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Is he trash or nice? The curious case of Tampa Bay Bucs’ QB Jameis Winston

One thing you can say about QB Jameis Winston is that he’s exciting.

Winston, the eccentric quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, closed out his 2019 NFL season Sunday by throwing a pick-6 interception in overtime.

Funny enough, that’s exactly how the Florida State product started his NFL career: with a pick-6.

Questions out of college about Winston centered around his maturity, decision making, and accuracy with the football.

Yet for all of his shortcomings, the positives in his game seemed to far outweigh the negatives. There was a reason he was picked first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Jameis has good foot speed, good size and ability in the pocket, a strong (even if unsteady) arm, and agility that points to a long career.

When Jameis is cooking, he chefs up something like the final dish in Ratatouille. But when he’s not, which is just as often, it’s more like a dad who hasn’t cooked himself anything other than cereal in 20 years trying to cook up a filet mignon.

And the craziest thing is, it’s not surprising when you see the highest of the high or the lowest of the low. Winston is the first player in NFL history to throw for 30 (or more) touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season.

Winston also threw for 5,000 yards this season, joining an elite group of players, and led the league with 33 touchdown passes. Jameis’ talent is there, but his awareness is mightily lacking.

After the game, Jameis was confident as ever in his game and future. But his rookie contract is up, and there is no assurance that the Buccaneers are going to resign him.

Jameis has given the Bucs little reason to believe he can lead them to postseason success and prosperity. At the same time, he has shown the team flashes (and sometimes more than that) of his brilliance. It’s hard to walk away from a talent of his caliber.

On offense and defense, the Bucs were not short on talent this year, and while those of us outside of the organization may not have held high expectations, the franchise surely believed they could make the playoffs.

The Bucs go into the offseason with a lot of uncertainty. Key players are free agents, most notably Winston, and the inconsistency that has plagued the team the last few years was embodied by their last play of the year: a Winston pick-6.

One thing that is certain: Winston is confident in his game and sure he can be the best. And he understands the turnovers are a problem.

Teams will be fearful of the turnovers and other problems in his game, but if anyone can capture lightning in a bottle in a lost season, it’s Jameis.

Jameis has shown us what he is: inconsistent, inaccurate, but strong, forceful, and determined.

If his play can become just a little more consistent week to week, he can be a winning quarterback. We will just have to wait and see if it will be for the Bucs.

Could NBA load management be the wave? Here’s what we think

We never know how many more years we have left, how many more days we can perform and perfect our craft and revel in the joy of doing so without a thought, that at any second, it could end.

Most of us don’t think about the end, and while take for granted, is a phrase with such a negative connotation, the truth is, for those of us that practice our craft and get caught up in the minute difficulties that come along with it, that is exactly what we do: we take for granted.

An athlete’s window of their career is shorter than most. For athletes, and Lebron James, every day must be a reminder that you get to do what you love, and for the most part, there should be no days taken off.

James said on Sunday:

“If I’m healthy, I play. I mean, I don’t know how many games I got left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game and they’re there to see me play and if I sit out, then what? That’s my obligation.”

Most of us don’t perform in front of thousands of fans, but James’ words still hold true. None of us know how many more days we have left doing what we love, what we live, what we breathe.

Do we all need sick days? Treat yo self days? Of course. But when we’re ready, we need to treat every day like it is our last, because that is a reality.

NBA load management became a hot topic over the last half-decade. It started with Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs sitting his aging star players out and immediately being slapped with a fine for it.

Then Lebron James was rested in his Miami Heat days, and as the prime star of the league, it was an even more significant problem.

Now load management has become normalized, even lauded as the path to success, especially after the Toronto Raptors rested Kawhi Leonard 20 games last year so that he was ready and fresh for the playoffs, and he proceeded to lead them to their first championship in franchise history.

Kawhi now plays for the LA Clippers and has been rested this season expeditiously. The League struggles with a season that is ultimately too long, but it doesn’t want to cut games because of the financial detriments.

Doc Rivers clapped back at the Lakers after being asked about load management and Lebron’s comments.

“It’s our philosophy,” Rivers said of load management.

“I don’t know what theirs are. I think theirs is whatever Lebron says it is, to be honest. That makes a lot of sense to me. I like what we are doing, and I think it’s the smart thing to do.”

Lebron and the large shadow he casts surely can dominate a franchise. It did in Cleveland, for good reason, and to some extent, it does now in LA. But the irony in Doc’s words is that Kawhi has just as much control over the Clippers.

He signed with the franchise under the agreement that he would be load managed. Did Doc rest his aging stars in the past in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, both with injury histories? No. Kawhi has as firm a grasp on the throat of the Clippers front office as Lebron does the Lakers, if not more so.

Load management has its benefits and its detriments. Resting your star player(s) allows for them to be fresh once the playoffs come; that’s when the results matter most. On the other hand, cohesion and chemistry are sacrificed, and some teams are simply just not good enough to win games with their star player(s) out.

Players are going to continue to rest. The league is going to continue to look for ways to remedy the problem of players resting and great teams not taking the entire regular season seriously.

Lebron is turning 35 at the end of this month. In his age and wisdom, he understands his time in the NBA is much closer to the end than it is the beginning.

With this knowledge, he is fulfilling his commitment to playing when he is healthy, performing his craft for the plethora of fans that love to see it, and not taking for granted the beautiful game he gets to play.

Just look at Lebron this season, he looks like he is having so much fun.


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Load management shouldn’t be frowned upon, because it has been proven to work. At the same time, we must applaud our superstars who play every game they can and who never cheat fans out of their money’s worth.

Any day, the ability to practice our passions can be taken from us. The will of nature is out of our hands. What is in our hands is to practice our craft with care and patience each and every day, and never take that which has so mightily defined us for granted.

How the “Be True to Yourself” collection is empowering the next-gen of champions

This new decade will define us. It is only natural to reflect on our past and present, and also look toward the future.

It takes a lot of strength, bravery, and wisdom for any of us to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves, and that is no clearer than now as we all head into what could be the new Roaring 20’s.

But beyond any of those qualities, the biggest hallmark for growth and success is staying true to yourself. UNINTERRUPTED knows this better than anyone.

With that said, UNINTERRUPTED, the athlete empowerment brand co-founded by Maverick Carter and Lebron James, is introducing its first private label collection this Monday, Dec. 16 at 8 am.

The “Be True to Yourself” collection reflects the idea that everyone deserves to be empowered, no matter their background or anyone’s preconceptions.

Because we all have the power to be great.

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Link in bio to get details about the upcoming collection. 🔥👀

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The theme of the apparel collection is set through a collegiate “UNINTERRUPTED acceptance letter,” that welcomes everyone to join the community of “game-changers.”

In the promotional video released on UNINTERRUPTED’s Instagram, Carter and other voices narrate the words in the letter.

“The most important person in overcoming adversity and realizing your greatness is yourself,” says one of the narrators.

The “Be True to Yourself” collection is comprised of a long-sleeve “Circle Logo Mulholland Tee,” retailing for $70; a short-sleeve “Arch Logo Venice Tee,” for $55; a “Summit Fleece Hoody,” for $130; “Circle Summit Fleece Sweatpants,” for $120, and an “Arch Logo Cap,” for $45. All items are available in three colorways.

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First look at our Be True To Your Self private label collection. 👀

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UNINTERRUPTED was created so that athletes had a platform to showcase their lives and efforts outside of their sport, but while everyone may not be an athlete, we are, still, all dream-chasers.

Everyone has their own specific story, unique journey, and goals they set out for themselves. UNINTERRUPTED reminds us that the only true way to achieve these goals and be our best selves is to lean into who we are.

“Everything you need is within you,” the letter states.

“When you follow your heart, trust your head, and do your own work, you are your own truth. Be true to yourself.”

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First look at our Be True To Your Self private label collection. 👀

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Check UNINTERRUPTED’s webstore and stay tuned for the drop on Monday, Dec. 16.

Sneaker boss: UNINTERRUPTED announces PJ Tucker signs huge new deal with Nike

In an exclusive announcement on UNINTERRUPTED, PJ Tucker of the Houston Rockets signed a multiyear six-figure endorsement deal with Nike.

There was much speculation as to where Tucker, an avid sneakerhead, would sign. Though not exactly a superstar in the NBA, Tucker is one of the key components of a team that has been one of the best in the league for years. Without Tucker, the Rockets don’t tick. And without new shoes at his disposal, Tucker doesn’t tick.


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To The Shoe Game, I’m signing back with the swoosh. Leaders of the old school and the new. #SincerelyYours, @pjtucker

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In addition to being a big-time player for a big franchise (that gets a lot of national spotlight), Tucker is not shy in expressing his love for kicks.

Speaking about his lifelong passion for sneakers and desire to add to his collection, Tucker said, “Making it to the NBA sealed my fate. I was gonna get ’em all, and then some.”

Nike saw the vision; they saw what Tucker’s involvement with the company could do, and the two sides worked on an agreement that is sure to be mutually prosperous.

UNINTERRUPTED, the media company started by Maverick Carter and LeBron James, focuses on bringing stories to light that mean more than just sports. With Tucker releasing the news exclusively on UNINTERRUPTED, he is helping spread the message of the benefits and influence the company possesses.

Tucker is lauded as the “Sneaker King” of the NBA. That’s high praise for a league that specializes in marketing sneakers, and where every star player gets a shoe deal.

His kick game is hot, and he doesn’t only wear the most expensive brands. Tucker has loved shoes since he was a boy, and his passion has never wavered. Now, he has the opportunity to help build something he can call his own, and man is it exciting.

“I can’t wait to show you guys what we come up with.”

The King’s still here: Why we shouldn’t take LeBron’s greatness for granted

LeBron James is on a revenge tour this season, and he’s not afraid to admit it.

In fact, he has been exceedingly forthright in his feelings for a man that is already normally transparent. With his constant hashtags of #WashedKing and #RevengeSeason, LeBron is reminding the world he heard all of the noise over the offseason, and more than that: do not take greatness for granted.

For 15 and a half years LeBron was a physical specimen like we had never seen. His athleticism, speed, and build allowed him to be a lockdown defender, and when hitting his shots, be virtually unguardable on the other end. And all this talent wasn’t even his favorite or most important attribute. LeBron’s passing has always been his best skill.

When the haters said he wasn’t clutch, he won a couple of rings. When the naysayers said he couldn’t win a ring in Cleveland, he did that too. And when they declared he couldn’t win without a group of stars on his team, he dragged a hapless Cavs team to the Finals.

Then came his move to Los Angeles. Standing with his team fourth in the West at Christmas, LeBron got hurt, and when he returned, he clearly wasn’t himself. The Lakers missed the playoffs, Magic Johnson called an impromptu press conference to resign from the team and then proceeded to trash the organization. Fans and analysts alike speculated on whether the Lakers should even trade LeBron.

Except while the clowns got their shots off at him, LeBron had extra time to rest, rejuvenate, and return for his self-proclaimed revenge tour.


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Highest in the Room 🙌🏾🎢🎡🚀 #ThekidfromAKRON🤴🏾 #TheManintheArena🏟 #KingMe👑 #WashedKing👑

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Here we are today, as the Lakers are the number one team in the league, and LeBron is the clear best player in the league. On the season, he is averaging 25 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 11.1 assists (a career high, and leading the league).

Doubts of whether LeBron could return to MVP form were well-found. We had never seen him injured before, and he is approaching his 35th birthday. Though we had 16 years of watching the King tower over his subjects, to be trepidatious with LeBron wasn’t completely out of bounds.

But the vitriol with which fans and some media members attacked James was extremely odd. Instead of speculating on what he would be, they gleefully and rather openly prayed on his downfall.

And this begs the question: why are so many of us desperate to see the mighty fall? Why can’t we appreciate greatness instead of taking it for granted?

LeBron has told reporters he heard the noise last season and this summer, the comments on his game and most specifically, his defense.

He has been superb on that side of the ball this season.

Year 17. Approaching age 35. 6th most minutes in league history.

LeBron’s efforts off the court somehow outshine even his brightest accolades on it. He started a public elementary school called the I Promise School for at-risk children in his hometown. He co-founded a media company called Uninterrupted to provide a platform for athletes and entertainers to speak on issues bigger than their craft.

There is no shortage of spectacle with LeBron, no shortage of accomplishment, no shortage of history. And it’s not done yet; in some ways, it’s just getting started.

LeBron’s main tagline is #StriveForGreatness, but now he is reminding us of just as important of a phrase: #ValueGreatness.

This season Trae Young is proving the underdogs are on top

True to his nickname “Ice Tray,” Trae Young is lighting up the scoreboards this year, coming up big in the clutch, and doing it in big team wins.

The Atlanta Hawks are currently 4-6 but have picked up impressive wins over the Spurs and Nuggets. Last night versus the extremely formidable Nuggets, Trae dropped 42 points and 11 assists. His success and aptitude as a point guard in his second season are extremely impressive and rather unprecedented.

The Hawks prospects of making the playoffs did not seem too strong just a couple weeks ago. Young tweaked his ankle in a play that looked like it could have sidelined him for the entire season. Then forward John Collins (who has great chemistry with Young) was suspended 25 games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy.

Once an extremely exciting season was on the verge of failure before it even got going, and Hawks fans (and NBA fans overall) had to bite their nails in desperation.

A stroke of luck was found when Trae was back after just a couple of games. In Collins’ absence, other role players have stepped up, such as Jabari Parker, former number two overall pick.

With the leadership of Young, the Hawks look once again like a fringe-playoff team in the weaker Eastern Conference, and after an impressive win over the Nuggets last night, Trae is showing us he has another element to his game: leadership, and the ability to make his teammates better.

Trae’s path to being one of the top-three point guards and top-10 players so far this season was not an easy one though. He was a consummate professional in college and otherworldly star, but still, the doubters’ voices loomed the largest.

Young played college basketball for Oklahoma, and in his first and only season for the Sooners, he became the first and only player to ever lead the NCAA in both points and assists in a season.

He was a star of epic proportions, drawing comparisons to Steph Curry because of his slick handle and deep shot-making ability. But even after such a successful season, the verdict was out on Young and supposed “experts” were surprisingly low on him.

Then it was draft day and the Hawks had the number three pick. But instead of drafting Trae, the Hawks traded the pick to the Mavericks, who in return gave them the fifth pick and a protected pick the following season.

The Mavericks selected Slovenian phenom Luka Doncic, who is also lighting up the league this year, and the Hawks selected Young, who they were high on and confident would still be there at the five spot. This last draft, the Hawks selected DeAndre Hunter, a skilled two-way wing, with the extra pick they received from the Mavericks.

Scouts and fans alike cast aspersions on the Hawks for the trade. Doncic was already a superstar in Europe, and there was little doubt he would be a superstar in the NBA. When he started off hot right out of the gate, all eyes were on the Hawks and their young guard.

But what we have seen from the second half of last season to this one is Trae Young is a star himself, and both players work perfectly in the systems they operate in. Both teams should be thrilled with the trade, which is unbelievably uncommon in sports. What’s even greater is the two young men root for each other. That is the pinnacle of what good-natured fans like to see.

Is this the year of stars proving haters wrong? In a bigger sports context, both Lamar Jackson and Trae Young were doubted before their draft.

“Lamar can’t throw, he should move to wide receiver, running back.”

“Trae is too small, he won’t be able to do this against NBA athletes.”

Now both superstars are reveling in their recent success, brushing off the haters, and striving for more.

Like the Ravens, the Hawks are a talented team with a great coach, but neither squad would be what they are without their young leader.

And the potential the teams possess is due to these young men almost exclusively.

Trae Young is not the next Steph Curry, he is the first Trae Young.

Welcome to superstardom Ice Tray, Long May He Reign.

How Nike’s Project Moonshot helped me conquer the 2019 NYC Marathon

It came and went, all in a moment.

Months of grinding away had resulted in 3 hours, 11 minutes and 15 seconds. I had crossed the finish line of the 2019 New York City Marathon. It was the end of the race and the completion of a journey covering a spectrum of emotions.

This 17-week journey started during the long, summer days of July. I walked into Nike’s NYHQ to take part in Project Moonshot, an immersive marathon training program for 350 of New York City’s athletes.

We all gathered on the second-floor basketball court to go through the program’s agenda which included meeting our coaches, run groups, and pacers. These were the people I would be spending my next 500 miles running with.

The main goal of the program was to take on 26.2 miles like never before. Its foundation was inspired by Nike’s Breaking2. A project that saw the GOAT, Eliud Kipchoge attempt to break the two-hour marathon barrier.

He recently broke it and became the first person in history to run the marathon distance in less than two hours at the INEOS 1:59 challenge. His experience went well. How would my race go?

Boom BOOM!

The first canons were set off and the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon was underway.


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Miles 0-2: There was a moment of excitement as I took off on the Verrazanno Bridge along with tens of thousands of runners. I quickly calmed down mid-way through the bridge and collected my thoughts.

Amongst a frenzy of people shedding their clothes as if on fire, I reminded myself this was my moment.

Miles 3-13: The next borough up was Brooklyn. There was a peaceful family neighborhood vibe until the course hit 4th Avenue.

Suddenly, there were thousands of cheering spectators partying on the sidewalks. I reciprocated the energy by holding a strong pace throughout the first half of the marathon.

Miles 14-15: Queens required smart pacing to avoid burning out on the Queensboro Bridge. I was quickly reminded of this when a close friend from Brooklyn Track Club popped onto the course from a group of spectators and ran with me.

He told me that I went out too fast, and I needed to slow down. He gave me some water, dapped it up, and dipped back into the crowd. I carried on.


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Mile 16: It was pin-drop silent on the Queensboro Bridge. I saw runners starting to fade in complete silence; pulling off to the side to nurse cramps and rest. We were much closer to the finish line than the starting line.

Miles 17-19: The silence was immediately broken by Thunder Alley, the nickname given for 1st Avenue where runners are greeted by amplified cheers. This was an unforgettable moment. There were a sh*t ton of people.

Each person was cheering harder than the next, effectively giving runners an energy boost. The crowd’s excitement motivated my steady strides along 1st Avenue.

The presence of my family and friends on the course was a double up for my motivation. The pace was solid, the body was holding up, and my energy was plenty. That would all change once I got to the Bronx.

Willis Avenue Bridge was next.

Mile 21: I powered through the uphill portion of the bridge and the initial flats of the Bronx. Although I was in the Bronx for a short period of time, it proved to be the longest moment of the race.

As I was pulling out of the Bronx I was given new life and energy thanks to the Boogie Down Bronx Runners. They encouraged me to push forward and breakthrough The Wall.


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The motivational words were uplifting, but The Wall had other plans. Coming down the Madison Avenue Bridge,  I suddenly caught a cramp in my right hamstring. A complete Charlie Horse. I put my right leg up on a road divider and stretched. My legs were not cooperating.

I had a brief moment of reflection and reminded myself that my family and friends can’t see me looking like a b*tch out here. So I strapped up my kicks, reloaded my legs with a final stretch and shot off. I turned the corner onto Fifth Avenue with warm legs and took on the final miles of the course.

Miles 22- 24: Rolling down Fifth avenue, the crowd picked up once again. The final stretch approached. I absorbed more motivation when I spotted my Mom and Dad. This was for them as much as it was for me. I waved, picked up a Maurten’s gel pack and proceeded forward.

I had one last planned pit stop on the way to the finish line. The We Run Uptown crew set up a Cheer Zone at Mile 22. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I received.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out. The coaches, pacers, and teammates I trained with sent me off with a final push.

Harlem went by and Central Park emerged. I quickly refueled after my friends came through with the clutch drop-off. Then I tackled Central Park headstrong.

Mile 25: Almost immediately, I saw runners dropping left and right. Some more serious than others. I had the same fate. I pulled up to the side just below Cat Hill with a cramp in my left leg.

I mentally revisited the exact scenario that happened earlier in the race. Learning from experience, I made the necessary adjustments.

The marathon continued.

Mile 26: Exiting the park, I was motivated by more friends and turned on to Central Park South’s uphill climb. Through sheer will, I gritted my way up and with one last energy absorption from my friends, my Spirit Bomb was ready.

I gave all I had left in the tank and re-entered Central Park for the final time.

Then I crossed the finish line. What a moment.

My moment

There are only very few moments in life that bring an overrunning feeling of joy. This was one of them. I did it for my family, my friends, my communities, my culture, and my city.

There are too many names to name. Those people know who they are and what they’ve done. They encouraged me to bet on myself. And I did just that.

Running the New York City Marathon has been a life goal of mine since I was a child. I would wake up early Sunday morning each year to watch the race.

My eyes glistened and gleamed at the sight of all the New Yorkers who came together to watch greatness. I wanted a piece of that, I wanted to be great.

Tough times never last, but tough people do. That was one of my mantras throughout my training cycle. The pain of training was only temporary.

I adapted my body, mind, and spirit toward being comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was made easier due to the fact that I was sharing this with my running teammates, who have now become my running family.


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We went through some absurd moments in training. From speed workouts in the pouring rain to tempo runs in the blistering heat and pushing the body to consume more miles. There is no other group of people I would have wanted to experience this with.

The most important lesson I took away from this experience was to play the long game. Greatness takes time and always needs to start at some point.

It takes much experience and time to capture a moment. And if I can capture enough moments, I’ll have memories to last a lifetime.

Until then,

In the words of the great Nipsey Hussle,

The Marathon Continues…

A note to my younger self: Why I urge student-athletes to go back

If I could talk to my younger self…” is the way a lot of people start off a sentence before describing something they regret. It could be about life, love, or a number of other things but nine times out of ten, that sentence ends with some glass half empty-esque notion of a situation that was completely unforeseeable.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I share that regret too. Because if I could talk to my younger self, specifically last summer, I would’ve had a very simple message:

Stop bitching.

Now, this is generally my attitude towards any kind of adversity, not that everything can be solved by just toughening up…but it does expedite most healing processes.

And just to be fair, when I say “b*tching” I’m referring to complaining without a plan of action to actually fix the issue. Anyway, last summer I had a decision to make between accepting a coaching role at Villanova or going for another job.

These were my only options because about two weeks prior, I tore my ACL, LCL, PCL and hamstring in a workout at LaSalle. The position was on the table because my coach, Coach Wright, thought it would be a win-win for me to do my rehab at school while working with a team, in a year, that had mostly new faces.

The only thing that kept me from taking the job, which was the obvious choice was me, b*tching.

In my defense, my years at ‘Nova were some of my most uncomfortable in life and it wasn’t always due to growth. So I b*tched about what could go wrong, who I might not see eye to eye with, and the free time I’d be missing out on… Pretty much I honed in on everything that could go wrong.

One day I was going on and on about everything negative that was out of my control until somebody challenged me to simply look at what could positively go right. I accepted the job the next day and I don’t remember ever feeling like I made the wrong choice.

Being back on campus felt weird at first. It was kind of like pulling off my own version of 22 Jump Street. At the moment, I felt like if anyone questioned me what I was doing, the jig would be up.

This couldn’t have been further from the reality of the situation. In reality, people were happy to have me back on campus because of who I was as a student-athlete and how I played my role on the team.

I spent my time partially coaching the team and partially building my brand, Stay Tuned Network. There was only an abysmally small amount of time, getting closure on everything I left unsettled after I graduated.

It’s no secret that a lot of college athletes aren’t happy with their college experience and although I was happy with my choice in a school, I can’t say that I was completely fulfilled.

A year later the most FAQs are “how’s the media stuff doing” and “so what’s next?” I’m happy I can say the media work is growing every day and “next” involves me doing some freelance work, continuing my show Stay Tuned with D.Rey, writing for several sites like Kulture Hub and independently creating as much content as possible.

In a melodramatic sign off post on IG I said:

“I urge all student-athletes to return to their universities, even if it’s for a summer internship.”

Here’s why: College athletics is a touchy business, there’s a lot of good and just like anything else in this world, some bullshit sprinkled in.

Still, the only way to find peace within discord is to find out why things are the way they are. Furthermore, the only way to change it is to learn the who’s coaching, who’s playing, and who’s cheering.

Then playing your part to the fullest.

Calvin Johnson smoked weed after every game: Why the NFL needs to let players toke

In case you haven’t heard, Megatron smoked weed throughout his career to helping heal from injuries. As revealed in a post-career expose with Sports Illustrated this past Friday, former Detroit Lions wide receiver great, Calvin Johnson, admitted that he smoked weed after “every game.”

Although 6’5, 237-pounds, and nick-named after a transformer, the 6-time Pro Bowler also took a beating while in the NFL. In the S.I. cover story, Calvin Johnson Doesn’t Regret a Thing, it’s revealed that Calvin suffered an ankle, foot and knee injury all in one year, including fracturing a finger to a permanent 90-degree angle.

It was the lack of support from Lions’ medical staff and disregard of his well-being that ultimately led to both he smoking weed and retiring at 30 — in his prime.

“It’s not about the welfare of the players,” Johnson tells S.I., “It’s just about having that product.”

That cut-throat business-minded mentality Calvin was speaking of was confirmed when the Lions asked he pay back his bonus when he announced his retirement.

With all that he sacrificed for the franchise? Suffering a reported nine concussions in his NFL career? One for every season? You’d think that the least the franchise could do is allow him to keep his bonus. But that wasn’t the case.

Additionally, Johnson claims the Lions pressured him to change his story about a 2012 concussion suffered against the Vikings.

“I knew I was concussed because I blacked out. I wasn’t seeing straight. And they wanted me to change my story,” Johnson said.

The true takeaway from the S.I. piece however twofold: 1) Johnson’s decision to self-medicate worked; and 2) Johnson’s decision to self-medicate was “against the rules.”


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For TBT one of my all time fav. sportscasters y’all know who it is R.I.P. Stuart Scott.

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If you look at players like Ricky Williams and Josh Gordon — two very special athletes who repeatedly found themselves caught in the crosshairs of the NFL substance abuse program — you’ll see players that didn’t perform badly at all.

Yet they also had careers that were altered because they sought alternatives to the pain killers and opioids that are currently claiming the lives of millions of Americans.

The active Collective Bargaining Agreement  — which was negotiated by the owners and the players in 2011 — still tests players for marijuana and disciplines them for positive tests, oftentimes to the same penalty of domestic violence and cheating offenders.

And while a 2014 amendment to testing made it so players no longer faced suspensions for marijuana until their fourth positive test (as opposed to two positive tests for other recreational drugs), players who want to smoke during the offseason or use the compound as pain derivative are left without luck.

Lately, however, thanks to marijuana’s nationwide acceptance, sweeping decriminalization and proven medical benefits, the NFL has been softening its stance.

This past May, the NFL and NFL Players’ Association agreed to study marijuana as a means for pain management and will require that every team appoint a “pain management specialist” and “behavioral health team clinician.”

The revision raised the threshold required to test positive for marijuana from 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter to 35 nanograms (in comparison, Major League Baseball uses a threshold of 50 nanograms and the World Anti-Doping Agency uses a threshold of 150 nanograms), addressing player concerns for invoking a positive test due to second-hand smoke.

While the NFL becoming the first North American sports league to stop marijuana testing may not be in the foreseeable future, the hope is that they adopt something similar to the NHL’s drug policy, which tests for marijuana, but as a means to monitor abuse, not punish. The NHL also doesn’t villainize their athletes for non-violent decisions they make off-field.

After the NFL’s agreement to consider marijuana as a pain alternative in May retired Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long came out and admitted smoking while playing as well as hinting that a good majority of the players still do today till this day.

“I’m not a dry snitch, I’m not going to put a percentage on how much the league smokes, but I certainly enjoyed my fair share on a regular basis through my career,” Long told Dan Patrick Show. Calvin Johnson’s revelation is merely a truth that hadn’t been discovered yet.

Now that 22 states have a legal avenue for patients to access medical cannabis products, the likelihood of athletes smoking is more common than ever and the leagues will have to adjust. At this point, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

Not for nothing, Calvin Johnson highlights are that much sweeter knowing he blew one down after toasting a team for 200-plus yards.

Jeff McNeil is more than The Flying Squirrel, he’s MLB’s best-kept secret

Jeff McNeil has been a bright spot for the Mets ever since his debut. He’s showing some real hitting prowess as he statistically becomes one of the best pure hitters in the majors. The only problem is, no one knows it and that’s why Jeff McNeil is the MLB’s greatest secret.

It was July 24, 2018. It was the three-year anniversary of Michael Conforto making his major league debut. On that same day, the Mets called up the then 26-year-old second baseman Jeff McNeil. Coming up from their Minor League team in Las Vegas.

The Mets had a long string of exciting call-ups in the last seven years. Call ups that their fans were absolutely waiting for and that brought fans rushing to Flushing.

The Mets were mostly out of playoff contention for the better part of this past decade.  Despite this, all the call ups from Harvey to Alonso brought a feeling of hope to Citi Field.

McNeil gets his Call Up

Jeff McNeil’s call up was different. Chosen in the 12thround with the 356th overall pick of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft by the Mets. The Long Beach State product went through the farm system basically unheard of by Mets fans. His talent went virtually unpublicized despite having a batting average of .292 or better in every level on the minors.

In the same farm system, however, you had the likes of pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Both made their major league debut in 2015. Then outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo made their major league debuts in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith soon followed in 2017.

By 2018, Mets fans were glued to farm system reports with all their hopes poured into one player. Once again, it wasn’t Jeff McNeil’s high average being talked about among fans.

It was Pete Alonso who had Mets fans begging then General Manager Sandy Alderson, to call up Alonso and make what was a disastrous 2018 season, somewhat worth watching. Alderson didn’t fall pressure to what the Mets fans were telling him to do and instead of Alonso, Mets fans got McNeil.

While the fans let out groans of displeasure, Jeff McNeil came up to the big leagues, saw the first pitch thrown to him as a major leaguer and notched his first major league hit. Mets fans and Mets brass saw McNeil’s call up as temporary.

Look at that Squirrel go!

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Flash-forward to September 2019. Jeff McNeil was never sent down to the minor league again besides participating in a few rehab games as he worked himself back from a hamstring injury earlier this season. McNeil hit the ground running and never looked back.

He finished the 2018 season with a batting average of .329 in 63 games.  His current 2019 season has been just as impressive if not more. As the 2019 season winds down, McNeil is hitting .318 with 22 home runs and 71 runs batted in to go along with a .388 on-base percentage.

The Mets asked him to learn how to play the outfield since they had put together an infield heavy roster during the offseason. Even on the field, he’s impressive. Showing off a strong throwing arm from his new position. For most of the summer, he led all of baseball in hitting.

At the All-Star break, he had a .348 batting average. And he got a nod to being a reserve on this year’s National League All-Star team.

Jeff, Who?

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So…why aren’t we talking about him more? Even with his dazzling play Jeff McNeil doesn’t really get much mention around baseball, not even with the fans of the orange and blue.

Perhaps what has cursed him throughout his minor league career is now happening in the big leagues: he’s being overshadowed. And it’s hard to not be because his teammate and friend, Pete Alonso (oh yeah, he eventually made it to the show) is having a rookie campaign for the history books.

Shattering records left and right with his 49 home runs and 113 runs batted in with a respectable .266 batting average. Can you blame Mets fans?

Alonso has accomplished incredible homerun feats shattering the Mets record book. He holds the franchise record for single-season home run record and single-season rookie home run record. In addition, he is on set to break the National League Single-season rookie homerun record. Alonso was also the winner of the home run derby which will all likely culminate into the National League rookie of the year award for him.

So, you can’t blame baseball fans and Mets fans for overlooking Jeff McNeil. But it’s hard to ignore the pure talent and energy the kid from Santa Barbara brings to Flushing.

Why should fans care?

He usually wears a smile on his face even though it’s not as big as Brandon Nimmo’s. He’s confident in his walk but not with the same confidence Conforto boosted when he hit two home runs in Game Four of the 2015 World Series less than 3 months after making his debut.

Jeff is a vocal personality in the Mets clubhouse yet not as vocal as Todd Frazier or Pete Alonso. He has a childlike innocence but not in the same way Rosario displays it. So what is he to the New York Mets?

In May of 2014 the Mets called up a young pitcher whose sole purpose was to help the bullpen but an injury forced the young right-hander to make a spot day start. That pitcher was Jacob DeGrom.  DeGrom like McNeil was 26 in his rookie season. Also like McNeil, DeGrom’s debut was not highly anticipated.

That spot day start led to a rotation spot. By the end of 2014, DeGrom had won the National League Rookie of the year award. Despite this fact, when the start of the 2015 season came around Mets fans’ main attention wasn’t on their second-year stud. The focus was on the return of Matt Harvey from Tommy John Surgery.

For much of the season, DeGrom was considered the number two behind Matt Harvey. Then Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard came up and had highly-anticipated debuts. Zach Wheelers’ return from Tommy John surgery was also highly anticipated the next season in 2017. Out of this young pitching staff that Alderson dreamed up, each had their flashes of greatness.

In 2019 Jacob DeGrom is the best pitcher in all of baseball. After many years of being considered the steady guy behind Harvey and Syndergaard.

Reliable Jeff

Is that what McNeil is to the new wave of young position player for the Mets? In the same way, Jacob DeGrom was a steady hand for the flux of young pitching the Mets had come up earlier this decade.

Out of the young flux everyday players to make their debut for the Mets, McNeil and Alonso have yet to show a real sign of prolonging slumps or struggles in the major league. In that same breath, fans have to take into account that the players have been in the majors the least amount of time out of the whole group. Alonso is still in his rookie season.

As baseball scouts still watch him and try to figure out his weaknesses, the book is still not out for opposing pitching staffs to attack Alonso. In his second season next year it will be interesting to see how he adjusts once the book is out on him. As a Mets fan, my hope is that he mirrors somewhat the trill of his rookie campaign.

Stop sleeping on the Flying Squirrel

McNeil has been in the majors for over a year. The book should be out by now on what his weakness is. Yet he continues to impress albeit in kind of a throwback way.

He has a high contact percentage combined with his low strikeout rate. McNeil’s stat line is not 40 plus home runs or 120 plus runs batted in, like the game’s biggest stars. Nevertheless, it is impressive.

McNeil is .322 hitter to start his career. If the book isn’t out on McNeil yet will it ever come out? Jeff McNeil is sneakily fast has become one of the best hitters in the majors.

Which make sense why his teammates might have given him the nickname the “Flying Squirrel.” Whether he’s going to be just steady the guy or the star player for the Mets. McNeil is a damn good ballplayer and should have fans in flushing excited for years to come.