Te'o, 'the finest football player in America,' lands on SI cover

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Te'o, 'the finest football player in America,' lands on SI cover

The Heisman Trophy is mainly an honor reserved for those who score points. But Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has received a few calls for his name to enter the Heisman race over the last week or so, and ESPN's Heisman Watch has the Irish captain with seven points (two fourth-place, three fifth-place votes).

He has a host of offensive players to vault, with six quarterbacks (Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, Collin Klein, Braxton Miller, Aaron Murray and Matt Barkley) and one running back (De'Anthony Thomas) all in the mix. It's an unlikely candidacy, but Te'o certainly deserves all the attention he's getting.

Which now includes a regional cover of Sports Illustrated:

(You can read Pete Thamel's story on Te'o here)

"I would say that Manti's the finest football player in America, all positions, all teams in college," Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said Wednesday. "And that's he's the best football player that I've personally coached."

Te'o tragically lost his girlfriend and grandmother in the span of 24 hours, but played through his personal pain to lead the Irish to victories over Michigan State and Michigan. He was humbled by the support shown for him at Saturday's game against Michigan, with many in the crowd donning leis to support the linebacker.

And Te'o's teammates were inspired by his performance.

"Manti's one of our brothers. And not only is he one of our brothers, but he's like one of our big brothers," defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. "He's been here for a long time, he's a leader, he knows offenses very well, he knows how to put the defense in a spot to overcome so many situations that we're in.

'And the situation that he went into was a very tragic situation, which all of us pray for him. He's going through a hard time but we all gave him confidence to keep going and, at that time he may be a little weak inside, but he never showed it out. He always stayed strong, and watching that from him kept us going strong and kept us going every day and going out to Michigan to play really hard for him."

Road Ahead: Blackhawks play three home games before All-Star break

Road Ahead: Blackhawks play three home games before All-Star break

CSN's Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd preview the Blackhawks' three upcoming games in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

The Blackhawks have three home games before the NHL All-Star break, which takes place in Los Angeles.

The Blackhawks have dates between the Vancouver Canucks, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Winnipeg Jets. All three opponents are out of the playoff picture, sand Steve Konroyd is looking for the Blackhawks to step up in a certain part of their game: scoring.

See what Boyle and Konroyd had to say in the video above.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.