What a week! From NFL players opting out of the 2020-21 season to the rise of COVID-19 cases in MLB and from exciting NBA Bubble action to questions about the future of collegiate athletics, social media was buzzing.
Which NBA Western Conference team will ultimately claim the 8th seed among a highly competitive group of teams? What happens if MLB coronavirus cases continue to surge? Which NFL team has the most skilled roster on paper and the best chance at a Super Bowl?
All these questions and others that sports aficionados ponder were covered by the talkies on Twitter. These are a summary of representative responses.
Colin Cowherd (Fox Sports) – @ColinCowherd
- The Portland Trail Blazers are making a run at the final playoff spot in a powerful Western Conference. This wouldn’t be possible without veteran Carmelo Anthony’s ability to make clutch shots when the game is on the line. According to Colin Cowherd, “Melo always delivers.” On the NFL front, the Fox talkie had some high praise for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He believes that the Buccaneers offense is “better than the Randy Moss-Wes Welker (New England) team…Tampa Bay and Baltimore in the Super Bowl wouldn’t shock [Cowherd] a bit.” Colin underscored this comment by insisting that Tampa Bay is “not a rebuild,” but instead a “Super Bowl roster.” Cowherd also made a bold statement about the Baltimore Ravens: “Baltimore is going to go 16-0, fly through the playoffs and win the Super Bowl…The Ravens are the two scariest things in football – stacked and pissed.”
Dianna Russini (NFL Reporter and ESPN Host) – @diannaESPN
- From NFL players opting out of the 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19 concerns to more collegiate football institutions cancelling or revamping their plans for the upcoming season, football enthusiasts continue to wonder how the NFL season will be able to proceed. Russini also retweeted a video displaying the horrific explosions that occurred in Beruit, Lebanon on Tuesday, August 4th. It is critical that everyone pray for those who were affected. It seems as if 2020 cannot get any worse. Dianna shared quotes on her Twitter platform from some of the NFL’s premier players. It is evident that these professionals are nervous about getting back on the field. A grand total of 61 NFL players have opted out.
Ben Roethlisberger: “I’m very nervous. I haven’t spoken to you guys [the media] in so long. Forgive me if I take a minute to think about some of my answers.”
Odell Beckham Jr.: “I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it. NFL owners ‘don’t see us as human’ and the season shouldn’t happen.”
Jeff Passan (ESPN MLB Insider) – @JeffPassan
- With all of the MLB fervor as of late, Jeff Passan was particularly active this week on social media. Passan was in agony when he heard that Atlanta Braves RHP, Mike Soroka, suffered a torn right achilles’ tendon and that Soroka will be out for the remainder of the season. Mike Soroka is one of the brightest up and coming ball players in the league. When it comes to an injury, Passan also explained the differences between a Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 tear for his followers to better understand the extent of the inury. Of the 13 St. Louis Cardinals who tested positive for COVID-19, “five were asymptomatic and eight had light symptoms.” On a more uplifting note, the Miami Marlins no longer have any players who are positive for the coronavirus. The team resumed play on Tuesday, August 4th and beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-0.
Dick Vitale (ESPN Analyst) – @DickieV
- It is clear that Dick Vitale has a good heart and cares about others. As always, he encouraged his followers to donate to his charity at dickvitale.com. All of the proceeds raised will be donated to The V Foundation to help children battling cancer. Vitale also gave his take on an array of college basketball players and programs:
“LSU must be looked at as an elite team with the return of Javonte Smart, Darius Days, and Trendon Watford.”
“Marek Dolezaj of ‘Cuse has put on weight and that should help him be more of a factor on the interior.”
“Luka Garza returning to Iowa is huge. At the beginning of this upcoming season, he will be projected to be the player of the year.”
Dickie V is also ecstatic about the fact that Clemson and Notre Dame will be facing off in an ACC Football battle this season on November 7th.
Hannah Storm (ESPN) – @HannahStormESPN
- Hannah Storm had an abundant number of tweets responding to the news that the St. Louis Cardinals had 13 people in the organization test positive for COVID-19. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson also tested positive for the virus. Additionally, Storm shared a press release from the V Foundation; Hannah Storm along with Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale, LeBron James, and a few other guests will be teaming up with ESPN for the Victory Television Event set to be broadcast on Saturday, August 8th at 2p.m. on ABC.
Skip Bayless (FOX Sports) – @RealSkipBayless
- Skip Bayless had a great deal to say relating to the games thus far in the NBA Bubble. Bayless opined that on paper “Portland would be the toughest first-round matchup for the Lakers.” On that same note, Skip also claimed that he feels as if Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum shouldn’t have allowed the Golden State Warriors to sweep them in the Western Conference Finals back in 2019. The Warriors swept the Trail Blazers without Kevin Durant in the lineup. Bayless believes that the Blazers would give LeBron’s Lakers the toughest test. (Last month, TNT’s Charles Barkley boldly predicted that the Blazers would upset the Lakers in the first round.) Skip wants to see Zion Williamson’s New Orleans Pelicans face-off against LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, Bayless wants the Pelicans to have more of a presence on the defensive side of the ball. Skip also praised Phoenix Suns Devin Booker for his ability to sink clutch shots. “ If Devin Booker gets the basketball with 5 seconds left, you better watch out because he is going to find a way to take and make that shot. He’s got a huge clutch gene, he’s got big guts.”
Shannon Sharpe (FOX Sports) – @ShannonSharpe
- Shannon Sharpe acknowledged how special Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic is as a basketball player: “Luke accomplished something Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, and Magic didn’t at 21. Luka is special. He is the youngest player in NBA history to record a 30-point, 20-rebound triple-double.” Doncic has been in the same discussion as Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James as a candidate to win the NBA’s MVP Award. Sharpe also commented on the popularity of Orlando Magic Forward, Jonathan Isaac, after Isaac suffered a torn ACL in the NBA Bubble this past week.
“I’m not surprised Jonathan Isaac’s jersey sales are the second most in the NBA right now. He has become the symbol for players not kneeling during the anthem. The only difference between Jonathan Isaac and Colin Kaepernick: Jonathan won’t lose his career like Kap.”
Rachel Nichols (Host of The Jump on ESPN) – @Rachel_Nichols
- Rachel Nichols is a big vocal supporter of the virtual fans in the “crowd” that the NBA has cleverly implemented within the Orlando Bubble. She appreciates the league attempting to make the environment feel as ordinary as possible for the players, coaches, trainers, and other NBA employees present. Nichols also shared a powerful message from legendary San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, which related to how the NBA has an astonishing 0 positive COVID-19 cases within the NBA Bubble.
Popovich: “I think it’s a great example for the country. Number 1, our leader [Adam Silver] had a vision, knew how to organize, did it efficiently, and the participants, unlike many of our citizens have been very disciplined about reaching their goal and coming together for a common purpose…”