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Thinking Out Loud: Patriots no Saints, but feeling toward NFL is mutual

08.21.15 at 10:05 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering where Jeremy Kapstein has been?

— And it may be only preseason, but Patriots fans love their football — Deflategate notwithstanding, and a meaningless exhibition seems to matter little. Ratings for the preseason opener were the highest for local TV since just after the Super Bowl in February for the Grammy Awards. Higher than the NBA and NHL finals. Higher than the Republican debates, too — which means a Pats game is one show around here that Donald Trump can’t take over. I hope.

— Deflategate vs. Bountygate. Or Spygate. In effect, that’s what we had this week in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Some in the media tried to play that angle but didn’t have a lot of success with it. The Patriots and New Orleans Saints stayed and practiced at The Greenbrier resort, where some of the Friars basketball teams in the ’90s stayed when facing the Mountaineers during Pete Gillen’s tenure. There’s not much out there, and it’s darn near perfect if you like seclusion.

— Maybe that’s why there weren’t any notable skirmishes between players, whereas in other scrimmages teams seem to be duking it out with regularity? Pats and Saints players were lulled to sleep, or rather, they may have feared for their professional well-being if they were tossed from practice for fighting.

— There are similarities between the organizations, and not just because of the infamous violations for which they’ve been accused. Sean Payton loves to wear hoodies cut off at the sleeves, as does Bill Belichick. Payton is very guarded and doesn’t talk about injuries, just like BB. And both teams appear to have an organizational chip on their shoulders, when it comes to alleged “fair treatment” by the NFL. Right or wrong, that can be useful.

— The Brady-Goodell Peace Accord goes back to the bargaining table on Aug. 31. When does this charade end? Neither side really cares about budging, although rumors of Tom Brady‘s willingness to compromise (one-game suspension, no admission of guilt) at least SOUNDS magnanimous compared to The League. I don’t see him compromising, but then again, I’m not TB12 with this big, fat albatross hanging around my neck, either.

— No, this goes down to the bitter end. Commissioner Bad-ell (how can anyone really call him Goodell?) loses what’s left of his disciplinary authority if he caves and compromises. Brady is branded a cheater if he caves and compromises — if that hasn’t happened already in 31 other NFL fandoms. Both are standing at the craps table, hoping that Judge Berman rolls a seven or 11 for ’em.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Robert Griffin III suffers concussion in preseason game

08.21.15 at 7:56 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: Royals at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Braves at Cubs, 4:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Astros, 8:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League World Series: Rhode Island vs. South Carolina, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Seahawks at Chiefs, 8 p.m. (NFL Network)
WNBA: Dream at Liberty, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
WNBA: Sparks at Mercury, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)


— Injury plagued Robert Griffin III, who earlier in the week said he was aiming to be the best quarterback in the NFL, suffered a concussion in Thursday’s preseason game.

In the second quarter of Washington’s 21-17 win over the Lions, Griffin — who had been hit hard repeatedly during his team’s first three offensive series — dropped the ball while scrambling. After Griffin fell to the ground in an attempt to cover the ball, Lions defensive end Corey Wooton landed on his head.

Griffin remained on the turf for about 5 minutes before walking slowly off the field and to the locker room. Washington coach Jay Gruden said he had “no idea” how long RGIII will be out.

“It definitely makes you cringe,” Washington left tackle Trent Williams said. “You don’t want to see your quarterback get hit at all, in preseason nor regular season. It’s definitely not a pleasant feeling.”

The team’s offense has struggled this preseason, failing to score a touchdown with Griffin at the helm. On Thursday, RGIII completed 2-of-5 passes for 8 yards while being sacked three times and fumbling once.

“I’m not going to lay any blame on the quarterback or the offensive line,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We’ll just wait and see [the game film]. But it was not a very good performance by our first-team offense — one first down in four drives and the turnover.”

— J.R. Smith, who declined his $6.8 million player option with the Cavaliers shortly after the season ended and became a free agent — only to discover he wasn’t as in demand as he thought — said Thursday he will return to Cleveland after all.

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Read More: J.R. Smith, Robert Griffin III,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Ex-NFL QB Erik Kramer survives apparent suicide attempt

08.20.15 at 8:21 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: Royals at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Giants at Pirates, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL preseason: Bills at Browns, 8 p.m. (ESPN)


Erik Kramer played 13 seasons in the NFL, most memorably with the Bears and Lions. (Tom Pidgeon/Allsport/Getty Images)

Erik Kramer played 13 seasons in the NFL, most memorably with the Bears and Lions. (Tom Pidgeon/Allsport/Getty Images)

— Former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer is recovering from a gunshot wound after apparently attempting to commit suicide Tuesday night, according to reports out of Southern California.

Kramer was at a motel in Calabasas, California, when police were called for a welfare check and found the 50-year-old with a gunshot wound.

His ex-wife says Kramer was struggled with depression since his playing days.

“He is a very amazing man, a beautiful soul, but he has suffered depression since he was with the Bears,” Marshawn Kramer told NBC News. “I can promise you he is not the same man I married.”

Kramer, who works as a television analyst covering the Bears, played in the NFL for 13 seasons, going 31-36 as a starter. He helped the Lions go 12-4 and reach the NFC championship game in the 1991 season, the first of three years in Detroit, and he threw for 29 touchdowns — by far his career high — in 1995 while leading the Bears to a 9-7 mark. After five seasons in Chicago, he finished his career with the Chargers in 1999.

The Kramers divorced in 2010, and one year later their 18-year-old son died from a drug overdose. They have another son, who is 17, and Marshawn said Erik is a wonderful father.

“He’s such a good dad and he would not do this to his son,” she said. “This is a brain injury.”

Eli Manning is denying a report claiming he told the Giants he wants to be the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.

“Never been said, never come out of my mouth,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Added Manning: “Reports are all wrong. I don’t know where they are getting their information from. I just kind of laugh at it.”

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Read More: Eli Manning, Erik Kramer, Joel Embiid,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Patriots castoff Matt Flynn reportedly will sign with Jets

08.19.15 at 8:12 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: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Fever at Sparks, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Club Brugge at Manchester United, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— Quarterback Matt Flynn‘s stay in New England was brief, but it looks like he’ll remain in the AFC East.

Flynn, released by the Patriots earlier this month after being unable to get on the field due to a hamstring injury, reportedly will sign with the Jets as insurance following Geno Smith’s surgery last week to fix his jaw that was broken by a punch from then-teammate IK Enemkpali.

A longtime backup with the Packers who made stops in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, the 30-year-old Flynn was released by the Patriots while on the non-football injury list.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Harvard product who has played for five teams in 10 NFL seasons, most recently starting 12 games for the Texans last year, is in line to start for the Jets in Smith’s absence. Rookie Bryce Petty struggled in his preseason debut, leaving New York with the need for a more reliable backup, something Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan acknowledged Tuesday.

“I don’t want to necessarily put a time frame on that, but it is something we’re looking to do,” Maccagnan said. “Obviously Geno will be out for a period of time. Not to read between the lines with anything of our quarterbacks, I think it’s just something we’d like to have in the mix.”

As for Smith, the team was hopeful he would be able to return to team meetings later this week, although he’s still a couple of weeks away from even light physical activity — despite what the QB might say.

“With Geno he’s always fine,” coach Todd Bowles said of his discussions with the player this week. “But you’ve got to take precaution in that. Anybody that tries to get back on the field is always fine, but you can’t listen to that.”

— The NFL’s directive to teams to stop fighting apparently didn’t have much of an impact. During the Cowboys-Rams join practices Tuesday in Oxnard, California, the teams engaged in a brawl that almost spilled over into the crowd and forced an early end to the the practice.

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Read More: Bryan Mitchell, Dez Bryant, Geno Smith, Matt Flynn

Report: Eli Manning wants to be NFL’s highest-paid player

08.18.15 at 9:06 am ET
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According to Ian Rapoport, Giants quarterback Eli Manning is vying to become the highest paid player in the NFL during his ongoing contract negotiations. Due to his demands, the Giants and Manning are believed to have a “significant gap” in their negotiations.

Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers, who were drafted in the 2004 draft like Manning, recently scored new contracts with their respective teams, but neither reached the $22 million a year threshold held by 2014 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Manning’s agent Tom Condon says the 34-year-old is “uniquely suited” to be the Giants‘ quarterback because he’s performed so well under the media microscope.

Manning would earn $25 million in 2016 on the franchise tag if the two sides can’t come to an agreement during the season.

Last year, Manning turned in one of the best regular seasons of his career, tossing 30 touchdowns and 14 picks, as well as 4,410 yards. However, the two-time Super Bowl winner is just a year removed from his catastrophic 18 touchdown, 27 interception 2013 campaign.

Read More: Eli Manning,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees rookie pitcher Bryan Mitchell recovering after liner to face

08.18.15 at 8:17 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: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Fever at Sparks, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Club Brugge at Manchester United, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— Yankees rookie pitcher Bryan Mitchell is on the mend after taking a line drive to the face during Monday night’s game against the Twins at Yankee Stadium.

Mitchell, considered one of New York’s top prospects, was pitching to Eduardo Nunez in the second inning when the 103 mph liner deflected off his head and into right-center field as a run scored. He fell to his knees next to the mound and covered his face as blood dripped out until a trainer came out to assist. Holding a towel over his face, the 24-year-old right-hander walked off the field with assistance from the medical crew.

“Really, really scary,” manager Joe Girardi said.

The team announced that Mitchell suffered a small nasal fracture. He was able to return from the hospital and greet his players in the locker room after New York’s 8-7 victory in 10 innings.

“It seems like your heart just drops into your stomach and you’re scared for the kid and you see blood coming out,” Girardi said. “I was really worried. But he’s in the clubhouse and that’s good to see.”

— Organizers at the Little League Softball World Series ordered the team from Snohomish, Washington, to play a play-in game after the Washington team appeared to throw its game against North Carolina in order to avoid another game against a team from Iowa.

The Washington team, which already had clinched a spot in the playoff round, sat its starters and had its players swinging at balls in the dirt and bunting with two strikes in an 8-0 no-hit loss to North Carolina. That meant North Carolina advanced on run differential over Iowa, which earlier lost a close 4-3 game to Washington but apparently put enough of a scare into the Washington team that the coaching staff decided to do what it could to avoid a rematch by throwing Monday’s game.

“It’s clear to everyone that they basically threw the game,” Central Iowa Little League president Chris Chadd told The Des Moines Register, adding: “It’s not the girls’ fault. It’s the coaches. … They should be disqualified.”

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Read More: Bryan Mitchell, P. Diddy,

Oscar Pistorius reportedly will be released from prison, put on house arrest

08.17.15 at 9:42 am ET
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Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to prison for shooting his girlfriend and killing her. (Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to prison for killing his girlfriend. (Herman Verwey/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

According to reports, Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison Friday after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Pistorius’ release is a product of overcrowding in South African prisons, according to CNN. The parole board can put the double amputee under correctional supervision due to a clause in the Criminal Procedure Act.

The reports indicate Pistorius will serve the rest of his sentence in house arrest at his uncle’s mansion outside of Pretoria. Upon his release from Kgosi Mampuru II prison, he will wear a monitoring device. He likely will be allowed to leave the house to work, carry out his community service requirement or attend family events.

The former Paralympic runner was convicted of killing Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

A Supreme Court appeal hearing is expected to take place in November to decide if Pistorius’ conviction should be elevated to murder, which would mandate 15 years of imprisonment.

Read More: Oscar Pistorius,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Tim Tebow scores TD for Eagles, ‘did some things decent’ in first preseason action in 2 years

08.17.15 at 7:56 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: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Giants at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Premier League, Bournemouth at Liverpool, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Spanish Super Cup, Athletic Bilbao at Barcelona, 3:55 p.m. (ESPN2)


Tim Tebow runs for a touchdown during Sunday's game. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Tim Tebow runs for a touchdown during Sunday’s game. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Tim Tebow is back, and he’s doing his part to earn a spot with the Eagles.

In his first action since playing in a preseason game with the Patriots two years ago, Tebow completed 6-of-12 passes for 69 yards and ran for a touchdown in the Eagles’ 36-10 victory over Colts, quickly winning over the notoriously unfriendly Philadelphia crowd.

Tebow received a standing ovation when he entered the game midway through the third quarter, and the applause was so loud that he signaled for the fans to quiet down so he could yell out instructions from a shotgun formation.

“It’s very humbling, a blessing,” he said. “I appreciated it.”

Tebow completed his first four passes, which led to the crowd chanting his name. He rushed four times for 15 yards, scoring on a 7-yard run late in the fourth quarter. He also was sacked two times.

“I liked how Timmy threw it,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said.

Said Tebow: “Did some things decent and some things we have to work on. I have to be more consistent.”

Tebow is bidding to be the Eagles’ third-string quarterback behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez. His competition, Matt Barkley, went 12-for-20 for 192 yards with one interception.

— Injured Jets quarterback Geno Smith is eager to return to throwing footballs — a little eager for the Jets’ liking.

Smith, who had surgery Thursday on his jaw that was broken by a punch from then-teammate IK Enemkpali, was spotted throwing footballs outside of his house Saturday, even though he was not cleared by doctors.

“He shouldn’t be doing it right now,” Jets coach Todd Bowles told reporters after Sunday’s practice. “He just had surgery. You don’t want him getting it infected.”

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Read More: David Denson, Geno Smith, Todd Bowles,

Thinking Out Loud: NFL on power play in Tom Brady case

08.14.15 at 7:40 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the two-point conversion?

— Is there any doubt that Deflategate won’t snake its way through the Federal Court system in New York? But here’s the concern you should have, Pats fans. The issue the NFL is attacking is the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA — that says the commish has the authority to be stupid. Or something close to that.

— The NFL is a cartel. The NFL is socialistic. The NFL is Mother Russia. Say whatever you want, but the NFL is most decidedly not democratic. It doesn’t have to be, based on the CBA. That’s what the league is arguing, and it will be up to Judge Berman to decide if the Brady-Goodell Peace Accord is about actual justice, or about injustice being forced down the throats of league denizens.

— Denizens? That’s you, me, the Patriots, the Jets, Ravens, Colts and all other creatures who live in and around Planet NFL.

— Not for nuthin’, but the players now largely feel this thing is way overblown. recently conducted a poll and had 100 players respond to the questions of cheating, guilt and innocence in Deflategate. Bottom line — 60 percent feel there’s nothing to see here, move along. They know all teams look for “advantages.” I think I said that about six months ago.

— I’ve heard the word “integrity” used so many times in the last few months by so many people who have little or no clue what the term means, I’m beginning to doubt what it really means myself.

— Ego is the reason we are where we are. Not Brady’s, but Roger Goodell’s. Had the commish simply imposed a fine on TB12, this would be over with. But because the commish insists upon holding a heavy-handed hammer, he’s pounding his own head (and respectability, integrity, etc.) into the turf, again. One poor decision after another. Precisely WHY he shouldn’t be commish. But he is, and he will be for a while, unless somehow he’s shamed out of it.

— Shoot, if anything, Goodell should be gone because he’s nothing more than a lemming, doing the dirty work for a few greedy, jealous and not-very-smart-or-savvy owners. I mean, here’s a guy that would probably jump off a bridge if Woody Johnson asked him to do it.

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Read More: Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Tom Brady,

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton after agreeing to 5-year extension: ‘No place I’d rather be’

08.14.15 at 11:56 am ET
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T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton received the big payday he wanted. The Pro Bowler agreed to terms with the Colts on Thursday to a five-year, $65 million contract extension with $39 million guaranteed.

“It takes two, you know,” Hilton said following the Colts’ morning workout. “They showed interest in me and I wanted to be here. There’s no place I’d rather be.”

According to Hilton’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, the deal makes Hilton the fourth-highest-paid receiver in the league. Only Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas have more lucrative deals.

The Colts have positioned themselves to maintain a high-powered offense for years to come. With Hilton and quarterback Andrew Luck, both just 25, the team has a pair of young stars. Receiver Andre Johnson was signed this offseason to a contract that runs through 2017.

“We’re extremely happy as an organization to ensure that T.Y. will continue to be a part of our journey for many years to come,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. “His daily excellence on and off the field is a shining example of an individual striving for greatness and what it truly means to be a Colt.”

Hilton was scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season with the end of his rookie contract. Had a deal not been reached, Hilton would have made only $1.5 million this season, according to Rosenhaus.

“What made sense for us was $39 million guaranteed and not $1.5 million,” Rosenhaus said. “He might get more in free agency, but he might get a lot less, too. Guys get hurt in this league and I’ve had that happen before.”

In his first three seasons, Hilton has 214 receptions for 3,289 yards and 19 scores. Last year, he became the third Colts player to top 1,300 receiving yards in a season, joining Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Hilton seems poised to become the next great Colts receiver, following in the footsteps of those two.

“My wife started crying with all the stuff we’ve gone through this weekend. It’s been a very emotional weekend,” Hilton said without elaborating on what happened in his personal life. “It means a lot.”

Read More: T.Y. Hilton,