Blackhawks

How does Tebow balance life, football?

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How does Tebow balance life, football?

From Comcast SportsNet
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- There's a quarterback Tim Tebow can't wait to meet while in Buffalo for a pivotal late-season game. A special guest showing up at his request. And no, it's not former Bills star Jim Kelly. Tebow is bringing in Jacob Rainey, a highly touted prep player from a private school in Virginia who had part of his right leg amputated after a severe knee injury during a fall scrimmage. Tebow is looking forward to chatting with Rainey before and again after the Denver Broncos' game against the Bills on Saturday. For as dedicated as Tebow is about improving on the field, he's just as devoted to his engagements off it. That's why losses really don't linger. He's already turned the page after the Broncos' 41-23 home loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday. "I'll move on and continue to be positive and everything," Tebow said Tuesday. As if he knows any other way. Tebow has become the center of the football universe since guiding the Broncos (8-6) from the brink of playoff extinction back into contention. Denver leads the AFC West by a game over Oakland and San Diego after rebounding from a 1-4 start under Kyle Orton. The Broncos are in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season. Tebow's name and image have been popping up all over as he's appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, been mentioned at the Republican debate in Iowa and spoofed during a "Saturday Night Live" skit in which the show playfully mocks his faith. Although Tebow hasn't seen the clip yet, his teammates have watched it. "I've heard some players have been laughing about it a little bit," Tebow said. Tebow doesn't mind all the attention. It gives him a platform for his causes, such as the Tim Tebow Foundation's "Wish 15" program. On Sunday, he brought in Kelly Faughnan, who is dealing with tumors and seizures. "It gives her an opportunity to have a good time and gives her a little hope and puts a smile on her face," Tebow said. "Ultimately, that's what's important. As hard as it is to say it, that's more important than even winning or losing the game." With every passing game, Tebow steadily improves in the passing department. Sure, his mechanics are still rough and his style unorthodox. But he's making far better reads and decisions than he was several weeks ago. "He's not afraid, no stranger to hard work," coach John Fox said. "He works as hard as any player I've ever coached." Tebow even received quite a backing from the boss himself, John Elway, who gave his strongest indication yet in an interview with The Associated Press that he believes Tebow can transform from a scrambling quarterback into a pocket passer. That meant a lot to the young quarterback. "Mr. Elway is obviously one of the best to ever play the game. To get any compliment from him is extremely nice," said Tebow, 5-0 on the road since taking over the starting job. "He's been around this game a long time. That's nice to hear." Bills coach Chan Gailey applauds Denver's bold choice of switching to the unconventional option offense to better fit Tebow's unique skill set. Gailey always believed that approach could be successful -- for a short window anyway. "I thought the first team that had guts enough to try it, it was going to work for about two years," Gailey said. "Then, defensive coaches in the NFL would catch up to it a little bit. Then, it would be a struggle." Tebow has proficiently run this offense, just like he did at Florida, where he won the Heisman and two national titles. He has rushed for 610 yards this season, the most by a Denver quarterback and easily surpassing Elway's best mark (304 yards in 1987). To Gailey, there's just one potential flaw with using the read option -- keeping the quarterback healthy. That's a reason why it really hasn't been tried to the extent it has until now. But Tebow's built to deliver a few wallops, too. "It's a long season. You take a lot of hits. You take a lot of hits when you're not running option football," Gailey said. "Can the guy make (it through) the season? That's the key. But he's the ultimate wildcat kind of guy. He can run it and he can throw it from the quarterback position. He creates a big problem for defenses." The biggest challenge remains keeping him in the pocket. Allowing Tebow to escape presents all sorts of headaches. Because that's what makes Tebow so explosive, when he's able to make things happen with his feet. "The last time I judged quarterbacks, which has been every day of my life it seems like, you're judged by winning football games," Gailey said. "That's what he does. He wins football games. It's probably not in the fashion that everyone in the NFL is used to, but he's leading his team to victory and that's an important factor for playing the quarterback position." Winning isn't everything to Tebow. His faith and foundation are just as high of priorities, too. Tebow's foundation is teaming up with CURE International to build a children's hospital in the Philippines, where Tebow was born. He also inspires inmates through jailhouse talks. "Ultimately, that's taking my platform and using it for something good, more so than any SNL' skit or any magazine," Tebow said. As for what he wanted for the holidays, Tebow didn't hesitate. "To use my platform for good," he said, "and to beat the Bills."

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.

After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.

"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."

The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.

On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.

The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.

The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.

See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.

One MLB executive thinks Kyle Schwarber can emerge as Cubs' best hitter in 2018

One MLB executive thinks Kyle Schwarber can emerge as Cubs' best hitter in 2018

When the 2017 season ended, Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber looked in the mirror and didn't like what he saw.

He was stocky, slower than he wanted to be and he had just finished a very difficult season that saw him spend time back in the minor leagues at Triple-A after he struggled mightily through the first three months of the season.

Schwarber still put up solid power numbers despite his overall struggles. He slammed 30 home runs, putting him among the Top 15 hitters in the National League and among the Top 35 in all of baseball. But, Schwarber was honest with himself. He knew he could achieve so much more if he was in better shape and improved his mobility, his overall approach at the plate and his defense.

Schwarber was drafted by the Cubs out of Indiana University as a catcher. However, many scouts around baseball had serious doubts about his ability to catch at the big league level. The Cubs were in love with Schwarber the person and Schwarber the overall hitter and felt they would give him a chance to prove he could catch for them. If he couldn't, then they believed he could play left field adequately enough to keep his powerful bat in the lineup.

However, a serious knee injury early in the 2016 season knocked Schwarber out of action for six months and his return to the Cubs in time to assist in their World Series run raised expectations for a tremendous 2017 season. In fact, the expectations for Schwarber were wildly unrealistic when the team broke camp last spring. Manager Joe Maddon had Schwarber in the everyday lineup batting leadoff and playing left field.

But Schwarber's offseason after the World Series consisted of more rehab on his still-healing injured left knee. That kept him from working on his outfield play, his approach at the plate and his overall baseball training. 

Add in all of the opportunities and commitments that come with winning a World Series and it doesn't take much detective work to understand why Schwarber struggled so much when the 2017 season began. This offseason, though, has been radically different. A season-ending meeting with Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer led to a decision to take weight off of Schwarber's frame. It also included a decision to change his training program so that he improved his quickness, lateral movement and his overall baseball skills.

"I took two weeks off after the season ended and then I went to work," Schwarber said. "We put a plan together to take weight off and to improve my quickness. I have my meals delivered and I feel great. My baseball work combined with a lot of strength and conditioning has me in the best shape that I have ever been in."

Schwarber disagrees with the pundits who felt manager Maddon's decision to put him in the leadoff spot in the Cubs' loaded lineup contributed to his struggles.

"I have no problem hitting wherever Joe wants to put me," Schwarber said. "I didn't feel any more pressure because I was batting leadoff. I just needed to get back to training for a baseball season as opposed to rehabbing from my knee injury. I'm probably 20-25 pounds lighter and I'm ready to get back to Arizona with the boys and to get ready for the season."

Many around the game were shocked when the Cubs drafted Schwarber with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, but a rival executive who was not surprised by the pick believes that Schwarber can indeed return to the form that made him such a feared hitter during his rookie season as well as his excellent postseason resume.

"Everyone who doubted this kid may end up way off on their evaluation because he is a great hitter and now that he is almost two years removed from his knee injury," the executive said. "He knows what playing at the major-league level is all about I expect him to be a real force in the Cubs lineup.

"Theo and Jed do not want to trade this kid and they are going to give him every opportunity to succeed. I think he has a chance to be as good a hitter as they have in their order."

Watch the full 1-on-1 interview with Kyle Schwarber Sunday night on NBC Sports Chicago.