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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Bucs-Vikings report card: Where’s this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is sacked by Minnesota's Everson Griffen.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is sacked by Minnesota's Everson Griffen.

O NO
True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other team. Where's this offense we heard about all offseason? Where are all these weapons? Where's the explosiveness? Where are the points? While Minnesota was busy putting up 21 first-half points, know how many the Bucs were putting up? A measly three. Once the score was 28-3 early in the third quarter, it was too late. It was mop-up time and all ensuing stats were pretty much meaningless. The Bucs offense needed to make noise in the first half, not the second. GRADE: D-minus. …

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Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.

It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

Also, Rick and Tom give their predictions on the key NFL games this weekend and break down the top college matchups in our latest Rick and Tom podcast. Listen below:

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Is this Dave Andreychuk's Hall of Fame year? Doubtful

Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk is 14th on the all-time goals list with 614.

Dirk Shadd | Times

Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk is 14th on the all-time goals list with 614.

The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2017 will be announced at 3 p.m. today. It's a downright crime that former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk still isn't in, and his chances today are iffy with those in the first year of eligibility, including Daniel Alfredsson and Teemu Selanne. Others still waiting to get in include Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, Alexander Mogilny, Paul Kariya and Theo Fleury. The maximum number of male players that can get in is four.

Andreychuk is 14th on the all-time goals list with 614. And every player who has scored 600 goals, with exceptions of Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla, are in the Hall. And the only reason Jagr and Iginla aren't in is because they are still playing.

Many argue that Andreychuk scored that many goals only because he played so long. (He's seventh all time with 1,639 games.) But shouldn't we applaud longevity instead of penalizing it? It just shows he was effective enough to play that many games. …

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How the Penguins' Game 1 victory can be traced to the Lightning

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel, front, celebrates a goal by teammate Evgeni Malkin in front of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during the first period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel, front, celebrates a goal by teammate Evgeni Malkin in front of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during the first period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

The Nashville Predators were robbed Monday night. They weren’t the only ones who lost. Fans of the NHL lost, too.

In what has become a ridiculous rule, the Predators had the first goal of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals wiped out because of a replay challenge that, allegedly, showed Nashville’s Filip Forsberg being offsides just before P.K. Subban’s goal. Forsberg appeared to be onside (even the linesman standing two feet away thought so), but replay officials determined that Forsberg lifted his right skate ever-so-slightly off the ice, thus making him offsides.

The goal was waved off and the Preds went on to lose to the Penguins, 5-3, counting an empty-net goal.

Two things about this dumb rule.

One, if a player’s skate is clearly behind the line, it shouldn’t matter if his skate is actually touching the ice or not. He still should be considered onside.

Second, let’s get rid of the replay challenge. Linesmen almost always get this call right and in all of these cases – every one – no advantage is being gained by the offensive team. Let the linesman make the call and make those calls final.

But there’s more to this story. You know who is to blame for all of this?

The Tampa Bay Lightning. …

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'Big Dog’ Steve Duemig, battling cancer, set to return to radio show on Monday

Steve Duemig is scheduled to return to his radio show Monday after missing the past three months with a brain tumor. [Photo by Edward Linsmier]

Steve Duemig is scheduled to return to his radio show Monday after missing the past three months with a brain tumor. [Photo by Edward Linsmier]

Steve Duemig, long-time afternoon drive host on WDAE 620-AM, is scheduled to return Monday after missing the past three months with a brain tumor. The station tweeted out Thursday that Duemig, known as the “Big Dog”, will return to his usual 3 p.m. time slot on Monday.

RELATED: Jones: Radio personality 'Big Dog’ Steve Duemig, battling cancer, hopes to bark again

Duemig, 62, hasn’t been on the air since Feb. 3. Back on Feb. 4, Duemig collapsed in his Clearwater home while watching a Lightning game on television. Tests revealed a brain tumor and Duemig recently completed six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. In an exclusive interview with the Times earlier this week, Duemig said he is optimistic about his future and that he expected to return to the air. That return is scheduled for Monday.

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Frank Deford, one of America's all-time great sportswriters and commentators, is retiring

President Barack Obama laughs with Frank Deford as he awards him the National Humanities Medal during a ceremony in the East Room of White House in Washington in 2012.

AP photo

President Barack Obama laughs with Frank Deford as he awards him the National Humanities Medal during a ceremony in the East Room of White House in Washington in 2012.

Frank Deford, certainly on the short list of the greatest American sportswriters and commentators who has ever lived, is retiring from his job at NPR.

"Yes, this is my swansong, my farewell, my last hurrah. Adieu, adios, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen," Deford said.

For the past 37 years, Deford has voiced 1,656 commentaries for public broadcasting and he used his final one to say goodbye.

"I have survived so long because I've been blessed with talented and gracious colleagues, and with a top brass who let me choose my topics every week and then allowed me to express opinions that were not always popular,'' Deford said. "And perhaps just as important, I've been blessed with you, with a broad and intelligent audience - even if large portions thereof haven't necessarily given a hoot about sports.''

Here is Deford's commentary in full. …

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Verne Lundquist not ready to step away from broadcasting altogether

Verne Lundquist, right, talks with Barack Obama, center, and Clark Kellogg, left, during a college basketball game between Georgetown and Duke in 2010.

Getty Images

Verne Lundquist, right, talks with Barack Obama, center, and Clark Kellogg, left, during a college basketball game between Georgetown and Duke in 2010.

NEW YORK — Verne Lundquist went on a month-long cruise from Cape Town to Singapore and gave speeches the entire time. He has been calling college basketball games since January. He was in New York on Thursday getting ready to work this weekend's East region of the NCAA Tournament. After that, he's off to his annual gig at the Masters.

These days, he goes home to Colorado just long to kiss his wife, Nancy, and grab some clean clothes. Then it's another plane, another hotel room, another sporting event.

This is retirement?

"What the heck?'' Lundquist, 76, said. "What about the porch and swing and all that stuff?''

Lundquist might no longer be calling SEC football for CBS. Last season was his 42nd and final season calling college football games. But he's not ready to completely walk away from broadcasting.

"I'm semi-retired,'' Lundquist said. …

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CBS analyst: Adjustments have been huge for Gators

The guy CBS analyst Jim Spanarkel really likes? Chris Chiozza, whom Spanarkel calls "wild card.''

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

The guy CBS analyst Jim Spanarkel really likes? Chris Chiozza, whom Spanarkel calls "wild card.''

NEW YORK - Lost in the Gators' run in the NCAA Tournament is that they are doing it without big man John Egbunu. When the 6-11 transfer from USF went down with a torn ACL in February, most thought he took Florida's postseason hopes with him.

After all, he was averaging nearly eight points and seven rebounds a game. Plus, he was playing intimidating defense, which has been the cornerstone to Florida's success this season.

"Anytime you lose a big guy in college basketball ... you have a void to fill,'' CBS analyst Jim Spanarkel said. "And it's a clog in the middle defensively that can bring so much to the table even if he's not blocking shots. As long as he knows where he's supposed to be on the floor, he's clogging the middle of the floor that guys on the other team have to worry about.''

That's what Egbunu did.

"The adjustments are huge for (Florida),'' Spanarkel said.

But the Gators have made them and Spanarkel has been impressed with the Gators even without their big guy.

"There a pretty good team without him,'' Spanarkel said. "I like their team. I like their speed when they go up and down. I like (Devin) Robinson. (KeVaughn) Allen and (Kasey) Hill play very well when I see them.'' …

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East Region field less attractive but wide open

The Florida Gators take on Wisconsin in Friday's nightcap.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

The Florida Gators take on Wisconsin in Friday's nightcap.

NEW YORK — The World's Most Famous Arena doesn't have the world's greatest regional. Not on paper anyway.

The East region of the NCAA Tournament has come to Madison Square Garden, but a couple of college basketball heavyweights did not make the trip.

No Villanova. No Duke.

Oh no.

The top two seeds and two of the most glamorous programs in the country are home after falling victim to upsets in the second round of the tournament last weekend.

That leaves MSG with a less-than-attractive, yet wide-open field comprised of third-seeded Baylor, fourth-seeded Florida, eighth-seeded Wisconsin and 11th-seeded South Carolina.

But what the region might lack in names, it makes up for in competitiveness. Any of these teams are capable of getting to the Final Four.

"I think if you're any of these four teams, I'm not even looking at the seeds,'' CBS analyst Jim Spanarkel said Thursday morning from MSG. "I think it's meaningless that one is higher than the other at this point. So you're a three and I'm a seven? Big deal. I think all that gets thrown right out the window.'' …

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Thursday: Chat with Tom Jones, 12:30

Want to talk about the start of hockey season? The NFL playoffs? College basketball? Sports on TV/radio? Join Tom Jones for a live chat Thursday, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Can't make it? Leave a question in the "Comments'' area below, then check back afterward to replay the chat.

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Shooting from the lip/Jan. 14th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports

tebow.Best next analyst
There's already a buzz that if no NFL team is interested in Tim Tebow then he might be able to make the jump to television. Actually, the more likely scenario is Tebow would be willing to play a position other than quarterback if that's the only way he could stay in the league, and plenty of teams would be interested.

But let's just say he can't stay in football. Maybe ESPN could hire him. To make room, they could dump Merril Hoge.

Speaking of Tebow, you do realize he has won more playoff games than Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform, right?

vangundy.jpgMost entertaining attack
Please, Jeff Van Gundy, never take another coaching job. Don't hit the lottery. Don't go on a yearlong eat-pray-love trip to find yourself. Don't do anything except what you're doing right now. You need to be calling basketball games on TV the rest of your life.

ABC/ESPN's NBA analyst is already elite, and now he's starting to put distance between himself and every other sports commentator on television. Here's the latest from Van Gundy: …

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Dec. 20: Chat live with Tom Jones, 12:30

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Shooting from the lip/Dec. 10th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

army.Best coverage
The annual Army-Navy football game is one of sports' greatest traditions, although the game itself has lost a bit of its onfield pizzazz because of Navy's recent dominance. The Midshipmen won their 11th game in a row in the series Saturday.

But when you watch the pregame pageantry, you can't help but acknowledge just how special this game is. CBS did its usual splendid job covering Army-Navy more as an "event" than a "game.''The result of the game certainly matters to the teams and those who are and were in the military, but for the rest of us, Army-Navy is about those serving this country.

That sentiment was expressed perfectly before the game by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview with CBS’s Tracy Wolfson.

"Every year this game seems to get better and better,'' Dempsey said. "And I know (Army was 2-9 going into the game). But it's the spirit of the game and the way that spirit defines us as a military. … It's really about the soul of the military.'' …

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Shooting from the lip/Dec. 3rd edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

chiefs.Strongest comments
The story of the weekend was the tragedy in Kansas City, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shooting and killing the mother of his child and then driving to Arrowhead Stadium and killing himself.

The NFL made the decision to play Sunday's Chiefs-Panthers game as scheduled, and it appears the league took its cue from the Chiefs, who wanted to go forward with the game.

Was it the right call? Personally, I don't think so. This is bigger than the Chiefs. Out of respect for Kasandra Perkins, the 22-year-old woman killed, as well as sending a message that some things should take precedence over football, I think the league should have postponed the game until a later date. Then again, I'm not a Kansas City player, and I didn't lose anyone close to me Saturday.

carter.jpgMany analysts weighed in on the topic Sunday, but no one was more compelling that ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown analyst and former player Cris Carter:

"One of my best friends, my roommate Jerome Brown, died in a car accident (in 1992). Philadelphia Eagle, great player, great person. … I was in the league (for) 9/11, and I didn't think we should play. And we didn't play. …

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Shooting from the lip/Nov. 26th edition

Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...

suh.Strongest comment
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a heck of a player. A heck of a jerk, too. Seems we can't go more than a few games without Suh doing something dirty. The latest incident was kicking Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin on Thanksgiving Day -- the second straight Turkey Day that Suh used his foot against an opposing player.

Even worse, perhaps, than facing punishment by the league, Suh has lost the respect of many who played the game. That includes CBS NFL Today analyst Boomer Esiason, who laid into Suh.

"This is supposed to be a brotherhood,'' Esiason said. "You're supposed to have respect for one another. Bruce Smith, I could always shake his hand. Reggie White, I could always shake his hand after a game. I would never shake this guy's hand because, once again, he has crossed over the line, and it's obvious it was on purpose.'' …

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