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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Controversial CB Antonio Cromartie bids farewell to Jets after release 03.10.14 at 8:00 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 preseason: Rays at Red Sox, 1 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Suns at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: CAA final, William & Mary vs. Delaware, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: MAAC final, Manhattan vs. Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC semifinal, St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Southern final, Western Carolina vs. Wofford, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC semifinal, San Francisco vs. BYU, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Penguins at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: Premier League, Sunderland at Liverpool, 3:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie's marital difficulties became public when his wife faked a suicide attempt, leading to police intervention. (AP)

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is on the market after his release from the Jets. (AP)

– One year after they traded Darrelle Revis, the Jets cut ties with the other cornerstone of their once dominant defensive backfield, releasing controversial cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie, 29, was slowed by a hip issue in 2013, and the team decided to cut him now rather than pay him a $5 million roster bonus upon the start of the new league year. He would have carried a salary cap charge of just under $15 million in 2014. The team will save $9.5 million against the cap.

The New York Daily News reports that Cromartie would be willing to consider a return to New York at a cheaper rate, but the team appears to be ready to move on.

“Cro is one of the finest athletes I’€™ve ever coached,” coach Rex Ryan said in a statement. “He was willing to contribute wherever the team needed him to win games, be it defense, special teams or offense. He has a passion and enthusiasm for the game and I wish him and his family the best.”

Cromartie played four seasons with the Jets, recording 13 interceptions, after being acquired from the Chargers in 2010. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2012 after stepping up in place of the injured Revis.

Cromartie tweeted his farewell Sunday, writing: I would like 2 thank the Jets organization so much with helpin me grow as leader and a player. S/O 2 my teammates I wish u guys the best.

Added Cromartie: It’€™s time for a new chapter in my life and now it’€™s time to let my lord and savior lead my steps every step of the way.

 

– There is excitement in New York regarding the Knicks, but it has nothing to do with what’s happening on the court. NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson reportedly will decide Monday whether he will accept a position with the team.

The 68-year-old Jackson is said to have turned down an offer to coach, and it’s not clear if he would be willing to run the team or if he would prefer to serve as a consultant. He also is believed to have an interest in returning to the Lakers in some capacity.

Said one unidentified general manager to the New York Daily News: “The Knicks and Phil are getting exactly what they want out of this. The Knicks are showing that they want to do something and this is a chance for Phil to get the Lakers to make a move. If they don’€™t, he can take the Knicks’€™ money.”

Jackson has won 11 NBA titles — nine as a coach and two as a player. He was a forward on the Knicks’ only two championship squads in 1970 and ’73.

– A Minnesota State Representative is taking some heat for a tweet Sunday night in which he implied NBA players would resort to crime if they weren’t playing basketball.

Republican Pat Garofalo tweeted: Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.

 

Garofalo did not back down despite receiving hundreds of negative responses, many of them accusing him of being racist. One tweeter had a clever response, writing: there’s more criminals in your profession than the nba buddy.

Garofalo later explained to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was “talking about NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league that testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.”

Added Garofalo: “No intent beyond that.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 10, 1986, the veterans committee voted which Red Sox legend into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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Read More: Antonio Cromartie, Pat Garofalo, Phil Jackson, Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan plans on ‘kicking some butt’ after getting new deal with Jets 01.21.14 at 10:05 am ET
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Just a few days after signing a contract loaded with an ultimatum to win, Jets coach Rex Ryan has shown just how happy he is with the deal.

The multi-year contact extension guarantees Ryan’€™s salary through 2015, a deal that gives Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik the option to fire Ryan if the team is unsuccessful next season.

Ryan said the extension does not change his mindset for the next year.

“My mentality is never going to change,” Ryan said in an interview with the New York Daily News on Monday. “I plan on kicking some butt. I just want to be a part of this team.

“This is where I want to coach.”

When asked whether or not he needed to make the playoffs next season to maintain his position, the coach said he just wanted to make it to the postseason.

“That’€™s all I think about,” Ryan said. “Whether you make it or not make it — there’€™s no guarantee how many wins we have to get — I can tell you this: We want to make the playoffs. We want to be in there. It’€™s a disappointing season if you don’€™t make the playoffs.

“That’€™s three years in a row that we haven’€™t made the playoffs. So, heck, do I have to make [the playoffs]? I don’€™t know. All I know is I have to make them for my own … for how I feel.”

Read More: Rex Ryan,
Report: Rex Ryan has new multi-year deal with Jets 01.16.14 at 12:25 pm ET
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Rex Ryan has agreed to a multi-year deal with the Jets, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The move does not come as a surprise, as the expectation of an extension was reported when the team announced after the final game of the regular season that Ryan would return. He had one year remaining on his previous deal, paying him $3.3 million in 2014.

“To finish the way we did, in our estimation, a playoff-type atmosphere for us, guys responded,” Jets general manager John Idzik said on Dec, 29 in announcing Ryan’s return. “Suffice it to say, we’re very happy with Rex as our coach.”

 

 

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jets players elated after owner announces Rex Ryan will return 12.30.13 at 8:09 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:
NBA: Bulls at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Virginia at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Robert Morris at Oklahoma State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Saint Louis at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Kings at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
World Juniors: Czech Republic vs. Germany, 7:30 a.m. (NHL Network)
World Juniors, Canada vs. Slovakia, 11:30 a.m. (NHL Network)
College football: Armed Forces Bowl, Middle Tennessee State vs. Navy, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN)
College football: Music City Bowl, Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Alamo Bowl, Oregon vs. Texas, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Holiday Bowl, Arizona State vs. Texas Tech, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Rex Ryan greets fans as he leaves the field Sunday following the Jets' win over the Browns. (AP)

Rex Ryan will have at least one more year to get the Jets back in the good graces of their fans. (AP)

Rex Ryan will get another chance with the Jets.

Owner Woody Johnson announced after Sunday’s victory over the Dolphins that the bombastic coach will return for another season. Johnson said he had already decided to retain Ryan before the team won its final two games — its first two-game winning streak of 2013 — to finish 8-8.

“I couldn’€™t be prouder of our team, the effort and the passion and everything they put into this game. Coming down here to Miami, Geno [Smith] and the offense putting another great game together, two in a row, so we’€™re clearly on the ascent,” Johnson said. “And a lot of it is due to our coach. So we’€™re going to keep Rex Ryan, and he’€™ll be our coach next year.”

The players erupted in the locker room after Johnson made the announcement to them, and general manager John Idzik gave Ryan the game ball. (To see the video, click here.)

“That’s what we wanted to hear,” defensive end Sheldon Richardson said. “The whole team was elated for that.”

“I mean, it was up there with going to the AFC championship games, just the joy that everybody had,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “Everybody genuinely wanted Rex back. And he’s the right man for the job. It’s a great day all around.”

Ryan has one year remaining on his contract but is expected to work out an extension.

“I love being the head coach of the New York Jets. Plain and simple,” Ryan said. “You put everything you’ve got into it. I never wanted to go out this way.”

– The Dodgers issued a statement Sunday criticizing Yasiel Puig after the outfielder was arrested in Florida a day earlier for driving 110 mph, 40 mph over the speed limit, seven months after he was arrested on similar charges in Tennessee.

“We have spoken to Yasiel and made it clear that we, as an organization, are very disappointed in his recent behavior,” the team said in the statement. “This is a very serious issue to us and we will continue to educate him and strive to further develop his growth off the field and as a member of this community.”

Puig, the 23-year-old Cuban who had a standout rookie season in Los Angeles, was pulled over Saturday morning on Interstate 75 between Naples and Fort Lauderdale and taken to Collier County jail, according to Florida police. Puig, who has an offseason home in Miami, was cooperative.

The Tennessee charges — speeding, reckless driving and driving without proof of insurance — were dismissed last month, in large part due to community service Puig performed in Los Angeles.

Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in Formula One history, was in critical condition after a skiing accident in the French Alps over the weekend. Schumacher, 33, underwent brain surgery after arriving at a Paris hospital in a coma on Sunday.

According to a release from the Meribel resort, Schumacher was skiing off-piste with his 14-year-old son when he hit his head on a rock. He was wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers arrived at the scene.

Schumacher has seven Formula One drivers’ championships and 91 victories. He retired this year after making a comeback in 2010 following a four-year layoff.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 30, 1973, which Bruin became the first rookie in team history to score four goals in a game?

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Read More: Michael Schumacher, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson, Yasiel Puig
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jets coach Rex Ryan reportedly inspires team by saying he expects to be fired 12.23.13 at 7:56 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:
NHL: Bruins at Predators, 8 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Wild at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NFL: Falcons at 49ers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
College football: Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, Ohio vs. East Carolina, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Pelicans at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: George Mason vs. Oregon State, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Iowa State vs. Akron, 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Morehead State at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: South Florida vs. Santa Clara, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: South Carolina vs. Boise State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Mississippi State vs. UNLV, 10:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Saint Mary’s at Hawaii, 11:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Soccer: Arsenal vs. Chelsea, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Rex Ryan greets fans as he leaves the field Sunday following the Jets' win over the Browns. (AP)

Rex Ryan greets fans at MetLife Stadium as he leaves the field Sunday following the Jets’ win over the Browns. (AP)

– Jets coach Rex Ryan is either preparing for his dismissal, or he will resort to anything to motivate his team.

According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Ryan told his team in a meeting Saturday night that “word on the street” is he’ll be dismissed at season’s end, and he wants the team to put it on the line for him in the final two weeks. The Jets responded with a 24-13 victory over the Browns to improve to 7-8.

After the game, Ryan, his fellow coaches and the players high-fived fans in the front row at MetLife Stadium as they headed off the field in the team’s final home game of the season. He wouldn’t discuss his future in the postgame press conference, but he insisted the team has a bright future, using the victory over the 4-10 Browns as Exhibit A.

“I told you this team’s on the climb, it’s on the rise,” Ryan said. “I think it was pretty clear, at least to me, that that’s what we saw today.”

Regarding next season, he said: “What I do know, guys, is that I’m coaching this team, and my job is to focus on the present, what’s right now.”

The Jets players wouldn’t discuss Ryan’s reported comments from Saturday, but they continued to show their support for their coach.

“We were picked to be the worst team in the NFL,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “It says a lot about this team’s character and the way we rallied under Rex. I guarantee you everyone loves playing for Rex.”

– The Lions dropped a 23-20 decision to the Giants on Sunday after losing a fourth-quarter lead for the fifth time in six games, and the Detroit fans let the team know how they felt even before the game went to the extra session.

Following an interception that gave them the ball at their own 25 with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lions ran out the final seconds of regulation rather than attempt to throw the ball down the field. Anxious fans at Ford Field booed the decision.

“I was disappointed to hear boos,” said Lions coach Jim Schwarz, who appeared to yell obscenities toward the crowd. “We’re getting ready to go to overtime right there, and our crowd is great for us and they support us. The team needed a lift right there. We didn’t need to feel bad at that point. We just intercepted a ball that got us to overtime. I thought that I was just trying to get our team ready.

“That’s tough, the situations when your players are getting booed and you want them fired up. That’s what I was trying to do right there.”

Said receiver Nate Burleson: “Fans are frustrated, but what do you think we are? I get it, you come in and sit down and you cheer lout and occasionally want to get upset and boo. But if the fans are frustrated, just imagine what we feel on the field. And I think maybe Schwarz was just speaking out because the same fans that boo turn around and go crazy when we get the lead.

“So, I get it. I’ve been playing long enough to where I don’t get upset when fans boo. You pay a ticket, you buy the jerseys, you have your right to go out there and show your emotions.”

– The bad news keeps on coming for the Nets. Already off to a terrible start at 9-17, Brooklyn lost leading scorer Brook Lopez for the rest of the season when the center broke his right foot for the second time in just over two years.

Lopez, who only recently had returned from a sprained left ankle, was averaging 20.7 points per game.

“It’s almost like we can’t catch a break,” guard Joe Johnson said. “It’s always something every day, every other day somebody goes down. One man comes back, somebody goes down.”

Added Johnson: “It’s been tough because it’s hard to gain any chemistry with guys in and out, but I just hate it for the big fella because I know he worked so hard to try to come back and prepare himself for this season, and then coming off an All-Star season I know he wanted to get back to that.”

Paul Pierce compared the Nets‘ situation to that of last season’s Celtics after Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending torn ACL in late January. The Celtics responded by winning their first seven games following Rondo’s injury and earned a playoff berth.

“I mean, we just collectively came together pretty much. Everybody pretty much had written us off not to make the playoffs, which was kind laughable at the time to me,” Pierce said. “But like I said, we’ve got guys in here that are capable and I think the mentality is not going to change in here. We can’t use that as an excuse. We have to come out here and continue to do our jobs each and every day regardless of who’s out there. We dealt with the injury bug all year.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 23, 1986, which Red Sox player whose batting average declined each of his seven seasons in Boston signed as a free agent with the Mariners?

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Read More: brook lopez, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Rex Ryan
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jets players defend embattled Rex Ryan 12.20.13 at 8:12 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:
NBA: Rockets at Pacers, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Timberwolves at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Nicholls State at Indiana, 7 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Nebraska-Omaha at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (BTN)
NHL: Canucks at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
Hockey: Olympic exhibition, U.S. vs. Canada, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: FCS semifinal, New Hampshire at North Dakota State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College football: NCAA Div. 3 final, Mount Union at Wis.-Whitewater, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘€¢ There’s been speculation that Rex Ryan‘s job is in jeopardy as the Jets battle to avoid last place in the AFC East at 6-8. If it were up to the players, apparently, the coach would be back next season.

Rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said he would make an appeal to first-year general manager John Idzik if he felt it was necessary.

“True statement, I would,” Richardson told the New York Daily News. “If I felt like that, that his job was in jeopardy, which I don’€™t feel like it [is]. It’€™s all speculation. But I most definitely would.”

Added Richardson: “I most definitely think he’€™ll be back, I could be wrong, but hey man, this is the way the business works. If his job was in jeopardy, Rex would tell you his job was in jeopardy. I promise you he would.”

Said wide receiver David Nelson: “If [Idzik] came down here and asked, I think every single guy in here would stand up and have Rex’€™s back. ‘€¦ I think every player in here cares for him, it’€™s so much deeper than a player-coach relationship. It’€™s not just so much of X’€™s and O’€™s and schemes with Rex. It’€™s about the people, it’€™s about the relationships. Guys respect that, because in this business that’€™s hard to come by.”

Ryan has not been as brash as in past years as his team has struggled this season, but when it comes to his job, he’s retained his confidence.

“I know I’m a good football coach,” Ryan said Monday. “I believe in this team. I believe in this organization ‘€¦ and I’m determined to being a winner to this team. I believe that I’m the right guy for it. Again, I’m not the guy making that decision. If I was, it’d be easy.”

‘€¢ Dennis Rodman held tryouts in Pyongyang for a North Korean team that will play a squad of NBA veterans for an exhibition game on Kim Jong Un‘s birthday next month. The only problem is, some of the ex-NBA players aren’t comfortable with traveling to the country.

Kim had his once-powerful uncle executed last week for crimes against the country, but Rodman insisted basketball players shouldn’t be concerned.

“You know, they’re still afraid to come here, but I’m just telling them, you know, don’t be afraid man, it’s all love, it’s all love here,” Rodman told The Associated Press. “I understand what’s going on with the political stuff, and I say, I don’t go into that venture, I’m just doing one thing for these kids here, and for this country, and for my country, and for the world pretty much.”

The plan for the game is to have the teams play against each other for the first half, then be mixed for the second half.

“It’s not about win or loss,” Rodman said. “It’s about one thing — unite two countries.”

‘€¢ Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 sports stories of 2013, and there a couple with Boston connections.

Aaron Hernandez‘s murder charge is the top story of the year. That’s followed by Lance Armstrong‘s confession and Oscar Pistorius‘ dead girlfriend. The Dolphins’ bullying scandal and “A-Rod vs. the World” are 4 and 5, followed by the Jameis Winston saga at No. 6. No. 7 is the Boston Marathon bombing.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 20, 1964, the Patriots ended their season with a 24-14 loss to the Bills. Despite failing to score in the game, which Patriots player finished the season with an AFL record 155 points?

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Boston Marathon, Dennis Rodman, Rex Ryan
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jets have new version of ‘butt fumble’ in embarrassing loss to Titans 09.30.13 at 7:58 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: Rays at Rangers, 8:07 p.m. (TBS; WEEI-AM)
NFL: Dolphins at Saints, 8:25 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
Soccer: Premier League, Newcastle at Everton, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

• The Jets entered Week 4 at 2-1, just a game behind the AFC East-leading Patriots and Dolphins, giving New York fans hope that their team could find a way to win enough games to challenge for a playoff spot.

Then the Jets went to Tennessee and, with quarterback Geno Smith turning over the ball four times, were embarrassed by the Titans, 38-13. On one play deep in New York territory, Smith tried to switch hands by going behind his back with the ball, but he lost control of it while it was on his rear end — a play some are calling the new “butt fumble” after the ball was pounced on for a touchdown by Titans defensive lineman Karl Klug.

“I was too reckless with the ball,” Smith acknowledged after two fumbles and two interceptions. “I’m extremely disappointed in the way I handled the ball. I was piss-poor.”

Added Smith: “This will never happen again.”

Asked if this comes with the territory when starting a rookie behind center, coach Rex Ryan showed his frustration.

“How many times are we going to make that excuse,” he said. “One of these days we’ve got to learn from it, and it better be soon. We’d better learn in a hurry.”

Injured QB Mark Sanchez, whose turnover issues were one of the key reasons for the Jets’ miserable 2012 season, was on hand to see Smith struggle.

“I’ve been there,” Sanchez said when asked if he was happy he wasn’t the one in the line of fire. “Believe me, I’ve been there.”

Lane Kiffin was fired as USC football coach following Saturday’s 62-41 loss at Arizona State, reportedly told of the decision in a meeting at Los Angeles International Airport in the early morning hours Sunday after the team arrived home.

“It’s never the perfect time to do these things, but I thought it was the right time,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said.

Kiffin lasted 3 1/2 seasons at the helm and had an up-and-down tenure marked by solid recruiting while the program was handicapped by NCAA sanctions due to the Reggie Bush violations, but also featuring a series of ethically questionable moves and comments.

“Lane did negotiate some of these things remarkably well,” Haden said. “I have supported Lane with my heart and soul for 3½ years and gave him every opportunity. He wasn’t given a fair hand in a lot of ways. I said all along, we graded on the curve, but we failed on the curve, too.”

Assistant Ed Orgeron will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season. Names bandied about as speculated candidates include Broncos defensive coordinator (and former Jaguars head coach) Jack Del Rio and Rams coach Jeff Fisher, both of whom are USC alums, along with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Boise State coach Chris Peterson, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

• Legendary Steelers defensive end L.C. Greenwood, a pass-rushing standout who was part of the “Steel Curtain” defense of the 1970s, died Sunday at a Pittsburgh hospital at the age of 67.

The six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro played for the Steelers from 1969-81, winning four Super Bowls.

“L.C. was one of the most beloved Steelers during the most successful period in team history, and he will be missed by the entire organization,” Stellers chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 30, 1962, which Red Sox player wrapped up the season with a .326 average to capture his second American League batting title?

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Read More: Geno Smith, L.C. Greenwood, Lane Kiffin, Mark Sanchez
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets owner Woody Johnson insists, ‘I’m very happy with Rex [Ryan]‘ 09.05.13 at 8:11 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, MLB Network); WEEI-FM)
MLB: White Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL: Ravens at Broncos, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
College football: Florida Atlantic at East Carolina, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: U.S. Open, noon (ESPN2), 8 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Rex Ryan (left, at a January press conference) has the vocal support of owner Woody Johnson (right), but the owner would not discuss the coach's long-term future. (AP)

Rex Ryan (left, at a January press conference) has the vocal support of owner Woody Johnson (right), but the owner will not discuss the embattled coach’s long-term future. (AP)

• Jets coach Rex Ryan has been getting roasted in the New York media the past month, but at least he has the support of the team’s owner — sort of.

Woody Johnson defended Ryan’s decision to fly to South Carolina on Saturday — NFL cutdown day — to see his son suit up as a walk-on wide receiver for Clemson, and he insisted he’s supportive of his coach.

“I’m very happy with Rex,” Johnson said, via the New York Daily News. “I think Rex is a great coach. He’s a good head coach. He’s a great teacher. I have a lot of confidence in Rex.”

However, Johnson would not address Ryan’s future. The coach is signed through next season, and Johnson would not address questions about if Ryan is coaching for his job this year, as has been widely reported.

“You guys are speculating,” Johnson said. “I’m not speculating. We don’t talk about any of that. We’re all in. The team is put together. There is no speculation.”

Ryan, for his part, said the lack of a long-term commitment is not an issue for him.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “You guys know me. I’ve never been the focus and shouldn’t be ever. My thing is I’m just happy. I get to coach this year. Obviously, I had a bad year last year. But I can’t wait for the thing that is right in front of us. It starts on Sunday, and I am so looking forward to this season. It’s never been about me. Not one time.”

Both Ryan and Johnson — as well as general manager John Idzik — appear to be on the same page when it comes to the quarterback situation. Rookie Geno Smith is starting Sunday’s opener against the Buccaneers, but injured veteran Mark Sanchez eventually will get another shot to win the starting job.

“That competition’s not finished,” Johnson said, via the New York Post. “The competition’s ongoing. Our competition team-wise is ongoing, too.”

Said Ryan: “Any long-term plan, any of this, any of that, we’re not thinking about it. We’re thinking about Tampa Bay only, and that’s it.”

• Veteran NBA forward Lamar Odom has checked into a rehab center for drug and alcohol abuse, according to a report at People.com.

“He realized he needs help,” a source told the website.

Odom, 33, was arrested for DUI last Friday, days after he reportedly left his home following an argument with his wife, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian, and dropped out of sight.

Odom is a free agent after playing a reserve role last season for the Clippers. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year with the Lakers in 2011, Odom has seen his career plummet since then, bouncing from the Lakers to the Mavericks to the Clippers.

Koni Dole, a high school senior at Worden Huntley Project School in Montana, suffered a devastating injury during a football game last year and eventually had his right leg amputated below the knee. One day after the surgery, he was back in the weight room. A couple of months later, Dole joined the wrestling team. In the spring he ran track, using a “cheetah blade” prosthetic similar to the one made famous by Olympian Oscar Pistorious.

This past weekend Dole made his return to the football field, taking the handoff on his team’s first play from scrimmage and rushing for 10 yards. He also scored his team’s first touchdown — one of two for him on the day — and recorded a sack as a defensive lineman in a 45-0 victory over Joliet High.

“[It was an] untouchable feeling to be back out there with my team with all I’ve been through in the last nine, 10 months,” Dole stold the Billings Gazette. “It’s been a long road.”

Dole has an offer to be a preferred walk-on at Montana State next year.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 5, 1918, the Major League Baseball season ended early due to World War I, and the Red Sox began the World Series — which they would win for their last title until 2004 — against which National League team?

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Read More: Koni Dole, Lamar Odom, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson
Jets name Geno Smith starting quarterback 09.04.13 at 11:47 am ET
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Geno Smith

Geno Smith

In the end, the announcement was almost anti-climactic. The Jets confirmed Wednesday that they will hand the ball to rookie Geno Smith for Sunday’s opener against the Buccaneers, with incumbent Mark Sanchez reportedly unable to play due to a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder.

Sanchez had better numbers in the preseason, but with his inconsistency and turnover tendencies from last year, there was speculation that the team was considering going in a new direction. Sanchez’s injury — suffered after he was rushed into action in the third preseason game in relief of an unimpressive Smith — may have forced the Jets to go to Smith earlier than they would have preferred.

Smith, a second-round pick, had some highlights early in training camp, but the West Virginia product sprained his ankle in the first preseason game and struggled thereafter. Now he’ll get his chance to lead the Jets back to respectability following a 6-10 campaign in 2012.

If Smith does well, Sanchez likely will remain on the roster as an expensive backup. He is set to earn a guaranteed $8.25 million this season, making it unlikely the Jets would release him before the end of the year.

Read More: Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Mariano Rivera adamant about retiring after picking up 40th save at 8:03 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: Tigers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Angels, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks at Minnesota Lynx, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tennis: U.S. Open, noon, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning Tuesday night against the White Sox for his 40th save of the season. (AP)

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning Tuesday night for his 40th save of the season. (AP)

• During a discussion about Mariano Rivera‘s career Tuesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would like the legendary closer to reconsider his retirement plans.

“I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t do it next year, I don’t,” Girardi told ESPN. “He’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to [return], but I always say, you know, January rolls around and sometimes you have a different feel about what you want to do.”

Added Girardi: “I’m sure I’ll talk to him at some point in the offseason, and … I’ll tell him when the season’s over, ‘Take a month. Take a month and a half, two months, and make sure this is really what you want to do. Because once you do go, it’s hard to come back.’ ”

Rivera, for his part, had no interest in talking about another season, even after he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out his team’s 6-4 comeback victory over the White Sox and pick up his 40th save.

“I told you guys already. I don’t know why we’re talking about this. I’ve already made my decision [to retire at the end of the season],” Rivera said.

• It’s been a rough preseason for Jets coach Rex Ryan, and it got more difficult this week as he was forced to defend himself against criticism of his decision to attend his son’s first game as a walk-on wide receiver at Clemson on Saturday, the same day the NFL required rosters to be trimmed to 53.

During an appearance on ESPN Radio in New York on Tuesday, Ryan said he accepts that he’s going to be harshly judged following the team’s 6-10 record last season.

“We had a terrible year, so that’s to be expected,” Ryan said. “When you win in this town, in New York and New Jersey area, shoot, everybody’s happy. If you don’t, hey, I understand the criticism. But the beauty of it is we have a brand new season right in front of us.”

The biggest story around the team has been the quarterback battle. With Mark Sanchez ailing, it appears that Geno Smith is in line to start Sunday’s opener against the Buccaneers. But Ryan said he won’t be pushed into making the decision earlier than he chooses.

“When we want to announce it, we’ll announce it,” he said. “Not you guys, not somebody else. When we’re comfortable making the decision, we will.”

• Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel remains off-limits to the media, following his memorable debut in Saturday’s victory over Rice. Manziel was suspended for the first half of the game following his “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules for allegedly signing autographs for a fee, and then he was yanked late in the game after picking up a penalty for taunting his opponents.

Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said Manziel will talk eventually, but now is not the time.

“I think it’s important now based on where he is that his focus is to try to be our quarterback and a student-athlete,” Sumlin told reporters Tuesday. “That’s his biggest challenge right now. [It's] not his challenge to be here [in front of the media].”

Added Sumlin: “I don’t think right now that him coming here and saying the words would change some people’s opinion about who he is. At the appropriate time, he’ll be able to speak for himself.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 4, 2000, the Red Sox retired a former Sox player’s number for the first time in 11 years, with which legend taking his place among the all-time greats?

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Read More: Joe Girardi, Johnny Manziel, Mariano Rivera, Rex Ryan