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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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Prominent college football coach makes wild claims about future of sport

North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora certainly made some bold comments on the state of the sport on Wednesday.

Speaking at the ACC’s media day, Fedora bemoaned the fact that football is “under attack,” worried that its decline would ruin the country, and cast doubt on links between the sport and CTE in a series of rather bizarre comments.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with the bizarre link between football and the military, which seems to come out of nowhere and does not make a lot of sense. The argument that football is so intertwined with both the military and the fate of the country seems like a desperate attempt to cling to its cultural importance to try to limit efforts to make it safer for people to play. It’s illogical, nonsensical, and done in bad faith.

Fedora’s dismissiveness of a link between football and CTE is distressingly common, despite huge amounts of evidence in favor of a strong link between the two. There is, after all, a reason that the NFL has allegedly tried to influence reporting on this link.

We get it. Fedora loves football and, deep down, fears for the future of the sport as it’s played right now as the evidence of its safety issues continues to pile up. Instead of trying to work to find solutions to make the game safer for those who play it while trying to preserve what it is that he feels makes it great, but he instead decided to make bizarre claims about its impact on the nation’s future while trying to cast doubt on the science behind player safety. It’s patently ridiculous.

Spurs’ statements are not very kind to Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

You don’t have to read between the lines to deduce that the San Antonio Spurs aren’t exactly sorry to see the back of Kawhi Leonard.

In their various statements announcing Wednesday’s major trade that sees Leonard move to the Toronto Raptors, it certainly looked like the Spurs were doing the bare minimum to recognize Leonard on his way out the door.

First, there were the graphics from the team’s official Twitter account, which looked to give the other player moved in the deal, Danny Green, a bigger, more prominent thank you font-wise.

In their official statement announcing the trade, the Spurs didn’t list any of Leonard’s personal accomplishments with the team, instead simply rattling off his career stats in a single sentence.

This isn’t necessarily unprecedented, but it’s still a pretty clear indicator of what the team thinks of Leonard and how he’s carried himself throughout this process. It looks like his new team could have a difficult time with him too.

Report: Kawhi Leonard could sit out entire season with Raptors

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is said to have no interest in playing for the Raptors, and the star forward could reportedly go to extreme measures to make his new team regret acquiring him in a trade.

According to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, Leonard is so adamant about not playing for the Raptors that he may consider sitting out the entire 2018-2019 season.

And, league sources told Sporting News, Leonard has no interest in playing for the Raptors. There have been indications that he would sit out the entire season if necessary, and though that step would be drastic and unprecedented in today’s game, Toronto has forced the situation into uncharted territory by acquiring a player who has made it clear he does not want to be there.

It should be noted that there’s language in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement preventing players from becoming free agents if they “hold out” for a certain amount of time, but there’s probably a way Leonard could come up with an injury or create a disagreement between his personal doctors and team doctors like he did last season.

The Raptors are clearly hoping their situation with Leonard turns out like the one with Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but there appears to be very little chance of that happening. There’s also little chance Leonard would sit out an entire season after playing in just nine games last year, though it’s unclear how much his quad injury had to do with him not playing.

Leonard wants to play for the Lakers, and even a deep playoff run with Toronto might not change his mind. From both a basketball and business standpoint, sitting out an entire season is probably too risky. That said, the stories we have heard about what Leonard’s camp did last season to hide his rehab from the Spurs indicate the 27-year-old is willing to go to great lengths to get what he wants.

Brewers, MLB release statements on Josh Hader’s offensive tweets

Josh Hader

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader saw his reputation take a massive hit during the MLB All-Star Game Tuesday night when some of his offensive tweets from years ago began surfacing, but he will not face disciplinary action from the league.

Major League Baseball released a statement on Wednesday addressing Hader’s tweets, and commissioner Rob Manfred said the left-hander took the “necessary step of expressing remorse” but that he will be required to attend sensitivity training.

The Brewers also weighed in, condemning Hader’s tweets while saying they do not believe they are representative of the 24-year-old’s personal beliefs.

The tweets from Hader mostly came from 2011-12 and included him quoting offensive rap lyrics in addition to making some homophobic remarks. Hader later apologized for the tweets and said they were the result of him being “immature and stupid” when he was 17.

Las Vegas odds see big shift after Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade

Kawhi Leonard

With legitimate questions swirling about Kawhi Leonard’s health and his level of commitment to playing for any team other than the Los Angeles Lakers, many have wondered if the Toronto Raptors gained anything by sending DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio as part of a package to acquire Leonard. But as far as Las Vegas is concerned, one team clearly won the trade.

Before they dealt Leonard, the Spurs had 80-1 odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win next year’s NBA Finals. Even with DeRozan, they’re now considered an even longer shot at 200-1. The Raptors, on the other hand, saw their odds take a big shift in the other direction.

Two years ago, no one would have considered making the argument that DeRozan is a more valuable player than Leonard. The problem is Leonard is coming off a season in which he played in just nine games due to a mystery quad injury that just wouldn’t seem to go away. Toronto must be confident that Leonard’s leg is healthy, but what about his mindset?

Several NBA reporters have already given us an idea of how Leonard feels about playing for the Raptors, and let’s just say Toronto fans would be right to worry. For now, Las Vegas oddsmakers are trying their best to ease those concerns.

Report: Celtics ‘seriously engaged’ in contract talks with Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart has been unhappy with the lack of communication from the Boston Celtics this offseason regarding his contract situation, but it sounds like the two sides are finally starting to make some progress.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Celtics are now “seriously engaged in contract talks” with Smart’s agent and are believed to be discussing a four-year deal.

Smart is a restricted free agent, and the Celtics have only offered him a one-year qualifying offer at this point. That gives them the right to match any offer sheet Smart might sign with another team, but he has yet to sign one.

Smart, 24, averaged 10.2 points and 4.8 assists per game last season, but his numbers hardly tell the entire story. He’s a scrappy defender who gives full effort every time he’s on the court, and those are the types of players teams need to compete for championships come playoff time. Despite his offensive inconsistencies, he is incredibly important to Boston’s success.

While there have been reports that Smart is disgusted with the Celtics, there aren’t a lot of teams with salary cap space this offseason. If he wants long-term security, he may have to lower his expectations a bit and sign an extension with Boston.

Barry Sanders statue at Oklahoma State is ‘in the works’

Before he became a legend with the Detroit Lions, Barry Sanders was one of the greatest college football players the sport had ever seen. Oklahoma State takes great pride in the success he had with the school in the late-1980s, and the Cowboys are planning to showcase that in a big way.

While speaking with reporters at Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy revealed that the university is planning to dedicate a statue to Sanders in the near future.

“It’s in the works right now,” Gundy said, per Nathan Ruiz of The Oklahoman. “I don’t think it’ll be much longer and we’ll have a statue of Barry up.”

Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards in 1988, and that remains the NCAA Division I FBS record for most rushing yards in a season. Sanders actually rushed for 2,850 yards that year, but his 222 yards and five touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl were not counted toward his season-long stats. The NCAA did not begin including bowl game statistics until 2002. In total, Sanders scored an incredible 42 touchdowns in 1988.

Despite the incredible amount of success he had at Oklahoma State, Gundy feels there is not enough awareness of his achievements from incoming players. He wants to see that change with a statue and some other ides, one of which is a ring of honor at Boone Pickens Stadium.

“There’s been a lot of players at Oklahoma State that have been very, very successful that we know because we’ve been around it 10, 15, 20 years,” Gundy said. “But the young men we’re recruiting don’t have a clue. They only know who’s played the last couple years. That’s why it’s important in my opinion.”

Gundy has had some issues with the higher ups at Oklahoma State in recent years, but there’s no reason to believe he’ll get any pushback on wanting to honor Sanders. If anyone deserves a statue, it’s Barry.

Darrelle Revis announces retirement from NFL

Darrelle Revis

After 11 seasons that featured seven Pro Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl championship, Darrelle Revis has decided to call it a career.

Revis released a statement on Instagram Wednesday announcing that he is retiring from the NFL.

A post shared by Darrelle Revis (@darrellerevis) on

Revis is one of the best cornerbacks to ever play, and he will likely be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. His best seasons were in his first stint with the New York Jets, though he was also a huge part of the reason the New England Patriots won a Super Bowl in 2014.

Last year, Revis did not sign with a team until he joined the Kansas City Chiefs in November. He appeared in just five games and was called out for the embarrassing effort he gave on some plays, so it’s no surprise he was unable to find work this year after previously expressing a desire to play in 2018.

Revis, 33, finishes his career with 29 interceptions. Those numbers don’t tell the story as much as his “Revis Island” nickname does.

Ex-teammate says DeMar DeRozan was ‘stabbed in the back’ by Raptors

DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan is reportedly upset that the Toronto Raptors are sending him to the San Antonio Spurs as part of a trade for Kawhi Leonard, and at least one of his former teammates feels he has every right to be.

Veteran guard Lou Williams, who was with Toronto for the 2013-2014 season, wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning that DeRozan got “stabbed in the back” by the Raptors.

The Raptors reportedly met with DeRozan within the last few weeks and assured him he would not be traded this offseason. According to NBA reporter David Aldridge, DeRozan is “extremely upset” that the franchise he has spent his entire career with lied to him.

For what it’s worth, it seems like the other star player in the trade is also less than thrilled about the deal. When fans get upset with star players for leaving in free agency, they need to remember situations like the one that is unfolding with DeRozan. As cliche as it sounds, professional sports are very much a business.

Details of Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade revealed

Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs have agreed to a trade with the Raptors that will send Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Raptors will get Danny Green in addition to Leonard while the Spurs receive DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick.

The trade doesn’t sound like a bad one for either side, but there is obviously a ton of risk involved for Toronto. It is basically a known fact at this point that Leonard wants to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers when he becomes a free agent next summer, and reports have said he has no desire to play in Toronto. The Raptors are obviously hoping they can convince Leonard to stay like the Oklahoma City Thunder did with Paul George, but that will not be easy.

Fans are convinced that Leonard has no intention of re-signing with the Raptors after next season, and that has resulted in some hilarious reactions on social media. If Toronto ends up losing Leonard next summer when they had DeRozan under contract for at least two more years and an actual chance to sign him to an extension, they’ll likely regret the Leonard trade.

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