Barkley says Bledsoe injury means ‘the end’ for Phoenix
The Phoenix Suns have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA season, going 21-13 before losing one of their best players, Eric Bledsoe.
Appearing on NBA-TV, Charles Barkley said the injury means the Suns “are done. This guy was really in the conversation about being an All-Star, Mr. Bledsoe. He has played terrific. . . . Without Bledsoe, this to me will be the end of them right now.”
Barkley believes the Suns will make the playoffs if Bledsoe comes back, but he suspects his knee injury will not be fully healed this season. The Suns say Bledsoe is out “indefinitely.”
Kenny Smith, appearing with Barkley on Inside the NBA, said: “I thought they were done at the start of the season. I didn’t think this team was a playoff team. . . . Jeff Hornacek comes in and puts in a great system that works well. Maybe he has another trick up his sleeve to implement someone else.”
Barkley’s retort: “Bledsoe is averaging 18 points a game. I don’t think you can just pull somebody off the bench to give you 18 points.”
A-Rod has no future with Yankees, and no legacy
Alex Rodriguez has three years left on his mega-contract with the New York Yankees, but given his declining health and skills at 39 and the mountain of evidence that he’s used banned substances, Bob Ryan of ESPN’s Sports Reporters said, “He’ll never play another game for them. I think he’s going to wind up as the highest paid roving minor league infield instructor in the history of baseball. . . . He’s the ultimate example of the unwanted guest who will not leave the party.”
On the same show, Israel Gutierrez said, “Nobody believes Alex Rodriguez. Nobody feels sorry for him.”
And Adam Schefter piled on: “How much is he going to spend on these lawyers to salvage what really can’t be salvaged of his reputation?”
Redskins fire the wrong Shanahan, hire the wrong Gruden
National media did not show much enthusiasm for the Washington Redskins’ hiring of Jay Gruden to replace Mike Shanahan, who some Beltway pundits felt should not have been fired. Some say his son Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator, should have been the one to go, as the franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III, found him offensive and didn’t like his play-calling.
Gruden was a reasonably successful offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, but it’s his brother, Jon Gruden, whom the Redskins and lots of other teams want. After all, Jon won a Super Bowl as a head coach, while his little brother has never made it past the first round as an assistant.
Jon is a very popular TV commentator, while Jay is considerably less articulate, using phrasing like, “Alls they wanted . . .”
Tony Kornheiser, on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption: “They wanted Michael Corleone. But what if they got Fredo?”
Russell Wilson is ‘Game Manager of the Year’
One of America’s most outspoken sports journalists, Jason Whitlock, did not disappoint as a guest of ESPN’s Colin’s New Football Show. “I have a bias against short quarterbacks,” he said. “I think they throw too many interceptions or interceptions at the wrong time. Russell Wilson’s inaccuracy (vs. New Orleans on Saturday) really bothered me. . . . Listen, I’m not beating up on Russell Wilson (YOU’RE NOT?). But he’s a game manager. . . Game Manager of the Year. If he continues to develop, maybe one day he’ll be Phil Simms.”
Editorial Comment: He will have to grow four inches taller.
Whitlock’s favorite sub-6-foot quarterback: Johnny Manziel, who’s perhaps an inch taller than Wilson but is often described as immature. “I expect Johnny Manziel to be a good NFL quarterback, with a chance to be great. . . . He can gain the maturity. Manziel has . . . unshakable confidence. When you see quarterbacks in the NFL, they all have talent to some degree, but they lose confidence, and once you lose confidence you become a bad quarterback. He’s never going to lose confidence.”
And if Manziel tends to create media circuses, Whitlock sees the same tendency in Nick Saban, Alabama’s head coach who hired Lane Kiffen to be his offensive coordinator.
“He’s inviting a circus to Alabama, because now the offensive coordinator is going to get 20, 30 percent of the attention. But I think what he’s trying to do is get better quarterback play, and that’s not a shot at A.J. McCarron (IT’S NOT?). But he wants a pro first-round talent at quarterback, and Lane Kiffen can recruit that and develop it. Alabama’s always had solid quarterback play but not great quarterback play. This is about greatness at the QB position.”
The national champion Florida State Seminoles, Cowherd’s show pointed out, capitalized on winning the national championship by selling T-shirts that had the score wrong, with the ‘Noles losing to the Tigers 34-31.
The New Orleans Saints have a plethora of offensive weapons, but Steve Beuerlein, on CBS Network’s NFL Monday QB, said, “They don’t know who they are. They can’t make up their mind what they want to do. They want to put the ball in Drew Brees’ hands and let him control the game. But they don’t have a physical presence or an identity to be able to go somewhere on the road and win a ballgame. They’ve got a lot of weapons; they’re just not using them right.”
On the same show, Phil Simms said coach Sean Payton and the Saints “need to rethink what they’re doing.” He said they have possession receivers (Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston) but lack a game-breaker. “Somebody’s got to catch the football and take it all the way. Right now they don’t have that guy.”
Kaepernick shows a theatrical side
Colin Kaepernick tends to be dull in press conferences, as though he’s afraid to upstage his brash-sounding coach, Jim Harbaugh.
But reporters saw a theatrical side to the 49ers QB in the divisional playoff at Carolina. After running for a third-quarter touchdown, he mimicked Cam Newton’s Superman impression of ripping his suit open at the chest.
In the interview room after the game, Kaepernick playfully picked up a reporter’s notepad and wrote some impressions of Anquan Boldin at the podium.
Kaepernick, who makes no secret of his interest in fashion, noted: “Good shoes. Big earrings.”