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Martin Fennelly, Times Sports Columnist

Martin Fennelly

Martin Fennelly is a sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. He was born in New York City, raised on Long Island and was sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, minding his own business, when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in one night to beat the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Prior to joining the Times, he worked as a columnist for the Tampa Tribune, St. Louis Sun and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Martin graduated from the University of Albany, where he studied history, and attended the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Lutz with his wife, Siobhan, their children, Conor and Norah, and, at present, five cats.

Phone: (727) 893-8495

  1. Vinny Lecavalier's jersey retirement will be another classic Vinny moment

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — He was the face of the franchise. He was taken first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft by a franchise at the bottom. Art Williams, the nutty Tampa Bay Lightning owner at the time, proclaimed the 18-year-old from Ile Bizard, a Montreal borough, "the Michael Jordan of hockey."

    "I guess that's a little bit of pressure," Vinny Lecavalier said with a laugh Monday. "He'd never seen a hockey game. He'd never watched me play. I got asked that question a lot. It went 10 feet over my head."...

    Vincent Lecavalier makes a break for the net while playing an exhibition game on Sunday (9/24/17) with the 2017 U.S. Women???‚??„?s National Team at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Lecavalier was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2000???‚??€œ2001 season and between the 2008???‚??€œ2013 and spent his first 14 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.
  2. Fennelly: Donald Trump has done more for anthem protests than the protestors


    If you love democracy and free expression, thanks are in order.

    Here's to our president.

    He has done more for protests during the national anthem than the protestors.

    You saw it Sunday across the NFL.

    In Minneapolis, Bucs receivers Mike Evans (who has done this before) and DeSean Jackson both took a knee and put a hand over their hearts....

    Bucs wide receivers Mike Evans (13) and DeSean Jackson (11) take a knee during the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in Minneapolis. [Getty Images]
  3. J.T. Brown of Lightning respects NFL players' protests


    There was something in the air in the NFL on Sunday. President Trump’s comments and tweets on NFL player protests achieved the effect of creating more of them. Lightning winger J.T. Brown was asked about it as he stood in a hall at Amalie Arena, a few hours before the Lightning played the Florida Panthers in a preseason game.

    “I think there are just a lot of people banding together, trying to show unity, trying to show solidarity over an issue that a lot of people feel is being taken lightly,” Brown said....

    J.T. Brown, one of about 30 African-American players in the National Hockey League, would not rule out that he might protest.
  4. Fennelly: Our president, our protests


    Our president has done more to foster protests during the national anthem than the protestors.

    You saw it Sunday across the NFL. In Minneapolis, Bucs receivers Mike Evans (who has done this before) and DeSean Jackson both took a knee and put a hand over their hearts. Players around the league joined arms with other players, and coaches, and even owners.

    What a day in America, much less American sports....

    Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both took a knee and put a hand over their hearts.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    She was a sideshow. She was an inspiration.

    But it wasn't King versus Riggs, the "Battle of the Sexes."

    All Manon Rheaume wanted to do was play.

    "When I was in Tampa Bay, I didn't realize the impact it had on women," Rheaume said by phone. "I didn't understand I would have a positive influence for someone who has dreams. Even parents come up now and tell me even their boys had posters of me on their wall — if she could do it, I can do it. I realize now it was a big deal."...

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  6. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    The Bulls are 22-4 in their past 26 games and this is what they get for a nationally televised game? An announced attendance of 24,325?

    If only Temple traveled better....

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  7. Fennelly: Joe Maddon's return must be bittersweet for Rays fans


    If you are a Rays fan, you might have left Tropicana Field a little down on Tuesday night.

    It was Joe Maddon reunion night, Joe Ma back at the Trop for the first time since he left for his dream job with the Chicago Cubs, which he made even dreamier with a once-in-a-hundred years world championship.

    And here are the Rays, stuck inside another losing season, their third under Kevin Cash, though remember: Maddon came up a loser in 2014, his final season in Tampa Bay....

    Joe Maddon got out at just the right time, as it turned out, Martin Fennelly writes.
  8. Bucs fever: Timing your jump onto the pirate ship


    TAMPA — Hoist the flags! Fire the cannons!

    We give you the 1-0 Bucs.

    Start phoning the perfect '72 Dolphins for comment!

    I don't want to take too much away from Sunday's season-opening blowout over the Bears. There aren't NFL Mondays when fans can feel like they're rooting for kings of the world. Bucs fans, enjoy this.

    Your team began by trouncing someone. An inferior someone, with an inferior Mike Glennon, but you can't make the other team better no matter how well you play, can you?...

    Bucs defensive back Robert McClain (36) celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  9. Bucs Report Card: Grading Tampa Bay's 29-7 victory over Chicago


    A mauling to remember

    Football was back. Maybe nothing else needed to be said. The Bucs said it anyway, making a rousing statement in the heat in their delayed season-opener, 29-7, including a 26-0 halftime lead, even if it was over the incredibly bumbling Bears, a truly awful team.

    They did it with defense and more defense. They stuffed the run early, with rousing takeaways, from Kwon Alexander to Ryan Smith to Noah Spence to pick-sixer Robert McClain. And with Jameis Winston to DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans. All with a helping hand (and turnovers) from former teammate Mike Glennon, who in his return to Tampa Bay had two interceptions and fumble. Let the Mitch Trubisky era begin! Meanwhile, back at the parade route, here's this week's grades:...

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) makes a touchdown catch as Chicago Bears defensive back Marcus Cooper (31) defends during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  10. This community needs a Bucs win. The Bucs need it more


    TAMPA — They starred on Hard Knocks. They got through Irma. They hope, as Jameis Winston said, that Sunday's belated season-opener produces something more than a football game.

    "A lot of people in this city have some troubling times right now," Winston said. "It's exciting that hopefully this team can hopefully be the giddy-up for people who were affected by the storm."

    Now they just have to go out and win....

     Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy looks up at the scoreboard during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars,in Jacksonville, Fla. The Buccaneers have lofty expectations and aren't afraid to talk about them. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) NY198
  11. Fennelly: This is how USF is supposed to look



    Football was back. That might have been victory enough.

    But there was more.

    “Tonight was a major step forward,” USF coach Charlie Strong said.

    We still haven’t seen No. 22 USF put together a complete game, even after a 47-23 win in Lovie Smith’s return Raymond James Stadium. It was as if Lovie never left.

    But can I say something?

    USF just beat the ever-living stuffing and put up nearly 700 yards on a Big Ten team, albeit Illinois, on just three days of practice after Irma....

  12. Fennelly: At USF game, everyone has power — of love


    TAMPA — Walking through the parking lots at Raymond James Stadium three hours before a football game — yes, a football game — you could hear the hum of generators. But it was a hopeful sound. The bounce house in the fan area was kept inflated. TVs were powered at tailgate parties. People were laughing. There was a game.

    USF returned to the football field Friday night, defeating Illinois 47-23 on national TV. The Bulls brought a lot of people along with them, including high school football teams whose games had been postponed. The teams were admitted for free, as well as first responders and their families....

    Carrollwood Day School football players, (from left) Philip Joseph,15, Seth Cribben,16, and Drew Sarvis,16, attend the USF and Illinois football game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Friday, September 15, 2017.
  13. Fennelly: Lovie Smith's return with Illinois to face USF is bizarre, well, except to Lovie


    TAMPA — Lovie Smith insists it's a business trip, a chance for his Illinois football team to go 3-0. The Fighting Illini had three wins all of last season, Smith's first as head coach in Champaign.

    When Smith takes his team into Raymond James Stadium on Friday night to face No. 22 USF on national TV, it represents his return to Tampa as a head coach after being fired by the Bucs shortly after the 2015 season. And I bet it matters to him, whether he says it or not. He says not....

    Illinois head coach Lovie Smith shouts during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Western Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Bradley Leeb) ILBL112
  14. Lovie Smith, Joe Maddon might be a welcome diversion for fans


    Provided we all have power, eventually we’ll turn our minds back to games.

    Or maybe we won’t. That’s fine, too.

    Relief efforts across our state. That’s what matters.

    But our sports might be some fun, a diversion.

    Story lines galore.

    Welcome back, Lovie.

    Welcome back, Mike.

    Welcome back, Joe Ma and Zo!

    Dig in, deep-dish style. Home sweet Chicago. A reunion tour to beat all....

  15. Fennelly: Derrick Brooks goes bold on Bucs: 11-5 record, division winners


    Twenty years ago, the Bucs broke out.

    They opened the 1997 season with a stunning, tell-the-world 13-6 victory at home over Steve Young, Jerry Rice and the San Francisco 49ers.

    What a day. Warren Sapp was a man on fire with 11 tackles and 21/2 of the Bucs' seven sacks. Both Young and Rice were knocked from the game.

    Second-year Bucs coach Tony Dungy and his team made a statement that afternoon, one that carried over from a strong finish in 1996, and it led the Bucs to the playoffs for the first time since 1982....

    "I'm pretty bold, man," Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks said. "They go 11-5, and they win the division." [DIRK SHADD | Times]