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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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Report: Michael Bennett seeking trade to Falcons

Michael Bennett Seahawks

Is Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett looking to reunite with his former defensive coordinator?

According to Clarence Hill of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, Bennett has informed the Seahawks that he would like to be traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Bennett, who signed a four-year, $28 million extension with the Seahawks last year, is also said to be seeking a new contract.

This is extremely bizarre news, as Bennett has seemed perfectly content with Seattle and earned a big raise after he signed a one-year deal with the team in 2013. Perhaps he views himself as one of the game’s elite pass-rushers and is now looking to be paid accordingly.

With Atlanta looking to get more pressure on the quarterback next season, it is possible Bennett has spoken to new Falcons head coach and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn about reuniting.

Bennett, 29, has roughly eight sacks per season over the last three years and has not missed a game during that span. While Ndamukong Suh is a much better player than Bennett and sees more double-teams, he is 28 and has averaged around seven sacks per season since 2012. Suh just received a $114 million contract from the Miami Dolphins that includes $60 million guaranteed.

Whether by coincidence or not, Pro Football Talk reports that the Seahawks are scheduled to host free agent defensive tackle Greg Hardy for a visit this week. Hardy, who was suspended for all but one game last season, has 27 sacks in his last 32 games.

The Seahawks have told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times that any reports about Bennett seeking a trade are news to them. After re-watching this footage of Bennett from the NFC Championship Game, we’re pretty stunned, too.

Rajon Rondo, Rick Carlisle getting along much better

Rajon Rondo Rick Carlisle

Just a few short weeks ago, it appeared that Rajon Rondo’s stay with the Dallas Mavericks was all but certain to be a very brief one. Rondo, who is a free agent after the season, was suspended for a game following a heated exchange with head coach Rick Carlisle. But now, it seems the two may be moving in the right direction.

Rondo tallied 13 assists — his highest total since Jan. 5 — in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. According to Mavericks reporter Earl K. Sneed, Carlisle has been quizzing Rondo and the two are now on the same page.

After the Mavs’ 119-115 win, Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he and Rondo have been “spending a lot of time together” and it is paying off.

“The thing is I want to make sure he’s keeping pace in the game, because he has the ability to keep pace in the game and to mix in play-calling, not just call plays every time,” Carlisle explained. “He’s getting really good with the play-calling, but our mission is to defend and rebound better, keep pace in the game and then run the right stuff. He’s doing a great job.”

Last month, MacMahon reported that Rondo is “extremely unlikely” to re-sign with Dallas after the season. He also noted how Carlisle and Jason Kidd — who now uses Carlisle’s quiz strategy with his own team — butted heads at first but went on to win an NBA Championship together. If the Mavs continue to improve, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Rondo sticking around.

H/T Eye on Basketball

Trent Richardson signs with Raiders

Trent Richardson

In a move that is so Oakland Raiders it hurts, the best of the west announced on Tuesday that they have signed free agent running back Trent Richardson.

Richardson, arguably one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, was waived by the Indianapolis Colts last week following two incredibly frustrating seasons with the team. The Colts gave up a first-round pick to pry Richardson away from the Cleveland Browns just after the start of the 2013 season.

Richardson was suspended for a Colts playoff game a couple of months ago when he missed a practice without telling the team where he was. It was later revealed that Indy coaches have grown tired of the former Alabama star’s lack of conditioning and accessibility, though a separate report indicated Richardson missed a walkthrough because his girlfriend was having serious pregnancy complications.

Whatever the case, Richardson’s performance on the field has been horrible since he left Cleveland. He recently compared himself to Marshawn Lynch and vowed to become one of the best backs in the NFL.

“I’ll be one of the top running backs from here on out,” Richardson said earlier this month, via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells. “They ruled Marshawn Lynch off in his third year. Look at what he’s doing now. My next stop, I’ll be the starter. I still have my pride, and I know who I am.”

Well, in that case, the Raiders just made the best move of the offseason.

V. Stiviano shares heartfelt tribute to Donald Sterling

Donald-Sterling-V-Stiviano

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his ex-girlfriend (current?) V. Stiviano have apparently held no grudges against one another. Or, at the very least, Stiviano wants everyone to know that she still loves Sterling very much.

On Tuesday, Stiviano shared a photo o Instagram of her sitting on Sterling’s lap at some bizarre party. Here’s what she wrote:

“I will forever be your ANGEL. Don’t let the evil witch of the west Rochelle (Shelly) Sterling suck the living life out of you. I’m here for you. I’ve always been here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m turning the other cheek while unveiling the truth. Mask the pain with LOVE and compassion for thy enemy. When things get hard wear the visor and let your tears of joy flow. There’s nothing you can’t handle. Don’t give up on life now. You know the truth and that’s all that matters. This too shall pass. I LOVE you. I’ve learn from some of the best people in the world. Lucky and very bless and so it is.”

Stiviano also hashtagged her post with a punch of names of major publications like the New York Times and LA Times. She then went on to respond to several followers who accused her of having sex with Sterling for money.

(more…)

49ers color analyst Tim Ryan: Chris Borland ‘quit’

Chris-Borland

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland has sparked a polarizing debate across sports with his decision to retire from football after just one season in the NFL. Many have praised him for his good sense and courage while others — like 49ers radio color analyst Tim Ryan — have been critical.

On Tuesday, Ryan said those who have lumped Borland and fellow Niners linebacker Patrick Willis into the same discussion are wrong, insisting that Willis retired while Borland simply “quit.”

The full context of Ryan’s quotes shows he was not attacking Borland, as some have made it sound, but his opinion will still be viewed as somewhat controversial.

“Big props to Chris. I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Ryan said, as transcribed by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “The selfish side of me is pissed that the 49ers are losing another quality player. … Chris was and still is fantastic.

“The risk isn’t worth the reward for some guys. You may call that superior intelligence because I never would have made that decision, but that cat [Borland] has got a little more intelligence than I do.”

Here’s Ryan’s full quote about the difference between Willis and Borland:

“This isn’t punitive on Borland, and I love the guy and I want to see him play. Patrick Willis retired. Chris Borland quit.”

I can understand why Niners fans would be disappointed in Borland’s decision. He was phenomenal as a rookie last year and was set to fill the void left by Willis’ departure.

Ryan is not the first sports media figure to express a controversial opinion about Borland (see two others here), and he probably won’t be the last. Whether you agree with Borland or not, the decision is his to make and no one else’s. We should all respect that.

Russell Westbrook not interested in winning MVP

Russell-Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is playing the best basketball of his career, and the Oklahoma City Thunder guard could very well end up winning the NBA MVP Award when the season is finished. Just don’t ask him about it.

With Kevin Durant out nursing an injury, Westbrook has regularly recorded triple-doubles over the past month. Before Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, a reporter asked Westbrook about his place in the MVP discussion.

“I have no take on it,” he said, per ESPN.com’s Royce Young. “My job is to come out man, and play at a high level every single night and that’s what I’ve been doing. Honestly (having my name in the MVP discussion) don’t really matter to me.”

Westbrook certainly has been playing at a high level. He’s averaging a league-leading 27.5 points per game and is fourth in the NBA in assists with 8.4 per game. Westbrook has scored 40 or more points in eight different games this season.

The four-time All-Star was then asked if Durant has given him any advice about potentially winning an MVP.

“No,” Westbrook replied.

And just to confirm that he was annoyed with the line of questioning, Westbrook was then asked who he thinks the MVP favorite would be if he was taken out of the equation.

“Uh, you,” he told the reporter.

Westbrook dislikes dealing with the media, so you can understand why he has no interest in discussing the MVP race when his team is clinging to the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The most impressive thing about his recent run of success is that he did it after getting his cheek dented in by a knee, and Westbrook only missed one game. If the season ended today, he’d have my vote for MVP.

Gilbert Arenas gun incident becomes Jeopardy clue

Gilbert Arenas selfie

For a brief period, Gilbert Arenas was one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA. The former Washington Wizards star’s career went downhill following several knee injuries and one unfortunate locker room incident — an incident the folks at “Jeopardy!” do not intend to let Arenas live down.

During a recent episode of the popular game show, Arenas’ infamous locker room gun incident was used as an answer.

If you don’t get the reference, you can read all about that time Arenas pulled a gun on a teammate in the locker room here.

Arenas, who was an NBA All-Star from 2005-2007, has not played in the NBA since 2012. Still, he has provided fans with plenty of great advice on how to beat traffic tickets and things of that nature. We’re glad “Jeopardy!” is keeping the legend alive.

Adam Schefter, Mike Florio criticized for Chris Borland tweets

Chris-Borland

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is arguably the best and most reliable NFL reporter in the industry. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is up there, too — at least on his better days. But on Tuesday morning, both sent tweets in the wake of Chris Borland’s decision to retire that have received plenty of negative attention.

Schefter shared some information about the contract Borland walked away from with the San Francisco 49ers. He probably could have left the commentary out of it.

Florio took a similar stance.

Whether intentional or not, it seemed like Schefter was noting how fortunate NFL players are to make big bucks at such a young age. Florio’s tweet also seemed to be in poor taste, though he later tried to clarify when a military veteran called him out for using veterans as an example to support his argument.

Borland has chosen to walk away from football so he wont end up with a condition like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repeated blows to the head. CTE is believed to have played a role in this tragic incident involving a former NFL linebacker and the suicide of NFL legend Junior Seau. Both played the same position as Borland.

Schefter and Florio suggesting Borland was lucky to be making so much money proves how out of touch people can be — even the “smart” ones.

Chris Borland retires after one season over head injury concerns

Chris-Borland

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland is retiring from football after just one season due to concerns about the long-term effects of head trauma.

Borland, 24, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Monday that he made the decision after consulting with family members, friends, concussion researchers and current and former teammates. The former Wisconsin star also studied information on the relationship between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland said. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

Borland said he feels perfectly healthy now but did not want to wait until he started feeling symptoms to make his decision.

“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been. For me, it’s wanting to be proactive,” he said. “I’m concerned that if you wait ’til you have symptoms, it’s too late. … There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long, healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”

Borland admitted that he played through a concussion during training camp because he was trying to impress his coaches and make the team. He said he began evaluating his career path at that moment.

“I just thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? Is this how I’m going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I’ve learned and know about the dangers?'” he explained.

From a football standpoint, Borland’s retirement is horrible news for the Niners. Borland finished fourth in the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after an outstanding season in which he recorded 107 tackles and intercepted two passes. His emergence contributed to Ahmad Brooks butting heads with San Francisco coaches. Borland’s play also made the 49ers less concerned about losing perennial Pro Bowler Patrick Willis, who also retired.

(more…)

Ashley Judd defends Dick Vitale kiss

Ashley-Judd-Dick-Vitale

By now you have likely seen the infamous photo of Dick Vitale planting a kiss on Kentucky super fan Ashley Judd at the SEC Tournament over the weekend. The original photo sure makes it look like Dickie V. caught the 46-year-old actress off guard, but Judd insists that was not the case.

During an appearance on MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts, Judd explained that she and Vitale were simply having fun together.

“Dick Vitale is one of my favorite human beings,” Judd explained. “He is an advocate for a sport that I love and he has been an unflinching voice for a long time. We became friends at the SEC Tournament and he’s covered some road games for Kentucky, so I had a chance to meet him there.

“My mother and sister used to always do this thing when they were taking a picture with someone. Right when the snap was made they would kiss on the cheek. So I did that with Dick. He’s like an uncle to me. I adore him. His wife is one of the most lovely human beings. So I’m disappointed that it’s been misinterpreted.”

For what it’s worth, that explanation seems to make sense for the photo you see above. But what about the lip smooch? Did Judd and Dickie V. both go for the kiss on the cheek at the same time and surprise each other? We may never know.

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