New York Giants: Eli Manning Recognized On ESPN NFC East All-Decade Team

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress

It’s the first year in a very long time where Eli Manning won’t be the starting quarterback for the New York Giants. Manning finally retired following last season and has yet to decide on a future role, if any, in the sport of football. However, the former Giants quarterback has definitely left his mark, and his impact over the years has been shown again when ESPN listed Manning as the quarterback on their NFC East all-decade team for the 2010s.

QB: Eli Manning, Giants, 2004-19
RB: LeSean McCoy, Eagles, 2009-14
RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 2016-present
WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Giants, 2014-18
WR: Dez Bryant, Cowboys, 2010-17
T: Tyron Smith, Cowboys, 2011-present
G: Brandon Brooks, Eagles, 2016-present
C: Travis Frederick, Cowboys, 2013-19
G: Zack Martin, Cowboys, 2014-present
T: Jason Peters, Eagles, 2009-19
TE: Jason Witten, Cowboys, 2003-17, 2019

When it comes to the offensive players, there’s two Giants that made the list – Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Only one of those players, of course, spent his entire career with the Giants.

While there are competing names that have performed well at quarterback in the division during the 2010s, the decision to list Manning above the rest of them ultimately makes sense. Manning did win a Super Bowl during the decade, which is bigger than what Cowboys quarterbacks Tony Romo or Dak Prescott have achieved. And while Carson Wentz led the Eagles during their Super Bowl season for most of the year, it was Nick Foles that won the actual game.

As mentioned by the article, Manning is also the only player on the Giants to win a Super Bowl during the decade and continue playing until the end of it.

It’s for that reason, among others, that Manning’s retirement is so significant. The Giants finally moved on from their longtime starter, yes. But beyond that, the last holdout from the last championship run has been removed.

In Manning’s absence, it’s up to the current group of players led by Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones to make new history and bring the franchise back to the heights it formerly reached.

New York Giants: Top Three 2021 Pro Bowl Candidates

The New York Giants were one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2019. Despite playing in the biggest market and being one of the league’s most popular teams, the Giants laid a goose egg in Pro Bowl voting. Not a single Giants player made the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl, held in Orlando, Florida.

The NFL recently announced that the 2021 Pro Bowl will be played in Las Vegas. The question now is whether or not any New York Giants players will be in Las Vegas with the rest of the best players in the NFL. That being said, who are the Giants’ top candidates to make the 2021 Pro Bowl?

Saquon Barkley

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley is entering his third NFL season. Saquon put the league on notice in his rookie season, totaling a league-high 2,028 scrimmage yards. Barkley also made the Pro Bowl and won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

2019 was a bit less exciting for Barkley. The Penn State product suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 that kept him sidelined for weeks. Even when Saquon returned from the injury he was not fully himself.

In 2020, a fully healthy Saquon Barkley should have another monstrous season. He had a new and improved offensive line, along with a new offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett. Garrett led the Cowboys offense to numerous rushing titles during his time in Dallas. Saquon Barkley could break out in a major way this season in Garrett’s offensive scheme.

Leonard Williams

One of Dave Gettleman’s most controversial decisions as general manager of the New York Giants was trading a third and fifth-round pick for impending free-agent defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The former New York Jet made the trip to the other locker room and immediately had a significant impact on the Giants’ defense.

“Leonard Williams ranked 11th in total pressures among interior defensive lineman in 2019. Only Williams and two others in the top 20 had fewer than 4 sacks last season. Leonard Williams led the NFL with 19 QB hits, with the 2nd ranked player recording 14.” – Pro Football Focus

Year after year, Leonard Williams has been a great defensive lineman. However, he has only made the Pro Bowl once (2016). If Williams could turn more of those pressures into sacks, he could make his second career Pro Bowl in 2020.

Kevin Zeitler

Kevin Zeitler is one of the best pass-blocking offensive guards in the NFL. In 2019, in 61 combined pass-blocking snaps against Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox, and Kenny Clark this season, Zeitler allowed just one quarterback hurry (PFF). The Giants acquired Zeitler in the Vernon and Odell trade with the Cleveland Browns, and he has been one of the team’s best players ever since.

Also according to Pro Football Focus, Zeitler finished with the sixth-best grade among guards and posted a strong 75.0 pass-blocking grade — the sixth-straight year he’s achieved that mark. Kevin Zeitler provides the Giants with consistent, and reliable pass protection- something hugely important for a young, developing quarterback like Daniel Jones. If the Giants are winning games with an improved offensive line, Zeitler will deserve to go to his first career Pro Bowl in 2020.

Knicks expected to interview 76ers assistant Ime Udoka

New York Knicks, Ime Udoka

Add a new name to the New York Knicks‘ head coaching search: Ime Udoka.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Knicks plan to interview Udoka to be their new head coach. Udoka is currently an assistant coach under Brett Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Prior to the 2019-20 season, Udoka spent eight seasons as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs.

Udoka is the fifth coach the Knicks have expressed interest in. They’re expected to interview interim Mike Miller, former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and Mike Woodson, who was head coach of the Knicks from 2012-14.

Udoka played eight seasons in the NBA. He spent those seasons with the Knicks, Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. Udoka appeared in eight games for the Knicks in the 2005-06 season.

The New York Knicks aren’t the only ones in on Udoka:

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that Udoka is the “frontrunner” to take over for Jim Boylen as head coach of the Chicago Bulls.

The Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale and lead assistant Keith Smart 22 games into the regular season. Miller was promoted to interim head coach, and the Knicks went 17-27 under his command.

They finished the truncated 2019-20 season 21-45. Prior to their season’s conclusion, the Knicks fired president Steve Mills. He was replaced with former agent Leon Rose, who retained general manager Scott Perry. The Knicks have since hired Walt Perrin, formerly of the Utah Jazz, as their assistant general manager.

Hiring a head coach is New York’s first order of business this offseason. Simultaneously, they have three selections in the 2020 NBA Draft: their own first and second-round pick and the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round pick, acquired in a midseason trade that sent forward Marcus Morris to the West Coast. The Knicks are also projected to have upwards of $30 million in cap space.

New York Knicks: Kentucky assistant thinks Kevin Knox can succeed with new coaching staff

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

Kevin Knox has been in and out of the New York Knicks’ starting lineup over his first two years in the NBA, starting 61 of a possible 140 games. Subsequently, Knox, selected by the Knicks with the ninth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has struggled to get into a groove.

However, Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne feels Knox, his former player, can get on the right track with a new coaching staff per an interview with Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“No question, I think a new staff comes in and can evaluate what the kid is and tell him what he needs him to do,’’ Payne said. “He’s starting with a clean slate. There’s no prejudging of who he is. He can go out and feel comfortable and do the things to help the team win. I think he’s coming back with a new and different fire. With a little adversity, you can attain greatness. And he’s been through it.”

New York is currently in search of a head coach for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Payne says being comfortable is pivotal in Knox turning a corner.

“He’s had people question his desire, question his toughness, question his defense, question his shooting,’’ Payne said. “In my opinion, great players, good players in the NBA, it’s not can he shoot, defend, rebound. It’s about if he’s secure and comfortable doing it, getting him more comfortable. Getting him in a more aggressive mindset to do it is more important.’’ 

Payne doesn’t think talent is the issue for Knox.

“Things changed this year where they were going to hold him a little more accountable,’’ Payne said. “The first year was ‘Let’s feature him, get comfortable and let him play though his mistakes.’ Sometimes young players like Kevin have to feel comfortable. I personally don’t think it’s about his talent. He’s talented enough. It’s about how he digests the game. How he feels about himself. Is he in rhythm playing basketball or playing with a team that is playing a little selfish and the ball is not moving as much? Or the system and schemes offensively and defensively is where he’s not secure.”

Payne feels Knox is in store for a productive season.

“He’s a great kid and high-character person. I’m curious to see what the next year brings for him. I think this year will be a good year for him.”

Knox is averaging 9.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from beyond the arc across his two years in the NBA.

There is light at the end of the tunnel! MLB’s latest offer includes full prorated pay and 60 games in 70 days

After commissioner Rob Manfred said a couple of days ago that he wasn’t confident there would be a season in 2020, MLB owners made a renewed offer to the players’ association that includes full prorated salary.

While the MLBPA said via Twitter that reports of an agreement already being in place were false, it is clear that there is now light at the end of the tunnel and the overall landscape is much better than yesterday.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, MLB’s newest proposal includes 60 games to be played in a span of 70 days, with the MLB season starting either on July 19 or July 20.

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Manfred and the union’s leader Tony Clark met face to face on Tuesday to discuss the fate of the season, and another meeting took place on Wednesday.

MLB would have expanded playoffs this year and next

The offer also includes expanded playoffs in 2020 and 2021 and the union waiving of any potential grievance.
As Rotoworld suggests, that offer might not be the ultimate agreement, but there certainly appears to be “momentum” towards a deal that lets us enjoy baseball in 2020.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network had previously reported that the MLB and the MLBPA were “closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season.” However, the MLBPA quickly tweeted that “reports of an agreement are false.” That doesn’t mean that the two sides took a huge step today.

In fact, the fact that there is no agreement yet is because the offer was just recently submitted, and Clark would have to present it to the union before it can be ratified.

The season was scheduled to start on March 26, nearly three months ago. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, MLB was forced to suspend it indefinitely. Public health conditions aren’t necessarily optimal, but it appears that there will be baseball this year after all. Stay tuned for further news.

New York Mets: Things Heat Up With Potential Sellers

New York Mets, Jeff Wilpon

As the 2020 season seems to die in front of our eyes slowly, the potential sale of the New York Mets is heating up. Former buyers and new clients are lining up to purchase one of MLB’s most valuable franchises.

The Steve Cohen saga to purchase the Mets has no end in sight. He originally backed out from the 2.6 billion dollar deal, which included the Wilpons partial ownership for the following five seasons. Cohen said the Wilpons were negotiating in “bad faith” but does not rule out entering another bid. He is waiting on the season’s resumption and will also ask for more control of SNY with his future offer.

J-Rod Ownership?

The group led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are active in their pursuit of the Mets. They connected with an unnamed backer who could bring up to $250,000 to add to the group’s funds. Rumors say two investors through Galatiota Sports Partners will bring in a combined 250 million dollars.

Galatiota helped Josh Harris acquire the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011. Harris is also interested in purchasing the Mets. Based on his work with the 76ers and New Jersey Devils, he would be a terrific replacement to the Wilpons.

Wilpons Scramble

The longer baseball goes without a season, the lower the value of franchises become. The Wilpons, known for the lack of funds to run a franchise, hope to extend a 250 million dollar loan, which expires after July. They hope the loan extension is for a year, which gives time for all of the turmoil in baseball and the world to settle. They want to avoid an auction, which would make it easy for the Harris/Blitzer group to swoop in and buy.

If the Mets are not sold by 2021, they will partake in their version of Moneyball. Any high priced talent will either get kicked to the curb or never receive an offer. For most owners of a sports franchise, it becomes a business-first mentality, but it seems the Wilpon’s have forgotten about the sports side of it and just want to break even when they through with the franchise.

MLB News: Dr. Fauci says no to baseball beyond September, and some owners want out

While  New York Yankees fans sit in limbo, waiting for baseball to return, MLB and the MLBPA (players union) apparently aren’t even negotiating at this time.  After several proposals have come and gone, the players association has said further talks will be futile.  Meanwhile, the start of a season, if there is one, keeps getting pushed back.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, doesn’t want to see baseball played beyond September this year.  Fauci is the nation’s leading coronavirus expert, and he weighed in about when play should end.  He said that baseball should be played in the summer core months of July and August and would like to see the World Series completed in September.

He cites the rising rates of coronavirus infections in MLB states that have reopened their economies, specifically mentioning California and Arizona. However, ten other states have reported an uptick in new cases, many of them with MLB Stadiums.  Reuters reported that Fauci said:

“Even in warm weather, like in Arizona and California, we’re starting to see resurgences as we open up (after shelter-at-home periods),” Fauci told the Times. “But I think the chances of there being less of an issue in the end of July and all of August and September are much, much better than if you go into October.”

Dr. Fauci has been and continues to warn of a second wave of increased infections that could be as bad or even worse than the present wave, especially as the regular flu ramps up in the fall.

“The likelihood is that, if you stick to the core summer months, you are better off, even though there is no guarantee. … If you look at the kinds of things that could happen, there’s no guarantee of anything. You would want to do it at a time when there isn’t the overlap between influenza and the possibility of a fall second wave.”

When asked about fans in the stands, Fauci had this to say to the Los Angeles Times: “Unless you have a dramatic diminution in cases, I would feel comfortable in spaced seating, where you fill one-half or one-third or whatever it is of the stadium, and everybody is required to wear a mask in the stadium.” Fauci’s call for baseball to end in September may add fuel to the owner’s case for fewer games then the players want.

Some MLB owners want to completely opt-out of a season

There are many baseball teams like the New York Yankees that want to see a baseball season this year, albeit a significantly shortened season. Just yesterday Yankee President Randy Levine said he wanted to see the sides get together, iron things out and get a deal done to start a 2020 baseball season.

Yet CBS sports and other sources have reported that there are at least six owners who don’t want a 2020 campaign. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, for their part, quoted a player agent who said, “there are definitely more than eight owners who don’t want to play.” Whether that’s the case or simply speculation is unclear. None of the suspected hard lining owners are named either way.  You would have to assume that they are the owners of the less profitable franchises who would have the most to lose.

The significance of this report is that for Commissioner Rob Manfred to impose a baseball season, 75% of owners have to agree with it.  It appears with negotiations at a standstill; it may be Manfred’s only option.  If six owners opt-out of a season, it is not a problem, but if eight or more want no season, they could arbitrarily cancel the season for all of MLB.

 

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is helping out kids in California through his All Rise Foundation

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

For established major leaguers, giving back to the community while they can is very important, especially when it is their home state or city. New York Yankees‘ Aaron Judge takes that very seriously, and is making sure that kids in California, where he was raised, have opportunities to grow as people and members of the society.

That’s why while Judge works out at the Yankees’ spring training complex, his foundation, All Rise, is helping contribute to a noble cause in California.

The All Rise Foundation made the announcement that it picked the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra Vista in Stockton, Calif., to get its $2,500 Spring 2020 Mini-Grant for “school activities, health and well-being, youth citizenship and character development.”

The mentioned grant will be used to deliver “weekly kits of club programs, including academic packets, books, art activities, STEM activities, food/snacks and resources to the children of the Sierra Vista Housing community.”

The Yankees’ star statement

“Education and staying healthy are very important to me,” Judge said in a statement. “The work that the Boys & Girls Club is doing within the Sierra Vista neighborhood is exceptional. I am excited to provide this mini-grant that will help keep members engaged in educational opportunities, creative projects and develop healthy habits. The values of the Boys and Girls Club are perfectly aligned with the mission of our foundation.”

The Foundation has been active since 2018, a year after Judge was selected as the American League Rookie of the Year, hitting a then-record for rookies 52 home runs and leading the New York Yankees into the American League Championship Series, where they lost in seven games to the Houston Astros.

Judge has been a mainstay in the Yankees lineup ever since.

The Foundation has the mission of inspiring children and youth “to become responsible citizens by engaging them in activities that encourage reaching unlimited possibilities.”

New York Jets: Chris Herndon is ready to roll, but learned one essential thing in 2019

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The injury bug thumped the New York Jets in 2019, and while the defense was primarily affected the most, tight end, Chris Herndon also fell ill. Herndon was placed on injured reserve last season after the Jets beat their crosstown rival Giants 34-27. Herndon suffered a fractured rib and was unable to continue on the season, coming after his fall game suspension to open the year.

While Herndon caught just one pass in the game, he didn’t receive the continuity and live reps needed to reach his peak last year fully. The second your product out of Miami had a stellar rookie season in 2018, catching 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns. Missing four games to open the year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy undoubtedly hurt his efficiency and readiness upon his return.

The New York Jets managed to supplement the loss of Herndon well:

Ryan Griffin stepped in valiantly and played well, solidifying himself as a starter among the tight ends. I imagine the Jets will play a lot of 12 personnel this year to get both Herndon and Griffin involved in the passing and run game.

According to newyorkJets.com, Herndon is smoldering in his desire to bounce back from a troubled season:

“It wasn’t ideal how everything played out,” Herndon said. “I wish it could’ve gone the opposite way, but for me, it was definitely a year where I was forced to sit down and really just learn. [I] use it as a learning experience — how quick one injury, one decision, how fast things can be taken from you. Also, just learn to appreciate those things because like they say, you never know how much you miss something until it’s gone. It was a big learning year for me, but I’m ready.”

If there is anything Herndon gained from a tumultuous 2019 campaign, it was the idea of appreciation. He noted that everything can be taken away from you just as fast as it’s given, and sitting and learning could have been the best experience for him yet. Working hard and appreciating the opportunity he has to play at the NFL level is something players forget often. The money and fame come with a lot of additional issues, but staying the course and remaining committed is the key.

“I’m continuing to learn it each and every day, detail each assignment, each play,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of mental notes as well as physical notes and studying the notes when we’re done with our virtual meetings right now. I feel like I’m still coming along. You should never feel like you know everything. Continue to learn and continue to keep an open mind. That’s when good things tend to happen.”

It is clear that Herndon took something away from this tumultuous season last year, and he is ready to hit the field running with newfound confidence and respect for the process. If Chris and Ryan griffin can establish themselves as one of the best tight end duos in the league, Sam Darnold is going to have a field day moving forward.

The New York Yankees sign their fifth undrafted college right-hander in Connor Pellerin

New York Yankees

The first round of the 2020 MLB Draft was exactly one week ago from today, but that doesn’t mean that teams can’t keep signing undrafted free agents to improve their farm systems. The New York Yankees are still working on that and, after the event ended, have focused their efforts on adding college pitchers.

The latest player to sign for the Yankees after the draft is Tulane right-hander Connor Pellerin. The club made the announcement of the signing on Tuesday.

Pellerin is about to turn 21 and put up great numbers in the COVID-shortened season, his junior year, with the Green Wave. In six relief appearances, the righty had a 2.25 ERA, showing enough to impress New York Yankees’ scouting department.

Excellent size and projectability for the Yankees

Pellerin has excellent size for a hurler, at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. He is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 55 collegiate appearances including a couple of starts, he compiled a 4-4 win-loss record and a 5.67 ERA. He conceded 54 hits and 75 walks with 94 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings.

Control is an issue right now but the Yankees seem to like his projectability and potential to develop into a solid arm in the future.

Teams have been negotiating with undrafted players since Sunday, according to the MLB rules. The Yankees have announced agreements with five players, and all right-handed college starters.

Besides Pellerin, MLB.com reports that the Yankees have secured the services of fellow righties Carson Coleman (University of Kentucky), Ocean Gabonia (Everett Community College), Trevor Holloway (University of Central Florida) and Jarod Lessar (Brigham Young University) as undrafted free agents.

In a different year, most of those names would have gone in the draft. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB decided to limit the draft to five rounds, and capped the signing bonuses for undrafted free agents to a maximum of $20,000.