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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Malcolm Butler hints at possible new contract?

Malcolm Butler

Restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler has been searching for a team to sign him to an offer sheet, and a post he made on social media Wednesday has led to speculation that he may have found one.

Butler shared a photo of himself on what appeared to be an airplane, and the caption he included was interesting.

"Nothing changed but the change" #BLESSED

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

“Nothing changed but the change #BLESSED,” Butler wrote.

Butler has reportedly been negotiating with the New Orleans Saints for several days, and the two sides were said to be making progress on a deal. Since he is a restricted free agent, the New England Patriots would have a chance to match any offer sheet the 27-year-old signs. However, now that the Patriots have signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a massive contract, there has been speculation that they could work out some sort of trade with the Saints rather than forcing New Orleans to give up their first-round pick — No. 11 overall — for signing Butler as an RFA.

Though he would be part of another great team if he stayed in New England, Butler wants to get paid. If the report we heard about his negotiations with the Patriots last offseason is true, you can understand why he might want out of town.

Pacman Jones has felony charges from jail incident dropped

Pacman Jones crying

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones is likely going to avoid serious trouble with his latest off-field incident, as the felony charges he was facing have been dropped.

ESPN’s Katherine Terrell is reporting that Cincinnati prosecutor Joe Deters announced Wednesday that Jones will no longer be charged with harassment with a bodily substance, which is a felony. The veteran defensive back still has pending misdemeanor charges of assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official business. He will plead not guilty to all three.

Jones was arrested back in January after being accused of pushing a man and poking him in the eye. When he was taken into custody, Jones allegedly spit on a jail employee. A video that was obtained by TMZ also showed him cursing at the arresting officer on his way to the station.

The Bengals said earlier this month that they were waiting for the situation to play out before making a decision about Jones’ future, and he remains on the roster. The felony charge being dropped likely means he will stay with the team.

Jones, who signed a three-year extension with the Bengals prior to the season, has a long history of getting into trouble off the field. His last arrest was for disorderly conduct in 2013, and he was accused of punching a woman earlier that year. In 2015, Pacman was involved in an incident at a casino. He was also arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in 2011 and placed on probation.

Nick Saban goes off on reporter who asks if Alabama offense will be conservative

Nick Saban

Alabama held its first official spring practice on Tuesday, and Nick Saban wasted no time getting fed up with the media when he was asked a question he didn’t appreciate.

With former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin now gone and the way the Crimson Tide blew a late lead in the National Championship Game, there has been speculation that Alabama will be more conservative on offense next season. What are your thoughts on that, coach?

“I don’t know where you came up with where we go to ball control,” Saban said, according to ESPN.com. “That’s not what we do. The New England Patriots threw the ball over 60-something percent of the time, which is more than we threw it. So, where does that assumption come from or do you do what everybody else in the media does — create some s— and throw it on the wall and see what sticks, which is what I see happening everywhere?

Saban mentioned the Patriots because former Bill Belichick assistant Brian Daboll is now the offensive coordinator at Alabama. Saban started by ranting about how his team lost to Clemson because it didn’t execute, not because the approach was overly aggressive.

“We didn’t block them,” he said. “We didn’t execute very well. We didn’t throw the ball accurately when we had open people and a couple of times we dropped it. I think it was more a lack of execution than it was something schematically that we were doing. …

“If we had caught some passes in the national championship game — we had some guys open — we wouldn’t have had to control the ball. We would have scored more touchdowns.”

Although it seemed totally unrelated, Saban also took the opportunity to air his frustrations about the new NCAA rules on satellite camps.

“So we say we don’t want third-parties dealing with players,” he said. “So we’re not going to let the high school coach bring a guy to camp, but some third-party guy can bring him to camp now. Makes no sense at all. But all the people who have common sense, they don’t say anything about it. But the people who scream the loudest will get the thing changed and it’ll mess everything up. That’s the way it goes. The way it goes in the world, politics, just the way it goes.”

The high school camp issue led to a feud between Saban and Jim Harbaugh last year, which you can read more about here.

All of this in his first official press conference of the year? Good to see Saban hasn’t changed much over the offseason. You can see the video from the presser below:

Jim Ross’ wife Jan on life support after ‘catastrophic brain injury’

Jan Ross, the wife of WWE announcing legend Jim Ross, is fighting for her life in an Oklahoma hospital after she was involved in a serious scooter accident Monday night.

In a blog post on his website Wednesday, Jim Ross said his wife “needs a miracle” after she suffered a serious brain injury when her Vespa was hit from behind by another driver. Jan was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

“Monday night at approximately 9:30 pm while I was recording the Ross Report about 30 miles from our home, my wife Jan was riding her Vespa home from the gym when (she) was struck from behind by an automobile driven by a 17 year old young man,” Jim Ross wrote. “Jan suffered a catastrophic brain injury including multiple skull fractures. My little Angel was unfortunately not wearing a helmet which arguably would have prevented the extreme nature of her injuries.

“I will fully admit that there has been no experience in my life that could have prepared me for this life changing week. To see one’s life partner and love of one’s life being kept alive via life support equipment is tragically heartbreaking.”

Jim went on to explain that the swelling in Jan’s brain must subside in order for her to have a chance at survival.

Ross is one of the most beloved figures in WWE history, and he thanked fans for their prayers and support. We hope the Ross family receives some good news in the near future.

Japan’s Byosuke Kikuchi uses Zelda theme song as at-bat music (Video)

If you were wondering which player had the best walk-up music for an at-bat during the World Baseball Classic this year, you can stop now. Byosuke Kikuchi of Japan officially took the cake during his team’s loss to the U.S. in Tuesday night’s semifinal game.

With Japan trailing 2-1 and a runner on second in the eighth inning, Kikuchi strolled to the plate with the “Zelda” theme song playing in the background.

YES.

Some of you may be too young to feel a true emotional connection to this, but there are others — maybe myself — who now consider Kikuchi a legend. Just when we thought no one would ever top Josh Reddick, a new champion emerges.

Greg Hardy cocaine arrest video released

Greg Hardy

Some footage from the night Greg Hardy was arrested for possession of cocaine was released on Wednesday, and it confirms that the former NFL defensive lineman told police he did not know how drugs got into his wallet.

In a video that was shared by TMZ, officers are shown searching Hardy’s vehicle before placing him under arrest. When Hardy was informed that a small purple baggie filled with narcotics was found in a wallet in his center console, he admitted the wallet was his but claimed to have no idea how the drugs got there.

“I just got a job, I play football. I was at a party. I got drunk,” Hardy could be heard saying. “Literally last night. I was at a mixer with NFL guys trying to do an interview. Like I said, I don’t know what happened between me and him, he could’ve slipped stuff in my pocket. Some people offered me some stuff. I literally don’t know what is in that. Whatever it is. I haven’t even seen it. I thought that I had nothing in the car.”

Hardy, who was with a woman at the time, said he just came from a date and was trying to spend some time with the young lady before going to “try to get a job playing ball.” He was a free agent at the time and has not signed with an NFL team since.

Hardy ended up striking a plea deal and got two years of probation. His career has been on a downward spiral since disturbing details from his domestic violence case surfaced, though he is committed to taking part in a new independent football league with training camp beginning next month.

Browns will reportedly ‘make another run’ at Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

The Cleveland Browns have yet to find their starting quarterback for the 2017 season, and they are still holding out hope that they can somehow convince the New England Patriots to give up Jimmy Garoppolo.

Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland wrote this week that he still considers Garoppolo to be the best bet to start for the Browns in Week 1, though the level of confidence is not high. While the Browns have been unsuccessful in attempting to trade for Garoppolo thus far, a source told Grossi they are likely going to “make another run” at the quarterback at the league meetings later this month. A deal could also be revisited closer to the NFL Draft on April 27.

The Browns have the No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks in the draft, and they are supposedly not willing to give up both for Garoppolo. With how in love the Patriots are with the 25-year-old QB, it would almost certainly take multiple first-round picks to convince Bill Belichick to part ways with him.

If reports like this one are true, none of it matters. Cleveland could offer the Patriots every draft pick they have and still be turned down. The reality is it is starting to seem like Belichick considers Garoppolo the heir to the Tom Brady throne. And if that’s the case, Jimmy G. truly is untouchable.

LaVar Ball stands by comments he made about LeBron James’ kids

LaVar Ball

LaVar Ball has made a new enemy in four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, and you won’t be surprised to hear how concerned the patriarch of the Ball family is about it.

Not at all.

Just hours after LeBron warned Ball to “keep my family out of your mouth,” Ball was a guest on FOX Sport Radio’s JT “The Brick” and Tomm Looney Show. LaVar said he has no issue with LeBron and defended himself for answering a question honestly.

“No, I don’t have a problem with LeBron,” Ball explained. “They asked me a question about, do I think superstar players’ kids are good. And just my opinion that I’ve never seen one that was really good. LeBron is going to make his kids probably one of the best players ever, according to him…

“…but I’ve never seen one really live up to what their dad has done, so he could be the first or the last. Like I said, it’s not about me having his kids [name in my] mouth, I’m not worried about his family. I’m not worried about his kids. If somebody asks me a question I’ll answer it the way I feel like answering it.”

Ball’s original point was that LeBron’s kids will have a tough time turning into superstars because they’ll always be trying to live up to their father’s enormous expectations. You can read more of what he said here.

LeBron’s sons, 12-year-old LeBron Jr. and 9-year-old Bryce Maximus, have already impressed playing AAU youth basketball. You can understand why James would be irritated that Ball is trying to predict their future. Perhaps LaVar should focus more of his energy on his feud with Charles Barkley.

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