Blackhawks

Tebow-verload

Tebow-verload

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

You never can get too much of a good thing can you? After all, we are in the season of over-indulgence. Yours truly is in the middle of it on different fronts. There are the gifts for the kids, which make me wonder if this is a holiday or a reason for the wife to see how much credit we have. Also, theres the work holiday parties. As Ive said many times, there is a reason why certain people dont socialize together -- because they shouldnt! The uncomfortable feeling that one gets from being forced to spend time with people that they normally wouldnt spend time with, should not make them drink until they cant see straight. You should save that for the family gatherings! (Kidding, of course! Sort of.)

Aside from feeling like you got hit over the head by a two-by-four when you wake in the morning, the endless snickers that you are going to hear in the workplace cant be much fun, unless that was the problem in the first place, then its the same-old, same-old. None the less, dont be that guygirl! Remember people, when you are at a bar, there is a professional behind that bar to make sure that you know when to say when, so listen!

The thing that seems to be getting to the saturation point though, at least with the customers at the bar, is the Tebow-mania that is gripping the nation. Not that I can blame them with the way the game played out on Sunday, they got Tebow-ed when they never saw it coming. But then thats the point. From what weve all been told, this never should happen. Ever! Especially not in the NFL.

Tebow broke into the national scene as a backup quarterback on the Florida Gators national champions in 2006. He passed for a touchdown and ran for one in the title game against Ohio State. In a harbinger of things to come, he was also the teams second leading rusher for the season. In 2007 he was truly ridiculous as he accounted for 55 touchdowns, 32 passing and 23 rushing. Are you kidding me? He easily won the Heisman and led his Gators to a bowl victory while wearing a cast on his right (non-Tebow-ing) hand. To say that he created a mania in an already crazed SEC, would be as understated as I can get. He also started the whispers from the non-believers.

Football experts questioned his limited NFL skill-set, while even more pointedly, a lot were put off by his personal beliefs of which he was, and still is, a little too willing to share. Wearing biblical verses on your eye-black, is not about being shy, and pardon the pun, is about as in-your-face as you can get, thus started the lovehate emotions that he has stoked on a national level. The next year was when it became over-the-top. After a shocking 31-30 loss to Ole Miss in week four, he went on a post-game rant on how hard he would work not to let something like that happen again. Of course, Florida did not lose another game that season, winning the National Title Game against Oklahoma. It was during that game, that I personally became nauseous with broadcaster Thom Brennamans constant gushing over Tebows almighty qualities.

That is the game and event that drew the line-in-the-sand for Tebow followers and detractors. Folks can accept most things, as long as it isnt shoved down their throats. Its nice to be able to make up your own mind, but when you are constantly told how great someone is, doesnt it annoy you? All right already, I get it! I could spend three days talking about the divisiveness that can be created by religion, but we arent here for that. Like the bar, I also try to avoid the religion and politics here in cyberspace. Try. But almost any conversation about him includes mention of his beliefs, in part because he cant seem to utter ten sentences without mentioning them. So now like religion or politics, the Tebow conversation is eliciting a ton of emotion in the discussions that I listen to, or participate in.

My take though, is that I tune that part out. While I dont have a problem with his beliefs, I just dont know that I should know every inch of them while I watch a football game. I also understand in the socialviral media world that we live in, that is never going to happen. I mean, are blogging bartenders out there for crying out loud! So, when he talks, I just use earmuffs and he can say whatever he wants! (Think Will Ferrell in Old School.) Honestly, theres nothing we have to listen to, or read, if we dont want to.

That aside, what really fascinates me is the venom that seems to possess some in their football analysis. In the premiere issue of the NFL Magazine, they decided to capitalize on the phenomenon and booted Cam Newton from the cover so that they could feature their new fair-haired child. In a typical move, contributor Boomer Esiason, took this opportunity to take umbrage with Tebows quarterbacking skills. I guess he didnt learn from his Marinoville comment of a few years ago. But in a rush to be the definitive voice, why wait until the votes are in? Who cares if hes 7-1 this year?

While Ill admit, his throwing motion is beyond awful, especially when viewed from behind, when are we ever going to learn that it isnt always about form. Ever watch Jim Furyks swing? Even Joe Montana had to listen to the naysayers when he entered the league about his lack of velocity on his throws, although I doubt he could hear it over the racket caused by his four Super Bowl rings.

Now Im not even about to go there with Tebow, or any other QB after 11 career starts, but Im not about to say he cant either. Not when this kid has done nothing but win his whole life. I get it that the age where a Bobby Douglass clone can achieve long-term success is probably long gone, but this is a bigger, stronger Bobby Douglass whose strength and toughness would make Steve Austin feel like a wuss. (No, not the wrestler, somebody people my advanced age remember!) (Did I just go over the Brennaman line?!) I keep hearing that the league will figure him out, but did Rex Ryan? Lovie? When the game was on the line, both of those gurus defenses wilted. (Lovies team had many other issues, but I digress.)

So while I agree some of this has gotten out of control, Im just going to be an NFL fan and enjoy it for what it is: An improbable, fun, cool ride. The future is guaranteed to none of us. This includes Tebow, since John Elway, the Broncos V.P. of Football Operations, has refused to discuss his QB plans for the future, and has only recently, grudgingly gotten aboard the Tebow Express. And because of these people not believing in him, (His own front office!) makes me enjoy it even more. (Yes, even here, I can find a cynical slant!) This has been the year of the improbable. From the Packers in the Super Bowl, to the Cardinals in the World Series and Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, (A NASCAR reference?) weve watched champions come from the depths where they were considered afterthoughts. But something they shared with Tebowlicious is easy to see: Belief. Belief in themselves, and in those around them to achieve beyond their, and the non-believers, wildest dreams. In a season of over-indulgence, I think thats something that all of us could use more of.

Patrick Sharp hitting his stride in Year 2 as broadcaster

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NBC Sports Chicago

Patrick Sharp hitting his stride in Year 2 as broadcaster

The NHL’s best players competing against each other will be a familiar sight for Patrick Sharp, who will work his first All-Star Game as a broadcaster this weekend in St. Louis. 

The three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Blackhawks was the MVP of 2011’s All-Star contest with a goal and two assists. 

Less than two years after hanging up his skates, Sharp's transition from player to television analyst has been as seamless as everyone expected. In addition to the look and the experience, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist has been a student of his new game behind the scenes.

"I feel a little more settled," said Sharp, who can be seen Friday and Saturday on NBC Sports and NBC covering the NHL All-Star festivities. "Just trying to improve and get better at the job. It's just like playing in the NHL, the first year you ask a lot of questions and you learn as much as you can from the people that have done it before you and that are really good at it. Going into Year 2, nothing really changes; you just want to continue to get better. 

"I love following hockey and watching games; it makes the job a little bit easier. I don't think I'll ever get fully comfortable on television, but it's been fun and a good transition for me from playing the game." 

The 38-year-old’s bountiful in-depth insight during game broadcasts has come as no surprise to those who know him.

"Sharpie looks like he's really found a career," said Patrick Kane, who often shoots his former teammate a text after catching him on TV. "He does a really good job and he's easy to listen to. He knows who he's talking about, he has really good information. 

"It almost to me sounds like you're just talking to him, like me just having a conversation with him about hockey. He does a really good job of explaining the information and I think he's done pretty well at it."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews regularly watches his former alternate captain’s commentary as well.

"I think the way he studied the game, the way he understood the game, he obviously has a lot of passion for it," Toews said of Sharp as a player. "I think it's great that our sport has someone like him with his talent level and his career so soon after his playing days to go out there and talk about it and relate some things to the fans that a lot of people, even myself, wouldn't even recognize.

"He does a great job. I think he's more than poised up there too.”

The fact that the former Hawks forward looks like he’d have no trouble skating in today’s NHL adds to his on-air presentation.

“He's still pretty jacked, I'm assuming,” Alex DeBrincat said. “He hasn't gained any weight. You'd assume after your career you'd let go a little bit, but doesn't look like he has.”

“The thing about Sharpie was he was always one of the top-five guys in fitness testing, he was always in great shape,” Kane said. “He was strong, a powerful skater, had a good shot, was able to shoot it pretty good.

"It felt like he could still play. It was just kind of like the opportunity and if he wanted to travel, move his family; so, I wouldn't have been surprised if he kept playing and was successful too.” 

Some of Sharp’s former teammates knew the transition was inevitable.

“Guys that wanted to chirp and make fun of him said he couldn't get there soon enough, he loves the camera,” Toews said with a chuckle. 

Others saw a different path for No. 10. 

“I don't know if we really expected him to do that to be honest with you,” Kane said. “I thought maybe he'd be trying to get in with the team somewhere whether it was scouting or trying to get into the front office. I could see him doing that even to this day. 

“Maybe that's a stepping stone for him maybe in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the front office at some point because I think he's pretty good at scouting players and knowing a lot about the league too.” 

For Sharp, nothing can compare to the rush of playing in front of a sold-out United Center crowd, but the feeling right before going live on the air comes close. 

“I love it,” the Winnipeg native said. “It's very similar [to playing]. I love having the earpiece in and hearing our producer tell us that we're on in '10 ... 9 ... 8 . . .' Hearing the countdown kind of gives you that adrenaline feeling, the butterflies that you used to get as a player right before the first shift of a game. 

“I kind of miss that stress and anxiety of being a player and putting pressure on myself. I can't really think of too many other things in the game that bring that to us, so this is maybe a close second.”

Despite another career in the game, the four-time 30-plus goal-scorer with the Hawks still goes through what a lot of players do after they exit the ice. 

“The struggles of hanging up the skates and then trying to figure out what's next, I kind of went through that myself, still going through it,” Sharp said. “I miss the game every day. 

“I love being a part of NBC, but there's nothing that's going to replace being a professional hockey player and that's something that I did my entire adult life. I'm thankful that I've got an opportunity to continue working and be in the game, but at the same time I've had struggles just like every other former player. I want to keep my mind occupied and try to fill that void of playing hockey as best I can.”

Sharp joins NBC Sports’ national broadcast team every other week for a Tuesday or Wednesday game during the regular season. He’s frequently an analyst for Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago and come the postseason he’ll be on the national broadcasts full-time.

Whether he’s on TV in Chicago or nationally, Sharp prepares the same way.

“I think when I do more prep, that's when I struggle on the air,” he said. “I feel like I do enough prep just by being the same hockey guy that I've been my entire life. I watch the games, I stay involved, I talk to some players that are still playing that are friends of mine. 

“I don't look at it as doing research and preparation; I just love the game and love being around it and watching different players and teams play. I feel like when I fill my head with stats and things that I want to say on the air, it never comes out quite the way I want it to. So my approach now is just stay on top of the league as best I can and let's go out there on TV and just have a conversation and talk some hockey.”

Patrick had plenty of opportunities to talk hockey and get in front of the camera while with the Blackhawks, which made the transition that much easier.

“I think playing for the Blackhawks all those years we had so many opportunities to do different things with the media. Whether it was those Winter Classic games, we had the cameras following us around every year it seemed for a month of the season; training camp was always answering questions and making up videos,” Sharp said.

“The preparation that I got with the Blackhawks, being a Blackhawk player, it prepared me for life in the media post-hockey. My last game was on a Saturday and I took the week and I had an opportunity to come in and talk with NBC on the following Monday and I did it and I'm glad I did because it's been a fun experience and I like working with that team at NBC.”

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: