1. Steelers Free Agency-To no surprise, the Steelers haven’t made the headlines in NFL Free Agency like other teams have, but we knew it was a matter of time before they started looking at players as they’ve looked at a few, but only ended up signing one: WR Justin Hunter, a 6-4, 203 pound speed receiver who last played for the Buffalo Bills.
  2. Was signing Hunter a smart move? You betcha. He’s a special talent that just needs the right QB and I think he’ll get that with Ben Roethlisberger. The question is, where will he hit? That’s not a question that needs to be answered right now as it’s still the off season, but I would put Hunter over Sammie Coates and Cobi Hamilton right now and even put him in Martavis Bryant’s spot if he doesn’t get reinstated by the NFL.
  3. What is Bryant’s response to the Hunter comparisons? It’s an honest shame that the suspended WR would even open his mouth right now, but yes he did as he said on Twitter: “Stop it with tnonsensense people and go check my film out and compare it.”-Bryant needs to grow up. Yes, he’s a better WR than Hunter (as far as stats) but he’s saying that about a teammate and going to social media with it. Plus, he’s still suspended. Zip it, man.
  4. LB Donta’ Hightower rejects Steelers to return the to Patriots-I mean, can you blame him? The man won 2 rings with the Pats and they were willing to pay the money. Players will always resonate with that. I’ll give the Steelers credit for giving him an offer, but he also received an offer from the NY Jets too. The decision was up to Hightower and he made what he thought was best. End of story.
  5. Vince Williams-He’s truly the forgotten man in all of this free agent talk. Williams is truly an underrated player, but his skills have been stellar as an inside LB For the Steelers. Folks forget that he was a 6th round draft pick that started 11 games his rookie season and has filled in with Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier were out with injuries. Plus the Steelers gave him a contract extension last season. He might be the answer to replacing Timmons. He’ll certainly get his shot.
  6. Other NFL Free Agents-The Dallas Cowboys re-signed RB Darren McFadden to back up starter Ezekiel Elliott. That’s not a bad move, especially after McFadden had 1,000 yards for the Cowboys in 2015. Plus, he’s a proven veteran that has had success with the Oakland Raiders. The NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons signed DT Dontari Poe from the KC Chiefs. He was the one who took a snap on offense and threw a TD pass against the Denver Broncos last season.
  7. Other NFL News-To he honest, not much else is going on, which is usually the case after the the first week of Free Agency. It is rather interesting that RB Adrian Peterson still hasn’t been signed. I just knew the Seahawks would get him, but they signed Eddie Lacy, formerly of Green Bay. But teams are seriously turning their attention towards the NFL prospects and the upcoming Draft which will take place in April.
  8. NCAA Tournament-Ah yes, it’s Dancing time as the field of 68 has officially begun. Do you fill out a bracket? I do not. In fact the last time I did so was in 2007, so that says a lot. As for the games, I love the possibility of upsets, and one almost took place Thursday as Notre Dame held off Princeton 60-58. (other early Finals)#1 seed Gonzaga got past South Dakota St. 66-46, Butler beat Winthrop 76-64 and Virginia beat UNC Wilmington 76-71.
  9. Early Final Four Prediction-It’s never easy to predict these games, but I can see Villanova, West Virginia (Yeah, I said it), Louisville, and North Carolina getting there, with Villanova getting the repeat vs. Louisville. But it’s still early. My prediction might change next week.
  10. West Virginia wins 1st round Game-Speaking of the Mountaineers, they made a step towards a Final Four appearance after beating Bucknell 86-80. G Kimbal Mackenzie led the way with 23 points and they will now face Notre Dame on Saturday. That should be a good one.
  11. Pitt basketball-Yes, the team continues to make news even though they’re out of any kind of tournament play for the first time since 2000. Unfortunately, the news isn’t the best as G Crisshawn Clark and F Corey Manigault have both decided to transfer from the school.
  12. Pitt’s future-These recent departures (along with G Justice Kithart being dismissed) and the graduations of F Mike Young, Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter and G Chris Jones will basically give Pitt a new look next season. The will still have G Cameron Johnson and F Ryan Luther and big man Rozelle Nix, and possible G Damon Wilson, but the rest of the spots will be filled by newcomers. HC Kevin Stallings will certainly have his work cut out for him.
  13. Indiana fires HC Tom Crean-I was shocked by this. Crean coached the Hoosiers for 9 seasons and led them to the Sweet 16 3 times, but they hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 4 years and the team truly hasn’t been the same since Bob Knight left over 20 years ago. I can’t imagine Crean being totally done with coaching and I’m sure he’ll have a few suitors in the off season.
  14. Pitt football begins Spring Drills-Yessir, the preparation for the 2017 CFB season is underway and this Pitt team is pretty excited as they take the practice field. Unfortunately it won’t include most of the recruits as they need to finish high school, but QB grad-transfer Max Browne from USC can show what he’s got as he’ll be trying to take that starting job. They are also going into these drills without RB James Conner for the first time since 2013.
  15. NBA Standings-As the regular season is close to reaching it’s end, here are the league’s best records: In the Western Conference, Golden St. (53-14) and San Antonio (52-15) continue to fight for the overall best record and in the East, Cleveland (44-22) continues to hold off Boston (43-25) for the conference’ s best record.
  16. Is that the Washington Wizards? No, seriously. Are they really the 3rd best team in the East? At 41-26, they sure are. G John Wall (23.2) and Bradley Beal (also 23.2) are truly leading this team and kudos to former OKC Coach Scott Brooks for getting this team together.
  17. Chicago’s Dwyane Wade out the rest of the season-Once again, the injury bug has hit this veteran and I’m thinking he should call it a career. This time, Wade suffered an elbow fracture which doesn’t require surgery. Wade said it’s too soon to think about his future.
  18. NBA MVP candidates-I would still give it to OKC’s Russell Westbrook who is still getting those Triple-Doubles. He’s been on fire since the start of the season. Houston’s James Harden will certainly be runner-up, followed by the Cavs LeBron James, who’s basically an MVP candidate every season.
  19. Pirates Exhibition Season-I will be the first to say that the preseason doesn’t matter, but I have to admit that the Pirates 13-5 record is an eyebrow-raiser. That record is good for 2nd place in the Grapefruit League(the Cactus League is the other) starting pitchers Jameson Tallion, Ivan Nova and Steve Hutchinson have all impressed and Utility Man Adam Frazier has impressed with the bat and his positive attitude. But it’s still a few weeks to go before we can really see what they’re all about.
  20. Pedro Alvarez rejoins the Orioles-A player like this shouldn’t be a free agent long, and Alvarez wasn’t as he rejoins the Orioles on a minor league contact, which is a surprise to me. The dude may be a defensive liability, but he still hit 22 home runs last season. And they’re trying him out in the outfield?? Well, at least he has a good attitude about it.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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