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Josh Gordon appeal denied, one-year suspension upheld

Josh GordonCleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended for the entire 2014 season. The suspension ruling was officially upheld on Wednesday after a long appeal process.

“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,” Gordon said in a statement. “I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.”

Gordon had maintained that he failed his most recent drug test because of second-hand marijuana smoke. His attorneys also argued that a significant flaw in the NFL’s testing process resulted in Gordon testing positive. That argument is broken down in more detail here.

Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season after testing positive for using codeine syrup as a recreational drug. He was then placed in the NFL’s Stage III drug program and has since had to pass 10 drug tests per month. The 23-year-old was also arrested for driving while under the influence in July, two months after his failed marijuana test.

ESPN (sort of) apologizes for Michael Sam shower report

Michael Sam RamsAfter initially defending its report about Michael Sam’s shower habits in the St. Louis Rams locker room, ESPN finally received enough pressure from the masses to issue a half-hearted apology on Wednesday.

“ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report,” the network said in a statement. “Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.”

For those who missed it, Josina Anderson discussed how Sam is fitting in with his teammates by passing along information she got from players about when and with whom Sam has been taking his showers. One Rams defender supposedly said Sam is “respecting our space” while two others said they weren’t keeping track of when the former Missouri star cleans himself. Shocking, I know.

[WATCH: ESPN shares report about Michael Sam's showering habits]

Rams defensive end Chris Long later sent a tweet directed toward ESPN, basically saying Sam’s sexual preference is no longer a topic of interest for anyone but the World Wide Leader. ESPN initially defended Anderson’s reporting on Tuesday.

“In response to recent questions about Sam fitting in with the team, multiple Rams brought up the shower topic and we relayed that information as part of our reporting,” the network said, via Shutdown Corner.

We get that Anderson was just passing along information, but it didn’t seem like there was enough there to constitute a news story. To me, the report represented an uncomfortable invasion of privacy.

Report: Patriots players pissed about Logan Mankins trade

Logan-Mankins-Torn-ACL-Super-BowlThe New England Patriots’ decision to trade All-Pro offensive guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday came as a shock to most, even his former teammates. Players are well aware that the NFL is a business, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to disappointment.

On the surface, most of the Patriots players said all the right things. Julian Edelman said he trusts Bill Belichick to do what’s best for the team. Devin McCourty said the team simply has to “move on.” But according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, there was no mistaking the mood in the locker room.

But to say that Mankins’s teammates were shocked Tuesday is an understatement of Belichickian proportion. They openly discussed in the locker room how surprised they were by the move, and Darrelle Revis acknowledged that “the atmosphere was a little down” at practice.

A league source connected to several Patriots players used a “p” word that rhymes with “missed” to describe the mood in the locker room Tuesday. Many players still felt that Mankins was the best lineman on the team, the source said.

There’s a difference between being “pissed” and being disappointed. Disappointment would mean the players are sad to lose a team leader, great player and good friend. The fact that Volin says they were pissed would seem to indicate not everyone feels Belichick made the right decision.

Mankins was reportedly traded because he refused to take a pay cut. The Patriots have never been afraid to make an unpopular decision if it helps their financial situation, and there’s a good chance they are looking to free up a large chunk of salary cap space to sign Darrelle Revis to a long-term contract.

Could they have waited until after the season? For financial reasons, yes. But Belichick must have some young linemen he is confident in that he wants to start developing now. Either that, or he loves the attention he gets for being an evil genius. The Patriots fan in me leans toward the latter.

Logan Mankins traded after refusing to take pay cut

Logan MankinsLogan Mankins was traded by the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick.

Considering the season is so close to starting and the Patriots are Super Bowl contenders, many have wondered what motivated them to deal the six-time Pro Bowler. Apparently it was a money issue.

NFL reporter Jason Cole says Mankins refused to take a pay cut from the $6.25 million he was set to earn this season. Cole says the Pats first approached Mankins about taking a pay cut after the Pro Bowl and then again before they ultimately traded him.

The trade may weaken the Patriots up front in the immediate future, though they believe they have enough interior linemen to shuffle things and be fine. Plus they’re getting a promising tight end — Wright caught 54 passes for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns as a rookie last season — a fourth-round pick, and some cap relief, which Del surmised could be used to sign Darrelle Revis long term. You know how much they love to run double tight end sets, so maybe they figure they’ll be able to do that with Wright and Rob Gronkowski.

Mankins is due $6.75 million each of the next two seasons after signing a 6-year, $51 million deal prior to the 2011 season.

Chargers announcer Hank Bauer suspended for Jewish joke (Audio)

San Diego Chargers radio color commentator Hank Bauer was suspended from broadcasting the team’s final preseason game on Thursday after telling an anti-Semitic joke at the end of Sunday’s broadcast.

In the closing seconds of Sunday’s Chargers-49ers preseason game, Bauer, broadcasting on 105.3 KIOZ, cracked a Jewish joke about how copper was invented (drop a penny between two Jewish people).

“But then again you know how copper wire was invented? Somebody dropped a penny between Josh and his family member,” said Bauer. “I say that respectfully and endearingly, my partner.”

The joke was aimed at play-by-play voice Josh Lewin, a Jewish announcer, who commented about the crowd leaving early and said he would have stayed the whole game if he were a paying customer.

Hank Bauer Chargers

Bauer made the following apology on Twitter Tuesday:

The Chargers issued a statement in response and said it was Clear Channel, the broadcasting company, that decided to suspend Bauer for the game.

“Although we know Hank had no ill-will behind his remarks, we agree the comments were inappropriate. Per Clear Channel’s decision, Hank will not be broadcasting Thursday night’s game,” the statement said. “Hank has been a strong radio voice for the Chargers for the past 16 years and a passionate supporter of the team since his playing days. We look forward to Chargers fans receiving the same high-quality broadcast from Josh (Lewin) and Hank when he returns to the booth for the regular season.”

Chris Long: Everyone but ESPN is over Michael Sam being gay

Michael-Sam-boyfriendESPN featured some phenomenal investigative reporting on Tuesday when the network passed along some of the details of Michael Sam’s showering routine. For those of you who are a little slow, I’m being sarcastic. We have no idea why the World Wide Leader told us that Sam has not yet showered with certain teammates, and neither does Rams defensive end Chris Long.

A few hours after Josina Anderson went on the air and spoke about Sam’s showering habits, Long tweeted the following.

That’s how a lot of people feel. The first ever openly gay player in the NFL fighting for a roster spot is a huge story — we get that. It took guts for Sam to come out before the NFL Draft. But don’t we have enough headlines about him — such as Sam sacking Johnny Manziel and flashing the money symbol — that we don’t need to get into when and with whom he supposedly takes a shower?

Again, this seems like the type of stuff ESPN does that inspired their own Neil Everett to take a shot at the network last week.

H/T Jimmy Traina

Patriots reportedly trade Logan Mankins to Bucs for Tim Wright

Logan-Mankins-Torn-ACL-Super-BowlThe New England Patriots have reportedly agreed to trade six-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright and a draft pick. The news was first reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.

While we will likely never know Bill Belichick’s motivation for trading his most reliable offensive lineman just weeks before the start of the regular season, there could be a number of factors at play that sparked the deal. For starters, the Patriots acquired a pass-catching tight end in Wright. You have to wonder if New England considers that insurance for the oft-injured Rob Gronkowski.

Wright caught 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie in 2013. Gronkowski has seemed optimistic that he will be able to return in Week 1, but reports have indicated that there is about a 50% chance he won’t be ready. And even if he is, there’s no reason to believe he can remain healthy for a 16-game season.

There is also the possibility that Belichick sees Mankins, a 32-year-old veteran who has been a captain since 2011, as a player who is on the decline. Mankins allowed 11 sacks last season, which was second most in the NFL. He is more known for his run blocking than pass protection. Perhaps Belichick saw an opportunity to sell high based on Mankins’ past performance and jumped on it.

Another theory is that the Patriots are already looking to clear cap space to sign Darrelle Revis to a long-term contract extension. Mankins was set to make a $6.25 million base salary this season and $6.75 million per year in 2015 and 2016, plus bonuses. With Revis basically playing under a one-year deal and expected to command top dollar, something had to give.

This is the same Bill Belichick who cut Lawyer Milloy in training camp the year after winning a Super Bowl and traded Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders in his prime. No one should be surprised.