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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jets players defend embattled Rex Ryan 12.20.13 at 8:12 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA: Rockets at Pacers, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Timberwolves at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Nicholls State at Indiana, 7 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Nebraska-Omaha at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (BTN)
NHL: Canucks at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
Hockey: Olympic exhibition, U.S. vs. Canada, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: FCS semifinal, New Hampshire at North Dakota State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College football: NCAA Div. 3 final, Mount Union at Wis.-Whitewater, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)


‘€¢ There’s been speculation that Rex Ryan‘s job is in jeopardy as the Jets battle to avoid last place in the AFC East at 6-8. If it were up to the players, apparently, the coach would be back next season.

Rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said he would make an appeal to first-year general manager John Idzik if he felt it was necessary.

“True statement, I would,” Richardson told the New York Daily News. “If I felt like that, that his job was in jeopardy, which I don’€™t feel like it [is]. It’€™s all speculation. But I most definitely would.”

Added Richardson: “I most definitely think he’€™ll be back, I could be wrong, but hey man, this is the way the business works. If his job was in jeopardy, Rex would tell you his job was in jeopardy. I promise you he would.”

Said wide receiver David Nelson: “If [Idzik] came down here and asked, I think every single guy in here would stand up and have Rex’€™s back. ‘€¦ I think every player in here cares for him, it’€™s so much deeper than a player-coach relationship. It’€™s not just so much of X’€™s and O’€™s and schemes with Rex. It’€™s about the people, it’€™s about the relationships. Guys respect that, because in this business that’€™s hard to come by.”

Ryan has not been as brash as in past years as his team has struggled this season, but when it comes to his job, he’s retained his confidence.

“I know I’m a good football coach,” Ryan said Monday. “I believe in this team. I believe in this organization ‘€¦ and I’m determined to being a winner to this team. I believe that I’m the right guy for it. Again, I’m not the guy making that decision. If I was, it’d be easy.”

‘€¢ Dennis Rodman held tryouts in Pyongyang for a North Korean team that will play a squad of NBA veterans for an exhibition game on Kim Jong Un‘s birthday next month. The only problem is, some of the ex-NBA players aren’t comfortable with traveling to the country.

Kim had his once-powerful uncle executed last week for crimes against the country, but Rodman insisted basketball players shouldn’t be concerned.

“You know, they’re still afraid to come here, but I’m just telling them, you know, don’t be afraid man, it’s all love, it’s all love here,” Rodman told The Associated Press. “I understand what’s going on with the political stuff, and I say, I don’t go into that venture, I’m just doing one thing for these kids here, and for this country, and for my country, and for the world pretty much.”

The plan for the game is to have the teams play against each other for the first half, then be mixed for the second half.

“It’s not about win or loss,” Rodman said. “It’s about one thing — unite two countries.”

‘€¢ Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 sports stories of 2013, and there a couple with Boston connections.

Aaron Hernandez‘s murder charge is the top story of the year. That’s followed by Lance Armstrong‘s confession and Oscar Pistorius‘ dead girlfriend. The Dolphins’ bullying scandal and “A-Rod vs. the World” are 4 and 5, followed by the Jameis Winston saga at No. 6. No. 7 is the Boston Marathon bombing.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 20, 1964, the Patriots ended their season with a 24-14 loss to the Bills. Despite failing to score in the game, which Patriots player finished the season with an AFL record 155 points?

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Boston Marathon, Dennis Rodman, Rex Ryan
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Mike Pouncey, Dolphins silent about subpoena in Aaron Hernandez case 10.29.13 at 7:59 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA: Bulls at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Clippers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Lightning at Devils, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Gold Glove award show, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)


‘€¢ Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, who was served a subpoena after Sunday’s game against the Patriots to testify in front of a Massachusetts grand jury in the Aaron Hernandez case, remained quiet about the matter after returning to Miami.

Pouncey, a former University of Florida teammate of Hernandez, practiced Monday but did not meet the media following a long meeting with a team executive, according to the Miami Herald.

Coach Joe Philbin was asked about the situation numerous times at his Monday press conference, but he offered nothing.

“We are obviously aware of the reports regarding Mike,” Philbin said. “Consistent with my responses to non-football-related matters, I have nothing further to say.”

There are reports that prosecutors are looking into Hernandez’s possible involvement in interstate gun trafficking, but it’s not clear if Pouncey would be a witness or a suspect.

‘€¢ Former Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, now toiling in Washington, took his war of words with Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall to a new level Monday.

After Marshall suggested that players like Meriweather — who just returned after a one-game suspension for multiple helmet-first hits against defenseless receivers — should be “taken out of the game completely,” Meriweather fired back by referencing Marshall’s arrests for confrontations with his girlfriend earlier in his career.

“Everybody got their opinion,” Meriweather said. “If he feel like, you know, I need to be kicked out of the league, I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league, too. You tell me who you’d rather have — somebody who plays aggressive on the field, or somebody who beat up their girlfriend?”

Marshall initially declined to respond to Meriweather’s comment, but during a radio appearance later in the day, he said: “You can only pray for someone with those feelings. So, that’s all I have to say about that.”

Marshall also expressed his frustration with being penalized for his hits, promising to aim lower, even if it causes serious knee damage.

“I guess I’ve just got to take people’s knees out,” Meriweather said. “I’d hate to end a guy’s career over a rule, but I guess it’s better [for something to happen to] other people than me getting suspended for longer.”

Added Meriweather: “You’ve just got to go low now. You’ve got to end people’s career. You’ve got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees now. You can’t hit ’em high anymore.”

‘€¢ The Raiders and the NFL announced Monday that the team would handle discipline for defensive coordinator Jason Tarver following the coach’s obscene gestures toward the officials during Sunday’s 21-18 victory over the Steelers.

Upset about a penalty on Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins for a hit to the head of the ball-carrier, Tarver twice held up his middle finger in the direction of the officials.

“I apologize for my action on the sideline of [Sunday’s] game,” Tarver said in a statement. “It was in the heat of the moment, and I regret drawing attention away from the Raiders players and what they accomplished.”

Said coach Dennis Allen: “I don’t know it’s one of those things where you say, ‘Let’s forget about it.’ He’s made his statement about what happened. The only thing I’ll say is I think he’s done an outstanding job with this defense. I think he’s a fiery and emotional guy, and our players have really taken to that. I think they’ve embraced that type of attitude, and he has the defense playing at a high level right now.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 29, 1996, as part of the NBA’s 50th anniversary celebration, the league announced its list of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. The list included a number of Celtics — nine who played all or most of their career with the C’s, one who played five of his 13 NBA seasons in Boston, three who played two seasons or less with the Celtics, and one who had not yet played in Boston but made a brief stop here before retiring. Who are they?

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Meriweather, Jason Tarver
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Former Aaron Hernandez college teammates show support 07.15.13 at 7:48 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)
Soccer: Gold Cup, El Salvador vs. Haiti, 7 p.m. (FSC)
Soccer: Gold Cup, Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 9:30 p.m. (FSC)


‘™¦ Aaron Hernandez‘s fall from grace has been dramatic, and his lack of support widespread. In the latest slap in the face to the former Patriots tight end, the Pro Football Hall of Fame removed a photo of him scoring a touchdown. The photo, from a 2010 game, won an award in the Hall’s annual photo contest.

“In the spirit of good taste, we thought we’d take it down,” HOF vice president of communication and exhibits Joe Horrigan told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

However, there are at least a couple of people in football apparently willing to show support for the troubled Hernandez.

Twin brothers Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, former Florida teammates of Hernandez who currently play in the NFL (Mike with the Dolphins, Maurkice with the Steelers), were photographed at a Miami party wearing hats that read: “Free Hernandez.”

It was revealed last week that the Pounceys were involved in an incident at a club in Gainesville, Fla., in 2007 that led to a double shooting, about which police attempted to question Hernandez at the time.

Mike Pouncey was Hernandez’s roommate at Florida.

UPDATE: Maurkice Pouncey tweeted an apology Monday, writing: I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate, and I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.

‘™¦ To no one’s surprise, athletes are weighing in on the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and they’re not holding back — although two NFL players apologized after their incendiary comments.

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White tweeted: [Expletive] Zimmerman got away with murder today wow what kind of world do we live in.

Added White: All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid.

White apologized on Sunday, writing: I understand my tweet last nite was extreme. ‘€¦ I was shocked and upset about the verdict. I am sorry.

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz tweeted: Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the hood catches up to him him.

Cruz then deleted the tweet and apologized, writing: I believe conversation not confrontation leads to change and progress. I have never have and never will advocate violence under any circumstances and I pray that we all encourage and educate each other.

‘™¦ The track and field world was rocked Sunday when it was revealed that world-class sprinters Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson failed drug tests, and they all deny doing so purposefully.

“I am not now — nor have I ever been — a cheat,” Powell, a Jamaican who at one time held the world record at 100 meters, said in a message released through his Twitter account.

“I don’t have a sabotage story. I don’t have any lies. I don’t have anything to say to make this seem like it was a mistake or it was on USADA’s hands, someone playing games,” said an emotional Gay, the American record-holder in the 100 who won the 100 and 200 at the U.S. nationals last month. “I don’t have any of those stories. I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down.”

Simpson, another Jamaican who owns an Olympic gold and two silver medals, said she “would not intentionally take an illegal substance of any form into my system.”

First-time offenders usually receive two-year bans, although penalties can be reduced due to extenuating circumstances.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 15, 1986, which Red Sox pitcher became the first in team history to record a win in the All-Star Game?

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Pouncey,
Arresting developments: Aaron Hernandez just one of 32 NFL arrests since Super Bowl 07.01.13 at 11:42 am ET
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Murder. Drunk driving. Marijuana possession. Assault.

Those are just some of the charges brought against NFL players who have been arrested since Feb. 3 ‘€” the conclusion of the 2012 NFL season ‘€” seemingly an influx in off-the-field trouble that is not showing any signs of slowing down.

According to a U-T San Diego database, which tracks such occurrences, 31 players have been arrested a combined 32 times since the Super Bowl. Fullback Evan Rodriguez was arrested twice before the Bears released him June 10.

Sunday ended a, well, eventful month of interactions between NFL players and authorities. Aside from Aaron Hernandez and his developing murder case, Adam ‘€œPacman’€ Jones was arrested June 10 after allegedly hitting a woman, and since-released Browns linebacker Ausar Walcott, who signed in May after getting drafted in April, was charged with attempted murder when he reportedly punched a man in New Jersey.

June pales in comparison to May’€™s 11 arrests, including a seven-day span when five players were charged.

“One is too many,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today. “We have policies and programs that hold all NFL employees accountable and provide them with programs of education and support.”

U-T San Diego updates its database with information from both news reports and public records.

According to the database, four of the 31 players arrested since the Super Bowl were cut by their team. An additional four had their charges dropped or case dismissed. Most of the cases are still pending.

The NFL does make attempts to help its players be aware of the challenges and temptations that will accompany their fame and money. The league held its annual ‘€œrookie symposium’€ for recent draftees last week, and the players heard from experts and veterans, including Jones, about issues that may plague them.

Still, while the arrests keep coming, it is important to put the number in context.

As the U-T San Diego database notes, that such incidents are getting more and more coverage — and top headlines in particular — of late could increase their perceived prevalence.

Additionally, the NFL does not have a terrible ratio, according to Dan Lebowitz, who runs Sport in Society at Northeastern University, in the USA Today piece. The 31 players arrested represent about 1 percent of the nearly 3,000 currently listed on NFL rosters.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Evan Rodriguez,
Top Stories of 2012, No. 9: Wes Welker franchised, phased out, back to form 12.25.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our second entry in the countdown is No. 9: Wes Welker’s up-and-down year.

For five seasons in New England, Wes Welker seemingly could do no wrong, and it seemed unfathomable that the Patriots would not want to keep him in Foxboro for as long as possible.

Then came the drop in February’s Super Bowl loss — a difficult but catchable pass that went through Welker’s hands late in the fourth quarter. Instead of giving the Patriots a likely game-ending first down, it gave the Giants the opportunity for their game-winning drive. And suddenly Welker’s true value was being questioned by some. It didn’t help that the Patriots played hardball during contract negotiations in the offseason, electing to place the franchise tag on Welker and settle for a one-year contract rather than agree to a long-term deal.

The $9.5 million, one-year deal ensured that Welker would stay with the Patriots through the 2012 season. After that, who knows?

It certainly is possible that Welker could re-sign with the team after the season, but judging by his consistency and continued success, he might demand a larger contract next year, both in terms of money and years. For now, he is enjoying another tremendous season after professing happiness that he and the team were able to agree on a deal that kept him with a perennial Super Bowl contender.

“There are 9.5 million reasons why I wouldn’t miss any regular-season games,” Welker said during a May 14 appearance on Mut & Merloni, dismissing speculation that he would hold out for a long-term contract. “I don’t think there are any sort of hard feelings on my side or their side. I think we’re all looking forward to the 2012 season and hopefully do some big things there.”

Welker did not exactly do “big things” in the first couple of games this season, but he was not solely to blame. In the Patriots’ 34-13 victory over the Titans in Week 1, Welker’s playing time was limited and he had only three receptions for 14 yards while being targeted just five times (including a drop on third-and-8 in the first quarter). Speculation abounded that he was being phased out of the offense, either as punishment for asking for too much money or so fellow receivers such as Julian Edelman could get more of an opportunity.

Week 2 was better for Welker, as he finished with five catches for 95 yards, albeit in a 20-18 loss to the lowly Cardinals. Still, it was not the 10-catch, 100-plus-yard receiving performance New England fans were accustomed to seeing.

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Read More: 2012 Stories of the Year, Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Brandon Lloyd