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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: NFL Network fires Warren Sapp after arrest at Super Bowl hotel

02.03.15 at 7:52 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.

NBA: Celtics at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Heat at Pistons, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Jazz at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Indiana at Wisconsin, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Georgia at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: St. John’s at Butler, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s at Saint Louis, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Florida at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Virginia Tech at Syracuse, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Seton Hall at DePaul, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Boise State at Utah State, 9:35 p.m. (CBSSN)
NHL: Blackhawks at Wild, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: Beanpot semifinal, Boston University vs. Harvard, 5 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: Beanpot semifinal, Boston College vs. Northeastern, 8 p.m. (NESN)
Soccer: FA Cup, Cambridge at Manchester United, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— The NFL Network announced that it has terminated its contract with Warren Sapp after the Hall of Fame defensive lineman was arrested early Monday morning in Phoenix on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute and assaulting two women.

Sapp was in Arizona for the Super Bowl. He was taken into custody at a downtown Phoenix hotel at about 2:30 a.m. after police, investigating a noise disturbance, were told by a woman that she had been assaulted. According to a police spokesman, Sapp “admitted involvement in the act of prostitution but denied assaulting the females.” Apparently there was an argument over money, and an altercation left the women with minor injuries.

Sapp had his initial court appearance late Monday afternoon. He is due back in court Feb. 23. He faces a maximum penalty of $2,500 in fines, six months in jail, three years probation and a mandatory 15 days in jail if convicted of soliciting a prostitute.

Sapp, who spent most of his 13-year NFL career with the Buccaneers, has a long history of legal troubles. He filed for bankruptcy in 2012, one year before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The 42-year-old first joined NFL Network in 2008.

— Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody was indicted Monday on 12 counts of animal cruelty, charges his agent termed ludicrous. The Ravens responded quickly by terminating his contract.

Some of the charges are related to the death of Cody’s Presa Canario mastiff last month. He also was charged with possession of an alligator, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

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Mavericks PG Rajon Rondo to miss at least 3 games following facial injury

02.02.15 at 1:17 pm ET
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Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo will miss at least three games after suffering a nasal fracture and an orbital fracture in his left eye in Dallas’ Saturday night game against the Magic.

Less than two minutes into the game, Rondo was accidentally kneed by teammate Richard Jefferson.

“Hopefully, he has a quick and speedy recovery,” Jefferson said. “Luckily we have the All-Star break not far away, so hopefully that will give him some more time to get right. He’s a tough guy.”

Rondo was traded by the Celtics on Dec. 19 after months of tension in Boston. Since arriving in Dallas following the trade, Rondo has missed only one game.

Rondo will miss games against Minnesota, Golden State and Sacramento, and will be tested over the next few days to determine if he will need to miss more time.

It is unclear who will replace Rondo in his absence. The top options appear to be Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton.

“We’ve just got to make it work with the guys that we have available in these situations, and we will,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is part of the challenge of an NBA season.”

Read More: celtics, Dallas Mavericks, rajon rondo,

Browns QB Johnny Manziel enters treatment

02.02.15 at 11:16 am ET
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Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

Just one day after the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl in the Belichick-Brady era, news surfaced regarding one of the league’s most notable individual stories of the past year. A representative for Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel confirmed that the troubled youngster has started treatment to help resolve some off-field issues.

“Johnny knows there are areas in which he needs to improve in order to be a better family member, friend and teammate and he thought the offseason was the right time to take this step,” a statement released by Manziel’s publicist Denise Michaels read. “On behalf of Johnny and his family, we’re asking for privacy until he rejoins the team in Cleveland.”

Manziel, one of the highest-profile picks in last year’s draft, has had several off the field issues dating back to his days playing for Texas A&M. This season, Manziel has drawn negative attention for partying on multiple occasions, and for his entourage getting into a fight.

Most recently, Manziel was fined by the Browns for oversleeping the day before Cleveland’s final game of the season. Manziel later admitted that he had partied too hard the night before.

Read More: Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Nationwide defends ‘dead kid’ Super Bowl commercial

02.02.15 at 8:23 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.

NBA: Hawks at Pelicans, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Virginia at North Carolina 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Morgan State at Coppin State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: American at Holy Cross, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Iowa at Kansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Alabama A&M at Texas Southern, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)


— There seems to be no doubt which Super Bowl commercial garnered the most attention: Nationwide’s depressing spot featuring a young boy lamenting all the things he’ll never be able to do in life, “because I died from an accident.”

Nationwide SB ad memeThe ad, part of the company’s MakeSafeHappen campaign, inspired a number of creative memes, perhaps none better than one from South Carolina software developer Jared Smith, who tweeted a shot of the Nationwide kid saying he would have had Marshawn Lynch run the ball on the Seahawks‘ final play, “but I died.”

In an interview with Yahoo, Smith said the ad “pissed a lot of people off, including me — and I don’t even have kids.”

The company responded to the criticism with a statement defending the point of the ad.

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America,” the statement read. “Most people don’€™t know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us — the safety and well being of our children. We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions. In fact, thousands of people visited, a new website to help educate parents and caregivers with information and resources in an effort to make their homes safer and avoid a potential injury or death. Nationwide has been working with experts for more than 60 years to make homes safer. While some did not care for the ad, we hope it served to begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children everywhere.”

Here’s the ad. Check below for some other memorable Super Bowl spots.

— The Seahawks‘ decision to pass the ball at the 1-yard line, leading to Malcom Butler’s game-saving interception, might go down as the worst play call in Super Bowl history. At least according to NFL players who weighed in on Twitter.

Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson was one of many who wondered why Marshawn Lynch wasn’t given the chance to run the ball in the end zone. Wrote Richardson: U have a running back named beast mode n u line up in shotgun formation n throw the ball on 1 yr line’€¦the real MVP IS SEATTLE OC.

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Video: Prosecutors offer potential smoking gun in Aaron Hernandez trial

01.31.15 at 5:06 pm ET
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This video (surfaced by TMZ) was presented by prosecutors in the Aaron Hernandez trial, potentially showing the defendant holding a gun upon returning to his house the night of the Odin Lloyd shooting.

Thinking Out Loud: Providence makes best of snowy situation

01.30.15 at 2:48 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the super-villain Mr. Freeze …

— So … what’s a little snow between friends? The fourth-largest snowfall on record? This week, beautiful, fluffy white snowflakes became hated, heavy drifts of pure, cold, white misery. Honestly, I thought I had seen/been through it all in 27 years as a New England resident. That is, until this past week. My backyard, a cranberry bog in the Massachusetts town of Berkley, was buried under 30-plus inches of snow after all was said and done with Winter Storm Juno. And what is it with naming winter storms, like naming hurricanes? Does this help keep track of them through the years? And why would we want to remember this? Stupid is as stupid does.

— We all seem to remember the great storms in history, like the Blizzard of”78, so let’s compromise here. Snowmageddon 2015. Has a great ring to it, with the proper amount of alarm and hype just like our TV reporters would want, don’cha think?

— The week’s confinement to quarters gave me time to recall a few of my favorite one-liners on the weather, like this one: It was so cold this week, lawyers put their hands in their own pockets. The same can be said for politicians, too.

— One of the casualties of the snowfall was Providence’s Tuesday night game with DePaul — delayed to Thursday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. One possibility had the Friars and Blue Demons playing at Alumni Hall on campus, if the Fleetwood Mac concert Wednesday had to be postponed. That would have made for an interesting scenario — with only 3,000 or so tickets/seats available — and the first regular-season game on campus in more than 40 years. Alas, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and crew decided the show would go on as scheduled. The postponement still became the first in almost 22 years for the Friars, since Georgetown and John Thompson pulled out of a scheduled game at the Dunk in 1993 due to a snowstorm.

— Not for nuthin’ … but a stroke of genius by the PC athletic department in selling tickets to the Thursday afternoon game with DePaul for just $1. Who could make a 2 p.m. tip-off on a work day, or during a work week already messed up by the snowstorm? As it turned out, 3,568 fans did show for the matinee. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charities, and fans who pre-purchased tickets will get two tickets to a future game next season. That’s certainly making chicken salad out of chicken feathers.

— The rantings and ravings here over Kris Dunn the past couple of weeks? I could say I told you so … so I will. His triple-double performance against DePaul Thursday (career high 27 points, career high 13 rebounds, 11 assists) was rare, of course. First ever for PC in a Big East game, ninth in school history. I hope it means nothing, but perhaps Friars fans need to enjoy these last few weeks of games with Dunn in Friar duds, ‘cuz he is rapidly gaining attention, and ascending the NBA draft ladder.

— For my money, Dunn has perhaps the best pure ability of any individual Friar I’ve had the privilege to cover in more than 20 years — and there have been some very good ones. There is fluidity to his game I haven’t seen since Eric Murdock dominated on both ends of the floor in 1990-91. And Murdock went on to play in the NBA for nine seasons.

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3-time Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo suspended 2 years for doping

01.30.15 at 8:58 am ET
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Rita Jeptoo, who set a women’s course record in winning the 2014 Boston Marathon, was suspended by Athletics Kenya for two years for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Jeptoo tested positive for the blood-booster EPO in September, one month before she won the Chicago Marathon for the second straight year.

She has denied doping, calling the accusations “lies,” but her governing organization ruled against her.

“AK followed due process in her matter and it was appropriate that she serves a two-year ban,” AK chief executive Isaac Kamande told Reuters news service.

Jeptoo has won Boston the last two years. She also won in 2006. In 2014 she finished in a record time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 57 seconds.

The 33-year-old won the 2013-14 World Marathon Majors title but has been denied her share of the $500,000 prize.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Rex Ryan plays down impact of Deflategate on Patriots

01.30.15 at 8:08 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.

NBA: Rockets at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Mavericks at Heat, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Bulls at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Harvard at Princeton, 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Monmouth at Fairfield, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kent State at Buffalo, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Sabres at Canucks, 10 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: Providence at Boston College, 7:30 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
College hockey: North Dakota at Nebraska-Omaha, 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Tennis: Australian Open, 3 a.m. (ESPN)


— New Bills coach Rex Ryan still might not want to kiss Bill Belichick‘s rings, but he also isn’t ready to pile on the Patriots coach regarding Deflategate.

Reporters caught up with Ryan on Thursday in Phoenix, and Ryan laughed when asked if he ever suspected that the Patriots deflated footballs.

“No, I never, you know, I don’€™t see that,” Ryan said (via “And I think it’€™s unfortunate that this takes away. This is the biggest stage there is and here we’€™re talking about something like that. It is a black eye to the league and the league will handle it as they see fit. But they’€™re a great football team, and they’€™ve earned the right to get here. Same thing with Seattle.”

Ryan also said he doesn’t believe the legacies of Belichick and Tom Brady will be affected by this controversy.

“I don’€™t think that’€™s anything,” Ryan said. “I mean, when you look at, you’€™re going to have a guy that’€™s arguably going to end up being if not the best coach in the history of the game, at least in that conversation. Same thing about their quarterback. So I don’€™t think it’€™s going to be anything.”

Ryan also weighed in on the issue the Patriots have been having with the fire alarm in their hotel going off in the middle of the night.

“Let’€™s face it: Belichick probably did it himself,” Ryan joked. “He’€™s the one that pulled the thing and created a different story. Those things happen. You try to prepare your team in the offseason — training camps and all that kind of stuff. Would you pull a fire alarm or something? You may.”

Ryan claimed that alarms have gone off in his teams’ hotels during visits to New England, but he insisted he wasn’t getting his revenge this week.

“I was not there,” he said. “You can’t blame that one on me.”

— Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is headed to jail for five days after pleading guilty Thursday to reckless driving for an incident in July in Virginia.

Werth admitted that he was driving his Porsche GT3 RS more than 100 mph on I-495 in Fairfax Country. A Virginia State Police trooper paced Werth driving at least 105 mph on an on-ramp, and Werth pulled way from the police cruiser on the highway, which has a posted speed limit of 55 mph.

Werth, who was cooperative after being pulled over and admitted he was “pressing his luck” by driving so fast, had been convicted of the charges in December. He appealed and was due for another trial next week before reaching a plea deal. He will serve his sentence on weekends.

“We are aware of the agreement reached today. It is clear that Jayson has taken this matter seriously and with great personal reflection,” the team said in a statement. “We do not condone reckless behavior, and we expect all members of the Washington Nationals organization to act in a responsible manner. We support Jayson, who is an integral part of the community and of the Washington Nationals family.

Werth, who declined comment after the hearing, is entering the fifth season of a seven-year, $126 million contract. He hit .292 with 16 home runs, 82 RBIs and a team-high .849 OPS in 147 games last season. He had arthroscopic shoulder surgery Jan. 9 and is expected to be ready to play in 2-3 months.

— One day after having season-ending shoulder surgery, Kobe Bryant said he intends to return in September for his 20th season.

“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Bryant told ESPN.

Bryant stopped by Staples Center to visit with former teammate Pau Gasol before Thursday’s Bulls-Lakers game, although Bryant said he wasn’t feeling well enough to go on the court.

Bryant will be heading into the final year of his contract in 2015-16, when he is slated to earn $25 million. The 36-year-old said he doesn’t pay attention to other people’s suggestions that he should retire.

“I don’t really listen much to what people have to say, to be honest with you,” he said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 30, 1973, the Patriots had perhaps their best draft ever. Which three players did they select in Round 1?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “His desire to be so competitive, I’€™ve never seen it. You could put him in the category of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, just some of the great athletes in this world, and I’€™€™m talking different sports, too. He has the fight, the will and the determination to go out there and destroy anybody who’€™€™s in his way. You see the results on the field, he’€™€™s awesome.” Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis on Tom Brady

STAT OF THE DAY: 25 – Percent decrease in recorded concussions in NFL games from 2013 to 2014, according to data released by the league Thursday

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch play Mortal Kombat X on “Conan.”

Magic guard Victor Oladipo soars in for an impressive dunk against the Bucks.

Bulls forward Joakim Noah makes a nice behind-the-back pass to Pau Gasol for a layup against the Lakers.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Offensive lineman John Hannah (fourth), running back Sam Cunningham (11th) and receiver Darryl Stingley (19th)

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Phil Collins was born on this day in 1951.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jayson Werth, kobe bryant, Rex Ryan

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Former NFL QB Jeff Blake says ‘every team’ deflates footballs

01.29.15 at 8:04 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.

NHL: Bruins at Islanders, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Canadiens at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Ducks at Sharks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Nuggets at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Bulls at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Dayton at UMass, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Maryland at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UConn at Cincinnati, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Kentucky at Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Eastern Kentucky at Murray State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Colorado at USC, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Utah at UCLA, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: San Francisco at BYU, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Tennis: Australian Open, 3:30 a.m. (ESPN)


— A former Jets quarterback has come to the Patriots’ defense — sort of — claiming deflating footballs is such a common practice that “every team does it, every game.”

Jeff Blake, who started his career with the Jets in 1992 and went on to play for the Bengals, Saints, Ravens and Bears before retiring after the 2005 season, made his claim during a radio interview Wednesday with Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone.

“I’m just going to let the cat out of the bag, every team does it, every game, it has been since I played,” said Blake, who made the Pro Bowl as a Bengal in 1995. ” ‘Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard. And you can’t feel the ball as well. It’s too hard.

“Everybody puts the pin in and takes just enough air out of the ball that you can feel it a little better. But it’s not the point to where it’s flat. So I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s not something that’s not been done for 20 years.”

Blake said he used to order ball boys to let the air out of his footballs just before games throughout his time in the NFL.

“Well, I would say [to a ball boy], ‘Take a little bit of air out of it. It’s a little bit hard.’ ” Blake said. “And then he’d take a little bit out and I’d squeeze it and I’d be like, ‘OK, it’s perfect.’ That’s it.”

Added Blake: “I guess it wasn’t a big deal back then, but it is now.”

— While we’re on the topic of Deflategate, apparently the practice is not limited to football.

Knicks president Phil Jackson admitted in a 1986 Chicago Tribune article that his Knicks championship teams of the early 1970s used to deaden the basketballs in order to compensate for New York’s lack of height.

Jackson claimed it helped the team’s rebounding.

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Read More: Deflategate, Jeff Blake, Phil Jackson, Ronaldo

Veteran Kings C Mike Richards assigned to AHL Manchester after clearing waivers

01.28.15 at 11:22 am ET
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Kings center Mike Richards, who was an important part of both of Los Angeles’ recent Cup wins, was placed on waivers Monday and cleared them on Tuesday after no NHL team claimed him.

Richards, who turns 30 next month, was assigned to Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, after posting less than desirable numbers for the past couple of years. This season, Richards has registered just five goals and 10 assists in 47 games.

Richards’ contract is worth $7 million this season and has a total 12-year, $69 million value that stretches to 2020.

Richards has played in 224 consecutive games for the Kings, but that streak will come to an end Wednesday night.

Read More: Los Angeles Kings, Mike Richards,