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rantnrave:// The Aaron Hernandez story gets sadder. The former Patriots star was posthumously diagnosed with severe CTE. His lawyer said Hernandez’s brain damage was akin to players who had a median age of 67. What does it mean for the NFL that a 27-year-old who was supposed to be mid-career — not the retired and aging ex-players we’ve been accustomed to hearing about as CTE victims — died with his brain in that condition? Did that drive the behavior that sent his life into a downward spiral? It’s impossible to tell now. Is it too speculative to put those pieces together when there’s no way to get answers? It’s another data point in a life people are still trying to understand. … What’s wrong with the NFL? Ratings remain high but have dipped from last season. Is it something the league did? Athlete activism and Kaepernick? The flow of viewers away from linear TV? Is it the games themselves? Is quality of play worse? The Ringer’s Kevin Clark says the NFL isn’t fun anymore. ESPN’s Dan Le Batard thinks teams are playing it safe on offense and boring fans. Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko blames the NFLPA and 2011 CBA, which cut down practice time and made veterans more likely to be replaced by less-experienced players. Players are younger, on average, than ever. Quarterbacks are more accurate. But points are down. Is the NFL caught in the same dilemma as MLB? The analytics movement changed baseball. Home runs up. Strikeouts up. Walks up. The three true outcomes. Is it efficiency at the expense of aesthetics? Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to speed up the pace of play amid arguments that baseball is too slow, too static. Should Roger Goodell be doing that, too? Teams are happy to dink and dunk. Youth means an inexperienced and diluted talent base. Should there be a debate about quality of play? Will people keep watching if the games aren’t as good? Will fantasy football and gambling be enough for fans to keep watching? Why watch anything but highlights and NFL RedZone if that’s all you care about? The NFL may have a reckoning coming. Maybe it’s not the one we expected. Which will be worse for the NFL’s future: a concussion epidemic or boring football?… Lynx-Sparks is the WNBA Finals we deserve. Will the Lynx get their fourth title in seven years and rival the Warriors for best pro basketball dynasty going? Or will Los Angeles beat them for a second straight year? Let’s just hope the series goes the distance and gives us another buzzer-beating ending. It starts Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC… And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those pesky kids… The best goal you’ll ever see.
Lincecum is believed to be back here inhabiting the shores of Lake Washington, although no one with the Giants could say for sure. Someone thought maybe he was in Arizona. When the team tried to invite him to throw out the first pitch before a playoff game against the Chicago Cubs last year, Lincecum was in Hawaii. Wherever he is now, he’s keeping a low profile. The Freak is now The Ghost.
Daniel Brown | Mercury News
No one knew if it could be done. But when Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler climbed Mount Everest without oxygen in 1978, they smashed one of the last barriers of human performance. Almost 40 years later, both legends talk about their first ascent by “fair means” — and the long-running feud that followed.
Grayson Schaffer | Outside Online
A new technique could revolutionize how a neurodegenerative disease afflicting contact sports is treated.
Patrick Hruby | The Atlantic
Forest Green is the first completely vegan professional sports team in the world, but its ethos extends way beyond food.
Adam Elder | The New Yorker
Her career may be near the finish line, but the trailblazing driver will leave behind a unique legacy as an instrument of male and female fantasy.
Andrew Lawrence | The Guardian
“It’s not enough to be smart. You have to be curious.”