Fun Fact of the Day: The NHL started requiring players to wear helmets in 1979, but Craig MacTavish signed before the rule went into effect and was grandfathered in. He played until 1997 and was the last NHL player in action that chose not to wear a helmet.
Get ready to feel like an underachiever. The L.A. Rams hired Sean McVay as their new head coach, and get this… he’s only 30 years old! That makes him younger than 2 of the players on the team. McVay now replaces Lane Kiffin (formerly hired by the Oakland Raiders at age 31) as the youngest NFL head coach in the Super Bowl era. He’ll have his work cut out for him, because the Rams haven’t made the playoffs in 12 years. Previously, McVay was the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator and helped train up QB Kirk Cousins. Now, the Rams are hoping McVay can do the same for last year’s #1 draft pick, QB Jared Goff. Who’s his first new employee? One of the NFL’s top defensive coordinators, Wade Phillips. He’s coming from the Denver Broncos, where their incredible defense won them the Super Bowl last year.
Seen and Heard
You messed with the wrong ref. The National Basketball Referees Association is at war with Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban. They complained to the NBA’s president of basketball operations that Cuban has been intimidating refs, including threatening that he can get them fired. Their story isn’t too hard to believe; Cuban is a bit of a hot head and he has a history of criticizing the NBA’s officiating. He’s racked up more than $1M in fines for complaining about calls, including once saying that referee Ed Rush had no “interest in the integrity of the game” and he wouldn’t hire him “to manage a Dairy Queen.”
Divisional Round. The NFL Playoffs continue this weekend with the Divisional Round games. Here’s the current playoff bracket and our preview of each game:
- Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons. This game will be all about offense v. defense. The Falcons’ offense is on fire thanks to QB Matt Ryan, who is having the best season of his career and is the favorite to win league MVP. But the Falcons will have their work cut out for him against Seattle’s notoriously tough defense. The Seahawks were easily able to shut down the Detroit Lions last week in the Wild-Card round, even though they were still missing injured star safety Earl Thomas. Saturday, 4:35pm ET on FOX
- Houston Texans @ New England Patriots. This game is the most likely to be a blowout. In fact, the Patriots are favored by a whopping 16 points. That’s because the last time these teams played, the Patriots embarrassed the Texans 27-0. And that was back in Week 3, when Tom Brady was still on his Deflategate suspension and the Pats started rookie QB Jacoby Brissett. Saturday 8:15pm ET on CBS
- Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are going to be looking for payback. When these teams played during the regular season, the Steelers blew them out 43-14. But since that game, the Chiefs’ rookie wide receiver / kick returner Tyreek Hill has become a huge contributor. Will that be enough against the Steelers’ trifecta of QB Big Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell? Sunday 1pm ET on NBC
- Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were the best team in the NFC thanks to their star rookies QB Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. But that was the regular season. Can they keep their cool in their first ever playoff game? It won’t be easy going up against the blazing hot Green Bay Packers, who have won 7 games in a row. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is back to peak form and throwing Hail Marys like no one else can. Unfortunately for him, his top target, wide receiver Jordy Nelson will probably be out with broken ribs. Sunday 4:40pm ET on FOX.
The Australian Open. It’s the first Grand Slam of the new year! Find out if Serena Williams can make history by collecting win #23 and tune in to see your old favorites Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are coming back from injuries. First-round coverage starts Sunday at 7pm ET on ESPN2.