By JOSH HELLER
1. Former Ravens’ Tight End Accidentally Kills Daughter
In a tragic story out of Arizona, former Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap accidentally ran over and killed his daughter.
Heap, 37, was driving his truck forward in the family’s driveway, and was unaware that his daughter was there. He drove over her, and she was rushed to the hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Police reported that Heap was not impaired in any way. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Heap was a Pro Bowler in his first two seasons in the league in Baltimore. Heap spent 10 seasons as a Raven and two years as a Cardinal before retiring in 2012. He racked up nearly 5,900 receiving yards and 42 touchdowns in his career.
2. No Shortage of Drama for Knicks
If there was ever a time to be a Knicks fan, it’s right now.
Last week, the Knicks announced that they would exercise their two-year option on team president Phil Jackson.
Then on Friday, two days after capping their 31-51 season, Jackson said the team was exploring trade options for Carmelo Anthony, saying he would be better off somewhere else.
Jackson went on to say that the team hasn’t been able to win with Anthony, and that he should use his talent to win somewhere else. Reports around the league were that Anthony would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to a contender.
Anthony, 32, just finished his sixth full season in New York, and is entering the fourth year of his five-year, $124 million contract. The Knicks made the playoffs in three straight seasons from 2010-13 during Anthony’s tenure, but they made it past the first round only in 2012-13.
Jackson’s comments didn’t sit well with fans, nor with the NBA Players’ Association. NBAPA executive director Michele Roberts said in a statement that if players cannot speak publicly about being employed elsewhere without penalty, then team officials shouldn’t be able to either.
That’s not where it ended with Jackson. The president held end-of-season meetings with the players. Sources around the league said that Knicks players were perplexed by the meetings, as some of the conversations included things like game-show questions.
Things really did not sit well with young star Kristaps Porziņģis. Porziņģis was fed up with Jackson and passed on the exit interview. Reports are that he plans to take a long trip to Latvia and may not return until the start of training camp.
Jackson has been a huge proponent of the triangle offense, and some around the league said on Saturday night that the Knicks are protesting the offensive style.
If the Knicks have to actually consider choosing between their out-of-touch team president and the morale of their players, they’ve already made a huge miscalculation.
3. Steelers Owner Rooney Dead at 84
Last week, the Steelers announced that team chairman Dan Rooney passed away at age 84.
Rooney took over team operations in the 1960s from his father, Art. In his time in the organization, the Steelers took home seven championships.
Rooney was well-loved throughout the league, especially in Pittsburgh. In their playoff series against the Blue Jackets, the Penguins wore a Rooney helmet decal.
The octogenarian’s health had been in decline, causing him to miss the owners’ meetings earlier this month.
Back in 2003, when Dan was still team president, Art Rooney II was given the role by his father. Dan, meanwhile, turned to politics in 2009, and became the United States’ ambassador to Ireland. He stayed in this position until 2012, and then returned to the Steelers as a chairman.
Many around the league have called Rooney a class act, humble, and one of the top contributors to the NFL. He is survived by his wife Patricia, seven children, 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
4. NHL Player Safety Under Scrutiny Once Again
Two scenarios in playoff games on Friday have the NHL Department of Player Safety under the microscope once again.
First, the lesser of two evils, Rangers’ defenseman Brendan Smith cross-checked Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw in the ear early in the second period of Montreal’s overtime win Friday night.
Shaw, in front of the net battling for the loose puck, was falling as Smith cross-checked him. Shaw and the Canadiens clamored for a penalty, but none was given. Shaw was a bit shaken-up at first, but there was no serious injury on the play.
The worse came later Friday, when, in the third period in route of their 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 2-0 series deficit, Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Matt Calvert broke his stick on a cross-check to Penguins’ forward Tom Kuhnhackl’s neck.
After Kuhnhackl was holding his neck in pain, Calvert went back over after his stick broke and shoved the German forward to the ice. Calvert’s actions took place with around 30 seconds remaining.
Reports on early Saturday indicated that Calvert may only receive a fine, but that afternoon, the Department of Player Safety suspended Calvert for just one game.
Now, the league has said before that one playoff game is worth two regular season games, so you could look at it that way, if you wanted.
But many fans around the league were left wondering how this measly punishment would stop a player from doing something like this in the future.
Player Safety has been under scrutiny on many occasions this season, what with their mishandling of Gustav Nyquist’s egregious high-stick on Jared Spurgeon, and Tom Sestito barreling into Leafs’ goaltender Frederik Andersen.
This is just another in the long line of misfires by Player Safety, and another example of how if the league really wants to protect its players, a real change needs to be made.
5. 70th Anniversary of Robinson Breaking the Color Barrier
Seventy years ago, on April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier. Ever since 2004, every player in the league has worn Robinson’s iconic #42 on this day.
The Dodgers did what should have been done long ago, erecting a giant statue in Robinson’s honor at their stadium prior to their matchup against the Diamondbacks, which they went on to win 8-4. Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and children, Sharon and David, attended the ceremony, as did longtime Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully.
This year’s Jackie Robinson Day also had its fair share of dominant pitching performances. Ervin Santana of the Twins pitched a complete game, a one-hit shutout against the White Sox. Tyler Chatwood of the Rockies did nearly as well, hurling a two-hit complete game shutout.
James Paxton of the Mariners, meanwhile, made team history, breaking Mark Lowe’s team record of 17 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings to start a season. Paxton held a no-hitter in tact through the fifth inning (as did Chatwood), and he pitched an eight-inning gem, giving up two hits and striking out nine.
On the hitting side of baseball, Jose Ramirez of the Indians hit two three-run home runs. The Astros were being no-hit through six innings, and they ended up coming back to down the Athletics 10-6.
It was a pretty quiet week in baseball, with Rockies’ pitcher Jon Gray and Rays’ pitcher Jake Odorizzi landing on the 10-day disabled list, but there wasn’t much other than that.
But sometimes it isn’t about the biggest injury, signing or trade for the week. It’s about honoring a man who did what was unthinkable all those years ago, and thanking him for the sport we know today.