Fun Fact of the Day: Longtime NBA on TNT broadcaster Craig Sager had an extensive and eclectic sports memorabilia collection, which included a lock of Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki’s hair.
The Seahawks clinch. The Seattle Seahawks beat the L.A. Rams 24-3 to win the NFC West title and secure their trip to the playoffs! During the 3rd quarter, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman went ballistic on the sidelines, when his team opted to throw the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line. Why was he so angry? It’s safer to run the ball when you’re that close to the end zone. Passing is risky, as the Seahawks should remember from their 2014 Super Bowl loss, when they opted to throw the ball from the 1-yard line and got intercepted. The Rams didn’t escape the game unscathed. During the 4th quarter, their QB Jared Goff took a big hit and had to leave the game to enter the concussion protocol.
Ugly revelations. After a 9-month investigation, the Indianapolis Star uncovered some disturbing findings about USA Gymnastics (the organization that includes 120,000 gymnasts and trains the national team for the World Championships and Olympics). Not only did USA Gymnastics repeatedly fail to alert authorities about allegations of sexual abuse, but their lax oversight allowed predatory coaches to move from gym to gym. Over the past 20 years, at least 368 gymnasts alleged some form of sexual abuse. That’s an average rate of one every 20 days. The uncovered incidents are deeply disturbing, including one coach who made 469 videos of 49 semi-clothed girls aged 8 to 16 and shared them online.
Spotlight on Craig Sager
The NBA family is mourning the loss of longtime Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager, who passed away after a 2-year battle with leukemia. He was 65 years old. Here’s what you need to know about the colorful NBA sideline reporter:
Sartorial splendor. Sager was known for his flashy and attention-grabbing suits. One suit was so shiny and distracting, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern asked him to change mid-game.
The attitude. He was kind and always maintained an infectiously upbeat attitude. He even managed to get gruff San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to answer a few questions every once in a while. When Sager was diagnosed with leukemia 2 years ago, he kept working, smiling, and spreading joy with his distinctive style.
What a year. Despite aggressive chemo treatments and a 3rd bone marrow transplant, Sager got to experience a number of firsts this year. He was invited to cover his first NBA Finals, he received the ESPYs’ Jimmy V Perseverance Award, and he got to see his beloved Chicago Cubs win. As a lifelong Cubs fan, Sager bet $1,000 on the team every season since 1981. This year, he was finally able to cash out on that bet.
Week 15 games to watch:
- New England Patriots (11-2) @ Denver Broncos (8-5). The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos currently hold one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC, but they have a brutal schedule ahead. Each of their last 3 opponents has won at least 10 games. Their first challenge is to get past the Pats, who have the best record in the AFC. Sunday 4:30pm ET on CBS
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (11-2). Last week, the Cowboys lost their 2nd game of the season. Cue angry fans urging the team to ditch rookie QB Dak Prescott for Tony Romo! Sure, Dak has struggled a little bit recently, including failing to reach 200 passing yards over the past 3 games, but the Cowboys are standing by their man. Dak will have to deal with the added pressure of looking over his shoulder, while taking on the Bucs, who have won 5 games in a row. Sunday 8:30pm on NBC
The Las Vegas Bowl. Bowl season is upon us! This weekend’s biggest game is between Houston and San Diego State. It will be the first test for Houston’s new head coach, former offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, who was officially named to the role last week. He has big shoes to fill, after former head coach Tom Herman led the team to a 22-4 record over the past 2 seasons. Saturday at 3:30pm ET on ABC