The Mental Challenge

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Once again the USA Hockey team lost to Team Canada in the medal round of the Winter Olympics. The Women’s team lost to Canada too, blowing a 2-0 lead. The women will take home a silver medal and the men will go home empty handed. Either way, you don’t win silver or bronze but lose gold.

Winter Olympics

Canada’s national sport is hockey. The US, not so much. Team Canada’s hockey team is a whose who of professional hockey players. From Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron to Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Marleau. You could make a medal winning team of Canadian players who weren’t on the roster.

Does that matter? Yes. Is it all that matters? No.

The US had as good of a shot as anybody at winning the gold in men’s and women’s hockey. The talent level is good enough and so is the coaching. Now it may just be a question of psychology.

The men have now lost to the Canadians in the medal round of the last two Winter Olympics. If and when they meet again, it’s going to be a mental challenge more than anything.While it may not be as challenging as beating the Russians back in 1980 it’ll still be a challenge.

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Pushed to the Back

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard 

Marcus Smart and Michael Sam are two names you’ve been hearing a lot about over the last few days. Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the year, announced he was gay and, a few hours before that, Smart was suspended three games for shoving a fan.

Sam’s story is historic any way you cut it. He will, in all likely hood, be the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team and make, NFL roster and play in an NFL game.

Smart’s suspension is not historic but it is important. Because of the incident, Smart could see his draft stock drop because of the dreaded “character” issue.

Smart can take solace in the fact that Sam took the media spotlight away from him.

If Sam’s announcement had not happened when it did then the major sports stories for the week would have been Smart’s shove of a fan and the Winter Olympics.

Make no mistake, Smart’s actions and following suspension is big news in the sports world but Sam’s news is on another level.

 

Why Roger Craig Should Be In The Hall Of Fame

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Roger Craig may not be a household name outside of the Bay Area. Even then, non football fans may not know that he played running back for the San Francisco 49ers from 1983-1990. He should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame though. Why? He redefined the position of running back.

Roger Craig

Roger Craig played came into the NFL in 1983. He immediately redefined what it meant to be a running back in the league. He did the three things that every organization looks for nowadays in the league, a back that can run, catch and block.

It sounds elementary but before Craig the running back position traditionally just ran and blocked when needed. It wasn’t a threat in the passing game. Craig was. In fact Roger Craig was the first running back in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a single season (Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk has since duplicated the effort). He is also the only running back in NFL history to have over 100 yards receiving in a Super Bowl.

His other stats we’re impressive as well:

-3 time Super Bowl Champion

-4 time Pro Bowler (at two positions mind you)

-1988 Offensive Player of the Year

Yes he did play on some of the best teams in NFL history in San Francisco. He had a tremendous line blocking for him and Joe Montana as a quarterback. He was however a major reason why the West Coast Offense and the 49ers were so successful. They needed him to be as versatile as he was to be as successful as they were.

There are plenty of other names deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame (Will Shields anyone?). Roger Craig should be at the top of that list. For someone who helped change the game to what we know it today, he should get the credit he deserves.