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Knowing impact on brain, Jets legend Joe Namath says he never would have played football

05.01.15 at 9:16 am ET
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Joe Namath

Joe Namath

If Joe Namath had a chance to do it over again, he wouldn’t. If he had known the effects football has on the brain, he never would have played.

“This instrument that we have, that we have been blessed with … it’s not designed for the kind of contact or physical abuse your body gets playing this sport,” the former Jets star told Palm Beach, Florida, TV station WPBF-TV on Thursday.

“I suffered several ‘get your bell rung’ hits … whether you hit the ground and get your bell rung or get hit by a forearm several times,” Namath added. “Of course, going back to high school, even.”

About three years ago Namath noticed that he was having normal, age-related forgetfulness, and after some former players were diagnosed with degenerative brain disease, he began to worry. His friend and old teammate Dave Herman was one of them.

“They shed some light for a whole lot of us … that, ‘Hey, I better check into this,’ ” Namath said.

The ex-quarterback went to the Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida, to get brain scans where Dr. Lee Fox, chief of radiology, oversaw them.

“He knew he wasn’t 100 percent, but he didn’t realize that he really had significant problems,” Fox told WPBF-TV.

The scans showed that parts of Namath’s brain — the parts that deal with word recognition, short-term memory and sleep — were not receiving enough oxygen. He then “became Patient Zero for what would become a ground-breaking clinical trial at Jupiter Medical Center” in September when the center opened the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center to help combat the debilitating effects of traumatic brain injuries.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Knicks star Carmelo Anthony marches with protesters in Baltimore

05.01.15 at 7:49 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: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Brewers at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Rays, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL: Draft, Rounds 2-3, 7 p.m. (ESPN, NFL Network)
NBA playoffs: Hawks at Nets, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Wild at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, United States vs. Finland, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Carmelo Anthony participated in a peaceful march with protesters in Baltimore on Thursday. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony participated in a peaceful march with protesters in Baltimore on Thursday. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

— Knicks star Carmelo Anthony marched with protesters in his hometown of Baltimore on Thursday, calling for more accountability from the police in its dealings with minorities.

“This is my community. It’s not [only] my community, it’s everybody’s community. It’s America’s community,” Anthony told CNN. “So for me to come back here and be a part of a community where I grew up and really get a chance to talk to the people here and get a feel for what’s going on, I had to come. It was only right for me to come down here.”

Anthony, who was born in Brooklyn but moved to Baltimore when he was 9, participated in a three-mile walk to City Hall.

“I was one of them,” Anthony said of the city’s youth, some of whom turned violent this week and caused damage in the city. “So when I come back home it’s all love, everything is cool. But I’m here for a different cause right now. I’m supporting my community, I’m here to talk to the youth about kind of calm things down here in the city. We shouldn’t tear our city down, we’ve got to rebuild our city.

“We’re going to get the justice that we want. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take some time. So my message to everybody is calm down, just kind of be patient. I know that’s easier said than done right now, to be patient. But we have to be patient in order for us to get what we want.”

— LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins reportedly made a last-ditch effort to remove his name from the NFL draft and be considered for a supplemental draft instead, as he is being sought for questioning by authorities in Louisiana regarding the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, who was pregnant. Police have said Collins is not a suspect, but they believe he could help with their investigation.

The NFL denied Collins’ request, and the lineman, projected to be a first-round pick, did not get selected Thursday night. The league has no procedure for removal once a player enters the draft.

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Gregory Mertens, La'el Collins,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Mavericks reportedly deny Rajon Rondo playoff share

04.30.15 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NFL: Draft, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Bulls at Bucks, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Clippers at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Flames at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Phillies at Cardinals, 1:45 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Tigers at Royals, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

— If there still was any question how the Mavericks feel about Rajon Rondo, it was answered Wednesday, when multiple reports out of Dallas indicated the players left the former Celtic off the list of those who will receive a playoff share.

Rondo appeared in the first two games in the team’s five-game first-round series against the Rockets, playing less than 10 minutes in Game 2. The team then said Rondo would not return in the series due to a back issue, although there are reports that in actuality the team was fed up with his behavior and both sides mutually agreed that he would stay away from the team.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 14 other players on Dallas’ roster took an even split of the $208,940 awarded to the team for appearing in the first round, with no one nominating Rondo to receive a share.

Rondo is headed for free agency, and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle already has made it clear that he does not expect him to return.

Despite Rondo’s failure to fit in, Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said he doesn’t regret sending Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson and two draft picks to Boston to acquire the mercurial point guard on Dec. 18. Rondo averaged 8.9 points, 7.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds but the team only went 26-22 the rest of the regular season.

“That was definitely something worth pulling the trigger on,” Nelson said. “In our opinion, that was kind of the one piece that was missing. Certainly, a guy that’s 28 with the accolades and the championship experience and all defense and we’ve had a history of doing well with pass-first point guards.

“Sometimes when things are written down on paper, they look great; when things are going into the oven they feel great and a lot of times when it comes out sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It was one of those things that in our estimation certainly wasn’t risk free, but it was certainly worth the risk. If we would’ve had to do it all over again, we would’ve pulled the trigger again.”

— Rockets social media manager Chad Shanks learned a difficult lesson Wednesday, as he was fired for a questionable tweet after the Rockets eliminated the Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Toward the end of the game, Shanks sent a tweet with an emoji of a pistol next to a horse and wrote: Shhhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon. The Mavs’ Twitter account noted that the tweet was “not very classy” but nonetheless wished Houston luck in the next round.

The Rockets’ tweet was removed and an apology followed, reading: Our Tweet earlier was in very poor taste & not indicative of the respect we have for the @dallasmavs & their fans. We sincerely apologize.

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Read More: Billy Donovan, rajon rondo,

Diluted test sample cause for Dolphins DE Dion Jordan’s season-long suspension

04.29.15 at 12:30 pm ET
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Dion Jordan

Dion Jordan

Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan has been suspended for the 2015 season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

“We were disappointed to learn about Dion Jordan’s most recent suspension for violating the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse,” the Dolphins said in a statement. “A player’s health and well-being are of the utmost importance to us. We have made every effort to support Dion, both on and off the field and we will continue to do so to the extent allowable under NFL guidelines.”

According to ESPN, Jordan did not fail a drug test, but the “league determined that one of his test samples was diluted, which in this case counts as a violation.” Per Adam Schefter, Jordan will not appeal the suspension.

This is not Jordan’s first time missing games, as the No. 3 selection in the 2013 draft was suspended for the first four games of 2014 as well for violating the NFL’s drug policy. He later had two more games added to that ban when an additional violation was found.

Jordan was not present for and did not participate in any of the team’s voluntary workouts last week, which was cause for speculation. The suspension was also announced two days before the NFL draft in which the Dolphins have the 14th overall pick.

Read More: Dion Jordan, Miami Dolphins,

LeBron James on Kevin Love injury: ‘We can’t fill Kevin’s shoes’

04.29.15 at 10:45 am ET
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After sustaining ‘”extensive”damage in his left shoulder in a play with Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love appears likely to miss the remainder of the postseason. Love’s absence reduces Cleveland’s “Big Three”of LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving to just two.

“We all have to pick our own game up,” James said. “We can’t fill Kevin’s shoes, you can’t do that, he’s special for a reason.”

During Game 4 of the Celtics-Cavs first-round matchup, Love and Olynyk got tangled when chasing a loose ball. Olynyk popped Love’s arm from its socket by yanking down. Olynyk was suspended for one game by the NBA.

Cleveland general manager David Griffin said the team is learning more about the injury and weighing its options when it comes to treatment.

“Surgery is an option as well, if necessary. We’re going to continue to look at that, but I don’t want there to be any expectation on Kevin that he’ll be back,” Griffin said. “I think it would be a real surprise if he we were able to participate in the postseason. I’ve still got a sliver of hope very late, but highly unlikely.”

Averaging 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the regular season, Love will be missed for the rest of Cleveland’s run at the title.

“Obviously, he brings so much to our team offensively and defensively,” James said. “It’s a big blow for us. We’ve got to have guys step up. You never want to have one of your major role players out. Everyone has to pick up not what he was able to do, but they have to pick up what they are capable of doing.”

Starting guard J.R. Smith also will be unavailable for the Cavs for the first two games of the second round after being suspended for swinging his arm and making contact with C’s forward Jae Crowder’s head after the two were jockeying under the basket for positioning.

Even with the roster losses, Cleveland coach David Blatt says his team is prepared for what’s to come.

“Our guys have been locked in for quite some time now,” he said. “Everyone recognizes that we all have to pick it up. The next-man-up mentality is prevalent in our work and our feeling. We’re hurting for what happened to Kev on a team level, on a personal level, but not discouraged to the point where we are any less ambitious and any less hungry to continue on this path.”

Read More: Cleveland Cavaliers, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, LeBron James

Baseball reacts to Kirk Gibson’s Parkinson’s diagnosis

04.29.15 at 10:22 am ET
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Kirk Gibson, the 1988 National League MVP and former Diamondbacks manager, revealed in a statement Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system.

“I have faced many different obstacles in my life, and have always maintained a strong belief that no matter the circumstances, I could overcome those obstacles,” Gibson said. “While this diagnosis poses a new kind of challenge for me, I intend to stay true to my beliefs. With the support of my family and friends, I will meet this challenge with the same determination and unwavering intensity that I have displayed in all of my endeavors in life. I look forward to being back at the ballpark as soon as possible.”

Gibson, who was fired in September after being manager of the Diamondbacks for four-plus seasons, now calls Tigers games on Fox Sports Detroit. He’s been absent from the booth since April 6 as he underwent tests.

“It was a shock to all of us,” Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall said. “Gibby means a lot to this organization. He had a couple of wonderful years here as manager and is always going to be a part of this family.

“It’s got to be devastating news for him as it was for us,” he added. “But he’s got plenty of family and friends to support him and especially right here with the D-backs.”

Many members of the baseball community offered words on Gibson’s situation.

“Tremendous person, he’s always been great to me. One of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever watched. Just feel awful for him and his family,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “I can’t see Kirk Gibson folding up shop and crawling into a corner. I don’t think that’s in his DNA.”

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka heads to DL but resists elbow surgery

04.29.15 at 8:00 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 6:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Phillies at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Nets at Hawks, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Trail Blazers at Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Red Wings at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Chelsea at Leicester City, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

The Yankees held Masahiro Tanaka bobblehead night on Tuesday, but Tanaka was not able to fully enjoy it, as the team announced that the Japanese right-hander is going on the disabled list and will miss at least a month of action.

Tanaka has tendinitis in his right wrist and a mild right forearm strain, although general manager Brian Cashman said tests showed no change in Tanaka’s partially torn elbow ligament. Tanaka missed 2 1/2 months late last season but chose to rehab instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t lead to the more horrific problems that we’re all trying to avoid,” said Cashman, whose team plays the Red Sox this weekend at Fenway Park.

Tanaka (2-1, 3.22 ERA) pitched well in his last two starts, but he said he had pain in the side of his wrist Tuesday at Yankee Stadium despite throwing a strong bullpen session.

“I woke up the next morning and I felt it a little bit in the wrist area, but I thought it would be fine,” Tanaka said via a translator. “I went out and played light catch on that day, which was [Monday]. I woke up [Tuesday] morning and felt it a little more than the day before, so that’s why I went over to Steve [Donohue], our trainer, and told him about it.”

While Cashman acknowledged a forearm issue can be a sign of a more serious elbow problem that might require reconstructive surgery, Tanaka remained steadfast in wanting to avoid going under the knife.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow,” he said. “That’s something that’s out of the question for me.”

— The Orioles announced Tuesday that they will play the White Sox on Wednesday, following two nights of postponements, but the game will be moved up five hours to 2:05 p.m. and no fans will be allowed into Camden Yards due to the rioting that has gripped Baltimore.

The O’s also moved their weekend series against the Rays from Baltimore to St. Petersburg, Florida — although the Orioles will be considered the home team and will bat last.

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Read More: Jon Jones, Masahiro Tanaka,

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile on D&C: ‘That is a tough decision [jury has] to make’

04.28.15 at 8:25 am ET
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Marc Fucarile threw out the first pitch at a game at Fenway Park last year. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Marc Fucarile threw out the first pitch at a game at Fenway Park last year. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday morning to talk about the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial and what his life is like two years after the tragedy. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Tsarnaev trial is now in the penalty stage, with the jury deciding between life in prison or death. Fucarile says he goes back-and-forth as to he what he would like to happen.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” Fucarile said. “I really don’t know. I really don’t know what I would do. That is a tough decision they have to make. I kind of sway both ways. I think our death penalty, it’s tough. I think the way we put people down is a little too easy. We actually put dogs down like that because it’s humane. I’m undecided. I think it would be more torturous for him to sit in prison and him being a young man and having to stay there the rest of his life would be pretty torturous.

“But, at the same time, what do you actually have to do in this country to get the death penalty if this guy doesn’t get it? He terrorized the city. Dropped a bomb. Killed little Martin Richard. Killed Lingzi Lu and injured hundreds of people. And executed a cop and went on a wild chase. Hijacked a guy. What do you actually have to do to get the death penalty? That is why I kind of sway both ways. I’m undecided.”

Tsarnaev’s family is now in America as they are witnesses in the case. Taxpayers are funding their trip and accommodations while they are here, which angers many people, including Fucarile.

“I think it’s ridiculous, to be honest,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely absurd. Our country and the people that are even considering that and doing that, signing that paper work should be ashamed. This is a convicted terrorist. He got found guilty on 30 charges. He executed a police officer. Him and his brother. Their rights should be stripped of them.”

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Read More: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Marc Fucarile,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: After trade to Rangers, Josh Hamilton says Angels ‘knew what the deal was’ regarding his addiction

04.28.15 at 8:16 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: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 6:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: White Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Mavericks at Rockets, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: Premier League, Liverpool at Hull City, 2:40 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Josh Hamilton was welcomed back to Texas after being traded from the Angels to the Rangers on Monday, and the troubled outfielder showed little remorse for his behavior that led to Anaheim giving up on him after two seasons.

Hamilton signed a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels in 2012 after five consecutive All-Star seasons with the Rangers, including an MVP season in 2010.

“If I could change the past, I would not have left,” Hamilton said at his introductory press conference in Arlington, Texas, on Monday. “But you can only learn from it, and I’ve learned a lot the last couple of years. … I’m excited to be back home. I had a lot of good memories here.”

After two disappointing seasons in Anaheim, Hamilton had shoulder surgery this past offseason and suffered a relapse with drugs and alcohol. However, an arbitrator ruled that Major League Baseball could not discipline Hamilton, frustrating Angels owner Arte Moreno.

On Monday, the Angels reportedly agreed to pay about $68 million of Hamilton’s remaining salary to shed themselves of the problem.

“He knew what the deal was when he signed me. Hands down,” Hamilton said. “He knew what he was getting, what the risks were. Under the [joint drug agreement], it is what it is.”

Hamilton acknowledged his production was disappointing — just 31 home runs in two seasons — but the 33-year-old questioned Moreno’s comment about him not being accountable.

“I have no clue what he is talking about,” Hamilton said. “I showed up every day. Played hard every day I was there. Going into this season, I hadn’t been the player they wanted me to be. But I worked my butt off to be that player this year for the Angels. They just didn’t want it to happen to me for some reason. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, doesn’t make me mad. But I’m prepared.”

The Rangers said Hamilton will reported to extended spring training in Arizona on Tuesday and could return to the majors later in May.

— A fan at Monday night’s Cubs-Pirates game in Chicago was carried out on a stretcher after being hit by a flying bat.

In the seventh inning, Cubs rookie Addison Russell, making his Wrigley Field debut, lost control of the bat on a swing. The bat went into the stands on the third-base side and hit the fan, who started bleeding.

“When the bat was in mid-flight, my mind was screaming, ‘Watch out! Watch out!’ ” Russell said. “I saw the kid’s glasses fly and it wasn’€™t pretty. I feel very bad.”

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Read More: Jon Jones, Josh Hamilton,

Orioles postpone game due to Baltimore race rioting

04.27.15 at 11:08 pm ET
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The Orioles’ game against the White Sox scheduled for Monday night at Camden Yards was postponed less than an hour before game time due to the race-related rioting that gripped Baltimore.

Rioters angered by the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died last week while in police custody, looted stores, set buildings and police vehicles on fire and threw rocks and bricks at police. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called in the National Guard and declared a state of emergency, and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered a week of curfews.

“We feel like we made the decision that would provide us the greatest possible security in terms of protecting the fans, the players, the umpires, everybody involved in the game,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who was at the stadium for a previously planned visit. “I don’t know what more I can say about it at this point.”

Protests occurred near the stadium during the Orioles’ series against the Red Sox over the weekend, but on Monday, following Gray’s funeral, the violence escalated.

While police blocked off several streets near the park, Orioles players gathered around a clubhouse television to watch coverage of the violence.

“There’s so many things that go on that you get challenged with, obviously this is a different level,” O’s manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s not a lot of experience with it. … So you try to take each moment as it comes, and I know there were a lot of calls to some guys’ families about making sure they knew what was going on from a safety standpoint. But guys are watching it. They are all aware of what’s going on.”