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Bills say they could have best defense ever

06.30.15 at 9:35 am ET
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Rex Ryan has brought the confidence he instilled in his early Jets teams to Buffalo, as some Bills players say they could have the best defense in the history of the NFL.

When asked about his team’s defensive goals for the season, Bills defensive tackle Marcel Dareus was pretty outspoken.

“[To be the] best ever,” Dareus said. “It’€™s so obtainable. All we have to do is continue to do what we want, and not what we can. If we do what we want, and do everything to head in that direction, why can’€™t we? Why can’€™t we?”

Linebacker Nigel Bradham echoed his teammate’s ambitions, speaking to the Toronto Sun.

“We want to be the best in history — one of the greatest,” Bradham said. “That’€™s what we’€™re striving for … the greatest of all time, not just this year or last year.”

Last year, the Bills were one of the best defenses in the NFL, finishing in the top-five for points allowed, yards per play and passing touchdowns. With the addition of defensive guru Ryan, Dareus believes the Bills can get even better and make history.

“We finally have a coach who will really lay it on the line for us,” he said. “I mean, Rex will make the tough calls and really put us in the position to win, regardless of whatever the stakes are. And he’€™s not going to be buddy-buddy. He’€™s like, ‘€˜You’€™re a grown man and I’€™m going to tell it to you like it is.’€™ And that’€™s what we all need. We’€™re all grown men. To have somebody babying us, or somebody trying to micro-manage us –€” I mean, no man really wants to ever be under somebody’€™s thumb all the time.

“Rex is just that type of guy where he’€™s going to let you play ball, he’€™s going to put you in the best situations, and he’€™s going to do his best not to let you fail.”

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Marcel Dareus, Nigel Bradham, Rex Ryan

Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan to retire after next season

06.30.15 at 8:53 am ET
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After 14 years steering the Wisconsin basketball program, Bo Ryan will retire following the 2015-16 season. The 67-year-old is fresh off leading the Badgers to their first national championship game berth in April.

In a statement, Ryan declared that it is his wish for longtime assistant coach Greg Gard to succeed him.

“I’ve decided to coach one more season with the hope that my longtime assistant Greg Gard eventually becomes the head coach at Wisconsin,” Ryan said. “I am looking forward to another year with our program, including our players, my terrific assistant coaches, our office staff and everyone who supports Wisconsin basketball here in Madison, around the state and across the country.”

Ryan has been a revolutionary figure in Wisconsin athletics. Since leaving Wisconsin-Platteville, a Division III program and joining the Badgers, Ryan has taken Wisconsin to 14 NCAA Tournaments, seven Sweet 16s, four Big Ten titles and two Final Fours. He’s gone 357-125 (.741) and changed the culture of a team which won just 54 percent of its games in the 14 years before he took over.

After the national championship game, Ryan nearly called it a career. However, some cajoling from Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez kept him around for a 15th season.

“Back in the spring, in the days after the national championship game, Barry Alvarez and I discussed the possibility of me retiring,” Ryan said in the statement. “I’ve always been told that is not a decision to make right after a season is completed. Barry thankfully encouraged me to take some time to think about it and I have done that. I considered retiring this summer or coaching one more season.”

Ryan’s decision came as a shock to some his current and former players. Recent Houston Rockets draft pick Sam Dekker voiced his surprise at Ryan’s retirement.

“It was kind of shocking to me,” Dekker said. “I knew it was coming at some point but I didn’t know it would be this soon. It’s shocking. If it’s the best decision for him and if it will make him happy, then so be it. It’s going to be different seeing a different coach on the sideline, that’s for sure.”

Read More: Bo Ryan, Sam Dekker, Wisconsin Badgers,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Critics rip incomplete Boston 2024 Olympic plan as ‘more smoke and mirrors’

06.30.15 at 6:57 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.

MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Mets, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Yankees at Angels, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, semifinal, 7 p.m. (Fox)
WNBA: Liberty at Sky, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)


— Boston’s Olympic organizing committee unveiled its new plan Monday, promising to avoid saddling residents with fees for the 2024 Summer Games, but critics noted that many questions still remain.

The new plan includes cost-overrun insurance to the tune of $128 million — although no insurer was named — and a plan to have a private developer buy land for a stadium via a competitive bid process.

“The taxpayers won’t be responsible for any venue costs or any operating costs, and we believe the taxpayers are responsible for infrastructure costs that should be done in the ordinary course anyway,” Boston 2024 chairman Steve Pagliuca said. “Any time we had a chance to take a conservative route, we did.”

The group claims there will be $4.8 billion in total revenue from the event, with expenses coming in more than $200 million less than that, and it would allow the city to transform two neighborhoods: Widett Circle, which would house a temporary Olympic stadium, and Columbia Point, which would host the athletes village.

The plan relies on $1.9 billion in improvements to the MBTA system, which organizers say are needed to address “non-Olympic-related anticipated ridership growth.”

The proposal does not include a final plan for some events, including aquatics, golf and cycling — which requires building a velodrome — and leaves other key information incomplete. That opened the door for critics to pounce.

“It’s just more smoke and mirrors, as far as I can tell,” said Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, who questioned the ability of the group to get any “master developers” for the plan.

Added Chris Dempsey, co-founder of No Boston Olympics: “We were hoping for a lot more detail.”

— The Los Angeles Kings are attempting to cut ties with forward Mike Richards, terminating his contract Monday for a “material breach of the requirements” of the pact.

Richards’ play has declined since Los Angeles traded for him in 2011, inheriting his 12-year, $69 million contract he signed with the Flyers in 2008.

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Read More: Boston 2024 Olympics,

Ben Affleck, Matt Damon to produce FIFA scandal film

06.29.15 at 9:38 am ET
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According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cambridge, Massachusetts, natives Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are getting ready to produce a film on the recent FIFA scandal.

The film will focus on American FIFA executive Chuck Blazer and his role in the entire ordeal which resulted in the largest sports and public corruption scandal ever seen.

After eight days of negotiations, Warner Bros. won the bidding war for Houses of Deceit, the definitive account of the scandal written by Buzzfeed investigative reporter Ken Bensinger.

Affleck and Damon will produce the film with the backing of Pearl Street Films, their Warner-affiliated production company. Gavin O’Connor, who has worked with Affleck before on his thriller, The Accountant, has been tabbed to direct the film while Anthony Tambakis will write the script.

Centered around Blazer, the movie will chronicle his rise from unemployed soccer dad to FIFA executive committee member. Then, the movie will depict his fall from grace — the allegations of bribery, the massive tax evasion and his decision to act as a witness in May’s well-publicized arrests of FIFA officials.

There is no release date set for the film at this point in time. However, Bensinger’s book won’t be published until 2017.

Read More: Ben Affleck, Chuck Blazer, FIFA, Ken Bensinger

Report: Marc Gasol not interested in joining Lakers

06.29.15 at 9:12 am ET
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According to the LA Times, Grizzlies free agent center Marc Gasol has “no interest” in joining the Lakers.

The big man has been turned off to the organization after his brother Pau’s tenure in LA ended on poor terms.

“[Pau Gasol] was hurt by the way he was treated,” Magic Johnson said of Pau’s decision to sign with the Bulls. “He could never get over [being misused].”

Gasol, a 2014-15 All-Star, is considered the best all-around center in the league by the majority of scouts and pundits. The seven-footer averaged 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season while shooting .494 from the field.

Gasol is reportedly less interested in leaving Memphis for a big market than his brother and the Grizzlies can offer him the most money of any team. The market for Gasol is said to have thinned to just the Spurs and the Grizzlies. However, the Celtics remain in a position to make a run at him.

Though the Spurs and Grizzlies are the frontrunners to sign Gasol, the Celtics could still make a run at him. After taking three guards with four picks at the draft, Danny Ainge and the rest of the front office will not be sleeping on an all-around big like Gasol. With Kevin Love looking more and more likely to re-sign with Cavaliers and LaMarcus Aldridge seemingly a lock to join the Spurs according to many reports, Gasol may be be the last remaining chance for the Celtics to lock up the star big man they crave.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol

Monday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James reportedly headed for free agency

06.29.15 at 7:05 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: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rangers at Orioles, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (Tennis Channel)


LeBron James reportedly is headed for free agency again, but it appears to be nothing more than a formality for him to milk more money out of the Cavaliers.

According to an Associated Press report, James will decline the $21.6 million option on his contract and instead sign a new max deal that will give him a small raise.

Nonetheless, it has to be a little unsettling for Cleveland fans, as Kevin Love also is headed for free agency, and Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert are unsigned. And when James was a free agent in 2010, he left Cleveland for Miami.

Cavs general manager David Griffin said last week that James has made it clear he plans to be a part of the team going forward.

“We’ve heard from him every day pretty much relative to our roster,” Griffin said. “It’s been great. He’s been very much engaged with us on a lot of different levels, so it’s been positive.”

— Mets pitcher Steven Matz had a major league debut to remember Sunday, but it was more for his work at the plate than on the mound.

Matz became the first pitcher in MLB history to drive in four runs in his first game, going 3-for-3 in New York’s 7-2 victory.

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Women’s World Cup: U.S. edges China to advance to semis

06.26.15 at 9:37 pm ET
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Carli Lloyd scored on a header early in the second half to give the United States a 1-0 victory over China in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup on Friday night in Ottawa.

The U.S. squad, ranked second in the world, advances to play top-ranked Germany in the semifinals Tuesday night. Earlier Friday in Montreal, the Germans ousted France on penalty kicks (5-4) after a 1-1 tie.

The Americans, who had been sluggish offensively to this point in the tournament, were more aggressive and it paid off. They outshot China 11-4 in the first half, although the teams entered the break scoreless.

In the 51st minutes, Julie Johnston served up a ball into the box that Lloyd headed into the lower right corner, passed the diving Wang Fei.

The United States, which has not won the World Cup since 1999, advances to the semifinals for the seventh time — every Women’s World Cup.

Read More: Carli Lloyd, Women's World Cup,

Thinking Out Loud: Tom Brady, Roger Goodell must come to compromise

06.26.15 at 8:04 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Vincent Council?

— We wait. And wait. And wait some more. It may be another month — or more — before we find out the results of Tom Brady‘s suspension appeal with the NFL. How can you possibly expect a league mired in its own mayhem to produce anything of a timely nature? You can’t. But you certainly can expect a decision sometime after the Fourth of July, at the very least, with briefs from both sides due by end of next week.

— Here’s a plausible scenario, just for kicks. The American Educational Institute report blew huge holes into the science behind the Wells Report. The Wells Report, more and more, appears to be an investigation into what the league “wanted” to find, not actually what was found. Maybe there was conspiracy, maybe not. Whatever the case, Roger Goodell is backed into a corner — he must reduce and/or eliminate TB12’s suspension based on actual findings and actual science, or he risks federal court proceedings. And if he does reduce and/or eliminate, there’s little bite left in the bark from the commissioner’s office.

— There has to be a compromise. Either one game, or no games and a fine for Brady’s initial refusal to completely cooperate with a sham investigation conducted by Ted Wells. Followed by the pronouncement from the commissioner that Brady did nothing wrong, to assist in clearing his name and reputation. It’s the only way in which both sides can claim a victory. It could have been done months ago. And trust me, right now both sides want to “win” this — badly.

— Uh, Brad? You meant “twit” when you referred to Ian Poulter‘s complaints about the greens during last week’s U.S. Open, right? Faxon’s comments this week on WEEI were apparently aimed at Poulter not only because of his griping about the putting surfaces, but also because Poulter has apparently used the bad word himself. In this case, the word used was not meant as a derogatory comment toward a part of the female anatomy, but used to describe someone who is obnoxious. Clears that up.

— He could be playing, but Fax is back on Fox Sports this week for the U.S. Senior Open in Sacramento, where his Newport, Rhode Island, buddy P.H. Horgan found himself in early contention. He is contracted for eight events, including the USGA’s majors — the Open, the Women’s Open, the Senior Open and the Amateur. Rogue comments aside, reviews on Faxon as a golf commentator have been pretty solid.

— You can say he was lucky. You can say Dustin Johnson choked away a major with a three-putt to lose the U.S. Open. But you also have to say Jordan Spieth is just what the sport of golf needs right now — a young, good-looking, nice guy, a potential glamor boy for a sport that has been haunted for too long by the specter of Tiger Woods‘ bad-boy misdeeds.

— Watching Tiger play is akin to rubbernecking on the highway. Sure, we want to see the accident. But let’s move on, people. Nothing more to see here.

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Read More: Brad Faxon, Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady

First openly gay baseball player starts minor league game

06.26.15 at 11:17 am ET
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For the first time in professional baseball history, an openly gay player started a game. Sean Conroy, 23, pitched on Thursday for the Sonoma (Calif.) Stompers of the independent Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs.

The right-hander tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out 11 over nine innings in a 7-0 win.

Stompers general manager Theo Fightmaster says Conroy shared his sexual orientation with teammates and management before agreeing to come out publicly in advance of the team’s Gay Pride night.

“The first conversation I has with Sean was, ‘I want you to know this organization supports you, we respect who you are. We respect who you [are] as a pitcher and a person and to whatever degree you want your story told, we’ll help facilitate that,’ ” Fightmaster said. “His goal has always been to be the first openly gay baseball player, so he was very much in favor of telling the story, of carrying that torch.”

Conroy said he didn’t necessarily want to be a pioneer.

“It’s not that I wanted it to go public, but I didn’t care if it was open information. It’s who I am. I am definitely surprised that no one has been openly gay in baseball yet,” he said.

Conroy has been used as a closer for the Stompers, earning four saves and allowing just two hits over seven innings in the closing role.

“I’m just looking to play well and do as well as I can wherever they put me,” Conroy said.

Read More: Sean Conroy,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Warren Sapp faces 3 domestic battery charges in Las Vegas

06.26.15 at 8:01 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.

MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Draft, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, China vs. United States, 7:30 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Germany vs. France, 4 p.m. (Fox)
Golf: PGA Travelers Championship, 3:30 p.m. (TGC)


— Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp is in trouble again.

Sapp, who was fired from his job with the NFL Network after being arrested in Phoenix the night of the Super Bowl following a fight with two prostitutes, was charged with three domestic battery misdemeanors stemming from an April incident with his girlfriend in Las Vegas

Sapp is accused of biting his longtime girlfriend and stepping on her head after throwing her to the ground. He is due in court July 23 and faces up to 18 months in jail if convicted.

The incident began when Sapp allegedly threw a margarita in the woman’s face while the two were at the M Resort in Henderson, Nevada. Police say there is security footage showing Sapp aggressively pulling on the woman inside the resort. She told police they continued arguing during the drive home and at her Las Vegas condo, where Sapp allegedly assaulted her.

Sapp played in the NFL from 1995-2007 with the Buccaneers and Raiders. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

— The U.S. women’s soccer team will be without Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday when they play China in Friday’s quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup due to accumulated yellow cards, but at least they will have forward Abby Wambach.

Wambach escaped with just a warning from FIFA after questioning the intent of the referee in the Americans’ 2-0 win over Colombia on Monday. Wambach suggested the yellow cards Rapinoe and Holiday received were unnecessary.

“I don’t know if they were yellows,” she said after the game. “It seemed like [the referee] was purposefully giving those yellows to maybe players that she knew were sitting on yellows. I don’t know if that was just a psychological thing, who knows. Who knows?”

Wambach apologized a day later, something FIFA noted in its statement announcing the warning.

— Syracuse announced Thursday that longtime assistant coach Mike Hopkins will succeed the embattled Jim Boeheim in 2018.

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Read More: Abby Wambach, jim boeheim, Mike Hopkins, Warren Sapp