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Friday, February 5, 2016

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Jerry Rice: Calvin Johnson is retiring at age I entered my prime

Calvin Johnson finger

Calvin Johnson is expected to retire from the NFL before his 31st birthday, which is almost unheard of for a player of his caliber who is still capable of performing at a high level. To Jerry Rice, it could not be more foreign of a concept.

On Wednesday, Rice noted that he was still smack-dab in the middle of his prime when he was Johnson’s age.

“It’s just unfortunate to see him (walk away) because he’s around, like, 32,” Rice said, per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “I was just coming into my prime at his age.”

Rice isn’t wrong. As Meinke mentioned, Johnson has 731 catches for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career. Rice had 610 catches for 10,273 yards and 103 touchdowns before his 31st birthday, and he went on to play another 12 seasons. Megatron has played nine total. In the 12 seasons after he turned 30, Rice had 939 catches for 12,622 yards and 94 touchdowns.

The numbers are truly staggering, but it is unfair to equate Johnson’s situation with Rice’s.

“I mean, I think the thing with him is that if he can’t be 100 percent, he doesn’t want to just be on the field,” Rice said. “There’s a lot of money he’s walking away from. He’s walking away from, like, $27 million. But he doesn’t want to be that type of player.”

Johnson is said to have played through a lot of pain last season. Not to mention, we know a lot more about the long-term health issues associated with football now than we did when Rice played. If that plays a role in Johnson’s decision, it’s hard not to respect that.

One former teammate of Johnson’s unloaded on the Lions recently for not doing enough to convince Megatron to return. If it’s truly health that Johnson is concerned about, no amount of persuasion should matter.

Kyle Love wanted revenge on Patriots for cutting him after diabetes diagnosis

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Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kyle Love is disappointed he does not get to face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

In 2013, the Patriots released Love after he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The 29-year-old is clearly convinced that the timing was not a coincidence, and he made that clear when he promised “pain” before the Panthers played New England in the preseason back in August.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that I accept it because it’s always going to bother me,” Love told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday. “There’s nights that I have cried about it. It’s something that I’ll probably never get over. But I’ve got to keep moving forward with my life.”

Love is going to have to settle for trying to sack Peyton Manning, but he was looking forward to another shot at Tom Brady.

“I told (reporters in August) I couldn’t wait and there was going to be pain brought,” he said. “So for us to be able to play them in this big game, it’d be even more pain being brought.

“It’s funny. Before the (preseason) game we played them Tom came to me and told me, ‘Hey, take it easy on me.'”

Of course, Brady had nothing to do with the Patriots releasing Love — whether the diabetes diagnosis was a factor in the roster decision or not. Still, you can understand Love feeling bitter toward the organization.

If Love is looking for a little added motivation against the Broncos, we know the perfect person to give it to him. Perhaps the Panthers will get a shot at the Patriots in next year’s championship game.

Photo: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Randle in arrest video: ‘This is the end of my career’

Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle predicted during his most recent arrest that his NFL career is officially over.

Randle was arrested early Monday morning after police were called to the home of his ex-girlfriend in Texas. The 24-year-old claimed he was stopping by on his way back from (to?) Kansas and wanted to get some sleep, but the residents of the home called the police. When police arrived, they discovered that Randle had a warrant out for his arrest for speeding.

“This is the end of my career,” he said as he was being placed in handcuffs.

One of the officers told him it’s “not as bad as it seems” since it’s only a speeding warrant, but that cop was clearly unfamiliar with Randle’s checkered past. Randle predicted exactly how the latest arrest would be handled in the media.

“Naw, they’re gonna put this all over the place,” he said. “Randle arrested again.”

Yep.

Joseph-Randle-mug-shot

The arrest video that was released by TMZ also showed how ridiculous Randle’s story seemed. He claimed he had driven from Kansas to his ex-girlfriend’s house in Texas because a car had gone missing at his house. Since the car wasn’t there and no one was letting him in the house, he said he was just going to grab a few hours of sleep in his car before heading back to Kansas.

As we know, Randle has been arrested multiple times in the past year. Sadly, this isn’t even his most embarrassing arrest. You can see a video of that here.

Tom Brady Sr. defends Peyton Manning against HGH allegations

Peyton Manning

Tom Brady Sr. is still trying to get over his son being dragged through the mud by the NFL over the past year, and he hopes the Patriots quarterback’s most noted rival does not have to deal with a similar situation.

In an interview with Christopher Gasper of The Boston Globe, Brady Sr. spoke about how “difficult” the past year has been for the Brady family, what with Deflategate and court hearings and everything in between. And he does not want Peyton Manning to go through the same thing with HGH allegations.

“It bothers me that people are trying to pile on Peyton Manning,” Brady Sr. said. “Until there is hard evidence don’t do to Peyton what they did to Tommy last year, pile on without proof and evidence. It’s unjustified.”

Brady Sr. also hinted he is rooting for Manning in the Super Bowl.

“If Peyton wins this thing that’s great,” he said. “He’s going out on top.”

While that’s a classy thing for him to say, it would be almost impossible to argue that people are piling on Manning the way they piled on Brady last year. Manning has remained defiant when asked if he used HGH, but the media coverage has been virtually nonexistent. Whereas Brady was almost instantly labeled a cheater, Manning has basically been let off the hook.

We’ve already said that we think it’s a pretty bad look that Manning’s wife Ashley has been accused of receiving illegal shipments of HGH. There are also plenty of red flags associated with the man who runs the clinic in Indianapolis where Manning was treated.

If Brady was accused of using HGH, his parents would probably want to move to another country.

Zach LaVine, Andre Drummond, Will Barton, Aaron Gordon reportedly in dunk contest

Zach LaVine dunk

The lineup for this year’s Slam Dunk Contest in Toronto has been finalized, according to a report.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes says the competition lineup will include Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond, Nuggets guard Will Barton, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, and defending champion Zach LaVine. The lineup will officially be announced on Thursday.

The contest will be held on Saturday, Feb. 13 at All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

LaVine will be looking to become the first back-to-back champion since Nate Robinson, who won in 2009 and 2010. Robinson is also the all-time leader with three career wins in the contest, so LaVine would be on his way to tying Nate if he can win in Toronto.

LeBron James fine with being ‘LeBron of the NBA’

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Cam Newton has been at the center of much of media coverage leading up to Super Bowl 50, and rightfully so. Newton had a season he will likely be rewarded for by being named the NFL’s MVP. Earlier this week, he was asked about being compared to an MVP in another sport and Newton’s response was great.

When asked if Newton is the LeBron James of the NFL, Newton replied “Why can’t LeBron be called the Cam Newton of power forwards?” Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Hornets, James was asked if he was aware of Newton’s comments. Naturally, James was.

“I heard that,” James said, via ESPN. “I’m LeBron of the NBA.”

“I’m not a power forward right now, and I’m not slowing down any time soon,” James continued. “So, I like being a wing guy. It’s cooler.”

In Newton’s defense, James is built like a power forward and has a post game some power forwards would be envious of.

Not surprisingly, James sidestepped making a comparison between himself and Newton and chose to keep it in basketball terms. Also, James made it clear that despite now being 31-years-old he’s not ready to give up the perimeter game life just yet. As for the notion being a wing player is cooler, James may be right considering the recent shift of the NBA game to one revolved around spacing the floor and playing at a faster pace.

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Draymond Green responds to fan bragging on Michigan’s recruiting class

Draymond Green Dahntay Jones

Wednesday was National Signing Day, the first day high school seniors can sign letters of intent to accept college football scholarships. As expected, many the the country’s top programs landed premier recruiting classes. That includes Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan was able to secure the services of defensive tackle Rashan Gary, the No. 1 recruit as rated by both Rivals and ESPN. Overall, Rivals ranked the Wolverines’ recruiting class No. 4 in the nation while ESPN has Michigan No. 6.

Understandably, fans of the maize and blue were overjoyed with what Harbaugh and his staff were able to pull of. One in particular took to Twitter and bragged to former Michigan State Spartan Draymond Green. The Warriors forward responded by making the point that it’s not always the highly rated prep players who ended up being all-stars.

Green’s point is certainly well taken. He has gone from being the No. 35 overall pick in the 2012 draft to earning his first all-star bid this year. Green has also become one of NBA’s premier defensive and most versatile players. The Steelers selected Bell No. 48 overall in 2013. The following year he ran for 1,361 yards and added 854 more through the air to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl and set a franchise record for total yards from scrimmage.

Highly rated recruiting classes are certainly something to be proud of. However, we’ve seen on several occasions it’s not always the 4-star and 5-star recruits who end up blossoming into stars. Draymond Green and Le’Veon Bell are just two examples.

Roman Harper renting his condo for fans to watch Super Bowl

roman-harper

Roman Harper will, obviously, be in Santa Clara playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl, so he’s offering his Charlotte-area condo to any Panthers fan who’s willing to pony up the cash to watch the game there.

Yes, for the low price of $5,000 – proceeds will go to Harper’s foundation – you and one guest can cozy up in Harper’s condo to watch him and his Carolina teammates take on Denver in the Super Bowl.

The Panthers safety’s ad calls it “a football fantasy come true” and the space offers all the amenities you could want – a 70 inch TV to watch the game on, a junior Olympic pool, 24-hour concierge service, a health club with yoga room and complimentary fitness classes, a basketball and tennis court, and a billiards room, plus much more. You simply have to follow a few rules, including no smoking, no pets (especially Broncos), don’t play sports in the hallways, and respect the neighbors. He’ll even throw in a signed football.

Harper’s wife isn’t entirely thrilled with the idea.

“My wife is extremely nervous,” Harper said Wednesday, via NFL Media’s Conor Orr. “She’s like oh, I’ve got all these things, and I was just like baby, just go to sleep, alright?”

We’re kind of with Mrs. Harper on this one. Is there a vetting process? Seems like an awful nice place to turn over to some high-paying stranger, even if only for one night.

We bet Harper could really sweeten the deal if he could find a way to throw in Cam Newton’s zebra pants to go along with the pad.

Roger Goodell not necessarily opposed to NFL team in Las Vegas

Roger Goodell

Roger Goodell has opened the door on an NFL franchise in Las Vegas.

In an appearance on Wednesday’s Rich Eisen Show, Goodell was asked about the prospects of a team in Las Vegas, and he made it sound like he wouldn’t personally stand in the way if owners voted through a hypothetical proposal.

“Ultimately, it’s the ownership’s decision,” Goodell told Eisen, via John Breech of CBS Sports. “It requires 24 of the 32 owners to approve any relocation to any market.

“Obviously, there are specific issues that would need to discussed in the context of Las Vegas,” Goodell said.

The specific issues are, of course, gambling-related. The league firmly opposes betting on games.

Still, it’s interesting to see Goodell put a stamp of approval on such a thought, however tepid it may be. The Raiders have been linked if they can’t square away their situation in Oakland, and Mark Davis has even traveled to the city to check things out.

Report: Chiefs ramping up extension talks with Eric Berry

Eric-Berry

After a narrow defeat to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round, the Kansas City Chiefs are quietly sharpening their swords to build on that performance in 2016.

According to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com on Wednesday, the team is ramping up extension talks with impending free agent safety Eric Berry.

Berry, 27, is a four-time Pro Bowler and a two-time First-Team All-Pro. Still one of the top free safeties in the NFL today, Berry recorded 55 tackles and a pair of interceptions for the Chiefs in 2015.

He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in late 2014, but has since defeated the disease and gone on to return to an elite level of production.

After already agreeing on a five-year extension with tight end Travis Kelce last week, a well-deserved new contract for Berry looks like the next order of business for the Chiefs. In retaining a key chunk of its core and hopefully getting back star running back Jamaal Charles from a torn ACL, the Chiefs’ ceiling is incredibly high as they move forward into next season.

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