Roethlisberger’s confidence in himself was never an issue

McVay, president and CEO of the Outback Bowl: That didn’t get him the No. 1 spot in the draft, but it sure helped to raise additional exposure around what a special athlete the guy was.

Spurrier: He was projected to be the first pick. And some people even suggested he not play his third season. He could’ve not played and probably still been the first pick. So if he got any kind of little injury or pulled muscle or something like that, he pretty much took himself out of the action. But we worked through it. And certainly, as the coach, he deserved to be treated a little bit differently because he did not have to play that year. It was sort of a bonus to all of us he was out there playing.

Jackie MacMullan unfurled a massive, MacMullanian profile of Kyrie Irving upon the Cavaliers’ visit (and loss) to Boston Wednesday. It’s a masterpiece of the form that gets little directly from Irving but more than plenty from everyone else. And though Irving wasn’t particularly useful in providing material (apparently), he comes off well.

This is a kid who thrives on being challenged, who wants to be different, who needs to feel like he’s doing everything he can. That wasn’t happening in Cleveland, and couldn’t so long as Perhaps The Greatest Of All Time was around. So Irving asked out.

There are so many good nuggets and such excellent canon-building in MacMullan’s piece that I implore you to go read it now (in the event you didn’t catch it when it dropped). This is a piece we’ll be referencing when discussing Irving and, by extension, LeBron James for decades.

The Giants didn’t play like they wanted to lie down for a better draft pick last week against the Eagles. That doesn’t mean they didn’t revert to their inept selves at the wrong time — or that they won’t go ahead and look as if they’re lying down in the desert this week. Such a coincidence that one of the final acts of an era of Giants football will play out on the field where they shocked the unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl 42. The Cardinals are not good, but they’ll be good enough.

Russell Westbrook’s 26-11-10 triple-double on 52-percent shooting, and Steven Adams, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony’s 51 combined points weren’t enough to overcome the poor defensive effort.

In Seerat Sohi’s weekly SB Nation column, she highlighted how maddening Roberson is as one of the NBA’s best defensive players but worst offensive ones. But his deficiencies are masked to a degree in OKC, and as the numbers tell, his defense stands out. The Thunder are 20 points per 100 possessions better defensively with him on the court.

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That’s what Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday of his grandfather

Akins was a former Marine and World War II veteran before becoming a legendary high school football coach in Texas. Akins coached at Gregory-Portland High School in Southern Texas from 1965-1988. He was the second-winningest coach in Texas high school football history when he retired in 1988, with 293 wins, and set a state record with 12 straight district titles.

He was probably one of the most incredible people, incredible men that you could ever meet, Brees told reporters Wednesday. They just do not make them like that anymore, honestly. He was 92 years old. He lived an incredible life. He taught me so much about life, about respecting others, caring for others, about discipline, and about hard work.

Obviously, he was a football coach for 38 years so there was plenty of ball being coached along the way, but more so than that just spending time with him. Watching him and my grandmother, they modeled us for what a relationship and marriage should look like. They were married for 67 years and that is pretty remarkable. A guy who grew up from very humble means in Brady, Texas, which if you look at a map of Texas is in the dead center of Texas.

Working the waiver wire is key to fleshing out a winning roster. Here are all of the top free agents you should consider picking up for the week ahead.

On the season, DeRozan currently ranks No. 1 among shooting guards and tenth overall in Offensive Real Plus Minus (ORPM), indicating that his presence on the court has correlated with more positive changes in his team’s offensive scoring margins than any shooting guard this season. This is a big improvement for DeRozan, who finished last season ranked ninth among shooting guards and 38th overall in this stat.

The improved long-range shot and increased playmaking are likely responsible for that improvement in on-court impact — and that long-range shot and those assists also make him a much more potent fantasy threat.

DeRozan is already an impact roto producer in scoring and free throw percentage, because he knocks down a lot of free throws on a great percentage. According to the Player Rater, he’s also a positive in field goal percentage, as he’s shooting 48 percent from the field on high volume as well. But now he’s in the top 10 among shooting guards in assists too, and if he continues knocking down 3-pointers at anywhere near this clip, he’ll soon measure out even more positive in that category to boot.

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This is Tomlin’s predicament as the Steelers prepare for a Sunday afternoon visit from the Browns.

Approaching the final weekend of the 2017 NFL regular season, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed questions about what sort of lineup he would field by responding, We will play to win that football game.

Given that the opposition for that game is the Cleveland Browns, who have won once in their past 31 games, that left open the possibility Tomlin might send out the varsity 11 from Pine-Richland High to protect his regulars from the possibility of injury.

He has not employed a reasonably healthy squad for any playoff run since, perhaps, the team’s last trip to the Super Bowl, in 2010. However, there also is the remote possibility the Steelers still could grab the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs away from the Patriots. Which means the Steelers-Browns game isn’t entirely without meaning.

It is mostly without meaning, though. For the Steelers to gain home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, the Patriots would first have to lose a home game to the Jets. The Pats have won six of the last seven, 11 of the last 13 and six in a row at Gillette Stadium. They are favored by 15 1/2 points.

I feel like they’re not going anywhere, and I definitely feel like we’re not going anywhere, Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett said. It may be like that, we’re definitely two teams that are very dominant, very consistent, very good coaches. We’re good all over the board.

If these two teams do meet for a fourth time in a bowl game, they would be making history. No teams have ever met four consecutive years in the postseason. As it is, this marks just the second time two teams have played each other in three consecutive years (USC and Ohio State met in the Rose Bowl every year from 1972 to ’74).

So what will both teams look like in 2018? Alabama might have a tougher road because of all the players it has to replace. The Crimson Tide lose 21 seniors, but also must await decisions from underclassmen Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison, Da’Ron Payne, Calvin Ridley and Bo Scarbrough.

Clemson, on the other hand, loses just six seniors but also must await decisions from underclassmen Austin Bryant, Deon Cain, Clelin Ferrell, Mitch Hyatt, Kendall Joseph, Ray-Ray McCloud and Christian Wilkins.

Everybody’s talking about the trilogy like someone’s fixin’ to die or something, Swinney said Monday after the Sugar Bowl. We’ll be back. They’ll be back. We’ll have more of these.

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