Month: December 2016

Aaron Hernandez attorneys seek dismissal of tattoo and text evidence

Jurors at Aaron Hernandez’s upcoming double murder trial shouldn’t hear about his tattoos or text messages sent to his sports agent, attorneys for the former New England Patriots player told a judge Tuesday.

Hernandez is charged with killing two men in a 2012 drive-by shooting, because one of the men bumped into the former football star in a Boston nightclub, prosecutors said.

Aaron Hernandez had tattoos done soon after the victims were killed that link him to the slayings.
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Hernandez, who attended Tuesday’s hearing wearing a suit and a tie, has pleaded not guilty to killing 29-year-old Daniel de Abreu and 28-year-old Safiro Furtado. His trial is scheduled to start in February.

Hernandez had tattoos done soon after the victims were killed that link him to the slayings, prosecutor Patrick Haggan said in court.

After the fact, no Steelers player said he was worried about resetting for a new play, which would have been difficult at the 9-second mark. They were putting all their trust in Brown to win it.

“I know I’m going to take some contact, and I knew after that I was going to be able to get the ball in,” Brown said in the locker room.
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Officials easily could have called a face-mask penalty on Weddle. They didn’t have to make that call because of the score. But had Brown failed to cross the plane, it’s unknown whether the refs actually caught the foul amid all the traffic.

And there was traffic. Linebacker Zachary Orr was closing in. Powers was still in the haze of his missed opportunity but near the play. Guard Ramon Foster was bolting into the play to try to push Brown through, just as he did with Le’Veon Bell on an earlier fourth-quarter touchdown.


Aaron Rodgers’ uncharacteristic accuracy issues have persisted into December

Meanwhile in Green Bay, the Packers still haven’t found rhythm on offense. Aaron Rodgers’ uncharacteristic accuracy issues have persisted into December, hindering the unit’s ability to put points on the board. Last week, Green Bay produced 23 points on offense, but missed multiple opportunities for big plays.

Youth Luis Gonzalez Jersey If the Packers don’t resolve those issues in short order, they stand little chance of challenging the Cardinals this week.

At the same time, the team’s defense has continued to perform well throughout the season. The unit ranks fifth in points allowed (18.9) and among the league leaders in sacks (38).

Youth Crockett Gillmore Jersey Kelly probably won’t be fired this year, but he needs to think long and hard about what kind of team he wants next season. This collection of misfits simply isn’t getting it done. When Cousins and Reed are on the same page, there aren’t many defenses in the league that can stop them, making Washington a tough out in the playoffs.

Tom Brady has been getting hit a lot more often over the last several weeks and has been a different quarterback with many of his weapons missing. In his last five games, he’s only surpassed the 300-yard marker once. For comparison’s sake, he did it six times in his previous nine contests.

With all of these injuries and a playoff berth clinched, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said this week he would consider resting starters.

“We’ll just have to do the best we can to balance all those things out. It’s something we’ll have to give some thought to and get as much information as possible because there are some guys that are in various states of physical health,” Belichick said, via NFL.com.


These players will get better D-League salaries and get paid NBA salaries when they’re on the big team

There will be under-16 and under-18 teams and the top students at each center will be selected for travel teams to play internationally.

NBA Academy Africa is the latest in the league’s continued commitment to developing basketball and youth in Africa junior programs already in Cameroon, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa. Basketball without Borders, the NBA and FIBA’s global development and community outreach program, has been held in Africa 14 times and has helped produce nine former campers who were drafted by NBA teams.

Kyle Brodziak Youth Jersey Bradley ranks 39th in rebounds per game and 41st in scoring. He’s 20th in 3-point percentage (42.4 percent) among those who average at least two 3-point attempts per game. Oh, and Bradley is making a mere $8.3 million this season in the third year of a four-year, $32 million pact.

Bradley’s overall impact isn’t lost on Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
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“We need Avery to rebound, and he’s stepped up his rebounding. That’s what great players do,” Ainge said in a radio interview with Boston news radio WBZ-FM last week. “But Avery, I think, was voted the best guard defender in the NBA last year, being first-team All-Defense behind only Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard. Here’s a guy that is one of the best defensive players in the game. He’s considered that by his peers — not just the media who votes it.

“So in half of the game, he’s one of the top three players in the NBA, OK? Then you add the rebounding that he’s doing this year from the 2-guard position, which is phenomenal. Then you add the fact that he’s adding 18 points per game at an efficient rate, and you say, ‘OK, so he’s the best perimeter defender, and he’s in the top 40-50 offensive players in the league.


Bills preparing to part ways with Rex Ryan

Authentic Youth Nicolas Meloche Jersey Hours before the Buffalo Bills defeated the winless Browns to improve to 7-7 on Sunday, league sources said Rex Ryan is probably approaching his final games as the Bills’ head coach.

Ryan is aware of what’s ahead, sources said, which creates an awkward situation surrounding the Bills until the change is made.

“I don’t know what my future holds,” Ryan said after the game. “I just know that I’m gonna get this team ready to play on Saturday, on Christmas Eve, and I’m excited about that.”

Then, asked to specifically comment on the accuracy of this report, he said, “Trust me, that one’s definitely not accurate. So I don’t know where some of these things come in. I’m absolutely not aware [of my fate].”

Luckily for Rex Ryan, the Bills defeated the Browns and the coach’s parking spot at One Bills Drive should be safe for at least another week.
Authentic Youth Levine Toilolo Jersey Ryan didn’t specifically address whether he had asked Bills owner Terry Pegula about the decision or whether the coach knows where he stands, but he acknowledged that ownership might know his future beyond this season.

“So happy for all the Scots,” said Stephen Jones, who two days earlier had to stop in the middle of an answer to keep from choking up while talking about his son’s pursuit of a state crown. “Of course, love him to death. Don’t know what else to say. It’s just raw emotion.”

John Stephen Jones, the offensive MVP, scored his first touchdown on a 36-yard run in the first half in front of 35,089 fans at AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home of the Cowboys built mostly with Jerry Jones’ money.

Jerry Jones hugged his grandson after Highland Park (14-2) clinched its fourth state title and first since 2005. The postgame scene turned into a jubilant celebration for the Jones family.


Mike Pereira wants to reveal NFL’s ‘undercover’ officiating program

Mike Pereira is shouting into the wind. He hears the pervasive calls to improve NFL officiating, demands that would have reached his desk when he was the league’s vice president. Now, as a Fox Sports analyst and author, he can’t believe how few people have noticed what already is underway.

“Officiating is changing before our very eyes,” he said, “and I don’t know if anyone has recognized it — except maybe me.”

Daniel Sedin Game Jersey In a conversation this week about his book, “After Further Review,” Pereira reiterated and amplified a theory that he first advanced last year — a premise that makes perfect sense but would undermine the transparency of NFL game administration.
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“As you are well aware, rare diseases severely lack funding and awareness, so this disease can use all the publicity it can get. Maybe someday this, along with cancer and all other terrible diseases, will have a cure or better treatment so in future generations, families can have better outlooks. Either way, I hope this story can help people out there and bring more positivity to this world. Lord knows we could use it.

No, Brian, thank you, and to Ashley and Elizabeth as well, for reminding us, as we look back on our season or head to Week 15 with a few fantasy predictions, what actually matters.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins: Ask anyone who was sent packing in their league last week. In the playoffs, especially, you need consistency. Well, there are only two quarterbacks who currently have a streak of eight straight 15-plus-point games. Aaron Rodgers and … Kirk Cousins. Throwing a deep ball as well as any QB in the league these days, Kirk is helped by a strong run game, terrific receivers and a suspect defense that keeps him throwing. All are in play Monday night, as the Panthers bring their 27th-ranked pass defense the past four weeks to Washington. Since Week 4, the Panthers are bottom three in completions, passing touchdowns and completion percentage allowed, plus bottom six in most fantasy points against. Fire him up.


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Russell Wilson probably should’ve been in the running for MVP, too

No one had a better final seven weeks than Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ signal caller finished the year with 24 touchdowns to just one pick in those seven games and set Seahawks passing touchdowns (34) and yardage records (4,024) along the way. Per ESPN Stats and Info, he also became the first and only player in the league’s history with 4,000 or more passing yards, 30 or more passing touchdowns and 500-plus rushing yards.

Wilson finished the year completing Game Kids Will Blackmon Jersey 68.1 percent of his passes at 8.3 yards per attempt, and his 110.1 passer rating was not only the best in NFL this year, it was the 15th-best single-season mark in NFL history.

He didn’t dress the part all that well (though Kids Earl Thomas III Jersey that didn’t help Mike Nolan), he didn’t have an established name to trade on (though that didn’t help Mike Singletary), and he didn’t win anything of consequence (though that didn’t help Jim Harbaugh). Given the aforementioned roster issues and a very challenging schedule, can it really be that Tomsula got fired because he didn’t meet some irrational standard of success? Was he really expected to take this San Francisco team back to the playoffs in his first year?

As for the rest of the field, NFL draft order was the name of the game on Sunday.

The Titans lost to the Colts, securing them the first overall pick in the draft, while Cleveland’s loss to Pittsburgh guaranteed them the second pick. The Chargers and Cowboys also both lost, giving them No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, while Jacksonville rounds out the top five with their loss at the hands of the Texans.

Philadelphia Eagles: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
This could be tricky since starter Jason Peters seems to be angry already about Philadelphia potentially moving him from left tackle. It’s doubly tricky with Lane Johnson potentially moving from right to left tackle. But in Decker the Eagles would have a proficient pass blocker who has experience on both sides.


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They hadn’t won a postseason series since Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle and the boys swept the World Series

Meanwhile, that other team in town — yeah, you know, that team — was heading in a slightly different direction. So if this wasn’t the time to go print up those For Sale signs, then when the heck was it?

But of course, they weren’t winning. They hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2012. They hadn’t won a postseason game since 2008. They hadn’t won a postseason series since Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle and the boys swept the World Series in 2005.

“The last thing you want to be Jacoby Ellsbury Kids Jersey is caught in between,” Hahn said. “You don’t want to be a club that’s not good enough, not capable of winning a championship, but at the same time is just sort of mediocre or stuck in the middle.”

Again, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s three Game Chris Chester Jersey top-100 prospects. For a farm-famished franchise like the Orioles that had just one player in Baseball America’s 2016 midseason rankings (catcher Chance Sisco, No. 85), that’s some serious collateral — especially when you consider that Britton, Machado, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy (not to mention Showalter and Duquette) all have contracts that expire following the 2018 season. Translation? Selling high on Britton could help pry open Baltimore’s window — one that seems ready to slam shut — for a few more years.

And if you believe that the Birds’ current roster contains at least one closer-in-waiting, it might not cost them the chance to contend in the near term.

Of course, the one huge caveat here is that the trade market for Britton — for any closer, really — doesn’t go away once the season starts. In fact, you could argue that as the trade deadline approaches, the market gets even more inflated thanks to the inevitable presence of contending teams that are desperate for bullpen help (see: Cubs, Chicago).

So if the overachieving Orioles decide to play down to their projections for once (FanGraphs has them pegged for 76 wins), and if they find themselves out of contention in late July, then who knows — maybe they’ll actually consider trading the best closer in baseball.


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Eli Manning says Odell Beckham Jr. should kill NFL refs with kindness

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. went out of his way to complain about the refereeing in his team’s 24-14 road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Monday, his quarterback offered some veteran advice about dealing with the men in stripes.

Eli Manning went on Mike Francesca’s radio show to talk about Sunday’s loss and offered some insight into his relationship with the referees after 13 seasons in the league.

“He’s got to be careful of that,” Manning told Francesca. “I think that with officials, you want to kill them with kindness. They’ve got a job to do and they’re going to do it to the best of their ability.

“If you start jabbing at them and talking at them, that’s not going to help your case. That’s not going to help you get calls if they’re close.”

Beckham says one of the officials said “get out of my face” when he disputed offensive pass interference call.

But maybe there’s something more going on here. Maybe, just maybe, Flacco was trying to improve his game by osmosis.

When last year’s Pro Bowl voting concluded, Tom Brady was the top player with 701,554 fan votes. Elliott is just 20,193 votes behind that total now, with a little over a week remaining.

There are a few contributing factors here. One, the Cowboys have an invested nationwide fan base. Two, this is the first year that the NFL has opened up fan voting on social media. This makes it easy for football fans to vote early and often.

Pro Bowl voting concludes on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on Friday, Dec. 16. The Pro Bowl roster is determined by a consensus of player, coach, and fan votes, and the rosters will be announced on Dec. 20 on NFL Network.


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offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he has “shown up a bunch” in practices this week

With four games to play, the Cowboys have clinched a playoff spot. With a win Sunday against the New York Giants, they can clinch the NFC East and possibly a first-round bye and home-field advantage.

As for Coates, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he has “shown up a bunch” in practices this week. Coates has zero catches on nine targets in his last five games while recovering from two broken fingers in his left hand. But Roethlisberger said on 93.7 The Fan this week that defenses have been sitting on the go ball when Coates enters the game, so it might be time to give him a more diverse menu.

The Panthers are 4-8 and all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after going 15-1 during the 2015 regular season and reaching the Super Bowl.

Newton is on target for a career-worst 80.6 passer rating and 54.7 completion percentage. He’s thrown only 14 touchdown passes a season after collecting a career-high 35 last year.

That’s about as demoralizing as it can get unless you happen to play for the Cleveland Browns (0-12).

“It’s challenging,’’ Newton said. “It’s extremely challenging. It’s humbling as well. But yet you still have to keep getting better.’’

San Diego coach Mike McCoy agreed, calling Kuechly a special player.

He referenced the passion Kuechly showed on the sideline on Sunday against Seattle. Unhappy with the officials, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year became animated and started yelling at Panthers coach Ron Rivera after Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett scored a 75-yard touchdown.

“He’s one of the best players in the game,” McCoy said. “He’s one of the best inside backers in the game and his impact. The way he makes plays — you just mentioned Philip Rivers and the passion he has for the game.

“Look at Luke the other night on TV. How much passion he has to try to help his teammates and how involved he is in the game. It’s the same thing. This is what the great ones do.”


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Mel Kiper’s 1st 2016 NFL mock draft has Browns taking QB to replace Johnny Manziel

Some lucky NFL fans are still able to watch their teams compete in the playoffs. For everyone else, the focus has already turned to next season and the future. Luckily for them, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has put out his first mock draft for 2016.

Of course, it’s still very early in the process. Kiper himself points this out:

“Nobody has a draft board yet,” Kiper writes, “and we still have postseason all-star games, combine testing, medicals and individual workouts to get through.”

That said, Kiper is still incredibly plugged in and usually a good predictor of draft trends (for another view be sure to check out our latest mock draft from Dan Kadar). Here are some that stand out from his first mock draft.

In Manning’s first year with the Broncos, Denver led 35-28 with 43 seconds to go. The Ravens had a third-and-10 from their 30. No way they come back against a top-five defense, right? But then Joe Flacco heaved one up to Jacoby Jones and safety Rahim Moore blew the coverage, allowing a shocking game-tying score. Despite Manning getting the ball back with 31 seconds and two timeouts left, coach John Fox orders him to take a knee. Manning threw a bad interception in double overtime and the Ravens won on a Justin Tucker field goal.

Manning threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and one lost fumble.

This is the only one of the six first-round playoff losses where the game wasn’t that close. The Broncos scored first and then were outscored 24-6 the rest of the way. Manning threw for 211 yard with one touchdown and zero interceptions and was ineffective after the first drive. He looked every inch a banged-up, 38-year-old quarterback.

Out of Manning’s seven wins in the AFC playoffs since 2005, only one was memorable: the 2006 AFC Championship where the Colts rallied back from 21-3 to beat the Patriots. That was the only win where the game was truly in doubt. In the other six wins, the average margin of victory was 12 points.

Manning’s stats have been remarkably similar, win or lose. In his seven wins, he has thrown 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions, averaging 291 yards passing. In the six losses, he’s recorded 10 touchdowns and four picks, with 288 yards per game.