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Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!

Today is a day of tradition.

The Macy's parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.

And our annual "Turkey of the Year.''

It's a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist Patrick Reusse.

And now we celebrate the 10th anniversary of doing it here.

The premise is simple. Are you a louse? A clown? Did you behave like a knucklehead this year? Did you do something dumb? Did you do something to embarrass yourself or someone else? Did you step in a pile of cow patties?

Did you act like a, well, turkey?

Past winners include Phillies fans, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and, last year, the National Football League.

So, as you get ready for a day of parades, football and food, here are our nominees and choice for 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year.

•••

Last year's winner could easily be this year's winner. The NFL continues to bumble and stumble around with a product that isn't as good as it used to be. This isn't about anthem protests. This is about a product watered down by too many games, too many injuries and too much dead time in games.

Meantime, add another past winner — Jones — to the list of this year's nominees. Jones used to be commissioner Roger Goodell's best buddy. Now he's trying to mess up Goodell's contract extension for one reason: Jones didn't like Goodell suspending Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over a domestic violence allegation.

Look, this isn't like when Patriots owner Robert Kraft was throwing a tantrum over Tom Brady's suspension. That was over deflated footballs, for crying out loud. Hey, Jerry, you want to pick a fight over domestic violence? Then again, that's no surprise. This is a guy who once signed Greg Hardy.

Oh, don't forget Jones' colleague Texans owner Bob McNair for telling fellow owners that, "We can't have the inmates running the prison" when talking about the anthem protests.

•••

Speaking of owners, sorry, Stuart Sternberg, but you made the list this year. I like the Rays owner. I like him very much, and thanks to him, we still have a baseball team around here. I hope he owns the team for years to come. But I didn't at all care for his recent remarks to the Tampa Bay Times suggesting that the team might cover only $150 million of a projected $800 million cost for a new ballpark in Ybor City. At a time Hillsborough County doesn't have enough money to pay for teacher raises, the Rays are going to have to do better than that.

Now if Sternberg wants to increase the Rays' payroll by about a $100 million, we might be open to shaving a few bucks off what he will chip in for a new stadium.

•••

Has there been a more disappointing team around here than the Bucs?

This was supposed to be a good year for them, a playoff year. Instead, they look to be on their way to a losing record and a postseason drought that will reach 10 seasons. If that isn't bad enough, their star quarterback, Jameis Winston, is being accused of groping an Uber driver, raising serious questions about his character and future.

•••

Besides the Bucs, plenty of other teams get consideration.

The U.S. men's soccer team can't get past Trinidad & Tobago to make the World Cup? Man, maybe we Americans should just give up this soccer thing and stick to what we know: real football.

The last time Florida's and Florida State's football teams didn't have winning records going into their big rivalry game was 1959.

The Cleveland Browns have won one game in the past two seasons. They are going for a winless 2017.

And how about the Atlanta Falcons? Here's all you need to know: 28-3.

•••

And now, drum roll, please, for a couple of wrestling heels.

LaVar Ball and Donald Trump. One is the braggart dad of a struggling NBA rookie. The other is the president. Both have gone off the deep end over who gets credit for freeing another one of Ball's basketball-playing sons, LiAngelo, and two other UCLA Bruins from shoplifting charges in China.

After hearing all the crazy talk that comes out of Ball's mouth, I don't want to hear him talk about anything again. Ever. And doesn't the president have enough to worry about besides getting into an argument with a blowhard like Ball?

I expect Ball to act that way. I don't expect the president to act that way.

You're the president, doggone it. Act like it. Worry about North Korea. Worry about Russia. Don't worry about some lunkhead like Ball and who gets credit for bailing some juvenile delinquents out of China.

For that reason, we have co-Turkeys of the Year. They deserve each other.

Lavar Ball and Donald Trump.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year 11/22/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:55pm]
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