NYCFC Signs Academy Player From The Bronx To Roster

credit nycfc

Transition time continues for NYCFC before the start of their 2020 season. With a new coach set to be announced for the departed Domenec Torrent, New York City FC on Tuesday announced that Homegrown defender Tayvon Gray has signed his first professional contract with the Club becoming the first Bronx native to sign with NYCFC. 

It’s a homecoming for Gray and he will take his talents close to home. NYCFC home games are played at Yankee Stadium

credit nycfc

Gray said: “I’m very excited to sign with New York City FC. I’m a Bronx kid and this is my hometown team, so to start my professional career in New York City is a dream come true.

“When I first heard about NYCFC, the team was very new, but once I saw what the Club was all about, I definitely wanted to play for them. I’ll be proud to represent my team in the Bronx. My family is still here, so it will be very exciting to have them at games.

The 17-year-old and U.S. youth international is NYCFC’s fourth player to graduate from the Academy ranks, joining James Sands, Joe Scally and Justin Haak.

“There are too many people to thank. I’d like to thank God, my family for the support and love to help me get to this point, and everyone in the Academy staff. I’ve learned from some incredible coaches and played with some great teammates over the years and I wouldn’t have been able to get here without them.”

 NYCFC Sporting Director David Lee said: “Tayvon’s been in our Academy for the past few years and has really developed over the last 18 months and we couldn’t be more excited for him to join our First Team and be with us for the future   Signing the contract is the first step for him to continue his development. He has a lot of potential and can play a number of positions.”  

This past season, NYCFC finished as the top seed in the MLS Eastern Conference and lost in the conference finals to Toronto at Yankee Stadium. 

“We’ve seen him as a future Homegrown player for a while and we’re really delighted to complete the signing,” said Lee.

Gray has been a centerpiece of the NYCFC Academy since joining the Club in 2017 with the U-17s. In 2019, he anchored the backline on the U-19 team who became the first Club to win back-to-back U-19 U.S. Development Academy National Championships. 

NYCFC Academy Director Sam Pugsley said: “Tayvon’s pathway to professional soccer is a great success story. He started in the talent centers that we run and after performing well, he came into the Academy, and coming from the Bronx, it’s extra special.

“Over the years, with Rodrigo Marion and Matt Pilkington’s coaching, guidance and leadership on the field day-to-day, he really matured and got to the point he’s at today.

“Tayvon has been an integral part of what we’ve built here and the success we’ve had on the field. He’s a great person and you see his joy when he’s on the field and how much he enjoys playing soccer.” 

Gray was one of five Academy players to join the Club’s 2019 preseason in Abu Dhabi and continued to train with the First Team regularly throughout the season. 

Recently, Gray started two matches for the United States U-17 National Team at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil.

Gray will join the First Team full-time when the Club opens preseason on January 11.

The defender said: “Since I began with the Academy, my goal was to one day make it to the First Team. I’ve been able to train and go on preseason with them before, but to now sign a professional contract is an amazing feeling. I’m ready to work as hard as I can to help this team achieve what we all want, to win MLS Cup.”

 Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

QUEST FOR HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES

Sweet Potato casserole and Homemade Applesauce

Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Thanksgiving is such a festive time with friends, family and of course food! I like to lighten up traditional recipes and omit as much added sugar as possible keeping it simple and tasty. Lets start with the sweet potato casserole. You will need; 4 med/large organic sweet potatoes, organic unsweetened butter, ceylon cinnamon, 1/2 cup toasted pecans, organic coconut oil [or more butter] Swerve brown sugar replacement and a clementine or orange. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Peel potatoes then slice on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick. Place a few thin pats of butter on bottom of a casserole dish. Add a layer of sweet potatoes to dish, sprinkle with cinnamon, top with a few more pats of butter then continue to layer in this manner until done. If desired squeeze the juice of 1 clementine or 1/2 an orange over top of casserole then sprinkle with cinnamon and add more butter. Bake covered approximately 40/45 minutes until soft not mushy, testing doneness at 30 minutes.

NeilMiller /The New York Extra
Neil Miller/The New York Extra

While casserole cooks dry pan roast pecans on medium/low heat a few minutes, stir and careful don’t burn. When ready let cool a couple minutes then add to a food processor with 2 teaspoons Swerve brown sugar, 1 teaspoon organic coconut oil or if you prefer use 1 teaspoon of butter. Pulse until they look like small chopped pieces. Add chopped pecans to top of sweet potato casserole bake an additional 5 minutes uncovered.

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

APPLESAUCE; 6-8 large Gala apples and cinnamon. Core apples, place in a microwave safe pan [apples will throw off liquid] and microwave for approximately 10-12 minutes or until soft but not mushy unless you like it that way. I prefer it to be a little chunky. Once done cut in half and let cool to the touch. Run thumb over flesh feeling for any core remnants and remove. Scoop out flesh using a tablespoon. Cut up any large pieces or mash with a fork if you like it smoother. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. These do not need anything else. Gala apples are naturally sweet and delicious! Enjoy!

Neil Miller/The New York Extra

INGREDIENTS USED: casserole-organic sweet potatoes,Trader Joe’s organic unsalted butter,Frontier organic Ceylon cinnamon, raw Pecans, Wellsley Farms organic virgin coconut oil. APPLESAUCE; Organic Gala apples, Frontier Ceylon cinnamon.

TIP OF THE DAY: Rather than using artificial or processed sugar Dates are a great way to get natural sweetness into your food. Chop or put in food processor, you can modify and add to recipes.

Deontay Wilder And His Legacy Of Knockouts Continues

Saturday night in Las Vegas it was Deontay Wilder again prevailing and defending the WBC heavyweight championship. Nothing different with his proficiency to knock out opponents as he disposed Luis Ortiz for the second time in a year.

But this was Wilder as he is. The right punch and pardon the pun, at the right time. The time Deontay Wilder throws the right, again an opponent has no time to blink.  

Wilder repeated the same thing last March at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Same slow start Saturday night and trailing on the scorecards, and then finding that opening to end things late in the seventh round.

The open was taking a left from Ortiz. The finish, don’t blink. That immediate and quick right to the head.

This is what makes Deontay Wilder, that ability to knock out opponents, 40 of them in 41 fights  He is making history and the main goal is to unify the heavyweight title, and that can occur at some point in the new year. 

 We are talking about a heavyweight that is cementing a legacy. And the only thing remaining, as Wilder wants, is to unify the heavyweight titles.

He said, “I am the best one to own those titles.” 

After a tentative rematch against Tyson Fury, February 22 is the date, Wilder should be in line to unify the titles. It would be a quick turnaround as he awaits the winner of the rematch with champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua in two weeks.

So why the talk? Why is Deontay Wilder in that discussion, more so, as possibly the best puncher in heavyweight history and among the current stable of top contenders?

But not many are as tall and rugged as Fury.  When that rematch occurs, Fury could be the one who ends the Wilder streak of knockouts. 

Among boxing’s biggest punchers, Deontay Wilder is as good as Joe Louis. “The Brown Bomber” won his first 23 bouts, 19 by knockout, 54 KO’s inm 71 bouts, including 22 KO’s in 25 successful defenses of his heavyweight crown.

He rivals those other legendary heavyweights. Rocky Marciano, undefeated with 43 knockouts in 49 fights, a slugging percentage of 87.7percent. 

Archie Moore, Geroge Foreman? They were great punch artists. Moore holds the all-time record for total career knockouts which numbered anywhere from 130 to 143, depending on who was counting.

But Deontay Wilder? He is setting records. That’s  97 percent of slugging percentage and knockouts for this modern day heavyweight who envisions fighting another six years. “

“Wilder because of his tremendous right hand on any given day could knock out almost anyone, past or present,” said Ron Stevens the former New York State Athletic Commissioner.

Stevens has seen those legendary heavyweights at ringside and on film. He  continues to witness the impact. Deontay Wilder is making an impact on the record books as an all-time heavyweight great.

So with a quick turnaround, Deontay Wilder is looking to continue this legacy and head for that quest to unify the titles. 

Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. will be the next step. Assuming ,Widler gets past Fury. Joshua or Ruiz will be next in that unification quest.

And at this point, waiting for the right is something every heavyweight has to be concerned with.  Not even Mike Tyson had that ability to concern his next opponent.

Possibly, with six more fights on his agenda, Deontay Wilder could become the richest heavyweight champion on record. Another knockout, well that is certain to top the last one.

For now, and if you enjoy the  knockout in heavyweights, it’s all about Deontay Wilder.

Here is a look at the numbers from this latest knockout courtesy of CompuBox:

Punch Stats

PUNCHESWILDERORTIZ
Total landed3435
Total thrown184179
Percent19%20%
Jabs landed177
Jabs thrown13077
Percent13%9%
Power landed1728
Power thrown54102
Percent32%28%










Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich mancuso

Darnold is Looking and Sounding Like a Franchise QB

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Sam Darnold had good pass protection all day. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Dear Outrageous, Obnoxious, Outlandish Raiders fans.

Thank for you coming to MetLife Stadium Sunday and attempting to turn it into the Black Hole East. You were maddeningly, mind-bogglingly, maniacally antagonistic.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. MetLife Stadium became the black hole for Raider fans today. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

When the Jets took their home field, they felt like the visitors.

Those wearing the Black and Silver booed, hooted and hollered their heads off. And the guys in Green and White heard it. They heard it, went back into the home locker room and got heated.

“I’m not going to lie to you, when we came on to the field, we felt disrespected,” safety Jamal Adams said. “We got booed in our own home stadium by the Oakland fans. We came back into this locker room and it was a hell of a talk.”

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Raiders backup QB Mike Glennon gets pressure from Jamal Adams. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

Adams should know. He gave the talk and it contained a lot of words not suitable for white collar criminals.

Even the calm, cool, California kid, quarterback Sam Darnold, was jacked. He bullied his way for a four-yard touchdown run that gave the Jets a 10-3 lead in the second quarter. The Jets didn’t look back as they posted their most impressive win of the season, a 34-3 demolishing of the Raiders.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Sam Darnold finds the endzone on a QB keeper in the second quarter. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

“I had someone in my way at the goal line,” Darnold said, “and I just did what I could to get into the end zone.”

This win, the Jets third straight, felt different than the previous two. The Jets beat the hapless Giants and pathetic Redskins in moving to 3-7. The Raiders, however came in with a 6-4 record, breathing down the necks of the Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC West.

They left licking their bruised egos on what surely will be a long flight back to the West Coast.

“We got our butts kicked,” said veteran quarterback Derek Carr, who was benched. “There’s no other way around that. They got after us from start to finish. Hopefully, it’s an eye opener.”

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Jamal Adams and Brandon Copeland crunch Raiders QB Derek Carr. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The new York Extra)

The quarterback that opened a lot of eyes was Darnold. It was a little more than a month ago that Darnold was haunted by the New England Patriots in a 33-0 loss. His rating that day was 1.5.

The Raiders saw a very different player. Darnold completed 20-of-29 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns passing, one rushing and no interceptions. His rating was 127.8, or 126.3 better than it was against New England.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 24, 2019. NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. Sam Darnold scrambles for a gain. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

This is new territory for Darnold and the Jets (4-7). This is Gang Green’s first three-game win streak in more than two years. Darnold, who missed time early with mononucleosis, is looking more and more like the franchise quarterback the Jets thought they were drafting last season with the No.3 pick.

Darnold also is sounding like a franchise quarterback. He’s tossed out the playoff word lately. Darnold is smart enough to know that almost certainly won’t happen this season. But isn’t it uplifting to hear a Jets QB talking about postseason?

“It’s in the back of my head,” Darnold said, “but I think where we’re at right now, we just gotta keep taking it one week at a time, and if we do that, I think we’ll be all right.”

ICYMI: Luis Robles, BWP Are No Longer With Red Bulls

Robbins Nest

credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins

Unfortunately, the MLS has taken a page out of the Baltimore Colts managerial playbook. And most unfortunately, the team that gutted its fan base is your New York Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls aren’t moving for now but you could lay worse money than betting it’s just a matter of time before they relocate. In the meantime, the Red Bulls have opted to strip away the face of the franchise.

In a vague Thursday email to season ticket holders entitled, “Roster Changes Announced,” the Red Bulls announced they had picked up the options of 10 players and declined options on six others. Ho-hum.

Just when you were about to click on your favorite Black Friday sale, the second paragraph stated that team had declined the option on goalkeeper Luis Robles.

What?

What!

What?!

No goalie in the MLS was better at what he does and had a more profound connection with his franchise’s fan base than Robles. He is the Red Bulls career leader in every goaltending stat but his true legacy was his endurance.

Robles owns the MLS’ Ironman streak having played in 183 consecutive games. He was the league’s, and the Red Bull’s, Lou Gehrig.

Now he’s gone from the Garden State. Gone, less than two and one-half years after signing a multi-year extension. Gone after leading the Red Bulls to the only three Supporters’ Shields in franchise history, gone after earning MLS Goalie of the Year in 2015.

The captain, yes, Robles has worn the armband the last two seasons, is gone.

Gone, too, is Bradley Wright-Phillips, who until this season was the offensive face of the franchise, a bull of a scoring forward who combined brute strength and deft touch in the box.

The Red Bulls didn’t want this news to make headlines. The email showed up with no information other than that vague subject line and a split-screen photo with Wright-Phillips on the left, Robles on the right. Above the two players were the words, “Thank You Bradley and Luis.” Below the photo, in much smaller type, were the words, “Read More.”

Clicking on “Read More,” led you to the vanilla, generic first graph, followed by the explosive second graph announcing the end of the Robles Era, and later, the news that Wright-Phillips was gone. That was in the sixth paragraph.

Fans of Where’s Waldo would be impressed.

The legion of dwindling Red Bulls fans won’t be impressed by this latest gut punch.  Despite having a legit soccer stadium in the hotbed of New Jersey soccer, the Red Bulls haven’t been able to build their base.

Red Bull Arena seats 25,000. Despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2018, attendance dipped 7.1 percent in 2019 to 17,281. By April, management began blocking off entire sections of the upper deck with tarp.

Now, Red Bulls fans, no less the casual soccer fan looking for a match, have to question supporting the team in Harrison, N.J., the one that jettisons key players in a Thursday Afternoon Massacre.  

Is Robles, 35, the same goalie he was in 2015? Maybe, maybe not.

He was 13-14-16 with a GAA of 1.52 in 2019. His career stats are 114-71-53 with a 1.29 GAA. The Red Bulls were significantly worse in 2019 than 2018 so making the popular goalie a scapegoat seems ill-advised.

BWP, 34, is a different story. It was painful to watch the oft-injured star hobble across the pitch. He played 24 games, scoring just two goals, his lowest total since 2013, his first season with the Red Bulls when he played just seven games.

We can debate if Father Time has caught up with both players, but that’s like taking a car with transmission trouble to a mechanic and hearing him suggest new tires.

Management has thrown the Red Bulls on the scrapheap. They were hoping you wouldn’t notice.

Boxing Notebook: The Sport Is Strong

credit pbc

Boxing is healthy and strong and the year will end with the PBC, Top Rank, Matchroom Boxing, and other promoters that delivered a good product in 2019,

Healthy also because the promoters have revenue with DAZN and ESPN+ streaming networks. Strong with the  PBC multi-million dollar contract that delivers championship fights on Fox Sports and Showtime.

“The sport has never been this strong and fans are getting what they deserve,” said Lou DeBella. He should know with over 30 years of experience in promoting and developing world class fighters. 

More than a decade ago, DiBella, left his role as Director of Boxing at HBO. He started his Broadway Boxing Promotion that has expanded beyond New York City and events are held at major venues around the nation.

And with HBO out of the boxing business, it was assumed, boxing was dead. Far from that. The sport is thriving.

This weekend, four major shows are streaming.  Pay-Per-View is healthy and Saturday night the PBC with Fox Sports PPV will televise the WBC heavyweight title defense of Deontay Wilder against Luis Ortiz from las Vegas. 

credit pbc

Last March, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Wilder stopped the 40-year old Ortiz in the 10th round with his viciscious right. Ortiz, seeking to become the first heavyweight champion from Cuba, up until the stoppage trailed 85-84 on all three scorecards. 

 The fight was in consideration for fight of the year.

Wilder also said, “He deserves a rematch,” Barclay’s Center was not available and the rematch was moved to Las Vegas and the MGM Grand Arena, also a city and venue that offers more revenue for the promoters as fight town USA.

About that first fight, Wilder said, “It allowed me to see what I’m really made of. It allowed the world to see what type of champion and a true champion that they have in America.”

America and a worldwide audience will get to see if Wilder can get to his goal, unifying the world heavyweight titles. Andy Ruiz Jr, owns the other titles in the division, and made history as the first Mexican heavyweight champion after a stunning knockout win over Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June.

So with that, the boxing calendar will be busy in December,. And New York City will host two major cards in consecutive weeks at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and at Madison Square Garden.

Boxing is healthy and New York City, once the proud owner of the weekly fight card at smoked filled arenas, is not out of the game.

PBC and Showtime will highlight three championship fights at Barclays Center, Saturday December 7th.  Undefeated WBC Middleweight World Champion Jermall Charlo defends his title against ranked contender Dennis Hogan.  

And Middleweight star Chris Eubank Jr. will have his debut fight in America. The son of  a former champion, Chris Sr. who trains him, opposed top contender Matt Korobov for the interim WBA Middleweight title. The fight has implications, the winner becoming a part of the mix and in contention for a major title in the division and Eubank Jr. has made it known that he wants a shot at Charlo. 

“Charlo is definitely the name that’s on my radar,” he said. “He is seen as one of the elite fighters in the middleweight division and I intend to prove that he is not on my level. It will be satisfying stamping my mark on the division against Charlo after I beat Koroboi. I think it will be a great fight for the fans as together our styles would make for a very good bout.”

Top Rank and ESPN will highlight Terence Crawford at the Garden the following Saturday.

Crawford, the WBO Welterweight champion, considered by many to be among the top three pound-for-pound fighters, also seeks to unify the titles in  what is considered the top division in boxing.

Yes, throw out the debate that boxing is not healthy. And that debate also ends about the sport as a has been in New York. 

Prediction Time for Ortiz-Wilder:  Will be an action packed few rounds and Ortiz will try and avoid that right hook that did him in last time. Wilder is taller and Ortizs has a weight advantage.

But the end will be the same, though sooner. Deontay Wilder retains with a stoppage in the sixth round and that quest to unify will await the Ruiz-Joshua rematch from Saudia Arabia on DAZN that is also scheduled for December 7.

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Ellsbury And Bird Never Showed Their Potential With Yankees

The Yankees made roster moves Wednesday evening and perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird should have been sent out of town sooner.  Of course it had to be Ellsbury and Bird to make room for the 40-man roster.

file photo /Neil Miller /The New York Extra

This is all about business and baseball.

More importantly, this is another baseball decision with the upcoming Rule 5 Draft that will be held December 12 during the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

file photo Neil Miller /Te New York Extra

But  in defense of Ellsbury and Bird, they could never show their potential as the often injury prone Yankees of the past few years. It can be said, when healthy, Ellsbury and Bird were catalysts to the lineup but there was never much time to take notice.

 Ellsbury, a .297 hitter with 65 home runs, 314 RBI over seven years with the Red Sox, spent most of this past season on the comeback trail from 2018 arthroscopic surgery to repair a left hip.

We never got to know the real Jacoby Ellsbury. He was like that no-show that saw circumstances go beyond his control, never a catalyst in New York as he was for the Red Sox. The Yankees expected that much when they signed him to a seven-year $153 million contract.  

Then, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “Will be nice to see him finally on my side.”  Girardi, though never had much time to see what Ellsbury could do in his side. 

Instead, the Yankees will reportedly eat the remaining $21 million of that contract that was not insured for next year.

Again, this columnist goes back a year after the Ellsbury contract. Yankees General partner Hank Steinbrenner, with limited control said to yours truly,“We are getting away from signing long term multi year contracts.”

He was referring to signing long term pitchers. The last one supposedly  was granted to the recently retired CC Sabathia who had his share of injury issues with the knees in his last few years in the Bronx. 

Steinbrenner, then, was resisting the temptation to say he was against seven -year deals to position players.

He was right, because, Jacoby Ellsbury goes down as one of the worst long term contracts granted by the Yankees and perhaps in baseball.  And that also says a lot, as to why GM Brian Cashman has not been active about going after that needed front line starter and long term deal.

It may go down as one of the worst signing in New York baseball history, with the exception of the Mets’ signing of Bobby Bonilla who was signed before the 2000 season.

The Mets wanted Bonilla off their roster. He was an aging player and they wanted to go in another direction. Instead, they did not want to pay him the $5.9 million that remained and opted for a deal that gives Bonilla that unique deal of million dollar paydays every July 1 for 26 years.

Ellsbury should be so fortunate. Point is, he showed no signs of a damaged or aging player when he was signed. 

Hence, don’t expect the Yankees  attitude to change during this free agent signing period. In other words, don’t expect Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strausburg pitching anytime soon in Yankees pinstripes. 

And we never got to know the potential of 27-year old Greg Bird. He was a left handed hitter the Yankees needed. He had that natural ability to hit for power at Yankee Stadium.

But Greg Bird was in that unfortunate category of having the swing and trying to stay on the field. 

When asked prior to the All-Star break, GM Brian Cashman said  to this columnist about Bird, “He’s capable. He has talent. We are being patient about his situation and hope Greg Bird can still be in our plan.”

Yeah, patience does have a virtue in sports, it always does. But this was another situation of the Yankees put in a situation of retaining and getting around the issue of salary in this confusing era of  business and baseball.

Perhaps, Bird, too, would have seen his last days as a Yankee prior to the start of the 2019 season. But there was always hope he would get back to potential as the Yankees got around the first base issue and moved along.

The Yankees lost their patience. It was time to move on. Just as it was time for the Yankees to get away from that Ellsbury contract.

Now they can all move on and look at this as possibly another contract or two that went bad. 

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Time For the Giants to Pull a Strasburg on Barkley

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

When Marquise Pouncey pounced on Garrett Myles, who had just cracked his helmet over Mason Randolph’s head, the Internet lit up with praise for the Pittsburgh center:

The ultimate team player.

The guy you want next to you if you’re driven into the opposition’s sideline.

The guy that will play hurt and play hard every play.

There were a few comments, however, that were confounding: To summarize, there is a belief that selfless, team-oriented players such as Pouncey, are becoming fewer in the NFL.

Certainly, it is a topic for debate, especially between fans of different generations. Athletes in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s might not have felt they had the right, no less the job security, to demand a trade, or seek outside medical opinions about a head injury.

Athletes in more recent decades have fought for better health care, pensions and the more radical ones have held out for an entire season in order to gain their freedom. They market themselves. They take political stands.

What some fans might confuse a player’s outward displays of emotion as an example of decaying team values, others see it as the evolution of the athlete/person that is just as committed to the team as players from years gone by.

Just when it seems as if the team-first players are diminishing (See: Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell) along comes Pouncey, or closer to home, Saquon Barkley.

Barkley has been playing with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3. Initial estimates had Barkley missing around eight games. He missed three.

Barkley added a dinged up shoulder in the Giants 34-27 loss to the Jets last weekend. He had his worst day as a pro, rushing 13 times for one yard and catching five balls for 30 yards.

The idea of Barkley shutting it down his bruised and battered body was put to him earlier this week. The 2-8 Giants will be playing golf come playoff time so to risk Barkley suffering a severe injury in these finals six games seems unwise, for player and team.

“The mindset of me sitting out and resting me for the rest season is beyond me,” Barkley told reporters. “I don’t agree with it and it won’t happen. I’m going to keep going until I can’t go anymore.”

When is that?

 Is it after this Sunday’s game in Chicago when the Giants face a fierce Bears’ defense? Is it the following week, when the playoff-bound Packers with their improved defense, comes to town? Is it Dec. 9th when the Giants play at NFC East rival Philadelphia whose defense can hit with the best of them?

“To say that I’m not healthy, that’s just an excuse,” said Barkley. “Everyone is banged up, everyone is going through something and I’m not going to let that be an excuse for why I’m not having a successful season. The reason I’m not having a successful season is because I’m not making enough plays for my team.”

The Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in 2012. Strasburg was having a great bounce back season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Washington knew it had a specials talent in the then 24-year-old. They weren’t going to risk his career.

Seven years later, Strasburg helped the Nationals win their first-ever World Series. He was named MVP. The club likely saved Strasburg from himself.

The Giants need to do the same with the 22-year-old Barkley. They need to do it now.

It’s hard to know whether there are more of less team-first players in the NFL. Fortunate for us, a young-in-age, old-in-soul player wears the No.26 in blue. It would be nice to have him healthy and relentless for years to come.

Quest for Healthy Alternatives

Homemade Salad Dressing and Greens by Foodlady7…

FoodLady’s 7 Chopped Green Salad with fresh veggies Neil Miler /The New York Extra

One of the healthiest options we can do for ourselves is to replace one meal a day with a green salad heaped with assorted raw vegetables . Pick your greens whether that be arugula, romaine, spinach, spring mix or what ever suits your fancy. Choose a variety of colored vegetables to top with such as diced/sliced radishes, beets, carrots, red cabbage, cucumbers, red onions, celery, mushrooms etc. Use your imagination to make endless combinations! You can add some fresh fruit if desired like clementine segments or mango, berries being the healthiest option. Avocado or a sprinkle of chopped walnuts are healthy fat options.

Now don’t ruin all that goodness with a bottled dressing laden with sugar, preservatives and unhealthy fats! Throw those bottles in the trash where they belong! It is so easy to make your own. I use apple cider vinegar and organic extra virgin olive oil, start with equal parts and adjust to taste. If that’s too vinegary for you just add more oil. Add in any seasonings and/or dried organic herbs of your choice, such as dill, oregano, ginger, Italian seasoning, Herbs de Provence, garlic powder and onion powder are some examples. A dash of Fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice is good for a change of pace every now or then or even a drop of raw honey on a special occasion.

This is a simple way to incorporate clean eating into your life. Just play around with different options to create your own taste sensations. You’ll feel better and your body will thank you! Enjoy!

TIP OF THE DAY: To save time I usually chop up a bunch of veggies , I always deseed cucumbers, then store in a plastic container. They keep fresh for several days. Just spoon on top of your salad greens and viola ready to go!!

Salad dressing brands used in this recipe Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Brands used in this recipe are as follows; Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar,Trader Joes’s California Extra Virgin Olive Oil,Great Value Organic Orange peel,Herbs de Provence,and ground mustard,Olde Thompson Pepper Supreme and Mediterranean sea salt

Jets Are No Closer to Knowing If Darnold Is The Man

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at Metlife stadium East Rutherford nj #14 Sam Darnold returns to the bench after a 3 and out in the 4th quarter Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

It has been almost exactly one month since Sam Darnold saw ghosts. One month since the New England Pats, known cheaters, seemingly had 12 men on the field on defense for every play in a 33-0 bashing of the Jets.

Every time Darnold thought he had an open window, it was slammed shut. Every time he thought he had a receiver break free, he was covered. Darnold completed just 11-of-32 passes for 86 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.

East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, October 21, 2019. Jets QB Sam Darnold and J.C. Jackson of the Patriots chase the ball in the endzone after it was snapped over Darnold’s head. The play was called a safety. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

When the mic-up Darnold was overheard saying he was seeing ghosts, Jets Nation went apoplectic. Their second-year quarterback, the third player picked in the 2018 NFL Draft, was a bust, his psyche snapped, they fretted.

Over the last two games, however, Darnold has completed 38-of-60 passes for 523 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. Not a spirit in sight in wins over the Giants, 34-27, and Redskins, 34-17.

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jets #14 Sam Darnold throws in the 1st half today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Yet the Jets are not much closer to knowing if Darnold will be their franchise quarterback than they were after the Patriots’ game. The Redskins have the 21st worst defense in the NFL. The Giants are even worse. They’re 31st.

“Towards the end of the game, I was talking more about the interception to the coaches and the other players, so maybe that,” Darnold told reporters about his dialogue Sunday. “But I think for us as an offense, as a whole, it’s just another steppingstone in the right direction, so that’s how we’re going to look at it.”

The one thing we’ve learned, and this might turn out to be paramount, is that Darnold didn’t crack, his psyche wasn’t snapped, his confidence hadn’t been confiscated by the Pats.

East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, October 21, 2019. Terrence Brooks (25) celebrates his third quarter interception in the endzone with his Patriots defensive teammates. (Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra)

In fairness to Darnold, the Patriots defense is great. It made Carson Wentz look pedestrian Sunday night in a 17-10 New England win. Maybe every quarterback, save Lamar Jacks on, sees ghosts when playing the Pats.

Maybe, just maybe, Darnold is on his way to being a franchise QB.

“He knows what he likes; he knows what he doesn’t like,” Jets coach Adam Gase said of Darnold. “He’s not afraid to say it.”

Good to know. The question is, can Darnold, who’s not exactly surrounded by the talent Troy Aikman had with the Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, win a game against a top-tier NFL defense?

Darnold did complete passes to seven different receivers, which suggests he’s seeing more of the field. But we won’t for another month if Darnold has exorcised his demons and is closer to being a franchise QB than he is today.

The Jets play at Baltimore on Dec. 12. The Ravens made Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson look like a scarecrow on Sunday. If Darnold can play as he has these last two weeks, well, that will speak well of his progress.

If not, well, Jets fans are accustomed to seeing all kinds of bizarre occurrences from butt fumbles to Bill Belichick becoming coach for a day. Seeing ghosts is nothing new.