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Sports world reacts to death of Robin Williams

08.12.14 at 10:07 am ET
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People across multiple generations were struck with shock and sadness Monday evening when it was learned that legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams died at 63 years old from an apparent suicide.

Williams, known for his role in classic movies such as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society,” touched many through his work, including the sports world.

Many athletes and media outlets, both locally and nationally, expressed their grief through social media shortly after Williams’ passing was announced.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: As Jets suffer multiple injuries at CB, coach Rex Ryan insists, ‘This is not a panic situation’

08.12.14 at 8:19 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.

MLB: Red Sox at Reds, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Braves, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: White Sox at Giants, 10 p.m. (WGN)
Soccer: Exhibition, Valencia vs. Manchester United, 2:25 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: UEFA Super Cup, Real Madrid vs. Sevilla, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


– The Jets have been their usual cocky selves this offseason, but there is some concern at training camp as two of their top three cornerbacks have gone down with serious injuries.

Rookie Dexter McDougle tore his ACL on Sunday and is out for the season, and Dee Milliner might miss the opener what an apparent high left ankle sprain. Dimitri Patterson, expected to start opposite Milliner, has been battling multiple injuries and missed Monday’s practice.

All this for a team that finished 22nd in the league in pass defense last season — and allowed Antonio Cromartie to leave as a free agent.

“This is going to work,” coach Rex Ryan insisted. “We just don’t necessarily know how yet. But this defense, one thing we know for a fact, that this defense will be an outstanding defense.”

Added Ryan: “To me, it’s not a panic situation.”

MASHUP POLL: In what place will the Jets finish in the AFC East?

  • 3 (51%, 327 Votes)
  • 4 (38%, 241 Votes)
  • 2 (10%, 62 Votes)
  • 1 (1%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 636

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Ryan reportedly was desperate to sign Darrelle Revis — now with the Patriots — but was overruled by team management. He supported his bosses Monday.

“I never said I had to have the best corner in football. That’s not it,” Ryan said. “My defenses work, period. I don’t care what it is. We take what we have and then we work around it. We work to the strength of our players. It’s always players over system. We’ve been around enough that it will work out.”

Meanwhile, the Jets are seeking fans to fill the role of the retired Fireman Ed and lead the crowd in the J-E-T-S chant. The team announced an online contest to pick eight season ticket-holders to lead the cheer at each of the home games.

– As is often the case, a celebrity Twitter Q&A turned ugly, this time when Florida State put Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston front and center.

Winston has had several off-field incidents during his time in Tallahassee — most notably a sexual assault allegation last fall for which he was not charged and a shoplifting incident this past spring for which he was cited by police — and the Twitterverse reminded him that his issues haven’t been forgotten.

“I knew there was going to be some negativity going into it,” FSU sports information director Elliott Finebloom said. “The goal of the Twitter Q&A was to continue to find ways to connect our fans and the players they support. That’s important to us … and social is a big way of doing it these days.”

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Michael McCann on MFB: ‘I think there is a possibility of negligent homicide’ for Tony Stewart

08.11.14 at 3:07 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann joined Middays with MFB Monday to discuss the potential fallout regarding the death of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

On Saturday night, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed the 20-year-old Ward Jr. during a race at the Canadaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York after Ward Jr. exited his car to confront Stewart following a crash.

While Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said that police officials are not treating the case as a criminal investigation, McCann said that he thought — after watching video of the accident — that there could be serious charges levied against Stewart.

“€œWhen watching the video, I definitely thought there’€™s the possibility of criminal charges,” McCann said. “The reality is that it just seems hard to believe that at a minimum, it wasn’€™t reckless driving. It may not have been intentional, but it could have been trying to scare Ward into backing off or something like that and he went too far. The reality is that’€™s not an accident. When you try to scare someone, there is some intent there. My read on looking at the video was that there’€™s at least a possibility of criminal charges, and I was surprised that the sheriff so quickly dismissed that possibility.”

McCann said that it would be difficult to prove that Stewart showed intent to hurt Ward based on the video, but added that there’€™s still a chance that Stewart could be charged with a variety of lesser, albeit serious, crimes.

“€œIt’€™s going to be hard to show intent in terms of trying to hurt him, but there are lesser charges that are possible under New York law where there isn’€™t necessarily intent to hurt, but there’€™s intent to put somebody in danger, there’€™s intent to frighten someone and you go too far in doing so,” McCann said. “€œIt could be much less than murder. As a result, my thought was that there could be lesser charges brought against him that aren’€™t murder but are still serious, and as a result, I was again surprised that the sheriff so quickly said that there’€™s nothing here.”

Even if no criminal charges are filed, McCann stated that it’€™s very likely that Ward’€™s family will file a civil suit against Stewart during the two-year period that they have to make the move.

“I think the odds are very high,” McCann said. “I say that because there’€™s a video, and the video is very damning. Also, under a wrongful death lawsuit, there’€™s only a requirement that there’€™s a preponderance of evidence, so more likely or not that he negligently caused the death of Ward and personally, looking at this video, it’€™s hard to say this is just an accident,€“ some random freak occurrence. It wasn’€™t really a freak occurrence. It was somebody getting hit by a car while that car was going around the track and if it’s true that he revved up the engine, as it has been reported, I think that can be potentially very damning.

“My belief is that Stewart will try to avoid any type of litigation. He’€™ll try to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Ward family for some significant amount of money. He’€™s reportedly worth an excess of $100 million, so I have a feeling, just to avoid the controversy of going to trial and the embarrassment of it, they’€™ll try to reach an out-of-court deal.”

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Police have not ruled out charges for Tony Stewart after death of driver in sprint-car race

08.11.14 at 8:12 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.

MLB: Mets at Phillies, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Braves, 7 p.m. (ESPN)


– Authorities in Upstate New York said they do not have enough evidence to charge NASCAR driver Tony Stewart but have not ruled out criminal charges after he hit and killed a fellow driver during a sprint-car race in Canandaigua on Saturday night.

Stewart backed out of Sunday’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen one day after the death of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr.

“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said in a statement. “It’s a very emotional time for all involved. … My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Ward had stepped out of his car after his car was knocked into the wall by Stewart’s and attempted to confront the NASCAR veteran. Ward, wearing a black firesuit and black helmet on the dimly lit track, was hit by Stewart’s car, which was traveling an estimated 35-40 mph, and knocked backward onto the track.

MASHUP POLL: Should Tony Stewart faces charges for the death of fellow race-car driver Kevin Ward Jr.?

  • No, there is not enough evidence that he did anything wrong (64%, 217 Votes)
  • Yes, he was at the very least negligent for not slowing down and avoiding Ward (36%, 122 Votes)

Total Voters: 339

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There has been speculation that Stewart, known for his temper, was attempting to scare Ward and lost control of his car.

Tyler Graves, a sprint-car racer who was a friend of Ward’s, was watching the race from the Turn 1 grandstands.

“I know Tony could see him. I know how you can see out of these cars,” Graves told the Sporting News. “When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle. When you hit the throttle on a sprint car, the car sets sideways. It set sideways, the right rear tire hit Kevin, Kevin was sucked underneath and was stuck under it for a second or two and then it threw him about 50 yards.”

Stewart, 43, was questioned by authorities, who described him as “visibly shaken” but cooperative. Investigators worked to reconstruct the crash and asked for spectators to turn over photos and videos of the situation.

– NBA No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins not only is OK with his pending trade from the Cavaliers to the Timberwolves, he would prefer it — at least according to his former college coach.

Kansas’ Bill Self claims Wiggins said he would be better off in a situation where he is being relied upon to lead the way, rather than playing second fiddle to the likes of LeBron James.

“When all this stuff started, I talked to Andrew and he Andrew told me, ‘I hope I get traded,’ ” Self said. “And I’m like, ‘No you don’t.’ And he said, ‘Coach, I do. It’s better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I’m forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they’re going to be patient with me and I’m going to be a piece.’ ”

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Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Bill Self, LeBron James, Linval Joseph

Luis Suarez appeals FIFA ban for biting, will receive verdict next week

08.08.14 at 12:54 pm ET
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Uruguay and Barcelona forward Luis Suarez appealed his FIFA ban Friday for biting an opponent at the World Cup, and will have a verdict by next week.

Suarez attended a six-hour hearing in front of a three-person panel before the Court of Arbitration for Sports. He’s pushing to reduce his four-month suspension from all soccer activity.

The panel said that it will come to a decision, “probably before the end of next week.”

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NCAA board gives 5 major conferences power to make rule changes

08.08.14 at 10:43 am ET
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The NCAA Board of Directors voted 16-2 Thursday to approve changes that will allow the five richest college football conference — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — to have the power to change rules that have applied to Division 1 schools for years.

These conferences will now have the ability to make their own rules. However, paying athletes to pay will not be among those changes.

The handful of university presidents who spoke at NCAA headquarters after the vote agreed that pay-for-play will not be considered. They also said it’s unlikely the league will create their own policies when it comes to infractions.

Some changes can be expected, however. The five leagues will takes steps to add money to scholarships or create an athlete stipend intended to help cover the full cost of attending college beyond the typical expenses of tuition, room and board and books and supplies, which would result in an increase in spending by the five leagues.

“It does provide degrees of autonomy for the five high-resource conferences,” Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch said. “This is not complete autonomy. We’re still part of Division 1, but I think it allows us to provide more benefits to student-athletes.”

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Soccer star Landon Donovan announces he will retire at end of season

08.08.14 at 10:12 am ET
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Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan announced Thursday that he will retire from professional soccer at the end of the MLS season.

Donovan, 32, is the top goal-scorer in MLS history and top scorer in U.S. national team history. He is a five-time MLS champion with the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.

“I think for the last few years, I haven’t had the same passion that I had previously in my career,” Donovan said at a press conference. “To some extent, I had felt obligated to keep playing. … It’s time to enjoy the rest of the season, and there would be no better way than to go out as a champion, so that’s what I want to do.”

Donovan took some extended time off following the Galaxy’s second straight MLS Cup in December 2012. He signed a multi-year contract extension with the Galaxy just last year.

Donovan said he plans travel extensively when his career ends this fall.

“It gets me excited thinking about it,” Donovan said. “For 16 years, almost every decision I’ve made, every hour of every day, has revolved around, ‘How is this going to prepare me for tomorrow’s training session or tomorrow’s game?’ Just having the freedom to do whatever you want is exciting, and I’m looking forward to that.”

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Mavericks G Raymond Felton suspended 4 games for gun charges

08.08.14 at 10:04 am ET
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The NBA suspended Mavericks guard Raymond Felton Thursday for the first four games of the season after he pleaded guilty in a New York gun case.

Felton pleaded guilty July 23 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm in a case that arose last winter. He admitted to having a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license.

“I demonstrated poor judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Felton said in a statement released by the Mavericks. “Moving forward I’m eager to get to Dallas, to start fresh and make a positive impact in the Dallas metropolitan area.”

Felton avoided jail time by admitting to the felony and accepting a sentence to 500 hours of community service and paying a $5,000 fine.

The Mavericks acquired Felton from the Knicks in a six-player trade June 25 that returned Tyson Chandler to Dallas.

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Kevin Durant withdraws from US national team

08.08.14 at 10:02 am ET
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Less than a week after a gruesome leg injury ended Paul George‘s run with the U.S. national team, and possibly his 2014-15 season, the American squad suffered yet another major setback.

Kevin Durant withdrew from the U.S. national team Thursday just weeks before the it heads to Spain for the World Cup of Basketball. The reigning NBA MVP took part in the team’s training camp in Las Vegas last week, but decided against playing in the international tournament.

“Kevin reached out to coach [Mike Krzyzewski] and myself this afternoon and expressed that he is just physically and mentally drained from the NBA season and his attention to his many responsibilities,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. “He tried to give it a go at our recent Las Vegas training camp but felt coming out of camp that he was not prepared to fulfill the commitment he made to the team.”

Durant is the fifth player to withdraw from the team after Kevin Love, Blake GriffinLaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard all previously dropped out of the international competition.

“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country,” Durant said. “I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint.

“I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”

The U.S. roster is down to 15 players. The Americans will be in Chicago next Thursday to resume practicing and whittle its roster down to 12 before the Aug. 30 tournament.

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ESPN suspends Dan Le Batard for LeBron James billboard

08.08.14 at 9:42 am ET
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ESPN suspended Dan Le Batard for two days after the television and radio host paid for billboards in Akron, Ohio, that read, “You’re Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami” and featured the two championship rings LeBron James won with the Heat.

The billboards appeared to be mocking James’ first-person essay in Sports Illustrated announcing his return to the Cavaliers. James’ letter thanked many people, but not Miami fans, which inspired a response from Le Batard.

ESPN released a statement about the suspension Thursday.

“Dan LeBatard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday,” the statement read. “His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’€™s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”

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