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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Rex Ryan takes blame after Jets’ latest embarrassment 10.06.14 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB playoffs: Nationals at Giants, 5 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB playoffs: Dodgers at Cardinals, 9 p.m. (FS1)
NFL: Seahawks at Washington, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA preseason: 76ers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)

AROUND THE WEB:

— While the Patriots appear to have righted their ship with Sunday’s rout of the Bengals, things are only getting worse for the Jets. In New York’s 31-0 loss to the Chargers, Geno Smith was yanked in favor of Michael Vick, but neither quarterback could find the end zone.

Coach Rex Ryan attempted to deflect the blame after his team fell to 1-4.

“First off, I apologize to our fans — those that are left,” Ryan said. “This is on one person and that’s it. It’s certainly not on a quarterback and one individual that way. It’s on me. Clearly got outcoached. I thought we had a good plan going in and obviously that wasn’t the case.”

Added Ryan: “Even if we had Joe Namath, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”

MASHUP POLL: WIll Jets coach Rex Ryan last the season?

  • No, this team is being embarrassed and is desperate for a change (73%, 374 Votes)
  • Yes, he's earned enough respect to not get fired midseason (27%, 138 Votes)

Total Voters: 512

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Smith, who reportedly missed a team meeting Saturday night because he and a few teammates were at a movie and got confused by the three-hour time change between New York and San Diego, completed 4-of-12 passes for 27 yards and had a 7.6 passer rating when he was pulled at halftime for Vick (9-of-20 for 47 yards).

Smith acknowledged that it was “a pathetic show on my part. I didn’t help at any point during the game, so I’m going to look myself in the mirror.”

However, Ryan said he still plans to start Smith next Sunday when the Jets host the Broncos, despite the frustrating loss.

“I’ve never been in a spot like that,” Ryan said. “We’re scratching, we’re clawing, anything we can do, but it seems like — at this stage — like too great a challenge, but I know it’s not.”

— Multiple reports out of San Francisco indicate Jim Harbaugh will not return to the 49ers after this season, with the relationship between the fiery, opinionated coach and the front office getting worse.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer said Harbaugh’s style has “worn thin” with the organization, adding: “I don’t see any way Jim Harbaugh comes back next year as the head coach of the 49ers, even if they hoist the Lombardi [Trophy].”

Team owner Jed York attempted to downplay the rumors Sunday, tweeting: Jim is my coach. We’re trying to win a SB not a personality or popularity contest. Any more questions?

— Five days after his second arrest for DUI, Michael Phelps announced that he will enter a six-week program to help him “better understand myself.” Although he will not swim competitively at least through mid-November, Phelps did not indicate any desire to give up his comeback bid.

“The past few days have been extremely difficult,” Phelps said in a statement. “I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment, and I am extremely disappointed with myself. I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself.”

Added Phelps: “Swimming is a major part of my life, but right now I need to focus my attention on me as an individual, and do the necessary work to learn from this experience and make better decisions in the future.”

Phelps retired from swimming after the 2012 London Olympics with 18 gold medals. He is bidding to compete in the 2016 Rio Games and appeared on track to get back to form.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 6, 1906, which Red Sox player homered in his final at-bat, as he committed suicide before the following season, shortly after he was named manager?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Tonight was just kind of our night. A lot of things went in our favor. We made a few things happen and that was good. We just have to really give all the credit to the players for the way they played. They’€™€™re resilient, they’€™€™re tough and they worked hard this week and they played hard tonight. I’€™€™m proud of them for that.” – Patriots coach Bill Belichick, after Sunday’s 43-17 victory over the Bengals

STAT OF THE DAY: 6 – Quarterbacks in NFL history with 50,000 passing yards, as Tom Brady became the latest during Sunday’s victory over the Bengals

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): During the Royals’ series-clinching victory over the Angels, Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain makes two impressive catches in the fifth inning.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Chick Stahl

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Kevin Cronin, lead singer of REO Speedwagon, was born on this day in 1951.

Read More: Geno Smith, Jim Harbaugh, Michael Phelps, michael vick
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Michael Vick supports Roger Goodell, says commissioner ‘doing a great job’ 09.19.14 at 8:22 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Tigers at Royals, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB: Rangers at Angels, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
College football: UConn at South Florida, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Rapids at Real Salt Lake, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Roger Goodell has had a target on his back since his mishandling of the Ray Rice situation, but at least one player has his back.

Michael Vick, who was suspended indefinitely by the commissioner in 2007 for his role in running a dogfighting ring but paid his penalty and returned to the NFL in 2009, offered his support for the embattled Goodell.

“I think he’€™s doing a great job,’€ the Jets backup quarterback said after Thursday’s practice. “I think some situations are more complicated than others. You’€™re not going to get it right all the time the first time. These situations that [have arisen] are situations that we never dealt with before. I feel from a PR standpoint, just from a situational standpoint, it’€™s kind of new to everybody.”

MASHUP POLL: Should Roger Goodell be disciplined for his poor leadership?

  • Yes, he should be fired as it's clear he's not the right person for the job (45%, 46 Votes)
  • No, he owned up to his mistake and should not be punished (36%, 37 Votes)
  • Yes, he should be suspended but not fired, as overall he's done a good job (19%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 103

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With a number of NFL players facing domestic abuse issues, Goodell is taking heat for not getting ahead of the situation and being harder on offenders.

“Nobody’€™s perfect,” Vick said. “Nobody can make the correct decisions right then and there on the spot when faced with all forms of adversity. So, you’ve got to give the man a chance. You’ve got to give him a chance. You’ve got to give everybody a chance to get it right. And you see that the other teams that are dealing with it now are making the right decisions based on what’€™s happened in weeks prior. So you’ve got to give people a chance, man. You’€™re not going to get it right on the first time.”

Vick said he’s looking forward to the league putting this controversy in the past. Of course, that will require the players to behave themselves, which has been a problem of late.

“It’€™s a lot of issues that are taking place. In due time, they’€™ll all be cleaned up,” Vick said. “It’€™s kind of hard right now. Hopefully, everything will resume [to] normal the next couple months. We just can’€™t continue to keep feeding into it. Every day there’€™s a new story that’€™s being written about and being talked about. We don’€™t seem to let it go. It’€™ll be all handled. . . . That’€™s what we have lawyers for. That’€™s what you have the commissioner for. You’ve got to let it die down. Other than that, [if] you keep talking about it, it’€™s going to continue to be an issue.”

Ron Washington, who abruptly resigned as manager of the Rangers two weeks ago, made his first public statement since the move and offered some insight into what was behind it.

“I made a mistake and I’m embarrassed more than I’ve ever been in my life,” Washington said in a 3 1/2-minute statement. “I was not true to my wife, after 42 years. I broke our trust. I’m here today to own that mistake and to apologize to her, and to those I disappointed, and those who have trusted in me, and I let them down.”

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Read More: michael vick, Roger Goodell, Ron Washington,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Michael Vick says Jets QB Geno Smith ‘going to to be great’ 08.06.14 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
Little League Baseball: Midwest Regional semifinal, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
Little League Baseball: Southeast Regional semifinal, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Little League Baseball: Midwest Regional semifinal, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Little League Baseball: Southeast Regional semifinal, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Little League Baseball: Southwest Regional semifinal, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: MLS All-Stars vs. Bayern Munich, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Today in Jets blustering news, Michael Vick predicts big things from fellow quarterback Geno Smith, who is heading into his second NFL season.

“He’s going to be great,” Vick said after Tuesday’s practice in Cortland, New York. “He’s going to be 10 times better than where he was last year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Coach Rex Ryan sounds like he’s ready to see some of that promise come to fruition, especially after the offense failed to score in last weekend’s intrasquad scrimmage.

“I want to see some production,” said Ryan, whose team opens the preseason Thursday against the Colts. “I think we’ll see it. I know [Smith] will have the command. Let’s have the production, too.”

MASHUP POLL: How many wins will the Jets have this season?

  • 8 (36%, 57 Votes)
  • 7 (29%, 47 Votes)
  • 9 (15%, 24 Votes)
  • 6 (9%, 14 Votes)
  • 5 or less (8%, 12 Votes)
  • 10 (3%, 4 Votes)
  • 12 or more (1%, 1 Votes)
  • 11 (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 160

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For his part, Smith said he’s matured since last season.

“Physically, I’m bigger and stronger,” Smith said. “The mental side of it, I’m not thinking as much, not swimming as much. I have a better grasp of the offense. … Ultimately, it’s about proving it on the field, going out there Thursday night and being sharp and having a good showing.”

Johnny Manziel showed some positive signs during his one day with the Browns starters Monday, and on Tuesday he returned to second string behind former Patriots backup Brian Hoyer on the depth chart.

Both players had good practices Tuesday, and coach Mike Pettine has not announced who will start in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Lions in Detroit.

“I thought there was some good competition out there,” Browns coach Pettine said. “I was glad that the guys responded the way they did.”

Added Pettine: “Where you see where Hoyer’s ahead is his ability to throw a ball before a guy breaks open, but we certainly see Johnny making strides in that direction.”

— College of Charleston basketball coach Doug Wojcik is the latest to be punished for allegedly verbally abusing players, as he was fired by school president Glenn McConnell.

Wojcik’s lawyer, however, says the charges against the coach are false and the school is trying to find a way to avoid having to pay him the $1.2 million he is owed for the final three years of his five-year contract he signed after being hired from Tulsa.

“Today’s action by the College of Charleston will not bring closure to the College, the basketball program, or the student-athletes and their families,” attorney Scott Tompsett said in a statement.

The school produced a 50-page report after conducting interviews with Wojcik, assistant coaches, athletic department staffers and current and former players. The investigation found that it was likely many players believe Wojcik’s behavior toward them is “generally insulting and degrading.” He allegedly used name-calling such as “dumb,” “idiot” and “stupid,” made negative comments about players’ parents and upbringing, and directed at least one homophobic slur, and likely more, at a player.

Wojcik, 50, guided the Cougars to a 14-18 record last season, their first in the Colonial Athletic Conference. The team reached the Southern Conference tournament final in his first season there.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 6, 2001, which Red Sox player lined into a triple play in the fourth inning of a game against the Rangers at Fenway Park, but then atoned with a grand slam in his next at-bat to rally his team to a 10-7 victory?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He is not a doctor. He is a drug dealer.” Mark R. Trouville, chief of the Miami Drug Enforcement Administration office, on former Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch, who was arrested Tuesday

STAT OF THE DAY: 41 – Games this season in which the Red Sox have scored two or fewer runs, following Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Cardinals

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Indians baserunner David Murphy is thrown out at third base when he sees a ball that was thrown out of the Reds bullpen and thinks it’s the game ball.

Yankees second baseman Brendan Ryan deflects a line drive with his glove and then catches it with his bare hand for an out against the Tigers.

The Muppets visit Citi Field to cheer on the Mets, and Kermit and Miss Piggy are caught on the Kiss Cam.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Scott Hatteberg

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Randy DeBarge was born on this day in 1958. Here he is starting off as the lead singer in this performance with his siblings in the group DeBarge.

Read More: Doug Wojcik, Geno Smith, michael vick, Rex Ryan
NFL roundup: Saints reportedly will release WR Lance Moore 03.07.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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Just a few hours after Lance Moore tweeted an apparent farewell to fans, a source has told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Saints will release the wide receiver.

Moore, who has two years left on his contract, was set to make $3.8 million between his salary and bonuses this season. That total included a $500,000 roster bonus that was due to him this month. The team will save between $2.5 million and $3.8 million against this year’s cap space.

Due to their decision to put the franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham and restricted free agent tender on safety Rafael Bush, the Saints are pushing against the cap. They can create space by releasing more players before free agency begins on Tuesday and by reframing the contracts of other players.

Moore, who had spent the most time with the Saints of anyone on the team’s roster and was named the team’s Man of the Year in 2012, ranks in the top-five receivers in Saints history in receptions with 346 and touchdown catches with 38 to go along with his 4,281 yards.

– With his team in the hunt for a veteran quarterback, Vikings running back and 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson tweeted his opinion on who should fill the void Wednesday night.

Michael Vick is coming off a season when he played in just six games for the Eagles after he suffered a hamstring injury and lost his job to Nick Foles. Since 2006, the 34-year-old Vick has not started in more than 13 games in a season and, according to ESPN.com, is not a great fit for Minnesota’€™s new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

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Read More: Champ Bailey, D'Qwell Jackson, Devin Hester, Lance Moore
NFL roundup: Dolphins OL Richie Incognito, Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon suspended; Eagles QB Nick Foles ties record 11.04.13 at 12:11 pm ET
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The Dolphins suspended Richie Incognito indefinitely on Sunday for his alleged harassment of Miami offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, who left the team early last week for emotional reasons.

Incognito’€™s suspension, for conduct detrimental to the team, ame three days after the Dolphins’ 22-20 overtime win over the Bengals. During that time, specifics of the bullying of Martin became apparent.

EPSN’€™s Adam Schefter revealed that a message left on Martin’€™s phone by Incognito served as the main piece of evidence for his suspension. Incognito also reportedly asked Martin to fund a trip to Las Vegas with teammates. Martin did not go, but he paid $15,000 toward the trip. A lunchroom incident reportedly set off Martin and led to his absence.

Miami selected Martin in the second round of the 2012 draft. The left tackle started all 16 games last season and the team’€™s first seven games this year.

Incognito joined the Dolphins in 2010, and is a member of Miami’€™s six-player leadership council. Controversy has followed Incognito in his nine-year NFL career. Last year, a Sporting News player poll had Incognito as the second-dirtiest player in the NFL. In 2009, Incognito and then-Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo got into a verbal confrontation on the sideline, and St. Louis waived him a few days later. He missed the entire 2004 college season at Nebraska for off-field issues.

‘€¢ Apparently, Justin Blackmon did not learn his lesson.

Just one month after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’€™s substance-abuse policy, Blackmon was suspended again on Sunday, this time for at least the duration of season. He’€™s eligible to file for reinstatement prior to the start of next season.

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Read More: Adam Schefter, Darren McFadden, Jonathan Martin, Justin Blackmon
NFL roundup: Eagles QB Michael Vick, Redskins QB Robert Griffin III injured; Lions WR Calvin Johnson nearly sets record 10.28.13 at 11:44 am ET
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Michael Vick found himself in a position that’€™s becoming increasingly familiar midway through the Eagles’ loss to the Giants on Sunday: seated on the bench with an injury.

Vick exited in the second quarter of the 15-7 loss with a hamstring injury.

After the game, Vick explained that he felt a ‘€œpop’€ in his left hamstring, which he originally injured in Philadelphia’€™s first matchup with the Giants in Week 5. That injury forced him to miss Week 6 and 7.

It’€™s unclear exactly when the aggravation occurred, although Vick looked hampered from the opening drive.

Backup quarterback Matt Barkley entered the game with 2:24 remaining and Philadelphia trailing 12-0. Vick left throwing the ball 6-for-9 for 30 yards and one interception, which came on the team’€™s first drive.

Vick started Sunday in place of the injured Nick Foles, who had replaced Vick the last two weeks. In six games, Vick has thrown for 1,215 yards, a 54.6 completion percentage, five touchdowns and three interceptions, and run for 308 yards on 34 attempts.

‘€¢ After tearing his right ACL last season, Robert Griffin III appears to have dodged a bullet, as he said after Sunday’s game that the left knee injury that forced him out of the Redskins’€™ 45-21 loss to the Broncos is not serious.

With less than five minutes left in the game, Griffin was driven to the ground by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton while attempting a pass, and Knighton landed on Griffin’€™s knee.

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Read More: Brandon Carr, Calvin Johnson, Matt Barkley, michael vick
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Jets fan who hit female Patriots fan ID’d as ex-con who killed man 10.22.13 at 8:07 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Predators at Wild, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Wizards at Pistons, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Jazz at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College football: Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Barcelona at AC Milan, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘€¢ The Jets fan who was caught on videotape punching a female Patriots fan in the face was identified as an ex-con from New York named Kurt Paschke.

The New York Daily News reported that Paschke, 38, served three years in prison in the 1990s for fatally stabbing another man in 1992 outside a pizza parlor. Both Paschke and the victim were 17 at the time.

An unidentified relative of stabbing victim Henri Ferrer told the paper that Paschke’s father is a Long Island-area policeman.

“He’s dangerous and he thinks he’s untouchable because he’s the son of a police officer,” the relative said. “He got away with murder.”

Added Ferrer’s father: “Anybody else would probably get arrested for that fight [at the Jets game]. As far as I’m concerned, he should spend quite a few years in jail. That’s what he deserves.”

In the video that made the rounds on the Internet Monday, Paschke is seen punching a woman the Daily News identified as Boston-area resident Jaclyn Nugent.

Paschke’s mother claims her son, who has Jets season tickets, was protecting her during the fight at MetLife Stadium. She blamed the Patriots fans for antagonizing them throughout the game and starting the brawl.

“He’s the victim, really,” Colleen Paschke said. “He was just concerned for his mother and himself.”

‘€¢ A Forbes magazine poll of 1,100 people 13 and older determined that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick remains the most disliked NFL player, while Patriots QB Tom Brady checks in at No. 8.

Vick, who was released from prison four years ago after serving 19 months for his role in a dog-fighting ring, was named by 53 percent of respondents to finish 5 percentage points ahead of Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up from Notre Dame who was involved in a bizarre story involving a fictitious girlfriend. Next on the list is oft-penalized Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at 43 percent.

The rest of the top 10 consists of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (40 percent), injured Jets QB Mark Sanchez (40), Bears QB Jay Cutler (33), Cowboys QB Tony Romo (32), Brady (25), Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (24) and Lions running back Reggie Bush (22).

‘€¢ New 76ers coach Brett Brown said Monday that he doubts first-round draft pick Nerlens Noel will play at all this season. Noel, who hails from Everett, tore his ACL during his lone season at Kentucky. Four months later, he was drafted sixth overall by Philadelphia, which apparently is willing to be patient.

“I doubt, everybody doubts that he’s going to play this year,” Brown said. “We don’t want to waste this year. I think from a skill perspective, it’s an opportunity for us to break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero.”

Noel’s agent, Andy Miller, insisted Noel’s plans are undetermined for this season.

“There have been no decisions made at this time,” Miller said. “He has been doing his rehab vigorously.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 22, 1975, the Red Sox lost Game 7 of the 1975 World Series to the Reds, 4-3 [Editor's note: corrected score]. Which rookie pitcher surrendered the game-winning run in the top of the ninth?

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Read More: Manti Te'o, michael vick, Nerlens Noel, Tom Brady
NFL roundup: Josh Freeman to Vikings; Matt Schaub benched by Texans 10.07.13 at 2:11 pm ET
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Josh Freeman finally received the fresh start he desired.

After a disappointing 7-9 record last year, and an 0-4 start to this season, Freeman is out of Tampa Bay, as the Vikings agreed to sign the free agent quarterback to a one-year, $3 million contract Sunday night.

Freeman narrowed his list of teams to Minnesota, Buffalo and San Francisco, according to CBSSports.com, but ultimately chose Minnesota.

The Buccaneers released Freeman, who was in the middle of his fifth season with the team, on Thursday, a week after benching him for rookie Mike Glennon.

Turmoil between Freeman, and the organization, and particularly coach Greg Schiano, set in early this season.

The Freeman-Schiano feud began when Freeman, a team captain for three straight years, was not voted one in 2013. Rumors swirled that Schiano rigged the vote so that Freeman would not be captain, a rumor that Schiano vehemently denied. Then, one day after Freeman was declared inactive for Tampa Bay’€™s Week 4 loss against the Cardinals, ESPN reported that Freeman entered the NFL’€™s drug program as a Stage 1 participant.

Off-field issues aside, Freeman’€™s fledgling play on the field played a large role in his demise with the Bucs.

In three starts this season, Freeman completed just 45.7 percent of his passes, for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. In his previous four years as Tampa Bay’€™s starting quarterback, Freeman never reached the playoffs and posted a 24-33 record.

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Read More: Adam Schefter, Clay Matthews, Greg Schiano, Josh Freeman
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Suspended Ryan Braun calls Brewers fans to apologize 09.06.13 at 8:07 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, MLB Network; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Brewers at Cubs, 2:10 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Dodgers at Reds, 7:05 p.m. (MLB)
College football: Wake Forest at Boston College, 8 p.m. (ESPN2; WEEI-AM)
College football: Central Florida at Florida International, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
Soccer: World Cup qualifying, Costa Rica vs. United States, 10 p.m. (BelN)
Soccer: World Cup qualifying, England vs. Moldova, 3 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: World Cup qualifying, Colombia vs. Ecuador, 4:20 p.m. (BelN)
Soccer: World Cup qualifying, Paraguay vs. Bolivia, 6:25 p.m. (BelN)
Soccer: World Cup qualifying, Mexico vs. Honduras, 9:15 p.m. (ESPNews)
WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks at Tulsa Shock, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 12:30 p.m. (CBS)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘€¢ Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, knows he has a long way to go to win back the fans. So, he’s going one at a time.

Braun, who issued a statement last month but has not made a public apology in person, has been calling season ticket-holders to ask for their forgiveness.

Pat Guenther, owner of Kelly’s Bleachers sports bar and a 20-year season ticket-holder, received one of the calls and said he could tell from the voice it was Braun and not someone playing a joke.

Recalled Guenther in an interview with Milwaukee’s CBS-58 News: “He said, ‘I messed up,’ in a nutshell, ‘I messed up. I just want to reach out and say I’m sorry.’

“I cut him off right there. I said, ‘You know, Ryan, I think you’re an amazing athlete and this speaks volumes to your character to reach out to a small business owner like myself and let us know that you are going to do better.’ ”

Added Guenther: “He was very humble on the phone. He wanted to reach out, and for him to do this is an act of kindness. He wants the people of Wisconsin to support the Brewers and him.”

Not everyone is ready to give Braun another chance. On Thursday, the restaurant group SURG announced it is ending its business relationship with the player, with plans to close the Milwaukee restaurant that once included his name.

Guenther is more forgiving of Braun.

“Who hasn’t made a mistake?” he said. “People move forward. I think that’s what Ryan is trying to do. He’s moving forward. He has no other option. Be better, help his ball club win games and win the hearts of Brewers fans like he has for many, many years.”

‘€¢ The Bruins are still hurting from their six-game loss to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals, but at least they made it that far. The Penguins, expected to win the Eastern Conference, are still in shock months after being swept by the Bruins.

“It stung,” captain Sidney Crosby said, via ESPN.com. “It was one of those ones that definitely took a while to wear off. Looking back, probably right until Chicago won, it was pretty tough to go a day without it crossing your mind when you’€™re seeing the finals going on. I didn’€™t watch a game until Game 6. I tried not to think about it too much, but it did pass through my mind. I think until I started working out and started to get ready for this year, it was tough to turn the page there.”

Added Crosby: “Ultimately in the playoffs, we didn’€™t get those big plays against Boston and they did a better job of that,. I look at myself in the mirror for that, having those opportunities and having [Tuukka] Rask make those big saves, you want those chances back and you want to put them in. But you have to make sure you learn from it.”

Evgeni Malkin, who signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension in the offseason, had no explanation for Pittsburgh’s scoring drought in the series.

“I agree with Sid. It’€™s tougher loss for my career, too,” he said. “Four games and we score just two goals. I think we have best offensive line in NHL last year but we score just two goals. I don’€™t know if it’€™s bad luck or Boston played very well. But I just try to not remember that again, just look forward, look positive and look new season.”

‘€¢ Eagles receiver Riley Cooper, who took a leave of absence during training camp after video surfaced of him using a racial slur at a concert, got into a fight with hotheaded teammate Cary Williams at practice Thursday, but Cooper said it was not related to last month’s controversy.

Cooper was being defended aggressively by Williams during a drill when the two hit the ground together. Cooper pushed Williams as they got up, and the two traded shoves and grabs before teammates attempted to restrain an angry Williams as Cooper walked away.

“Being super competitive, going for the ball,” Cooper explained. “We had a tangle-up at the ball, we both went to the ground. There was a lot of contact at the top of the route. It was nothing.”

Williams, who got into a fight with the Patriots when the teams practiced together last month prior to their preseason game and was kicked out of that practice, declined to comment.

Quarterback Michael Vick was one of the players who stepped in to try to calm Williams on Thursday, but the DB was not very receptive.

Said Vick: “Our maturity level has to be on a whole different plane. Regardless of who the catalyst was for the whole fight, that doesn’t matter. We have to be men. We’re not guys who are out on the street, fighting one another. We’re teammates. It’s game week. We don’t have time for that. I don’t. It’s a distraction.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 6, 1964, the Red Sox gave up on which locally born pitcher who would go on to become a three-time All-Star, selling him the Pirates?

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NFL roundup: Broncos’ Von Miller accepts 6-game suspension; Michael Vick named Eagles starter 08.20.13 at 5:48 pm ET
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Broncos linebacker Von Miller will serve a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, although he says he did not fail a drug test.

“Although my suspension doesn’t result from a positive test, there is no excuse for my violations of the rules,” Miller said in a statement, adding: “I made mistakes and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans, and myself. I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others. I will not make the same mistakes about adhering to the policy in the future. During my time off the field, I will work tirelessly and focus exclusively on remaining in peak shape. I look forward to contributing immediately upon my return to the field and bringing a championship back to the people of Denver.”

The league reportedly wanted a longer suspension but agreed to six games. Miller would be eligible to return for the Oct. 20 game against the Colts in Indianapolis. The Broncos visit the Patriots on Nov. 24.

Miller, selected second overall in the 2011 draft, was the 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and runner-up for 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Before the announcement was made Tuesday, the Broncos signed 35-year-old free agent linebacker Paris Lenon on Tuesday. Lennon played last season for the Cardinals, making 103 tackles.

‘€¢ Michael Vick has been chosen as the starting quarterback for Chip Kelly‘€™s offense in Philadelphia Tuesday, ending a long and heavily speculated competition with Nick Foles for the job.

‘€œI think we all learned from this group that we’ve got two guys, maybe even three guys who can play in this league,’€ Kelly said. ‘€œIt was a healthy competition. I think they both made each other better. ‘€¦ Mike is ahead, but Nick made it very tough on him.’€

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