Football fans: We’ve made it! Starting this week, we have real games that matter when college football kicks off Week Zero of the regular season with a handful of games, including Arizona State’s first–week opponent, Southern Utah, and Pac-12 foe UCLA, both in action on Saturday. We’re looking forward to having some takeaways from games of importance very soon. Until then, let’s look back at five issues that grabbed our attention – and our opinions – from the previous week in sports.
1. Kyler Murray stinks in preseason and we couldn’t care less.
The Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback saw his first preseason action since his rookie year in 2019 Friday night in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Murray finished with one completion for two yards passing and had one rush for eight yards. In his three series, the offense went three-and-out all three times and Murray took a sack and fumbled on the final series.
Big Takeaway: The NFL preseason remains the dumbest thing in all of sports to get upset over. We’re not quite sure why people care if Kyler Murray plays well or even plays for that matter. He doesn’t need to and likely won’t see any playing time Saturday at the New Orleans Saints in the third and final preseason game. Remember there was no preseason in 2020 and Murray put up some historic stat lines early in the season, leading the Cardinals to a 6-3 record. The only games we should worry about in terms of his performance are the important ones in the back half of the regular season, because those lead into playoff games. It shouldn’t be this hard for Cardinals fans to figure out.
2. Larry Fitzgerald no longer has the “urge” to play.
The Arizona Cardinals legend told Jim Gray on Sirius XM radio last Friday that he doesn’t “have the urge” to play football right now and he’s not sure if the urge will return in the next few months.
Big Takeaway: In our opinion, this is Fitz in retirement mode, he just doesn’t want to officially say it yet. Fitzgerald also said in the interview that football players need to be in love with the process of pursuing the Lombardi Trophy. The process means showing up to training camp, practicing with your teammates all week and going through the game planning and film study like he’s done for the past 17 years of his brilliant career. Fitzgerald sounds like he doesn’t want to simply show up on a roster that has a chance to play in the Super Bowl this season to win a ring that has escaped him his entire career. He knows he needs to put in the work first, like he’s done diligently for nearly two full decades here in the desert.
3. Glendale gives Coyotes the future boot from Gila River Arena.
Last Thursday, the City of Glendale put out a statement it was looking for “larger, more impactful events” to schedule at the city-owned Gila River Arena and that meant the lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes would come to an end after the upcoming 2021-22 hockey season.
Big Takeaway: This dysfunctional relationship has been in sore need of a breakup for a long time. In finally dumping the Coyotes, the city offered one of the great smack–talk lines (intentional or not). “More impactful” than a professional sports team playing in your arena is quite the expression and it’s true. GQ once ranked the Coyotes as the 11th worst franchise in sports history and Bleacher Report listed our hockey team No. 4 of the 10 most irrelevant teams in sports. The Coyotes have made one deep playoff run (2012) in their 25 seasons in the desert and are largely an afterthought for many Valley sports fans. (In full disclosure, PHOENIX has a promotional partnership with Gila River Arena and we’re regularly giving tickets away to events.) Glendale would rather fill its arena with concerts, comedy shows and fighting dinosaur shows than a hockey team that has always and will likely continue to struggle to be competitive and relevant.
4. What sports got right this week…
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen blasted professional Major League Baseball hitters over Twitter, pleading for a more disciplined approach and calling them (likely his own team) “unproductive.”
Cohen is absolutely right in his criticism of MLB hitters and how refreshing is it to see this from the owner of a team. It shows he actually cares about the product on the field and the wins and losses, instead of the only caring about the revenue streams and bottom line like so many other owners in sports. As of this morning, there are only 14 MLB hitters at a .300 batting average or above. Ten years ago, 25 players finished .300 or above. Even more dramatically, 20 years ago, 46 guys were at or above the .300 mark. Something in the game (probably analytics) is ruining baseball players’ ability to actually hit well. Powerful and more vocal owners could help reverse this disturbing trend.
5. … and what sports got wrong.
The Phoenix Suns landed on the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule for the first time since 2009 and they’ll go head-to-head for attention with none other than two NFL games! The Suns host the Golden State Warriors in the third of five Association games on December 25, a Saturday that also features NFL Week 16 games between the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers in the afternoon; and the Arizona Cardinals hosting the Indianapolis Colts at night. So, congrats to the Suns for finally getting back into the national spotlight, but most of the country won’t be watching basketball on the NBA’s so-called “showcase day” of games. The NFL is on and will remain king, especially in Week 16.