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Sunday, April 30, 2017

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Ed Reed to visit Houston Texans

Ed ReedEd Reed could be the latest Baltimore Ravens player to become a former Baltimore Ravens player.

According to Houston Chronicle writer John McClain, Reed will be at the Houston Texans’ facility on Thursday as their first unrestricted free agent visitor. The Texans need a replacement at safety for Glover Quin, who signed with the Detroit Lions.

Reed is a free agent after spending his entire career with the Baltimore Ravens, and there does not seem to be a consensus about what he will do. The San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts have been mentioned as other spots where he could visit.

If Reed, 34, decides to leave the Ravens, now might be the right time. He just won his first Super Bowl, and the exodus from the team has begun. LB Ray Lewis is retiring; LB Paul Kruger is signing with the Browns; LB Dannell Ellerbe is signing with the Dolphins; S Bernard Pollard was released; and WR Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. The other side of the exodus is that the Ravens should have money available to make Reed a strong offer.

New England Patriots’ offer to Wes Welker reportedly was two years, $10 million

New England Patriots fans may have been able to accept losing Wes Welker in free agency had he signed a good-sized contract with another team. But the circumstances surrounding his split from the Pats has left many enraged. It’s easy to see why.

The Patriots lost Welker, who made five straight Pro Bowls while playing for the team, to their AFC competitor Denver Broncos, and Tom Brady’s rival Peyton Manning, over what seems to be a small amount of money.

Patriots reporter Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe says the Pats’ initial offer to Welker was two years for $10 million with incentives. ESPN’s Adam Schefter says Welker’s deal with Denver is for two years and $12 million.

Michael Giardi of CSN New England says Welker went back to the Patriots after receiving his contract offer from the Broncos. Bedard appeared to report something similar.

If these reports are to be believed, that means the Patriots knew exactly what they were risking, and they refused to give Welker an extra million per season to keep him from going to Denver. While $1 million doesn’t seem like a lot of money, the six million Denver is paying him is 20 percent more than what the Pats supposedly were offering, which is a pretty decent amount. Still, it’s hard to believe the Patriots let Welker walk to one of their AFC competitors over such a small amount of money.

None of this should come as a surprise considering the report we passed along earlier on Wednesday. The Pats may turn to a cheaper alternative like Danny Amendola, who they likely think can fill Welker’s role on the team. They probably figure as long as Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are healthy, the passing game will be in great shape. They might be right. And while someone else may not be able to match Welker’s regular-season production, another receiver might not also commit the kind of postseason drops Welker did the last two years.

Pranksters who recorded Buddy Nix-Mark Dominik phone call may have committed a felony

You probably have heard that a couple of kids, with a little luck and a lot of chutzpah, were able to merge two separate phone calls involving Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix and Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik. They then recorded the conversation between Nix and Dominik, which was later revealed on Deadspin. Sounds like some pretty complicated and hi-tech stuff right?

Actually, it’s pretty easy to do:

Cell phone merge call

Now, you might be thinking that you could have a lot of fun with this feature alongside a recording device, but beware: there’s a fair possibility that the kids who pulled off this prank could be in a lot of trouble. Why? What they did is illegal in New York and in Florida.

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Tyrann Mathieu believes he was the best player at the NFL combine (Video)

Tyrann-MathieuConsidering he has not played in an actual football game since 2011, former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu put together a pretty impressive showing at the NFL Combine last month. He ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and reportedly held his own in drills, so his actual performance probably didn’t do much to affect his stock.

As we know, Mathieu’s NFL prospects hinge more on whether or not teams are willing to take a risk on him given his history of off-field issues. According to the artist formerly known as the Honey Badger, any team that drafts him would be selecting the best player from the Combine.

“I feel like I was the best one there, by far,” Mathieu confidently told TMZ on Tuesday. “I put a lot of hard work into it. I just tried to go out there confident in my game.”

Between these comments and the ones he made about shutting down Calvin Johnson, it seems like Mathieu feels like he can talk his way into the NFL. He was also asked which NFL team he would most enjoy playing for.

“It’d have to be the 49ers, just as a fan” he said. “They’ve got a pretty good organization. They’ve got a pretty good dynasty that they’re trying to pursue. It’d be great to be a part of the 49ers club.”

No team is going to wager their future on Mathieu, so a team that is already in good shape defensively like the Niners could be one of the ones to show interest in him. However, I’m sure he’d be happy to play for any team in the NFL. With how quickly Mathieu’s stock has fallen, just hearing his name called in April would be a success.

Yoenis Cespedes reunites with mother, family after stressful year

For over a year, Oakland A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had hardly any idea of where his mother, Estella Milanes, and 11 of his family members were or where they might end up. Cespedes defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2011 to pursue a career in professional baseball. The 26-year-old has succeeded, but prior to this week he had done so at the expense of having to be separated from his family.

According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, Milanes had been struggling to emigrate from Cuba to the United States to join her son. After a long stay in the Dominican Republic, she and her family members were detained as illegal immigrants and held in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They finally made it to Miami over the weekend, where Cespedes paid them a surprise visit.

“No one knew I was coming,” Cespedes said Tuesday through translator Ariel Prieto. “Everyone was sleeping, so I turned on all of the radios, all of the TVs. Nobody woke up, so I went upstairs and started knocking on all of the doors and screaming.

“I’m very happy. So much happiness.”

Cespedes stayed for 12 hours before he had to return to the airport for his flight back to Phoenix, but as you can imagine his family was overjoyed to see him. During the first four months of last season, Cespedes said he was in contact with his mother only about 10 times. There was even a stretch of about three or four days where he had no idea where she was.

“I had no idea where my family was,” he said. “They just disappeared.

Milanes represented Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics, where she was a softball pitcher who topped speeds of 80 mph. Cespedes proudly said that she was the “best lefty softball pitcher in all of Latin America” for a 10-year stretch and joked that she is now going to be his second hitting coach. Judging by the feat he pulled off over the winter, it doesn’t seem like he needs much advice.

It’s easy to look at someone who has a four-year, $36 million contract at age 26 and think about how lucky they are. Cespedes’ emotional reunion with his mother and family reminds us that there is more to life than just a bank account.

Photo credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Percy Harvin: Trade a ‘huge relief,’ but I had ‘great relationship’ with Vikings

It would be silly of us to expect Percy Harvin to dog on the Minnesota Vikings organization after forcing his way out of town, but he may have gotten a bit carried away during his introductory press conference with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. Harvin, who almost looked as if he was fighting back tears at one point, spoke to the media about how blessed he felt to be in Seattle. Video of the entire session can be seen here.

During an interview with KJR in Seattle’s Dave “Softy” Mahler on Tuesday, Harvin again expressed how much of a privilege it is to be able to play for the Seahawks.

“It’s a huge, huge relief,” Harvin said, via Sports Radio Interviews. “I think I can finally get some sleep tonight. It definitely was a long process, had its ups and downs, but I landed at a dream spot for me. To play with these caliber guys, it all worked out, so I’m not complaining at all.”

If the endless evidence of unrest between Harvin and the Vikings wasn’t already enough to prove that their relationship had gone sour, that should seal the deal. However, he insisted in the next breath that there were no problems between him and his former team.

“First off, me and the Vikings organization, we have a great relationship, despite all the rumors that you hear,” Harvin said. “It really was media-blown, but like I said, we have a great relationship. And I’m thankful for the four years they gave me and I’m definitely happy to be here.”

If this report is true, it’s possible Harvin’s biggest relief comes from the fact that he no longer has to play with Christian Ponder. However, all indications are that it ran much deeper than that. Having said that, we’re not going to criticize him for not bashing his former team on his way out the door. Taking the high road is almost always the better option.

Photo credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Wes Welker reportedly ‘seriously considering’ leaving the Patriots

Wes Welker and the New England Patriots are involved in a classic game of chicken, and it may not end well for Tom Brady. When Brady restructured his contract a few weeks ago to give the team more cap space, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that bringing back Welker would be New England’s top priority. On the second day of free agency, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

According to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, the Patriots’ offer to Welker came in “substantially lower” than his camp expected and he is strongly considering leaving New England. That report coincides with a similar one from Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald on Monday morning, who reported that the two sides are nowhere close to coming to a deal and have “moved on.”

Could this all be just a smokescreen? Is it possible that Welker is going to find there are not many teams who value him as much as the Patriots do and his market is not all that large? Both are possibilities, but none of this sounds like good news for Patriots fans or Brady. The important thing to note is that all of this is merely speculation. Things can change in a hurry during the free agency period, and no one knows what Welker is thinking or if he has had any dialogue with the Patriots.

What makes the situation so alarming is that New England really doesn’t have a replacement for Welker. They are reportedly interested in Josh Cribbs, but he is more of a special-teamer and hardly the same caliber player Welker is. Danny Amendola is also an option, but his health has been a major concern. Aside from Welker’s ACL injury that barely caused him to miss any time, he has been one of the most durable players in the league.

Common sense would tell you that the Patriots need Welker back. Brady will turn 36 before the 2013 season begins, and it’s not easy for a quarterback who is this far into his career to establish chemistry with a new corps of receivers. Considering Welker has caught more than 100 balls for five straight seasons, it would be almost impossible for any player to come in and match his production.

From a legacy standpoint, Welker is probably best off remaining in New England. He has become a tremendous player, but much of his success stems from the fact that he and Brady are the perfect combination — both mentally and physically. That being said, the Patriots have been known to alienate their veteran free agents with an unwillingness to pay them what they feel they deserve. Very few would be surprised if that winds up being the case with Welker.

Michigan HS team recreates Duke’s Christian Laettner play, and it works (Video)

Hudsonville-Christian-Laettner-playWhen Hudsonville High School (Mich.) found itself trailing by two points with only 1.5 seconds left on Monday night, it looked as if their hopes for advancing to the Regional Title game had all but disappeared. They had just about enough time left on the clock for a catch-and-shoot, but considering they were inbounding the ball from their own baseline the task seemed impossible.

Unless, of course, the Eagles could replicate one of the most famous sports plays in history. As you can see from the video above, Hudsonville was able to do exactly that and force overtime (score in the video is wrong) against the Forest Hills Northern Huskies. They pulled off Duke’s legendary Christian Laettner play to perfection. Brent Hibbits launched the ball 75 feet to Cody Stuive, who turned around and nailed the jumper.

“I just freaked out,” Stuive told FOX 17 in Michigan. “I just ran to the bench and was giving people hugs. Then I realized that now we have to win in overtime.”

It wasn’t all luck, either. Hudsonville head coach Eric Elliot called a timeout just before the play to make sure his players were on the same page as him.

“At that point you’re thinking with one-and-a-half seconds it doesn’t sound like a lot of time,” said Elliott. “In basketball-talk, you catch and you got one dribble. So it was just how do we get it into our guy’s hands within the three-point line so we can get a clean shot up.”

If we’ve learned anything from shots like this, this and the one that Hudsonville pulled off, it’s that some of the best buzzer-beaters come at the high school level. Perhaps the most amazing part about the feat was that the Eagles were able to refocus and win the game in overtime. Hudsonville will take on Muskedon for the Regional Title on Wednesday night.

H/T The Big Lead

Karlos Dansby said he found out Dolphins cut him by text message and ESPN

Linebacker Karlos Dansby is one of the latest cap casualties of the 2013 offseason, as the Miami Dolphins announced on Wednesday morning that they have cut the 10-year veteran. Dansby was signed through the 2014 season, so many believed he would be cut after the upcoming year. The Dolphins instead decided to clear some cap space now in an attempt to keep getting younger.

Many veteran players who are cut are taken by surprise, but Dansby reminded us on Wednesday that it’s always a good idea to keep your cell phone handy when the free agent period begins. During an interview with Sid Rosenberg on 640 AM in Miami, Dansby said he found out about his release in an unfortunate manner.

Hey, at least Ireland attempted to let him know first. Stories like this haven’t exactly given the Dolphins GM the best reputation, but he tried. Rosenberg said that Dansby sounded “hurt” by the fact that he was cut. The 31-year-old said he truly had no idea he was going to be let go.

“Not one indication, not a hint,” he said, via Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. “It was all, ‘Let’s get ready for the next season.’ I’m not angry with the organization. I know it’s business. … I was expecting this after this season, though.”

I’m sure there are plenty of players around the league who have felt the exact same way over the past few weeks, and there are probably more to come. When it comes to making business transactions, no player is off-limits.

Mike D’Antoni on hack-a-Dwight Howard: ‘I hate it for the fans’

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is one of the worst free throws shooters in the NBA. He is shooting less than 50% from the line this season, and opponents have begun preying on his weakness.

During Tuesday night’s win over the Orlando Magic, Howard went to the free throw line an NBA record-tying 39 times. He converted 25 of those attempts, which is better than expected, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was quick to criticize Orlando’s approach after the game.

“I hate it for the fans,” D’Antoni said according to NBA.com. “They can come to practice for free and watch him shoot 40, 50 foul shots. They don’t even have to pay for the tickets. I’ll invite them all.”

If the Magic’s plan was to foul Dwight in the second half in an attempt to get back into the game, it backfired. Howard found a rhythm and converted 16 of 20 free throws in the final two quarters.

“With any player, if you get 39 cracks at it, it’s only natural for you to gain some type of rhythm,” Magic guard Arron Affalo said. “Usually the percentages kick in when you take five to 10. But when you actually make a few, you gain some confidence, and he did a good job of making them down the stretch for them.”

D’Antoni may not like hack-a-Dwight, but he has made it clear that he does not intend to bench his center late in games because of it. Howard rewarded D’Antoni’s confidence in him by shooting lights out from the line in the second half on Tuesday. The more practice he gets now, the better off he’ll be down the stretch.

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