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NFL owners have reportedly fallen in love with Roger Goodell again 03.29.17 at 11:08 am ET
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Owners reportedly have a favorable view of Roger Goodell once again. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Owners reportedly have a favorable view of Roger Goodell once again. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Towards the end of the interminable Deflategate saga, some NFL owners were reportedly souring on Roger Goodell. Several influential league executives, including Falcons owner Arthur Blank and 49ers CEO Jed York, even publicly expressed a desire to see the commissioner vacate his unilateral disciplinary power.

But now, following another year of monstrous profits, Goodell is reportedly back in the good graces of his billionaire overlords.

According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, Goodell’s standing among owners has increased recently. They respect the way he was able to navigate past the Ray Rice and Deflategate fiascos, while serving as a fall guy for the league. The owners are also reportedly thrilled with the way Goodell has handled the league’s concussion crisis. Last year, the Supreme Court left the NFL’s $1 billion settlement with thousands of ex-players who accused the league of masking the dangers of head trauma in place. It’s a favorable deal for the NFL, because it doesn’t cover CTE, which at this point can only be diagnosed posthumously.

With league revenue reaching $14 billion, the NFL seems poised to enter another period of prolonged financial growth. The league gained a whopping $1.65 billion in relocation fees from the Rams, Chargers and Raiders, which will be divided up among all 32 franchises. Every team will receive $53 million as a result of the moves, with none of the money going to the players.

That’s probably a reason why Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who continues to jab at Goodell for Deflategate, expressed support for the Raiders’ relocation at the league meetings this week.

“Now, they have an opportunity to be a very solid, vibrant team,” he said, via Patriots.com. “In the end, we’re in a competitive league, and you can’t compete at the highest level if you don’t have a first-rate stadium. I think that’s what this is really all about.”

As long as the money keeps pouring in, Goodell will likely remain popular among owners. He continues to deliver for them.

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Michael Irvin under investigation for sexual assault after woman says he drugged and raped her 03.29.17 at 10:07 am ET
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Michael Irvin is no stranger to legal trouble. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

Michael Irvin is no stranger to legal trouble. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports)

A woman says NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin sexually assaulted her in a Florida hotel last week, according to TMZ.

The 27-year-old accuser told law enforcement she was in a bar with Irvin until the early hours of the morning before returning to his room at the W Fort Lauderdale March 21. Once they got there, the woman says she felt sick and remembers trying to fight off the former NFL star before falling asleep. She told police she believes Irvin drugged and raped her.

Irvin’s attorney, Larry Friedman, says his client isn’t guilty of any wrongdoing.

“The allegations are completely false,” he said, via TMZ. “In the few hours since we’ve learned about them we’ve already discovered many red flags about this young woman’s background and the allegations she made against Michael. Even the complaint that she made specifically says she does not recall the events that took place. She was very drunk that night. Nothing happened and there was no assault.”

The New York Post reports Irvin was at a bar with the alleged victim until roughly 4:30 a.m. The former wideout claims he was only in the room with the woman for 15 minutes, and another man was present as well.

Irvin, who played 12 seasons for the Cowboys, is currently an analyst at NFL Network. He settled a civil suit in 2011 with a woman who accused him of sexual assault.

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Bomani Jones: Only way Tom Brady plays 6 or 7 more years is if he takes steroids 03.29.17 at 9:29 am ET
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Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP last season.  (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP last season. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Tom Brady hopes to play for another six or seven more years. Given that Brady will turn 40 in August, that means he expects to stand under center until he’s 46 or 47. It would be a superhuman feat.

On ESPN’s “Around the Horn” Tuesday, panelist Bomani Jones insinuated he doesn’t think Brady can last that long unless he takes illicit substances.

“At his age, the only people you’re playing six or seven more years is not legal as things stand right now,” Jones said. “I’m saying to play until you’re 45 years old, you can’t quite do that naturally.”

Jones didn’t back down when he was pressed about whether he was implying Brady would be forced to turn to performance-enhancing drugs to realize his goal.

“That is exactly what I’m saying, because nobody can play NFL football until they’re 45 years old unless they’re a kicker,” he said. “That is an insane thought to have. But part of him being so good is being insane.”

While Brady shows no signs of slowing down –– he led the AFC in passer rating last season –– it’s unfathomable to imagine him continuing to play quarterback into his late 40s. But then again, it is rather reckless to preemptively accuse somebody of using PEDs.

The only time Brady has even been remotely linked to steroid use was in 2006, when Barry Bonds’ former personal trainer Greg Anderson revealed to prosecutors he once spoke briefly with the Patriots’ quarterback on the phone. Anderson said he didn’t have any conversations with Brady afterwards.

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Donald Trump reportedly declines Nationals offer to throw first pitch on Opening Day 03.28.17 at 12:17 pm ET
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Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, is known as a big time Yankees fan. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Donald Trump will be the first president since 1910 to not throw out a first pitch on Opening Day. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

The last 18 presidents have thrown out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. Donald Trump is apparently bucking that tradition.

According to the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, Trump declined the Nationals’ offer to throw out the first pitch at Nats Park next Monday. Earlier Tuesday, POLITICO reported Trump was in talks with the Nationals to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Given the divisiveness of Trump’s presidency, the Nationals would’ve probably faced backlash if they had welcomed Trump to the ballpark. But that apparently didn’t deter the organization from extending an invitation.

The White House didn’t provide a reason why Trump turned down the Nationals. One possible explanation is that he didn’t want to subject himself to facing a hostile crowd in D.C. Trump lost the District of Columbia to Hillary Clinton by more than 86 points.

This post has been updated. 

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Tinder might be a reason why NBA teams now win on the road more often 03.22.17 at 12:22 pm ET
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The Celtics are 21-17 on the road this season. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are 21-17 on the road this season. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

NBA teams win on the road more often than they used to. The advent of Tinder and other messaging apps might be one of the reasons why.

In an ESPN the Magazine feature, Tom Haberstroh examines the success clubs have enjoyed away from home in recent years. In the 1987-88 season, for example, the home team won 67.9 percent of games. Ten years later, that number dropped to 57.5 percent, before rising up around the 60 percent threshold for the bulk of the 2000’s.

So far this season, home teams have been victorious 57.4 percent of the time, which is an all-time low. According to one former All-Star, players are now more rested when they’re traveling, because they can line up their hookups from the comfort of their hotel room. There’s no longer a need to troll the clubs until the wee hours of the morning.

“It’s absolutely true that you get at least two hours more sleep getting laid on the road today versus 15 years ago,” the player said. “No schmoozing. No going out to the club. No having to get something to eat after the club but before the hotel.”

There are other possible explanations for this phenomenon, of course. Teams now fly charter instead of commercial, meaning players always travel in luxury. There also isn’t a lot of boozing on flights anymore. Players take much better care of their bodies.

The road lifestyle is far less taxing than it used to be. Even the act of lining up a hot date doesn’t take any more effort than just typing a couple of messages with your thumb.

Read More: NBA,
NFL will release video teaching players how to celebrate touchdowns 03.22.17 at 11:53 am ET
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It seems as if the NFL is going to continue cracking down on touchdown celebrations.

Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, tweeted Tuesday the NFL is going to develop a video that teaches players how to act when they get into the end zone. Last year, the league levied out 30 “demonstration penalties” –– up from 29 over the previous two seasons.

While players should be expected to follow some rules for touchdown celebrations –– it’s not necessary for Odell Beckham Jr. to propose to the kicking net –– the league’s intensive focus on this topic is overblown.

Given all of the problems facing the NFL, including new revelations of systemic painkiller abuse, it seems like there are much bigger problems to worry about than how Antonio Brown acts after he catches a touchdown pass.

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Budweiser releases ‘Red Sox Nation’ beer can 03.22.17 at 11:17 am ET
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Prior to the start of every MLB season, Budweiser releases team-branded beer cans. This spring is no different, and the Red Sox design is … OK.

In a tweet Wednesday, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell posted a photo of the limited edition MLB cans.

The “Red Sox Nation” monicker jumped the shark last decade, when the team monetized it and started to offer “official members” the chance to become president of the make believe organization. Jerry Remy was elected the first president of “Red Sox Nation” in 2007.

While the Red Sox design is a tad passé, the Cubs’ can is awesome. Nothing beats being called the “World Series champions.”

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Sarah Palin takes shot at Colin Kaepernick for his Meals on Wheels donation 03.22.17 at 10:13 am ET
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Colin Kaepernick remains a lightning rod in NFL circles. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick remains a lightning rod in NFL circles. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump took a shot at Colin Kaepernick, proclaiming his Twitter wrath is dissuading teams from signing the former 49ers quarterback.

Now former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is following suit.

In an article posted on Palin’s official website, writer Mary Kate Knorr calls Kaepernick’s Meals on Wheels donation a “political stunt.” Kaepernick recently gave $50,000 to the program, which delivers food for seniors and faces significant cuts under Trump’s proposed budget.

On Facebook, Palin implied Kaepernick’s political activism is the reason he’s still a free agent. “And he wonders why he can’t find a job,” she wrote as a teaser to the piece.

There seems to be a lot of truth to Palin’s comments. According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate” Kaepernick, because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem last year to protest racial discrimination and police brutality. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month the quarterback will stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” this season.

While Kaepernick’s protest may be over, it’s clear he remains committed to social advocacy. Last week, he also donated $50,000 to help fly supplies to famine-ravaged Somalia.

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Bill Simmons appears to chastise former Grantland colleague Jonah Keri for ‘stealing his idea’ 03.21.17 at 3:10 pm ET
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One of Bill Simmons’ signature pieces is his annual NBA trade value column. In it, he ranks the most valuable players in the league.

And now he says his former Grantland colleague, Jonah Keri, is stealing it from him.

In a tweet Tuesday, Simmons appears to chastise Keri for publishing an MLB trade value column on Sports Illustrated. Keri first started applying the concept to baseball players when he worked under Simmons, who served as Grantland’s editor-in-chief.

It’s possible Simmons is tweeting in jest. For starters, Keri wrote the same article on SI last year, and Simmons didn’t comment publicly. He also gives Simmons credit at the end of the piece, along with Fangraph’s Dave Cameron, who writes a similar column on his website.

“Thanks as always to Bill Simmons, who came up with the idea to rank all NBA players by trade value many years ago and urged me to start an MLB Trade Value series. Special shoutout to FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron, who’s been doing his own MLB rankings for the past several years,” Keri writes.

Given Simmons’ history of petty feuds, it wouldn’t be shocking if he were genuinely peeved. If that’s the case, he has little ground to stand on, considering ranking players based on their trade value is far from an original concept.

Perhaps Simmons is still stewing over the cancellation of his HBO talk show, “Any Given Wednesday,” which was discontinued last year after just 25 episodes.

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Colin Kaepernick appears to be blackballed from the NFL, and that’s shameful 03.21.17 at 2:20 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers earlier this month. (Caylor Arnold/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers earlier this month. (Caylor Arnold/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick’s NFL career probably wouldn’t be in jeopardy if he was busted for a DUI last year. But since he kneeled during the national anthem to protest discrimination and police brutality, he might be ostracized from the league. There’s something gross about that.

The speculation surrounding the reasons for Kaepernick’s unemployment reached a fever pitch last week, when Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman quoted an anonymous AFC general manager who said 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate him.” On Instagram Sunday, filmmaker Spike Lee posted a picture with Kaepernick, blaming his prolonged free agency on “subterfuge” and “skullduggery.” President Donald Trump, meanwhile, says he thinks his Twitter wrath is keeping the former 49ers quarterback sidelined.

“It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” he said Monday at a rally in Kentucky. “Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”

Kaepernick’s proclivity for making outlandish statements hurts his cause. Shortly before Fidel Castro’s death last year, he praised some of the Cuban dictator’s domestic policies.

“One thing Fidel Castro did do is they have the highest literacy rate because they invest more in their education system than they do in their prison system, which we do not do here even though we’re fully capable of doing that,” Kaepernick said, via the Miami Herald.

Those glowing remarks about the despot who hired firing squads to kill political rivals jive with the Castro t-shirt Kaepernick wore to a press conference last summer. A few days after that wardrobe blunder, pictures circulated of Kaepernick sporting socks that depict police officers as “pigs.”

Any club that signs Kaepernick would risk facing some public relations backlash, and the truth is, many NFL teams probably don’t think he’s worth it. Since 2014, he’s completed just 59.7 percent of his passes and posted an 85.9 QB rating. The 49ers have gone 11-24 in games he’s started.

But in a quarterback-starved league, it’s difficult to imagine Kaepernick isn’t good enough to compete for a starting job somewhere. After all, the Bears recently signed career backup Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract. Just four years ago, Kaepernick’s electrifying play-making ability led the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth. He showed small flashes of that towards the end of last season, recording an 101.1 QB rating over the final four weeks.

It’s disingenuous to paint Kaepernick solely in a negative light as well. He donated $1 million to community organizations last year and helped secure an airplane that will transport supplies to Somali famine victims. The quarterback matches his words with action.

Read the rest of this entry »

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