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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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Tennessee’s new football training facility will include an MMA cage

The Tennessee Vols had $45 million and 145,000 square feet to work with for their new state-of-the-art football facility, so head coach Derek Dooley wanted to make sure ever inch of it was put to good use. Well, sort of. As you can see from the promotional video above, construction is underway on the new training center. It includes everything from a spacious locker room with iPod and cell phone chargers at each locker to a hydrotherapy room and an eating room that Dooley calls a “restaurant.” Oh yeah, and it has a mixed martial arts cage.

Why? Your guess is as good as ours. After hearing the explanation Dooley gave to the Knoxville News Sentinel, you’ll likely still be completely puzzled.

Players will be able to walk straight from the 120-yard practice field into the new weight room — a 22,000 square foot “multilevel thunderdome of power,” as it’s called in UT’s promotional video for the facility. Along with the standard free weights, machines, cardiovascular training equipment — which will be situated on a deck that overlooks the weight room — and a nutrition bar, it will feature a mixed martial arts cage “so we can go in and fight and all that stuff,” Dooley said.

The cardiovascular equipment, the nutrition bar and all that stuff makes sense, but can anything good come of having an MMA cage in a football facility? How many injuries are going to come as a result of 250-pound college kids beating the crap out of each other for fun in the octagon? Maybe this is all some sort of elaborate prank that Dooley and the Tennessee program have put together to screw with us. Or maybe I just need to get with the times?

Let’s just hope whoever paints and letters the doors of the facility is a bit more careful this time around.

Helmet back to Dr. Saturday for passing the story along

Dwight Howard wants to be a closer like Kobe Bryant

Dwight Howard is unhappy in Orlando and does not agree with the way Stan Van Gundy has been approaching things. What else is new? Howard is almost certainly on borrowed time with the Magic, but he wants to make the most of it and become more of a focal point while he’s there. The Magic beat the Bucks 99-94 on Saturday night, but Howard left the game with a foul taste in his mouth.

“I do want the ball more in the fourth quarter,” Howard told FOX Sports after the game. “I want to become a closer. The only way you get there is by getting the ball and have coach have the confidence in giving me the ball.

“That’s how Kobe (Bryant) and the rest of the great fourth-quarter players got that way. It’s trial and error. When Kobe first got in the league, it took him a while to become the killer he is in the fourth quarter now. That’s because he went through that phase where he had to learn what shots to take and just get confidence in taking shots in the fourth quarter.”

The issue is Howard is a center. The Magic should be allowing him to control the game on offense since he is such a major presence down low, but sometimes you need jump-shooters to take a game over. Shooting from the outside isn’t exactly part of Dwight’s game. In case you forgot, however, Howard wanted to remind everyone of his nickname.

“That’s what I’m worth. I want to be that guy who controls games. As a kid, that’s what you dream about in the NBA, taking that shot. I want to do that. I’m the leader of the team. Ride my back. I’ll lead. I don’t care if I miss every single shot, I’m going to continue to play hard. Just get on my back. That’s why they call me Superman.”

For what it’s worth, Van Gundy said Howard “wasn’t having a good night” on Saturday and the Magic were playing better from the outside in transition. Howard missed some shots he’d normally make, so the offense got away from him. It’s understandable for him to feel he has earned the right to keep getting the ball on a bad night, but sometimes you have to ride the hot hands. Superman is only a nickname.

H/T Black Sports Online

Olympic swimmer Matt Grevers proposes to his girlfriend on medal stand (Video)

Olympic swimmer Matt Grevers really needed to come in first at the Missouri Grand Prix on Saturday night. If not, it would have put a damper on his plans. Proposing to your girlfriend from the medal stand is certainly original enough, but a gesture like that would be lacking a bit if not done from the highest point possible. Fortunately, Grevers won his race with a time of 53.57 seconds. He then popped the question to his girlfriend, Olympic hopeful Annie Chandler. She said yes. Here is a video of the proposal that Outside the Boxscore shared with us:

“I asked her father for permission back at the end of November. And we needed to talk a little more until I really got it,” Grevers said while smiling according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But I got it, and I’ve just been searching for a unique way to try to pop the question.”

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Randy Moss announces he is returning to the NFL

Any NFL teams out there looking for a 35-year-old, play-making receiver that can dominate the game whenever he feels like trying? Randy Moss wants to return to football. According to Pro Football Talk, Moss made a special announcement on Monday to celebrate his 35th birthday. Doing his best Shaq impression, Moss went on a Ustream.tv live channel and said he wants to make a comeback.

“I just wanna go to a team and play some football,” Moss said in an appearance commemorating his 35th birthday, which included at one point an acknowledge of our effort to push traffic to the event by mentioning it on the PFT Twitter page.

“I said I had a surprise for y’all,” Moss added not long after showing off a bag of his hair and pointing out that it smelled “musty,” like “sauerkraut.”

Moss also said that he only retired because he had things to do off the field, but that his family told him everything is fine and to do what he wants: “Faith, family, and football, that’s my M.O., bro. Your boy be back for the upcoming season.”

Well, that happened in a hurry. No word yet on whether or not this was a business move like the time Shaq announced his retirement on Tout.com, but if Moss is telling the truth this year’s wide receiver free agent class just got that much crazier. Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker, DeSean Jackson, Dwyane Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Stevie Johnson, Mario Manningham, Brandon Lloyd, and now Randy Moss? It’s officially not too early to begin thinking about the NFL offseason.

Yao Ming reportedly tried to sign Jeremy Lin for his Chinese team during lockout

The New York Knicks must feel more fortunate by the day. They chose to stick with Jeremy Lin rather than releasing him, and to say it has paid off would be an epic understatement. Lin was released by both the Warriors and Rockets before landing in New York. In addition, he was reportedly recruited by his good friend Yao Ming to play for the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese team that Yao bought back in 2009.

According to the NY Post, Yao tried to sign Lin during the lockout. Earlier this week, Lin admitted that he would have considered playing overseas if the Knicks waived him.

“I wasn’t considering that just yet,” Lin said, “but I figure if I get waived before the (Feb. 10) deadline and there’s nothing left, you know, maybe I do need to go overseas, but God works in mysterious and miraculous ways.”

After five straight games with 20-plus points, playing overseas is not something Lin needs to concern himself with. However, he and Yao are close friends. When Lin was on the Warriors roster, the two would meet for dinner every time the Rockets faced Golden State. Jeremy said he talks to him after every game and considers Yao to be a “role model” and a “mentor.” From the sound of it, he was awfully close to becoming a money-maker for Yao as well.

Tony Parker reportedly has a new girlfriend named Axelle (Picture)

Personally, I would never get over a split with Eva Longoria. That blow would just be too much for me to handle. I guess that’s why I’m not Tony Parker. Well, that and I suck at playing basketball — but this isn’t about that. According to the NY Post, the woman above is Parker’s new girlfriend. She is a French woman named Axelle, and the two were reportedly spotted shopping together on Thursday night with a source saying, “They shopped for about two hours together and looked very romantic.” Another source close to Parker told the Post, “They are an item.”

Parker was also seen attending a tennis tournament with Axelle back in November, so apparently this has been going on for a little while. If you remember, Parker and Longoria split up after Eva suspected Tony was involved with Brent Barry’s ex-wife. Parker suspected Longoria was involved with Lance Armstrong. He has since dated a French beauty queen and now Axelle, who meets the standard he has set as you can see. I wish I was a rich, French basketball player.

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Terrell Owens says he couldn’t play in 2011 because media has labeled him with character issues

Terrell Owens was out of work in 2011, and as far as he is concerned that’s not his fault. No teams were interested in giving T.O. a chance last season. Some say it was because of his surgically reconstructed knee and others say he is simply too old. Then, there are those who believe he is too much of a headache and not worth the risk. Those people, Owens says, have been misled by the media.

“I think a lot of why I probably didn’t play this year, everybody keeps talking about the ‘character’ issues,” Owens said in an interview with told KESN-FM according to the Dallas Morning News.  “The last two or three years relatively I was quiet, knowing that everybody was saying that I had a character issues, I’m disruptive, there’s a lot of hype that comes with me, they’re saying I’m a distraction here and there.

“I think the thing … I didn’t get picked up was that a lot of general managers bought into the fact that the media thinks that I’m this bad guy, this rebel guy, this disruptive guy that divides and messes up team’s chemistry.  They won’t allow me to turn over a new leaf.  They won’t allow me to be a better person.  Anytime anything is brought up about me, they keep talking about things that happened five, six, seven years ago.   Why don’t I get a pass?  I’ve kind of fallen into that villain category and I can’t get out of that box.”

What T.O. seems to be forgetting is that he is 38 years old. He’s asking for a “pass” and a chance to “turn over a new leaf,” but even if he has shown he can keep quiet he’s nearing 40 and has a bad knee. While he may have been well-behaved with the Bengals and the Bills, he made his bed earlier in his career with the Eagles and Cowboys. Owens isn’t playing in the Indoor Football League for no reason. His age makes him not worth the risk — even if that risk has decreased over the past few seasons.

Chest bump to Pro Football Talk

Jeremy Lin helps drive Madison Square Garden stock price to new high

We don’t need statistics to tell us that there is a Jeremy Lin sensation sweeping the nation. Turn on your TV or hop on Twitter. Not an hour of Sportscenter passes without a mention of Lin and I highly doubt you could visit the Twitter pages of 20 basketball reporters without seeing words like “Linsanity” and “Linning.” You still want numbers? We’ve got those, too.

According to Bloomberg, shares in the Madison Square Garden Co. have climbed to a record high since Lin took the team over and sparked the Knicks’ winning streak. Shares have climbed 6.2 percent to $31.15 since the day before the winning Linning streak began on Feb. 3. In addition, Lin has the NBA’s best selling jersey over the past week and Knicks merchandise sales are higher than any other team in the league during that span.

Lin is the fuel that is powering the NBA at the moment, and why shouldn’t he be? He’s a Harvard graduate who was about to be cut for a third time just before he became one of the biggest superstars in the league. On top of that, he’s humble enough to sleep on his brother’s couch while he earns more financial stability. Considering he has almost single-handedly given a boost to the Madison Square Garden Co., I’m guessing a pay day big enough to buy him his own apartment should be coming for Jeremy in the very near future.

Josh Smith upset with his All-Star snub

Josh Smith is having another strong all-around season for the Hawks, so he was understandably disappointed that he didn’t make the All-Star team. He thinks he didn’t get in because of political reasons.

“You’ve got to factor in there is a lot of politics involved in the All-Star selection,” Smith said Friday. “Once you get that it’s really about politics, then nothing really surprises you. I call it ‘Nothing But Associates,’ NBA. It’s all who you know.”

J-Smoove wasn’t voted in as a starter by the fans, but the coaches could have selected him as a reserve. He thinks campaigning for a spot could have gone a long way.

“I can’t really point a finger and blame anybody because, at the end of the day, when you leave it up to certain people that still have ties to their agents, [and] players in this game today probably [are] just putting in a bid over the phone, or however they do it,” he said. “You have to factor that in.”

The 26-year-old forward is in his eighth season in the NBA and has yet to make an All-Star team. A big reason why he was left off is because there is so much competition at the forward position in the Eastern Conference. The guys who made it ahead of him all deserved a spot. Paul Pierce, Andre Iguodala, and Luol Deng are all very good players on winning teams. Maybe Smith deserved a spot over Deng or Iguodala, but not Pierce. But he’s not the only guy who was left out — Ryan Anderson, Carlos Boozer, and Danny Granger all can make great cases too.

The best way to set yourself up for a bid in the future is by complaining in the present. This might help Smoove for next year.

Urban Meyer won’t use word ‘Michigan’

Not only is Ohio State referring to Michigan as “That team up North,” they’re also refusing to even say the name. New Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is following Woody Hayes’ lead by not using the word.

“We don’t use their name,” Meyer said on the radio last week. “I’m a huge Woody Hayes guy. …

“That’s the greatest rivalry, and we will be ready for it, and our kids will have a clear understanding of what that game means.”

This is just further confirmation that Urb means business. We already knew that was the case when he flipped several recruits on signing day. The difference between him and every other new coach that talks a big game is that we know he can back it up. The Buckeyes’ Big Ten takeover is just beginning.

Helmet knock to Lost Lettermen for the story

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