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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Michigan students call for coach, AD firings after concussion controversy

10.01.14 at 7:44 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.

MLB playoffs: Giants at Pirates, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL preseason: Penguins at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Galatasaray at Arsenal, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— Hundreds of students at the University of Michigan rallied Tuesday outside the president’s campus residence and called for changes in the athletic department after coach Brady Hoke sent quarterback Shane Morris back on the field during Saturday’s 30-14 home loss to Minnesota despite Morris showing signs of a concussion after being hit in the head.

The students called for the dismissal of Hoke, whose team is 2-3, and athletic director Dave Brandon, who issued an apology early Tuesday morning regarding the handling of Morris’ head injury.

“In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline,” said Brandon, who already was the target of Wolverines fans for unpopular new football ticket policies and his alleged lack of respect for the team’s tradition. “Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.”

MASHUP POLL: Should Brady Hoke be punished for putting his QB back in after the player was noticeably affected by a hit to the head?

  • Yes, his first responsibility is to the players' health and he failed, so he should be held responsible (81%, 112 Votes)
  • No, there's no evidence that he knew his QB was concussed; the entire program needs to be better trained (19%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 139

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Thousands more have signed an online petition calling for Brandon’s firing. School president Mark Schlissel said he is looking into the situation.

“We did not get this right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family, his teammates and the entire Michigan family,” Schlissel said. “It is a critical lesson to us about how vigilant and disciplined we must always be to ensure student-athlete safety.”

— Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps apologized after being arrested for DUI early Tuesday in his native Baltimore, his second such offense.

“I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility,” Phelps said in a statement. “I know these words may not mean much right now, but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down.”

Phelps, 29, was charged with DUI, excessive speed (84 mph in a 45 mph zone) and crossing double lane lines on Interstate 95 in the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

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Read More: Brady Hoke, Dave Brandon, FCC, Michael Phelps

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees manager Joe Girardi expects Alex Rodriguez to be his third baseman next year

09.30.14 at 8:05 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 playoffs: Athletics at Royals, 8 p.m. (TBS)
NHL preseason: Islanders at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL preseason: Rangers at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Basketball: FIBA World Championship for Women, United States vs. Angola, 2:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Roma at Manchester City, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


Derek Jeter is gone, and Alex Rodriguez is coming back. And manager Joe Girardi said he’s planning to insert A-Rod at third base assuming he proves he’s ready.

The oft-injured Rodriguez, who will turn 40 next July, was suspended for all of 2013 for violating baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.

“We’ve got to see where he’s physically at, and if he can play the field, how many days he can play the field and how many days he needs to DH,” Girardi said at a news conference Monday. “I don’t think really any of us know about him until we actually get him into games in spring training.”

Added Girardi: “He hasn’t played in a year. That’s not easy to do, to sit out a year. Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely. Do we expect him to play third base? Yes. But in fairness I think you have to see where he’s at.”

MASHUP POLL: Will Alex Rodriguez return to the Yankees lineup in 2015?

  • Yes, they're paying him, so they'll play him (69%, 228 Votes)
  • No, they'll either trade or cut him (31%, 103 Votes)

Total Voters: 331

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There were reports that some players were upset with Rodriguez when he initially fought his suspension. Girardi said he does not anticipate any issues in the locker room.

“Our teammates enjoy Alex, his presence in the clubhouse, the way he likes to teach the game and talk about the game. So I don’t think that will be an issue,” Girardi said. “Will he have to deal from some angry fans? Yeah, but we’ll help him get through that. When was the last time Alex hasn’t had to deal with that? So it’s not like it’s something that he’s not used to, and sometimes players thrive on that.”

— According to an ESPN report, a neutral arbitrator will rule on the NFL Players Association’s appeal of Ray Rice‘s indefinite suspension, rather than someone appointed by commissioner Roger Goodell.

“For the first time ever, the league in the Rice appeal has agreed to a neutral arbitrator” in a personal conduct disciplinary case, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in an email to the union’s executive board that ESPN obtained.

Wrote Smith: “This occurs in the context of a difficult set of facts and circumstances [but] it is a positive movement on the overall question of neutral arbitration and a fair personal conduct discipline process.”

The appeal was filed Sept. 16, and the league said at that time that Goodell did not intend to arbitrate the matter.

Smith also told his board that the NFLPA is reaching out to league sponsors to let them know the majority of players represent the league positively, and “that we will address the process issues that have caused them concern.”

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t mince words Monday when discussing a report from NFL Network’s Deion Sanders that his players don’t want to play for him anymore.

“Personally, I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Harbaugh said.

Earlier in the season, ESPN’s Trent Dilfer said the locker room was “toxic.”

“I haven’t seen Trent or Deion around much,” Harbaugh said. “If someone has a good story to tell, they want to put their name to it. If I had a good story to tell, I’d want to put my name to it, so I don’t put a lot of credibility to the unnamed source.”

During Sunday’s “NFL GameDay Final,” Sanders said: “They want him out. They’re not on the same page. I really want to know if they’re really playing for the head coach. I got a question with that. Are you really down with your head coach, San Francisco 49ers? Because they way it looks and what I’m hearing, you’re really not down for your head coach. And that’s a problem.

“They really got some problems that we hear rumblings. We all know people inside locker rooms.”

Harbaugh, whose 49ers are 2-2 after Sunday’s 26-21 win over the Eagles, is signed through the 2015 season.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 30, 1962, which Red Sox player wrapped up the season with a .326 average to capture his second American League batting title?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “There’s a lot of negativity. Everyone is going to tell us how terrible we are. That’s just the NFL.” – Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, after Monday’s 41-14 rout at the hands of the Chiefs

STAT OF THE DAY: 303 – Yards of offense in the first half by the Chiefs, the most allowed by any Bill Belichick-coached team

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): A Missouri middle school football team pulls off a trick play it calls the “Ugly Kardashian.”


SOOTHING SOUNDS: Marilyn McCoo was born on this day in 1943.

Read More: alex rodriguez, deion sanders, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Girardi

Brad Faxon on D&C: U.S. Ryder Cup team ‘recipe for disaster from beginning’

09.29.14 at 11:07 am ET
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PGA golfer and analyst Brad Faxon joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Ryder Cup. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The European team led by Rory McIlroy defeated the United States in the tournament this past weekend. There was dissent among the U.S. players over the team that captain Tom Watson selected.

“It’s interesting because Watson really favored these young guys like Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler,” Faxon said. “And then shunned Chris Kirk, who should have been selected on this team immediately. And then the forgotten man Dustin Johnson, whose suspension from the team took the sting out of what could have been a really, really strong U.S. team.”

Phil Mickelson is one of the golfers who did not approve of Watson’s team management, going as far as publicly criticizing the captain.

Said Faxon: “There’s bad blood between Watson and Mickelson, its going back a long time. I think it’s pretty obvious that the two of them don’t like each other. Watson’s an old-school guy. If you brought Vince Lombardi back now to coach the New England Patriots, could he do it? Not saying Tom Watson is Vince Lombardi, here’s a 65-year-old guy, the oldest captain we’ve have in history. But the last captain to win on foreign soil 20 years ago. And also a guy who’s won five Open Championships.”

Continued Faxon: “I think this was just a recipe for disaster from the beginning. And I’ll tell you one thing, Tom Watson, he’s a great champion. But I don’t know if he’s a leader among younger people. And he said to me earlier this year when we were playing a round together, I asked him a few questions about the Ryder Cup and the selection process and how he was managing the whole thing and he said to me, ‘You know what, I’m not having a ping pong table in the team room, I don’t care about having fun, I don’t care about having 12 [expletives] on the team as long as they can make putts.’ ”

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Read More: Brad Faxon,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jets QB Geno Smith apologizes after swearing at home fan

09.29.14 at 8:09 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.

NFL: Patriots at Chiefs, 8:30 p.m. (ABC, ESPN)
NHL preseason: Flyers at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL preseason: Coyotes at Canucks, 9 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: Premier League, Newcastle at Stoke City, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Jets quarterback Geno Smith was not pleased Sunday after his team dropped a 24-17 decision to the Lions at MetLife Stadium, New York’s third straight loss.

When a fan heckled Smith as he walked off the field, Smith responded with a glare and some choice words: “[Expletive] you!”

During his postgame press conference, the normally even-tempered Smith apologized for yelling the fan, who was seated in a section behind the Jets bench that chanted “We want Vick!” during the game. Smith completed 17-of-33 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown, but he threw an interception and lost two fumbles.

“I want to apologize if any kids saw me saying any negative remarks walking off the field,” Smith said. “I kind of let my temper get the best of me in that situation, and it’s part of my learning process. I’ve got to get better with that. I’ve got to let that stuff roll off my back. But today I didn’t do well with that.”

MASHUP POLL: Should Geno Smith be punished for swearing at a fan?

  • Yes, that's inappropriate and he should be fined (37%, 81 Votes)
  • No, it wasn't that big of a deal (33%, 73 Votes)
  • Are you kidding? He should be rewarded for putting a Jets fan in his place (30%, 64 Votes)

Total Voters: 218

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Coach Rex Ryan, who was fined $75,000 by the league for swearing at a fan who heckled him during halftime of a game against the Patriots in 2011, stood by his quarterback.

“I believe in him,” Ryan said. “I know he’s a hard-working guy. I think he’s got the tools to be really good, In my opinion, it’s not a question of if it’s going to happen, it’s a question of when. He’s going to be that kind of guy. I think he’s a good quarterback. I think he’s going to have a chance to really be something one day.”

Added Ryan: “I’m not going to replace him. I feel good about Geno, and again, I think he’s going to get it turned. I know he’s a tough, resilient young man. I think we’re going to win, and we’re going to win soon.”

Smith’s teammates voiced support as well. Defensive end Sheldon Richardson suggested that the critical fans “shut up.”

Added offensive lineman Willie Colon: “Just a frustrated quarterback. I cuss a lot, too. I’m trying not to cuss right now.He’s just passionate. There’s a lot put on his shoulders. A lot. Day to day, he hears it. So I feel bad for the kid, but I stand up for him.”

— Former Patriots assistant coach Charlie Weis was fired as head coach at Kansas on Sunday, a day after a 23-0 loss to Texas on homecoming day in Lawrence.

Weis was 6-22 in 2 1/2 seasons with the Jayhawks, who will be coached on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.

“I normally do not favor changing coaches mid-season,” Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger said in a statement, “but I believe we have talented coaches and players in this program, and I think this decision gives our players the best chance to begin making progress right away.”

Weis previously struggled in five seasons at Notre Dame before being fired in 2009, then served as an assistant with the Chiefs and as offensive coordinator at Florida.

— The aunt of Kevin Ward Jr., who was killed after being struck by a sprint car driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart, defended her late nephew and called for Stewart to be punished in an open letter to USA Today.

Wendi Ward questioned the toxicology report that indicated Kevin was under the influence of marijuana at the time of his death, noting: “Seems to me the wrong man was on trial. Tell me why Tony Stewart was not taken in for testing, why his car wasn’t impounded? Tell me how a man the size of Kevin can make a sprint car turn to the right on impact. Tell me how a lap before [the incident] everything was fine, but the following lap was poor lighting. Tell me how a NASCAR star totally forgot what caution means.”

“Maybe he should get a different headset so he is able to hear on the radio that the car in caution is up high, so go low. Or was he low until he rounded the corner and saw Kevin Jr. standing up for himself?

“I guess we will never know why all of this was not taken into consideration. Or will we never know why a fellow driver did not check on this young man or his family? Or do we know why? I do, because I have seen the video. It’s there, and it’s real.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 29, 1968, the Red Sox closed out the season with a 4-3 loss to the Yankees. Despite going 0-for-5, Carl Yastrzemski won the American League batting title with a .301 average. Which Sox player finished first in the AL with 109 RBIs?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “A lot of fans told me that they came a long way to see these last games and I felt it was right to play here. Don’t think I didn’t think about it, I thought about it.” – Retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, on playing at Fenway Park over the weekend

STAT OF THE DAY: 75 – Consecutive games with at least three catches for Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, an NFL record

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Nationals left fielder Steven Souza Jr. makes a diving catch for the final out of Jordan Zimmerman’s no-hitter against the Marlins.

The Athletics clinch a postseason berth on the season’s final day behind a complete-game shutout from Sonny Gray.

Dodgers manager for the day Juan Uribe wears Don Mattingly‘s jersey to start the game, then switches to the jersey of Tommy Lasorda.

Ohio State assistant football coach Anthony Schlegel destroys a fan who runs onto the field during Saturday’s game.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Ken Harrelson

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Suzzy Roche of The Roches was born on this day in 1956.

Read More: Charlie Weis, Geno Smith, Kevin Ward Jr., Rex Ryan

Dave Stewart looks forward to ‘perfect challenge’ after being named Diamondbacks GM

09.26.14 at 11:33 am ET
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Former Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart was named the senior vice president and fourth-ever general manager of the Diamondbacks.

Tony La Russa, who became chief baseball officer of the Diamondbacks earlier this year, hired Stewart because of his good track record in baseball. La Russa was Stewart’€™s manager from 1986 through 1992, and also in 1996. The two won three consecutive American League championships from 1988 through 1990 and claimed the World Series title in 1989 over the Giants.

“I’ve known Stew for nearly three decades, and his diverse background includes championships on the field as player and coach, in the front office and in contract negotiations as a player representative,”  La Russa said in a statement Thursday.

Stewart will replace former GM Kevin Towers, a person Stewart served under as a special assistant with the Padres. Stewart also has been a special assistant for the Athletics and was an assistant GM for the Blue Jays. He was a pitching coach for three different big league clubs.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy success as a player and coach and really enjoyed my time representing players, but this is the perfect challenge for me,” Stewart said in a statement. “To try and put together the pieces of a championship team is something I can’t wait to begin and I could not be more excited about doing it with De Jon [Watson] and alongside a Hall of Famer who I respect greatly in Tony.”

Watson will join Stewart with Arizona as senior vice president/baseball operations. Watson had spent the last eight years with the Dodgers, with the last few years as the vice president of player development.

Read More: Dave Stewart, tony la russa,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: NFL security boss denies receiving Ray Rice elevator video

09.26.14 at 8:05 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.

MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
College football: Fresno State at New Mexico, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College football: Middle Tennessee at Old Dominion, 8 p.m. (FS1)
MLS: Revolution at Sporting Kansas City, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL preseason: Flames at Canucks, 10 p.m. (NHL Network)


— NFL security chief Jeffrey Miller staunchly denied having seen the second Ray Rice elevator videotape after a law enforcement official said he mailed it to Miller in April.

“I unequivocally deny that I received at any time a copy of the video, and I had not watched it until it was made public on September 8,” Miller said in a statement from London, where the Raiders and Dolphins will play Sunday.

The unidentified official previously told The Associated Press that he mailed the video to NFL headquarters in April, and he has a short voicemail from a woman confirming receipt of the package and saying, “You’re right. It’s terrible.” On Thursday the official allowed the AP to report that Miller was the intended recipient.

“Since the NFLPA and NFL have launched separate investigations into the league and the Ravens’ handling of Ray Rice‘s case, I want to make a few things clear. No one from the NFL ever asked me for the inside-elevator video,” the official said Thursday. “I mailed it anonymously to Jeff Miller because he’s their head of security. I attached a note saying: ‘Ray Rice elevator video. You have to see it. It’s terrible.’ I provided a number for a disposable cellphone and asked for confirmation that it was received. I knew there was a possibility Mr. Miller may not get the video, but I hoped it would land in the right hands.”

MASHUP POLL: Do you believe the NFL security chief that he did not view the Ray Rice video that was sent to him?

  • No, he's clearly lying as part of the league's cover-up (64%, 94 Votes)
  • Yes, there's no indication he actually had it himself (36%, 54 Votes)

Total Voters: 148

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The official insisted his only goal was for the NFL to have more information before deciding how to punish Rice.

“My intention wasn’t to bring down commissioner Goodell or anyone else at the NFL,” he said.

The official also said he has no desire to be a part of former FBI director Robert Mueller’s investigation into the NFL’s handling of the situation.

“I know nothing else about this case,” he said.

— Twins pitcher Phil Hughes, who missed a chance to earn a $500,000 bonus for innings pitched when a rain delay forced him out of his final scheduled start Wednesday, said he will not pitch this weekend in an attempt to get the extra check.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said the team was prepared to let Hughes pitch again — he needs only one out in order to reach 210 innings — but Hughes declined.

“I just didn’t think it was right,” the right-hander said. “If I were fighting for a playoff spot, I’d 100 percent be available. But given the circumstances, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

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Read More: Devon Still, Phil Hughes, Ray Rice,

Woman claims Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid her money to keep quiet for alleged sexual assault

09.25.14 at 10:29 am ET
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A former stripper claiming that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones allegedly sexually assaulted her in a bathroom now says Jones also paid her money for almost five years to keep quiet about the incident.

Jana Weckerly said Jones performed unconsented sexual acts on her and forced her to watch Jones receive oral sex from another woman in a Texas hotel bathroom in 2009. Since then, Weckerly claims Jones has sent hush money to her bank account.

The updated lawsuit says Jones attempted to pay off Weckerly until the five-year statute of limitations expired. A hearing will be held Friday to determine if the lawsuit was filed too late because of the statute. The lawsuit does not state on exact date or location the alleged incident took place.

The updated lawsuit filed Monday is seeking $1 million in damages from Jones. Jones’ attorney Levi McCathern has denied the allegations that Jones committed any such acts.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to embarrass and extort Jerry Jones,” McCathern said in a statement earlier in September.

Read More: Jerry Jones,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN suspends Bill Simmons for comments about Roger Goodell

09.25.14 at 8:03 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.

MLB: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NFL: Giants at Washington, 8:25 p.m. (CBS, NFL Network)
College football: Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Appalachian State at Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: UCLA at Arizona State, 10 p.m. (FS1)
NHL preseason: Ducks at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (NHL Network)


Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons

ESPN suspended Bill Simmons for three weeks after his profanity-laced comments about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, whom he called a liar.

In a podcast earlier this week — since removed by ESPN — Simmons ripped Goodell for claiming he was unaware of the security video that showed Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator.

“I just think not enough is being made out of the fact that they knew about the tape and they knew what was on it,” Simmons said. “Goodell, if he didn’t know what was on that tape, he’s a liar. I’m just saying it. He is lying. I think that dude is lying. If you put him up on a lie detector test that guy would fail. For all these people to pretend they didn’t know is such [expletive]. It really is. It’s such [expletive]. And for him to go in that press conference and pretend otherwise, I was so insulted. I really was.

“The best point that a lot of people have made about this is this is exactly why he fined and suspended Sean Payton for a season [for Bountygate]. Sean Payton was like, ‘I didn’t know.’ [Goodell] was like, ‘Well, ignorance [is not an excuse],’ and suspended him for a year. This is the same exact situation and it’s worse, because he knew and he’s a liar. … I don’€™t like liars. I think that people who you know they are lying and they are lying anyway, those are the worst people.We know you are lying. … Roger Goodell has no integrity whatsoever.”

Simmons also challenged management to punish him.

“I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” Simmons said. “Because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The commissioner’s a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast. … Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.”

MASHUP POLL: Should Bill Simmons have been suspended by ESPN?

  • No, he did not say anything worthy of punishment (86%, 51 Votes)
  • Yes, not just for the comments about Goodell but for his unprofessionalism (14%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 59

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Simmons and others at ESPN have been critical of Goodell in the past, but ESPN executives reportedly were upset that Simmons took it as far as he did and called them out.

“Every employee must be accountable to ESPN and those engaged in our editorial operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards,” the network said in a statement. “We have worked hard to ensure that our recent NFL coverage has met that criteria. Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast, and as a result we have suspended him for three weeks.”

— When the Yankees head to Boston Friday, Derek Jeter‘s last three games will have very little meaning. New York was eliminated from playoff contention after blowing a three-run lead and dropping a 9-5 decision to the AL East champion Orioles on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s tough. It’s what you play for. It’s a rough feeling,” said Jeter, who went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter.

It’s the first time since 1992-93 that the Yankees have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, and just the second time (along with 2008) in Jeter’s 20-year career that he will not participate in the postseason.

“It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “This is not where you want to be at this time of year.”

Said Jeter: “For the guys that are coming back and the team that plays it’s a feeling you shouldn’t like and you shouldn’t want to get used to.”

Jeter’s final home game is scheduled for Thursday, although there is rain is in the forecast. If that game is rained out, his final Yankee Stadium at-bat will go down as an eighth-inning groundout to first base. He received an extended ovation after the out, but he did not leave his seat in the dugout.

“The game wasn’t over. We were trying to come back,” he explained. “You can’t help but notice. I catch myself looking around sometimes and I’ve always tried not to do that, but I’ve caught myself a couple of times.”

Jeter was on deck in the ninth when Brett Gardner struck out to end the game.

NASCAR star Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges for his role in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race in Canandaigua, New York, last month, although Ward’s family announced that it will pursue civil damages.

“Our son got out of his car during caution when the race was suspended. All the other vehicles were reducing speed and not accelerating except for Stewart, who intentionally tried to intimidate Kevin by accelerating and sliding his car toward him, causing the tragedy,” the family said in a statement. “The focus should be on the actions of Mr. Stewart. This matter is not at rest and we will pursue all remedies in fairness to Kevin.”

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said that toxicology results showed Ward was under the influence of marijuana at the time of his death and “the levels determined were enough to impair judgment.” Tantillo also said there was no evidence Steward did anything wrong.

“The videos did not demonstrate any aberrational driving by Tony Stewart until the point of impact with Kevin Ward, at which point his vehicle veered to the right up the track as a result of the collision. Prior to that, his course was pretty straight,” Tantillo said.

Said Stewart: “This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life, and it will stay with me forever. I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and continue to receive/ While much of the attention has been on me, it’s important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.’s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 25, 1965, the legendary Satchel Paige pitched three shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics against the Red Sox. The 59-year-old former Negro Leagues star, who was making his first major league appearance since 1953, allowed only one hit — a first-inning double to which Sox player?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’d like to shore up my pass protection. I’d like to work better with the offensive line and do some of those things better that I haven’t been doing well.” Nate Solder, on the struggles of the Patriots offensive line

STAT OF THE DAY: 43 – Years since the Red Sox started seven rookies in a game, which they did in Wednesday’s 11-3 victory over the Rays

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton takes a home run away from Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale plunks Victor Martinez and then accuses the Tigers of stealing signs, leading to the benches emptying.

U.S. soccer captain Clint Dempsey takes to the streets of New York and asks people about Clint Dempsey.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Carl Yastrzemski

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Will Smith was born on this day in 1968.

Read More: Bill Simmons, Derek Jeter, Kevin Ward Jr., Roger Goodell

Steelers unsure of what James Harrison can offer after LB comes out of retirement

09.24.14 at 9:13 am ET
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Ten-year linebacker James Harrison has come out of retirement to help a depleted Steelers defensive corps.

The Steelers began the 2014 season with Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier manning the linebacker position. But injuries have forced the Steelers to get creative, which meant coaxing Harrison back to the field. Jones suffered a broken wrist last week against the Panthers and will miss at least eight weeks. Shazier will sit out at least one game with a sprained right knee.

Coach Mike Tomlin said is unsure of Harrison’€™s role with the team right now, despite the little depth the team has.

“We need to see what he is capable of doing before we etch out any roles for him or others,” Tomlin said.

Harrison had a strong nine-year career with the Steelers, averaging at least nine sacks per season from 2008-2011. After recording 67 tackles and 16 sacks in 2008, the linebacker was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

But last year, Harrison joined the Bengals after he refused to take a pay cut with the Steelers. He recorded two sacks and 16 total tackles in a limited role. Tomlin said he isn’t concerned about how Harrison played with the Bengals and wants to see what the linebacker can bring to the table in 2014 with Pittsburgh.

“I don’€™t care about what he did in Cincinnati or what their schematics are,” Tomlin said. “€œI’€™ll base my judgments based off of his capabilities based on what I see back in this setting among us.”

Read More: James Harrison,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Roger Goodell gets advice on personal conduct policy from former NFL players

09.24.14 at 8:03 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.

MLB: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Royals at Indians, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Giants at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL preseason: Coyotes at Flames, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)


— NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent met with a group of 11 former players, including ex-Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest, in an often-emotional 3 1/2-hour meeting Tuesday to discuss ways to improve the league’s personal conduct policy.

Vincent said the former players, including Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, told him the league should get players off the field immediately after they’ve been accused of a crime.

“One question asked around the room was, when an arrest occurs, do you take them off the field or let them play and let the due process take care of itself?” Vincent said. “To a man, they said, ‘Take them off the field, pay them, and let due process take care of itself.’ ”

MASHUP POLL: Should the NFL suspend a player immediately after he has been arrested for anything?

  • Yes, if there's enough reason to arrest him, he should be held out until he settles his legal issues (75%, 110 Votes)
  • No, it's not fair to punish a player until he's be proven guilty of a crime (25%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 146

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With recent issues of domestic violence plaguing the league, Vincent said the ex-players insisted that “everyone is accountable” for their behavior. He added that he believes the league is getting closer to figuring out a better way to handle such problems.

“You can’t negotiate the game,” Vincent said, his voice cracking. “The one thing we’ve all got to fight for … we are talking about the game and we’ve all got to be all-in. We all have got to answer the questions of where are we today, how did we get here, why is this happening, how do we stop this and manage this?

“We don’t have time to wait on anybody to give us direction. There is one thing we don’t negotiate, it’s the game.”

The other players in the meeting were Harvard product Matt Birk, Eddie Mason, Patrick Kerney, Roman Oben, Marty Lyons, Charles Way, Tony Paige, Scott Turner and Robert Porcher.

— Outspoken Eagles cornerback Cary Williams — known well around these parts for his criticism of the Patriots prior to joint practices the last two preseasons — apologized to his teammates Tuesday night for complaining about coach Chip Kelly after Sunday’s 37-34 victory over Washington.

Williams questioned Kelly’s decision to have team do a walkthrough last Tuesday, a day after a Monday night game against the Colts in Indianapolis. He met with Kelly on Monday and apologized publicly Tuesday.

“I said what I said, man. … It’s out there,” Williams said. “I could have played better [Sunday]. I spoke to my teammates and told them I was sorry for what I said. So, it won’t happen again. I won’t talk negatively about the team.

“We are 3-0 and that’s something to be proud of. I am happy we are 3-0. Things could have gone otherwise.”

Added Williams: “Obviously, honesty isn’t always the best policy. Sometimes people take things the wrong way. But I realized I made that mistake. My teammates realize that and forgave me.

“I try not to lie. In that situation I don’t think I did. But in that situation, I should have kept it in house between me and 56 other guys in here and coach Chip. I made a mistake. I’m sorry for it.”

— Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne skipped practice and left the team’s training facility after being told that he was being pulled from the starting lineup, according to multiple reports.

The Cowboys traded up in the 2012 draft to select Claiborne sixth overall, and team owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show Tuesday morning that Claiborne was not living up to his draft status.

“Is he what we had hoped for at this point when drafted him with the sixth overall pick, giving up the [second-round] pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No,” Jones said. “But he’s going to be a good player.”

Claiborne, who will be replaced by Orlando Scandrick, admitted that he “stunk it up” Sunday when he allowed five receptions for 108 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass, early against the Rams. He also was penalized for holding. On the positive side, Claiborne clinched his team’s comeback win with a leaping interception.

“I’m ready to go learn from this tape and get better from it,” Claiborne, who missed the entire preseason with knee and shoulder injuries, said after the game. “Like I told the DBs, no matter what the outcome is, I can’t go out and play like that. If we want to be the No. 1 defense in the league, on my end, I can’t go out like that.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 25, 1984, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted five players, including Bruins legend Phil Esposito and which goalie who started his career in Boston in the mid-1960s but was lost in the 1967 expansion draft and found greater fame playing for another Eastern Conference team?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The tackles, the guards, they’€™re just getting their butts kicked and getting pushed around. They just look so big and stiff, no knee bends, anything. It just looked bad. And Tom [Brady], you could just tell, Tom never felt comfortable, he doesn’€™t feel comfortable, he doesn’€™t trust that offensive line.” – NBC analyst Rodney Harrison, during a Tuesday appearance on Middays with MFB, on the struggles of the Patriots offensive line

STAT OF THE DAY: 40 – Home runs this season for Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz, making him just the sixth player in team history to reach the mark

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): The Pirates clinch a playoff berth after turning a double play to finish off the Braves.

Wellington Castillo hits a long single in the 10th inning to give the Cubs a walkoff win over over the Cardinals.

Rockies left fielder Brandon Barnes makes an impressive leaping catch at the fence against the Padres.

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hits a walkoff single in the ninth inning to beat the White Sox.

The benches empty after Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig is hit in the foot by a pitch vs. Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in the first inning.

From Monday night, Guilder Rodriguez, called up the Rangers this month after 13 years in the minor leagues, gets his first major league hit.

Here are Derek Jeter‘s top-10 career highlights recreated with OYO toys.

A brawl breaks out at a college basketball game in the Phillipines, leading to the ejection of 17 players.

From a high school football game in South Dakota, Dell Rapids kicks an extra point, which is low but bounces off a Millbank player’s helmet and goes through the uprights.

A youth football team from New York has a little trouble running through a banner before the game.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Bernie Parent, who played the majority of his career with the Flyers and won two Stanley Cups with Philadelphia (1974, ’75)

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers was born on this day in 1942.

Read More: Cary Williams, Chip Kelly, Jerry Jones, Mike Singletary