Our blog is known for edge (not really but I like to think so). There is no more a Sportsman than a common man. A guy who hasn't played any professional sports prior to a heroic effort and he's over 40 years old. Who makes a living driving the most interesting vehicle in the history of conveyance, the Zamboni. Check, check, and, check. And he played in a game in which his team won. The Carolina Hurricanes found themselves without a goalie after both James Reimer (injury) and Petr Mrazek (collision) were forced out of the game. Enter David Ayres. Part time Zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies (AHL) entered the game and after allowing two goals on two shots (cutting the lead to one goal) to the hosting Toronto Maple Leafs, stopped the next eight shots to enable the Canes to hold onto a 6-3 win. Let's not fool ourselves, we all dream of that day we are called into action off the sidelines and get to lead our team to victory. It just doesn't happen. Except to David Ayres. Our Sportsman of the Week!
An unusual sports weekend, with Daytona 500 being postponed until Monday, NBA on All Star break, XFL great (but not ready to go there yet), we focus on hockey. Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers is establishing himself as elite, if not on TV ever because of the lack of market visibility. Draisaitl \Dry'-Psi'-tul\ netted 3 goals and chipped in 7 assists in 4 games, as the Oilers went 3-1. They find themselves tops in the Pacific conference and poised for some home ice advantage in the playoffs. The 24-year-old German finds himself leading Edmonton in Goals (4th in the NHL), Assists (1st in NHL), and Points (also 1st in NHL) on a team with emerging starts Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (26) and Connor McDavid (23) for what appears to be a formidable trio for years to come (all lefties). Remember his name in the playoffs, as Draisaitl is our Sportsman of the Week!
And we transition from football to spring sports, the NBA has been unpredictable this year to say the least. Lakers from out of the playoffs to dominant (thanks to some key acquisitions), the Warriors from Finalists to lottery. But the Denver Nuggets find themselves as the 2 seed in the Western Conference seed, due in large part to our Sportsman of the Week, Nikola Jokic. The versatile 7-foot center finds himself averaging a double double for the year, with almost 7 assists per game to go with it. This week the 24 year-old Serbian averaged 27-14-8 (P/R/A) and 56% from the field as the Nuggets went 3-0 for the week. The Nuggets got stoned in the WC Semifinals last year, but are poised to give Lebron and the Lakers a run this year. If they do, Jokic will be the guy to watch, and he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
After a week hiatus (in deference to Kobe) and a delay due to vacation, we're back with a Sportsman of the (last) Week. While the Super Bowl MVP went to the biggest name on the team, the real sportsman as determined by this Blog goes a different direction. The running back has frequently etched his name in Super Bowl lore over the years. Riggins. Marcus. Emmitt. Terrell. How about Kansas City Chiefs dynamic RB Damien Williams. He didn't break huge runs, but he persistently darted through the acclaimed San Francisco 49ers defense for yards. He eclipsed the 100 yard plateau with a TD on the ground, then also notched 29 yards on four receptions including a TD. His 104 rushing yards were the most by a RB on a winning team since 2006 (Dominic Rhodes for the Indianapolis Colts). Williams won't have a Super Bowl MVP by his name, but he enters the Sportsman of the Week lore.
The surprise team of the NFC this year emerged as Champions behind a surprise performance by an unexpected hero. San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert gashed the Green Bay Packers defense for huge chunks of yards and there was nothing they could do about it. And it had very little to do with respect for the Niners passing game, which only had to throw it 8 times. Mostert ended the afternoon with 220 yards on 29 carries; the 2nd most rushing yards in a playoff game ever behind legendary Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. To go with that, four TDs in which he becomes on the the third player to have that many in a playoff game (Ricky Watters with 5 and LeGarrette Blount with 4). Mostert's rise to get to this point is equally as amazing. Having played for 5 teams in 2 years, the undrafted Purdue alumnus almost quit the game before the 49ers found a spot for him. In a three-headed 2019 Niners backfield along with Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, it was Mostert who caught fire when San Francisco needed it. And now he'll live every football player's dream. Playing in a Super Bowl. Mostert is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!
In one of the most thrilling and historic (in terms of comeback) games in NFL history, the Kansas City Chiefs roared back from a 24 point 2nd quarter deficit to easily win their AFC Division Round Playoff game by 20 points. During the key 2nd quarter surge, it was Travis Kelce who put the team on his back (along with quarterback Patrick Mahomes II) to lead the charge. Kelce hauled in 10 passes for 134 yards and 3 TD, all in the pivotal second quarter to set the Chiefs up for their first Super Bowl berth in 50 years. Moreover, they will be hosting the title game at Arrowhead Stadium as the top remaining seed in the AFC. Kelce was a matchup problem all day for the Texans, even shaking off an injury to continue to torment the Texans who had no answer. With his size and speed and hands, he's a matchup problem for anyone, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!
Happy New Year, as our Blog enters the ninth year of Sportsman of the Week, we have a winner who was only 13 when all of this started. The Seattle Seahawks are a team recently counted out. For several years not much home field advantage. Rebuilt defense, too young and too old talent on offense. But it was their youngest playmaker that carried them to the Division Round of the NFL Playoffs. Rookie Wide Receiver D.K. Metcalf put his team on his back and carried them to victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Metcalf made critical catch after critical catch for an NFL Playoff rookie record 160 yards on 7 catches and a TD. His 53-yeard TD catch in the 3rd quarter seemed to build the hill so high the backup QB-led Eagles didn't have much of a chance. Metcalf is a beast that should end up as an elite receiver in the league, but was the story of the Wildcard weekend and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!