NFL players vote Keenan Allen Comeback Players of the Year for 2017

The downside of winning awards like Comeback Player of the Year is well, what one has to come back from. The NFL world saw in graphic detail how Keenan Allen qualified for 2017 honors on opening day of the 2016 season.

Allen also got better as the season went along, coinciding with the Chargers’ blistering turnaround from an 0-4 start to challenging for the AFC West title. Five of his seven 100-yard games and five of his six touchdown catches came in the final seven weeks; the Chargers went 6-1.

That included a performance on Thanksgiving in Dallas, in a 28-6 Chargers rout of the Cowboys, that alerted a turkey-sedated nation to the nature and magnitude of his comeback. He caught 11 passes for 172 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter in which he embarrassed five Cowboys defenders trying to tackle him. The knee, clearly, held up fine.

And if his exploits catching Rivers’ throws weren’t enough, Allen pulled off one of the more unconventional touchdowns of the season in the finale against the Raiders. When Gordon got the ball punched out at the end of a run, Allen caught it on the fly, almost as if by design, and ran 27 yards with it for a score.

A week after Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinski committed suicide, more details surrounding his death continue to emerge.

On Tuesday, Pullman police announced that the .223 caliber rifle that Hilinski used belonged to a former teammate, and it was taken on or before Jan. 12 without the teammate’s knowledge. The owner of the rifle was not identified.

I felt like it’s what I needed to do, Falk told reporters Tuesday. He needs to be remembered. He was an amazing person, an amazing soul. This guy was one of the most outgoing, bubbly … just a guy you really want to be around. People need to know it.

I think all of us that were close to him just kind of go back and ask ourselves, ‘Were there signs? What could we have done?’ I think we all kind of feel a little bit of guilt. I wish I could give him one more hug, one more pat on the butt and let him know he’s loved.

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Marlins draw tiny crowd even by their standards

Remember, folks, in the major leagues it’s tickets sold, not total in the ballpark, when it comes to attendance figures. Otherwise, each of the bodies inside Marlins Park on Wednesday represented 10 people.

The official count for Miami’s 1:10 p.m. game against the Phillies was 15,197. Based on media observations (per The Washington Post), that middle 1 was unnecessary.

That shot is reminiscent of the scene at the Marlins’ old yard, Sun Life Stadium, six years ago when the Marlins and Reds played a doubleheader in late August ahead of Hurricane Irene. A reported 347 fans were in the stands for the start of that twinbill. The stated attendance that day was 22,505.

This will not help counter the argument that big league baseball in Florida won’t ever work. The Marlins are dead last in the National League in average attendance, checking in at 20,970 per contest heading into Wednesday. They were 27th in the majors, behind the White Sox, the A’s . . . and the Rays four hours away in St. Petersburg.

While we don’t yet know the teams heading to Omaha, we do know that college baseball will have a new national champion in 2017; Coastal Carolina failed to make the postseason this year after winning the title in Omaha last June.

Here are the top eight seeds entering the regionals: 1. Oregon St. (49-4), 2. North Carolina (47-12), 3. Florida (42-16), 4. LSU (43-17), 5. Texas Tech (43-15), 6. TCU (42-16), 7. Louisville (47-10), 8. Stanford (40-14).

The SEC brought the most teams into regional play with eight: Florida, LSU, Kentucky, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Auburn and Texas A&M. Seven teams hail from the ACC and Big-12 conferences.

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