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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers says he has been medically cleared to play

Get ready to start celebrating, Packers fans: Aaron Rodgers announced on Instagram Tuesday night that he has been medically cleared to return. Below is his photo and caption posted to Instagram: It's been a long road from that day to this, but I'm happy to say I've been medically cleared to return. Thanks for all…Read More

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JuJu Smith-Schuster wants Antonio Brown to pay his fine for Vontaze Burfict hit

Juju Smith-Schuster Vontaze Burfict

JuJu Smith-Schuster served a one-game suspension and will have to pay a fine for his vicious hit on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict in Week 13, but the rookie wide receiver expects one of his teammates to help him cover the cost.

After the game in which Smith-Schuster was flagged for his crack-back block on Burfict, Brown applauded him and offered to pay the fine. Smith-Schuster told reporters on Wednesday that he is holding the All-Pro receiver to it.

Burfict, of course, has a long history of dishing out cheap shots — especially against the Steelers. He infamously knocked Brown out of a playoff game with a brutal blow to the head two years ago, so Brown obviously felt like the linebacker got what he deserved. After Pittsburgh’s game two weeks ago, Brown was all smiles in the locker room and made some vague comments about “karma.”

Players aren’t supposed to cover each other’s fines, but Brown and Smith-Schuster will probably work something out. After all, the rookie is making a base salary of less than $500,000 this season. Brown signed a five-year contract worth more than $70 million with the Steelers this past offseason. He can afford it.

Report: Tyrod Taylor expected to start in Week 15

Tyrod Taylor

The Buffalo Bills were able to grind out a win in blizzard conditions against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, and as a result they remain squarely in the playoff hunt. It sounds like it will be up to Tyrod Taylor to keep them there.

Taylor missed last Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the veteran is expected to start against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Bills head coach Sean McDermott reiterated on Wednesday that Taylor remains the team’s starter when healthy.

Rookie Nathan Peterman played well in Week 14 all things considered, but he left the game with a concussion and remains in the concussion protocol. In the event that neither Taylor nor Peterman can play, the Bills would be forced to start Joe Webb in an important divisional game.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: NBA has surpassed NFL as league of future

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has seen the future, and he thinks that it belongs to the National Basketball Association.

The retired big man great recently wrote a piece for The Guardian entitled “The NBA, and not the NFL, is the league of America’s future.” In it, Abdul-Jabbar says that, while football is still by far the nation’s most popular sport, the bubble may be about to burst in favor of basketball.

Per Abdul-Jabbar:

America has changed and with that change we are seeing a shifting away from hoisting football on our collective shoulders. Although football remains our most popular professional sport, that popularity has been declining over the past five years, from 67% saying they were fans in 2012, to 57% in 2017. Professional baseball has also fallen 2% during that time. However, professional basketball has risen 3%. Before anyone starts blaming Colin Kaepernick, let’s remember that he first took a knee in 2016 and that the fan base erosion had already been strong several years before that.

The Hall of Famer cites an awakening to the dangers of football, a decrease in its popularity among American youth, and the idea that the sport no longer seems to represent the spirit of the country as reasons why football may soon be knocked off its perch. Conversely, Abdul-Jabbar argues that the NBA’s better tolerance of its players’ freedom of speech and its ability to connect with the younger generation will help it seize the torch of America’s sport.

Of course, Abdul-Jabbar may have a predisposition towards the NBA as a former player. But he raises several good points in his piece, and he definitely isn’t the only prominent basketball figure who feels that way about the respective futures of the two sports.

Report: Marcus Mariota could need ankle surgery during offseason

Marcus Mariota Titans

Marcus Mariota has battled through a number of injuries in 2017, and one of them is serious enough that the Tennessee Titans quarterback may require offseason surgery.

According to Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, Mariota continues to be bothered by a hamstring injury he originally suffered in Tennessee’s Oct. 1 game against the Houston Texans. The problem has been made worse by some lingering discomfort in his surgically-repaired ankle/leg. Mariota underwent offseason surgery last year on his lower leg after he broke his fibula on Christmas Eve.

Mariota had a plate inserted in his leg following last year’s injury, and Kuharsky was told by a source that the quarterback could require a “clean-up procedure.”

Mariota has not played well at all this season, as he has thrown 14 interceptions compared to just 10 touchdowns. He threw two interceptions in an ugly 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, giving him 10 picks in his last six games. To his credit, Mariota was recently very critical of his own play and said he needs to improve down the stretch.

Though he has appeared in all but one game this season, it seems obvious that Mariota is playing through some ailments. The fact that he may need another offseason surgical procedure is further evidence of that.

Joel Embiid thinks fans will eventually turn on him

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid is one of the most beloved basketball figures of the modern era, but even he knows that fame is fleeting.

In a feature by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that ran Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers center said that he is anticipating the fans eventually turning on him.

“People love you at the beginning,” said Embiid. “But at some point they’re gonna start hating you. LeBron [James]. Russell Westbrook. All the superstars. Even Steph [Curry]. He’s so likable. He does nothing wrong, but some people still hate him. It just comes with the nature of it. I’ve seen it.

“I feel like I’m about to go through it,” he continued. “I think it’s coming. People always want something new.”

It’s hard not to love the 23-year-old big man — he’s a social media superstar who captivates audiences with an unparalleled sense of humor on top of his generational talents on the hardwood. But it sounds like the celebrity process is one that not even Embiid trusts.

Angels GM ‘pleased’ with results of Shohei Ohtani’s physical

Shohei Ohtani

The Los Angeles Angels don’t seem to be too concerned about the medical status of Shohei Ohtani.

News came out on Monday that Ohtani had a platelet-rich plasma injection in October. Then on Tuesday, it was revealed that the injection was for a UCL issue in Ohtani’s pitching elbow.

What’s important to note is that all MLB teams were made aware of these medical issues PRIOR to bidding on Ohtani. It’s not like anyone was hoodwinked after signing him, contrary to the incorrect interpretation by some.

After the news about Ohtani’s UCL came out Tuesday, Angels GM Billy Eppler showed no signs of concern over Ohtani and said the team is “pleased” with the results of their physical conducted on the pitcher.

“Shohei underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and his shoulder. Those are scans we conduct whenever we sign a pitcher. Based on the readings of those MRIs, there are not signs of acute trauma in the elbow. It looks consistent with players his age. We are pleased with the results of the physical and we are very happy to have the player.”

Considering that every team was made aware of Ohtani’s medical status and knew about his PRP injection and UCL issue, and 27 of 30 teams still wanted to sign him, it’s obvious everyone felt he was worth the investment.

Ohtani comes cheaply, so he won’t have to do much to recoup all of his value, though of course nobody wants to see his career derailed by elbow problems.

Missed kicks in snowy Buffalo may cost Adam Vinatieri $500K

Adam Vinatieri is arguably the best kicker in NFL history, but even he couldn’t overcome the treacherous conditions in Buffalo on Sunday. As a result, the 44-year-old may have cost himself a shot at $500,000.

As Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes, Vinatieri has a clause in his contract this season that would pay him a $500,000 bonus if he converts at least 90 percent of his field goal attempts. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Bills, Vinatieri had made 22 of his 23 kick attempts this year, or 95.6 percent. After he missed both of his attempts in Buffalo, he has now converted 88 percent.

“The footing for sure [was the toughest],” Vinatieri said after Indy’s 13-7 loss in overtime. “Trying to run through snow and get good plant — that’s crazy. If it was just snow and no wind, it’s one thing. But you get both of them. It was a tough game.”

If Vinatieri converts his next five field goals, he could get back above the 90 percent mark. With two of the Colts’ final three games being at home, that certainly isn’t out of the question.

Despite missing on field goal attempts of 43 and 33 yards, Vinatieri did somehow miraculously convert a 43-yard extra point to send the game to OT. Though, he received from assistance from his team that he shouldn’t have on that particular kick.

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