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Monday’s Morning Mashup: NFL teams pay tribute to school shooting victims

12.17.12 at 7:52 am ET

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NFL: Jets at Titans, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Rockets at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Detroit at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: IPFW at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Texas State at Northwestern, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: UNLV at UTEP, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Cornell at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)


‘™¦ The NFL paid tribute to the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting during Sunday’s games. The Patriots had a pregame tribute featuring 26 flares in honor of the 20 children and six school employees who died Friday. The team’s End Zone Militia silenced the guns that they normally fire after the Patriots score.

“Out of respect for those that were killed, we were asked yesterday not to fire the muskets, which we all agreed with,” End Zone Militia sergeant Bob Elliott said. “It was just such a horrific thing. It’s hard to put it into words.”

Some teams darkened their scoreboards and lowered their flags to half-staff, while the players (including those on the Patriots) wore helmet decals with black ribbons.

Giants receiver Victor Cruz, whose team lost to the Falcons in Atlanta, wrote the name of 6-year-old victim Jack Pinto on his cleats and gloves with the words “My hero,” “This one is 4 U” and “R.I.P.” Cruz spoke to the child’s family on Saturday night after learning that the boy was a big fan of the standout receiver.

“There are no words that can describe the type of feeling you get when a kid idolizes you so much that they want to, unfortunately, put him in a casket with your jersey on,” said Cruz, a former UMass star. “I can’t even explain it.”

Cruz heard about the boy’s admiration for him via Twitter and contacted the family Saturday night.

“I was in the hotel [in Atlanta] and as I was talking to them I was fighting back tears,” Cruz said. “You could hear everybody in the background crying as well. It was tough to listen to.”

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt wrote “Newtown, CT” on his shoes for his team’s game against the Colts in Houston.

“We’re playing football, and there’s something much bigger going on in this world,” Watt said. “I just wanted them to know, and I wanted everyone to know, that our thoughts are with them. Nothing is bigger than that. We played our game today, but honestly our thoughts are with them, the families, the teachers, the friends, the first responders, who had to go see that. My dad is a first responder. They were just kids.”

‘™¦ Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, a native of Cleveland, enjoyed a successful homecoming on the field Sunday as his team won at Browns Stadium, but things didn’t go so well for some of his family members in the stands. Two cousins and an 18-year-old nephew were arrested and his aunt suffered a heart attack during an incident with stadium security, according to the family.

Family members, who were wearing Redskins gear, insist that they were harassed by Browns fans and security.

“While the game was going on, first the fans were picking at us, and we were getting things thrown on us,” Fletcher’s aunt, Yvette Huston, told Cleveland’s NewsChannel5. “One of my nephews had gotten punched in the face.”

Added Huston, who was wearing a neck brace after a visit to the hospital: “The security grabbed my one son by the chest and snatched him right in front of me. I’m like, ‘Why is you snatching on him?’ And [the response was], ‘He’s going to jail.’ Then they came and started attacking our family.”

‘™¦ Andrew Bynum, in his first year with the 76ers after seven seasons with the Lakers, spoke before Sunday night’s Lakers-Sixers game in Philadelphia and said his progress was stunted by playing alongside Kobe Bryant.

“I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it’s hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously,” said Bynum, who has yet to play this season due to knee problems. “Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth.”

Bryant, who scored 34 points in the Lakers’ 111-98 win, not only wasn’t offended by Bynum’s assessment, he agreed with it.

“For sure, because when you’re playing with me you obviously have to sacrifice something,” Bryant said. “Same thing with me and Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal]. You kind of offset each other to a certain extent. So, I mean, that’s true. When he gets back and he’s healthy, he’ll come out here and he’ll be the focal point of their attack and he’ll be getting the ball more and you’ll see big games from him more consistently.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 17, 1966, which Patriot rushed for 78 yards in a 38-28 road loss to the Jets, giving him 1,458 yards on the season?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We made too many mistakes when we needed to make the plays. It’s a tough loss, but we’ve got to try to get some things corrected. We were turning the ball over. … We just didn’t even give ourselves a chance.” — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, following Sunday night’s 41-34 loss to the 49ers

STAT OF THE DAY: 5 — Seasons Patriots receiver Wes Welker has caught 100 passes, an NFL record

‘NET RESULTS: Rams receiver Danny Amendola breaks the glasses of an usher when he spikes the ball after a touchdown and it bounces up into the man’s face.

Nate Robinson, the 5-foot-9 onetime Celtic who now plays for the Bulls, shows off his vertical skills with this block of Nets guard MarShon Brooks in Saturday night’s game.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jim Nance, who would go on to be named AFL MVP that season

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Former Temptations lead singer Eddie Kendricks, who died in 1992, was born on this day in 1939.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, kobe bryant, London Fletcher, Victor Cruz