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Kobe Bryant not worried about critical ESPN article: ‘It’s not the first one’

10.22.14 at 11:11 am ET
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Lakers star Kobe Bryant has faced enough criticism through his years that he’€™s used to it by now.

After a recent article in ESPN The Magazine said Bryant’€™s play over the last few years is a big factor in Los Angeles’€™ decline, the 19-year veteran just let it slide. Bryant said that so many different stories always come out that it’€™s impossible to dwell on just one.

“It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last one,” Bryant said Tuesday night after a preseason loss to the Suns. “One thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it’s the end of the world and it seems like everybody’s taking shots at you. But time goes by and then you look back on it and it was just a Monday.”

A year after the team finished seventh in the Western Conference and barely clinched a playoff spot, the 2013-14 Lakers missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2005. Times have been difficult for Los Angeles in recent years, and the critics have been tougher on the team and Bryant in particular.

Bryant said he isn’t concerned with the magazine article, instead looking toward winning and getting back into form.

“Stay focused on the bigger picture and things are never as bleak as they seem at the time,” Bryant said. “I just kind of roll with it.”

Read More: kobe bryant,

Judge to rule if Roger Goodell should speak during Ray Rice proceedings

10.22.14 at 10:59 am ET
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An arbiter in the Ray Rice case is closing in on a decision if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should have to testify is the running back’€™s hearing.

The proceedings, which are set for Nov. 5 and 6 according to some close to the case, will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones. She will have the final say if Rice’€™s suspension should be rescinded. Union officials believe having Goodell is a key part of the process, saying he should be included in the hearing.

The union is appealing the NFL’€™s suspension of Rice, indicating it punishes him two times for the same crime. Earlier this year, Goodell suspended Rice for two games for hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator.

Once a video inside of the elevator became public in early September, Goodell changed the suspension from two games to an indefinite suspension, citing the league’€™s personal conduct policy. Following the suspension, the Ravens released Rice from his contract.

Read More: Ray Rice, Roger Goodell,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: After being cut by Cowboys, Michael Sam wants to ‘prove that I can play every Sunday’

10.22.14 at 8:07 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
World Series: Giants at Royals, 8 p.m. (Fox; WEEI-FM)
NBA preseason: Nets at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA preseason: Cavaliers at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA preseason: Suns at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Flyers at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Real Madrid at Liverpool, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Openly gay linebacker/defensive end Michael Sam expressed his appreciation for his opportunity with the Cowboys after the team released him from its practice squad Tuesday.

Sam had been on Dallas’ practice squad for seven weeks after being released at the end of the preseason by the Rams, who had drafted him in the seventh round.

“I want to thank the Jones family and the entire Cowboys organization for this opportunity, as well as my friends, family, teammates and fans for their support,” Sam wrote in a series of tweets. “While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday.”

The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year at Missouri, Sam had three sacks in the preseason but has not yet found his way onto a 53-man roster.

MASHUP POLL: Should the Patriots consider signing Michael Sam?

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After initially making headlines when he returned to his home state to join the Cowboys, Sam has not appeared in the news much since.

“Comes to work every day and practices hard,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said last week. “One of 10 practice roster guys that we have, so he’s working on his skills, trying to develop, but also doing a lot of other things. Playing offense, defense, playing the kicking game. That’s what a lot of those guys do.”

– The Panthers were sure Luke Keuchly’s ejection from Sunday’s game was wrong, and now the league has backed up the team.

The NFL on Tuesday told Panthers coach Ron Rivera that Keuchly should not have been ejected and will not be fined for making inadvertent contact with an official. Rivera had said there was “zero chance” Keuchly would be fined.

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Read More: Luke Keuchly, Michael Sam,

Video: Croatian boxer brutally attacks referee

10.21.14 at 12:14 pm ET
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There was a shocking scene at the European Youth Boxing Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, as light heavyweight Vido Loncar attacked the referee after losing his bout.

As the referee called the fighters together, Loncar, furious that the referee had stopped the fight, unleashed a hard right directly to the official’s face, knocking him to the canvas.

As stunned Lithuanian opponent Algirdas Baniulis scampered away, Loncar continued to hit the fallen official until two men from outside the ring reached through the ropes and grabbed the fighter, dragging him out of the ring.

Read More: Vido Loncar,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Oscar Pistorius begins serving 5-year prison sentence

10.21.14 at 7:25 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
World Series: Giants at Royals, 8 p.m. (Fox; WEEI-AM)
NHL: Sharks at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Flyers at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Rockets at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA preseason: Clippers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College football: Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Manchester City at CSKA Moskva, noon (FS1)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Ajax at Barcelona, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s CONCACAF, Mexico vs. Jamaica, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Double-amputee Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius began serving his five-year prison sentence Tuesday, immediately after being sentenced by a judge in South Africa for the negligent killing of his girlfriend last February.

Judge Thokozile Masipa cited Pistorius’ “gross negligence” for shooting Reeva Steenkamp multiple times through a bathroom door in his home. He had claimed he thought she was a burglar.

Masipa also sentenced Pistorius to three years in prison for firing a gun in a restaurant a few weeks before Steenkamp’s death, although that sentence was suspended.

According to South African legal experts, Pistorius’ five-year term in the maximum he can serve; he will be eligible for house arrest in less than a year.

Pistorius, who had been very emotional throughout the trial, stood during the judge’s announcement before being escorted down a flight of stairs to a police van.

MASHUP POLL: Are you satisfied with Oscar Pistorius' five-year prison sentence?

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Masipa found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide last month but acquitted him of murder. In announcing the sentence Tuesday, she said: “The following is what I consider is a sentence that is fair and just both to society and the accused.”

The prosecution expressed disappointment in the culpable homicide conviction but did not have an immediate decision about whether or not to appeal the sentence.

Said prosecution spokesman Nathi Mncube: “We are satisfied with the fact that he will be serving some time in prison. … It’s not only about vengeance, but it is about making sure that there is a fair and just process.”

– New Jets wide receiver Percy Harvin met the New York media Monday, following reports that he was shipped out of Seattle in part because he wasn’t getting along with his teammates.

“I’m definitely not a perfect person,” Harvin acknowledged after his first practice with his new team. “I have a lot of things that I wish I could have done a little differently. But I’m moving forward. I’m learning from those lessons.

“I’m happy to be here right now and looking to make the most out of it.”

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Read More: John Idzik, Oscar Pistorius, Percy Harvin, Slava Voynov

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Bears OL Kyle Long calls Chicago fans’ booing ‘unacceptable’

10.20.14 at 7:31 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NFL: Texans at Steelers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
Soccer: Premier League, Manchester United at West Bromwich, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Women’s CONCACAF, United States vs. Haiti, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The Bears, who travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots next weekend, had some issues in the locker room after Sunday’s 27-14 loss to the visiting Dolphins, with controversial wide receiver Brandon Marshall reportedly in the middle of things. When the players weren’t sniping at each other, there was some criticism of their home fans.

The Soldier Field crowd booed the Bears after they fell behind 14-0 at halftime, a reaction offensive lineman Kyle Long deemed inappropriate.

“I don’t know if ‘upset’ is the word I would use,” Long said. “As somebody that is blood, sweat and tears in this locker room like the other guys, the coaches, the trainers, the staff and the equipment guys, to be getting booed at home when you’re walking off the field down two possessions is unacceptable — especially when there is not a lot of noise being made on third down [when Miami had the ball], period.”

MASHUP POLL: Were Bears fans out of line to boo their team?

  • No, when a team doesn't perform it deserves to hear it from the crowd (77%, 207 Votes)
  • Yes, true fans lift up their team, not tear it down (23%, 63 Votes)

Total Voters: 270

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Tight end Marcellus Bennett was more understanding, especially considering Chicago now is 0-3 at home.

“If I go see a bad movie, I boo,” Bennett said. “It’s an entertainment business. We are all entertainers. If you go to a bad show, most people boo. I think they had the right to do that. If I want to boo at fans, I can boo at fans, or whoever it may be. They pay for their tickets, and the show wasn’t up to their liking.

“If I go to a movie, I walk out if I don’t like the movie. Like ‘Transformers 3′ — it was terrible. I didn’t stay for the whole film and walked out.”

Serena Williams on Sunday voiced support the Women’s Tennis Association’s one-year ban of Russian Tennis Federation chief Shamil Tarpischev for insulting comments about the Williams sisters.

Tarpischev, who also was fined $25,000, had appeared on a Russian television talk show and referred to the Williams sisters as “brothers” and added, “It’s scary when you really look at them.”

He later said that he had no “malicious intent” and that his quotes on the “humorous show” were taken out of context. He said of the suspension: “I can’t comment. I don’t understand it.”

Said Williams on Sunday: “I think the WTA did a great job of taking [the] initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.”

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Read More: Brian Kelly, Kyle Long, notre dame, Serena Williams

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Despite close loss to Patriots, Jets coach Rex Ryan gets buried by NY media

10.17.14 at 8:22 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
College football: Fresno State at Boise State, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Temple at Houston, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
NBA preseason: Mavericks at Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Jazz at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
MLS: Real Salt Lake at Timbers, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Women’s CONCACAF final, United States vs. Guatemala, 9 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

NY Daily News 10-17-14– Many people will look at Thursday night’s game and say the underdog Jets put up a valiant effort before coming up short on the final play — a blocked field goal that allowed the Patriots to escape with a 27-25 victory.

In New York, it’s another loss in a miserable season, and the calls for Rex Ryan‘s job are growing louder.

In the New York Daily News, beat write Manish Mehta (who discussed Ryan’s future on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday), wrote a faux obituary in his column.

Wrote Mehta: Rex Ryan‘€™s Jets, 6, of New York/New Jersey passed away Thursday night after more than a month-long battle with shaky quarterback play, embarrassing secondary issues and inferior talent.

Official time of death: 11:59 p.m. EDT.

The team is survived by untold thousands, who have endured more than four decades without a championship and wandered down a painful path for too long. The death blow was delivered by a familiar nemesis in the most heartbreaking manner on a night when Ryan’€™s Jets deserved to live for another day.

Brian Costello of the New York Post also wrote about Ryan as the soon-to-be-former Jets coach, noting: Rex Ryan‘s time with the Jets will be defined by how close he came, but ultimately failed, to overtaking the Patriots.

MASHUP POLL: Did Rex Ryan buy himself more time with Thursday's narrow loss?

  • Yes, he showed he still can coach by taking a less-talented team and nearly knocking off the Patriots (54%, 357 Votes)
  • No, bottom line is they're 1-6 and he should not return next season (46%, 304 Votes)

Total Voters: 661

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith told Middays with MFB on Thursday that Ryan has been “sabotaged” by general manager John Idzik, a theory that Mehta apparently supports but doesn’t believe will save the coach.

Wrote Mehta: Ryan weaved magic to win eight games last season with a dearth of talent to avoid the ax, but he’€™ll need divine intervention to escape what appears to be the end of a six-year road filled with spine-tingling highs and unfathomable lows.

– Clippers star Blake Griffin wrote a first-person article for The Players Tribune in which he shares his thoughts and some anecdotes about former owner Donald Sterling, comparing him to a “weird uncle” and indicating Sterling was way off the mark when he insisted his players “love” him.

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Read More: Blake Griffin, Donald Sterling, Rex Ryan, Stephen Garcia

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Colts owner Jim Irsay, back from suspension, wants to ‘be a better person’

10.16.14 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NFL: Jets at Patriots, 8:25 p.m. (CBS, NFL Network)
College football: Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Utah at Oregon State, 10 p.m. (FS1)
NHL: Bruins at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. (NESN, NHL Network)
NBA preseason: Celtics at 76ers, 7 p.m. (CSNNE, NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Jazz at Lakers, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
MLB playoffs: Cardinals at Giants, 8:07 p.m. (FS1; WEEI-AM)
MLS: Revolution at Dynamo, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

– With Jim Irsay set to return after serving a six-game suspension, the Colts owner met the media and said he’s looking forward to moving past his embarrassing DUI incident.

“I’ve always said I’ve felt the role of a steward here and that you learn from your mistakes,” Irsay said at a Wednesday press conference. “You move on, think you can be a better person and be better at everything you do.”

Irsay had been banned from having any contact on football matters with the team, and he said that hit home — despite criticism from some who felt that the league was harder on its players.

“I missed being there. It was tough not being with the guys before the game and praying with the guys before games. That was tough,” he said, although he added: “I really made up my mind to be positive about it.”

MASHUP POLL: Did Jim Irsay get too light a punishment from the NFL?

  • No, he didn't hurt anyone but himself, and he sought treatment (54%, 32 Votes)
  • Yes, if this were a player he would have received a longer suspension (46%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 59

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Irsay has had substance-abuse issues in the past, and the team said he voluntarily re-entered a treatment center after his March incident, when he was pulled over and various prescriptions drugs and more than $29,000 in cash were found in his vehicle.

Now he’s focused on guiding the team the rest of the season. The Colts, who lost their first two games, are 4-2 and host the AFC North-leading Bengals on Sunday.

“I really am motivated to show up and do well every day,” he said. “There’s no question great things are to be grabbed from the difficulties you go through.”

– The Cowboys will fine running back Joseph Randle but not suspend him after he acknowledged making a “huge mistake” related to his arrest on a shoplifting charge.

Randle, who stands accused of taking $123 worth of cologne and underwear from a Dillard’s department store at a suburban Dallas mall Monday, addressed his teammates before Wednesday’s practice and expressed appreciation for their support.

“They know people mess up,” Randle said. “I’m just trying to take full responsibility and really just move on from it.”

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Read More: bo jackson, Jameis Winston, Jim Irsay, Joseph Randle

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Broncos new No. 1 in annual poll of most popular NFL teams

10.15.14 at 8:16 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Red Wings, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Raptors vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA preseason: Kings vs. Nets, 7:30 a.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Pacers vs. Cavaliers, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
MLB playoffs: Orioles at Royals, 4:07 p.m. (TBS; WEEI-AM)
MLB playoffs: Cardinals at Giants, 8:07 p.m. (FS1; WEEI-AM)

AROUND THE WEB:

– According to a Harris Poll conducted last month, the Broncos have replaced the Cowboys as the most popular team in the NFL. The Patriots rank eighth.

Although the Cowboys are surging, improving to 5-1 with Sunday’s victory over the Seahawks in Seattle, they dropped from the top spot — which they held for six straight years — to No. 4. The Cowboys had finished first or second in 12 of the previous 13 annual polls.

The Broncos are the reigning AFC champions and have the league’s second-longest home sellout streak (behind Washington), having sold out every home game since the start of the 1970 season.

MASHUP POLL: Which of these Patriots rivals do you respect the most?

  • Broncos (43%, 237 Votes)
  • Jets (25%, 139 Votes)
  • Giants (11%, 58 Votes)
  • Colts (8%, 46 Votes)
  • Steelers (7%, 40 Votes)
  • Ravens (6%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 550

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The Giants are No. 2, followed by the Packers. After the Cowboys are the Steelers, Seahawks (jumping from 12th last year), 49ers, Patriots, Bears and Saints.

The company polled 2,543 adults (1,275 who identified themselves as people who followed pro football) from Sept. 10-17.

– Tuesday’s European Championship qualifying soccer match between Albania and host Serbia was testy from the start, due to ethnic and political tensions between the two nations.

Albanian fans were banned from the stadium, but apparently one Albanian found a way to stir up trouble, sending in a drone carrying a “Greater Albania” flag — with images that are offensive to Serbs — that flew low over the field, delaying the game in the 41st minute. When Serbian player Stefan Mitrovic grabbed the flag, Albanian players responded angrily and took the flag from him, That ignited a brawl as fans ran onto the field and attacked the Albanian players.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: FSU coach Jimbo Fisher says team believes in QB Jameis Winston’s innocence, ’100 percent’

10.14.14 at 8:08 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB playoffs: Cardinals at Giants, 4:07 p.m. (FS1; WEEI-AM)
MLB playoffs: Orioles at Royals, 8:07 p.m. (TBS; WEEI-AM)
NHL: Sabres at Hurricanes, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: Louisiana-Lafayette at Texas State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Exhibition, United States vs. Honduras, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: European Championship qualifying, Denmark vs. Portugal, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: European Championship qualifying, Germany vs. Ireland, 9 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher lauded the ability of reigning Hesiman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to “compartmentalize things,” keeping his focus on the field despite the controversy surrounding him. That’s good news for the Seminoles, because the off-field issues don’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

On the same day Fisher expressed confidence that Winston will not miss any games due to an ongoing sexual assault investigation, a report emerged that the school is looking into a link between Winston and the same autograph authentication business that led to the suspension of Georgia running back Todd Gurley.

The company, James Spence Authentication, posted on its website more than 950 items autographed by Winston. Fisher said he believed Winston when the QB told him he did not sign items for money.

MASHUP POLL: WIll Jameis Winston finish the season?

  • No, he clearly can't stay out of trouble and is headed for a suspension (86%, 222 Votes)
  • Yes, there's not enough new evidence to suspend him again (14%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 257

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Meanwhile, Winston reportedly has been notified that a formal hearing will be held to determine if he broke the school’s code of conduct related to an allegation of sexual assault in December 2012. The state already declined to press charges in that case due to inconsistencies and flaws in the evidence.

Sadi Fisher on Monday: “This country is based off being innocent until proven guilty, not guilty ’til you’re proven innocent. There is no victim because there was no crime. We’re convicting a guy over things that are not true, based on evidence.

“There’s facts of the case and what the reports are. Public opinion wants to do what they do. They don’t get what they want. … We believe in him, 100 percent.”

– Controversial Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is drawing the ire of Panthers players for his behavior in Sunday’s 37-37 tie, when he was penalized for two personal fouls and escaped punishment despite twisting the ankles of two Carolina players after tackles.

“There is no place in the game for a player doing extra stuff,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who indicated he will send the league video of Burfict’s actions.

Burfict, who was not drafted last year out of Arizona State due in part to his history of behavioral issues but made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, twisted the ankles of quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen, both after Carolina touchdowns.

“I think the punishment needs to go beyond a fine,” Olsen said. “Guys like that don’t learn from that stuff.”

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Read More: Jameis Winston, Jimbo Fisher, Vontaze Burfict,