New York Jets Who Could Be Two Sport Stars: Le’Veon Bell

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

LeVeon Bell joined the New York Jets prior to last season on a four-year, $52.5 million deal. Rumors have swirled about what his future may look like in the Green and White, however, heading into next season he is a Jet.

The former All-Pro back will have a much-improved line blocking for him next season and looks to recreate some of his old magic from Pittsburgh. With that said, what if there was no magic in Pittsburgh, or what if Bell wasn’t a football player. What if Bell was a high jumper instead.

Le’Veon Bell: High Jumper

Bell was an All Ohio Capital Conference First Team running back his senior year. Despite having over 1,300 yards and 21 TDs, he was still a two-star recruit out of high school. Despite that, Bell eventually found a home at Michigan State, where he tore it up for the Spartans.

Bell still played other sports in high school and did very well. At 6-foot-1 and 225 lbs, Bell was a very good basketball player. Bell’s stats were unavailable, but he was a second-team All Ohio Capital Conference member for his senior season.

So you may think, why didn’t I say Bell should play basketball? Well, because his size and stature would be a poor fit in basketball, and his stats were unavailable for the sake of this piece. With that said, high jumping was where Bell really impressed.

He was recognized as one of the best high jumpers in all of Ohio. His best was 2.03 meters, which is incredibly impressive. The athleticism and hops he had and further developed in basketball, paired with the lateral quickness he has developed throughout his football career, would make for the makeup of a scary good jumper.

Matched with the level of skill you have to have to succeed in one of the best athlete breeding states in Ohio, that shows how much potential was truly there with his high jumping abilities. Although Bell is an incredible back with a distinguished resume, what if he held out entirely and went out for the Olympics in 2018, or better yet, what if Bell was a high jumper out of high school rather than chasing his dreams of football? Would we be talking about Lev Bell, the olympian instead?

Bubba Wallace Is Becoming The Tiger Woods of NASCAR

Racial integration is something that has been a fixture in our nation’s history for the longest time. In terms of sports, it was not easy. Barriers had to be broken down for African Americans to earn the opportunity to compete at the highest level in their respective sports.

Now, as the national climate changes, a traditionally caucasian dominated sport has found it’s newest star in trailblazer, Bubba Wallace.

Tiger Woods was a star golfer from a young age. From putting against Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas Show, his stardom has only blossomed. Yes, there have been many bumps in the road with injuries and controversy, but Tiger has done something that Bubba has begun to emulate.

Breaking into a white-dominated sport and having success. Tiger was able to do it and do it in a big way by becoming one of the best to ever do it.

Bubba has yet to win a race yet, but whilst driving the number 43 machine for the king, Richard Petty, he has had success. With a handful of top tens in the cup series, Bubba has continued to develop as a racer.

Although he hasn’t had substantial on-track success, off the track he has brought in a new fan base to the sport. African Americans are seeing Bubba as an inspiration and hopefully will flock to racing.

Right now, Bubba is not on the Tiger Woods level of success in terms of accomplishments. However, he could be soon. The notoriety Bubba has gained has made him a household name in mainstream media. He’s dominating the All-Star fan vote and becoming a serious merchandise seller. This revenue could lead some more successful teams with top tier machines to give Bubba a shot.

A team like Hendrick Motorsports could tap Bubba to replace Jimmie Johnson, in what would be a huge move. Or, even another top team like Stewart Haas or Chip Ganassi Racing could give him a shot. Despite significant on track success, Bubba is making a huge impact. Bubba is helping NASCAR make great strides in their continued mission to preach diversity and inclusion in racing as they truly modernize and adapt to society.

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Tests Positive for COVID-19 a 2nd time, Will Not Travel to Orlando with team

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

You ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go your way, and you find yourself asking, how can today possibly get any worse? And then low and behold, something else terrible happens and it immediately gets worse? That has been the last several months for our Brooklyn Nets.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who was hopeful to travel with the Nets to Orlando despite being infected with COVID-19 and showing symptoms, tested positive for a 2nd time on Monday, thus ending any hopes of returning to the hardwood once the season resumes. Dinwiddie updated fans and commended the Nets organization in several tweets earlier on Tuesday afternoon:

Dinwiddie is the 6th player on the Nets roster to have tested positive for COVID-19 since March and the 2nd Net in the last two weeks, as DeAndre Jordan also tested positive for the virus. Unlike Jordan, who immediately stated he would not be playing in Orlando, Dinwiddie’s goal was to rehab as much as he can and see where things stood before the team left to Orlando. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie fell short of his goal and will be watching what’s left of the Nets compete from the comfort of his home. The Brooklyn point guard did leave fans on a positive note by tweeting out the following:

With Dinwiddie officially out, the team has some tough roster decisions to make. Who will start at point guard? Which players will step up and attempt to match the production that was given to the Nets on a nightly basis from Dinwiddie, DeAndre, and Wilson Chandler? As NetsDaily pointed out, here is what the remaining roster looks like for Brooklyn:

It seems as though newcomer Tyler Johnson will get big minutes now, paired with the likes of Chiozza and Temple backing up Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. TLC will also be in that mix. Reserves such as Jeremiah Martin and Dzanan Musa could see an increase in playing time if there is any injury to the guards mentioned previously.

It will be interesting to watch how interim HC Jacque Vaughn handles this new roster and what lineups he decides to use in Orlando. There are several fans out there (myself included) that believe Vaughn is coaching for the Nets HC job next year, which could be a motivating factor for this team to perform well and exceed expectations. The Nets may not be the team they were when the season ended in March, but this team still has some fight left in them.

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NASCAR is reinvigorated as new eyes shift to its incredible change

NASCAR was one of the first professional sports leagues to return following COVID-19. The desperate longing for sports and gambling has driven diehard sports fans to all forms of sports. Soccer has become a little more recognized by some that had ignored it in favor of NBA or MLB during the early summer.

The AFL and KBO have gained more mainstream notoriety in recent weeks as their fan bases expand to the United States. The sport that’s had the most successful return, NASCAR. NASCAR has experienced a reinvigoration in terms of both public image and ratings.

New Eyes On NASCAR

In the last few weeks since their return, over the span of 11 races, including some primetime week races, some races on FS1, and the usual summer dip, NASCAR has had an average of 3.08 million viewers per race.

In terms of comparison against pass races this time last year, the numbers are higher even if they’re on FS1. Publicly NASCAR being back also turned eyes to the sport with the uproar of the Black Lives Matter Movement and allowed them to take a vocal stance in support of the movement. More eyes are tuning into the sport, and more money is being spent on merchandise than before.

With that said, is it sustainable? As the NBA and MLB attempt to navigate their returns, those same fans that gravitated to NASCAR in the absence of sports may return to watching the more familiar sports. Not only that but as coronavirus spikes in the south, that’s not good for NASCAR, which has most team shops primarily based in North Carolina. Now, Jimmie Johnson has been diagnosed with COVID, and that could also spark some worries as the first case they’ve had since their return.

Still, with sports like MLB struggling to return and missing out on an opportune time to gain mainstream attention and the NBA trying to navigate the new normal, eyes will still be on the sport for now. At least for now, a sport that was deemed by some to be on the ropes just a short time ago has experienced a rejuvenation.

 

New York Jets Who Could Be Two-Sport Stars: Breshard Perriman

As my series highlighting two sport Jets continues, I continued with a speedy new Jet. Breshard Perriman may be a new Jet, but he’s primed to be an impact player early. He’s being brought in to fill the role of former number one wideout Robby Anderson. His freak athletic ability made him a first rounder just a few years ago. That athletic ability is what the Jets are counting on can make up for the loss of Robby. One aspect of that athletic ability that makes Perriman stand out is his straight line speed. His ability to be a dangerous deep threat will make him a big weapon, but it also could’ve made him a big track star.

Breshard Perriman: Track and Field

Perriman was always insanely fast and he turned heads at a young age. Although, he  focused primarily on football throughout high school, he made noise in track. He used most of his time and athleticism on the gridiron, where his father, former NFL receiver Brett Perriman tutored him to bring him up to the highest level. In his free time though, Breshard lit up the AAU Track and Field. Perriman parlayed his speed into a U.S. Junior Olympic bid. Perriman was able to turn heads and gain even more notoriety with his speed. Perriman ran a 4.4 40 yard dash coming out of high school, had a 36 inch vertical and at 6’2 his stride length was impressive. With such freakish speed and athleticism, Perriman could’ve made a lot of noice in track at the highest level.

Perriman chose the right sport. Although he had his struggles early, last season was a breakout season for Perriman. When Perriman was struggling though, one has to think his mind wandered to what could’ve been with track. Who knows, although he’s a quality pro receiver, Breshard Perriman could’ve been a potential Olympian or even better, an Olympic medalist. 

Brooklyn Nets: The COVID-19 Nightmare Continues

It was only a few months ago when a report came out that four Brooklyn Nets players, one of them being Kevin Durant, tested positive for COVID-19. Now, in the last 48 hours, two more Nets have publicly announced that they too have tested positive for the virus.

DeAndre Jordan, at 9:34pm EST on Monday night, tweeted the following about how he found out he had tested positive for COVID-19:

Several hours earlier, it was reported that Spencer Dinwiddie also had tested positive for the virus after feeling COVID-19 symptoms such as chest tightness and a fever. While Jordan has made it clear he will not be playing when the NBA season resumes, Dinwiddie has been hopeful he can recover from the virus in time to rejoin the team hopefully during the playoffs. He had this to say in response to Woj implying Dinwiddie was strongly considering not joining the team in Orlando.

It’s been a rough few months for Nets fans who hoped to see some form of the team they envisioned way back when KD and Kyrie signed in last July. Fans got their hopes up several weeks ago that the two superstars might return when basketball resumes in late July, a rumor that was shut down quickly by both players.

In the last two weeks, it was reported that two more players would not be traveling to Orlando with the team, as the young power forward Nic Claxton had season-ending should-surgery several days ago and journeyman Wilson Chandler has chosen to spend more with his family this summer. Add DeAndre Jordan and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie to the mix, and that’s 6 key contributors the Nets will be missing when play resumes in Orlando. Some fans may be optimistic about the recent signings of Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson, but at this point, fans will be watching an almost entirely different team than the one we saw for most of the year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that more than anything, we hope Spencer, DeAndre, and all the professional athletes that have tested positive for COVID-19 get well soon. This virus is terrifying for these athletes and their families to have to endure, and I wish them nothing but the best during their recovery period. For the Nets players who have chosen not to return to the bubble for reasons outside of health, such as Wilson Chandler and Kyrie Irving, I have nothing but respect for those men and their decisions. They have a right to either fight for the cause they believe in or spend time with their family during these scary times.

While the Nets will be missing a large portion of their team in Orlando, they still will have Caris LeVert, who was playing the best basketball of his career prior to the season being suspended. Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris should most likely be traveling with the team as well. They should still be competitive and put up a fight in the first round of the playoffs. But many Nets fans can rest assured that this team at full strength and health next year, will be a real title contender and quite possibly the favorite in the East.

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NASCAR: Two Underrated Drivers Had A Big Saturday

NASCAR, Christopher Bell

Yesterday featured the opener to a big weekend of NASCAR. Starting at 9:30 am est the Trucks roll-off, then the Xfinity series goes off after them, and then the finale of the weekend is the second cup race. The first day was a big one for two underrated drivers.

Christopher Bell Finished 4th

Bell has been a highly touted rookie. Coming off a master class in the Xfinity Series last year, Bell was handed a ride and expected to fare well. Although Tyler Reddick has stolen a lot of headlines, Christopher Bell has had some speed. Piloting the 95 machine, Bell was fast at Pocono and parlayed that into a top 5 finish. Bell took over the Leavine Family racing ride from Matt DiBenedetto in order to gain cup experience before likely jumping up to a ride at JGR. His speed yesterday will make him one to watch later today. At the very least though, his success Saturday is a strong building point for the long haul.

Michael McDowell Finished 8th

Whereas Bell is a rookie with high potential, McDowell is the underdog for a team with lesser equipment. At 35 years old, McDowell is likely in the back 9 of his career starting at 18. It’s always entertaining when he has success though. McDowell is a guy people like to see succeed because he’s counted out often. Today was a good day for the 34 team and they took advantage of good pit strategy and a fast car in order to get to the front of the field. It was a good race for the Front Row team and hopefully, they can continue to replicate that success.

It’s always encouraging to see two underdogs succeed and hopefully, they continue to have success. For Bell, success could nail a top tier ride for 2021. For McDowell, success could change his career trajectory. 

NASCAR: Can Kyle Busch steal a win on Sunday?

Kyle Busch, Nascar

Kyle Busch has shocked a lot of people in the past few weeks. Not because of success but because of lack thereof. Busch is coming off a championship season and is experiencing a bit of a slump.

Although Busch is a savvy vet, who is believed to be capable of taking any machine to the front of the pack, Busch has admittedly though, had trouble transitioning to the new normal in racing. He’s been quoted as saying things have been challenging for the 18 team to make adjustments without practice. He also said it’s been difficult for him and crew chief Adam Stevens to get on the same page with the car with short times to adjust. So, with the setup of this weekend, he could break his winless streak tomorrow.

Saturday Was Practice for Busch

Saturday offered an opportunity for Busch after falling behind the pack. When it seemed like Busch didn’t have a chance to win, it seemed more like he was running practice laps to qualify for Sunday. Despite that, he still finished 5th and had speed all day. Just like he’s had speed all season. By running laps on Saturday, he enters Sunday with the same car and a chance to make modifications overnight if need be. He talked about the similarities in a media release quoted on Yahoo Sports as Busch stated,

“‘The first race, there’s only going to be the Truck Series rubber, it’s only 60 laps, so there’s just going to be a little rubber down. Then, we’re going to put a lot of rubber down with our race. Then you’ll have the Xfinity race the next day, and then you’ll have our (second) race. Over the course of all those miles, I think the main similarities between the two days is going to be just that – they’re a day apart rather than a month apart. There’s a difference between the Pocono racetrack when it’s a month apart, but when it’s day one to day two, there are going to be big differences in day one to day two, so you have to take a lot of different things into account.’”

The quick transition is something better suited for a veteran. Busch and the team gained some experience on the track and can gain experience from the races before him. If Busch and Stevens can modify the car to play off the success they had today, the 18 team could be en route for a big day. 

Former Net Vince Carter Officially Retires: One of the Greatest Athletes to ever put on an NBA Uniform

Brooklyn Nets, Vince Carter

In the history of the NBA, how many players can say that their career spanned over 4 decades? The answer is only one: Vince Carter. The 8 time All-Star officially retired earlier today on The Ringer’s “Winging It” podcast. The decision did not come as a surprise, as Carter has been hinting at his retirement all season and the Atlanta Hawks were not invited to participate in Orlando when the NBA resumes in late July. You can see his official retirement statement in the tweet below:

Recapping Vince Carter’s Prolific NBA Career

Vince Carter was selected #5 overall in the 1998 draft by the Golden State Warriors, but was instantly traded to the Raptors for his teammate and the #4 pick in the draft, Antawn Jamison. Carter bust onto the scene with Toronto, averaging 18.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg in his rookie season, and quickly became known for his high flying, earth-shattering finishes at the rim. These finishes would usually result in a highlight-reel dunk but occasionally, Carter would opt for the acrobatic layup instead. Carter instantly became one of the most popular players in the league among young fans and garnered the nickname “Air Canada.” He was responsible for one of the greatest Slam Dunk contest performances of all time and also delivered one of the most disrespectful in-game dunks of all time during the 2000 Olympics, both videos can be seen below:

In Carter’s second year, his ppg ballooned up to 25.7 and alongside his cousin Tracy McGrady, and the two brought the Raptors to their first ever playoff appearance. After McGrady was dealt in the following season, Carter established himself among the top #2 guards in the league, averaging a career best 27.6 ppg in just his 3rd season. Carter even had a cameo as himself in the movie Like Mike (2002), as the player Calvin Cambridge (main character in Like Mike) had to make a play against in order to send his fictional team, the LA Knights, to the playoffs, despite losing his ability to play basketball “like Michael Jordan.” Like Michael Jordan, Carter had played his college ball at North Carolina, and the two (at their peaks) shared an elite athleticism trait rivaled by few in the NBA. In 2003, Carter gave up his all-star spot so Michael Jordan could play in the final all-star game of his career.

After 6 stellar seasons in Toronto, Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets in the after 20 games into the 2004 season. The Nets, coming off back to back Finals appearances the two years prior, needed to fill a scoring void after losing Kenyon Martin to the Nuggets, and believed Carter was the man to do so. While the Nets never returned to an NBA Finals with Vince Carter, the combination of Carter/Kidd/Jefferson proved to be a dominant force in the East. VC benefited substantially from Kidd’s play-making ability and the two connected on so many beautiful ally-oops, as seen below:

Nets fans fell in love with “Vinsanity” since they had never been witness to such an athletic monster on their team. In other words, Carter was the closest thing to MJ that Nets fans would ever have the privilege of watching. Carter would go on to play 5 seasons with the Nets, averaging 23.6 ppg over that span. The Nets made the playoffs 3 out of the 5 seasons Carter was there, but unfortunately the team fell apart after the 2006-2007 season, as Jason Kidd was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2007-2008 season and Carter was dealt to the Magic in the summer of 2009.

While many believed Carter’s career to be over after his tenure with the Nets, VC continued to defy the odds. Carter was able to be a great complement to Dwight Howard and in two seasons with Orlando, managed to average 16.3 ppg. In the 2009-2010 playoffs, Carter helped the Magic reach the Eastern Conference Finals, before losing 4 games to 2 against the Boston Celtics. It was the only time in Carter’s career he would reach conference finals series.  After his stint in Orlando, Carter would go on to play for 5 more teams, including the Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Kings, and Hawks.

While he never won a championship, he was always viewed as a great teammate and an overall positive contributor to every team he’s ever been a part of. Carter was able to last as long as he did in the NBA due to his ability to adjust his role according to whatever the team he was playing for at that time needed. Even in the last several years, he developed into a great 3 and D player, mixing in the occasional highlight reel dunk/layup. He is no doubt a 1st ballot Hall-of-Famer and will be go down as one of the greatest athletes to ever play the sport of basketball.

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One New York Jets Receiver Enters A Make Or Break Season

New York Jets, Robby Anderson, Sam Darnold

The New York Jets lost Robby Anderson this past offseason. The loss was one that set the Jets back at wide receiver. Anderson was the go-to target for Sam Darnold. He was a deep threat who could stretch the field and add another layer to the Jets passing game. The Jets return Jamison Crowder, a safety net for Darnold and a dynamic slot piece. They also added a presumed steal in rookie Denzel Mims. Mims brings a big red zone presence with his size and catch radius. Although he brings speed, he will be trusted to grow with Darnold and be groomed into a do it all number one receiver. The Jet receiver trusted to bring the deep threat presence and fill the void of Robby Anderson is Breshard Perriman.

Perriman Needs A Big Year

When Perriman signed with the New York Jets, just hours after Anderson inked a deal to defect to Carolina, I broke the news here at ESM. I touched on his inconsistencies in his past, but one thing I harped on was his recent successes. In 3 years, Perriman had 55 receptions for 916 yards and 5 TDs. Last season, he had 36 receptions for 645 yards and 6 TDs. In the final quarter of the season, Perriman didn’t have a game with less than 70 yards. Perriman was on fire and flashed the potential that got him picked by the Ravens with the 26th pick in the 2015 draft. Perriman parlayed those flashes into a 1 year deal with Gang Green. The Jets will give him the opportunity to start and earn meaningful reps. If Perriman can put up solid numbers, he could revitalize his career.

Perriman fits into the model Douglas is trying to build “prove it deals”. Perriman must put up a quality season in order to become a true fixture in this league. With all the speed in the world, if Perriman can continue to develop his route tree this offseason, similarly to what Anderson did last season. At 26, the best could be ahead for the Breshard Perriman.