Former Florida Gators striker and U.S. Women’s National Team captain Abby Wambach played a starring role at the 2015 ESPYS on Wednesday, presenting one of the most prestigious awards of the night and taking home an honor herself.
1 » After showing out during 2015 NBA Summer League action in Orlando with the Orlando Magic, former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin earned a second opportunity in Las Vegas with the Philadelphia 76ers. That kicked off for Wilbekin on Saturday as he scored nine points on 3-for-8 shooting in 21:02. He earned the start for the 76ers the following day and once again impressed, scoring 19 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep with two assists and three steals in 29:38, the second-most minutes on the team. Wilbekin last week signed a one-year deal with the Cairns Taipans of Australia’s NBL after leading the team as its Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. There is an out in that contract allowing Wilbekin to pursue his NBA dream if the opportunity presents itself, and he may very well be making strides in achieving that goal as soon as this season.
1 » FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews was dealt a tough task on Tuesday when she interviewed St. Louis Cardinals hurler Adam Wainwright in the dugout just hours after he admitted/joked about throwing a gimmie pitch to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Wainwright attempted to assure the public that he was simply being lighthearted with his comment while clarifying that he did not groove a pitch to Jeter, and Andrews did not press him on the subject considering Jeter was the one being honored on Tuesday night. Dennis and Callahan Morning Show cohost Kirk Minihane took Andrews to task for joking with Wainwright that his comments blew up due to social media, unleashing an offensive verbal tirade at her on the air.
”What a bitch! I hate her! What a gutless bitch! Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Secondly, the guy admitted he did it. He admitted he told reporters he threw a couple of pipe bombs. How is that social media’s fault? Seriously, I hate her. I seriously hat her so much! … Shut up. Shut up. I shouldn’t call her a ‘bitch.’ I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she’s…she’s probably a bitch. I freaking hate her. … And this bimbo says, ‘Don’t you love social media?’ I’m going to get in trouble for this.”
Apparently not. As of press time, Minihane has not been disciplined for his completely misogynistic and hateful comments, though he did issue an apology.
“This morning on the radio I used a series of words to describe Erin Andrews’ work at the All-Star Game. My choice of words was wrong; I was wrong to have used them. To all whom I offended — particularly Ms. Andrews — I apologize. There is no place for what was said. It was immature and completely uncalled for. I am often critical of media members and their work and recognize here that I’ve made the kind of mistake I would call out if it was done by another sportscaster or writer. Again, to all involved, I’m very sorry.”
FOX Sports released the following statement on Wednesday: “Comments such as these are beyond inappropriate and inexcusable. It is unfortunate that one of the best sports talk radio stations in the country would allow and condone such low-class behavior from one of their on-air personalities.”
1 » The New York Post’s Brian Costello believes David Nelson is poised to open the 2014 season as the New York Jets’s No. 2 wide receiver after evaluating him during organized team activities and minicamp. Nelson, who missed nearly the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL and was cut by Cleveland in the 2013 offseason as he mounted a return, signed with New York four weeks into the campaign. He finished with 36 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns while catching passes from underwhelming rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Nelson has proven to be a reliable target in the NFL, catching 62 percent of the passes thrown his way in his three full seasons despite never even having a mid-tier signal caller throwing him the ball.
2 » With running back Jeff Demps, WR Louis Murphy, WR Solomon Patton and safety Major Wright all on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster, the latter three signed as free agents this offseason, suddenly the team has four former Florida Gators playing just over 150 miles from Gainesville, Florida. The Buccaneers recognized this and put together an interview / highlight video [Watch] with the three former Gators who are teammates for the first time since winning the 2009 BCS Championship.
1 » The Florida Gators will have the opportunity to win an award at the ESPYS for the third-straight year as two former student-athletes have been nominated in separate categories. U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach is up for Best Record-Breaking Performance after setting the career international goal-scoring record in June. She will have to beat out quarterback Drew Brees (broke Johnny Unitas’s touchdown record), wide receiver Calvin Johnson (broke Jerry Rice’s season yardage record) and swimmer Michael Phelps (most decorated Olympian of all-time). Swimmer Ryan Lochte hopes to win Best Male U.S. Olympian but will have to earn votes over Phelps and decathlete Ashton Eaton. Wambach won an ESPY for Best Play in 2011 with QB Tim Tebow bringing home the award for Best Moment in 2012. The 2013 ESPYS will be held on Wednesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. and air live on ESPN.
2 » Holding up a No. 31 jersey at his team’s introductory press conference on Monday, new Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy is excited to get started and will begin working out with Chicago this week ahead of NBA Summer League action. The Bulls will compete in summer league games from July 12-22 at the Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV. Chicago general manager Gar Forman said Monday that he is excited to see what Murphy, the No. 49 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, brings to the table. “We really haven’t had a guy that’s a stretch four,” he said. “We think as he continues to progress, it will give us an ability to space the floor.” The Bulls also released this one-on-one interview [Video] with Murphy from Monday.
4 » Three Florida swimmers will represent their country as USA Swimming competes at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, from July 19-Aug. 4. Over the last week, rising senior Elizabeth Beisel (200 Meter Individual Medley, 400 Meter I.M.), Conor Dwyer (200 Meter Freestyle, 200 Meter I.M.) and Ryan Lochte (200 Meter Freestyle, 200 Meter Backstroke, 100 Meter Butterfly, 200 Meter I.M., 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay) advanced in their respective events during the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, IN. Lochte, the current world record holder in the 200 Meter I.M. (a mark he set in 1:54.00 at the World Championships two years ago), won national titles in three of his events and was the only one of the Gators’ competitors to finish first in any race; Beisel finished second in both of her events.
Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow may no longer be a member of the Denver Broncos but one of his last plays with the team earned him and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas an ESPY award on Wednesday in Los Angeles, CA.
Playing in the Wildcard Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, Denver and the Pittsburgh Steelers were tied at 23 heading into overtime with the Broncos receiving the ball. On the very first play from scrimmage, Tebow hit Thomas across the middle with a dart that the receiver would take the rest of the way for a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass.
The ESPY for Best Moment is the third in Tebow’s young career but his first as a professional football player. He previously won Best Male College Athlete as a member of the Gators football team in both 2008 and 2009.
Florida was well-represented at the award show on Wednesday with three other nominees – U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach for Best Female Athlete, junior catcher Mike Zunino for Best Male College Athlete and jumper Christian Taylor for Best Track & Field Athlete – though none of the three brought home the award in their respective category. Gators senior right fielder Preston Tucker was also in attendance to officially accept the 2012 Capital One Cup and guard Mike Miller found his way onstage to accept the award for Best Team.
A number of former Florida student-athletes congratulated Tebow for his award on Twitter after it was announced.
Jack Youngblood (@theblood85): Congrats @TimTebow on your @ESPYS award! Here’s to more “moments” like that one-JY
Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88): Congrats to my boy @TimTebow even thought he won it against my #Steelers smh! Payback week 2 lol
Andre Caldwell (@Acaldwell17): How can you not like @TimTebow and the way he carry is his self.. It was a pleasure to play with Timmy
Brandon Spikes (@BrandonSpikes55): Tim Tebow is such a great player !!! #GrinchSmile
1 » Four total Florida Gators were nominated for ESPYs this year: U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach (Best Female Athlete), then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (Best Moment), catcher Mike Zunino (Best Male College Athlete) and jumper Christian Taylor (Best Track & Field Athlete). Florida will also receive the 2012 Capital One Cup at the event, making July 11 at 9 p.m. a potentially very rewarding evening for the Gators.
2 » GatorZone.com senior writer Scott Carter recently spoke with Florida redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball, who conveyed that he feels “great,” hasn’t “felt this good in a long time” and is ready to rejoin the Gators football team after being rushed to the hospital last February and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (tangling of blood vessels) in his brain. Doctors were able to correct the issue and Ball was allowed to go home a few days later but was ruled out for the season even after he was deemed to be stable a few weeks later. “I was devastated,” he said. “It was the worst pain I ever felt. I wouldn’t even call it a headache. It felt like somebody was squeezing my brain. I knew it was very serious. At that point, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it because I was in terrible pain.” The good news is, now that Ball is recovered, the AVM has no chance of coming back. “If something comes up again, it’s another injury,” Florida associate director of sports and health and head athletics trainer for football Anthony Pass said. “There is no chronic nature to this. If he gets a concussion, it’s a concussion, it’s not because he had an AVM. He is healthy and he is ready to roll. If he gets injured somehow again and it’s a head injury, it’s another injury. It’s football, so the risk of injury is always there, but he is healthy to play football.”
4 » Gators senior Teresa Crippen is currently in Omaha, NE with many of her Florida teammates competing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trails. Unfortunately for Crippen, she had had to scratch out of most of the early events (she qualified to compete in the preliminaries of seven total) due to a reoccurring illness. She was able to compete in the 200 Meter Freestyle on Wednesday and posted a 2:00.73, which almost qualified her for the semifinals. Crippen is expected to be able to swim in the remainder of her events so a spot participating in the 2012 London Olympics is not completely out of her reach yet.
For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2011 (check out Friday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 On the Field Moments of the Year.
11 » JOHNSON, BRANTLEY, KITCHENS SUFFER SCARY INJURIES
Plenty of Florida student-athletes suffered injuries in 2011 but three in particular caused fans to gasp and remain worried about the future of said player. Participating in the semifinals of the 2011 SEC Tournament, Gators baseball wound up dropping a close game 4-3 to Georgia, a loss that forced an elimination game which Florida would later win. However, UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Johnson was taken off a stretcher in the top of the first inning after giving up two earned runs and accidentally being beaned in the back of the head with the baseball by sophomore catcher Mike Zunino. Trying to pick off a runner stealing second, Zunino got his leg tangled with the batter, tripped and flung the ball into the head of a crouching Johnson. He was quickly stabilized, brought to the hospital and deemed responsive though he had a massive headache and was diagnosed with a minor three concussion (no skull fractures or bleeding). Johnson missed the entire Gainesville Regional but returned to action in the Super Regional after being sidelined for more than two weeks.
Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley was in the middle of playing the best game of his collegiate career (despite throwing a costly pick-six) when he went down with an ugly lower leg injury at the end of the first half against Alabama. Brantley had thrown a pretty 65-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose on the first play of the game and was in the middle of driving Florida in for another score before being sacked twice and having his lower leg contorted the second time. Brantley was nearly immediately ruled out of the team’s next game against powerhouse LSU with a high-ankle sprain, and UF was forced to start a true freshman who had not even taken a snap in the team’s first five games in consecutive road contests against LSU and Auburn. Needless to say, the Gators lost both of those contests.
Brantley was never the same after the injury. He nearly helped Florida beat Georgia but was pretty much immobilized in the pocket and threw three interceptions in the team’s first five possessions against Florida State before being knocked out of the game with a head injury that was equally painful to watch. However, that was not the Gators’ only major injury in that game. Perhaps the scariest incident of the year came on kickoff coverage when sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens was hit hard from his blindside and laid motionless on the field while trainers attended to him. To this day Kitchens does not remember anything about being hit. Lucky for him, he was cleared that evening with “just” a concussion, released from the hospital and allowed to return to practice with the team just before Christmas. He is expected to play in the 2012 Gator Bowl.
10 » LACROSSE WINS FIRST CONFERENCE TITLE, REACHES ELITE EIGHT
The Florida lacrosse program has been making history since the day it signed the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class prior to the team’s inaugural season in 2010. The Gators were a young but talented group and won over the school even if falling short of some of their goals one year ago. Florida took the next step in 2011, ending the regular season with an 11-0 record at home and on a 13-game winning streak. The Gators capped their stellar regular season by defeating Northwestern for the 2011 ALC Championship just 419 days after the team played its first game in school history. Florida would fall to Northwestern just over three weeks later in the finals of the 2011 ALC Tournament, splitting the season’s conference title down the middle, but took home a number of awards from the league. Sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen won Player of the Year honors while head coach Amanda O’Leary was named Coach of the Year in just her second season. Two more players were All-ALC first team selections and three others earned spots on the second team. The ladies made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament as well before being taken down 13-9 by Duke, their only loss at home on the season. The Gators were the first program in the history of the sport to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in only their second year of existence and defeated some of the top teams in the country on the way to an unforgettable season that sets Florida up as a favorite heading into 2012.