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Friday, September 20, 2019

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Angels’ Victor Rojas, Mark Gubicza are the best announcing team in MLB

Victor Rojas Mark Gubicza

Note: I originally wrote this as a guest post for Awful Announcing. It was published there on August 16, 2019, and I wanted to re-post here because I enjoyed writing it and am proud of the piece. I hope you like it.

Baseball fans lucky enough to enjoy the announcers for their favorite team know just how special of a feeling that can be. MLB teams play 162 games in a season, meaning you are inviting the announcers into your home for around three hours a day, nearly half the year. If you love your team’s announcers, it’s like gaining extra siblings whose company you enjoy. But if you dislike them, the result is similar to having family you despise; you’re forced to be around them daily and have little choice.

Los Angeles Angels fans have been lucky enough to have the duo of Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza calling the team’s games on TV the past 10 years. The two have developed such strong on-air chemistry that they’ve become the best announcing team in baseball. Their fans seem to agree.

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Report: NFL investigating Antonio Brown’s harassing text messages to second accuser

Antonio Brown

The NFL is investigating harassing text messages allegedly sent by Antonio Brown to the second woman who accused the wide receiver of sexual misconduct.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated published a lengthy story containing many allegations of improper behavior by Brown, including incidents for which he has been sued. The story notably contained allegations from a female artist who says she was hired by Brown to paint a mural in his home. Brown met the woman when he won an auction bidding on a painting of hers at a charity softball game for the National Youth Foundation in June 2017. The receiver later hired her to paint a mural in his home.

The woman claims Brown became inappropriate during her second day of painting at his home when he approached her while nude, with nothing but a small towel covering his genitals. She says after she did not respond to his flirtations, the attitude of Brown and his team towards her changed and became chilly. She never finished the painting and was not contacted by Brown again.

In a statement from his attorney shared on Monday, Brown denied the woman’s allegations.

But the story does not end there.

SI’s Robert Klemko, who wrote the original story on Brown, shared screenshots of text messages the woman allegedly received from Brown on Wednesday night, two days after her allegations were published. In his text messages, which were sent to a group of five people, Brown accused the woman of making stuff up for money and directed his people to investigate her.

Klemko says the text messages came from the same number Brown provided to the artist in a 2017 Instagram direct message. Brown included his lawyer on the text messages. Brown’s attorney told Klemko he did not advise Brown to communicate with the woman and otherwise declined comment.

The artist’s lawyer, Lisa J. Banks, contacted the NFL about the harassing messages and asked for the league and New England Patriots to step in and end Brown’s behavior.

The attorney called the messages “intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”

“Our client … is understandably frightened by these text messages, which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her,” the lawyer wrote. “While she certainly qualifies as a ‘starving artist,’ she has never approached Mr. Brown, nor will she, about seeking money to compensate her for his sexual misconduct, contrary to his allegations in the text messages.”

The NFL quickly responded to the lawyer’s letter and set up a phone call between investigators and the artist’s attorney.

SI reached out to the phone number that they believe belonged to Brown, asking about the allegations. “foh clown” was the response they received. “FOH” is an acronym for “get the f— out of here.”

Brown, who made his Patriots debut on Sunday, was first sued by his former trainer, Britney Taylor, who accused him of sexually assaulting her three times between 2017 and 2018. Brown denied the allegations and accused her of making a money grab.

The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy prohibits: “Stalking, harassment, or similar forms of intimidation.”

The league could view these messages as harassment/intimidation and move to discipline the wide receiver for a violation of the policy, which would jeopardize his playing status.

Gardner Minshew shares origins of his beautiful mustache

Gardner Minshew swag

Gardner Minshew is just oozing swag, which has endeared him to NFL fans — especially those in Jacksonville. Beyond wearing amazing outfits, he has a beautiful, old school mustache that he sports.

The mustache was a hit in college at Washington State, where fans and broadcasters were sporting fake mustaches at Cougars games.

So how did that incredible facial hair come about? Minshew shared the story during an interview after leading his Jaguars to a 20-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night.

“It was kind of a silly thing we started in camp at Washington State, and everybody quit on me. So I was like, ‘screw you all, I’m doing this longer than everybody.’ And here we are!” Minshew said.

Minshew’s mustache has drawn media attention going back to last year.

“I think it’s symbolic of how we are as a team: just free, loose, we’re going to play as hard as we can and have fun doing it,” Minshew said of his mustache during an interview with ESPN last year.

It turns out the mustache in camp was not new for Minshew. He also did the same thing before his second season at East Carolina.

Minshew’s journey to the NFL is a rare one. He began his college career at Troy, where he started on an academic scholarship. He left there for Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he spent a season and went 11-1. He then moved to East Carolina for two years and passed for 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 17 games. Then he moved to Washington State as a transfer last year and passed for 4,779 yards in Mike Leach’s offense. Just think: had he never caught on with Leach, he probably never would be where he is now.

We are all thankful for his presence in the NFL, and his mustache.

Tulane beats Houston with incredible fake kneeldown play in final minute

Tulane trick play

Tulane beat Houston 38-31 on Thursday night thanks to one of the most creative playcalls you will see.

The Houston Cougars had kicked a field goal with 21 seconds left to tie the game and thought for sure they were going to overtime and that their job was done. Not so fast.

Tulane returned the ensuing kickoff to their 29, and just when you thought they would kneel out the clock and go to OT, the Green Wave pulled off the greatest fake ever. Take a look at this gorgeous play:

The Annexation of Puerto Rico run to perfection!

Tulane gained 18 yards to the 47 and had three seconds left. Then they did this:

Unbelievable.

Houston has to be kicking itself over the collapse. Meanwhile, Tulane just made our list of favorite trick plays ever. Well done, fellas.

Mike Leach points out how poorly NFL scouts did with Gardner Minshew

Mike Leach

Gardner Minshew playing well as a rookie in the NFL is very much a feather in the cap of Mike Leach.

Leach has long run a highly successful passing system in college, first at Texas Tech and now at Washington State. The knock on his quarterbacks was that they were taking advantage of the system and unable to succeed in the pros. Minshew looking so good early on, especially as a sixth-round pick, reflects well upon Leach and the Air Raid system. Leach also thinks the questions NFL scouts had about Minshew before the draft were ridiculous.

In a May interview with NFL Network, Leach talked about the questions he received from scouts, which made him wonder whether they even watched the quarterback. FOX’s announcing team of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck referenced the interview during Thursday night’s Jaguars-Titans game.

“The funny thing is people would call me about him – ‘how’s his arm?’ Well his arm’s good,” Leach said.

“‘Is he accurate?’ And I’m wondering if they’re real scouts when they start asking me if he’s accurate.

“‘How strong is his arm?’ And again, it’s running through my mind, ‘did you really watch any film?’

“He’s got great pocket presence. That’s probably what he does best. He doesn’t take negative plays. But then they’d say, ‘how tall is he?’ They’re all set for that. I’d say, ‘well, he’s exactly as tall as the all-time leading passer in the history of the NFL, which is Drew Brees.’ And then there’s this long, long, long pause. Just really long, because scouts have the ability to scrutinize and perceive life at a much higher level than you or I and mere mortals can.”

Leach’s point is that the people who are the gatekeepers of which quarterbacks should play in the NFL don’t know what they’re doing. Some are focused on the wrong things, like a player’s height, and also not doing their homework and preparation before asking about a player.

We’re starting to see more and more just how much these long-held beliefs about what constitutes an NFL quarterback — they must be a minimum height and have played in a certain style of college offense — is being shattered. Shorter quarterbacks like Brees and Russell Wilson have succeeded, paving the way for Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. And we even have a guy some wanted to put at running back or wide receiver looking great. Maybe the way quarterbacks are evaluated by NFL teams needs to be reexamined.

Don Mattingly reportedly gets contract extension from Marlins

Don Mattingly’s job status with the Miami Marlins has been a question this season, and we appear to have our answer about that matter.

Mattingly is getting a contract extension from the team, Daniel Álvarez-Montes first reported on Thursday. The announcement is set to come on Friday.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson says the Marlins like Mattingly’s demeanor and teaching abilities.

Mattingly was in the final season of a four-year deal with the team prior to getting his extension. He has a .428 winning percentage as the team’s manager. They have the worst record in the National League this season, though that is part of their rebuilding process.

Tom Brady blasts NFL over ‘ridiculous penalties’ in Jaguars-Titans game

Tom Brady

Tom Brady may benefit from the protections the league gives to NFL quarterbacks, but he does not appear to be a fan of all the penalty calls referees are making.

Brady complained on Twitter Thursday night about all the penalties in the Tennessee Titans-Jacksonville Jaguars game.

He then said he was turning off the game because of all the “ridiculous penalties” in the game.

22 minutes into the contest, seven offensive holding penalties alone had been called. Nobody wants to see that. The most egregious call was a roughing the passer penalty called on Kamalei Correa for his hit on Gardner Minshew:

Analyst Troy Aikman didn’t like the call and said so on the air. Neither did Kurt Warner.

We’ve got news for the NFL: NOBODY watches the games to see penalty calls. Holding calls were an emphasis in the preseason, and unfortunately that trend has spilled into the regular season. Nobody wants to watch that. Maybe Tom Brady saying it will produce a change.

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