The Stack is back on this Thursday and there is some stunning news out of the NFL leading up to the playoffs regarding one of the league's best players at his position, a big upset by most in the Sugar Bowl and more so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, January 3:
Ray Lewis to retire at the end of the season
Four days before he and his teammates take the field in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis says he is retiring at the end of the season, ending a seventeen year career. Lewis says he wants to be there to watch his son, a freshman, play at the University of Miami (FL). It is an honorable thing to do. While Lewis' play has declined a bit in recent years, he was still the leader not just of the Ravens defense, but of the team. He is so well respected within the league and for the most part among NFL fans. The Atlanta saga during the Super Bowl in 1999 can't be ignored, but Lewis has done a remarkable job in improving his image by working with so many charities and speaking to so many different groups of people. He's out there in the community and never afraid to speak out and help someone in need. On the field, he may have been the fiercest player ever to put on a uniform since Dick Butkus or Dick "Night Train" Lane. He will go in as one of, if not thee best linebacker of all-time. He's a sure-fire hall-of-famer. Super Bowl MVP in 2000. Twice named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. This man did it all. The Ravens defense clearly does not look the same without him. It will be odd to know that next season there will be no dance out of the tunnel, no number 52 jersey coming out. But Lewis deserves to retire on his own terms and clearly he felt now is the time. We should most certainly respect his wishes.
Louisville upsets Florida in Sugar Bowl
Louisville was sweet as sugar as the Cardinals upset the Florida Gators 33-23 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Florida was uncharacteristically sloppy in the game, just as they were earlier in the year against Georgia. The Gators had three turnovers, one going for a score and another one setting up a Louisville touchdown from inside the five. They had nine penalties for almost one-hundred yards. They had three failed onside kicks. What else could have gone wrong for the Gators? Oh yeah, Louisville coming out hungrier and being the more determined team. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sensational. He threw two touchdowns and almost 300 yards. The Cardinals made a statement, not just to Florida, but to the rest of the country. They're a pretty darn good football team and head coach Charlie Strong has them going in the right direction.
Thursday's Fiesta Bowl pick: #4 Oregon Ducks vs. #5 Kansas State Wildcats. In what is likely Ducks head coach Chip Kelly's last game before he bolts to the NFL, Oregon wins.
Jim Boeheim earns win 903
Syrcause Orange men's basketball head coach Jim Boeheim further cemented his legacy Wednesday night by moving ahead of Bobby Knight for second all-time in wins as a head coach as the Orange beat Rutgers 78-53. The win is Boeheim's 903rd. Only Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is ahead of him at 940 wins. It's going to be tough if not impossible for Boeheim to catch Coach K as both are still coaching. Boeheim has had a ton of success and is very well respected. Congrats coach on the accomplishment.
Kobe Bryant says Lakers are old
The Los Angeles Lakers certainly haven't played up to everyone's expectations this year. Given how much they revamped in the offseason, the thought was they would be one of the top two teams in the western conference (at least that's what I thought). As it stands right now though, the Lakers are 15-16 and in eleventh place in the western conference. Kobe Bryant has an explanation. He says the Lakers are old. They're playing old, they're acting old. Bold statement by Bryant, but he's right. Steve Nash is up there in age. Metta World Peace isn't getting any younger as is Pau Gasol. Saw a stat that they are the third oldest team in the league only behind the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. Both of those teams sit a top the eastern conference standings. Bryant has played exceptionally well this season, perhaps his best season in years. So much of the blame shouldn't fall on him. He has been an outspoken critic of what's gone on with the Lakers so far this year. The rest of the team needs to step up, but now Bryant has to play even better or people will criticize him as being old and not helping the team as much as he should and perhaps will even tell him to keep his mouth shut. Are the Lakers in trouble? I'd say yes given we're over a third of the way done with the season. But the Lakers can rebound from this start and maybe Bryant's comments are all that was needed.
Coming up Friday: NFL Wild Card preview plus other NFL news