Sam McGuffie (back) will represent the United States in the Winter Olympics. Getty Images
Watching Sam McGuffie on the gridiron in high school was something special. He gave us more highlights during his collegiate football career at Rice and Michigan and added to that resume for a short time in the NFL.
He still loves the game. And with the announcement just a few days ago about the advent of the new XFL League, McGuffie, of course, could not ignore.
“They’re bringing the XFL back. I might have to check that out. I mean, I’d like to play. The back of my jersey, (football jersey), would say ‘Guff-Stuff.'" That led to a chuckle. But the truth of the matter is, McGuffie is such a tremendous athlete and wants to do all he can physically while he can. “I’ve got to use up this body before I get too old to do anything.”
But right now, winning gold is at the top of the list
McGuffie possesses rare skills and there are very few athletes like him. Those skills have translated to becoming an Olympian. As a result, Team USA announced that Houston’s Sam McGuffie has been selected to represent his country.
“I was really excited to make the National Team this year because I knew it was important.” That was McGuffie’s immediate response when asked exactly what he felt once he had been selected to represent the United States in the 2018 Winter Olympics on the bobsled team.
The Winter Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea beginning Feb. 9. McGuffie, along with his two teams will be there ready to make his country proud. He’s currently training in Calgary. He will be a member of the push crew and has also been selected as Codie Bascue’s brakeman in the two-man.
“You actually have to make the National team to be considered for the Olympic team. So, just because you make the National team this year doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make the Olympic team. So, you got to make both. So, it was a good time to make it.”
Obviously, his family here in Houston is truly excited for him.
“They were just like, it’s pretty cool," he said. "You know, they never saw bobsled coming in my life. So, it’s kind of different.”
Team is always first
McGuffie is a super-modest, low-key personality. Very little about him, in terms of his responses regarding his accomplishments, has changed since his days at Rice University.
But make no mistake; Sam McGuffie is a World-Class athlete who is bubbling inside about being on the team and is as competitive and talented as any World-Class athlete you will find.
“I just want to represent well. Hopefully, just do my part, you know. Let Codie, (Codie Basque), guide us the rest of the way. It’s a partnership. It takes everyone to do well.”
McGuffie says he excited about having two opportunities to win a medal. But to get there, he realizes the challenge of his job.
“I’m the last guy. So, I pull the brakes.” There’s more to that responsibility that McGuffie explains. But, here’s what’s really challenging.
“I have to memorize the course blind. Everyone else kind of gets to sit up, just kind of crump, (fold), their heads down. I ride the whole way with my head between my legs. So, just to remember all the different tracks blind is kind of different.”
Along with Basque on the push-crew, McGuffie will work with Evan Weinstock of Las Vegas, Nevada and Steve Langton of Melrose, Massachusetts.
“We have to kind of work together a little bit now to kind of hone in our timing; like hitting the sled together at the same time. Because if you don’t, we push slow. It’s all about momentum.” Entering the sled at different times would amount to a slow time.
“PyeongChang is so short on the track, if you push fast, you get a chance to do well.” “It’s only 14 turns. Most tracks have more than 15-16 turns.”
McGuffie will compete in the two-man Feb. 18 and 19. He will compete in the four-man Feb. 24 and 25. McGuffie and the team will train in Calgary a few more days, head to San Francisco, and then fly to Seoul. The team will then drive three hours to PyeongChang.
Keeping an eye on Rice
While he’s obviously focused on winning medals for the U.S. Bobsled team, He still keeps his eye on Rice football. McGuffie talked about his former team and always thinks about his days at Rice. That comes with an unyielding respect and admiration for former Head football Coach David Bailiff. But he’s also looking forward to the future of the program.
“Shout-out to the new coach,” (Mike Bloomgren). I haven’t met him yet. But, I’m looking forward to seeing how they do.”
Meanwhile, we’re keeping our eyes on McGuffie and what he has a chance to do during the Winter Olympics. The Opening Ceremony for the Winter Olympics is Feb. 9.
This is wishing Sam McGuffie and his teammates the very best.
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.