There a lot to talk about on this Wednesday, but unfortunately, not all of it is good. "The Stack" is here with all the big news from yesterday including the playoff games from last night. Now it's time to get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, May 3:
1. Former San Diego Charger Junior Seau found dead
Very sad news to report out of San Diego where former Chargers and Patriots linebacker Junior Seau has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. Police say it appears to be a suicide. Seau was only 43 years old. The death has stunned the Chargers, former teammates, media members, colleagues and the football world in general. Seau was such a force of nature on the field, but was a great, kind-hearted man off of it. No one saw this coming. Seau always seemed like such a happy guy and his suicide leaves many people shaken. No note speaking of the motives behind the suicide has been found. Athletes who give their lives for the game sometimes have difficulties finding something to fill the void once they no longer can play the game at a high level and retire. But that still should never mean that you take your life. We don't know if that is the case for Seau, but we do know this: the world lost a former great football player and an even better person yesterday. He will be missed. Thoughts and prayers go out to all Seau's famly, friends, former teammtes and the like.
2. Four former Saints suspended for bounty roles
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has levied the suspensions against current and former New Orleans Saints players for their roles in the bounty program under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The four players suspended are:
- Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for one year without pay.
- Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove for eight games.
- Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games.
- Browns linebacker Scott Fujita for three games.
As you might guess, the players aren't happy. Vilma in particular is very angry with the decision saying in part, "I never set out to intentionally hurt any player and never enticed any teammate to intentionally hurt another player. I also never put any money into a bounty pool or helped to create a bounty pool intended to pay out money for injuring other players." The union has come out and said they will fight the penalties and suspensions. Of course they will. They have to. This is going to be a very ugly battle. The NFLPA says they have not received evidence from the NFL on the bounty allegations. The NFL says they have given the NFLPA the information. Someone is lying and this could extend far beyond the league and go into the court systems. The fact of the matter is though that the Saints players didn't have to carry out Williams commands. True they could have lost their jobs, but wouldn't they have come out and said something against Williams then? Was it really worth it? Doubtful. The players participated in the program and now they have to pay the penalty. Just look at the 2010 NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings and tell me they didn't purposefully try to injure Brett Favre and knock him out. This story is far from over.
3. Spurs, Pacers and Grizzlies all win game two of their respective series.
Message to the Utah Jazz: It's alright for you to look and play like you want to be in the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs crushed the Jazz 114-83 last night, a final score that doesn't indicate just how badly the Spurs beat the Jazz. The Jazz didn't even have 60 points a few minutes into the fourth quarter. All five Spurs starters scored in double figures led by Tony Parker with 18. Tim Duncan had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Two bench players scored in double figures. A sweep of the Jazz certainly looks likely, if not the Spurs will win five games. They look like a serious threat to win the western conference.
Speaking of teams that didn't show up last night, the Orlando Magic fit that bill. The Indiana Pacers took the Magic behind the woodshed, beating them 97-74 on the Magic's homecourt. Danny Granger was on fire, scoring 26 points to lead the Pacers and grabbed nine rebounds as well. Glenn Davis appeared to be the only Magic player that showed up, scoring 22 points. The Pacers have taken control of the series and they will not let up. They'll win this series pretty easily.
The Memphis Grizzlies were able to forget their epic collapse and loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in game one with a 105-98 win over the Clippers. The Gizzlies absolutely needed to win this one to get back in the series heading to L.A. for games three and four. O.J. Mayo added 20 points off the bench to provide the spark the Grizzlies needed. Of course Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led the way for the Clippers scoring 22 and 29 points respectively. But they got little contribution from anyone else. It was a very physical game and the Grizzlies were just a little more physical than the Clippers were. Desperate teams play a little more desperate and the Grizzlies were desperate. This series looks like it is going the distance.
Thursday's NBA playoff games:
Miami Heat @ New York Knicks 7:00 PM ET (Heat lead series 2-0)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Dallas Mavericks 9:30 PM ET (Thunder lead series 2-0)
4. Rangers win triple overtime thriller, Predators get back into series
Again, you want to know why the NHL playoffs are almost the best thing in all of sports? Because of nights and games like last night where the New York Rangers were able to outlast the Washington Capitals 2-1 in triple overtime, an instant classic. Marion Gaborik scored the game-winner in triple overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 win and a 2-1 lead in the series. Both teams played unbelievably tough. Both goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist-NYR and Braden Holtby-WAS, played outstanding making huge saves all night that kept the game tied. Holtby made 47 saves, Lundqvist 45. The Capitals had a ton of chances to win this game in the third period and the first overtime. A three-on-one that didn't turn into anything. Alex Ovechkin hitting one off the post. Giveaways that were turned away by Lundqvist. And you know what always seems to happen in these situations, when you don't "capitalize" (pardon the pun) on golden opportunities given to you, eventually the opposing team will get a chance and they will take advantage and score on you and that is exactly what the Rangers did. Now they have the jubilation and momentum of winning in game three, while the Capitals are exhausted and disappointed by the loss. How will they respond in game four? That is the big question. If they want any chance of winning this series, they have to forget how tired and soar they are and come out getting pucks flying at the net and getting an early goal. They do that, they'll forget about game three's results in a hurry.
In Nashville,all it apparently took was some good home cooking because Pekka Rinne was awesome in net for the Predators, stopping all 32 shots as the Predators got right back into the series with a 2-0 victory. They now trail 2-1 in the series. The Predators scored two goals less than ten minutes into the first period and then let Rinne lead them to victory. This is the Pekka Rinne we saw in the first round against Detroit. If the Predators get more performances like that from Rinne, not necessarily shutouts, the Predators will win the series.
Thursday's NHL playoff games:
Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils 7:30 PM ET (series tied 1-1)
St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings 9:00 PM ET (Kings lead series 2-0)
5. Carolina Panthers 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights
We continue our look at each NFL's team schedule for the upcoming year. Today's team, the Carolina Panthers. The full schedule can be found here. Now let's take a look at some interesting notes on the Panthers schedule for next year:
- Cam Newton's star affect is in full swing. The Panthers have two nationally televised games, home vs. the New York Giants in week 3 (NFL Network) and at the Philadelphia Eagles on MNF week 12 (ESPN).
- Four of the Panthers first six games are at home. The Panthers have some hope that they can make the playoffs next year. To do that, they'll need to get off to a good start and win those early home games.
- Three of the Panthers first four games are against divisional opponents. That could mean another indication if the Panthers can win those divisional games.
Could be a very good and exciting season for the Panthers. Tomorrow's team...the Chicago Bears.
A couple other notes before we leave. Anaheim Angels pitcher Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter against the Minneosota Twins as the Angels won 9-0. A perfect game and a no-hitter in less than two weeks in MLB. Pretty amazing. Though this was against the Twins and they are awful this year. No offense whatsoever. Or pitching too. Anyway, congrats to Weaver on the outing.
Coming up tomorrow: NBA and NHL playoff reaction plus other top stories in sports
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.