The Jumbo Package – September 8, 2017

Welcome to the Jumbo Package where I’ll try and give you a bit about the biggest topics in sports (and other areas), what’s coming up this weekend and a little history along with the best items I’ve read this week. I hope to publish this every Friday morning through the SportsHax newsletter then cross-publish on the website in the afternoon.

Hurricane Irma is the story of the weekend. Not expected to make mainland landfall until Sunday, the massive Category 5 hurricane is expected to affect sports up and down the East Coast all weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Irma and those in Texas affected by Harvey.

As always: people > sports.

The Latest

The Chiefs beat the defending champion New England Patriots in a thriller. It’s also the first time the Chiefs have beaten the Patriots in New England in what feels like 1,000 years. Yes, that’s a bit much, but here are some links to catch you up.

I’m looking forward to this weekend in college football. As Mitch Gatzke notes, Week 2 isn’t very exciting, and really, nothing before 7p on Saturday is all that exciting. After 7 though, there are four games that are going to be really tough to keep up with considering they all start in the 7-8:30p window. I’m sure we’ll find a way.

The Best from SportsHax and Campus Pressbox

Gridiron Now – Sunday Funday Edition

The boys and I at SportsHax did a super simple NFL season preview with our Super Bowl matchup, some thoughts on the Cleveland Browns this season and lastly thoughts on another team each of us like.

On Ezekiel Elliott

The biggest subplot to the biggest game of the weekend – Giants at Cowboys – is Ezekiel Elliot who will play this weekend, but beyond that his status is completely unknown. Some quick thoughts here, I don’t for sure if Ezekiel Elliott is an abuser of women, but I know something happened between him and accuser Tiffany Thompson. I don’t know if she got pregnant on purpose and Elliot suggests or if he put his hands on her as Thompson suggested. I don’t know if she legitimately tried to blackmail him, but I do know, at the end of the day the only person who can control Elliott’s emotions are Ezekiel Elliott. When after the suspension was announced and Jerry Jones said he was furious with the NFL, he should replace NFL will Ezekiel Elliott.

Adrian Peterson – with the Saints, now seeks revenge

This February, the Minnesota Vikings did not exercise Peterson’s 2017 option and after some time as a free agent, he signed with the New Orleans Saints. Needless to say, Peterson isn’t happy. He isn’t happy with the way he was let go, isn’t happy with his suspension and he’s on record he wants to stick it to Minnesota twice: once on Sunday and again February 4, 2018 in Super Bowl LII. Best of luck, Adrian. I don’t agree with the length of your suspension because I think parents should be able to discipline their kids however they want. Within reason.

Colin Kaepernick – The Saga That Never Ends

If you thought the beginning of the football season would bring an end to one of the most talked-about stories of the off-season, you were wrong.

Two Stories for College Football’s Top Four

No. 1 – Alabama

This is a Good Week for Some Reflection [Cecil Hurt/Tuscaloosa News] “Sometimes, the storms are wind and rain and lightning. Some storms are private. Alabama assistant coach Mike Locksley and his family have had to deal with heart-rending tragedy this week, the death of Locksley’s 25-year old son, Meiko. Mike Locksley was at the Crimson Tide’s Wednesday practice. The support of his coaching peers helps, he told Nick Saban. No doubt the mentoring relationship that he has with his position players, the wide receivers, some just a few years younger than Meiko Locksley, is a solace. He will leave Tuscaloosa after the Fresno State game on Saturday to attend the funeral of his son.”
How Nick Saban stays one step ahead on special teams [Alex Scarbrough/ESPN]

No. 2 – Ohio State

Ohio State Defensive Line vs. Oklahoma Offensive Line Will be “Battle of Strength on Strength” [Dan Hope/Eleven Warriors] “They’re as good as it gets,” said Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. “Most teams are going to have one, two, maybe three really good D-linemen. They have eight to 10 really good D-linemen, and when the next guy comes in, there’s no drop-off. So that’s obviously the challenge.”
Different Game, Same Swagger [Nick Williams/Buckeye Grove]

No. 3 – Clemson

Night moves: Clemson at its best after dark [Scott Keepfer/Greenville News] “Night games have indeed proved challenging for visiting teams, particularly of late. The Tigers are 9-3 in home night games since Swinney became head coach midway through the 2008 season and are 5-0 in home night games over the last three seasons.”
Venables on Preparing for Auburn offense: “Space is Their Friend” [David Hood/TigerNet]

No. 4 – Penn State

Penn State Football: Juwan Johnson turning heads already [Colin Wieder/Victory Bell Rings] “His final catch was a post pattern over the middle that took a little bravery. He went up in between two defenders, took a shot by the safety and hung on for a big third down conversion and a 33-yard gain.”
One Game at a Time has Served Penn State Well [Matt de Bear/Roar Lions Roar]

Diamonds are Forever

Ten MLB storylines to watch in the final month of the regular season [Chris Cwik/Big League Stew] “Both the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians have been, at different times, the best team in the AL. The Astros owned the title all of the first half. Lately, it belongs to the Indians who have rattled off 13 wins in a row. The Astros still have a few more wins than the Indians, but Cleveland has the momentum.”

Enough is enough with September call ups [Peter Gammons/The Gammons Daily] “In the end, perhaps we can all be overjoyed, because this game is a demonstration of how ugly, how contrary to the legitimacy of the sport and its September pennant races can become.”

Stop blaming player slumps on significant others [Mary Craig/Beyond the Box Score] “More often than not, these attacks are levied on famous women, women with power and particularly ones who maintain a “sexy” persona. In many cases, fans become jealous that these women will never date them, which manifests itself in the need to tear them down in order to recover self-esteem and self-worth.”

Center Court

Nerlens Noel And The Changing NBA Economy [Matt Blum/The Sports Quotient] “When Noel saw that Brooklyn offered fellow RFA Otto Porter a max just days into free agency, Noel must have thought his own offer was right around the corner. That was 50 days ago. The already limited opportunities Noel had then, have now all but dried up.”

No Small Wonder: What’s Next for Isaiah Thomas? [Kevin O’Connor/The Ringer] “With only one year left on his contract, it’s unclear how long he’ll stay in Cleveland, too. Multiple front-office and agent sources I’ve spoken with aren’t convinced that the Cavs will re-up Thomas if LeBron James leaves (which many people in league circles still expect to happen), meaning Thomas could be on the move again soon. But first, he’ll need to get back on the court.”

Isaiah Thomas writes that trade to Cavaliers ‘still hurts’ [ESPN] “This was the first place, the first organization, the first group of fans in the league that didn’t take one look at me, take one look at my size, and put me into the same role as always,” Thomas wrote. “The Boston Celtics let me have a chance to be great. And I’ll never forget that.”

What to Read in the Bathroom

Matt Luke and the challenge of being an interim coach [Chris Vannini/The Athletic] “They knew the situation. We didn’t talk a lot about the situation,” Smith, now the coach at Kentucky State, told The All-American. “This is what happened, let’s not talk about it. I’m back, and we’re going to try to do the best we can from here on out and keep the staff in place. When I met with Jeff, that was his marching orders to me. Keep the staff in place, do everything you can do, keep the boat from sinking.”
But the boat sank.”

How the NBA Failed Royce White [Sam Riches/Longreads] “David Stern calls White’s name in the NBA draft on June, 2012. He goes 16th overall to the Houston Rockets. He shakes hands with Commissioner, poses for photos in a Rockets cap, indulges the in the ritual procedures, but he never plays a regular season game for the team. He misses the beginning of training camp, then the first week of the preseason. He becomes locked in a contractual dispute with the team.”

The Little Golf Course That Could [Dylan Dethier/The New York Times] “You can play it 20 times in a row and you’ll never get tired of it, because it plays 20 different ways,” he said. “You can hit every shot imaginable with a golf club. If you’re a short hitter, that’s fine, because you can run it up to the greens. If you’re a long hitter, there are all these places to get aggressive and maybe get punished. And the greens — they’re wild, and they’re special.”

Youth sports study: Declining participation, rising costs and unqualified coaches [Jacob Bogage/Washington Post] “There’s been this presumption that youth sports are exploding in this country and private clubs and trainers will pick up the slack,” Farrey said. “For kids with resources, they have. But families without resources are getting left behind.” And those travel teams and private skills coaches can also drive up costs for traditional rec leagues, experts say.”

As we prepare for Irma, Don’t Forget Harvey

I like Houston. I’ve spent some time there and have some good friends there. Probably not the most popular opinion in the world, but I like Houston a lot more than Dallas. Everyone in Houston seems honest and genuine; ready to help each other at the drop of a hat.

This video from the Houston Chronicle shows the destruction as never seen before narrated by Space City Weather’s Eric Berger.

Hurricane Harvey from Jasmine Goldband on Vimeo.

On National Television This Weekend (all times Eastern)

This is sacrilege in Cleveland, but I won’t be watching the Indians this weekend. They’re currently in the midst of a 15-game winning streak and I’ve only seen parts of that streak, so instead of ruining it for them, I’m recusing myself and watching football.

Did I mention the Tribe had an 11-game lead over the second place Twins?
One item to watch each day: Friday – Ohio at Purdue @ 8p on FS1; Saturday – Oklahoma at Ohio State @ 7:30p on ABC; Sunday – US Open Men’s Single Final @4p on ESPN.

US Open: Men’s Doubles Final – ESPN2 12p
US Open: Men’s Singles Semifinal – ESPN 4p

MLB: Yankees @ Rangers / Orioles @ Indians – FOX 1:05p
US Open: Women’s Single Final – ESPN 4p
NASCAR: @ Richmond – NBCSN 7:30p

US Open: Women’s Double Final – ESPN2 1p
US Open: Men’s Single Final – ESPN 4p
MLB: Orioles @ Indians – ESPN 8:05p
NFL: Giants @ Cowboys – NBC 8:30p

NFL: Saints @ Vikings – ESPN 7:10p
NFL: Chargers @ Broncos – ESPN 10:20p

Today in Sports History

1883 – New York Gothams (San Francisco Giants) score 13 runs in an inning against the Philadelphia Quakers (Phillies).

Please send any feedback you have about items I’ve missed, gotten wrong or ideas you have. E-mail me at, follow on Twitter @damienbowman or send me a message on Facebook @damienbowman