I saw Ken Griffey, Jr. trending this morning and I immediately got nervous. Whew! False alarm. He’s ok. The reason for him trending? Well, today is the day that the 2016 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class is announced. Today is the next first step in Griffey, Jr journeying to taking his rightful place in Cooperstown. Let all the fans across the globe rejoice!
Long before people associated #24 with Jeff Gordon and Kobe Bryant. Long before Dale Earnhardt, Jr would step into the spotlight as Junior, Ken Griffey, Jr. aka JUNIOR was the #24 all athletes wanted to be like. His athletic talent was outerworldly. His knowledge of the game was envious. His swagger, long before the term was ever coined, superceded everyone else’s on the diamond. Junior is easily one of the most revolutionary athletes to not only pick up a baseball bat but to play sports, period.
When I was a teenager, I had daily routine before school. Wake up. Get ready for school. Watch Rocky & Bullwinkle. Eat cheese toast. Turn to ESPN at 7a to watch SportsCenter. Over the years, my routine has varied some but the one constant has always been my morning dose of SportsCenter. It was on SportsCenter that I got watch one of my favorite sports anchors every morning, Stuart Scott.
I can remember the day I met him as if it happened recently. My sixth grade PE teacher, Ms. Graves, who has become a dear friend of the family invited me to go with her to Late Night with Roy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her son, Will, who was like a little brother was a freshman on the basketball team. Supporting Will was a no-brainer. As a proud graduate of North Carolina State University, traveling over into enemy territory was nothing new for me. In an effort to clearly let the masses know that I was there to support Will, only, and not the team I put on as much red as I could find. Red headband. Red NC State shirt. Red Chuck Taylors. Even in all my red, I was excited. I was excited that Will was going to get his first chance to really showcase his talent to the fans that would be cheering him on for the next four years and I was excited to see Scott in his element, up close.
I settle into my seat and soon Scott was introduced. I was mesmerized as I watched him command the crowd of thousands in the same manner that made him a favorite on SportsCenter. I could not believe I was seeing him in person. Then, it happened. He spotted me. I was sitting three rows from the court and I stuck out like beanstalk in a haystack. He was walking by the bench when I heard him say, “I know I don’t see what I think I see.” We immediately locked eyes and I smiled. Scott asked me to come out onto the court. Now even in all my boldness, I was not about to let him get me out on that court to ridicule me. I shook my head and told him to come up to where I was. As is typical with the banter between a Wolfpacker and a Tar Heel, neither of us budged. He gave up but not without making a State joke then moved on to something else.
After the event, I went over to speak to him. As I approached, he immediately smiled. He reached out to shake my hand, gave me a hug and thanked me for being a good sport. I told him how much I enjoyed him on SportsCenter and how he was one of my favorites. He thanked me, asked me a little about myself, told me to keep doing what I was doing and posed for a picture.
Over the past few weeks, Scott has crossed my mind often. Typically when that would happen, I would go check his Twitter feed to see if he had tweeted anything. He was a regular tweeter and the fact that he had not tweeted since November 14 was a cause for concern. As the weeks went on and the tweets still did not happen, I became increasingly sad. The absence of his tweets resonated loudly. Whenever he crossed my mind, I would pray; for him, his healing, his family especially his daughters, his colleagues, his medical staff, all those who knew and loved him. I tried to remain optimistic as I knew that wherever he was, he was fighting a good fight.
In July, I watched with the world as Scott accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPYs. It was fitting that a man who had dedicated so much of his time and efforts to the V Foundation was now on the receiving end of the award named in reference to how Jimmy V lived his life while battling the same disease as Scott. My eyes filled with tears as I listened to Scott deliver a speech that totally changed the way I looked at cancer. He provided me with an 18 word quote that resonated loudly…”You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”
When my friend Quincy passed away in October after a 10 year battle, it was that quote that often made me smile, through the tears, when I thought about Quincy. Quincy never let cancer define him. NEVER. He lived a life worthy of being remembered forever. He woke up every day determined to live and that is what he did until he took his last breath. As I sat glued to ESPN this morning, I knew Scott had lived the type of life he spoke about on that stage in July. If you were a regular watcher or ESPN, you saw it every time Scott was on. The only indication that he was in the fight of his life was the LIVESTRONG bracelet that always adorned his wrist. There was never any pity, sadness or despair. Whenever Scott was on, he was on just like he had always been. He was a living example of what beating cancer looked like.
Today, through tears, I have thought a lot about Quincy. I have read tweet after tweet from Scott’s colleagues, current and former athletes, the President and those who just love sports. I have watched his fellow anchors fight back tears as “he is” has to now change to “he was.” I have reminisced on the countless hours I have spent watching Scott revolutionize the title of sports anchor/analyst. And I have thought a lot about the day I met him in the Smith Center. At the time, I was still focused on one day becoming an athletic director. Thoughts of one day being a sports journalist had not crossed my mind. If it had, then my interaction with Scott that day would have been much different. I probably would have thanked him for being authentically him. I probably would have thanked him for giving hope to countless black journalists who strive to have a platform as big as his one day. I probably would have thanked him for never compromising who he was. I probably would have thanked him for stepping out on faith and trailblazing a path for others to follow. I probably would have thanked him for bridging the gap between hip-hop culture, sports and corporate America. I probably would have thanked him for being so great on the job and for being even better off of it.
I would have thanked him simply for being Stuart Scott.
Staurt, you nailed it as only you could. With style, grace and a BooYow to top it off.
For two days straight, my phone has been blowin up.
A buzz here. A buzz there. A notification here. A notification there. A retweet here. A retweet there. Everywhere a tweet, tweet. It feels like my phone buzzes every other minute. Welcome to the frenzy that is NFL Free Agency.
Donte Whitner. His release HURT!! For real. DeMarcus Ware. Darrelle Revis. Antoine Bethea. Jared Allen. Julius Peppers. LaMarr Woodley. Aqib Talib. T.J. Ward. Karlos Dansby. This would make a nice Pro Bowl roster.
And then, the hammer dropped and everyone in North Carolina and South Carolina heard the news that they did not want to hear, the Carolina Panthers would start training camp in July without all-time leading receiver and arguably the franchise’s most famous cat, Steve Smith. The rumblings began at the NFL Combine when Panthers General Manager, Dave Gettleman, offered a noncommittal response when asked about Smith’s future with the team. Many were stunned by the response including Smith. In 2012, Smith signed a three year extension which many felt would guarantee that Smith would retire as a Panther. That was what Smith wanted and at the time it was what the Panthers wanted. Loyalty seemed to be at the root of the deal as everyone walked away from the table happy. Unfortunately, loyalty does not always rise up from its hole each year. And loyalty does not score touchdowns. And loyalty does not guarantee good seasons. And loyalty does not guarantee championships.
Buzz. 9:05am. Alert from SportsCenter. Panthers to cut WR Steve Smith Thursday, a league source told NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Once Schefter tweets it/says it, you can bank on it.
Wow. I was in Bank of America Stadium to witness Smitty’s last game as a Panther.
This part of the NFL just makes me go ugh. I have dissected this move from many angles. Smith is 34 years old. He is 5’9(not that his height has ever been an issue but short WR’s are becoming less common). He is coming off a knee injury. The Panthers would potentially have to pay him seven million in 2014. They need to get under the salary cap. Yada yada yada. Everyone will scream it is business and move on. To me, I do not believe this is JUST a business move. I think this was personal. Sure we do not know what kind of year Smith may have next year. He may have a horrible year. He may have a great year. He may have even decided to retire. That is just the nature of sports. You can make all the predictions you want but none of us know what will really happen during the year. Right? Or are you trying to tell me you picked Seattle to win the SuperBowl. Anywho, back to Smitty. Regardless of what is going to happen, the Panthers will be paying Smith three million dollars. It is part of the guaranteed money that he got for his extension. So, they essentially saved four million dollars which I hope they use to spend on another wide receiver because I am not sure that Tavarres King, Martin McNutt or R.J. Webb can step in and fill Smith’s void. Oh and did I mention that the four million saved does not really put a dent in the cap space needed.
Perhaps the most telling sign that this is a personal move is the fact that the Panthers never asked Smith to restructure his contract. Let that sink in. Business or personal? You be the judge.
The past two days have been a doozy. I am almost positive that there have never been so many big name players released at one time. For as much as I love the game, I absolutely hate this part of the “business” where feelings have to be separated from reality in order to save dollars. But I have learned to accept it. If the 9ers can trade football royalty in the form of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana then anything is possible. Here is to hoping today is not as hectic. I have work to do and I do not need any distractions!
Until next time…TOODELLS.
Follow me on Twitter @Kassienette
P.S. To Smitty….thank you for your dedication, loyalty and hardwork. As a Panthers fan, it has been a joy to watch you play the past 13 years for the blue and black. May GOD bless you abundantly in your next chapter.
One week later and Richard Sherman is still headline news…
While in the gym this morning at FIVE AM, I caught of glimpse of Sherman on ESPN. Not surprisingly, he was the choice candidate for SportsCenter’s weekly Sunday Conversation. Since I was unable to listen to the conversation at the gym, I made it a point to watch it when I got home. I still love the fact that ESPN shows the same SportsCenter episode repeatedly for like eight hours during the night and into the next morning. You never have to miss a thing! Upon sitting down to watch the interview, I did not anticipate Sherman saying anything that I had not already heard him say in the past week. Boy was I wrong.
Sherman’s conversation was conducted by Kenny Mayne, one person I know never shies away from the tough questions and always creates an environment that allows his interviewee to feel comfortable being his or herself. When Mayne referenced Sherman’s comments about Michael Crabtree being mediocre, my ears perked up. If you will recall last week I made the claim that I do not believe Sherman really thinks Crabtree is a “sorry receiver”(click here if you missed that post…https://kassienetteskorner.com/2014/01/21/why-they-mad-bro/). Boy was I wrong.
Mayne: “Crabtree. You called him medicore. Do you really believe that cause I don’t think he’s mediocre, personally.”
Sherman: “I do, I do. I do…I really think that it’s one of those situations where I’ve watched the film, I’ve played him, I’ve done everything…”
Welp. Bloop! And there you have it. He was dead serious. I loved the fact that Sherman stood by his words. Again. As if this rivalry needed more fuel to be added to the fire. Crabtree, he called you out, again. Now how you gone respond, on the field?? Is it too early to start counting down the days to 9ers vs Seahawks 2014, Vol. 1??
P.S. I do NOT agree with Sherman’s assessment of Crabtree. He’s no Jerry Rice but he is far from being an Andre Holmes. Who? Exactly.
Tonight, one of my favorite former SportsCenter anchors, Keith Olbermann will return to the ESPN airwaves. His new show “Olbermann” will debut on ESPN2 at 11pm. To say I am excited is an understatement.
The format of the show reminds me of Leno/Letterman/Fallon/Kimmel/Ferguson. The show will open with Olbermann taking 10 to 15 minutes to review 10 events making headlines in the sporting world. That will be followed by an interview with a notable sports “player” that has something to do with one of the stories he reviewed previously. Lastly, there will be a highlight reel of the day’s events. Definitely sounds like my kind of show.
I have enjoyed Olbermann on ESPN. I enjoyed him on ‘Countdown’ on MSNBC. I fully expect to enjoy him in his role.
By the way, I heard in the first week he is going to have Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning as guests. You know I will be tuned in for those shows!!!
Today is a good day! Unless you have been living under a rock, then you are aware that today is the day that Robin Roberts returned to Good Morning America(GMA). With so much tragedy dominating the headlines, it is great to wake up to this type of story.
As most of you know, Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and received a bone marrow transplant from her sister, Sally-Ann. In a very tear jerking announcement last year, Roberts announced to the world that she would be taking a leave of absence of fight the disease. It was clear during her announcement that she intended to win the battle, just like she did when she beat breast cancer in 2007.
I have been a big fan of Roberts since the early 90s. As I have stated before, back in my middle school days my mornings consisted of Rocky & Bullwinkle, cheese toast and SportsCenter. Roberts was one of my favorite anchors. I could not wait for her to do a segment so I could hear her yell out her famous catchphrase, “Go on with your bad self!” Although I was disappointed when she left ESPN, seeing her have so much success on GMA has been a joy to watch.
As a person who truly admires Roberts, I want to join the rest of the world in saying WELCOME BACK ROBIN!!! When I joined the Twitterverse, I would often chuckle when I would see people tweeting celebrities. I would be thinking in my head, “They have hundreds of thousands of followers. They are never going to see or respond to your tweet.” However, I found myself being one of “those people” during Roberts time away from GMA. I have often tweeted her scripture and inspirational quotes, not in hopes of getting a response, but to simply do what I could to keep her encouraged. To give back to her what she has given to millions. Roberts has often stated that the tweets she receives from her followers keep her motivated and I felt like my tweets were simply my way of saying thank you. I hope that one day Roberts gets to read this post because she has truly been an inspiration to me. In the last few months, I have endured some difficult tests and trials. During those moments when I felt like giving up and throwing in the towel, I often think of people who have faced hardships and have overcome every obstacle that has stood in front of them. People such as my mother, my grandparents, my aunt, my cousin Nellie, my friend Quincy and on a more recognized level Josh Hamilton and Roberts.
Thank you Robin Roberts for sharing your story with the world. Your faith, strength, perseverance and determination have served as a blueprint for how to fight and defeat whatever stands in our way. And to see you do it in such a beautiful and graceful way has left me in awe. You are truly an inspiration. GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF!!!
Before I went to sleep last night, I was skimming my Twitter timeline when my eyes landed on a tweet from SportsCenter “REPORT: ACC officials to vote on expansion candidates Wed. Louisville is most likely school to receive invite (via ACCSports.com).” My heart leaped for joy!! Not really. I rolled my eyes and said here we go again…
I am not sure if there is a word to express how annoying this realignment, musical chairs stuff is. For real. Almost every day there is talk of one school leaving this conference to go to another conference or this school does not want to pay this amount of money to leave their current conference. Talk about a mess!! Want to know what annoys me the most? The fact that this is all about MONEY. Surprising? Not at all. The decision makers could care less about tradition, alumni, the fans, etc. They are all playing switcheroo so they can see how much money they can make. Yes, athletic departments need money. Yes, institutions need money. Yes, the more money you have the more you can do for your school. However, society has become so money hungry that it is willing to sacrifice, at times, its integrity all because of a dollar or two.
Still not convinced this thing is money driven? In the college sports world, there are six major conferences: The Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC), the Big East Conference, the the Big 10 Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Southeastern Conference(SEC) and the Pacific-12 Conference(Pac-12). Within the last two years, five out of the six conferences have either added or lost members due to the conference shuffle.
Lets take a look at the Big East, which I think will be extinct in a few years. As of today, the Big East consists of the University of Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Rutgers, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple, the University of Cincinnati, DePaul, the University of Lousville, Marquette, the University of South Florida and Notre Dame(in every sport except football). Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame have all jumped ship and are headed to the ACC. Rutgers is sailing to the Big 10. To compensate for the impending losses, the brilliant minds in the Big East have decided to add Boise State(yes, the school in Idaho), San Diego State, Southern Methodist(straight out of Texas)Houston, the University of Central Florida, the University of Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina(in football only) and Navy. Whew! Makes your head hurt right? I am just waiting to see a tweet announcing that the Big East is now the Big USA conference or the Coast to Coast with a stop in the midwest conference. That conference makes no sense whatsoever.
Want another example? The Big 12 which consists of Baylor, Iowa State, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Texas tech University and West Virginia University. That is 10 schools for those of you keeping count. In 2011, the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska, bolted for the Pac-12 and Big 10, respectively. In 2012, the University of Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC.I fully expect the Big 12 to go after two more schools since they can not call themselves the Big 10, now can they?
This round robin, in my opinion, is putting a damper on college sports. Schools such as Texas A&M and the University of Texas will no longer get to compete against each other year after year due to Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC. The ACC which had not lost a charter member since 1971, recently lost another when the University of Maryland decided to leave for the Big 10. High school athletes sometimes make decisions about where to go to school based on the conference they would play in. Etc. Etc. Etc. I could go on and on about why I wish a moratorium would be put in place when it comes to the switcheroo but I do not have the energy to do it. Plus I know my argument would just fall on death ears. So I will just sit back in The Korner, watching the money talk and secretly thanking them for giving me something to blog about, repeatedly. Insert sarcasm.