|Brian Urlacher retires after 13-year NFL career||05.22.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday, ending a 13-year NFL career.
“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher wrote. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear. I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I have all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”
The eight-time Pro Bowler played his entire career in Chicago, and was the face of the organization for many years. He and the Bears were unable to reach an agreement on a contract this offseason and he became a free agent.
Urlacher recorded a franchise-record 1,779 tackles in 182 games between 2000 and 2012. He also had 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles in his career.
The ninth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft was the 2000 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, the 2005 AP Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Pro four times. He helped lead the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2007.
|Friday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN’s Rob Parker questions Robert Griffin III’s blackness||12.14.12 at 8:02 am ET|
FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Celtics at Rockets, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Grizzlies at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Div. 3 championship, St. Thomas vs. Mount Union, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: FCS semifinal, Georgia Southern at North Dakota State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
AROUND THE WEB:
♦ ESPN host Rob Parker is the talk of the Internet following his analysis of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III as it pertains to the black community.
RGIII responded to a reporter’s question Wednesday by saying:
“I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it,. I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African-American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.”
Speaking on ESPN’s “First Take,” Parker — who also is African-American — said Thursday:
“This is an interesting topic. For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.”
Added Parker: “My question which is just a straight honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
Asked to elaborate, Parker said: “I want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. Then there was all this talk about him being a Republican, which there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”
Stephen A. Smith, who was part of the discussion, tried to distance himself from Parker’s words.
“Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went,” Smith said. “RG III, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It’s irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kind of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.”
ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys responded to media requests Thursday night by tweeting: “The comments were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps.”
♦ The Packers and Bears have been chirping at each other this week in advance of Sunday’s matchup in Chicago. Packers tight end Jermichael Finley started the latest round when he implied that the Bears are better off without injured linebacker Brian Urlacher.
“Urlacher is at the end of his career right now; he’s playing a little slow out there,” Finley said Wednesday. “I don’t think they’re losing too much if he’s out. Putting another guy in there might help them a little.”
Responded Bears linebacker Lance Briggs: “[Finley's] an idiot. Just suit up and play ball. His comments aren’t going to change the outcome of the game, they’re not going to help him or anybody else play better. Doesn’t really matter.”
Finley tried to play down the controversy on Thursday, tweeting: Urlacher is a hall of fame player and person. I meant no disrespect to him in previous comments, I was simply trying to explain that his replacement in the lineup is a good player as well.
Meanwhile, Urlacher might have gotten in the last word, noting that the Packers played pretty well without Finley when they won the Super Bowl in February 2011.
“Just like a couple of years ago, I think, [Finley] tore his ACL and the Packers were actually better without him. You know, they won the Super Bowl,” Urlacher told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I hope we can duplicate that as well because it won’t hurt my feelings if we go on and win the Super Bowl without me like they did without him.
“People can say what they want. It feels like I deal with something like this every year. Someone’s always saying something about me.”
♦ Rutgers suspended basketball coach Mike Rice three games and fined him $50,00 for a violation of department policy, specifically a pattern of “inappropriate behavior and language.”
Rice, known for his intensity, apologized for his actions, the specifics of which were not revealed.
“Since becoming a coach at the age of 21, I have taken great pride in not only helping young men learn the game of basketball but also in teaching them about character, respect and hard work,” Rice said. “To the extent that my conduct has ever been in contrast with those principles, I have failed my players — and myself — and I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the terms of my suspension.
“I will learn from my mistakes and I will become a better coach, teacher and role model.”
Reportedly, former Providence College star Eric Murdock — fired over the summer as the team’s director of player development — threatened to release taps of Rice mistreating players.
Said Murdock to the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger: “There is some concern for these players — that’s the biggest thing — as far as how they’re being treated. Eventually a lot of stuff will come to light and it’s not going to shed a good light on Rutgers University.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 14, 1960, the first expansion draft in baseball history was held. The Red Sox lost four players each to the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators. One of the players they lost to the Angels went on to a long career as a manager of four major league teams. Who is he?
|Friday’s Morning Mashup: BC suspends women’s soccer player for tweeting jokes about Jerry Sandusky scandal||11.16.12 at 6:56 am ET|
FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Jazz at 76ers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Knicks at Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Dayton vs. Boston College, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: UMass vs. NC State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee, 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Colorado vs. Baylor, 12:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Illinois-Chicago vs. New Mexico, 4 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Purdue vs Ohio State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wake Forest vs. UConn, 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: BYU vs. Florida State, 7 p.m. (tru TV)
College basketball: Notre Dame vs. St. Joseph’s, 9:30 p.m. (tru TV)
College basketball: North Carolina at Long Beach State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Florida International at Florida Atlantic, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Hawaii at Air Force, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College hockey: Harvard at Cornell, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
AROUND THE WEB:
♦ Stephanie McCaffrey, the second-leading scorer on the Boston College women’s soccer team, was suspended from the team Thursday for sending out joking tweets about Penn State’s sexual abuse scandal as the Eagles prepared for a Friday night game at Penn State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
McCaffrey, a sophomore from Winchester, sent out 10 tweets referencing former Nittany Lions football assistant Jerry Sandusky over a 24-hour period. Her Twitter account was taken down about an hour after her last tweet late Thursday afternoon.
“The student-athlete used very poor judgment and exhibited insensitivity toward Penn State, for which she apologizes,” new BC athletic director Brad Bates said in a statement. “This type of behavior is not tolerated among our student-athletes. Miss McCaffrey has been suspended from the team and will not participate in Friday’s game.”
McCaffrey, whose brother James is a redshirt sophomore defensive back on the BC football team, is a second-team All-ACC forward who has nine goals and six assists this year.
♦ Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said Thursday he would lie to cover up a concussion, reiterating a stance he took earlier this year. However, Urlacher acknowledged that it would be difficult to get away with it.
“I don’t know how you can lie these days with all the [stuff] they have to see who’s concussed and who’s not,” he said. “I don’t know how they can tell in the first place. I think the helmets aren’t very good. I wear an old helmet and Lance [Briggs] wears an old helmet. We don’t get concussed. We have some pretty good collisions, we don’t get concussed. I think a lot of it has to do with the helmets. They’re saying they’re better but they must not be because people are getting more concussions now.”
Urlacher also said the league should do more to prevent players from blocking at the knees, specifically targeting cut blocks.
“But that seems to be OK with the NFL so they’re not too concerned about safety, obviously,” he said. “They are concerned about long-term concussions, but immediately they’re not concerned about your knees or your ankles or anything like that. I think that should be an issue. Concussions are taking care of themselves. It’s a big deal now to everyone because of all the older players coming back and saying they’re all messed up now. That’s definitely an issue, but I think the cut blocks need to be a big issue as well.”
♦ Former University of Tennessee and WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw was arrested in Atlanta this week after allegedly shooting into a car driven by her ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Lacy of the Tulsa Shock. Holdsclaw also used a bat to break the windows, police said, although no one was injured.
Holdsclaw, who earlier this year revealed that she has battled clinical depression, was in custody Thursday night on charges of aggravated assault, second-degree criminal damage and reckless conduct.
Lacy, who played with Holdsclaw on the Atlanta Dream in 2009, released a statement through the Shock.
“I want to thank my family, friends, fans and Shock family for their concern during this difficult time,” Lacy said. “I have never felt more love from my fans in supporting me.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 16, 1961, which Bruins rookie — in his only season in Boston — scored two goals in 34 seconds to fuel a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens at Boston Garden?
|Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Phil Jackson calls Lakers’ handling of coaching change ‘slimy’||11.13.12 at 7:55 am ET|
TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Spurs at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Northern Illinois at Valparaiso, 8 a.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Harvard at UMass, 10 a.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Temple at Kent State, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Detroit at St. John’s, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Butler at Xavier, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Michigan State vs, Kansas, at Atlanta, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Wichita State at Virginia Commonwealth, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Georgia Southern at Charlotte, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Duke vs. Kentucky, at Atlanta, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
AROUND THE WEB:
♦ The Lakers reportedly had an abrupt change of heart when they hired former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown, and the news did not sit well with the legendary Phil Jackson, who many thought was headed back to the bench.
Lakers fans were chanting “We want Phil” at home games Friday and Sunday, and it appeared that the team agreed after general manager Mitch Kupchak and team vice president Jim Buss met with Jackson on Saturday. Jackson told The Los Angeles Times that he thought he was going to give the team his decision on Monday, but then he got a phone call late Sunday night, after the Lakers agreed on a three-year, $12 million deal with D’Antoni.
“I wish it would have been a little bit cleaner,” Jackson told the Times. “It would have been much more circumspect and respectful of everybody that’s involved. It seemed slimy to be awoken with this kind of news. It’s just weird.”
Kupchak explained his stance this way in a statement: “After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. [Jerry] Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward.”
♦ Some Jets continue to tell the media that they’re confident they can rebound from their 3-6 start and make the playoffs, but behind closed doors the pressure is getting to them.
According to an ESPN report that cited several players, coach Rex Ryan got so emotional during Sunday’s postgame talk to the team that he cried and frustratedly asked the team, “When are you guys going to believe?”
Ryan’s eyes were red and glassy when he met the media minutes later, calling the 28-7 defeat to the Seahawks “a brutal loss.”
Said veteran linebacker Bryan Thomas: “We’re all emotional. If this doesn’t affect everybody, you don’t have a [expletive] heart.”
Added Thomas: “We’re all pissed. We can’t let games slip away. We don’t have much time left. We have only seven damn games to go. Time is slipping.”
Ryan continues to insist he will stick with beleaguered quarterback Mark Sanchez, with Tim Tebow getting spot duty as he did in Seattle. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who coached Sanchez at USC, indicated he’s not sure it’s the best situation.
“It’s just a distraction,” Carroll told Seattle’s ESPN Radio station Monday. “It’s mixed signals that go out. Their fans are torn up. If they didn’t have a situation like this, they wouldn’t be hooting and hollering probably the way they do at [Sanchez], so it wouldn’t be as difficult. That’s just part of it. I do feel for Mark and anybody that would be in that situation.”
♦ Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher took some heat from Chicago fans for congratulating Texans safety Danieal Manning (a former Bear) after Manning intercepted Jay Cutler in Sunday night’s Houston victory. On Monday, Urlacher made it clear he has no plans to change his ways.
“That was a nice play. I could give a crap about what people think on the street. Get mad at me all you want, I could give … I could give a crap about what people say,” Urlacher said on Chicago’s The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000. “Danieal Manning is a friend of mine, he was a teammate for five or six years, and that’s the way it is. He made a catch and was running toward the sideline to say something to coach [Lovie Smith], so I walked out there. The guy had a good game, he caused a fumble, had a pick. He’s my friend. I wish he wouldn’t have caught it, but he did, so nice play to you. I don’t give a crap about what fans or people say, they can kiss my butt. I don’t care.”
“When the play is over, it’s over. It’s not like I have to go out there and be a jerk to him because it’s during the game and I’m a tough guy,” Urlacher added. “That’s not the way it is. They’re my friends. Between the whistles I’m going to try and get them, and when the play is over we’ll go back to doing whatever.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 13, 1978, which player left the Red Sox to sign as a free agent with the Yankees?
|Brian Urlacher undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery||08.14.12 at 5:36 pm ET|
Brian Urlacher underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday morning to help relieve swelling in his left knee. The Bears linebacker was back in training camp by 10 a.m.
The 13-year-veteran had already missed the offseason training program after spraining his left medial collateral ligament and partially spraining his posterior cruciate ligament in Chicago’s final game last season against the Vikings.
Despite the recent surgery and having not practiced since July 31, Urlacher said he expects to be ready for the season-opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 9.
While he says he will be ready for the season-opener, Urlacher does not believe his knee’s condition will be improving much as the season goes on.
“I don’t see it getting any better during the season,” Urlacher said. “We have to manage it, my reps in practice, and then get through Sunday.”
Urlacher has spent the entirety of his career in Chicago, but with the recent knee issues and his contract expiring at the end of the year, the University of New Mexico product could find himself a free agent when next offseason comes around. The eight-time pro-bowler says he would like to remain with the Bears.
|NFL instructional video has players ‘on notice,’ features Brandon Meriweather hit||10.22.10 at 9:31 am ET|
NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson tells players, “You are on notice” while providing visual outlines of tolerable and intolerable hits. Notably, Brandon Meriweather‘s pop to Todd Heap is featured, and it’s unsurprisingly labeled “inexcusable.” He received a $50,000 fine for the hit, a portion of the $175,000 of total fines issued between him, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson and Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
Reactions have been mixed throughout the week. Predictably, defensive players such as Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher were in strong disagreement with the new preventive measures, while those on offense, such as Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, were supportive.
The crackdown will begin this weekend, with potential suspensions looming over the games. “So please, know the rules and play by the rules,” Anderson said in the video. “You are on notice, and we will appreciate your compliance.”
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