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Monday’s Morning Mashup: NFL reportedly finalizing plan to insert computer chips in footballs

07.18.16 at 7:44 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Mets at Cubs, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League championship, Timberwolves vs. Bulls, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)


— The NFL reportedly is close to finalizing a plan to insert computer chips into game balls used in the upcoming preseason and in Thursday night games. And no, this has nothing to do with Deflategate.

The chips could help determine where the ball should be placed when a ball carrier is ruled down. They also would provide data on how close kicked balls come to the uprights, helping the league determine how much of a difference it would make if the uprights were moved closer together.

There was a small reduction in conversion rates on extra points last season after the league pushed back the spot so that it’s a 33-yard kick. But field goal rates continue to be exceptionally high, with last season’s 84.5 percent rate the second highest in league history.

According to an ESPN report, the league sent chip-equipped footballs to some veteran quarterbacks for them to test out and ensure they did not feel or travel through the air differently than the current balls used in games. Then the league contacted all 32 teams to inform them of the plan to used the technology.

— MMA fighter Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos is recovering in England after suffering a fractured skull during his loss to Michael Page on Saturday night.

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Read More: Demba Ba, Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos,

Thinking Out Loud: Tom Brady leaves Patriots fans feeling deflated

07.15.16 at 9:12 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering if Pikachu, Squirtle or Charizard might be lurking around the corner.

— Well, then. That’s it? What do we have to complain about now?

— Eighteen months after the torturous tale began, Tom Brady has decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, effectively ending Deflategate. And my initial reaction is a deflated one, like the way I felt after watching “The Sopranos” finale. That’s it?

— All along, the smarter Kool-Aid drinkers (and I’m still one of them) believed TB12’s best chance at playing in September was through a stay granted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg, if we are to believe in her precedents, generally has sided with labor over management in labor-related causes.

— However, the burden of proof was on Brady’s team to show this case traveled well beyond a simple football spat between a player and a commissioner. Ultimately, based on case precedent, the odds weren’t on TB12’s side. And we know how he loves to win. So let’s strike up the band and climb aboard the Jimmy Garoppolo bandwagon.

— Perhaps the recent public display of “dislike” for presidential candidate Donald Trump could have caused a problem with Justice Ginsburg’s consideration of TB12’s case – especially with Brady as a Trump “friend”? You’d like to think not. You’d like to think our Supreme Court justices can be impartial, even though they are human. But impartial enough to keep TB12 in the fight? Nope. You have to think his legal team suggested as much.

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Read More: Deflategate, Tom Brady,

Tim Tebow among sports figures to speak at Republican National Convention next week

07.14.16 at 10:11 am ET
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Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow

At one point, there were rumors of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger would be speaking at this year’s Republican National Convention.

There will be a quarterback there, but it’s not either of the aforementioned two.

It’s former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.

The Heisman Trophy winner, now an analyst on ESPN, has always been known for his ultra-conservative views. Now he is now scheduled to speak on night four of the convention, set to take place in Cleveland July 18-21, per a list released by the New York Times.

Tebow has not played an NFL game since 2012, and was released from the Eagles following the preseason on Sept. 5 of 2015, but that has not kept him out of the limelight. This could very well be a jumping off point of a different avenue for the 28-year-old, who has even toyed with the idea of a political career down the road.

In an interview on Fox and Friends on March 29, when asked about a political career, Tebow said: “It’s been crazy, hasn’t it? It’s been a whirlwind watching everything. You know, I don’t know in this time in my life, but if there’s a chance you can make a difference some day in something, then that would be intriguing.”

Other athletes set to speak include golfer Natalie Gulbis and UFC President Dana White.

Gulbis has been an outspoken supporter, most noticeably when she penned “The Donald Trump I Know, by Natalie Gulbis,” which ran on on June 2.

White, who was just involved in the record-breaking 4 million dollar sale of UFC, has adamantly supported Trump, starting with his appearance on TMZ Sports, where he says that he would, in fact, vote for Trump.

Read More: Dana White, Donald Trump, Natalie Gulbis, Tim Tebow

Joe Paterno knew of Jerry Sandusky sexual assault as early as 1976, according to newly unsealed records

07.12.16 at 10:43 am ET
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Joe Paterno apparently knew of Jerry Sandustky's history before orginally thought. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Joe Paterno apparently knew of Jerry Sandusky’s history before originally thought. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

A man claims he told former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno about a sexual assault on him committed by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in 1976, but Paterno ignored his claims, according to newly unsealed court records.

The victim testified in court in 2014 that when he attended a football camp at Penn State as a 14-year-old, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Identified as John Doe 150 in court records, the victim said he specifically told Paterno of the sexual assault, but Paterno brushed him off and just walked away.

“I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted,” the man told lawyers for Penn State University’s insurer in a deposition two years ago. “I was embarrassed.”

The man would become one of many Sandusky accusers paid millions by Penn State. His testimony was recently released as part of records unsealed by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Glazer due to a current legal fight over who should cover the costs Penn State has paid.

In a statement on Tuesday, the family of Paterno denied that any coverup ever took place.

“With this latest release of information, the total mishandling of the Sandusky investigation is highlighted once again,” the statement said. “The overwhelming evidence confirms that Joe Paterno never engaged in a cover up of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes. Multiple independent parties have confirmed this conclusion.”

The records include pieces of depositions from accusers who say they reported sexual abuse by Sandusky to Paterno and other Penn State coaches in the 1970s and 1980s. Paterno denied any knowledge of sexual abuse by Sandusky before his death in 2012. Sandusky was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in 2012.

The university hoped to keep the settlement records sealed, claiming that publicizing them would unfairly expose victims to ridicule and embarrassment, and that some information in the documents was privileged, gleaned through mediation sessions.

Read More: Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno,

Minneapolis officers working WNBA game walk out over players’ warmups shirts

07.12.16 at 10:33 am ET
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Four off-duty Minneapolis police officers who were supposed to work the Minnesota Lynx game walked away from their post Saturday night after players wore Black Live Matters warmup shirts before the game.

“I commend them for it,”president of the Minneapolis Police Federation Lt. Bob Kroll said. “Others said they heard about it and they were not going to work Lynx games.”

The Lynx players wore black shirts that read “Change Starts With Us — Justice and Accountability” on the front, while the back included the names Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, who both were killed by police in separate incidents in Baton Rogue and St. Paul last week. The back of the shirt also featured “Black Lives Matter” and a Dallas Police Department emblem to honor the five police officers killed in Dallas by a heavily armed sniper during a Black Lives Matter protest last Thursday.

“If we take this time to see that this is a human issue and speak out together, we can greatly decrease fear and create change,” the Lynx’s Maya Moore said before Saturday’s game. “Tonight we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American citizens and to plead for change in all of us.”

Kroll said that he did not know who the officers were, but that they removed their names from a list of officers working future Lynx games.

When asked if other officers will step in to work future games, Kroll said, “If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”

Read More: Minnesota Lynx,

Warriors star Draymond Green arrested on charge of misdemeanor assault

07.12.16 at 10:28 am ET
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Warriors forward and U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team member Draymond Green was arrested Sunday on a charge of misdemeanor assault and battery, according to court records.

The alleged incident happened in East Lansing, Michigan near the Michigan State campus that Green played college basketball from 2008-12. Green, 26, was arrested at 2:28 am on Sunday and released on $200 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned on July 20.

According to East Lansing Lt. Scott Wrigglesworth, the alleged victim was an adult male outside of a popular bar who was taunting Green. The male was not injured.

“We are aware of news involving Draymond Green in Michigan over the weekend,” the Warriors said in a statement Monday. “At this point, we are collecting information and will have no further comment until we have a better understanding of the situation.”

Green faces a maximum of 93 days in prison or fine of up to $500, or both. He is coming off of a season in which he averaged 14 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Warriors and was named to the All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive First Team. He is expected to attend Team USA’s camp from July 18-21.

Read More: Draymond Green,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: UFC sold for reported $4 billion in most expensive sports transaction in history

07.11.16 at 7:19 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: All-Star Home Run Derby, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Nets vs. Hawks, 4:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Raptors vs. Mavericks, 6:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Heat vs. Nuggets, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Cavaliers vs. Timberwolves, 8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Kings vs. Pelicans, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Las Vegas Summer League, Warriors vs. Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)


— Rumors have been circulating for months that New England native Dana White and his UFC co-owners were looking to sell the mixed martial arts franchise, so Sunday night’s news that they reached an agreement with a group headed by the talent agency WME-IMG is not a complete surprise. The price, however, is turning some heads.

According to multiple reports, UFC was sold for $4 billion — the most expensive sports transaction in history — to WME-IMG, Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and MSD Capital.

WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel confirmed the deal in an internal email Monday morning.

“We’ve been honored to have UFC and a number of its athletes as clients and couldn’t be happier to take our relationship to this next level as the organization’s owner and operating partner,” he wrote (via

Brothers Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta bought UFC in 2000 for $2 million. They reportedly will retain a minority interest. White, the UFC president (and a minority owner) said Monday he expects that his role with the company will remain the same, adding that this deal with help grow mixed martial arts.

“Sport is going to the next level,” he said.

— The Nets have been busy in the past week, attempting to add some promising free agents to one of the league’s weakest rosters. Unfortunately for Brooklyn — but fortunately for the Celtics, who can swap first-round draft picks next year — their two most recent targets won’t be heading to New York.

The Trail Blazers and Heat reportedly decided to match the Nets’ offers for Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, meaning those restricted free agents will be returning to their original teams.

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Read More: Dana White, UFC,

Solving ‘The Night Of’ Episode 1: ‘The Beach’

07.11.16 at 1:51 am ET
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This show is going to have our attention all summer. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

This show is going to have our attention all summer. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

By this point, you’€™ve probably heard the phrase “€œThe Golden Age of Television.”€ In addition to being just about the most pretentious qualifier you can bequeath a TV show you watched live as opposed to on-demand, “The Golden Age of Television” refers to a Mount Rushmore grouping of TV shows that zigged insanely hard when the rest of mainstream television was zagging along nonchalantly.

While the list of shows allowed to carry the “€œGolden Age”€ banner varies from critic to critic, the venn diagrams overlap the most over “The Sopranos,” “€œThe Wire,”€ “€œLost,”€ “€œBreaking Bad”€ and “Mad Men.”€ These shows were very unique, very polarizing, and were not for everyone, but each shared one significant trait: they proved what a TV show was capable of being.

While time will tell if “The Night Of”€ enters the G.A.O.T.G.O.A.T.(Golden Age of Television Greatest of All Time) discussion, its very existence is due largely in part to the aforementioned list of shows. They held the door open for HBO’€™s newest project and our Sunday nights are better for it.

What we needed was as an episodic-junk-food-show to snack on between the end Game of Thrones and the debut Westworld, and what we’€™re getting is the eight-course-tasting-menu-at Babbo when Mario Batali just happens to be in the back making pizzas. Oh, and we’€™re eating with Action Bronson. The show is going to be good is what I’€™m trying to say.

Recently, the “€œlimited series”€ has had its finger so squarely on the pulse of what is cool, it is altering the collective heartbeat of prestige pop culture. “€œSerial,”€ “€œThe Jinx,”€ “€œMaking a Murderer”€ and “True Detective” have each had a moment at the top of the queue of the collective pop culture connoisseur. Each of these limited series felt like genre-bending efforts, but that has more to do with the execution of the material than anything else; both True Crime fiction and nonfiction pre-date the audio and visual mediums themselves.

Like the series of events that make up “The Night Of,” the right things have to happen at the right time in order for a show like this to make an impact. At a time when new media” — €Špodcasts, blogging, instant reacting via social media, and content streaming — €Šis at its apex, and a new series that resembles something we already know we like — €Ša limited run mystery with a True Crime flavor — €Ša gem like “€œThe Night Of” has the chance to really lock in the Sleeper Hold on the pop culture conversation.

From the opening moments of the premiere, you can tell that you’€™re watching something that will go right up on the shelf between “The Wire”€ and “Homicide.”€ The pedigree on this show is ridiculous; €Šthe fingerprints of the creators of “€œThe Wire,”€ “€œClockers,”€ “€œSchindler’€™s List”€ and “€œThe Sopranos”€ are all over this project.

The 75-minute premiere of “€œThe Night Of”€ begins with the Pakistani college student from Queens “€œborrowing”€ his father’€™s car and livelihood” — €Šan NYC taxi cab — €Što go to a party in Manhattan, and ends with him in jail as the lone suspect in the murder of a 22-year-old woman from the Upper West Side. Each of those 75 minutes gives us the framework of what we’€™ll be getting over the next seven weeks: €Ša painstaking examination of the case against Nasir Khan. We get to see the the version of Nasir we want to believe. We get to see the series of decisions that will come back to haunt him. We get to see hints of the portrait of Nasir the show is going to paint.

It was one hell of a 75 minutes.


From the earliest frames of the trailer for “The Night Of,”€ you know something truly terrible has happened. As soon as we meet our protagonist, the pit-in-stomach feeling that accompanies any true crime story triples in size. There is something so instantly relatable about Nasir — or Naz for short — €Šand instantly likable about Riz Ahmed (the actor portraying him) that you can’€™t help but feel awful that something bad is about to happen. It’€™s not anticipation of watching a well-acted drama that is seeping into our pores; it’€™s guilt for wanting to keep watching the life of this character unravel heartbreakingly quickly before our eyes. If it is possible to wash film in anxiety, the production team of “œThe Night Of” has figured out how.

Naz is the kind of New York kid even the staunchest of homers can get behind; a protagonist of near pre-radioactive spider bite Peter-Parkerian levels. The first few minutes of the episode establish him as a good student, a basketball team tutor, and a respectful son, so right there we know the events that befall Naz are going to be gut-wrenching.

The first 20 minutes of “€œThe Night Of” is a fun house mirror version of a teen movie. We’€™ve seen it before: The studious kid finally gets invited to a real party downtown, makes a bold decision in his attempt to make this specific night one for the ages, meets a manic pixie dream girl and has the kind of experience his friends will never believe.

Act One of “The Night Of”: “Can’€™t Hardly Wait” crossed with “€œDazed and Confused.”

What teen movies rarely show the audience are the dire circumstances that follow these seemingly lighthearted choices, the consequences of which make up the remaining 55 minutes. Every questionable decision, every seemingly out-of-character move Naz makes gets stacked like an elaborate pattern of dominos. By the time we’€™ve watched Naz rescue a girl from unknown evil, take pills of unknown origin and chase tequila with cocaine, something bad happening to Naz is as inevitable as the sun coming up. These actions stand so staunchly opposed to the actions we would normally associate with a “good kid from a good family” we can’€™t help but feel like we want to scream at him, “Naz! Get Outta There!”€

Act Two of “The Night Of”: Every horrible thing your parents warned you would happen when you break curfew.  Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Kevin Durant’s flirtation with Boston not rooted in reality

07.08.16 at 5:41 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Keith Foulke.

— For me, Kevin Durant’s flirtation with Boston was a fantasy. Pure fiction conjured up only to get the fans and media riled up and make a little news. It’s great that the Celtics brought Tom Brady into the mix for a recruiting pitch, and I’m sure KD thought it was cool. It’s also cool to see Julian Edelman, David Ortiz and other noteworthy New England sports superstars tout Boston’s attributes. But there’s only one thing that drives decisions like these, and that is money. Big money.

— Oh. And winning. It’s also about winning, and Golden State now stands to be an overwhelming favorite for next season, when you add Durant to the Warriors’ mix. Nothing different here than when LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach — KD simply decided against producing a (bleep) show, made-for-TV event to announce it.

— If Durant was really smart, though, he’d see that he could be setting himself up for a big-time flop. This team won a record 73 games during the season and didn’t win the title. Should we just fast-forward to June of 2017 now and get this over with? Talk about your meaningless regular seasons.

— And what does Durant’s departure for rich, Western pastures mean for former Friar Billy Donovan as Oklahoma City’s coach? Next year figured to be a transitional year without KD, of course. But with his other star Russell Westbrook also on the edge of leaving town (a year left on his deal), could Billy the Kid consider the college game again?

— Crazy rumor already being floated: Donovan to replace mentor Rick Pitino in Louisville. Hmmm. Makes sense (and cents?), doesn’t it?

— Speaking of making cents, congrats to Kris Dunn, now signed, sealed and delivered to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dunn stands to make almost $4 million this year, just for playing basketball. He’ll make much more than that, you know, by being a solid citizen and great corporate spokesperson. We’ll say we knew him when.

— Al Horford’s addition to the Celtics is a good move. Not a great move, but a good move. Horford will bring toughness, rebounding ability and attitude — all three are good things contending teams must have. But shooting? Where is the shooter? Did I miss another memo on needing a shooter?

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Read More: Billy Donovan, Kevin Durant,

‘The Secret Life of Pets’ was disappointing and terrible

07.08.16 at 2:19 pm ET
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"The Secret Life of Pets" had an excellent cast and was horrible. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

“The Secret Life of Pets” had an excellent cast and was horrible. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

This week I intentionally went to hate-watch “The Purge: Election Year” and I excitedly went to see “The Secret Life of Pets.”

“The Purge: Election Year” was the best movie I saw this week.

As a person who grew up with dogs and doesn’€™t really like “I love my dog more than I love my wife” jokes because I truly think that’€™s an acceptable way to feel, a movie about pets tickled my fancy. Add in that it was made by the people behind “Despicable Me” and “Minions” and had a cast that included Louis CK, Jenny Slate and Hannibal Buress and this figured to have the makings of a borderline perfect movie.

It wasn’€™t just that it fell short of those expectations. It’€™s that it legitimately wasn’€™t funny or enjoyable at all.

The previews (which many first saw when going to see “Minions”) painted a here’€™s-what-goes-down-at-home-when-the-owners-are-away picture, which is a hilarious premise. Yet all those bits are out of the way in the opening minutes and it’€™s downhill from there. Louis CK’€™s Max gets a housemate against his will when his owner brings in Duke — a gigantic rescue dog that could be something of a nod to Louis CK’€™s hilarious bit about how Clifford the Big Red Dog wouldn’€™t be a story if the author hadn’€™t made the dog so big — and, although the other pets in the neighborhood like Duke, the original pet is put off by the new guy’€™s presence.

(If you haven’€™t picked up on this by now, the movie is just a much worse version of “Toy Story.”)

Soon, Max and Duke get separated from the rest of the pets because the local dog-walker neglects them at the park because he’€™s got really bad allergies and keeps sneezing. That’€™s the one funny part: The dog-walker is a guy with allergies. Of all the professions, right? At least there was that one funny thing.

Nope, that didn’€™t even happen. The dog-walker neglected the animals because he told a girl wearing a hat that he liked her hat. What a horrible movie.

Anyway, Max and Duke are separated from the pack and eventually get saved from animal control by another group of animals led by Snowball the bunny, who is voiced by Kevin Hart. It’€™s at this point that I must say that Kevin Hart’€™s character was perhaps the only redeeming part of this movie. There is way too much Kevin Hart in the world, but he absolutely killed this performance.

Yet while it seems like the pets are in good hands, it actually turns out the leader of these other animals (Snowball) is crazy and won’€™t let them escape.

(If you haven’€™t picked up on this by now, the movie is just a much worse version of “€œToy Story 2.”)

Led by a dog voiced by Slate, Max and Duke are rescued from Snowball’€™s gang, but Duke and some of Snowball’€™s crew are soon seized once again by animal control. Together, Max and Snowball hijack a bus and race at furious speeds over the Brooklyn Bridge.

(If you haven’€™t picked up on this by now, the movie is just a much worse version of “€œSpeed” and “Monsters vs. Aliens.”€ Yes, both of those movies take place in Los Angeles, but this is still worse than both of these movies. “Monsters vs. Aliens,” by the way, is excellent.)

Normally, aspects like these aren’€™t worth picking apart because it’€™s a kid movie. Surely there are funny jokes filling in all these gaps, or at least there are more interesting story lines happening simultaneously. Not the case here. Aside from the occasional outburst from Hart’€™s Snowball, there really weren’€™t any funny jokes. There was also a lack of adult jokes sneakily inserted, which are known to be staples in these types of movies.

In the end, Max rescues Duke, everyone goes home and the owner (Ellie Kemper) returns home and gives both of her dogs a big hug. Man, even Ellie Kemper was in this movie. Lake Bell, too. Such a good cast. Ugh.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes in his review that he “choked up a little.”€ Where? I cried my eyes out at “Toy Story 3″ and have been out of commission for like a year after every pet’€™s death in my life. I can honestly say there wasn’€™t one second of this movie that tugged at my heartstrings, and I’€™ve got heartstrings in spades.

All things considered, this movie would have been better-served as a short consisting only of the stuff in the beginning of the movie when the owners aren’€™t home. There’€™s a party scene in the middle of the movie that could be thrown in there for good measure, and it would make an entertaining five-ish minute watch. Ninety minutes was just way too long and way too boring, and that’€™s saying something. How in the world can you make something with a bunch of dogs so bad?