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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN fires Rob Parker, apologizes for Brent Musburger 01.09.13 at 7:41 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:
NBA: Suns at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Lakers at Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
NBA: Mavericks at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Boston College at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Nebraska at Michigan, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Louisville at Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Iowa State at Kansas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Minnesota at Illinois, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Arkansas at Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: West Virginia at Texas, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: UNLV at New Mexico, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Washington at California, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Hawaii at UC-Irvine, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College hockey: Harvard at Boston University, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Two days after Rob Parker went on a Detroit television show and attempted to convince people his comments about Robert Griffin III were taken out of context and that he was not questioning RGIII’s “blackness,” ESPN announced that it was parting ways with the “First Take” panelist.

“Rob Parker’s contract expired at year’s end,” a statement from the network read. “Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew his deal.”

Parker, who had been on the show for six years, was serving a 30-day suspension. A “First Take” producer also reportedly was suspended, apparently due to the fact the show re-aired repeatedly with the offensive comments unedited.

In other ESPN news, the network apologized on Tuesday for announcer Brent Musburger gushing about the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron during Monday night’s national championship game. Katherine Webb, the 2012 Miss Alabama, said she wasn’t offended — and her Twitter following has jumped about 200,000 since she was shown on TV during the game — but ESPN felt the need to silence critics of the announcer’s behavior.

“We always try to capture interesting storylines, and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test,” the statement from ESPN read. “However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far, and Brent understands that.”

‘™¦ Tuesday was a rough day for the NFL’s Ryan family. On the same day the Cowboys announced the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed that two of his assistant coaches (offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh) would not be retained. The Jets also need to hire a new defensive coordinator to replace Mike Pettine, whose contract expires at the end of this month and is interviewing with the Bills, but apparently it won’t be Rex’s brother, as a New York Daily News reports indicates the Jets will go with Dennis Thurman.

“I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better,” Rob Ryan told ESPNDallas.com. “I [expletive] made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.”

Rex Ryan, who has two years and more than $6 million remaining on his contract, acknowledged Tuesday that he had concerns he might not be retained after the Jets’ woeful 2012 season. Now, he has a renewed focus as he looks to turn around the team’s fortunes.

“I’€™m approaching this day like it’€™s the first day. Period. Like my first day as a head coach,” he said. “This is a new chance for me. This is a beginning, certainly not an end.”

Ryan also continued to express confidence in his team.

“We are going to be a dangerous football team,” he said. “I can promise you that. I’€™m going to tell you: You’€™re not going to want to play the Jets.”‘€¨’€¨Added Ryan: “We’€™re not going to be bullied. We might not win every game, and no team does. But you’€™ve got to stand for something. We’€™re going to be the team you don’€™t want to play.”

‘™¦ Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., after he allegedly lied about his identity following a traffic stop for tinted windows. McClain, who was sentenced to 180 days in jail for firing a gun next to a man’s head in 2011 (the case eventually was dismissed after the victim decided to drop the charges), insisted police are out to get him.

“I’m falsely accused of everything,” he told the Decatur Daily. “It’s corrupt. It’s terrible.”

McClain, 23, the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, was suspended by the Raiders two games late this season after arguing with coach Dennis Allen. He played in 11 games (starting nine), recording 60 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. He has two years and more than $9 million remaining on his rookie contract.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 9, 1993, who resigned after two seasons as Patriots chief executive officer, clearing the way for the new staff led by coach Bill Parcells?

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Read More: A.J. McCarron, Brent Musburger, Chris Paul, Katherine Webb
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Lakers’ Kobe Bryant mocks rumors of infighting with Dwight Howard 01.08.13 at 8:01 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:
NBA: Lakers at Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Northeastern at Drexel, 7 p.m. (CSNNE)
College basketball: Baylor at Texas Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Clemson at Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Alabama at Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Ohio State at Purdue, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Pittsburgh at Georgetown, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College hockey: Notre Dame at Minnesota (NESN)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ On the same day it was revealed that Dwight Howard has a torn labrum and will join Pau Gasol (concussion) on the sideline for at least a week, Lakers star Kobe Bryant tried to downplay rumors of discontent on the team.

Responding to a report that he and Howard did not get along and almost got into a fistfight, Bryant on Monday tweeted a picture of the two pretending to square off in the trainer’s room with coach Mike D’Antoni smiling between them.

“Obviously, there are fake stories coming out, somebody has something against our team,” Howard said. “Me and Kobe don’t have a problem with each other. We’re not beefing. So for somebody to come out with a random story and say me and him got into a fight? It’s ridiculous.”

Said Bryant: “It’s not true. We all try to be professional about what we do. I guess some [journalists] skate around that a little bit.”

The Lakers are 15-18 and in 11th place in the Western Conference.

‘™¦ The Jets made a move to their coaching staff Monday, parting ways with quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. A former Patriots backup QB (1978-82), Cavanaugh spent four seasons on the Jets staff, and his contract expires in a few weeks.

There has been speculation that offensive coordinator Tony Sparano also will not be retained, following his one season with the team. He has two years remaining on his contract.

Coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson are scheduled to meet with the media Tuesday for their overdue season-ending press conference.

‘™¦ ESPN “First Take” panelist Rob Parker, who is serving a 30-day suspension for his racially charged comments about Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, appeared on a Detroit TV show and insisted that his comments were taken out of context.

“It was just a conversation that’€™s had in the black community when athletes, or famous entertainers or whatever, push away from their people,” said Parker, who previously apologized on Twitter. “And that’€™s really what it’€™s about. You saw it with O.J. Simpson, and some other people, where they say, ‘€˜Well, I’€™m not black. I’€™m O.J.’€™ So it’€™s more about that, not about RGIII and what’€™s going on. It’€™s more about this thing that we’€™ve battled for years and why people have pushed away from their people. It’€™s more about that.”

Added Parker: “The whole thing is, and I want to make this clear, I wasn’€™t saying that he wasn’€™t black enough. And so, when people say that, it’€™s just not true. I was saying these are the conversations that take place once a guy pushes away. It was never aimed at him, or I was calling him that. I’€™m saying, these are the conversations that take place.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 8, 1944, which Bruins forward was leading the NHL with 53 points in just 26 games when he injured his shoulder during a 12-3 loss to the Maple Leafs, causing him to miss all but 10 games the rest of the season — and finish with 71 points, two points short of the league’s single-season record?

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Read More: Dwight Howard, kobe bryant, Matt Cavanaugh, Rex Ryan
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Ex-Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton admits working as an escort 12.21.12 at 8:04 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: Bucks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Bulls at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Florida Atlantic at Indiana, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Niagara at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Stanford at Northwestern, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Brigham Young at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, Ball State vs. Central Florida, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ The world has not ended, but there are a few individuals in the sports world who probably wish the Internet was destroyed. In the news Friday we have a former Olympian admitting a double life, an ESPN talker learning the duration of his suspension, and another NFL player receiving a death threat on Twitter.

In one of the most bizarre stories of the year, three-time U.S. Olympic middle-distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton admitted that worked as a call girl in Las Vegas for the past year. Favor Hamilton, 44, runs a real estate brokerage firm in Wisconsin with her husband and is the mother of a 7-year-old girl.

She tried to explain her actions on Thursday in a series of tweets after her situation was revealed by the website The Smoking Gun.

I realize I have made highly irrational choices and I take full responsibility for them. I am not a victim here and knew what I was doing. I was drawn to escorting in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life. It provided an escape from a life that I was struggling in. It was a double life.

I do not expect people to understand, but the reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression. As crazy as I know it seems, I never thought I would be exposed, therefore never hurting anybody. I have been seeking the help of a psychologist for the past few weeks and will continue to do so after I have put things together. I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am to anyone I have hurt as a result of my actions and greatly appreciate the support from family and those closest to me. I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter, and friend.

‘™¦ A day after ESPN “First Take” panelist Rob Parker apologized for his racially inflammatory comments about Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, the network announced Thursday that Parker has been suspended for 30 days.

‘€œESPN has decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days for his comments made on last Thursday’€™s episode of ‘First Take,’ ‘€ ESPN said in a statement. ‘€œOur review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made. As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part.

‘€œTo address this, we have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel responsible for these failures.

‘€œWe will continue to discuss important issues in sports on ‘First Take,’ including race. Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on ‘First Take.’ However, we believe what we have learned here and the steps we have taken will help us do all that better.’€

‘™¦ Days after Mark Sanchez was the recipient of death threats from a Jets fan, 49ers kicker David Akers retweeted a death threat he received and then disabled his Twitter account.

The tweet read: IF YOU MISS ONE MORE FIELD GOAL YOU ABOUT TO GET YOUR ENTIRE LIFE ENDED

Akers is 25-for-35 on field goals this season after setting an NFL record with 44 makes last season. The 14-year veteran missed one against the Patriots on Sunday night.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 21, 1996, in their final game of the regular season, the playoff-bound Patriots rallied from a 22-0 halftime deficit to beat the Giants, 23-22. Which Patriots receiver caught eight passes for 124 yards and finished the season with an NFL rookie record 90 receptions?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ll be honest with you. If we had Tom Brady, I’d be happy with that. We don’t.” – Jets coach Rex Ryan, on his team’s unsettled quarterback situation

STAT OF THE DAY: 3 – Votes by which Michael Phelps edged LeBron James to win the AP Male Athlete of the Year

‘NET RESULTS: Thunder star Kevin Durant gets fouled and throws up a shot that bounces twice off the top of the backboard before falling in during Thursday night’s game against the Timberwolves.

Spike Lee is not happy with Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni‘s purple sneakers, and he lets him know it.

Dirk Nowitzki has Christmas gifts for his Mavericks teammates.

The Nuggets show their lack of singing ability with this Christmas video.

And the Warriors do the same.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Terry Glenn

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Carla Thomas was born on this day in 1942.

Read More: David Akers, Rob Parker, Robert Griffin III, Suzy Favor Hamilton
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets reportedly will try to trade Mark Sanchez, might have interest in Michael Vick 12.20.12 at 7:55 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:
NBA: Thunder at Timberwolves, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Heat at Mavericks, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Elon at Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Eastern Michigan at Michigan, 8:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College football: Poinsettia Bowl, BYU vs. San Diego State, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ The Jets appear ready to start over at quarterback. According to the New York Daily News, the team will look to trade Mark Sanchez after the season — although it likely will be difficult to find a team willing to pay Sanchez the $8.25 million he’s owed. Sanchez, in his fourth season in New York after being drafted fifth overall, has been benched in favor of Greg McElroy for Sunday’s game against the Chargers following his disastrous five-turnover performance in this past Sunday’s 14-10 loss to the Titans that ended the Jets’ playoff hopes.

‘€œI’€™m not going to make excuses,’€ Sanchez said after Wednesday’s practice. ‘€œAt the end of the day, no matter what kind of situation that you’€™re in, the quarterback has the ball and it’€™s my job to make good decisions with the football regardless of the personnel situation. ‘€¦ I’€™m not going to go there. Is every interception the quarterback’€™s fault? Of course not. But they’€™re attributed to the quarterback. It goes as my stat. You live with that. You own up to your side of the mistakes and you move on.’€

The Daily News also reports that Michael Vick, who is expected to be released by the Eagles when the season ends, would be amenable to joining the Jets, and that Rex Ryan has always admired the speedy QB.

“[Ryan] loves him,” a team official told the paper.

Vick lost his starting job in Philadelphia after receiving a concussion this season.

‘™¦ Suspended ESPN “First Take” panelist Rob Parker apologized for racially inflammatory remarks he made last week about Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Parker, himself African-American, questioned whether Griffin was “a brother or a cornball brother” and brought up the fact that the player has a white fiancee and is rumored to be a Republican.

Wrote Parker on Wednesday:

“I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry. I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care. This past Thursday I failed to do that. I believe the intended topic is a worthy one. Robert’s thoughts about being an African-American quarterback and the impact of his phenomenal success have been discussed in other media outlets, as well as among sports fans, particularly those in the African-American community. The failure was in how I chose to discuss it on First Take, and in doing so, turned a productive conversation into a negative one.”

Added Parker: “I’ve contacted his agent with hopes of apologizing to Robert directly. As I reflect on this and move forward, I will take the time to consider how I can continue to tackle difficult, important topics in a much more thoughtful manner.”

‘™¦ Isiah Thomas, fired by Florida International University in March after going 26-65 in three seasons as coach, will make his debut as an analyst on NBA TV on Friday. Thomas is slated to make several appearances a month and write for NBA.com.

His first appearance comes as a lead-in to the game between the Bulls and Knicks, the last NBA team Thomas worked for.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: 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: Isiah Thomas, Mark Sanchez, michael vick, Rex Ryan
ESPN suspends Rob Parker for comments about Robert Griffin III and race 12.14.12 at 12:22 pm ET
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ESPN suspended “First Take” panelist Rob Parker following Thursday’s incendiary comments about Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Tweeted ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys on Friday morning: Following yesterday’s comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice. We are conducting a full review.

Parker indicated that he felt Griffin was distancing himself from his African-American background and questioned whether RGIII “is a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”

Explained Parker: “He’s black, he kinds of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause; he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the kind of guy you want to hang out with because he’s off to something else.”

Parker has been inundated with criticism since the show aired. He tweeted a response to one critic, referring to the individual’s comments as “typical and uneducated.”

Read More: Rob Parker, Robert Griffin III, Rumor Mill,
Friday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN’s Rob Parker questions Robert Griffin III’s blackness at 8:02 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: 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:

‘€œI 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. ‘€œRG 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?

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Read More: Brian Urlacher, Mike Rice, Rob Parker, Robert Griffin III