New York Giants: Eli Manning in touch with Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll

New York Giants, Eli Manning

Eli Manning spent his entire career with the New York Giants, and those ties to the organization didn’t fade away with his retirement. It was known that Manning provided advisory last season to the Giants under Joe Judge, and it looks like the same offer is extended now that there’s new management in town.

“I told them if they need anything from me in any way, nothing is off limits. I’m happy to help,” Manning told the New York Post, speaking of GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll. “I look forward to getting to know both of them better and seeing if I can be of service to them and help them get back on track and win more games. I’m all for that.”

Given the drastic changes within a short amount of time in the front office and coaching staff, it’s easy to see why advice from a veteran name like Manning might be appreciated. After all, few have handled the harsh New York market better.

There’s also few players with a better perspective on the current rebuilding process. By the time of Manning’s retirement during that rebuild, he was the last player to have been around for the heights of the last Super Bowl run.

Manning takes Giants’ side in Brian Flores debate

It doesn’t look like the controversy around Brian Flores is set to go away any time soon, and Manning joined the side of those to come out in defense of the Giants during the same interview.

“I know the Giants organization. I know they do everything possible to give everybody a fair chance. They don’t care, minority or not, they are looking for the best possible candidate,” Manning said. “They are going to do everything properly to look for that perfect candidate. So, I don’t think there was any wrongdoing there.”

If the timeline of events provided by the Giants is correct, it’s hard to argue they didn’t do as Eli said and pick the candidate they believed was the best. Given the string of bad coaching hires the organization has made, the theory that they made their latest one before even conducting an in-person interview is highly unlikely at best.

Still, given the nature of the court system, it’s going to be a long time before we get a definitive verdict one way or the other in this case.

Giants lose defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in wild turn of events

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

In a wild turn of events, the New York Giants will lose defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to the Las Vegas Raiders, who are hiring him to do the exact same job.

With the Raiders bringing on Josh McDaniels as their new head coach, his connection with Graham became a catalyst for his departure.

After the Giants provided permission for Graham to interview with the Pittsburgh Steelers several days ago, they by default also gave him the ability to interview for other defensive coordinator positions, making the jump to the Las Vegas Raiders on Friday.

The Giants now have a major hole of fill on the defensive staff, but there are several quality options they can choose from on the market, including former Baltimore Ravens DC Wink Martindale. Denver Broncos ex-head coach Vic Fangio also stands out.

The Giants’ defense over the past few seasons has had its fair share of ups and downs, ranking in the top 10 in 2020 but dropping to 23rd in points allowed per game last year.

Graham was well-liked within the Giants brass, especially by ownership, who interviewed him for the vacant head-coaching job before selecting Brian Daboll.

Clearly, Graham’s relationship with McDaniels was far more potent, leaving Daboll with a tough situation to maneuver around. The hope was that Brian would be able to focus on the offense solely, but Graham leaving will drag his attention elsewhere for the time being.

UFC Vegas 47 Preview: Tresean Gore – Bryan Battle

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 47, we are going to see the true finale of the 29th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Team Volkanovski’s Bryan Battle (6-1) will be taking on Team Ortega’s Tresean Gore (3-0). However, the Ultimate Fighter title will not be on the line at UFC Vegas 47.

These two men were originally supposed to meet back in August to cap off the season of the Ultimate Fighter. However, Gore suffered a knee injury and was forced out of the finale. Now that he’s back and healthy, the UFC wanted to run this fight back to see who is the better man.

To earn a spot in the finale, Gore won a decision against Ryder Newman and knocked out Gilbert Urbina. Urbina was the man who got the shot against Bryan Battle back in August for the Ultimate Fighter title after Gore suffered his knee injury.

Of course, we all know that Battle won that fight and won his UFC contract. Counting his fights on the show, Battle has won seven straight fights leading up to UFC Vegas 47. After being the last pick on season 29 of TUF, Battle finds himself as a popular betting pick tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 47 Prediction

When I saw these two men compete on the Ultimate Fighter, I impressed in different ways. With Gore, I was impressed with his composure and his striking timing inside the octagon. He looked like a guy who could compete with UFC caliber fighters on the feet.

With Battle, I was impressed with just about everything. I was impressed with his striking, his grappling, his toughness, and his grit. He won over many fans on TUF and it’s easy to see why. However, I wasn’t insanely impressed with his win against Gilbert Urbina.

Yes, he got the stoppage victory. However, if he was fighting Tresean Gore that night, he might’ve gone to sleep. He was getting touched up quite a bit and I think he might suffer a similar fate. I picked Tresean Gore to win TUF and I think he pulls it out at UFC Vegas 47.

Prediction: Tresean Gore by TKO – Round 2

Report: Knicks eye De’Aaron Fox; Julius Randle on the move?

The New York Knicks reportedly continue to show interest in Sacramento Kings star point guard De’Aaron Fox ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline.

Fox, who has been sidelined since Jan. 19 with an ankle injury, is experiencing a down year in the Kings’ crowded backcourt. He’s averaging 21.0 points and 5.2 assists this season, down from last year’s 25.2 and 7.2. He’s also shooting a career-low 24.8 percent from behind the arc.

The continued rise of Tyrese Haliburton and the emergence of Davion Mitchell have made Fox expendable.

“This has been reported elsewhere, but I’ve heard as well that the Knicks have shown some interest in De’Aaron Fox,” said Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective podcast. “The player that makes the most sense in that swap would be Julius Randle.”

Like Fox, Randle’s numbers (18.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists, and 30.3 percent 3-point shooting clip) are also down this season after leading the Knicks to the playoffs last year and making it to the All-NBA Second Team.

Both the Knicks and Kings are currently out of the playoff and the play-in picture. A swap between their two struggling stars could give them a jolt.

“I’ve run hot and cold on De’Aaron. I like his mentality, and I think if you could get him, I’m not sure if that trade changes that much for the Knicks, but it certainly alleviates the deteriorating issue in New York with Julius Randle — both his relationships with Thibs (Tom Thibodeau) and his relationships with the fans.” Windhorst added.

Randle has earned the ire of a section of the Knicks fan base due to his inconsistent effort and poor body language this season. There are no signs, however, of a Randle-Thibodeau rift. The Knicks coach has been Randle’s most vocal ally, lawyering for the struggling Knicks star in press conferences.

Fox is in the first year of a five-year super-max extension worth $163 million, while Randle signed a four-year, $117 million extension last summer.

Meanwhile, a section of the Kings fan base wouldn’t have an issue with the possible Fox-Randle swap.

Randle has familiarity with current Kings coach Alvin Gentry, who handled the Knicks star in New Orleans before moving to New York.

Fox could become the best Knicks points guard entering his prime in a long while if he lands in New York.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC Vegas 47 Preview: Jack Hermansson – Sean Strickland

Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC Vegas 47, we will see a pivotal matchup in the middleweight division. Top contenders will battle it out as “The Joker” Jack Hermansson (22-6) takes on the surging Sean Strickland (24-3).

A few years ago, Jack Hermansson was on the cusp of a UFC title shot. The Joker had won four straight fights and the UFC decided to reward him with a main event in his homeland of Sweden. The problem for him was that he took on Jared Cannonier that night and was stopped in the second round.

Starting with that fight, he’s 2-2 in his last four. The two losses came against Cannonier and former title challenger Marvin Vettori. We last saw Hermansson back in May when he defeated Edmen Shahbazyan by decision. He’s going to be looking for his second straight win tomorrow night.

Standing in his way will be the surging Sean Strickland. In late 2020, Strickland returned after nearly two years away due to a motorcycle accident. Strickland returned to the middleweight division and he’s been flawless since returning.

His competition level has been stepping up as well. In his last fight, the UFC gave him a five-round main event against Uriah Hall and Strickland was able to outstrike him. A win over Hermansson would be huge for Strickland’s standing in the division.

UFC Vegas 47 Prediction

When breaking down this fight, it’s pretty easy to tell the paths of victory. For Hermansson to win at UFC Vegas 47, he’s going to need to take advantage of the grappling. Hermansson is a wizard on the ground and he’s great a great top game.

If he’s able to get Strickland down and control him, I could see a dominant decision or submission victory coming to The Joker. However, that is far easier said than done. Strickland has proven that he’s tough to take down and he’s proven that he’s crisp on the feet.

If this fight stays standing at UFC Vegas 47, I really like Sean Strickland to get the win. I think this fight is going to be very close as I see Hermansson landing takedowns, but also losing the striking. Overall, I think Strickland is going to do just enough on the feet to take advantage of Hermansson’s poor striking defense and he’ll win a decision.

Prediction: Sean Strickland by Unanimous Decision

Jon Jones interested in UFC matchup against Stipe Miocic

UFC, Jon Jones

Right now, there’s a lot of question marks surrounding the UFC‘s heavyweight division. Francis Ngannou just defended his title against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. However, it was the final fight on Ngannou’s contract and he fought with a knee injury that will keep him out most of the year.

If Ngannou was healthy and had more fights under his deal, the UFC would likely move to book the fight between him and Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). However, with Ngannou’s future in flux, there’s a lot of question marks surrounding what would be next at the top of the heavyweight division.

Last week, I threw out the idea of having Jon Jones fight Stipe Miocic (20-4) next. Miocic hasn’t fought since he lost the UFC heavyweight to Ngannou back in March of 2021. Miocic is considered to be the greatest heavyweight in the promotion’s history.

If anyone deserved an immediate rematch, it would be Miocic. However, the UFC didn’t grant Miocic a rematch despite the fact that he beat Ngannou in their first matchup which made them 1-1. Miocic also wasn’t offered a spot in the interim title fight that took place over the summer.

The former heavyweight champion has been chomping at the bit to get back into the cage. He said he would be interested in fighting Jon Jones and Jones came out on Twitter today and said he would also be interested in the facing the UFC’s heavyweight GOAT.

Will the UFC make the fight happen?

Right now, there’s a ton of smoke surrounding this potential matchup. It just makes all the sense in the world for the UFC. Jon Jones needs to get back into the cage as does Stipe Miocic. The fight would be massive and fans all around the world would tune in.

It honestly wouldn’t even matter who won in terms of the next fight’s magnitude. Jones against Ngannou would be the biggest especially if Jones comes in wearing interim heavyweight gold. However, who wouldn’t want to see Ngannou – Miocic 3 with both men wearing titles entering the fight.

With Ngannou’s situation in flux for most of 2022, expect another interim title. With that in mind, there’s no fight bigger for the interim title than Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic.

Eleven former and current Mets made ESPN’s ‘Top 100 Greatest Players Of All-Time’ list

ESPN compiled votes from more than 20,000 MLB writers, editors, and people linked with baseball to come up with its list of the top 100 MLB players of all time. Unsurprisingly, several former (and one current) members of the New York Mets made it.

Babe Ruth led the ranking, and Barry Bonds, who many consider the other strong candidate for “G.O.A.T.” status, controversially finished eighth.

ESPN said, about the approach of their proceedings to make the list, that it would be “based on career WAR, Hall of Fame status, peak performance and overall contributions to the game, we selected an initial pool of more than 200 players from both the major leagues and Negro Leagues, dating back to the late 19th century, plus a few of today’s biggest stars.”

MetsMerized Online listed eleven former and current members of the Mets. Duke Snider was the 95th, as he was with the Mets in 1963 with a .746 OPS. He made most of his contributions with the Brooklyn Dodgers, though.

Roberto Alomar, ranked 86th, played with the Mets in 2002 and 2003 but was nearing the end of an awesome career.

The one who ranked 81st, Mike Piazza, was indeed a Mets’ icon. He played eight seasons in Queens and hit 220 home runs, had 655 RBIs, and a .296 average as a catcher, with six All-Star berths.

Max Scherzer, who signed a three-year, $130 million contract to play with the Mets a couple of months ago, checked in at number 65. He is a surefire Hall of Famer when he retires and has won three Cy Young awards, with two no-hitters.

Warren Spahn, the No. 47 player on the list, had a brief stint with the Mets in 1965, in which he made 19 starts.

A couple of members of the Amazin’ Mets made the list

Nolan Ryan was part of the Mets’ 1969 Miracle Mets that won the first World Series in franchise history. He pitched in New York from 1966-1971 with a 3.58 ERA.

Yogi Berra (39th) played a handful of games with the Mets in 1965 and later managed them and coached them. Rickey Henderson, the 23th ranked player on the list, played between 1999 and 2000 in New York, with a .298 average, 159 hits, 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 42 stolen bases.

“The Franchise” Tom Seaver checked in at 22. Also one of the Amazin’ Mets, he is one of the best pitchers in the history of the game and a true Mets’ legend, pitching 12 seasons in Queens with three Cy Youngs, 10 All-Star games, and a Rookie of the Year award. Tom Terrific finished his career with a 2.86 ERA.

Pedro Martinez, the 11th-ranked player, played the bulk of his career with Boston, but had a successful stint with the Mets starting in 2004, with a 3.88 ERA in 486.2 frames.

Willie Mays himself was the second-ranked player. A Giants’ legend, he came over to the Mets in 1972 and played a couple of seasons.

Should the Knicks sell high on Mitchell Robinson at the trade deadline?

mitchell robinson, knicks

Oen of the New York Knicks’ best players to start the new year has been center, Mitchell Robinson. Robinson has enjoyed a consistent bout of health in recent days, averaging 10.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and an 82.6% field-goal rate in the month of January.

With Robinson finally hitting his stride and showcasing consistent health, his value to the team has skyrocketed, making him an even more attractive trade piece if the Knicks are looking for a more established point guard to help manage the team’s offense.

However, Robinson has played so well recently that losing him would open up a major hole in the defensive side. In fact, against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, Robinson had arguably his best game of the season, recording 14 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high eight blocks.

The 23-year-old big man has indicated he’s close to being at full strength, which is why his numbers have seen such a stratospheric rise.

“Not all the way yet, but close to it,’’ Robinson said. “Once I get back in shape I’m going to be a problem.

Robinson shot back at a fan who indicated that after halfway through the season, it’s a little late to just be making this type of impact.

Third-year guard RJ Barrett has continued to rise as well, but offered a glowing review regarding Mitch, noting his recent health and groove.

“He’s just healthy,’’ RJ Barrett said. “Now you’re seeing a guy getting in a groove. He’s such a gift offensively and defensively. Eight blocks is incredible and all the offensive rebounds.… Sometimes I just shoot it because I know he’s going to get it.’’ – Via Marc Berman of The Post.

The Knicks’ front office has a big decision to make at the deadline: do they want to sell on young players who have value, or get rid of big contracts?

In recent days, reports have indicated that the Knicks are keen on ridding themselves of several big deals they signed this plast off-season. That would essentially be waving the white flag on the season, but they do have the trade capital to make a significant move and put them in a position to make the playoffs.

The debate is, would simply making the playoffs be enough if they realistically can’t contend for a championship?

The Knicks might be better off getting rid of the big contracts and resetting for next season with their youth at the forefront.

If that is the case, retaining Robinson and extending him might be a more productive strategy.

Giants’ 1st round picks can get even more valuable with quarterback buzz

new york giants, joe schoen

With the Senior Bowl underway, the New York Giants are hoping that every quarterback shines and creates more hype surrounding their draft stock.

The notable risers include Liberty QB in Malik Willis, Cincinnati passer Desmond Ridder, and Pittsburgh signal-caller Kenny Pickett. The Senior Bowl also includes Sam Howell from UNC and Carson Strong from Nevada. I would be remiss not to mention Matt Corral out of Ole Miss, who suffered an injury during his Bowl game, keeping him out of the Senior Bowl.

There is increasing buzz surrounding most of these veteran quarterbacks at the collegiate level, but red flags and weaknesses will have a spotlight as they make their way to the NFL. However, their strengths and capabilities will be put on full display during Senior Bowl practices and exhibition games.

In a perfect world, most of these quarterbacks see their stock rise because of the constructed practices, but The Combine will also offer them an opportunity to put elevated numbers on paper. The biggest riser up to this point has been Willis from Liberty.

The small school quarterback has been electrifying during Senior Bowl play but has struggled at times with accuracy and mechanics. Nonetheless, he’s the most physically imposing quarterback of the bunch, showcasing phenomenal arm strength and athleticism, giving him the ability to escape the pocket with ease and create opportunities on the run.

Willis has always been a home run hitting quarterback, but Jordan Reid of ESPN indicates he’s an even bigger project than Josh Allen coming out of Wyoming, so whatever team drafts him must have a legitimate situation in place to develop him without forcing a starting job on the young prospect.

The Giants, who have the 5th and 7th overall picks in the 2022 NFL draft, are desperately hoping a quarterback-needy team falls in love with one of these prospects.

Under the control of Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge, the Giants executed a trade back with the Chicago Bears, landing the 20th pick in 2022 and the 164th pick last year in the 3rd round. Ideally, they would have the luxury of doing something similar with a team like the Steelers, Saints, Washington, and maybe even Tampa Bay. There are always teams that fall in love with QB prospects and are looking to move up.

‘If’ a team “falls in full bloom love” with a quarterback, the Giants could theoretically move back several spots, collect more draft capital for 2022 or even the 2023 Draft, giving them ammo in case they want a different quarterback. Draft capital is the most valuable asset during a rebuild, and the Giants are in a perfect position to leverage one of their top picks.

MLB News: With no agreement in sight, MLB asks for federal help

With MLB and the Players Union not substantially closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB has asked the Feds to intervene to help iron out a new agreement, as the start of spring training is just two weeks away. Of course, even that move must be approved by the players union. When a new agreement could not be reached by the December 1 deadline, MLB instituted a shutdown until the sides had come together with a new agreement. Since then, the sides have had four meetings and have not been able to come together. Now MLB has asked for the assistance of a federal mediator to help resolve the labor issues between the league and the MLB Players Association, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Should the two sides agree to this move, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service would assist with the proceedings between the two sides, with the help hoping to move the negotiations toward a new agreement. According to one MLB official, the league sees this as the most productive path going forward to move the negotiations ahead and avoid a loss of games at the beginning of the new season, which now appears to be in jeopardy.

On December 2nd, MLB instituted the lockout that forbids the New York Yankees or any of the other 29 major league teams from having any transactions to improve their teams. The sides can not even engage with each other with talks. Talks between the sides should have been productive as the main players in the talks are both experienced negotiators. The MLBPA leader and Executive Director is a very skilled negotiator. This time the players are tired of losing in negotiations and are not willing to concede on some of their wants. The other is Commissioner Rob Manfred, that has a degree in labor negotiations, but apparently, that hasn’t been helpful either.

This was particularly important for the New York Yankees as they remained out of the early moves that saw almost half of all available free agents going to other teams. Now with only days before catchers and pitchers report for spring training, the Yankees still have the holes to fill that were present after the conclusion of the World Series. They were able to upgrade their coaching staff but were not able to acquire any new players. With the lockout, the Yankee front office and general manager Brian Cashman have had plenty of time to figure out their moves once the lockout is over, but they will have to pounce and quickly, as other teams will be in the same situation.

In the past Federal mediators have helped resolve other professional sports negotiations, particularly assisting the National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer, among others. They have not been as successful with MLB issues.

MLB and the MLBPA met on Tuesday to resolve some of the core economic issues. Past concessions bringing the sides closer seemed to be erased when those issues could not be resolved and tainting the progress already made. The MLBPA (players union) offered to reduce its bonus pool by $5 million. That pool was to increase the money available to the best minor league performers. But the talks on Tuesday did not result in any movement with that issue..

According to sources, the MLBPA remains stuck on a pair of key issues: They want a reduction in revenue sharing, and the union wants all players with two years of service time to be eligible for arbitration. The problem with these two MLBPA requests is that MLB has been steadfast, that those issues are non-starters for MLB team owners. Other issues include the leagues’ minimum salary and the competitive balance tax threshold. There have been over two dozen years of relative peace between the two sides, but this year the MLBPA has dug in its heels. The next step is for the players to agree to Federal negotiators. If they don’t do that, the start of spring training is surely in jeopardy.

If MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred can not find a way to start spring training on time, it will be just one more negative mark on the reputation of one of the most hated men in baseball. Zack  Britton is currently the Yankees’ representative to the players union.