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Monday, June 25, 2018

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10 NFL players who should be considering retirement

Josh McCown

Some say that the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” and the reasons for that are obvious. Football is a dangerous game played by some of the strongest and fastest athletes in the world. Most NFL careers are understandably short at an average of between 3-6 years, with the higher number projected by the NFL and the lower number projected by the NFLPA.

In some cases, players exceed those numbers, but Father Time catches up with everyone. And quite often, that’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who loves the game and knows nothing else. But in the end, retirement is inevitable for all who snap on the chinstrap.

Here’s a look at 10 NFL players who should be considering retirement in 2018.

10. Karlos Dansby, LB, free agent

Karlos Dansby briefly considered retirement a season ago before signing a one-year deal to return to the Arizona Cardinals, where he appeared in 16 games, recording 95 tackles and one sack. While Dansby’s numbers were still respectable, his Pro Football Focus grade dipped to 68.2, which is considered below average. But despite that, and the fact that he’s approaching the age of 37, Dansby still does not appear ready to hang them up, and teams remain interested. Ultimately, the window on Dansby’s career is closing. He’ll need to think about life after football sooner rather than later.

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Dwight Howard says he found out about trade via Instagram

Dwight Howard learned during the week that he will be playing for his sixth team in eight seasons following a trade from Charlotte to Brooklyn. While that is certainly newsworthy, what’s also interesting is the way he learned about the trade.

Howard said in a radio interview on “Steve Gorman SPORTS!” on FOX Sports Radio during the week that he learned about the deal through a comment on Instagram.

“Well with the situation of me getting traded, one it was kind of blindsided. I literally found out right before I was about to do a charity event, and also I found out on Instagram,” Howard told hosts Caron Butler, Steve and Jeffrey Gorman. “I found out through the comment section of one of my pictures, so I was in total shock about the whole situation.

“I wasn’t upset about the fact that I was traded to Brooklyn, it was more so the shock because I thought that I had a really good year this year. And when they said I was going to Brooklyn I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go in there, and make the best of the situation.’ Actually what I think is going to happen is there’s going to be a buy out and I will make myself a free agent for the summer.”

Howard also addressed the report that he was disliked by his Hornets teammates.

“I just think it’s a lot of people making up a lot of different stories and they come up with this narrative about who I am. My grandma has always told me a lie don’t care who tells it and that’s how I look at it. A lot of people are saying a lot of things about me that is unfair,” Howard said.

“My main thing is that I just want to go out there and win and give a team, any team I’ve been on, the best of me,” he continued. “I came into this league at 18. When you come in at a young age, people see all of your mistakes. This is not like going to college, just basically being out in the public eye, we are in the public eye every single day. So every mistake that I’ve made, everything that’s happened in my past is put out there publicly. It basically gave people an opinion based off of what they’ve heard and stuff like that. And maybe a little bit of my actions have made people feel a certain type of way and I really want that to change, because it’s really not who I am. I’ve never been that way. There’s no way I could be winning community assist awards to be the best person in the community, but be a bad teammate, that doesn’t really go well together.

“I’m not that type of person and I totally hate that, and I really want to do what I can to change that because it’s not right. I’m trying my best. And any teammate that’s ever felt that way, I would love for them to come out and say it’s them, put an address on it so this can be cleared out and we can move forward.”

The bad teammate talk has followed Dwight for a while. One of his ex-Atlanta teammates did not have the most flattering things to say about him. And back when he was with the Lakers, Howard had friction with Kobe Bryant.

Now 32, the aging Howard doesn’t have much time left to turn around his reputation.

Report: New Lane Kiffin contract does not change one key figure

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin signed a ten-year contract extension at Florida Atlantic this week, but judging by one important point in the deal, it doesn’t seem like it should be taken as a guarantee that he’ll be at the school long-term.

According to Chuck King of OwlAccess.com, which obtained a copy of Kiffin’s new deal, much is unchanged in the new contract. That includes his base salary, though he is entitled to a number of bonuses based on performance. He’ll also receive financial bonuses if his players meet certain academic standards.

There is one point, however, that may be taken as an indicator that Kiffin’s long-term future lies elsewhere. Florida Atlantic did not alter Kiffin’s buyout clause, which stands at $2 million prior to January 2019 and a paltry $500,000 afterwards. That means if Kiffin finds a new job after next January, it will not be expensive to free him from his FAU deal.

Kiffin had been talking about a new deal for a while, and he certainly has a pretty good gig now. It’s clear, though, that he wanted to keep some leverage for himself going forward, and he has done that.

Watch: Rockies legend dumbfounded by Arenado’s awesome play

This weekend saw one Colorado Rockies All-Star infielder impressing another.

Rockies legend Todd Helton was guesting in the broadcast booth for a game against the Miami Marlins on Saturday when third baseman Nolan Arenado pulled off an insane defensive play. Arenado moved way to his left to cut off a groundball off the bat of Starlin Castro and get the force out at second base. For his part, Helton sounded pretty bewildered by the show of range.

Helton, now 44, played his entire 17-year career with Colorado, earning five All-Star appearances and three Gold Glove Awards. As for the 27-year-old Arenado, he has already racked up some similarly impressive accolades for the team with three straight All-Star selections and five straight Gold Gloves (!!!).

We have seen Arenado make some other spectacular web gems over the years, and it is safe to say that Helton left the Rockies in good hands with him.

Islanders GM has ‘no disappointment’ in John Tavares for considering options

John Tavares will be the top option in NHL free agency this summer, but after spending his entire career with the New York Islanders, he’s ready to listen to pitches from other teams. The Islanders themselves are comfortable with that.

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t reading anything into an announcement from Tavares’s agent that the former No. 1 pick will meet with five other teams once his contract officially expires.

“I have no disappointment. No discouragement. He’s earned every right to make whatever choice he has,” Lamoriello said, via Greg Wyshynski of ESPN. “The most important thing is that we hope in the end that he’s an Islander.

“I don’t look at it like it’s a surprise. I respect him. He has a right to do that. The important thing is that he’s an Islander at the end.”

The Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights are expected to challenge the Islanders for Tavares’s services. New York can be encouraged by the fact that Tavares has spoken of his interest in staying with the team.

Tavares is one of the NHL’s brightest stars and is hitting free agency at the age of 27. Even if he does ultimately stay in New York, he owes it to himself to listen to sales pitches.

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku does not think ankle issue is serious

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku does not think the ankle injury he suffered during Saturday’s game against Tunisia is serious.

Lukaku limped off around the hour mark after scoring twice during the 5-2 victory, but he said after the match that he fully expects to be ready to go when Belgium face England on Thursday.

“I am a quick healer,” Lukaku said, via Julien Laurens of ESPN FC. “I will see how I feel tonight and tomorrow with the medical staff. I am not too worried. I am just relaxed about the England game.

“It is going to be nice to see a couple of my club teammates on the pitch but as soon as the game starts, we will be all fighting for our countries. It will be a nice battle.”

Lukaku is currently the joint-leading goalscorer at the World Cup with four goals in two games, so Belgium will want him as healthy as possible. The England game isn’t likely to decide who advances, but merely who wins the group, meaning Belgium will be able to be cautious with their star forward if they choose to be.

England has their own injury concerns, though not to a player.

Mavs drafted Kostas Antetokounmpo with an eye on Giannis?

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Dallas Mavericks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo’s younger brother Kostas with the No. 60 overall pick in this year’s draft, and one prominent NBA figure believes that the choice was hardly a coincidence.

During NBA TV’s coverage of the draft this week, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin gave his thoughts on the Mavs’ picking Kostas.

“They’re going to want to be a player in free agency and max free agency when Giannis Antetokounmpo is available,” said Griffin of Dallas. “Because drafting Kostas Antetokounmpo is really all about legalized tampering.

“You’re going to have his brother going home and telling Giannis all the time what an amazing organization this is,” Griffin added. “I promise you, that was not an accident, and I will be stunned if he goes away.”

Of course, Giannis is not eligible to become a free agent until 2021, which casts some doubt on if Kostas will still be on the team by then (since second-round picks are not bound by rookie scale contracts like first-rounders are). However, the 20-year-old big has wild upside (not to mention wild physical attributes), so the Mavs have incentive to keep him around on multiple fronts.

H/T NBA Reddit

Watch: Germany scores incredible free kick winner in stoppage time

In quite possibly the most remarkable finish to a 2018 FIFA World Cup game yet, Germany scored a dramatic late winner to defeat Sweden and move closer to salvaging a disappointing start to their defense of the title.

Germany won a free kick just outside the box with less than a minute of stoppage time to play while locked in a 1-1 draw, and mere seconds from full time, German midfielder Toni Kroos curled the ball in from an exceptionally difficult angle to win the match.

The circumstances were remarkable. Germany was struggling, and while a draw would not have eliminated them from the knockout round, but it would have meant they needed to beat South Korea while getting help from Mexico just to advance. Now, the group is wide open.

In addition, Germany had ten men at the time, as defender Jerome Boateng had been sent off for a second yellow card about ten minutes from full time.

Sure, this is not the first late winner of the World Cup, but given the circumstances and the skill involved, it’s probably the best so far.

Report: ‘Too early’ to tell if Titans will have star OT back for start of year

Jack Conklin

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin tore his ACL during the team’s playoff defeat to the New England Patriots back in January, and there are indications that he may miss the start of the season as he continues his recovery.

In a Q&A with Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website, the writer revealed that Conklin was unlikely to be ready for training camp, and it was “too early” to tell if he’d be active for the start of the season.

“Titans coach Mike Vrabel said at his final minicamp presser he expects everyone to be ready for camp, with Conklin being the only exception,” Wyatt wrote. “He mentioned PUP as a possibility. So I’m not necessarily expecting him at the start of camp on July 26. As for the start of the season, well, it’s too early for me to say about that quite yet.”

Former Titans coach Mike Mularkey had warned of this possibility immediately after the injury. It’s less than ideal, as Conklin is a former All-Pro who helped anchor the Tennessee offensive line.

Report: LeBron James camp ‘pessimistic’ about teaming up with star free agent

LeBron James

We’ve been hearing about potential Paul George-LeBron James alliances for quite a while now, but with free agency only weeks away, that possibility is looking less likely than ever.

According to Sam Amick of USA Today, James’ camp is becoming increasingly pessimistic about the chances of playing with George, as optimism is growing in the Oklahoma City Thunder camp about their chances of retaining the star forward.

George is said to love the environment in Oklahoma City and has a good relationship with both coach Billy Donovan and star guard Russell Westbrook, making it seem less likely that he’ll want to leave.

George has fueled James-related speculation before, but it does sound like it’s growing unlikely that he’ll leave. If he does, the conventional wisdom would still favor the Los Angeles Lakers as the team with the best chance of prying him away.

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