Category Archives: Professional

Comeback $eason

JaydenChin, Staff Reporter

Johnny Manziel made his football debut in 2012 when he was a redshirt freshman Quarterback for Texas A&M. During the team’s first year in the Southeastern Conference, Manziel broke numerous FBS and SEC records. He made himself known by being the first freshman in NCAA football history to be awarded the Heisman Trophy after passing for over 3,000 yards and rushing for over 1,000 yards that season.

 In 2014, Manziel was disappointingly drafted 22nd overall to the floundering Cleveland Browns. Despite having a few good games, he struggled with consistency. But Manziel’s numerous off-field controversies are what led to his release at the end of his second season with the Browns. Sure, he had problems on the field, but proper coaching could have developed his mechanics into that of a solid dual-threat quarterback. Partying was his problem. He had been known to enjoy himself quite often during his time in college and everyone expected him to be the same when he went pro. When he was demoted to third string quarterback behind Brian Hoyer and Austin Davis, a video surfaced of him partying in Texas over that same bye week. His own teammates deemed his performance a joke. His work ethic and commitment were just not that of an elite, franchise quarterback.

Manziel’s NFL career seemed to be over for good. His presence, though,persisted as he was constantly seen hanging out with A-list celebrities and athletes. Many saw a comeback in the near future but he never confirmed or denied. After almost two years of wondering if Johnny “Football’ or “Money” Manziel would ever live up to his nicknames it finally seems that he will. In 2017 he completed a substance abuse program and got engaged to his model girlfriend. Manziel announced his attempt at an NFL comeback on social media with an exciting video of him completing drills on the field in great shape. He also stated that he was in talks with a CFL team but never reached an agreement. Instead, Manziel joined the NFL’s Spring development league and also led Texas A&M’s pro day where he dazzled scouts and coaches with his impressive improvement. As Manziel has stated on multiple tweets and Instagram posts, “it’s comeback season.”

 

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Why the Braves are Underrated

MatthewKohn, Sports/News Editor

Coming into the the 2018 MLB season, many experts and millions of fans across the nation wrote off the Braves as one of the league’s worst teams that would be lucky to amass as many wins as they had last year, when they went 70-92. Another reason people have come to this conclusion is because new general manager, Alex Anthopoulus, who took over after John Coppolella was banned for life over the winter, has been stingy with the Braves’ money.

While it is true that the Braves are among the league’s lowest spenders, they also proudly boast one, if not the best farm systems in all of baseball. With talent that spans across multiple minor team leagues, starting with single-A in Rome, all the way up to triple-A in Gwinnett, the Braves are loaded with young talent. Easily, the most exciting and highly anticipated prospect that the Braves have is 20-year-old Ronald Acuña. Acuña is an outfielder, who quickly rose from single-A all the way to triple-A in just one season last year and is already being tabbed as one of the top candidates for NL Rookie of the Year. Acuña was recently called up and already launched a mammoth home run in just his second game ever. Since then, Acuña already has amassed six extra-base hits, setting a new Braves franchise record for most the most extra-base hits through a player’s first six career games. While Acuña is arguably MLB’s top prospect, the Braves are also loaded with other young talent, like pitcher Mike Soroka, who recently made his debut in a win against the Mets, and outfielder Christian Pache. The only downfall is that some of these players will not be ready to play this year, but the future certainly looks bright for the young Braves.

The Braves are surely set for the future, but this year will not be completely lost. So far in the season, the Braves have already started off better than anyone thought owning a winning record and playing exciting baseball. Second basemen Ozzie Albies, who got called up near the end of last season, has already inserted himself as a local star with dazzling defensive plays and a high number of extra base hits, made possible with his elite speed and surprising power. Freddie Freeman is a perennial MVP candidate when healthy; Dansby Swanson is finally living up to his name as the former number one overall pick, and the rest of the position players have also exceeded expectations batting the ball. As a team the Braves are currently first in hits in the National League with 286, and only behind the red-hot Red Sox for the lead in the entire league. The starting rotation has also been impressive as Julio Teheran has already delivered a couple quality starts, and Brandon McCarthy has become a pleasant surprise. Finally, with Acuña’s arrival suspected to be sometime in the imminent future, the Braves 2018 season will surely be a successful one.

Choosing Which NHL Team to Root For

MatthewKohn, Sports/News Editor

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs underway, many sports fans in Atlanta have not been able to get into the tournament without having a bonafide team to root for. With over 16 teams in the first round of the playoffs, the task can seem daunting, but with the number down to just eight in the second round, the choice can be made easier.

The first team that an Atlanta fan can root for is the Nashville Predators, my personal favorite. The Preds are close enough to Atlanta to have many of their games televised in this area, allowing fans to watch them more often than any other team in the NHL. The team also has one of the most exciting players in the entire league in P.K. Subban. Subban is one of the best defenceman, and his off-ice antics make him a fun player to follow. After beating the Avalanche in the first round, the Predators are set to matchup against the Winnipeg Jets in the second round.

If you’re a die-hard Atlanta fan, The Winnipeg Jets may be the team for you. The Jets are the only team to actually have ties to Atlanta. After some bad ownership decisions, the Atlanta Thrashers were forced to Winnipeg and became known as the Jets.

Easily, the most feel-good story in the NHL would be the Las Vegas Golden Knights. For the fans wanting to witness history in the making, the Golden Knights are the team to root for. The Knights are an expansion team that in it’s inaugural season posted a 51-24 record placing them first in the Pacific Division. Winning the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be the first time in the modern-era where an expansion team wins a championship in their first year of existence. First, the Golden Knights will have to beat the San Jose Sharks in the second round.

The final team that I would recommend rooting for is the Washington Capitals. While the Capitals are a powerhouse during the regular season, consistently reaching the playoffs, they always seem to choke in the playoffs. Since the new millenium, the Capitals have never made it past the second round in the playoffs. While Some call it a curse and some call it collapsing under pressure, the Caps are definitely a team that could be considered an underdog in the playoffs. A matchup against the two-time defending champions, Pittsburgh Penguins, will certainly make it difficult for the Capitals to progress past the second round.

While watching the NHL playoffs can be fun even without a team to root for, that excitement can be greatly increased when you have a team to back. Hopefully learning a little about some of the teams can help you make the decision on which team’s bandwagon to jump onto.

 

MLB Reactions and Evidence

BrettGreenberg, Staff Reporter

The Major League Baseball season has started, and we are about one month underway in what is gearing up to be another great season full of talented teams, players and storylines. The season is roughly eight months long and a lot of things can happen or change after the first month of the season.

So far, the season has been going as predicted with the teams that were picked by experts performing better than everyone else. Some of the teams that have lived up to the preseason hype are the Houston Astros (16-7), the Boston Red Sox (17-4) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (15-6). These three teams were predicted to be good because of their stellar pitching rotations as well as their stacked batting lineups from top to bottom.

Both the Astros and the Red Sox have the rosters to make a deep run in October and are seemingly on a collision course to the American League Championship series. The Astros, the 2017 World Series Champions, added a key piece to their rotation, Gerrit Cole, who is a big addition to their pitching staff and has been excellent so far while averaging over ten strikeouts in his first three starts. The Red Sox also made a key signing during this offseason in J.D. Martinez, who has brought a new dynamic to the Red Sox lineup. Martinez adds power to a lineup that missed this in years’ past with five home runs already.

The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers are two teams who have not necessarily lived up to the preseason hype. The New York Yankees traded for one of the best home run hitters in the entire league in Giancarlo Stanton. This trade shook the entire MLB landscape because the Yankees already have two other sluggers in Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. This team was predicted to be an offensive powerhouse while also having a dominant pitching staff and bullpen. Although it is early, the Yankees have not lived up to the hype. Giancarlo Stanton has struggles recently having multiple five strikeout games this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers, fresh off a world series run, looked to be dominant once again, but have not been as convincing as prior years. Their ace, Clayton Kershaw, has not been as dominating as usual and the lineup has struggled in the first month.

Predictions

American League Champion: Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

National League Champion: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs

World Series Champion: Houston Astros

AL Most Valuable Player: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)

NL Most Valuable Player: Bryce Harper (Washington National)

 

Will The Dirty Birds Rise Up Or Fall Short?

BrettGreenberg, Staff Reporter

After the Atlanta Falcons 2016 season, all the National Football League (NFL) experts, analysts and fans labeled the 2017 Atlanta squad as a lock for the playoffs and the National Football Conference (NFC) favorite to reach the Super Bowl. The team returned all 22 starters and gained experience both for the veterans and young players. The NFC South division was not predicted to be a challenge for this young and fast team full of freakish athleticism.

The team got off to a hot start winning their first three games, but not convincingly enough for the beloved fans of the Falcons. The team edged out a win over the Lions and the Bears on two blown calls. The team went on to defend their brand new stadium and look like their 2016 selves in a 34-23 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Everything was going as planned, but the next three weeks of the season proved to be Matt Ryan and the rest of the team’s first challenge as they dropped the next three games and fell to a  3-3 record for the season. The prolific offense of 2016 was just not there, with arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, Julio Jones, not having much success on the field and especially not in the endzone with zero touchdowns. This team was written off as a bust and believed to have 2016 labeled as a fluke season. Then came the month of November, where the Falcons won three out of their four matchups and all was well. Julio Jones was getting back to his freak self, Matt Ryan was playing great and the young and rather inexperienced defense was growing with each game.

Throughout week twelve of the season, the Falcons nursed a 7-5 record. In any other division in the NFL, the Falcons would likely be a lock for the playoffs, but unpredictably, the NFC South is perhaps the strongest division in the league with the 9-3 New Orleans Saints winning nine out of their last ten and the Carolina Panthers who are 8-4. The Saints are on fire and do not seem to have any plans to hit the brakes and hope to finish out the season as the winner of the NFC South and get a home playoff game. The Carolina Panthers are looking for a Wild Card berth.

Although the Falcons are one game back from the division leader and currently hold a spot in the wild card game, they control their own destiny and have an opportunity to win the division or throw away the season. The Falcons have three games remaining on the schedule, all of which are against division foes. The team plays the division leader, the New Orleans Saints one time, the Carolina Panthers one time and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers one time.

The Falcons control their own destiny. So if the coaching staff can put the players in positions to succeed, and if the players can do even half of what they did back in 2016, this 2017 team has zero reason to not be in the playoffs and even go back to the Super Bowl. This team has an abundance of young talent while also being fortunate enough to have seasoned veterans.

Protesting on NFL Sideline Wrong?

RithikDoddla, Staff Reporter

In response to President Donald Trump’s tweet which said that NFL players who do not stand for the national anthem should be fired, all 32 NFL teams have had their own unique responses in the season’s third week. Some teams kneeled and locked arms before the national anthem while other teams showed these signs of protest while the national anthem was playing. There were even teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers who remained in the locker room for the singing of the national anthem. With each team protesting in its own way, fans were left to either support them or oppose them.

NFL fans had a wide range of responses to the protests. They ranged from cheering in support in the stands to insulting with expletives on social media. A remarkable reaction occurred during the Dallas Cowboys versus Arizona Cardinals game where the crowd loudly booed the Cowboys, as they kneeled and locked arms. Ratings for week three games on NBC, CBS and Fox decreased by four percent.

The latest ESPN polls embodies that American citizens are divided over this issue. Overall, 39 percent of people agreed with the movement with 24 percent strongly approving. Fifty-one percent of the respondents, however, disagreed with the movement with 38 percent showing strong disapproval. ESPN also recorded the race of the people surveyed and found that 54 percent of African Americans strongly agreed and 48 percent of Caucasians strongly disagreed. These protests may be receiving more support from African Americans because, after all, the players are kneeling to voice opposition for police brutality against African Americans.

ESPN also took another poll on viewers’ interest in watching the games after the protests. Fourteen percent of the people say they are more interested because of the protests, 40 percent say they are less interested and 43 percent say it has had no impact on their interest of the game. People who are less interested most likely feel that way because they may be bothered by the kneeling as they believe kneeling does not show respect to the national anthem. Among the avid NFL fans surveyed, 48 percent believe protests have had no impact on their interest and 31 percent believe is has made them less interested. This is significant because that means about a third of the hardcore NFL fans who watch football every Sunday are greatly disturbed by the “take a knee” movement.

Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, held a meeting recently with NFL teams’ owners on instigating a rule requiring all players to stand for the national anthem. This has angered many players because the players feel they are exercising their right to protest and are using their platform to make a statement. Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea has expressed his displeasure to the NFL Network, claiming that it has become a national issue just because President Donald Trump tweeted against it. Bethea explained how the movement started last year with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL and its fans had no issues with it, respecting players’ opinions. The NFL has yet to make a statement on whether or not they plan on requiring players to stand. It will be interesting to see how players and fans respond if the league does decide to permit kneeling.

Falling Falcons?

RithikDoddla, Staff Reporter

Coming into the season, the Atlanta Falcons had high expectations, as they were bouncing back from arguably the worst Super Bowl loss in NFL history. The team took a motivated approach to the loss by studying that game’s film intensely in order to improve. Except for offensive guard Chris Chester and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the entire offense returned for the 2017 season. The defense looked to be much stronger, as they had cornerback Desmond Trufant returning from an injury and acquired defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency. Going into the season, many people thought the Atlanta Falcons had the most talented roster in the league.                                  

During the season opener, the Falcons did not play as well as expected since they barely escaped the Chicago Bears by dropping a game-winning touchdown in the last seconds. Fans believed it was just a fluke, as the team bulldozed through the Green Bay Packers, one of the best teams in the NFL the following week. In week three, the Atlanta Falcons once again lucked out against the Detroit Lions after a last second touchdown that would have won the Lions the game was overturned. The Falcons’ luck finally came to an end as they played terribly against the Buffalo Bills and failed to put together a game-winning drive in the last minutes of the game.

Coming off this terrible loss, the Atlanta Falcons’ rest days are much needed. It gives Coach Dan Quinn a chance to regroup his team and prepare them to come back stronger than ever. Fans should not worry as Atlanta has had multiple slow starts and ended up playing the rest of the season exceptionally. Last year they opened the season with a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 but still managed to make the Super Bowl. Something notable is that after their bye week, Atlanta lost only one game until the Super Bowl.

Fans are currently left wondering if the Dirty Birds’ 3-2 record is well deserved and if the team will be able to achieve great heights this season. These fans should not forget that the Falcons arguably have the best offense in the league and a young, fast and athletic defense. Julio Jones is unstoppable on the field and Matt Ryan is red hot coming off an MVP season. Vic Beasley is out to protect his sack title and Deon Jones is ready to lead this defense after having the most tackles among rookies last season. Overall, the Atlanta Falcons’ roster is absolutely stacked and more motivated than ever. The team emphasized how diligent they have been working as they have their eyes on the Lombardi Trophy. The Falcons’ should bounce back after the bye week and once again be the best team in the NFL.