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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Cubs P Jon Lester finally makes pickoff attempt, throws ball into right field

04.14.15 at 8:05 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: Nationals at Red Sox, 6:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mariners at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Raptors at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Wizards at Pacers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Clippers at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Real Madrid at Atletico Madrid, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— Much has been made about Jon Lester‘s issues throwing to bases. On Monday the Cubs left-hander made his first pickoff attempts since 2013, and it didn’t go well — although it had a happy ending for the Cubs.

With Reds baserunner Zach Cozart at first in the second inning of a 3-3 game Monday night in Chicago, Lester thew a soft but relatively accurate throw to keep Cozart honest. However, when Lester tried it a second time he threw it well over first baseman Anthony Rizzo‘s head.

Fortunately for Chicago, right fielder Jorge Soler retrieved the ball and made a strong throw to third base to get Cozart.

“When you’re not used to doing stuff like that, I got a little overexcited and threw the ball too soon,” Lester explained. “Once again, [Soler] picks me up.”

The Cubs won the game, 7-6, as Soler hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning (his second two-run homer of the game) and Arismendy Alcantara hit a walkoff single in the 10th inning.

While the Cubs improved to 4-2, there is concern about Lester, who allowed six runs on 10 hits in six innings and saw his ERA climb to 7.84.

“He’s still at the end of spring training right now,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the former Red Sox ace, who missed some time in the spring with an injury. “He’ll be fine. I have no doubt about that.”

Said Lester: “I don’t want to use anything as a crutch. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

— Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips, serving a 31-year sentence in a Central California prison, is suspected of killing his cellmate, according to prison officials.

The 39-year-old Phillips, who starred at Nebraska in the 1990s and played for the Rams, Dolphins and 49ers but struggled with off-field issues, is suspected of killing Damion Soward, a 37-year-old who was imprisoned for first-degree murder. Soward was found lifeless early Saturday and later pronounced dead, a prison spokesman said.

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Read More: Jon Lester, Jorge Soler, Lauren Hill, Lawrence Phillips

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Providence College apologizes to police for rowdy campus celebration of hockey title

04.13.15 at 8:00 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: Nationals at Red Sox, 3:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Phillies at Mets, 1:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Royals at Timberwolves, 4:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Orioles, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Thunder, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Grizzlies at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Premier League, Newcastle at Liverpool, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Providence College students and fans welcomed the national championship hockey team back to campus in a controlled celebration Sunday afternoon, which was much different than the reaction last Saturday night after the Friars rallied to beat Boston University, 4-3, in the title game at TD Garden.

During Saturday’s late-night celebration, approximately 1,000 supporters on campus assembled at Pembroke Avenue, where they set a couch and other smaller items on fire. As Providence firefighters attempted to put out the fire, the fans threw bottles, jumped on cars, climbed telephone poles and mounted the fire engine, according to a report in the Providence Journal.

It took three hours for police to clear the young revelers, one of whom threw a 1.75-liter vodka bottle that struck Patrolman Michael Clary and sent him the hospital to get 20 stitches in his head.

“We have reached out to the police to apologize and to the officer to apologize,” said Steve Maurano, associate vice president for public affairs, community and government relations at Providence College. “But other than the fires and the bottle thrown, the majority of the celebration was controlled.”

While police complained that the celebration “created a very perilous situation,” as it required the department to send 60 officers, leaving other areas of the city “minimally protected,” the school played down the seriousness of the issue.

“For the most part it was a predictable response,” Maurano said. “Your student body is going to be enthusiastic celebrating something like this. The large majority were just letting off steam.”

— The Rockies placed John Axford on the family medical emergency list Sunday so that the reliever could spend a few days with his 2-year-old son, who is receiving medical treatment after being bitten by a rattlesnake last month.

Jameson Axford was in the backyard of the home the family rented in Scottsdale for spring training when he was bitten. The boy had surgery last week on his right foot in an attempt to improve mobility in his toes and combat infection, and he was scheduled to take an emergency medical flight to Denver on Monday for more treatment.

“We still have a long road, a long process to go,” Axford said. “But at least I’ll be able to be closer to him.”

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Read More: John Axford, Lou Holtz, Providence College,

Thinking Out Loud: Providence hockey has chance at history

04.10.15 at 2:43 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering why I don’t feel the need to stand in line for a precious new Apple watch?

— Providence’s hockey Friars have a chance Saturday night to do something that many of us only dream about and a rare few get to experience. Their soccer counterparts at PC got close in December, falling in the national semis to UCLA in the College Soccer Cup, which should tell you all you need to know about this current academic and athletic year on Smith Hill. It has been one for the record books.

— It’s very hard to quantify what a national championship really means in the overall scheme of things, in the overall daily life of a college campus at a place like PC. Days go on as usual, kids go to class, teachers teach. But everyone — everyone — should walk with a bit more bounce to their step, right? Win or lose in the final to Hockey East rival Boston University, they all should be rightfully proud of the way Nate Leaman’s Friars have played — and carried themselves on and off of the ice. Providence has coaches who can c-o-a-c-h, and teach more than just sport.

— As Trevor Mingoia scored just 24 seconds after Nebraska-Omaha cut the PC lead to 2-1 Thursday night, I couldn’t help but think the Friars just got a little kiss from destiny. Here’s a kid who transferred from Union — and watched his former teammates win the national title a year ago — getting the chance to play big for himself, and for his current teammates. A team that has been backstopped well by uber-goalie Jon Gillies but struggled to score for much of the regular season now has snipers firing from seemingly everywhere. Better late than never.

— Very cool to have Brown hockey as a part of the first “Friendship Four” international event in Belfast, Northern Ireland, next Nov. 27-28. Along with Northeastern, UMass-Lowell and Colgate, the Bears will play for the “Belpot” trophy, in Beanpot fashion.

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Steelers veteran SS Troy Polamalu says, ‘It’s all about the family’ as he announces retirement

04.10.15 at 1:07 pm ET
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Veteran safety and 2014 Steelers captain Troy Polamalu announced his retirement on Friday morning, the team’s website confirmed.

After 12 seasons and 15 playoff games with Pittsburgh, the 33-year-old decided to end his career for personal reasons.

“It’s all about the family,” Polamalu told the Herald Standard. “I live here in Pittsburgh now, and since the end of the season I’ve had a chance to enjoy my family on a level I never had done before. It was awesome.

Added Polamalu: “I had talked to a lot of people about what I should do with my situation, and what they kept saying back to me, and which was not a sufficient reason, was, ‘€˜Troy, you played 12 years in the NFL, you won Super Bowls, won individual awards. There’€™s nothing left to prove. You have a legacy.’€™ And I just kept saying, ‘€˜First of all, I don’€™t care about a legacy. Second of all, I play the game because I enjoy it.’€™ That’€™s the reason to keep playing.”

Polamalu finishes his career with 12 sacks, 32 interceptions, 13 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. The eight-time Pro Bowler won two Super Bowls with Pittsburgh.

“Since we drafted him in 2003, Troy Polamalu has been an outstanding player and person,” Steelers’ president Art Rooney II said in a statement on the team’s website. “On behalf of the entire Steelers organization and the Steelers Nation, I am happy to be able to publicly celebrate and thank Troy for his many contributions to the Steelers. His unique style of play will be remembered among the all-time Steelers. His passion for the game of football on the field and his willingness to be a contributor to the community make him a very special person.”

“Troy is a shining example of a football man in the way he loved the game, the way he respected the game and the way he played the game,” said Mike Tomlin, who coached Polamalu and the Steelers since 2008. “It’€™s a shining example of the window into who he is. He is a legendary Steeler and a legendary man. I congratulate him and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

Read More: Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Polamalu,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s mother threatens America ‘will pay for my sons’

04.10.15 at 8:21 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 Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Phillies, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Celtics at Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Spurs at Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Timberwolves at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NHL: Islanders at Penguins, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Golf: Masters, 3 p.m. (ESPN)


— The mother of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lashed out at the United States, insisting her son is innocent and promising retribution for his treatment.

The website Vocativ tracked down Zubeidat Tsarnaeva in the Russian republic of Dagestan, where she returned after being arrested for shoplifting while living in Cambridge with her two sons in 2012. After verifying her identity, Tsarnaeva sent a threatening message to the site.

Wrote Tsarnaeva:


Tsarnaeva claims that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, who was killed during a shootout with Watertown police days after the 2013 bombing, were framed for the bombing. She insists Americans ultimately will pay for their actions.



Tsarnaeva has her supporters, as a friend started a “Support for Dzhokhar” group on the Russian social media site VKontakte that claims to have raised at least $5,000 for the family.

In a recent message to the group that was posted on the site, Tsarnaeva wrote:

“I will never forget it. May God bless those who helped my son. The terrorists are the Americans and everyone knows it. My son is the best of the best.”

— Lauren Hill, the inspirational freshman basketball player at Mount St. Joseph in Ohio who courageously fought brain cancer, died early Friday morning at her Indiana home at the age of 19, according to reports out of Cincinnati.

Hill, who was diagnosed with Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG) as a high school senior, helped raise more than $1.5 million for cancer research. Mount St. Joseph’s opening game was moved up to Nov. 2 so she could participate, and she scored a ceremonial layup to open the game and another to end it, much to the delight of the 10,000 fans at Xavier’s Cintas Center. She went on to make cameos in three other games, the last on Dec. 16, before becoming an honorary assistant coach.

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Read More: Boston Marathon bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Lauren Hill, Matt Barnes

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev relative insists on his innocence despite guilty verdict in Boston Marathon bombing

04.09.15 at 7:58 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’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 Phillies, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 1:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Giants at Padres, 6:40 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Bruins at Panthers, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Blackhawks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: NCAA Tournament semifinal, Providence vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College hockey: NCAA Tournament semifinal, Boston University vs. North Dakota, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Bulls at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Golf: Masters, 3 p.m. (ESPN)


— The 30 guilty verdicts for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombing trial came as little surprise Wednesday, as his own lawyer admitted at the start of the trial that he participated in the attack.

However, there are still those who remain convinced Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, did not commit the heinous crimes. His relatives in the Russian republic of Chechnya have held firm in their belief of the boys’ innocence, and that did not change with Wednesday’s verdicts.

One of those relatives, Roza Tsarnaeva, a 66-year-old cousin of Tsarnaev’s father, told The Associated Press that she is “completely convinced that they were not guilty of this.”

Meanwhile, reaction from victims of the bombing was muted, as many of the individuals expressed a desire to wait until after the sentencing phase of the trial has concluded before commenting more fully.

Jeff Bauman, who helped investigators zero in on the Tsarnaevs after losing his leg in the bombing, said: “Today’s verdict will never replace the lives that were lost and so dramatically changed, but it is a relief, and one step closer to closure.”

— More details have emerged about the stabbing of Pacers forward Chris Copeland outside a New York City nightclub early Tuesday morning as the player recovers in the hospital.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Copeland had surgery on his elbow and abdomen but wasn’t sure how long he would be out.

According to police, Copeland and his girlfriend were arguing on the street around 4 a.m. when 22-year-old Shezoy Bleary started to interfere. After the dispute escalated, Bleary pulled out a knife and started slashing, hitting Copeland, Copeland’s girlfriend and a third woman who apparently was with the attacker.

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Read More: Boston Marathon bombing, Chris Copeland, Dwight Jones, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Jury announces guilty verdicts in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial

04.08.15 at 2:19 pm ET
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line and will be eligible for the death penalty.

The verdicts were read Wednesday afternoon at the Moakley federal courthouse in Boston.

Tsarnaev was described by media in the courtroom as fidgety, stroking the beard he has grown in prison, while awaiting the verdicts. He then stood with his hands clasped in front of him and mostly looked down at his list of charges with no visible reaction on his face as the guilty verdicts were read.

Of the 30 charges, 17 carry with them the possibility of the death penalty. The jury will begin the sentencing phase in the days to come.

Tsarnaev’s defense team admitted he participated in the bombing but blamed his older brother, Tamerlan, as orchestrating the attack and convincing Dzhokhar to participate.

The brothers also killed MIT police officer Sean Collier and then were involved in a violent shootout with Watertown police, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after being run over by a car driven by his brother.

Among those in the courtroom for the verdicts were Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son Martin was killed by the bomb placed by Dzhokhar, which went off shortly after the one planted by Tamerlan one block down Boylston Street.

Read More: Boston Marathon bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Pacers F Chris Copeland on mend after being stabbed outside NYC nightclub

04.08.15 at 8:11 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’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 Phillies, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, ESPN2; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Padres at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Celtics at Pistons, 7 p.m. (CSNNE, ESPN)
NBA: Suns at Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Bruins at Capitals, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Stars at Ducks, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: FA Cup, Liverpool at Blackburn, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland

— Pacers forward Chris Copeland and his wife were in stable condition Wednesday morning after being stabbed outside a New York City nightclub.

According to the New York Daily News, Copeland, whose team plays the Knicks on Wednesday night, got in an argument outside 1 OAK Club as the Chelsea establishment was about to close just before 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. A 22-year-old man, Shezoy Bleary, then pulled out a knife and stabbed Copeland and his wife, Katrine Saltara, in the arm and leg.

Another woman, 53-year-old Catherine Somani, was slashed in the abdomen, apparently by accident.

Two members of the Hawks, Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic, also were at the club and were arrested and charged with obstructing governmental administration after allegedly refusing to move while police set up a crime scene. The Hawks, who played in Atlanta on Tuesday night, have a game against the Nets in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Copeland, a native of Orange, New Jersey, played for the Knicks in 2012-13 as a rookie. He signed a two-year, $6.1 million contract with the Pacers as a free agent in July 2013. In 50 games this season, the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 6.2 points in 16.6 minutes.

— A sixth-grader from Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, tied for first in ESPN’s NCAA Tournament prediction contest, but he won’t get a chance to share in the $20,000 grand prize. ESPN told Sam Holtz that he is not eligible because he is 12 years old, and the rules require participants to be at least 18.

Holtz said the decision “irritated” him, although he was “still proud of myself.”

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Bills OL Richie Incognito starts workouts with new team after ‘inner reflection’

04.07.15 at 8:09 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: Orioles at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Rangers at Athletics, 10:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Spurs at Thunder, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Lakers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Women’s NCAA Tournament final, UConn vs. Notre Dame, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Wild at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Queens Park at Aston Villa, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


Richie Incognito

Richie Incognito

— Richie Incognito began offseason conditioning with his new Bills teammates Monday, and the controversial offensive lineman acknowledged that his year and a half in exile following the 2013 bullying scandal with the Dolphins was “humbling.”

Incognito was benched by the Dolphins for the final eight games of the 2013 season, and no team was willing to sign him last year.

“It was definitely difficult sitting out, knowing I could still play, knowing I had talent to contribute,” Incognito said [via ESPN]. “It was a learning process. At first there was a lot of frustration: ‘Why am I not signed? Why am I not on a team?’ It was a time for inner reflection. Kind of a time for growth.

“Then it was an acceptance, and accepting the fact that I’m not going to play this year, that I’m going to have to chalk it up and wait for another opportunity.”

An NFL investigation found that Incognito bullied teammate Jonathan Martin, and there were reports of other incidents of harassment.

“There was a lot of things said and done that I wish I could change,” Incognito said. “But moving forward, you have to accept that there was definitely a learning process and a growing process and a process that I went through to become a better person. Nobody’s perfect. I think the biggest thing is I’ve learned from what I’ve went through, I’ve learned from what went down. I’ve grown from it.”

Incognito added that he’s “very thankful” that the Bills have given him a chance, which came about after he met with team owners Terry and Kim Pegula as well as new coach Rex Ryan.

Rex Ryan spent a lot of time talking about being a good teammate and coming in and putting my best foot forward,” Incognito said. “One of the big things they wanted to make sure was that I could still be myself without having any of the issues.”

Said Ryan: “I just wanted to see the sincerity that he was speaking with and where he was at. He’s got a burning desire to play this game still. I think that’s important. And obviously — hey, look, we’ve all made mistakes. Every single one of us in here has made mistakes. I know I’ve made than you guys. But it’s what we do and how excited he is about getting a new opportunity, and I can’t wait to watch him. But he’s a Bill now. He’s just one of us.”

Alex Rodriguez received mostly cheers from the Yankee Stadium faithful in Monday’s opener, although there wasn’t much else for New Yorkers to cheer about in a 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

Rodriguez, in his first at-bat in over a year following his MLB suspension, batted seventh as the designated hitter. He walked in his first plate appearance, then hit a single to right-center fielder in his second and lined out in his final at-bat.

“I have to admit, it definitely felt good. That’s for sure,” Rodriguez said.

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Avery Johnson, Masahiro Tanaka, Rex Ryan

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin move on from racial incident with Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison

04.06.15 at 8:09 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 Phillies, 3:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Blue Jays at Yankees, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Indians at Astros, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Giants at Diamondbacks, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Nets, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament final, Wisconsin vs. Duke, 9 p.m. (CBS; WEEI-FM)
Soccer: Premier League, Manchester City at Crystal Palace, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


(Chris Steppig/Getty Images)

Andrew Harrison (5) and Kentucky were frustrated by Frank Kaminsky (44) and Wisconsin in Saturday’s national semifinal. (Chris Steppig/Getty Images)

— Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky tried to play down the controversy that erupted when Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison muttered a racial slur about him during Saturday’s postgame press conference.

After Kentucky’s loss that ended the Wildcats’ season at 38-1, Harrison responded to a question about Kaminsky by saying, ‘[Expletive] that [N-word],” even though Kaminsky is white. Although Harrison covered the microphone with his hand, the comment was audible.

Harrison, who also was criticized for skipping the postgame handshake line along with a few of his teammates, later tweeted an apology, writing: First i want to apologize for my poor choice of words used in jest towards a player I respect and know.

Added Harrison: When I realized how this could be perceived I immediately called big frank to apologize and let him know I didn’t mean any disrespect.

Kaminsky, who on Sunday was named winner of the Naismith Award as the nation’s top player, confirmed that Harrison contacted him, and he attempted to put the issue to rest.

“He reached to me, we talked about it, [I’m] over it,” Kaminsky said Sunday, as he focused on leading the Badgers against Duke in Monday night’s NCAA championship game. “Nothing needs to be made out of it.”

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan also was in a forgiving mood, saying: “In this day and age, it always reminds all of us that whatever we say can and will be heard, it seems. The teaching moment is the individual himself learned from it obviously by reaching out to Frank, so we’ll leave it at that.”

— Jaguars defensive lineman Sen’Derrick Marks isn’t impressed with the NFL’s decision to hire a female official, and he made an interesting comparison.

The league announced last week that Sarah Thomas will be the first full-time non-replacement official.

“It’s just like the Michael Sam situation — if he wasn’t gay, he would have gone undrafted,” Marks told TMZ. “Instead, the league drafts him because I think they are trying to monopolize every aspect of the world. The same thing with a female ref.

“For the league, it’s great publicity. The NFL is all about monopolizing every opportunity.”

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, Andrew Harrison, Frank Kaminsky, Sen'Derrick Marks