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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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Illegal touching penalty costs Buccaneers against Saints

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost in their comeback bid against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday when the referees penalized them for illegal touching on the final play of the game.

The Bucs were down 35-28 and had a fourth-and-goal play from the nine with five seconds left. Quarterback Josh Freeman took a snap from shotgun, didn’t see anything, and rolled to his left to avoid pressure. He fired into the end zone for receiver Mike Williams, who caught what appeared to be a touchdown that would likely have led to a tie game

However, the back judge threw a penalty flag for illegal touching on Williams. Williams was pushed out of bounds, which made it illegal for him to touch the ball first — hence the illegal touching penalty. Analyst John Lynch incorrectly argued that Williams was eligible because he had reestablished himself inbounds.

Here is the official rule on eligible receivers, with the applicable rules boxed in red:

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Tim Lincecum reportedly will be available in trade

Tim Lincecum posted the worst season of his career, and the San Francisco Giants reportedly will look to trade him this offseason.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote a column on Sunday containing several baseball notes. Some were based on quotes from baseball personnel, and others seemed to be based on informed speculation. Here’s what he wrote about Lincecum:

He will be available in trade, and it will be interesting to see who bites on the two-time Cy Young winner. The Giants insist his problems this season were strictly mechanical, but opposing teams wonder why his usual 96-mile-per-hour fastball was around 92 most of the season, and why his first-inning problems (28 runs) were the worst in baseball.

It’s no surprise that the Giants would look to deal him. Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards and a World Series with the Giants, but he was sub-par this season and nearly lost his spot in the rotation. His gradual drop in velocity is alarming. He can still be an effective pitcher, but if he doesn’t regain his fastball speed, why would we think he could regain his Cy Young form?

Lincecum hurt himself financially by declining long-term contract extension talks. The Giants are probably thankful he only took a two-year deal in January. We imagine there will be teams interested in acquiring him as long as the Giants kick in some money or players in a potential trade.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Gibbs spoke to Dallas Cowboys before game

Joe Gibbs was the head coach of the Washington Redskins for 16 seasons and still maintains an affiliation with the team as a special advisor to owner Dan Snyder, but that apparently doesn’t mean he can’t also provide advice for the rival Dallas Cowboys.

Gibbs reportedly spoke to the Cowboys at their team hotel on Saturday, the night before the team faced the Carolina Panthers. Gibbs’ auto racing team is based in Charlotte, N.C., and he was invited by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to speak to the team.

Jones and Gibbs have had a good relationship for years, even though they were competitors. Gibbs even advised Jones when he was looking to hire a new coach.

Gibbs reportedly tried reassuring the Cowboys about their clock management problems that occurred last weekend’s loss to Baltimore. He told them about a brain fart he made at the end of a 2007 game against the Bills that cost his team the game. The message was apparently well received.

“A couple players told me, ‘If Joe Gibbs can screw it up at the last second, everybody else can screw it up,'” Jerry Jones said, per USA Today.

The speech may have served the Cowboys well. They beat the Panthers 19-14 and seemed to avoid any clock management problems. But Joe Gibbs giving advice to the Cowboys? Man, that’s just weird.

Detroit Tigers scrimmage against their minor leaguers to stay sharp

The last time the Detroit Tigers made the World Series, they had to wait a week between games after sweeping the A’s in the ALCS. There was speculation that the long layoff contributed to a five-game loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The team had five-or-fewer hits in three of the five games, and committed eight errors in the series, including at least one in each game. The team appears to have learned from their past experience and is trying to make alternate arrangements to stay sharp.

General Manager Dave Dombrowski flew many of the organization’s minor leaguers into Detroit so they could practice and scrimmage with the major league club. The team’s Instructional League ended on Thursday, so the timing worked out perfectly. The only question was whether the team would fly to Lakeland, Fla., to play against the minor leaguers, or remain in Detroit. The team decided to stay in Detroit and luckily the weather cooperated and allowed them to practice on Sunday.

“Any time you can see live pitching, it keeps you fresh. Whether you are hitting the ball or just watching. I like that we’re doing. This is a very smart thing to do. Get work in and not sit around and wait,” outfielder Quintin Berry told the Detroit Free Press.

Dombrowski reportedly began talking about making such arrangements when the team went up 2-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees, but he didn’t want the news to become public because they hadn’t won the series yet. Planning ahead appears to have paid off for them. And with the St. Louis Cardinals up 3-2 in the NLCS against the Giants, Tigers fans can’t help but wonder if there will be a 2006 rematch. The only difference is that Detroit should be better prepared for the series this time.

Nike reportedly could sign Rory McIlroy to $250 million deal, make him their next Tiger Woods

Rory McIlroy’s contract with Titleist/Footjoy ends after the year, and there is speculation that the 23-year-old could sign a mega deal with Nike.

The Irish Times published a story on Saturday indicating that the world No. 1 golfer is likely to sign his next equipment/apparel deal with the swoosh. His agent would not comment on the speculation.

“As you are aware, Rory is under contract with Titleist,” McIlroy’s agent, Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management, told the Irish Times. “It is our policy not to pass comment regarding any industry speculation related to any of our players.”

A transition to Nike would make sense for McIlroy. The Northern Irishman won the US Open in record fashion in June 2011, and he took home his second major — the PGA Championship — in August. He passed $10 million in career earnings this year, and he is widely viewed as one of the most marketable and recognizable athletes in sports.

“McIlroy is the boy-next-door brand. The I-want-my-son-to-be-him brand,” Jordan Zimmerman of Zimmerman Advertising told ESPN in August. “That gives you an unbelievable opportunity with the mothers and dads and will also bring kids into golf earlier.”

Zimmerman also speculated that McIlroy could catch Tiger Woods in endorsement earnings.

The Irish Times says the deal McIlroy is expected to sign with Nike could rival the current one Tiger Woods has with the company. Tiger is 36 and hasn’t won a major since 2008. At 23, McIlroy has some of his best years ahead of him, and he seems to have replaced Tiger as the most feared golfer on tour. He could become the prime representative of Nike golf for the next decade.

McIlroy’s current endorsements include Jumeirah Group, Oakley, luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, and Spanish bank Santander.

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Ben Roethlisberger critical of Steelers’ offense under Todd Haley

Many wondered how Ben Roethlisberger would adjust to the Steelers hiring a strong personality like Todd Haley to be offensive coordinator, and now we’re getting a glimpse.

Big Ben spoke to Pittsburgh reporters on Friday and seemed to express disappointment that the offense isn’t shooting for bigger plays.

“Haley’s offense is not a big-play offense,” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It’s kind of a dink-and-dunk offense.”

Asked why the Steelers never went back to big bombs after Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace connected for an 82-yard pass last week, the quarterback replied, “There’s a guy calling the plays. That’s on him.”

Columnist Joe Starkey notes that Roethlisberger did not have any venom when he made those comments.

The relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger seems to be professional and not strained, but there appears to be a significant disagreement when it comes to philosophy. Pittsburgh is 2-3 — the first time they have a losing record through five games under Mike Tomlin — so it’s understandable why people may be frustrated. Overall, Roethlisberger’s passing numbers have been relatively strong. The Steelers are fifth in the league in passing attempts (198), seventh in passing yards (1,429), and sixth in touchdowns with 10. If they were doing worse, then there would be more reason for concern.

H/T Pro Football Talk
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Iowa fans dress as Jerry Sandusky for Penn State game (Picture)

Five Iowa fans dressed as pedophile and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky for Saturday’s Hawkeyes-Nittany Lions game in an act that can be described as nothing short of disgusting.

Penn State student site Onward State shared the photo and says the five fans were making their way to Kinnick Stadium prior to the game when the photo was snapped. The five fans are in black-and-white striped jail suits and have nameplates on the back that say “J. Sandusky.”

It’s absolutely horrifying, stupefying, and embarrassing that some people would take what Jerry Sandusky represents and use it in the context of a sports joke. There is nothing funny about pedophilia. Child sexual abuse is no laughing matter. There is nothing to poke fun at Penn State about for covering up the scandal. And there is no excuse for these students to dress up in such a costume and laugh about it. The same goes for the woman who took a picture with them and apparently found the whole thing amusing.

At least someone in Iowa has a brain. A University of Iowa spokesperson told LBS that the fans, who attend a high school in east Iowa, were approached by the Dean of Students and informed them that their choice of apparel was inappropriate. They were asked to remove the inappropriate items of clothing and we’re told they complied.

Screw on your heads straight people and realize that this is not something you turn into a sports joke to mock an opponent.

NOTE: A previous version of this story misidentified the five fans as University of Iowa students.

Photo via Onward State/Twitter

Lance Armstrong gives speech appealing to cancer donors (Video)

Lance Armstrong may be going through one of the most difficult times of his life, but the public shaming he has endured has not stopped him from continuing his fight against cancer.

Armstrong spoke at Livestrong’s 15th anniversary celebration in Austin, Tex., on Friday night — two days after he stepped down as the charity’s chairman— to appeal to cancer donors.

“It’s been a difficult couple of weeks,” Armstrong acknowledged. “When people ask how I’m doing, I say ‘I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse.'”

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in August, and banned from cycling for life. But it wasn’t until USADA released over 1,000 pages of evidence supporting their decisions to strip and ban Armstrong that many other of his previous supporters began to turn on him.

Nike, which stood by Armstrong during his cycling career (and allegedly paid off a cycling president on his behalf), endorsed him, and supported Livestrong, officially dropped him on Wednesday. Several other companies followed their lead and cut ties with the disgraced former cyclist.

CNN even reported about several Livestrong donors who are angry and feel defrauded. One couple who has raised $200,000 for the charity say they want their money back.

“I feel we were really fooled. We were really hoodwinked,” Connie Roddy told CNN.

The criticism from corporations and individuals isn’t keeping Armstrong from rallying on behalf of Livestrong.

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Fan runs onto field during Miami-Florida State game (Video)

One fan attending the Miami-Florida State game on Saturday night decided it would be a good idea to run onto the field during the middle of a play.

During a 3rd-and-3 play for the Seminoles with under six minutes left in the first quarter, a fan wearing an orange T-shirt and blue shorts ran onto the field at Sun Life Stadium. The fan ran straight into the action as a pass was completed from Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel to running back Chris Thompson right in front of him on the sideline. Luckily the fan avoided injury unlike one other fan who tried doing something similar at a Packers game in January.

This guy still has nothing on the UCLA-Arizona streaker who dressed as a referee to sneak on the field. That was the best.

Video via Busted Coverage

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