College Blog Blog Network

NBA sportscaster Craig Sager: Sager Strong movement ‘wasn’t about me, it was about what I represented’

08.30.16 at 11:25 am ET
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Craig Sager

Craig Sager

NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager called in to the Dennis & Callahan show with Minihane on Monday during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to give an update on his battle with leukemia and to urge listeners to donate. To hear the interview, visit the D&C audio on demand page.

Calling from his hospital bed at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Sager said he has been at the hospital for over a month and has had two chemotherapy sessions in the last four days. He is scheduled to have his third bone marrow transplant on Wednesday.

“[This is the] first time that MD Anderson has done a third transplant for AML patients,” Sager said. “Overall, I’m in uncharted territory here.”

Sager’s ongoing battle with leukemia has inspired many across the country, and has started a Sager Strong Foundation to help other leukemia patients and families. Many NBA players and personnel have reached out to Sager, who is surprised at how his story has grown into something bigger.

“At first it was just … speaking to the kids, then it kept building and I realized it was something beyond that,” Sager said. “It wasn’t about me, it was about what I represented, and that was somebody who refuses to give up, refuses to give in … does his job, has the same attitude, and is going to keep fighting.”

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: SF police criticize Colin Kaepernick protest based on ‘false narrative’

08.30.16 at 8:36 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: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Pirates at Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Mercury at Fever, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)


Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

— Colin Kaepernick said that neither the 49ers nor the NFL have contacted him about his decision to sit during the national anthem to protest America’s race problem, but they might soon be forced to address the issue.

The president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York criticizing Kaepernick’s actions as a “total lack of sensitivity” toward police.

“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter,” Martin Halloran wrote. “Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”

Kaepernick sat on the bench during the anthem for all three preseason games, and he said he plans to continue his protest.

Jim Harbaugh, who coached Kaepernick in San Francisco for four seasons until leaving for the University of Michigan last year, said at his Monday press conference that Kaepernick that he has mixed feelings about the situation.

“I acknowledge his right to do that. I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said, later clarifying on Twitter: I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he supports Kaepernick’s right to speak out, but he would be concerned about the effect on his team.

“You respect our team, our organization and the other players,” Harbaugh said. “You respect the mission that we’re on and what we’re trying to accomplish. None of us ever want us to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. That’s the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that.”

Meanwhile, Eagles rookie undrafted free agent linebacker Myke Tavarres said Monday that he also would sit during the national anthem during his team’s preseason game against the Jets this Thursday, but his agent said later that the player had changed his mind after consulting with his agent and college coaches.

“As a rookie, his goal is not to be a distraction for the Eagles,” agent Corey Williams said. “His coaches at Incarnate Word and I advised him to stand.”

— Even before his Tuesday tryout for major league teams, Tim Tebow has an offer to play baseball with an established winner.

Five-time Venezuelan Professional Baseball League champion Aguilas del Zulia reportedly sent a contract offer to Tebow’s agents Monday.

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Niners QB Colin Kaepernick will continue to protest national anthem until ‘there’s significant change’ in race relations

08.29.16 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: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN); 6 p.m. (ESPN2)


— Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he will continue to sit through the playing of the national anthem before games to draw attention to the problem of race relations in America.

“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick told reporters Sunday, two days after he sat on the bench during the anthem prior to Friday’s loss to the Packers, his third such protest this preseason but the first to garner national attention. “To me this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Mashup Poll: Is Colin Kaepernick crossing a line by disrespecting the national anthem?

  • Yes, he should stand and find a different way to protest (80%, 133 Votes)
  • No, he has every right to do whatever he wants to make his beliefs known (20%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 167

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Reactions have been mixed from the around the league, although Kaepernick — who is battling to regain his starting job from Blaine Gabbert after a disappointing 2015 season — said no NFL representative has reached out to him.

“No one’s tried to quiet me and, to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quiet about,” he said. “I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances.”‘

Kaepernick, who is biracial but was raised by white adoptive parents, criticized presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and said he’s taking a stand for those people who do not have the ability to do so themselves.

“There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality,” he said. “There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”

Kaepernick explained his decision to his teammates Sunday morning, and while some agreed with his stance, there were concerns about how he was expressing himself.

“I agree with what he did, but not in the way he did it,” wideout Torrey Smith said. “That’s not for me. He has that right. Soldiers have died for his right to do exactly what he did. … I know he’s taken a lot of heat for it. He understands that when you do something like that it does offend a lot of people.”

Coach Chip Kelly on Saturday deferred to Kaepernick, implying he didn’t plan to get involved.

“That’s his right as a citizen,” Kelly said. “We recognize his right as an individual to choose to participate or not participate in the national anthem.”

— On the same day dozens of people gathered in a Chicago church for a prayer service to remember Nykea Alrdridge, the 32-year-old cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade who was shot to death last week, Chicago police announced that two brothers were charged with her murder.

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Solving ‘The Night Of': A finale for the ages

08.29.16 at 1:57 am ET
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Naz and John Stone on the finale of the show of the summer. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

Naz and John Stone on the finale of the show of the summer. (Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

That’s how you do it.  

That’s how you end a TV show.

I don’t know how many people watched “The Night Of” in real time, but it is a fraction of how many people will catch up on this show in the age of Streaming Entertainment.

Like its ancestors, “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” “The Night Of” is destined to be remembered as a complete piece of work — everything matters and everything is connected. Unlike its ancestors, it only got eight episodes to reach a satisfying conclusion. I would argue that any more time spent on this story would have lead to a split decision in its battle for a place in the modern television pantheon instead of the devastating knockout it delivered in the finale.

Over the last few years, the most popular show on television has been AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and that’s not surprising because it is about zombies. Like the undead flesh monsters that haunt post-Apocalyptic Atlanta in “The Walking Dead,” we as TV watchers are stomping around the vast entertainment landscape scrounging for anything we can find and consuming as much of it as possible before we move on to the next feeding.

In that stomp-stomp-feed-stomp-stomp-feed approach to consuming content, we walked right into the trap Steve Zaillian, Richard Price, their brilliant cast and HBO set for us; they zigged when we assumed they’d be zagging and we tumbled right over a cliff while chasing the honking car of tropey cop drama television. The red herrings never stopped jumping and seemed to have sprouted wings during the finale.  

Try counting how many times you thought to yourself, “Well, this is what gets the jury to vote Naz guilty, and then he is going to die in prison.”  I clocked in at ninety-two — one for each minute until the greatest moment of the series. I won’t recount all of them, but here were the highlights:

RED HERRING #1: The Usual Suspects. In court, we got to see Trevor, Duane Reed, Mr. Day, and Don Taylor all take the witness stand to get grilled by the defense. While each was presented as a viable alternative to Naz being the person who killed Andrea, ultimately all were let go.  

GUT REACTION: With no viable options, Naz is the only person who could be found guilty.  

RED HERRING #2: What Are You Doing, Chandra?! The last time I audibly shouted “OH MY GOD” at the TV, Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass in Super Bowl XLIX. Chandra went from prosecuting attorney to drug mule in no time flat. I’ve been watching, analyzing, and discussing TV for a LONG time… I did not see a lawyer smuggling a bag of opiates to her client coming.  

GUT REACTION: Obviously they both get caught, the prosecution finds out, Naz is found guilty, and Chandra goes to jail. Everyone loses.  

RED HERRING #3: Naz gets put on the stand. After abstaining from cross-examining all of the defense’s suspects, D.A. Weiss winds up a balled fist and knocks Naz into the middle of next week. This scene was the prestige courtroom drama version of Ivan Drago beating Apollo Creed to death in front of Rocky with John Stone play the Duke role screaming, “THROW THE DAMN TOWEL!” This was Johnny Lawrence sweeping the leg of Daniel LaRusso. She put him in a bodybag. She boxed him into a corner where he doubted his own innocence in front of the jury.  

GUT REACTION: She got Naz to doubt himself, so obviously he’s going to jail for life where he will receive many more neck tattoos.  

RED HERRING #4: Naz looks like he’s going to get got. Back at Rikers, the prison guard on watch gets his hands on some surveillance camera footage and shows it to Freddy. Obviously, this is the footage of Chandra delivering the package of opiates to Naz, which he has obviously hidden from Freddy, and he is obviously going to heat up that razor blade and take Naz out before the verdict is rendered, not unlike he did to Victor in the previous episode. Freddy has already shown the audience what he does to people who step out of line in his organization. Even for his protege, the swift hands of The King of Queens are going to wrap around his neck because Naz stepped out of line.

GUT REACTION: Guilty or innocent, Naz doesn’t make it out of Rikers alive.  

Luckily, “The Night Of” is a much different show than any other crime/courtroom drama in which any of these resolutions would have sufficed.  I expected all of these things to happen because this is what we have seen before in every other TV show.  This was the zig for which we content zombies were secretly clamoring.  What we got was something so much better.  

GIFT #1: John Stone gets his one moment in the sun. John Turturro, in what needs to be an Emmy nominated performance, steps up to the plate and BLASTS a home run of a closing argument.  

GUT REACTION: This might be good enough to get Naz acquitted, but not necessarily prove his innocence to the viewer.  

GIFT #2. Box Comes Through Like We Knew He Would.  Det. Box, after weeks of questioning the facts, unearths a suspect we mentioned (previously he was mentioned as “guy-at-funeral”) but didn’t focus on, Ray Halle. I could watch a sequel series of Box following leads, Weiss attacking in the courtroom, and Dr. Katz collecting and explaining forensic evidence forever.  

GUT REACTION: We might actually get justice in the last 20 minutes.

GIFT #3: The Cat Theory Conclusion. I called it in my first recap, I mentioned it every week since, and I shouted it at my television in real time: THE CAT MEANS EVERYTHING. As if the ASPCA commercial on the TV in Stone’s apartment wasn’t enough to tug at our heartstrings, we learned that he saved the cat after all. Throughout the series, the connective tissue from theory to theory has been that the cat represents the truth and how close Stone has been to it all along. John Stone, for all the setbacks that have befallen him over the run of this limited series, is a character with a rich backstory worth exploring. He wasn’t always a psoriasis-riddled, quixotic attorney scrapping his way to $60k a year on plea deals. At one point, he wanted to become a lawyer because he believed people need defending. His unwavering belief in the legal system, despite the wheels of justice having ground him into a fine powder over the years, was the gas in the tank of this show. Pursuing the truth is dirty work and we see him doing all of it in both episodic and metaphorical instances — from scrounging up business at 4 a.m. in police stations to chasing suspects down alleys to emptying litter boxes, etc. The pursuit of justice has done nothing but hurt this guy but he knows it is worth it and even if it is going to make him uncomfortable. I’m now almost positive his surname is Stone, because, like the Greek mythological figure Sisyphus, he is going to push a boulder of the responsibility of truth and justice up a hill every day for eternity.    

GUT REACTION: I was right on the money from day one.  

Unlike the true beauty of a show like “The Night Of,” these are exactly what they are labeled as being: red herrings and gut reactions. They are the tropes and obvious turns that we can expect from a TV show. Even after marveling at what the show did and didn’t do, I was still looking for reasons to point at and detract. Zaillian and Price too met this head on. Even in introducing, explaining, and zeroing in on the real killer in the final episode — a move I promised myself I would hate if they did — fits perfectly. It answers the question I’ve been asking throughout the entire series: Is this a show about who killed Andrea Cornish or is this a show about what happens in the wake of a tragedy? “The Night Of” is most certainly the latter and by showing that life — while not pretty, resolved, or free from strife — will continue. The ripple effects of what happened on October 24th will reverberate in the lives of everyone involved. I’m not sure we’d get the same result if this show were simply about a murder, even if it were filmed as exquisitely or presented on premium cable.  

It took one night — three hours, really — for unthinkable events to take place. It took roughly eight weeks for Naz’s life to unravel. It took insurmountable adversity for the true nature of each character to reveal itself. Therein lies what the show really was; “The Night Of” was much more than a summer TV show — it was a promising glimpse of what TV could be.  

Redrafting Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘E•MO•TION’

08.28.16 at 1:48 pm ET
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Carly Rae Jepsen's leftover songs are killer. (Getty Images)

Carly Rae Jepsen’s leftover songs are killer. (Getty Images)

For an album that’s exceedingly bright, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “E•MO•TION” didn’t have as fun a time as it should have. It was undoubtedly a very strong album, but it barely yielded one Top 40 song as the album failed to take Jepsen back to the heights she had reached with “Call Me Maybe” off of 2012’s “Kiss.”

Still, those who sunk their teeth into the album swore by it, and for good reason. This album was crafted to be a modern-day pop masterpiece, as its producers and co-writers included modern-day hitmakers Sia, Ariel Rechtshaid (Adele, Vampire Weekend, HAIM, Calvin Harris), Shellback (Taylor Swift, Adele, Kesha, Maroon 5) Mattman & Robin (Taylor Swift, Tove Lo, Nick Jonas; they’re also the monsters responsible for “Cake By the Ocean”), Rostam and Dev Hynes. Simply looking at the album’s credits was enough to make a pop fan’s mouth water. Hell, Bieber was an executive producer.

The songs were great, if not too similar to one another. The album was clearly put together with an 80s sound in mind, an area where Rechtshaid in particular excels. Why the album wasn’t a major success may go down as one of modern pop’s great mysteries, but the thinking here from the beginning was that some truly great work was spent on an artist who wasn’t truly great, and that’s coming from a Carly Rae Jepsen fan.

Still, the album’s fate was unfair. Taylor Swift’s success (and that of so many before her) shows that you don’t need to be a powerhouse vocalist to be a star solo artist, and really “1989” wasn’t so much better than “EMOTION” that one deserved Album of the Year while the other failed to even get a single Grammy nomination.

On Friday, Jepson released “E•MO•TION: Side B,” a collection of eight songs that didn’t make the cut for the 12-song LP. The songs very much come from the same world as “E•MO•TION” (the 80s world), but interestingly enough, “Side B” might actually be a better pound-for-pound release than “E•MO•TION” itself. The leadoff track of the leftovers, “First Time” is perhaps one of the five best songs of the entire group of 20.

So, with “Side B” being received warmly (and it’s worth nothing “E•MO•TION” was also a critical darling), it’s worth exploring whether “E•MO•TION” could have been more successful had Interscope kept some of the songs it cut and lost some of the ones that made the album. Sticking with 12 songs (the number on the standard release), here’s one attempt at giving “E•MO•TION” a good ol’ fashioned redrafting:

1. Run Away With Me [E•MO•TION] – The rest of the album isn’t as adult as its leadoff shuffle, making this a standout track.
2. First Time [Side B] – And here we return to vintage Jepsen. Nothing beats good, unapologetically derivative pop. This song isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather make the wheel look damn good.
3. Higher [Side B] – A good enough song to overlook rhyming “best” with “rest.”
4. E•MO•TION [E•MO•TION] – Great chorus; would have been a much better choice as a single than the bland “Your Type,” which was released as a single but doesn’t make the cut here.
5. I Really Like You [E•MO•TION] – The only Top 40 song off “E•MO•TION” wasn’t close to her best work on the album, but it appeased the “Call Me Maybe” crowd to a degree.
6. The One [Side B] – Carly Rae Jepsen is nothing without flirty songs. This is one of them.
7. All That [E•MO•TION] – The best song of the 20 and one of Rechtshaid’s finest works. Just a terrific slow jam with a killer bridge.
8. Boy Problems [E•MO•TION] – Jepsen’s songs usually rely on massive choruses; here’s a rare instance where the verse and pre-chorus outshine the hook.
9. Cry [Side B] – The type of song Taylor Swift will hear and be furious she didn’t come up with it first.
10. When I Needed You [E•MO•TION] – Essentially a Sky Ferreira song, which is a great thing.
11. Warm Blood [E•MO•TION] – The most ambitious song of the group, and boy does it work.
12. Roses [Side B] – Now I seriously wish this is what the album was. “Roses” would have been a hell of a closer.

Thinking Out Loud: Bryant basketball team continues tour of Italy after earthquake

08.26.16 at 3:43 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to Michael Bishop.

— One of those rare occasions happened this week when the real world and the sports world collide — and excuse each other for the intrusion. The Bryant basketball team is touring Italy, situated in Rome, and was supposed to play in the town of Spoleto on Wednesday night — until a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy.

— That first game in Spoleto, not far from the quake’s epicenter and only about 20 minutes from one of the hardest-hit areas (Amatrice), was canceled. The tremors were felt in Rome, waking coach Tim O’Shea (as he reported via social media), and Bryant’s travel party is safe. But the death toll surpassed 240 late this week as rescue efforts continue in the mountainous central region of the country.

— Sport becomes a complete afterthought when faced with tragedy like this. And it should be. Bryant’s team traveled to Naples late in the week after completing its tour of Rome.

— Sometimes the stress and strain of directing a high major basketball program takes its toll in different ways. To the surprise of many, Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley underwent back surgery for a herniated disc this week. The athletic department reports Cooley’s surgery went well, and he expects to be back in the office next week at some point, with classes starting Aug. 29 — and he certainly expects to be back coaching the team for the start of preseason workouts in October.

— The third annual Providence Basketball Classic will be held Saturday (Aug. 27) at Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eight teams of former pro and college players from New England will compete in a single-elimination tournament, competing for a cash prize, and there will be a high school all-star game as well. Backpack giveaways for the start of school, school supplies and free haircuts are a part of the festivities, and admission is only $3.

— About 1,000 fans attended last year’s event, which is the creation of former Johnson & Wales all-American Lamonte Thomas. Thomas is preparing for his fifth season of playing professionally in Europe. Cool that he continues to give back to the community by hosting this event.

— ICYMI, Tomas Murphy, who hails from Wakefield, Rhode Island, is headed to Northeastern to play his college ball for coach Bill Coen. Coen and Murphy’s dad, Jay, are long-time friends with Boston College connections, and Murphy’s brothers (Erik and Alex) played at Florida under Billy Donovan. Butler, Pittsburgh and Georgia also were in the final mix until the end.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Former Red Sox pitcher impressed with Tim Tebow after practice sessions

08.26.16 at 8:36 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: Orioles at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Braves at Giants, 11 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL preseason: Browns at Buccaneers, 8 p.m. (CBS)
NFL preseason: Packers at 49ers, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
College football: Hawaii at California, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Liberty at Stars, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
WNBA: Sparks at Storm, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Bundesliga, SV Werder Bremen at Bayern Munich, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow

— As he closes in on Tuesday’s showcase for major league teams, Tim Tebow has impressed at least one former major leaguer.

David Aardsma, a 34-year-old journeyman reliever who pitched for the Red Sox in 2008 and most recently played for the Blue Jays’ Triple-A team earlier this season, pitched to Tebow twice in practice sessions, and he told the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron that he came away believing the former quarterback has a chance with baseball.

“When I walked away, as a pitcher, I was pretty impressed,” said Aardsma, who has been working out at the same Arizona facility as Tebow, hoping to make a return to the majors. “He needs to see a lot more pitching and understand what the pitcher is watching and seeing from him and adjusting. That’s not something you know until you’re in it.

“I’d get him to instructs [instructional league], work his butt and get him to play winter league. Get him on the field every day, facing different pitchers. I would not be surprised if he’s in Double-A next year. I’d put the talent there right now.”

Aardsma said Tebow did a good job of adjusting to the right-hander’s pitches the first time they faced each other. One week later, the two again shared a field Thursday and Tebow further progressed to the point where the 29-year-old ESPN analyst took Aardsma deep.

“It actually really pissed me off,” Aardsma said of Tebow’s success against him, noting that he was throwing low-90s fastballs as well as breaking balls.

Added Aardsma: “He looked like a much different hitter today. He looked like he is midseason. He got tired at the end, but that was after a lot of work and probably 12 at-bats.”

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy acknowledged Wednesday on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria that Boston will be one of the expected 20 or so major league teams at Tuesday’s workout, although he didn’t sound optimistic about it being worthwhile. Aardsma said he can see why some in baseball have doubted Tebow’s chances of succeeding in his career change, but he doesn’t rule it out.

“It’s understandable,” Aardsma said. “If I’m a scout, outside looking in, I’d say no chance. But there’s always exceptions to that rule, some people who have innate talent. What’s the risk?”

— One day after North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora confirmed that Tim Beckman had been serving as a volunteer assistant coach despite being fired from Illinois for allegedly mistreating players, Beckman announced Thursday that he was leaving because he did not want to be a distraction.

“I appreciate the opportunity Coach Fedora gave me to stay connected to the sport and be around one of the best staffs in the country,” Beckman said in a statement. “His willingness to help a friend was a benefit both personally and professionally. I do not wish to be a further distraction to the team or University and I will no longer serve as a volunteer at UNC. I wish Larry and the program nothing but success going forward.”

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Read More: David Aardsma, James Harrison, Tim Beckman, Tim Tebow

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Giants owner John Mara defends signing of K Josh Brown despite domestic violence accusations

08.25.16 at 8:32 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 Rays, 1:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Twins, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Giants at Dodgers, 11 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League Baseball World Series: South Korea vs. Mexico, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball World Series: Tennessee vs. Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Falcons at Dolphins, 8 p.m. (NBC)
NFL preseason: Cowboys at Seahawks, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)


— Giants owner John Mara went on the defensive Wednesday after receiving widespread criticism for re-signing Pro Bowl kicker Josh Brown despite his ex-wife’s accusations of domestic abuse.

Brown was arrested in May 2015 after allegedly grabbing his then-wife, Molly, by the throat and holding her down with his knee at their Washington home, one of two incidents on consecutive nights. However, charges of fourth-degree domestic assault were dropped days later due to insufficient evidence, reportedly after Molly Brown decided not to pursue the case.

Brown was suspended by the NFL for the first game of this season — despite the league’s new policy that dictates a six-game ban for such issues — and said that while he was “not OK with the decision, I have to respect it.” It then was revealed that Molly Brown told authorities that he had assaulted her at least 20 times, including once in 1999 while she was pregnant.

“Based on the facts that were placed in front of us, we’re comfortable with our decision to re-sign Josh and the league’s suspension,” Mara told the media Wednesday during Giants practice. “The easiest thing for us to do would be to get a new kicker. We’re trying to be fair to Josh. The easiest thing would be to say, ‘Terminate him, get rid of him.’ We’re trying to do the right thing. It’s not always easy.”

The Giants signed the 37-year-old Brown to a two-year, $4 million contract in the spring despite being aware of the issues, as Mara insisted, “We did our homework here.”

“We’re aware that there were allegations against Josh,” Mara said. “We knew that the NFL would conduct an investigation. We’re well aware that there were other [incidents]. One of the things you learn is that there is a big difference between allegations and convictions. It’s important to sort all those things out. We’re not going to get into the number of conversations we had with a number of people. We will live with the results of the [NFL investigation] and move forward.

“A lot of time, people try to make it black and white,” Mara added. “There are two sides to everything. Very rarely you have a Ray Rice video.”

Brown made 30 of 32 field goals and missed only one of his 45 PAT attempts in scoring a career-high 134 points last season, earning him a berth in the Pro Bowl. Former Jets and Titans kicker Randy Bullock was signed to a one-year deal Monday to fill in, as Brown’s future suddenly is unclear. But Mara said the Giants stand behind him.

“Josh knows what’s expected of him,” Mara said. “He’s been going to counseling. He’s been a good citizen since he’s been here. He’s going to conduct himself in a professional manner. We’re an organization that has always tried to do the right thing. It’s not always easy, but we’re going to stick with our decision.”

— U.S. soccer came down hard on Hope Solo, banning the goalie six months from the national team for calling the Swedish squad “a bunch of cowards” after the Americans’ loss in a penalty shootout at the Rio Olympics.

Solo, who has had her share of off-field issues (including one that led to a 30-day suspension early last year), was frustrated with Sweden’s defensive strategy that proved to be effective as it prevented the U.S. from earning a medal.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: U.S. Olympic swimmer James Feigen apologizes, details Rio controversy

08.24.16 at 8:26 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 Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Indians at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball World Series: Mexico vs. Australia, 1 p.m (ESPN)
Little League Baseball World Series: Iowa vs. Tennessee, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball World Series: Panama vs. South Korea, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball World Series: New York vs. Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
MLS: Revolution at Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
Soccer: Champions League, Manchester City vs. Steaua Bucharest, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Champions League, Red Bull Salzburg vs. Dinamo Zagreb, 2:30 p.m. (FSN)
Soccer: Champions League, Rostov vs. Ajax, 2:30 p.m. (FS2)


James Feigen

James Feigen

— U.S. Olympic swimmer James Feigen apologized Tuesday for his role in the incident at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro earlier this month, and he offered some clarity regarding exactly what happened.

“First and foremost I would like to apologize for the serious distractions from the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, and Team USA,” Feigen said in a statement released through his legal representation, The Hull Firm of Austin, Texas. “It was never my intent to draw attention away from the tradition of athletic competition and the symbolic cooperation of countries participating in the Olympic games.”

Added Feigen: “I am so sorry for the drama this has caused in everyone’s lives. I am very thankful to be home in the United States with my family and that this ordeal has come to an end.”

Feigen, who won a gold medal as part of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, was with teammates Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger when they were returning to the Olympic village after a night of partying. Around 5 a.m., their taxi stopped at a gas station so the swimmers could use the bathroom. Feigen explained that when they found the door was locked, they urinated on the grass behind the building. Lochte then pulled a framed poster off a wall. Feigen denied that he or his teammates damaged the bathroom door or entered the bathroom at all.

When the swimmers returned to their taxi, armed security guards made them get out of the cab and sit on the ground, accusing them of vandalizing the bathroom and ordering them to pay for the damage.

“This was the first time I have ever had a gun pointed at me and I was terrified,” Feigen said in his apology, adding: “It became apparent that the man with the gun was telling us to pay, and I was unsure if they were affiliated with the gas station. Gunnar Bentz and I gave the man some money.”

When Lochte started telling people the swimmers were robbed at gunpoint, local police showed up and took a statement. Feigen said he did not tell authorities that the swimmers urinated on the ground or that Lochte pulled down the poster.

“I realize that I made a mistake for omitting these facts,” Feigen said. “I was trying to protect my teammates and for this I apologize.”

Feigen’s passport later was seized and he was taken to a Brazilian court, where he was given the option of remaining in Brazil for at least a month while the investigation continued, or paying a fine of $31,250 and performing 15 days of community service. Eventually a deal was struck in which Feigen paid a $10,800 fine and was allowed to fly home.

— Josh Hamilton’s return to the Rangers ended with a thud Tuesday as the team placed the injured outfielder on unconditional release waivers. However, the move was made with the hope that Hamilton will attend spring training and attempt to regain a roster spot. As per MLB rules, Hamilton had to be waived by the end of August or else he would not be eligible to play for Texas until after May 15 next season.

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Billy Butler, Danny Valencia fined by Athletics after clubhouse altercation leaves Butler on concussion list

08.23.16 at 11:16 am ET
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The Athletics fined third baseman Danny Valencia and designated hitter Billy Butler after a reported clubhouse fight between the two that forced Butler to the seven-day concussion list.

According to John Shea and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, two witnesses said the altercation was over an endorsement contract that Valencia lost due to Butler. The incident happened before batting practice on Friday, when an equipment rep questioned Valencia regarding off-brand spikes in his locker. Valencia said he only used those cleats during batting practice and pregame workouts, and Butler jumped in and said Valencia was lying, often wearing the off-brand cleats in games.

After the rep left, witnesses said Valencia confronted Butler and said, “Don’t you ever loud-talk me in front of a rep. That was wrong.” Butler said, “I can say whatever I want, and your [expletive] isn’t going to do anything about it.”

The sources said that the men bumped heads and began pushing one another, with Valencia drilling Butler in the temple. Butler has not played since the incident, and Valencia sat out Saturday’s game.

“There was an altercation in the clubhouse, we’re aware of it, both players have been disciplined and fined and we’re moving past it,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “That’s it. From the organization’s standpoint, it’s resolved and we’re moving past it.”

Said Valencia: “You’d like to handle things differently, but we’re handling it in here. As with anyone in the game, you have to overcome obstacles. We all have to persevere in here.”

A’s outfielder Coco Crisp and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, a former teammate of both Valencia and Butler, tweeted out their support for Valencia on Sunday.


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