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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Gabby Douglas says she was also abused by former US team doctor Larry Nassar

Gabby Douglas is the latest victim of former United States gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar to come forward.

Douglas said in a statement Tuesday that she was too was abused by Nassar.

McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, two of Douglas’ ex-teammates on the “Fierce Five” team that won gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, have also come forward in the past month and said that they were abused by Nassar.

The 21-year-old Douglas was recently in the news after being criticized for a controversial response to a social media post on sexual abuse by Raisman, something that she also addressed in the above statement.

Kevin Garnett makes surprising NBA MVP prediction

Thon Maker

Kevin Garnett once famously declared, “Anything is possible.” Apparently that includes Milwaukee Bucks big man Thon Maker winning the MVP award.

In an interview with Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report that ran Monday, the retired 15-time All-Star, spoke glowingly of Maker and his potential. Keep in mind that Garnett has recently been attending Bucks practices to work with Milwaukee players.

“Thon Maker reminds me a lot of myself,” said Garnett. “He loves the game. He’s a young, exuberant athlete who has a lot of tools. He has touch, he has agility, he has really good feet. He has a really good shot from three-point all the way up to 19 to 21 feet. He has very good bones, as we say.

“Thon is going to be the MVP of the league one day,” he added. “Mark it down. He has the bones. He has the appetite to be able to chase something like that.”

Maker is still a raw 20-year-old averaging just 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in his second season. But as Garnett, who loves bold takes, hinted at, he has all the physical gifts to play at an elite level, so the upside is at least there.

Report: Raiders fire DC Ken Norton Jr.

Raiders logo

Ken Norton Jr. has finally lost his job with the Oakland Raiders in a move that many felt was way overdue.

NFL Media’s Mike Silver and Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that Norton Jr. informed his players that he has been fired.

Norton was in his third season as the team’s defensive coordinator. The Raiders were 20th in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed last season. This season they were 21st and 26th respectively, meaning there was no improvement. In fact, the team got much worse in many areas and was embarrassingly bad against the pass.

Oakland’s defense incomprehensibly has zero interceptions this season. They’re tied for last with the Giants with just 14 sacks. They’re last in the league in opponent’s completion percentage and passer rating. They’re allowing an absurd 113.3 passer rating to opposing QBs.

The 33-8 beatdown at the hands of the Patriots in Mexico City was the last straw for Norton. He reportedly will be replaced by John Pagano.

Former Braves top prospect Kevin Maitan now a free agent

Atlanta Braves logo

Major League Baseball threw the book at the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, and the loss of one of their top prospects is part of it.

Infielder Kevin Maitan, a 17-year-old Venezuelan that the Braves invested upwards of $4 million in signing, was one of 12 Atlanta prospects immediately declared a free agent by the league.

Maitan was a consensus top-100 MLB prospect, with the official MLB.com rankings putting him the highest at No. 32. He immediately becomes free to sign with any team, though the money to sign him will still have to come out of a team’s international bonus pool.

The young infielder is, of course, a long way away from reaching the big leagues — he didn’t put up particularly big numbers in rookie ball, where he spent 2017 amid conditioning concerns. His future is likely at third base, and he has the potential to be a solid hitter and a fearsome power bat if he can put it all together.

The loss of Maitan is far from the only punishment levied against the Braves, who more or less got baseball’s equivalent of a death penalty for illegally circumventing international signing restrictions.

Alshon Jeffery has great quote about Super Bowl prediction

Alshon Jeffery was ridiculed for making a bold Super Bowl prediction in January. Now he doesn’t look so bad.

The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver was a member of the 3-13 Chicago Bears last season. After the team lost its regular season finale in blowout fashion, Jeffery made a bold statement: “I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year.”

Most people laughed it off at the time because the thought of the Bears winning it all was a stretch.

Now 10 months later, he was asked about the comment and had a great response.

“I never said a team, though,” Jeffrey said, via ESPN’s Tim McManus.

That is true, Alshon. That is true.

Jeffery became a free agent and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, who are now 9-1 and have the best record in the league. His Super Bowl prediction doesn’t look too bad now.

MLB drops death penalty on Braves, bans John Coppolella for life

Atlanta Braves logo

MLB has hit the Atlanta Braves with their version of the death penalty as punishment for the franchise’s violations over the past few years. The punishments are so severe that it’s clear the league wanted to make an example out of the Braves as a warning to clubs not to do anything similar in the future.

The Braves were forced to give up 12 prospects they had signed for an excess of $20 million because of their rule violations. Former GM John Coppolella, who resigned in September after word of the investigation emerged, has been banned for life. Former special assistant Gordon Blakely has been suspended a year. The team’s ability to sign players in Latin America over the next few years has been severely restricted. They also lost a draft pick in 2018.

As penalty for bundling bonuses and negotiating deals for outside pay/compensation, the Braves are losing Kevin Maitan, Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga, who will now be free agents. They also will not be allowed to sign Robert Puason, a prospect for whom they had reached a deal.

The Braves were found to have offered impermissible benefits to draft picks as well in order to circumvent their limited signing bonus pool. They were penalized a third-round pick in 2018 as a result.

Here’s the full press release from MLB on the subject:

49ers leaving door open for Jimmy Garoppolo to start vs. Seahawks?

Jimmy Garoppolo

The San Francisco 49ers won their first game of the season before the bye week thanks in part to solid play from C.J. Beathard, but it may not have been enough for the rookie quarterback to keep his job.

While speaking with reporters on Tuesday, 49ers general manager John Lynch left the door open for Jimmy Garoppolo to start against the Seattle Seahawks.

Lynch later said the plan is for Garoppolo to be the team’s starter in the future, but Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area was left with the impression that Beathard has earned at least another week under center.

Niners fans don’t have a lot to be excited for this season, so they likely want to see Garoppolo take snaps as soon as possible. However, there is no need to rush with San Francisco nowhere near playoff contention. Shanahan likely wants to make sure Garoppolo has a full understanding of the offense before throwing him into the mix.

Report: Paxton Lynch to start for Broncos against Raiders

Paxton Lynch

The Denver Broncos have made some big changes in the wake of their latest loss, and they are reportedly planning to make another one at the quarterback position.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports that the Broncos have decided to name Paxton Lynch their starting quarterback for Week 12 against the Oakland Raiders. An official announcement is expected on Wednesday.

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph hinted on Monday that Lynch could start in Week 12. The former first-round pick has not appeared in a game this season after he worked his way back from a shoulder injury that he suffered during the preseason.

Brock Osweiler has played about as well as anyone expected him to over the last three games. He has thrown three touchdowns compared to four interceptions and looks just as lost as he did with the Houston Texans last year. The Broncos have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, and poor play at the quarterback position has a lot to do with that. Former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was fired this week, was the first one to take the fall for the team’s six-game losing streak.

Tony Allen calls out Russell Westbrook for flopping

DeMarcus Cousins was ejected from Monday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder for committing a Flagrant 2 foul on Russell Westbrook, and New Orleans Pelicans teammate Tony Allen was a bit peeved about the incident.

Cousins elbowed Westbrook in the head in the third quarter after securing a rebound and was thrown out of the game in a call that he did not agree with.

After the game, Allen called Westbrook out for the play, saying that he flopped and that he took advantage of Cousins’ history, according to Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript. Allen also got in a “ball don’t lie” dig for good measure.

There is little doubt that by itself the elbow was worthy of a flagrant foul call. But Westbrook’s embellishment as well as Cousins’ own reputation probably brought it up to Flagrant 2 territory, and it is clear that Allen, who has not had the best things to say about the Thunder lately, did not appreciate it.

Jerry Jones confident he will get his way with Roger Goodell contract

Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has met a lot of opposition in his attempts to derail Roger Goodell’s contract extension talks, but the Dallas Cowboys owner has made it clear he has no plans to back down.

In his weekly appearance on 105.3 The Fan Tuesday, Jones indicated that he believes he is making progress in accomplishing whatever it is he is looking to accomplish.

“I think that ultimately we will influence what I want to influence,” he said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

We know that Jones is trying to make life difficult for the six NFL team owners who have been tasked with negotiating the terms of Goodell’s extension, but Jones has yet to explicitly state what it is he is concerned about. Does he want Goodell to make less money? Have less power? Give up his job? Jones tried to shed some light on that.

“[T]he bottom line is he’s very powerful and you want to influence the commissioner,” he said. “There’s a big debate as to one of the biggest things a commissioner does is resolve disputes. He resolves them between everybody. So there’s an argument that he should be autonomous from being accountable. That’s legitimate.

“Well, the Commissioner covers the whole league, the business aspect of it, the discipline aspect of it, the rules, the officials. And, so, no one — no one — would like it if you had three or four owners that were paying the officials. No one would like that because it should be all the owners that pay the officials. But yet you want them to be independent. Well, all owners should be holding the commissioner accountable in my view. That’s the gist of this thing.”

As Florio notes, Jones’ remarks are a strong indication that the 75-year-old has an issue with the six-owner compensation committee. When the NFL’s 32 team owners voted unanimously back in May to extend Goodell’s deal, they also agreed to let the six owners negotiate the terms of the extension. Jones was supposed to be the de-facto seventh member and act as the leader of the other 26 owners, but things have changed for obvious reasons.

The biggest issue is most of Jones’ peers believe he is only making a fuss about Goodell’s extension because the commissioner decided to suspend Ezekiel Elliott six games. Prior to that punishment being handed down, Jones offered no opposition.

While Goodell is reportedly commanding an absurd compensation package, NFL owners have made a lot of money since he took over the league. They also want Goodell to represent him when the current labor deal expires in 2021. Jones may be confident he can influence the negotiations, but he still appears to be on an island by himself.

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