.

One day later, the running back was placed on injured reserve, meaning he will be unavailable to return until at least the end of November so long as the Vikings choose to use the injured reserve with a designation to return tag on him.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Peterson suffered what’s known as a bucket handle tear of the meniscus, and the expected recovery time following surgery is a minimum of three to four months, and could take as long as six months for a full recovery.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer he said Wednesday he won’t have a timetable for Peterson’s recovery until the procedure is complete.

Minnesota also signed running back Ronnie Hillman Wednesday. Zimmer was unsure when Hillman would be able to get on the field for the Vikings, and he added that Jerick McKinnon will get the start against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Zimmer said the Vikings will continue to run the ball without Peterson.

The Vikings will look to Matt Asiata, McKinnon, and Hillman to fill the void created by Peterson’s injury. Asiata has just 27 yards on 10 carries this season, and McKinnon has carried the ball three times for 8 yards. Last season, Asiata finished with 112 yards on 29 carries, and McKinnon had 271 yards on 52 carries. Hillman, who played for the Denver Broncos last year, rushed for 863 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015.

The Vikings face the Panthers this week in Carolina.

With the win, Belichick now trails only Don Shula (328), George Halas (318), and Tom Landry (250) in career wins, although he’s already the record holder for postseason victories with 23.

It seems unlikely that he’ll come close to pushing for Shula’s record, even if he hasn’t indicated that he’s even thinking about retirement. However, he previously said that he doesn’t plan on coaching that much longer.

“I won’t be like Marv Levy and coach in my 70s,” Belichick said in 2009. “You don’t have to worry about that.”

Belichick’s 70th birthday is six years away, but for now he hasn’t slowed his winning ways. The Patriots are on a streak of 13 consecutive seasons with double-digit wins and off to a 3-0 start to the 2016 season, despite Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for DeflateGate.

Fittingly, the win Thursday night was proof of Belichick’s coaching acumen. The Patriots, with a third-string rookie Jacoby Brissett under center, completely dominated the defending AFC South champions, the Houston Texans.

David Johnson could be Cardinals’ best running back ever

Johnson has been threatening to break into the group since late last season. Monday night he joined the likes of Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell and Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy with a 111-yard, three-touchdown performance in front of a national TV audience in the Arizona Cardinals’ 28-3 win over the New York Jets.

Johnson has shown all the traits of an elite back: speed, quickness, vision, feet, moves. He combined them all on a 58-yard run against a Jets defense that entered Monday night’s game ranked No. 1 against the run.

“When you got a back like David Johnson, I mean, you got to feed him and he’s going to make something happen,” Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “He’s just got a knack for the big play. You just got to feed him.”

First, as bad as Monday night seemed, it wasn’t the most heavily penalized game of the young 2016 season. That happened in Week 2, when the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans combined for 31 accepted and declined penalties. Monday’s game was also nowhere close to the NFL record, which is 37 accepted penalties in a 1951 game between the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears.

That discrepancy is one reason NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged an interest in rotating crews, ostensibly to even out tendencies. This season, the NFL is selectively maneuvering individual members of crews, mostly with the purpose of ensuring experienced officials in high-profile games.

Given that context, it isn’t so difficult to understand why Boger called a series of penalties for mild contact in pass defense early in the game. His crew skews toward calling a tight game, and teams scout those tendencies.

By running his way into the conversation of the NFL’s best rushers, Johnson has done something Arizona hasn’t seen in years. And years. And years.

He made a Cardinal one of the NFL’s top running backs.

Arizona has had its share of big-name backs. Emmitt Smith and Edgerrin James come to mind, but both were at the end of their careers when they came to the Cardinals. The franchise’s best running backs played from the 1940s to the 1980s.

The same is true about the teams of 2016. Yes, the Vikings are good, and the Browns are not. Beyond that, we just don’t know very much about the league so far. Take the Ravens. They looked to be a resurgent team after jumping out to a 3-0 start, but a closer look revealed they had won those three games by a total of just 13 points. Since then, they’re in a free fall, going 0-3, and losing those games by a combined 11 points. The reality is that they’re somewhere in the middle, but we have no idea where.

There are a lot of unsolved mysteries in the NFL through six weeks. There are players who haven’t launched the way we’ve expected, teams who have put on a Jekyll and Hyde show, and decisions which beggar belief in 2016. Some of those mysteries won’t be resolved until the season’s over for good. Others can be cracked with a closer look. Given that this is the week when Darrius Heyward-Bey trucked a defender on the way to a rushing touchdown and Dontari Poe caught a bubble screen for a receiving score, let’s run through some of those unsolved mysteries (with apologies to Robert Stack) after a strange Week 6.