Devin Hester Retires After 11 Seasons, Next Stop Hall Of Fame.

It was a warm early September night in Miami, and the Gators had traveled down south to take on the 3rd ranked Hurricanes. Over 80,000 were there in the old Orange Bowl, with millions watching around the country. Gators kicker Matt Piotrowicz kicked off to begin the game. Hurricanes freshman Devin Hester returned it from the three yard line, and took it to the house. On that night in Miami, a legend was born.

 

Since that day over fourteen years ago, when you think of returning kicks in football, you automatically think of Devin Hester. My opinion of Hester is obviously biased due to the fact that I’m a Hurricanes fan, and I grew up watching him in person. I don’t mean to brag or anything, actually yes I do, but you’ve seen the video of him against Duke, where he broke at least 36 tackles and still ran it back for the touchdown? Yeah, I was at that game, and my father bought me his jersey after the game.

 

Anyway, back to Hester.

 

Hester was incredible at the U, and the Canes used him on the offensive side of the ball too, making him the ultimate threat. However, because he was known primarily as a returner, I was sure that we wouldn’t hear much of him in the NFL.

 

However, Lovie Smith and the Bears drafted him in 2006, and that season was one for the books. Whether it was his return on Monday Night to beat the Cardinals, or his 108-yd runback missed field goal at the old Giants Stadium, or the two returns for scores he had on another Monday Night in St. Louis, Hester was one of the main reasons why the Bears went 13-3 in 2006 and won the NFC championship.

 

Though when you think about the 2006 season, one play comes to mind, opening kickoff against the Colts in the Super Bowl. To describe that touchdown, all you have to do is quote Jeff Joniak, Bears radio announcer. “Devin Hester, you are ridiculous!’’ I was in our rental car getting ready to board a cruise in Hawaii listening to the play, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll also never forget how bad Sexy Rexy Grossman played that game, actually that entire season.

 

While the 2006 campaign for Hester was incredible, it was the prelude to his performance in 2007. While at the U, Hester returned six punts/kickoffs for touchdowns. He matched that statistic in 2007 in the NFL, setting a league record.

 

Hester played eight seasons for the Bears, was a three-time Pro Bowler, and was named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2000’s by ESPN and the Associated Press.

 

Hester, during the span of his 11-year career with the Bears, Falcons, Ravens and Seahawks, scored an NFL 20 non-offensive touchdowns, one more than Deion Sanders.

 

So the question that everyone will be debating for years to come, will Hester earn him a spot in the Football Hall of Fame?

 

In order to be inducted into Canton, the player should be remembered for changing the game, making people stop and watch, and being a someone who could change a game. Hester definitely checks all of those boxes, and would absolutely get my vote.

 

As for his own words, he thinks he’ll be inducted someday too. “I owe it all to my coaches, teammates, fans, and family. And to my speed…I can still beat anyone down that sideline,” he wrote. “Hopefully next time I see y’all it’ll be in Canton.”

 

 

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In Historic Move, Giancarlo Stanton Is A Yankee

January 5th, 1920. Most people, even sports fans will not tell you what was significant about this day. However, talk to any Yankee or Red Sox fan, and they may just figure it out. On that day nearly a hundred years ago, the New York Yankees purchased Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. On Monday, December 9, 2017 in the Bronx, the Yankees welcomed another slugger to the storied franchise.

 

Start spreading the news, its official. Giancarlo Stanton is officially a New York Yankee. While this move infuriated Yankee haters, as for me, I’ve been smiling since I found on Saturday morning.

 

The 28 year-old was announced in New York on Monday alongside new manager Aaron Boone. Stanton is currently in the middle of the largest contract in MLB history. In 2014, Stanton signed his current contract, with a total value of $325 million.

 

The 2017 NL MVP passed on deals with San Francisco and St. Louis, ultimately deciding to join the Yankees.

 

This move made to acquire the former Miami Marlin, with A-Rod and Ruthian like proportions, will affect the Yankees and the rest of the MLB for the next decade. Several bookmakers have already declared the Yankees the favorite to win the 2018 World Series, which will be nine years since New York had won its last championship.

 

One thing for sure, is that the Bronx Bombers are officially back. Not only does Stanton’s 6’6 245lb frame help the Yanks, but oh his 59 home runs from last year will also come in handy. Stanton joins Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, who hit 52 and 31 home runs in 2016. Between the three of them, they combined for 142 home runs last season, more than the entire San Francisco Giants team. New York already led the majors in 2016 with 241 home runs, in a stadium that favors right handed hitters.

 

Every baseball fan knows well that the Yankees have a history of power-hitting duos such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, or Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. The new duo of Judge and Stanton produced 111 home runs in 2016, which would’ve put them second all time in Major League history had they have been on the same team last season.

 

What Stanton also brings to the table for the Yankees, is an advantage on their rivals, the Boston Red Sox. In Boston, four of their top pitchers, David Price, Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are all left hand pitchers, and having pitched fairly well against the Yankees throughout their careers. Stanton comes into 2017 batting. 293 with a 1.025 OPS against left handed pitchers in 2016. His career numbers against lefties are almost frightening, .323 with a 1.212 OPS off lefties, hitting a home run one in every 10 trips to the plate.

The Yankees have won one division title since 2012, while the Red Sox have won three, including two straight years.

 

The only possible thing that Stanton does not bring to the table, is playoff experience. In his eight seasons in Miami, the Marlins never made the postseason. While the Yankees are coming off a year in 2017, that left them one game short of the World Series.

Will Streak End For The Bills in 2017?

Think back to January of 2000, seventeen long years ago. What were you doing with your life? I know for me, I was in the middle of preschool at the tender age of 5, growing up in Hollywood, Florida and finishing up my tenure at Temple Beth El. Old “Slick Will” Bill Clinton was in his last year as president, and the Buffalo Bills were playing a wild-card playoff game in the Nashville, Tennessee, against the Titans.

In what ended up being the most controversial loss in Bills history, known as the Music City Miracle, nobody in their right mind could have ever thought that it would start a seventeen-year playoff drought for this Buffalo team, a franchise that just ten years before, was in the middle of a legendary streak, making it to four consecutive Super Bowls.

 

Those AFC championship banners still fly high at New Era field in Buffalo, but the greatness of Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed haven’t touched the field since. Heck, even the play of Rob Johnson, the quarterback who started that playoff game against the Titans in 2000 hasn’t been seen in Western New York since then.

 

Year by year, the Bills and their die-hard fans have seen the AFC east, which was once ruled by Buffalo, turn into a laughing stock of three teams and then the Patriots. Since 1995, the Bills have not clinched their division, not hosting a home playoff game in 21 years. Between 2000 and 2017, the franchise has mustered up two 9-7 seasons, with those two years being the bright spots for nearly 20 seasons. Great players have graced their presence in Buffalo, such as J.P. Losman and Mike Williams(that was a joke). Legendary coaches have roamed the sidelines, the great Rex Ryan had a stellar 15-16 record in nearly two seasons, being fired in week 16 of the 2016 season.

 

However, 2017 has shined bright lights upon the Bills and their new head coach Sean McDermott. They entered Sunday’s matchup with the 3-9 Colts at 6-6, having lost 4 of their last five games. What greeted the Bills and the Colts on Sunday, was a snow globe. However, if there’s one thing that Buffalo fans know better than beer, wings and tailgating, its snow. In a surreal shot that looked more like a scene out of Game Of Thrones, the Bills somehow managed to sneak away with a 13-7 overtime victory.

 

While they may not be in the playoffs as of yet, this is only the third time since the 1999 season, where the Bills have been over .500 this late in the season.

 

I myself have been called a band-wagon fan, due to the fact that I’m a Cowboys and Yankees fan(note to reader, the Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl in 22 years). However, I’ve always been enthralled with the Bills. One because of their fans. Those crazed Bills fans, known as Bills Mafia root for their team like its their job. Two, I want to see them do well because of how terrible they’ve been. Going 17 years without a playoff appearance, in this day of age with free agency and trades is absolutely insane.

 

With three games to go in the regular season, Bills Mafia is holding their breath, as their final three games of the regular season come against division rivals, the Patriots and the Dolphins. Needing some luck to sneak into football in January, it reminds of what a writer once said about the Bills, “if it wasn’t was bad luck, the Bills wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

A Game That Canes Fans Will Never Forget

I was at the last game in the Orange Bowl, and witnessed that 48-0 loss to Virginia. I watched for seven years FSU beat around the Canes, and completely dominate the state of Florida. For the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed the demise of Miami Hurricane football, and have seen the program go from perennial national champion contenders, to NCAA violations, to half empty Dolphin Stadium crowds, losing to USF, Randy Shannon and Al Golden, Jacoby Harris, Nevin Shapiro, no bowl wins for a decade. For the majority of my youth, the University of Miami football team has been a laughing stock, and an embarrassment to South Florida.

 

All of last week, from the end of the Virginia Tech game, all the way to the opening kickoff against Notre Dame was a special seven days. You could feel the excitement building up around the college football world, and I’m sure the city of Miami was alive.

 

Former Canes, from Ray Lewis to Michael Irvin, from Ed Reed to the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, they were all supporting the U on social media, getting the team ready to play the Irish.

 

College Gameday was actually on campus, the show was in Miami was for the first time in 16 years.

 

All week long I listened to Dan LeBetard, Stugotz and Mike Ryan all talk about this team, and how they may not be ready to beat the Irish, though Mike sounded like me, excited as can be.

 

Miami, the orange and green took the field on Saturday night, and Hard Rock Stadium was packed. You saw guys like Reed, Clinton Portis and Warren Sapp on the sideline, and you just thought, “there is no way that the Canes are losing tonight.”

 

And then the game began.

 

To say that Miami was dominant is almost an understatement. The Hurricanes defense alone looked by a pack of lions attacking a single poor animal. Josh Adams, the Irish running back who was in the Heisman conversation, was held to 40 yards on 16 carries. Notre Dame’s rushing offense that was ranked third in the nation, produced only 109 yards, averaging just 3 yards per carry.

 

The famous turnover chain was out early. Brandon Wimbush, the Notre Dame quarterback threw two interceptions in the first half, as he looked like a truck had just ran over him. Wimbush was benched in the second quarter for Ian Book, who himself threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown with just seconds to go in the half.

 

With the Canes up 27-0 at halftime, Hard Rock Stadium was a non-stop party. The game was over in the second quarter, and the fans knew it. Even watching the game on television, that was the loudest Hurricane crowd I had heard since the days of the Orange Bowl.

 

Two years ago, this program was a complete mess. Miami had just suffered a 58-0 home loss to Clemson, fired their head coach, and it seemed that the program wouldn’t be back for a while.

 

Fast forward to this Monday, Miami is ranked 2nd in the AP poll, they are 9-0 for the first time since 2002, are going to the ACC championship game, and have a real shot at potentially playing for the national championship.

 

For those Canes fans who have suffered like I have, that win on Saturday was for you, so enjoy it.

Things South Florida Sports Fans Don’t Say

  • “The 30 for 30 about the U wasn’t even that good.”

Thanks to that production by Billy Corben, kids nowadays are still throwing up the U even with the last decade of pathetic football.

  • “Man, I really miss Al Golden.”

Al Golden, though he had the misfortune of taking over the program when the Nevin Shapiro crap hit the fan, Golden took this team to the depths of hell. He never beat Florida State, zero bowl wins, and his last ever game as head coach? A 58-0 home loss to Clemson.

  • “The Orange Bowl? I don’t miss that piece of crap.”

If you ever hear somebody say, punch them square in the face. Yes I’ll admit it, the Orange Bowl was a piece of crap, but that’s why we loved it. Yes there were food trucks outside the stadium, where you really weren’t sure what you were eating, over the PA announcer that sounded like he was talking into a cup. All that being said, the Orange Bowl is the greatest stadium in the history of South Florida, and that place would rock. When FSU would come to town and they’d add in the stands in the endzone, when the fans in the upper deck would bang their shoes on the signs, the stadium would literally be shaking.

  • “I call it Hard Rock Stadium”

Any local of South Florida, or somebody who has been here for twenty plus years either calls it Joe Robbie, Pro Player, or they make of fun by calling the stadium one of 47 names it had before Hard Rock.

  • “Oh tonight? Sorry I can’t, gotta watch the Marlins game”

Not to be rude, because I’ve been to hundreds of their games, but nobody in South Florida cares about the Marlins, a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 14 years.

  • “I wish there were more Jets fans here!”
  • “I wish there were more Yankees fans here!”
  • “I really think Glenn Sharpe committed that pass interference penalty”

-The worst call in the history of the University of Miami football program. That blown call against Ohio State in the 2003 National Championship cost the Canes a repeat title, and also a downward spiral of the program happened after that game. Miami hasn’t been back to a title game since.

  • “I’m glad Tony Fiorentino isn’t coming back for Heat games”

Ever since the 2004-2005 season, Tony and Eric Reid, have done the tv broadcasting for Heat games, and they were the voice of my childhood and thousands of other Heat fans. It was announced that this will be Tony’s last year.

  • “I think Kyle Wright and Jacoby Harris got too bad of a rep”

The two worst quarterbacks for UM in the 21st century, especially Wright.

  • “The Dolphins fight song is really pretty stupid”

-The best fight song in professional sports.

  • “Dan Marino was pretty overrated”

Next to Jay Cutler, the greatest quarterback in franchise history, and there will never be another one like him (unless Cutler wins a ring).

  • “I was so happy when the Marlins got rid of Miguel Cabrera”
  • “Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas? Who are they?”
  • “I have season tickets to the Marlins”
  • “The fake spike game was cool, but Fins fans overhype it way too much”

Every Dolphins fan will tell you that the “fake spike” game between the Dolphins and the green team from New York is one of the greatest games in franchise history.

  • “I love how committed Miami fans are! They show up early, and definitely don’t leave at halftime”
  • “I didn’t have a D Wade jersey growing up”
  • LeBron is my favorite Heat player of all time”
  • “D Wade isn’t my favorite Heat player of all time”

The single most important player to the Heat in franchise history. You can say that LeBron is, but you’re wrong. When Wade pretty much single handedly brought a championship to Miami in 2006, that was one of the greatest moments in South Florida history, even better than the other two won by LeBron and co.

  • “The Mavs were definitely better than us in 2011”

I’ve been a Heat fan all my life, I’ve watched South Florida teams all my life. That series loss to the Mavericks in 2011, was the single biggest disappointment in South Florida sports history. The Mavericks came in with Jason Kidd using a cane to dribble the ball up court, and Dirk Nowitzki who obviously had his 2K sliders up, and embarrassed the Heat, who had a guy named Lebron, who promised not one, not two, not three….

  • Can’t wait for Canes basketball to start!”

Does UM have any other sports besides football?

  • Nevin Shapiro was probably a good guy”

The devil incarnate

  • The Dolphins are great at drafting”

-Dare I say Ted Ginn Jr.?

 

Miami Monday: Cutler is injured, Canes are 6-0, Fins beat that team from New York

Another weekend, another two days of both Miami football teams coming away with the W. Two New York teams entered in South Florida, both went back up East with losses, only leaving behind their elderly.

 

The Hurricanes started things out on Saturday against Syracuse, with a 27-19 win, while the Dolphins came from behind to beat out the hated Jets 31-28.

 

First things first, the Canes are riding high right now. Coming into Saturday, Mark Richt’s team was ranked eighth in the country, coming off two emotional victories over FSU and Georgia Tech. They were also looking for their first 4-0 ACC start in the schools history.

 

Coming to Miami was Syracuse, the little Orangemen who just the week before, knocked off defending national champion Clemson. Syracuse was led by their shifty quarterback Eric Dungey, who showed fans how their QB could play so poorly and yet still almost win.

 

Meeting for the first time since 2003, the last three meetings between these two teams, Miami had won by a combined score of 125-17. However, during those games, the guys who were running the ball was Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee.

 

Playing on a wet torn up field at Hard Rock Stadium, the Hurricanes offense moved fast their first few drives, and it looked as if the Syracuse victory the week before over Clemson was a just a fluke. Those promising drives however, with the lack of efficiency in the red zone, turned into just 13 first half points for the Hurricanes.

 

Miami fans however, know that this is a second half team, this point being proven in the last two weeks. Malik Rosier had a career high 344 yards through the air, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Mark Walton’s replacement Travis Homer continues to look promising, rushing for 95 yards, including a 33-yd dash to the endzone, giving the Canes an eight point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

 

While Syracuse’s Dungey rushed for 100 yards on Saturday, his passing skills were as ugly as the grass in the stadium during the game. Dungey threw four interceptions, and had a QBR of 24.0.

 

While the Orangemen sure did make it a game, it was the Hurricanes who walked away with a win, riding high with a 6-0 record, with a trip to Chapel Hill on Saturday to take on the Tar Heels.

 

Now to your world-famous Miami Dolphins. Coming off a come from behind victory the week before in Atlanta, the Jets rolled into town, with more than half of their fan base already in South Florida.

 

When thinking of this great rivalry, its hard not to think about the incredible quarterbacks that have also been involved with the Fins and the Jets. Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Ken O’Brien, and heck, even Brett Favre.

 

Taking the snaps on Sunday, Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.

 

The Jets got the better of Miami earlier in the season, defeating them in New York 20-6. Since that day 4 weeks ago, the Dolphins had played better, and were looking for their third consecutive win.

 

Early on though, it seemed as if the Jets were on their way to another win over Miami, going into the locker room with a 21-7 lead.

 

Early on in the third quarter, tragedy struck. Our beloved quarterback Jay Cutler, left the game early on in the second half after injuring his shoulder.

 

Though I don’t care as much about the Dolphins if Jay Cutler isn’t in, I should mention that Matt Moore entered the game for the first time since Bud Dupree killed him in a playoff game this past January.

 

Down 28-14 in the fourth quarter, Moore engineered yet another Dolphins comeback, tying the game at 28 with two touchdown passes to Kenny Stills.

 

Then, with less than a minute to go, “Ricky” Bobby McCain stepped in front of a McCown pass to set up Moore for a game winning drive.

 

A 39 yard field goal by Cody Parkey with 22 seconds to go sealed a Dolphins victory, and another Jets collapse.

 

The Canes are 6-0 and still ranked in the top 10, and the Fins are 4-2 and well in the AFC playoff hunt. Rock on Miami.

Miami Monday: Canes win/in top 10, Fins win/Jay Cutler MVP Watch, nobody cares about the Heat.

What a sports weekend it was for the Miami football teams.

 

On Saturday, the Hurricanes were able to squeak past always frisky Georgia Tech and their triple offense, with an incredible drive to set up a game winning field goal. Even better news for the Canes, they cracked the top 10 in the polls, going up as far as number 7 in the coaches poll.

 

As for your world famous Miami Dolphins, they were in Hot-Lanta on Sunday, taking on the defending NFC champion Falcons. Down 17-0 at halftime, it looked as if Adam Gase’s would falter under the bright lights at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. However, behind the greatness of Jay Cutler, Miami rallied and shocked the Falcons 20-17.

 

Back to the Hurricanes, Miami took the field at home on Saturday, following an emotional victory over FSU a week prior. Taking on Georgia Tech, a team that has always scared the daylights out of me. I remember all too well years like 2005, when the Yellow Jackets came into Miami to take on a third-ranked Canes, and upset the Hurricanes 14-10. Or even worse, in 2008, when Miami had just notched the top 25, and in Atlanta, Ga Tech thrashed the Canes for over 400 yards of RUSHING. So yeah, I had reason to worry.

 

Down 14-3 in the second quarter, it looked as if my fears had come true. The Yellow Jackets and their triple offense seemingly looked unstoppable in front of a half empty Hard Rock Stadium.

 

Then again in the fourth quarter, Miami found themselves down 24-22, on their own eight yard line, with 2:30 left to play.

 

However, I shouldn’t have worried, because as we found out last week, Malik Rosier is a gamer. Driving the Canes down the field to set up a field goal, Miami was cut short by penalties, that left them with 4th and 10, and out of field goal range. Remember Darrell Langham? The receiver who caught the game winning touchdown against FSU, yeah, he came up big again. Double covered by Yellow Jackets, Langham somehow made a bobbling catch set up a Michael Badgley game winning goal.

 

Just like that, the Canes are 5-0, having won their 10th straight game dating back to last year, their longest win streak in over ten years. Syracuse looks to invade Joe Robbie this weekend, coming off an upset of Clemson.

 

 

Looking to match their stadium roommates, the Dolphins traveled to Atlanta, coming off an incredible offensive performance the week prior against the Titans, (obviously that’s a joke, it was probably the worst win I’ve ever seen). In all honesty, I predicted Matt Ryan and company to run the Fins into the ground.

 

The first half, that’s exactly what happened. My boy Jay Cutler, fresh off a near 100 yard performance the week prior, struggled in the first two quarters, and the Falcons went up quickly 17-0.

However, in the second half, Cutler showed MVP-like glimpses, going 11 for 19 and two touchdowns. And while I don’t really care about any of the other players on team, Jarvis Landry caught those two beautifully thrown balls from Cutler for touchdowns, and Jay Ajayi had himself a day with 130 yards on the ground.

 

Kicker Cody Parkey knocked in two late game field goals, the second one giving the Dolphins the lead with 2:30 to go, ultimately giving Miami a 20-17 win.

 

The 17 point comeback was the teams largest since 2005, and its largest comeback on the road since the “fake spike” game in 1994, when Dan “The Man” Marino fooled the Jets.

 

With the win, the Dolphins move to 3-2, tied for second in the AFC East. The New Yorkers (Jets) come into Miami on Sunday, having defeated the Fins just three weeks prior.

 

The Heat begin their season on Wednesday, not sure if the excitement level is a 1 or 2 for Miami fans. Also, the Marlins haven’t made the playoffs since 2003.