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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Harvard, Northeastern draw legendary opponents in NCAA Tournament 03.16.15 at 8:02 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: 76ers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Cavaliers at Heat, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Lakers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Capitals at Sabres, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB exhibition: Tigers at Cardinals, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB exhibition: Cubs at Padres, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Premier League, Liverpool at Swansea City, 3:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


— As a former Duke player, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker knows well the challenge of playing North Carolina. That’s the team his Crimson drew for its opening opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

“What a program they have had through the years with great teams and great players and great coaches that have been as good as any,” Amaker said Sunday, adding: “We’€™re excited to keep going, and I think these guys are going to be excited to get ready for an incredible program and team that has done amazing things through the years.”

The teams play Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida, in a West Regional matchup of 4 vs. 13 seeds.

Northeastern, making its first tournament appearance since 1991, is a 14 seed in the Midwest and will meet another legendary program in Notre Dame on Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh. The third-seeded Irish are coming off a victory over UNC in the ACC championship game.

“You don’t really believe it until you see it, but I’m very excited for our guys to see our name pop up and get to compete against such a great program as Notre Dame,” NU coach Bill Coen said. “We couldn’t be more excited.”

Providence is the only other New England team in the field of 68. The Friars, seeded sixth in the East, will play the winner of Wednesday’s Boise State-Dayton play-in game on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio.

Undefeated Kentucky is the overall top seed and the overwhelming favorite in the tourney field.

“I think I have the best team and the best players,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Does that mean we’ll win? No, it doesn’t.”

— Georgia State punched its NCAA ticket with a 38-36 victory over Georgia Southern in Sunday’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game, but coach Ron Hunter paid the price for leaping into his son’s arms in the postgame celebration.

“I tore my achilles on the right side years ago playing basketball,” Hunter said. “This was the exact same feeling and I knew when I jumped up. … I knew when I came down that I had done it [again], but instead of stopping right there, I wanted to go celebrate with my team. More importantly I wanted to go celebrate with my son. You don’t get many opportunities like that.”

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Read More: Bill Coen, DeMaurice Smith, Ron Hunter, Tommy Amaker
NFL, NFLPA reportedly close to agreement on HGH testing 09.05.14 at 10:14 am ET
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The NFL and the NFL Players Association are close to an agreement that would allow for HGH testing for the first time in the history of the league after three years of back-and-forth negotiations, according to an ESPN report.

It appeared that the league would have testing in place in 2011 when a new collective bargaining agreement was put in place, but disagreements have kept HGH testing on the back burner. Thanks to a push by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, the issue is back at the forefront and close to becoming a completed deal.

“Players who have been to any collective bargaining negotiation understand that we never describe them as ‘very close,’ ” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement. ‘€œWe look at every issue we can to improve the rights and benefits of players. This process takes time, it takes creativity and it is never easy. We want to get a new agreement in place, but we understand the responsibility we have to the players and to the game. It is critical that we get this right.”€

While both sides apparently would like to come to an agreement before Sunday’€™s Week 1 games, there remain points of contention with other changes. One idea the league proposed that has been debated and hotly contested is a player getting disciplined immediately for a DUI arrest. There is concern that the negotiations could come to a halt if the proposed changes other than HGH testing lead to more bickering.

If the negotiations were to be finalized, the league would be allowed to test players for HGH the day before a game and the day after one. It would not allow the NFL to test players during the day of a game. Testing could begin as little as 10 days after an agreement is put into place.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, NFL, NFLPA,
NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith critical of commissioner Roger Goodell 05.30.14 at 8:40 am ET
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NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith criticized commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday for the way he’s handled the punishment of Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Irsay has yet to be disciplined following an arrest in March in which he was charged with two misdemeanor offenses, a response much slower than Goodell would’ve made if it were a player facing disciplinary action, according to Smith.

“The commissioner understands that there is a significant credibility gap that exists in the National Football League,” Smith said. “What troubles our players is the speed and the deliberateness of the punishment that they have seen in the past when it comes to a player. There isn’t the same speed or deliberate action when it comes to an owner, and that’s a problem.”

Irsay was arrested March 16 for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated and while in the possession of $29,000 and prescription drugs that weren’t in his name, according to police reports.

Goodell responded to these criticisms Thursday while in Foxboro for a football safety clinic for mothers. The commissioner said the disciplinary process in regards to Irsay is ongoing.

“As I said before, the personal conduct policy applies to commissioners, owners, players, coaches,” Goodell said. “It applies to all of us. We all have a responsibility to do things the right way. Yes, it is ongoing.”

Goodell added: “I think you know there are several players that we haven’t taken any action on either. We like to get the facts, we like to be thorough, and we like to understand them. Charges were just filed last week. So I don’t believe there is a credibility gap.”

Smith also criticized Goodell for his stance on expanded playoffs and HGH testing.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell,
NFLPA calls press conference to discuss player safety issues 02.01.13 at 9:51 am ET
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The NFL Players Association took advantage of having much of the football media in New Orleans Thursday, calling a press conference to discuss its complaints about safety issues.

Executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth held the conference. Smith said the NFLPA will file a grievance if the NFL refuses to implement a system to verify the credentials of all team medical personnel, and brought up amendments related to player safety that the players’ union wants in the new CBA.

The union also wants the NFL to put independent neurological consultants on the sidelines during games to help diagnose and treat concussions. Earlier on Thursday, league general counsel Jeff Pash said the league expects to implement that plan next season, but Smith said the players union has not seen the proposal and details have not been confirmed.

The two sides also have yet to agree on the details of implementing blood tests for human growth hormone. Smith said the league has not agreed to using the type of independent arbitrator that Major League baseball uses, though Pash said the league recently made a new proposal to the players that he thinks will lead to an agreement.

Smith called out the NFL for locking out its officials at the start of this year, saying the use of replacement refs was “one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety that I think has occurred in the National Football League since our inception.”

Read More: Concussions, DeMaurice Smith, NFL, NFLPA
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith meet over arrests 08.02.12 at 11:49 am ET
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union leader DeMaurice Smith met last week in order to discuss the recent increase in arrests of NFL players.

“We are going to do some things to combat this problem because some of the numbers on DUIs and domestic violence are going up and that disturbs me,” Goodell said in an interview with “When there’s a pattern of mistakes, something has got to change.”

The numbers coincide with the pattern Goodell mentioned. The number of NFL players arrested has increased every years since 2010, going from 42 in 2010 to 44 in 2011 and to an ugly 48 in only seven months into this year.

The commissioner said that he wanted to eliminate two main issues: DUIs and domestic violence. He said the best way to do it would be to strengthen the existing policies and possibly even adding new protocols to more effectively eradicate this problem.

In 2010, there were 16 arrests for driving under the influence. There were eight arrests in 2011. Through July of this year, there have been 19 arrests.

The current substance abuse policy for DUIs pertaining to first-time offenders is evaluation and entry into a substance abuse program, along with a fine of two game checks up to a maximum of $50,000. Second and third violations likely warrant suspensions.

Domestic violence is apart of the personal conduct policy, and if any player or employee of the NFL is convicted of a crime in this category, they would be subjected to fines or suspensions as well.

“We’ve had some really good discussions with the union,” Goodell said. “Now we just have to see if we can carry through with them.”

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill,
Top Stories of 2011, No. 9: NFL lockout 12.23.11 at 12:00 pm ET
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For the final 10 days of 2011, will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 9: NFL lockout.

Check out our previous entry:
No. 10: NBA lockout

As the NFL regular season comes to a close, its easy to forget that the league was in the midst of a lockout just a few months ago. But the 2011 NFL lockout was actually the longest in league history, spanning 18 weeks and four days, from March until August.

Throughout the 2010-11 season, the threat of a lockout hung over the NFL, never taking the front stage, but always in the back of the minds of coaches, players, owners and fans alike. The 1993 collective bargaining agreement, which the owners had extended in 2006 by a vote of 30-2, was set to expire after the 2010-11 season.

The extension was originally supposed to last longer, but in 2008, the owners unanimously agreed to opt out of the CBA early. The owners seemed to think that the 1993 extension was unfairly in favor of the players. The deal gave players 59.6 percent of the league’s total revenue.

The timing of the 2006 extension was suspect to some owners as well, as then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was preparing to retire from his position. Many thought that Tagliabue was not willing to risk tarnishing his legacy by getting in a long, drawn-out battle with the players over a new CBA. So then-NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw got Tagliabue to sell the owners on the deal that extended the 1993 CBA and gave the players nearly 60 percent of the revenue.

But with Tagliabue gone in 2008 and Roger Goodell in the commissioner’s office, the owners voted to opt out of the CBA early. Just a few months after the vote, Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer, meaning the NFLPA would not be under his stern leadership for the first time since the 1980s.

That meant that new NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith would have to deal with a group of owners determined to hash out a CBA that would significantly cut the amount of total revenue the players received. In an owners meeting in March 2008, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who fired his own sons, reportedly told his peers, “We signed a [expletive] deal last time, and we’€™re going to stick together and take back our league and [expletive] do something about it.”

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Read More: DeMaurice Smith, Peyton Manning, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell
NFL takes step toward implementing HGH testing 10.13.11 at 8:58 am ET
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The NFL took another step toward adopting HGH testing this month when it received a letter from 23 scientists and lab directors from around the world asserting the safety and accuracy of a current test which detects HGH in the bloodstream.

The letter was sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith as further proof that there is no reason to delay the implementation of HGH testing in football.

As part of the new collective bargaining agreement reached this summer, the NFL and players agreed to begin blood testing for HGH, but the union has delayed adopting that specific agreement because it says there is not enough scientific evidence of the reliability of HGH testing.

This newest letter joins an additional letter confirming the validity of the test, providing around five dozen scientists and lab directors worldwide who affirm the effectiveness of the test.

“This further demonstrates that there is simply no excuse for delaying the start of HGH testing in the NFL,” said Greg Aiello, the NFL league spokesman. “The scientific validity of the test is unquestioned. The abuse of growth hormone must be deterred to protect the health of our players and send the right message to young athletes in sports.”

The NFL Players Association has yet to release a comment on the letters, saying it wants to further review the information before issuing a statement.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, NFL, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill
Report: Two sides in NFL lockout to meet in Minnesota 06.28.11 at 11:46 am ET
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The NFL and NFLPA “secret meetings” tour appears headed to Minnesota next, according to an Associated Press report. The two sides had met in Chicago, New York, Maryland and in Hull, Mass. last week. According to AP sources, representatives for both sides arrived in Land of 1,000 Lakes on Monday.

ESPN football insider Chris Mortensen tweeted that negotiations will go until Friday, marking the first time that the NFL and the players association would meet for four straight days since the lockout began four months ago. While others reported that players and owners will be involved in these rounds of talks, NFL Network reporter Albert Breer also tweeted that only league commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith and and their respective staffs will be participating.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, NFL lockout, Roger Goodell,
Mediator claims ‘some progress’ in NFL negotiations 02.25.11 at 7:03 am ET
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After a week of overseeing meetings between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union boss DeMaurice Smith, mediator George Cohen said in a written statement “strong differences remain on the all-important core issues,” but that “at bottom, some progress was made.”

The sides will meet with the mediator again next week, days before the collective bargaining agreement expires on Thursday.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell, Rumor Mill,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jewish hockey player sues Ducks for discrimination 01.27.11 at 6:33 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.

NBA: Celtics at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)


‘™¦ A Jewish hockey player sued the NHL’s Ducks for religious discrimination Wednesday because he said the team failed to prevent harassment by coaches of the minor league team he was assigned to in 2008-09. Jason Bailey claims he was the target of anti-Semitic comments by Bakersfield Condors head coach Marty Raymond and assistant Mark Pederson.

After Bailey complained during the season, the coaches were suspended and wrote letters of apology to Bailey. Raymond still coaches the Condors, who no longer are affiliated with the Ducks. Pederson now coaches in Europe.

Bailey now plays for AHL Binghamton Senators, an Ottawa affiliate, but he hasn’t forgotten how he was treated by Anaheim.

Said Bailey’s attorney, Keith Fink: ‘€œInstead of doing the right thing and disciplining those who [made the anti-Semitic comments] and firing them and treating Jason as any other player, those two guys are still coaches, and they sent him to Siberia.”

‘™¦ Lions linebacker Zack Follett has had a rough week. First, he did a radio interview in which he said a lot of positive things about teammate Matthew Stafford but also referred to the oft-injured quarterback as a “china doll.” (He also made come derogatory comments about Bears QB Jay Cutler.) Then, Follett, himself suffering from a neck injury that could end his career, tweeted an apology. When he continued to receive criticism, he responded with a five-minute video rant in which he blames the media first and then moves on to blame Satan, saying the devil is coming at him through the media and Twitter.

Zack Follett – Response to my comments made from zack follett on Vimeo.

‘™¦ Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett responded to Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie‘s critical comments about union and ownership representatives by voicing support for union head DeMaurice Smith. “Players are not going to turn on each other,” Lewis said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 27, 1997, the Red Sox acquired John Wasdin from the A’s in a trade for which player?

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Read More: Antonio Cromartie, DeMaurice Smith, Jason Bailey, Matthew Stafford