Nnamdi Asomugha to retire from football—we get Nnamdi’d one last time

Nnamdi Asomugha to retire from football—we get Nnamdi’d one last time

Wide receivers around the NFL shed some tears on Thursday evening upon hearing the news that four-time All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is retiring from pro football. Multiple outlets are reporting Asomugha will sign a one-day contract with the Oakland Raiders on Friday then ride off into the sunset. He last played for the San Francisco 49ers, but was waived on November 4.

In some parts of the world, people might ponder whether Asomugha belongs in the Hall of Fame. This particular corner will not be one of them*, because the only thing Nnamdi Asomugha is famous for around the City of Brotherly Love is being the biggest free-agent bust in Philadelphia Eagles history.

The Eagles signed Asomugha to a five-year contract worth $60 million with $25 million guaranteed in July, 2011. He was the prize piece from Joe Banner and/or Andy Reid’s Post-Lockout Summer Free-Agent Bonanza, a last-ditch effort to slap a team—a “Dream Team”—around Michael Vick after he had just taken the league by storm the previous season.

Widely considered one of the top two cornerbacks in the NFL at the time of his signing, Asomugha never lived up to his reputation as a shutdown corner. There were debates over whether the coaching staff—led at the time by offensive-line-coach-turned-defensive-coordinator Juan Castillo—was using its new personnel correctly, a theory Asomugha himself seldom denied. Regardless of technique or scheme though, he continued getting beat.

Asomugha was cut after two abysmal seasons with the Eagles. The team happily parted ways despite eating $4 million in guaranteed money in the deal. He eventually signed with the 49ers in April, but did not last the season, appearing in just three games.

What brought about his sudden decline is still not entirely clear. Asomugha had just turned 30 upon joining the Eagles, so it’s possible after eight seasons in the NFL, he simply hit a wall. It’s possible the decline began much sooner—Nnamdi had such a reputation in Oakland that quarterbacks often refused to throw or even look in his direction. Being shuffled into different roles in Philly likely accelerated the process, as opponents quickly began to see he could be exploited.

Asomugha also seemed indifferent at times. He wasn’t above upstaging his teammates on the field. He would openly question the game plan in the media. Was he unhappy with the organization or in Philadelphia? Did he lose his desire after cashing in on one last big payday?

Whatever the case, Asomugha’s rapid exit in San Fran and decision to retire indicate the Philly coaching staff didn’t break him. He was never very good to begin with by the time he got here.

So, I guess this is goodbye—at least until he acts in something again. Nnamdi Asomugha will never blow off his teammates at the cafeteria to make personal calls and eat lunch alone in his car again. He’ll never halfheartedly miss another tackle, or get burned on a deep pass and make faces at the nearest safety.

A fan base weeps for DeSean Jackson, as we all get Nnamdi’d one last time.

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*Okay, even if we did entertain the notion of Asomugha in the Hall, he spent six full seasons as a starting quarterback cornerback for the Raiders, and while they were presumably six elite seasons (even if probably they all weren’t), his career arc didn’t have enough longevity. Also, just no.

Ilya Bryzgalov talks goalies playing in contract year, Las Vegas and more

Ilya Bryzgalov talks goalies playing in contract year, Las Vegas and more

Gotta love Bryz, right?

Former Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was his usual humorous, unpredictable self in a recent interview with Sportsnet.ca's Luke Fox.

From what he's doing now to talking pressure as a goalie, here are some of the highlights ...

On a goalie's mental state when job security is up in the air (referenced to Flyers goalie Steve Mason)
“So many goalies take the job for a long time, so it’s easy to be out of game. You worry. You want to find a long-term job, pay bills. It’s not a secret. That’s why when there’s no [contractual] certainty and you don’t see 100 percent confidence from your team, it might affect your game. If the season’s not going well, you start thinking about it.”

On his son playing goalie
"He chose it. He’s the guy who gives his team a chance to win. Make some saves. But he plays as a player once a week, too. Shoots the puck on goalies every Wednesday pretty much.”

On being a hockey dad
“I’m pretty calm. I only get upset when I see the referees make the bad calls. The kids work so hard and play so passionately, you can’t take sides. Only when the referee’s unfair.”

On being a pro hockey player in Las Vegas
"I’m family guy, settled down. I’ve never been too emotional or casino-addicted. For me, no problem. For the young guys to play there, it causes trouble, man. Difficult trouble. … The young ones with the cash? Las Vegas can provide lots of scenes, know what I mean?"

The rest is just as good. For the full Q&A, read Fox's article right here.

Also, Bryzgalov will be a part of Sportsnet's trade deadline coverage next Wednesday.

And side note: Bryz remains active on Twitter. And remains random as ever.

Just look at his last tweet ...

Best of NHL: Capitals edge Oilers for 13th straight home win

Best of NHL: Capitals edge Oilers for 13th straight home win

WASHINGTON -- Justin Williams and Tom Wilson scored as the Washington Capitals beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on Friday night to tie the franchise record with their 13th consecutive home victory.

Williams' game-winner in the third period was his 19th of the season. Washington's streak of home games with five-plus goals ended at 11, but Braden Holtby made 30 saves to pad the team's lead atop the NHL.

Evgeny Kuznetsov didn't have a point but was arguably the Capitals' best player against Edmonton. They have now outscored opponents 64-20 during their home winning streak.

Leon Draisaitl scored his team-leading 23rd goal of the season for Edmonton, which got 24 saves from goaltender Cam Talbot (see full recap).

Hurricanes’ Lack posts ninth career shutout
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Eddie Lack stopped 34 shots for his ninth career shutout to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.

Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Viktor Stalberg scored, and Phillip DiGiuseppe had two assists to help Carolina snap a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) and move out of last place in the Eastern Conference.

Lack (2-3-1) was making just his sixth start of the season due to concussion issues.

Craig Anderson finished with 41 saves for Ottawa, which snapped a three-game road winning streak. The Senators squandered a chance to move into first place in the Atlantic Division.

Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson moved past Kyle Turris into sole possession of second place on the franchise's consecutive games played list with 308 (see full recap).

Johnson leads Flames past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Chad Johnson made 36 saves during his first start in five games to lead the Calgary Flames past the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Friday night for their third consecutive victory.

Troy Brouwer, Mikael Backlund, Deryk Engelland and Sam Bennett had the goals for the Flames, who scored three straight in less than five minutes midway through the first period.

Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo stopped 24 shots in his first start in three games.

The Panthers, coming off the first five-game road sweep in franchise history, have lost two in a row.

Calgary stretched its lead to 3-1 when Engelland swept in a loose puck in the crease with 6:09 left in the first (see full recap).