February 08, 2020

Time for lone non-Jeter voter to step forward. Latest column; plus Heat, gloriously impatient Riley win with Iguodala trade; also why Reed's return is big for Canes football, Mahomes rises as Dolphins' new roadblock, latest Back In My Day video & more

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chiefs beat 49ers in Miami Super Bowl, Hot Button Top 10, nailed our SB pick, Part 2 of our '72 Dolphins series & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

DjTO 'THE LONE VOTER' WHO DENIED JETER: STEP FORWARD OR  BE OUTED!A brief chronology of the world’s 10 greatest mysteries: Is there intelligent alien life? (Infinity). What happened to the Ark of the Covenant? (587 B.C.). Where is Cleopatra’s tomb? (30 B.C.). Who was Jack the Ripper? (1888). Why is "abbreviation" such a long word? (Unknown). Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? (1963). Whatever happened to D.B. Cooper? (1971). Where is Jimmy Hoffa? (1975). Why ‘New Coke’? WHY?!?! (1985). And who didn’t vote for Derek Jeter? (2020). There you have it. Nine eternal mysteries that may never be fully solved — and one that still might be. "The Lone Voter" is still out there. But where? Someone knows who he (or she?) is. The unnamed anarchist is someone’s neighbor or friend, hiding in plain sight, ripe for outing. To read our full latest column, please visit It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter  Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward.

IGUODALA TRADE A WIN FOR HEAT AND SIGN OF PAT RILEY"S GLORIOUS IMPATIENCEWhen they called Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s name in honoring the NFL‘s all-time greatest 100 players and coaches before the Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, he held up two hands full of championship rings in a brazen showiness utterly earned. Miami Heat president Pat Riley has Patr Andreidone the equivalent this week, though somewhat more subtly, with his maestro’s work ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The greats have a way of reminding us how they got that way, lest we forget. It can be the bling on the fingers. Or it can be a midseason trade you didn’t have to make — but one that looks like a master class in how to get more than you give. In a deal completed Thursday Miami got elite wing defender Andre Iguodala from Memphis along with starter-caliber small forward Jae Crowder and reserve Solomon Hill, with the Heat sending to the Grizzlies injury-prone Justise Winslow and two seldom-used spare parts in James Johnson and pouty, oft-suspended Dion Waiters. (Riley and Iguodala are pictured). Miami has a team option on the second year of Iguodala’s two-year, $30 million deal, meaning the Heat can part with him after this season and still have the salary-cap wherewithal to take aim at a major max-salary star in the bounteous free agency sweepstakes coming in the summer of 2021. That’s when the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokonmpo, will grand-marshal the parade of available talent. Riley turns 75 next month. He ain’t playin’. He doesn’t have all day to whip Miami back into championship contention and add another NBA ring to the eight he has won as a player, head coach or executive, including the Heat’s crowns in 2006, 2012 and 2013. To read our full column, please visit Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala.

WHY RETURN OF ED REED, EVEN IF MOSTLY SYMBOLIC, IS HUGE BOOST FOR CANES FOOTBALL: You see a little gray in Ed Reed’s full-but-neatly-trimmed beard now. His age has doubled since he was last an active part of Miami Hurricanes football as a player from 1998 to 2001. His new title now? "Chief of Staff"? It sounds grandly inflated, like he will be in a suit overseeing Edreedboard meetings. "I’m not hiring, I’m not firing. I’m coming here to help. I’m a piece of the puzzle," Reed, now 41, described his own role Wednesday in being officially introduced on campus. He will not be a coach on the field. He will not recruit except when prospects visit on campus. He will be more of an advisor/sounding board and right-hand man to coach Manny Diaz. "I’m [his] Doc Holliday," he said, of the Old West sidekick to Wyatt Earp. "I’ll be his huckleberry," Reed added, citing southern slang for "I’m your man." More than as a counsel to Diaz, though, Reed is on board to be this: An Example. Reed was hired to be a mentor to players, to show them the right way. "Stand up. Be accountable," he said. He was a consensus All-American safety at UM. He was a vital part of the school’s last of five national championships, in 2001. He is the imprimatur of all The U has developed in terms of family and culture. To read this full column, please visit Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football.

BAD LUCK DOLPHINS: FINALLY GETTING RID OF NEMESIS BRADY, NOW MAHOMES TAKES HIS PLACE. NEW COLUMN: Miami hosts another Super Bowl, and Dolphins fans automatically tease themselves (or is it torture?) wondering when their team might be back in one. Dreaming is free, and folks keep insisting anything is possible, so have it. But understand this: the Dolphins seem Pmahno closer today to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1984 season and first victory since the 1972-73 quiniela. They seem further away, in fact. The Dolphins have simply swapped one gigantic AFC roadblock for another. Tom Brady and the Patriots dynasty fades. Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs dynasty arises. The wattage of brightness for Kansas City’s long-term future under Mahomes, the generational quarterback, can hardly be overstated. Anything said about this young guy that seems like hyperbole probably isn’t. And this is who will now be blocking Miami’s path to playing in a Super Bowl for all of this decade and beyond. The pressure on the Dolphins regime to land a quarterback as good or to assemble a team to beat Mahomes has never been greater than it seems now as we witness the full coronation of Mahomes. This isn’t discounting the long, bright future of another Dolphins AFC roadblock, dual-threat Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. But Mahomes is the league’s new No. 1 QB and face of the NFL until somebody takes those things from him. To read our full column please visit Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

My column from the game: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami.

DshulaMY 2-PART SERIES ON HOW DOLPHINS CAME SO QUICKLY TO HAVE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME: This was a Super Bowl Week thing but I'm proud of the series and it's timeless so I wanted to give you another chance to read it. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were named the greatest team of all time as part of the NFL's 100th season celebration. How did it happen? In Part 1 told how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Don Shula, a man named Joe Thomas, was assembling a treasure trove of talent amid the wild dysfunction of the George Wilson-led expansion years. For that tale, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins. Part 2 tells the story of how and why Shula's arrival changed everything, from the players themselves, and it takes a poignant look at Shula's life today at age 90. For that full column, visit How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90. This is a deep dive into how the Perfect Dolphins happened, with never-before-told stuff. I hope you enjoy.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': READY, SET, HYPE!: We poke good-natured fun at the excess of sports in general, led by the Super Bowl. Debuted on yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Other select recent columns: Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Author of 'Fins At 50,' available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

February 03, 2020

Chiefs reign in Miami! With my column from Miami Super Bowl game; plus Latest Hot Button Top 10, nailed our SB pick, how Shula made the Dolphins perfect and the coach today at 90, the NFL's big bounce-back & more

It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3. Welcome, new month. Stay awhile. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kobe Bryant tragedy overshadows start of Super Bowl Week & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

MY COLUMN FROM SUPER BOWL: MAGIC CITY, INDEED: The Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes and Miami as host all rose to meet expectations in a spectacular Super Bowl show Sunday night at Hard Rock Stadium. For my column from the SB, visit Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami.

KOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: Our column from last Sunday's tragedy: Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

YOUR VERDICT ON SUPER BOWL: We asked, in two Twitter polls that drew some 2,500 votes, who you WANTED to win Sunday's game and who you predicted WILL win. Your verdicts: Want Chiefs by 73.0%, and predict Chiefs by 65.8%. So y'all happy today!

DshulaHOW SHULA MADE DOLPHINS PERFECT AND MADE MIAMI MATTER, AND THE COACH TODAY AT 90: He came to Miami 50 years ago, almost to the day, and everything changed. The way the rest of the country thought of us and the way we thought of ourselves — it all changed. He put a star on the map at the bottom of a far-flung peninsula, in sports and beyond. He made us champions. He made us matter. Today his name is almost mythic; there is a historical quality to it. When you get to be 90, people can begin to forget what you used to be. After all, he last roamed a Dolphins sideline, jaw jutting, in 1995. He worked 26 seasons here but has now been out of coaching nearly as long. Increasing numbers of South Floridians know him mostly as a memory shared by elders, who hold him close like a family heirloom, a sign of their own mortality as glory days long past are recalled. Now, the Super Bowl is in Miami on Sunday to crown the NFL’s 100th season, and fans arriving at Hard Rock Stadium will walk past a bronze statue of the man — larger than life, of course. Now, in the middle of the tropics, Donald Francis Shula is the King in his Winter. OK, that is the entree to Part 2 of out two-part series on how the Dolphins so quickly went from dysfunctional expansion losers to the the Perfect Season -- that 1972 voted the greatest of the NFL's first 100 years. It tells the story of how and why Shula's arrival changed everything, from the players themselves, and it takes you into Shula's life today at age 90. For that full column, visit How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90. Part 1 told the how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Shula assembled a treasure trove of talent amid the dysfunction of the George Wilson-led expansion years. For that tale, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Liv PicksSUPER BOWL 54: THE PICK IS IN! AND WE NAILED IT!: Update: Nailed it! We called Chiefs win by 31-23. Chiefs won 31-20. Close enough, I say! ..... Original post: The torrent of hype is ebbing, Sunday's game is at hand, and I dare any bettor or neutral fan to claim a strong, overriding feeling about any game with a one-point spread, on a neutral site, with two teams so good a winning argument for either would be simple and sound solid. This Super Bowl is that kind of either/or proposition, a pick so tough you could flip a coin and then exhale and thank the coin for mercifully ending your vacillation. And yet I actually do have a fairly strong overriding feeling about this matchup. To read our full Chiefs-49ers preview and predix capsule -- who will win and why -- please visit Super Bowl 54: Pick for Chiefs-49ers in Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 2-3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: Chiefs rally topples 49ers in Miami Super Bowl: There had been rampant speculation a "major" sporting event, reportedly a football game, was taking place Sunday evening at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Herald was working to confirm this rumor, so stay tuned for updates.  

2. KOBE BRYANT: A week later, tragedy still reverberates: One week ago former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others perished in a helicopter crash amid thick fog in California, stunning the sports world, and tributes continue across the NBA.

3. ZACH THOMAS: No! Former Dolphins great Thomas is denied by Hall of Fame: Zach was a finalist for the first time but did not make the list of five who got in, revealed at Saturday's NFL Honors show in Miami. But three of five have local ties: RB Edgerrin James (ex-Hurricane), WR Isaac Bruce (Dillard High) and OG Steve Hutchinson (Coral Springs High). The others Canton-bound: Safeties Troy Polamalu and Steve Atwater. 

4. HURRICANES: Star alum Ed Reed joins UM football staff: Former UM great Ed Reed, College and Pro Football Hall of Fame safety, rejoins the Canes as Manny Diaz's "chief of staff" (a job for which Alonzo Highsmith also interviewed). Will the "We want Ed!" chants start after the first loss?

5. HEAT: Miami in lull but Butler, Bam named as ASG reserves: Miami, only 9-7 since Dec. 30, had slipped from second in the East to fourth despite Saturday's win in Orlando, with a big test Monday in Philly on deck. Better news: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo named as reserves for the Feb. 16 All-Star Game in Chicago.

6. PANTHERS: Cats hot lately, but playoff chase still precarious: Florida is 28-22 off and had a season-high six straight wins before Saturday's loss in Montreal, with a Monday date in Toronto next. Cats are a scorching 13-5 since Dec. 16, and yet still on the edge of playoff pace in the jammed NHL East.

7. TENNIS: Year's first major ends in Australia: Novak Djokovic rallied past Dominic Thiem for his eighth Australian Open crown in Sunday's men's final. Sofia Kenin, a 21-year-old American, won her first career major on Saturday, defeating Garbina Muguruza in a duel of two women I wouldn't know if they walked right past me.

8. NFL: Lamar Jackson wins league MVP award: Baltimore Ravens quarterback (and Pompano Beach-born) Lamar Jackson was named 2019 season MVP as expected at the NFL Honors awards show Saturday in Miami, despite a poor game in the team's playoff ouster. Also notable: Titans QB (and ex-Dolphin) Ryan Tannehill as Comeback Player of the Year and St. Thomas Aquinas alum Nick Bosa of 49ers as Defensive Rookie of Year.

9. MARLINS: Baseball is back; Marlins FanFest on deck: Are you ready for some baseball? Me neither. But Marlins FanFest is next Saturday February 8 at Marlins Park. Pitchers and catchers have their first spring workout February 14 and the full squad begins February 19, with the first spring game four days later.

10. CANES HOOPS: Tough going in new year so for UM teams: Hurricanes men are now 11-10 on the season but only 2-7 in the new year after Sunday loss at Pitt. Canes women are 12-10, but 3-7 since January 1 after Sunday loss at Virginia Tech. Also still waiting for a signature win from either; they're a combined 0-11 vs Top 25 teams.

Missing the HB10 cut: No. 3-ranked Canes baseball unfurls next Saturday with a fanfest and alumni game. Season opens February 14 with home series vs. Rutgers ..... Now less than a month away from Inter Miami's March 1 season opener in its  first season in Major League Soccer. Team this week acquired winger Lewis Morgan, 23, from top Scottish club Celtic ..... Antonio Brown said, "I owe the whole NFL an apology." It's a start, at least ..... Pending free agent Tom Brady posted on social media a mysterious, brooding what-does-it-mean photo of himself in a dark tunnel because he needed some attention as Super Bowl Week dared to go on without him ..... Good for Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe to protest the naming of Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open. Court once was a great player. She currently is an outspoken bigot and homophobe ..... Update: Countdown now 2,331 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

IT'S A PARADOX, BUT HERE'S WHY NFL HAS BOUNCED BACK AND IS HEALTHIER THAN EVER: It's a paradox because concussions and safety issues continue to hover over the sport. And yet all the while, in measurable terms of popularity and revenue, the NFL has bounced back from its malaise and is healthier than ever as it crowns its 100th season Sunday with 49ers-Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium in the 54th Super Bowl and 11th in Miami. For why and how this is, check out our latest column: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever.

SmirkTHE SMIRK QUINTET: The lineup: Smirk V: It's Party Time, So Do the Hula With Gronk For Only $1 Million. Smirk IV: J.Lo, Shakira Hit All The Right Notes. From Thursday's Halftime Show press conference, Smirk wanted to make fun of it all, but then something unexpected happened. Also: Smirk III: NFL's Deft, Dull Goodell Slips Up, Makes News / Smirk II: Why Sunday's Most Talked-About Ad Won't Air? (Hint: Nutmobile) and Smirk I: Have Fun This Week, Fans, But Feel A Bit Guilty And Sad Doing it.

Also from Torrent of Super Bowl Headquarters: What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins / Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of / and How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

Select recent other stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 30, 2020

Super Bowl With a Smirk III: NFL? Exciting! Chiefs-49ers? Exciting! Roger Goodell? Not so much. Commish's SB press conference tops your Rampaging Torrent of Super Coverage Headquarters; plus our Kobe tragedy column & more

 It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 30. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kobe Bryant's shocking death with column, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

LivSmirk RgoodellSUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK III: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this week with daily needling jabs at the self-important NFL and the oversized gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, "Make Fun, Not War," Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald on years we remember to do it. In the latest, Smirk III, we lead with Roger Goodell's "state of the NFL" SB Press Conference, an annual dissemination of as little information as possible. That's Smirk III: NFL's Deft, Dull Goodell Slips Up, Makes News. Also: Smirk II: Why Sunday's Most Talked-About Ad Won't Air? (Hint: Nutmobile) and Smirk I: Have Fun This Week, Fans, But Feel A Bit Guilty And Sad Doing it.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) In Part 2 of our series on the Dolphins' early rise from dysfunction to domination, coming soon, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. In Part 1, here, read how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Shula assembled a treasure trove of talent: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) And How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

Select other most recent stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020, R.I.P. Our column on the tragedy that rocked sports; plus how one long-forgotten man pre-dating Shula changed everything for Miami Dolphins; also, latest Hot Button 10 (updated), Torrent Of Super Bowl Coverage Headquarters & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 27 Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl Top 10 Storylines You'll Be Sick Of Primer, Derek Jeter's (not) unanimous election & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KobeKOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, please visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN WHO LED THE DOLPHINS' RISE FROM EARLY DYSFUNCTION TO SUPER BOWLS AND HISTORIC PERFECTION: The players who formed the nucleus of the NFL’s single greatest team of all time were stunned to learn that their Miami Dolphins head coach was prone to laziness and long, boozy lunches. He was a man who once stood before his team and, Joethomasslouching, said, "Well, I’m hoping for a 7-7 season" -- as his guys looked around at each other, dumbfounded. This was before the arrival of Don Shula, we must hasten to mention. The NFL itself anointed the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins No. 1 among the best teams ever as part of its 100th season celebration that will culminate with the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl, fittingly in Miami. But how did a Miami franchise only born in 1966 get from nothing, from the comical dysfunction under first coach George Wilson, to being the greatest ever in such short order? It happened because of Shula, who arrived in 1970, but it started before him, during the expansion years. It started with one man, a man long lost, a man so essential yet so egregiously forgotten in Dolphins history. His name was Joseph Henry Thomas. (Shula and Thomas are pictured). Thomas left the windfall of talent that Shula spun into historic gold. ..... OK, that is the entree to my latest column, a piece I'm very proud of. It is the first of a two-part series. In this Part 1, through extensive reporting, I reveal the comical dysfunction of the 1966-69 expansion years under Dolphins inaugural head coach George Wilson. Yet during that clown show stacked with losses, we tell you how Joe Thomas came to assemble a treasure trove of talent. In Part 2, coming next week, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. To read Part 1 of our series now online, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

And coming Monday: Return of Smirk!: Super Bowl with a Smirk notes columns, poking fun at the NFL and the gravitas of its big game, are an annual Super Bowl Week staple in the Miami Herald. Watch for the Return of Smirk on Monday!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 26-27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. KOBE BRYANT: Tragic helicopter crash kills ex-Lakers star: A family, the NBA and all of sports were ripped apart Sunday with the news Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had been killed in a private helicopter crash in California. R.I.P. to an all-time great.

2. DEREK JETER: One vote missing, but Marlins president in Cooperstown: Derek Jeter swept into the Baseball Hall of Fame with all but one vote of 397 cast, denied a unanimous entry by one still-unnamed idiot / piss-ant anarchist. (Larry Walker got in, too, barely). Jeter is best known of course as the Miami Marlins president, although reportedly also played several years with the Yankees.

3. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats awarded '21 NHL All-Star Game: Haven't been many better weeks to be a Panthers fan. Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau skated into Saturday's NHL All-Star Game at 28-21 off six straight wins and 13 in past 17 games -- solidly on playoff pace. And this : the big news that Cats, for the first time since 2003, will host All-Star Weekend in 2021.

4. HEAT: Butler snubbed as all-star starter, Waiters debuts: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "joke" that Jimmy Butler was not named an NBA all-star starter. Bam Adebayo had a case, too, although both surely will make it as reserves. Meantime relentlessly suspended Dion Waiters made his season debut for 31-14 Heat, with four 3's and 14 points in a solid 18 minutes.

5. NFL: Chiefs, 49ers arrive in Miami for Super Bowl: SB 54 at Hard Rock Stadium is in one week, and the teams arrive today. The Kansas City Chiefs are to land in Miami at 4:40 p.m. and the San Francisco 49ers about 2 1/2 hours later. The slightly favored Chiefs are expected to continue to be ahead of the Niners through next Sunday's final whistle.

6. HURRICANES: UM football lands major transfer QB: Former Houston starting quarterback D'Eriq King announced he  has entered the college football transfer portal and chosen the Miami Hurricanes. Quick word of caution: Remember, one year ago, how excited we were were about Tate Martell? 

7. TENNIS: Serena out early as Australia Open hits midpoint: Serena Williams, only eighth-seeded but the betting favorite in year's first major, was ousted in the third round -- yet another failed effort to tie Margaret Court's career record of 24 major singles titles. Still think Serena will equal and then surpass Court ... but we've been saying that for three years now, since her 23rd title was the Aussie Open in 2017.

8. HORSE RACING: Mucho Gusto wins rich Pegasus at Gulfstream: Mucho Gusto, a star for trainer Bob Baffert, won the second annual $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstreak Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, with Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Might be horse racing's biggest day outside the Triple Crown races.

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-star game is Sunday in Orlando: Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson lead the AFC and NFC squads today in a meaningless game further watered down because players from the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs and 49ers aren't in it. No Dolphins, either, but plenty of ex-Fins in Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

10. CANES HOOPS: Can Miami (men or women) finally beat a good team?: Slumping Miami men are 10-9 off four straight losses after Saturday's L at North Carolina -- and 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams. Canes women are 11-9 overall and 0-6 vs. ranked teams after Sunday's loss at No. 14 Florida State. Jeez, beat somebody a good team, already!

Missing the HB10 cut: Overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans finally made his season debut. He scored 22 points, did not reinjure his knee and his sneakers did not explode. Stay tuned for further developments ..... A bunch of NFL eyes including those of the Dolphins' Chris Grier were watching a lot of college all-stars with the coming NFL Draft in mind in Saturday's annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. But rehabbing Tua Tagovailao of course didn't play, so our interest in the game went from gutter-low to nonexistent ..... Latest Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be revealed at NFL Honors awards show the night before Super Bowl, with ex-Dolphin Zach Thomas a finalist for first time. Of course we are journalistically neutral unabashedly hoping Zach gets in! ..... Countdown 35 days 'til Inter Miami opens its inaugural season in MLS ..... Countdown 48 days 'til No. 3-ranked Hurricanes baseball opens season ..... By the way, the Houston Astros stole their World Series trophy ..... Somebody help Antonio Brown. Baker Act, anyone? ..... Update: Countdown now 2,338 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other most recent stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.