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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Tony Dungy’s comments on Michael Sam draw criticism

07.22.14 at 7:51 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: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NES; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Giants at Phillies, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Indiana Fever at Chicago Sky, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
WNBA: Phoenix Mercury at Seattle Storm, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– NBC analyst and respected former NFL coach Tony Dungy raised some eyebrows with comments he made about Michael Sam, saying he would not have drafted the openly gay defensive end in order to avoid the distraction.

“I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy told the Tampa Bay Tribune of the Rams rookie. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.

“It’s not going to be totally smooth. … Things will happen.”

Dungy’s stance has raised questions, especially considering he has voiced public support for Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress, both of whom were major distractions due to off-field behavior that landed them in jail. Dungy also backed Tim Tebow.

Dungy also is known for his strong conservative religious beliefs, although he did express support last year for Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay athlete in major professional sports in America when he suited up for the Nets.

MASHUP POLL: Was Tony Dungy out of line to say he would not have drafted Michael Sam?

  • No, he was just being honest and did not cross the line (70%, 392 Votes)
  • Yes, there's clearly bias behind his comments (30%, 166 Votes)

Total Voters: 558

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The comments drew criticism as well as support on the web. Said former Vikings punter and outspoken gay-rights advocate Chris Kluwe:

“When it comes to someone who is a homosexual football player, he’€™s worried that something will happen in the locker room. I mean, no, I think it’€™s cowardly to say that, because it’€™s your job to make sure that nothing happens in the locker room. That’€™s exactly why you’€™re the head coach, in order to take care of something like that.

“And to try and pawn it off and say, ‘Well, I think it’ll be too much of a distraction,’ that really is just an underhanded way of saying, ‘I don’€™t want to deal with a homosexual player on my team and I’€™m going to do whatever possible not to have to deal with that situation.’ ”

The Rams have made it clear they won’t be swayed by opinions like Dungy’s.

“If you’re going to take a leadership position by drafting Michael, you have to expect the good and the bad,” Rams COO Kevin Demoff said. “We’re prepared for it, and I think we’ll shine through it.”

– Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby did not mince words when offering his opinion of the NCAA, saying “cheating pays” and predicting big changes on the horizon that fans of the current set-up will not like.

“You’re going to hate it going forward,” he said. “There’s a lot of change coming.”

Speaking at the league’s media day Monday, Bowlsby said enforcement is “broken,” and athletic programs are taking advantage.

“I think it’s not an understatement to say cheating pays presently,” he said. “If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions. … They’re in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They’re fighting howitzers.”

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Read More: Bob Bowlsby, Michael Cooper, Michael Sam, Tony Dungy

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Angels mock Mariners closer Fernando Rodney during comeback

07.21.14 at 7:55 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:
MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rangers at Yankees, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The American League West rivalry between the Angels and much-improved Mariners is getting a little spicy.

As the Angels mounted a ninth-inning comeback against Mariners All-Star closer Fernando Rodney on Sunday, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout mocked Rodney by mimicking his “bow and arrow” celebration. Rodney, a former Angel (2010-11) had done the celebration after ending the eighth inning, aiming it at the Angels dugout.

“I did that for the fans, because when I came in, they booed me. It’s part of the game,” said Rodney, who leads the AL with 27 saves but failed to protect a 5-4 lead Sunday. “I tried to get the save with five outs. They got me today, but tomorrow’s another day.”

Grant Green hit the game-winning single with the bases loaded and two outs.

“Rodney woke up our dugout,” Green said. “At the time, we were hitting well in the game, but we didn’t have that key hit. He did it at the wrong time with Trout, Pujols and Josh [Hamilton] coming up. You don’t want to get those guys fired up.”

Said Pujols: “That’s his thing. I’ve known Rodney for 15 years, so we go way back. And every time I see him, I tell him I’m going to do that to him if I get a big hit against him.”

MASHUP POLL: Should players be allowed to make taunting gestures on the field?

  • Yes, it's the major leagues, they can do what they want (66%, 290 Votes)
  • No, it's unsportsmanlike and should be penalized (34%, 151 Votes)

Total Voters: 441

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Rodney said he did not see the Angels players’ celebration.

“They did? They got emotional, maybe,” he said. “They beat me. That’s all right. That’s why they did that, I think. I’ll have to check the video.”

– Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko is one player who is not sad to see Jason Kidd leave for the Bucks after one season coaching Brooklyn.

In an interview with Russian daily sports newspaper SovSport, Kirilenko questioned Kidd’s ability to coach in the big city.

“The pressure is huge,” Kirilenko said. “And Kidd couldn’t handle it … or maybe he didn’t want to.”

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Read More: Albert Pujols, Andrei Kirilenko, Fernando Rodney, Jason Kidd

NFL to limit evaluations of underclassmen for draft

07.18.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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The NFL is making new restrictions on the number of underclassmen who can receive evaluations for the draft, allowing just five from a single school.

The league’s College Advisory Committee made this ruling in response to the record 107 underclassmen who applied for this year’s draft, and the 37 who weren’t selected.

Troy Vincent, the league’s head of football operations, said underclassmen will be advised based on their potential to be picked in the first two rounds, or be advised to stay in school.

Steve Greenberg turns down MLB commissioner offer; Joe Torre open to replacing Bud Selig

07.18.14 at 11:31 am ET
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It appears Bud Selig has to move on to Plan B.

The MLB commissioner, who is set to retire from his position in January, reportedly had former deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg in mind as his successor. But the 65-year-old Greenberg, who is the managing director of investment bank Allen & Company, told USA Today he doesn’t plan on taking the job.

“Early on, I told Bud I was not going to be a candidate,” Greenberg said. “I’m sticking to that. I’m comfortable with that. I gave it a try in the early ’90s, and I’m not at a place in my life where it makes sense to me.

“I know what’s involved. It’s a 24/7, 365-day schedule that the commissioner has to keep to do it right. The three years I spent in the commissioner’s office was exhausting.”

Another potential candidate Selig, who has been baseball’s commissioner since 1998, could look to is Joe Torre.

The former Yankees manager and current MLB executive vice president for operations told New York Daily News he’d be open to replacing Selig as commissioner, but isn’t lobbying for the position.

“If the owners feel I can help baseball, I’€™m willing to do whatever they want me to do,” Torre said Thursday.

“I don’€™t envision it; I don’€™t anticipate it. I’€™m certainly not lobbying for it. Tomorrow, I’€™m going to be 74 years old. I want to stay involved.”

Read More: Joe Torre, Steve Greenberg,

Report: Cavs open to including Andrew Wiggins in trade for Kevin Love

07.18.14 at 10:22 am ET
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The Cavaliers will do just about anything to make LeBron James happy, even give up a potential star.

Just hours after Yahoo! Sports reported that James reached out to Kevin Love about joining him in Cleveland, the Cavs are offering No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins in attempts to trade for the Timberwolves forward, according to ESPN.com.

The two teams reportedly have been in trade discussions since James announced his return to Cleveland last Friday. Apparently Wiggins is the key to completing the deal, as Minnesota is reportedly unwilling to send Love to the Cavs without the former Kansas star in return.

New Cavaliers coach David Blatt was firm in his stance after his team’s summer league game Thursday night that the team would not deal Wiggins.

“That’s why they call them rumors,” Blatt said. “Sooner or later, in one’s career, you’re going have to deal with it. So if he has to deal with it now, then so be it. It’s the summer league. He’s learning everything as he goes along.”

The Cavs reportedly are in contract discussions with Wiggins. They would have to wait 30 days before trading the rookie after they sign him.

Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Love,

49ers sign OL Joe Staley to 2-year extension

07.18.14 at 9:42 am ET
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The 49ers signed left tackle Joe Staley to a two-year contract extension that will run through the 2019 season, the team announced Thursday.

The Staley deal came shortly after a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open Levi’s Stadium and just a month after the team gave quarterback Colin Kaepernick a six-year extension worth up to $126 million.

“We both felt it was time to get something done, and what I’m most excited about is the opportunity to play my whole entire career as a San Francisco 49er,” Staley said in a conference call. “That was one of my goals that I set out to do as a rookie coming into the NFL — make an NFL roster, become a starter, win a Super Bowl and play my whole entire career with one team.

“So very excited for the opportunity to do that and really grateful for the 49ers allowing me that opportunity. Now it’s really just time to go work on that Super Bowl.”

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Staley was drafted 28th overall by San Francisco in 2007 out of Central Michigan. He’s been named to the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons.

Read More: Joe Staley,

Titans rookie Taylor Lewan to go on trial in October in fan-punching case

07.18.14 at 9:36 am ET
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Titans rookie offensive tackle Taylor Lewan will go on trial in October on charges he punched an Ohio State fan after a game last season.

The former Michigan star is charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery. He allegedly hit the fan after OSU’s Nov. 30 win over Lewan’s Wolverines last season.

Lewan was told during a pretrial hearing Thursday to return to Ann Arbor District Court for jury selection Oct. 27, with the trial potentially beginning the next morning.

The Titans don’t have a game that week, meaning it may not affect Lewan and the team as significantly.

The No. 11 overall draft pick, Lewan is one of three players drafted this year who has yet to sign a contract.

Read More: Taylor Lewan,

NBA roundup: Lakers win bid for Carlos Boozer

07.18.14 at 9:32 am ET
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Just days after being waived by the Bulls via amnesty clause, Carlos Boozer has a new home.

Boozer will join the Lakers this season after the team made the highest bid for the veteran forward, adding him to a frontcourt that includes No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle.

According to the NBA’s modified waiver rules, teams below the salary cap had to bid at least the veteran minimum of $1.4 million. Los Angeles didn’t release specifics of the bid. But ESPN reported the bid was for $3.25 million.

“Carlos is an established veteran and a proven All-Star, who will be a welcome addition to our team,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “We’re very pleased to have won the bidding process and to have gained his rights, and look forward to his contributions next season.”

– The Mavericks have re-signed guard Devin Harris, the team announced Thursday.

The Mavs didn’t release the terms of the contract. But according to ESPN, Harris’ deal is worth $16.5 million over four years.

Harris, 31, averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 assists in just 40 regular-season games last year after battling a toe injury in the first half of the season.

Eric Bledsoe and the Suns appear to be far apart on a new deal.

Bledsoe, who averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds in a career year last season, wants a maximum deal from the Suns, who, according to ESPN,  have offered the point a four-year, $48 million contract.

A max contract would pay Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, $80 million over five seasons, a far cry from Phoenix’s reported offer.

The Suns added Isaiah Thomas via sign-and-trade and drafted point guard Tyler Ennis this offseason, meaning the Suns may be ready to move on from Bledsoe.

The Bucks, Rockets and Kings are reportedly interested in the 24-year-old Bledsoe.

Read More: Carlos Boozer, devin harris, Eric Bledsoe,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James voted most popular athlete in America for first time

07.18.14 at 7:53 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:
MLB: Royals at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)
Golf: British Open, 7 a.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

LeBron James, whose return to Cleveland has been the feel-good story of the summer, was named the most popular male athlete in America in a Harris Poll of 2,241 people. It’s the first time James finished No. 1. He was second to retired NBA star Michael Jordan last year.

In 2011, the first poll after his infamous “Decision” to go to Miami as a free agent, James fell out of the top 10.

Following James and Jordan in the current poll is Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and, in a tie for fifth, Kobe Bryant and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The only local representative in the top 10 is Tom Brady at No. 7.

James’ best scores came in the 18-36 and 49-67 age brackets, while Jordan was tops among ages 37-48.

MASHUP POLL: Which of these athletes -- all Boston rivals who finished in the top five of this Harris Poll -- do you view most favorably?

  • Michael Jordan (50%, 69 Votes)
  • Derek Jeter (26%, 36 Votes)
  • Peyton Manning (16%, 22 Votes)
  • LeBron James (8%, 11 Votes)
  • Kobe Bryant (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 138

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The most popular female athlete is Serena Williams, followed by Danica Patrick, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Mia Hamm.

– Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady‘s brief second career as a baseball pitcher has come to an end. The 35-year-old announced his retirement after striking out a batter to end his 1 1/3-inning stint in the independent Atlantic League All-Star Game on Wednesday.

McGrady, who had a 6.75 ERA in 6 2/3 innings over four appearances with the Sugar Land Skeeters this season, “got a little emotional” as he walked off the mound to applause from his teammates following his first strikeout of the season. He took the baseball as a keepsake.

“That is definitely going in the trophy case,” he told CBS Houston. “I told some of the guys that I am going to get strikeout before I stop playing. I got it in the second inning. Than you Jesus.”

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Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics earn spots in Forbes’ 50 most valuable sports teams of 2014

07.17.14 at 3:29 pm ET
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Three Boston-area teams have found their way on Forbes’€™ annual ranking of the 50 most valuable sports teams of 2014.

The Patriots and Red Sox established themselves near the top of the list, as the Patriots ranked eighth ($1.8 billion) while the Red Sox were listed at 11th ($1.5 billion). The Celtics ranked 45th at $875 million.

The Patriots are the second-most valuable NFL team, trailing the Cowboys ($2.3 billion), while the Red Sox are rank third amongst MLB franchises behind the Yankees ($2.5 billion) and Dodgers ($2 billion).

While North American teams constitute a majority of the list, European soccer reigns at the top, as Real Madrid ($3.44 billion), FC Barcelona ($3.2 billion) and Manchester United ($2.81 billion) hold the top three spots on the ranking. This is the second straight year in which Real Madrid, which boasts players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, has earned the title as most valuable sports team.

Forbes, which has ranked sports teams since 1998, reported that the average value of a team in the ranking was $1.34 billion — an 8 percent increase from last year. Thirty-eight of the 50 teams are valued at at least $1 billion, while only 33 were valued at the same rate last year.

While there were no sports teams valued at $2 billion three years ago, there are now six teams at or above that value this year.

The Yankees are the most valuable non-soccer team in the world, ranking fourth on the list. The team’€™s value should only continue to increase going forward, as programming rights fees for Yankees broadcasts are expected to jump from $105 million to $350 million a year by 2042.

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Read More: celtics, Forbes, patriots, red sox