Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit email@example.com.
Deep down, Keith Thurman knows. Deep down, he believes.
This one, this one, will be tougher than his fight-of-the-year victory over Shawn Porter. This one, this one, will be more of a challenge. This one, this one, puts his face at risk.
For Thurman, this is the fight to silence any doubters, although after his victory over Porter, there can’t be many left. This time, he fights to unify the WBA and WBO welterweight title belts when he matches his unbeaten record against that of Danny Garcia, who is 33-0.
“I’m bigger than Danny, naturally. He was always smaller than me in the amateurs. He’s smaller than me in the pros. He’s moving up (in weight). He may hold the weight well but I’m just a little bigger so that gives me some confidence there.
“I have less fights and more knockouts so I believe that I do punch harder and that I’ll just edge him out statistically a little bit. It’s going to come down to who lands the right punches at the right time. I don’t bow down to nobody. I know I’m the greatest challenge most fighters will ever face, so there’s where my confidence comes from.’’
USA Today polled 33 boxers and trainers about the fight. Thurman got the edge 17-15-1. In other words, it’s expected to be a close fight.
The Lightning, still scrambling to get back into the wild-card race, fell 5-2 to the Pittsburgh PenguinsFriday night. The Penguins, who beat the Bolts in last year’s conference finals, scored the game’s final three goals. After the Lightning tied the game at 2-2, it took only a minute and 28 seconds to take the lead.
Mark Streit, who was a member of the Lightning briefly last week, scored the tie-breaking goal.
“We weren’t going to go 20-0 down the stretch,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It makes (Saturday night’s) game (against Buffalo) critical. We need these points. Buffalo is in the same situation we’re in.”
Adam Erne scored his first NHL goal to give the Bolts a lead. After Evgeny Malkin scored twice, Nikita Kucherov tied the game at two.
Goaltender Peter Budaj make his first start for Tampa Bay and took the loss.
The new football program at FAU will be a family affair.
Monte Kiffin, the irrepressible former defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Bucs, is joining son Lane — the head coach — at FAU. The elder Kiffin, 77, will join the Owls in a yet-to-be specified role.
Kiffin, who worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars a year ago, won’t be the defensive coordinator. Another son, Chris, will be. But Kiffin, the mad scientist of the Bucs during their best years, will have a place on the staff.
Kiffin has 29 years of NFL experience, and coached a Tampa Bay defense that featured Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Simeon Rice.
Some days you drop the bomb, and some days, it’s dropped on you.
Two days after the Tampa Bay Rays clobbered Minnesota, 19-0, the Rays lost their worst-ever game, a 19-2 verdict to the Boston Red Sox. The 17-run loss beat 15-run defeats in 1998 and 2012 to Minnesota.
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit two home runs and drove in five for Boston.
Pitcher Jose De Leon made his debut, allowing four runs on two hits and two walks. Hanley Ramirez hit a three-run homer.
“I just couldn’t locate my fastball,” said De Leon. Perhaps he should have looked on the other side of the fence.
Glennon, the Tampa Bay Bucs’backup quarterback, has been offered a nice contract to remain the backup quarterback for Tampa Bay. However, with Jameis Winston running the huddle, playing time is the one thing the Bucs can’t offer to Glennon.
That leaves, according to NFL Network, the Jets and the Bears in the lead for Glennon’s services. Both teams play the Bucs this season at Raymond James Stadium, which means that Glennon could face his old teammates.
Glennon hasn’t started a game since Winston was drafted. He won five of 18 starts beforehand.
The Lightning, which has pointed in nine out of 10 games, and won four out of five, somehow rallied in overtime to beat the Carolina HurricanesWednesday night. Hours after enduring the loss of another player — Valtteri Filppula — the Bolts played one of their most listless games of the season, but rallied to win 4-3.
Victor Hedman scored two goals, including the game-winner. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists, as did Tyler Johnson.
Still, the game was a grind for the Bolts against Carolina, the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
“I don’t think we can sit here and be really proud of how we played,” said Johnson. “We got the win, so that’s good. But there is a lot of room for improvement there. Quite frankly, there are a lot of games we’ve lost that we should have won. I can’t sit here and say for sure that we should have gotten those two points. Lucky for us we were ready to take them.”
Hedman scored 46 seconds into overtime for the game-winner. The win moved the Bolts to within three points of the final wild-card spot.
“We like this group,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “People can talk about the whole buyer-seller thing. We didn’t do anything we thought was going to keep us from making the playoffs. We’re trying to make it. We feel we’ve got the group who can do that.”
While the Bolts traded away veteran leadership in Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Filppula, there are other leaders still here. Like Hedman.
“Everyone leads in their own certain way,” Cooper said. “Victor is a really, really good player in this league. An exceptional player. Kuch the other night. That’s the way it’s going to be for us. Someone different every night. The Triplets. We need some other guys to make us a well balanced.”
It would also help if the Bolts could start quicker and show a bit more interest early. Part of that, Cooper said, was because the Lightning shot 23 times and missed the net. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy won his second straight start, stopping 28 of 31 shots.
The Bolts are in Pittsburgh Friday night and Buffalo Saturday night.
When the smoke had cleared, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman wouldn’t say his team was in better shape for the future.
Just that it’s in position to be.
Yzerman moved the third player off of his roster Wednesday, shipping forward Valtteri Filppula at the trade deadline in an effort to get out of his contract. Yzerman sent Filppula to Philadelphia along with a fourth- and a seventh-round draft pick for Mark Streit. The Bolts then traded Streit to Pittsburgh for a fourth-round pick.
Earlier in the week, Yzerman had traded goaltender Ben Bishop and forward Brian Boyle.
“We’re in a position to be better off for the future,” Yzerman said. “Now we have to make some good decisions to improve our team. We needed cap space. One, to protect the cap for next year. Two, to sign our players. Now we have to make good decisions moving forward. It positions us to do the things we need to do to become better. Cap-wise, we are (better); competitive-wise, we have work to do.”
Yzerman was asked if he would have made these moves if the Lightning was in place for the playoffs.
“It depends on what place,” he said, his face serious.
Yzerman admits he expected his team to be higher in the standings.
“Everyone knows we’re going to get crunched at some point.”
We still have a long wait until college football hits the state of Florida, but if you pay attention to the Bleacher Report, it’s going to be worth it.
Bleacher Report anticipates a good season in the Sunshine State, led by Florida State at No. three. The site thinks FSU, behind quarterback Deondre Francois, will finish third in the nation despite a tough schedule, including Alabama in the opener.
That isn’t all, however. The website says USFwill finish 17th with an 11-2 record behind quarterback Quinton Flowers.
Bleacher Report has Miami finishing No. 19 despite a new quarterback. The Hurricanes are picked to finish 9-4.
Florida is down to finish No. 21 at 9-4. Once again, Bleacher Report says, the defense will carry the load for Florida as coach Jim McElwain continues to search for his quarterback.
The Rowdies have signed former German international player Marcel Shafer, 32, to their team. Shafter, 32, has spent 10 seasons with German Bundesliga’s VfL Wolfsburg. He is supposed to compete at midfield for the Rowdies.
Since signing with Wolfsburg in 2007, Schafer has gone on to set the club record for most Bundesliga appearances by a field player (256). Born in Aschaffenburg, Germany, Schafer scored 13 league goals and picked up 39 assists in his time with Wolfsburg.
After a 14-year career in Germany, I am very excited to take a new step in my life,” said Schafer.
“It will be a great experience for me and my family. I am very excited to join the Rowdies and take on a new challenge in my playing career. I love to work hard, with the goal of winning games and being successful. The Tampa Bay Rowdies is a great project, and it is an honor to be a part of this club.”
Before his decade with Wolfsburg, Schafer played for only one other club at the senior level, TSV 1860 Munich from 2003-2007.
“We’re delighted to bring in a player of Marcel’s caliber and expertise to our squad,” Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said. “His career speaks for itself. He’s played at a high level for a long time, and we think he’ll adapt to our club and our league pretty quickly.”
In the 2008-2009 Bundesliga season, Schafer appeared in all 34 league matches as Wolfsburg was crowned champions ahead of Bayern Munich. Schafer also broke into the German National Team in 2008, making eight appearances for Die Mannschaft from 2008 to 2010.
Schafer was also a part of the Wolfsburg squad that won the 2014-15 DFB Pokal (German Cup) with a 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the final. The Wolves would later go on to defeat Bayern Munich in penalties in the 2015 DFL-Supercup.
The Rowdies begin their season March 25 at home against Orlando.