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#pounditWednesday, February 8, 2023

Stories by Dan Benton:

Ex-teammate has interesting prediction about Tom Brady

Tom Brady fired up during a game

Dec 5, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The future of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady remains very much up in the air. Will he return in 2023? Will he retire? Have his initial plans changed following a divorce from Gisele Bündchen?

No one knows for certain but one of Brady’s former teammates, Rodney Harrison, recently made an interesting prediction.

Harrison, who interviewed Brady for NBC’s “Football Night in America” on Sunday, believes the future Hall of Famer will return in 2023. However, in Harrison’s mind, it won’t come with the Buccaneers.

“I think Tom leaves. I think he continues with his career, but I think he leaves Tampa Bay,” Harrison said during the telecast.

Brady is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March and will be free to sign with any team he chooses. There may be as many as 7-10 quarterback openings around the league, so options will be plentiful.

And Brady may not limit those options. Despite his fiercely competitive drive, he said in November that he’d rather play and lose than not play at all.

“Look, losing is hard for all of us, but I’d rather lose and play than not play at all,” Brady said on the Let’s Go Podcast, via JoeBucsFan. “I love playing, I love competing and I love trying to be a little bit better every day. I love going out there with a sense of purpose to try to get better. And ultimately, I love trying to play at a championship level for my teammates.”

It will be interesting to see how many suitors there are for Brady, who will turn 46 before the start of the 2023 regular season.

Randy Gregory seen throwing punch at Rams player after game

Baker Mayfield has his interview interrupted

The Los Angeles Rams manhandled the Denver Broncos, 51-14, on Christmas Day and the drubbing didn’t sit well with linebacker Randy Gregory.

After time had expired, Gregory and Rams guard Oday Aboushi got into a verbal altercation during the customary postgame handshakes. It didn’t take long for that to completely spiral out of control with Gregory taking a swing at Aboushi, who immediately retaliated.

The physical exchange also interrupted CBS Sports’ postgame interview with Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner quickly stepped in to break things up and promptly led Aboushi back to the showers. And while things did not escalate further, the NFL will almost certainly hand down a pair of fines and a possible suspension.

Gregory is no stranger to NFL discipline, having been suspended three times throughout his career for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and missing scheduled drug tests.

After seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Gregory signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos this offseason.

Jets coach trying to talk up Zach Wilson ahead of Week 15 start

Zach Wilson holds up a ball

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson throws during warmups before an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

With Mike White not medically cleared to play on Sunday, second-year quarterback Zach Wilson will have his chance at redemption. He will start under center for the New York Jets as they take on the Detroit Lions in a pivotal Week 15 game.

Wilson had previously been benched after completing just 55.6 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and five interceptions. He failed to take responsibility for his struggles and it rubbed many in the Jets organization, including his teammates, the wrong way.

Now, three weeks later, Wilson will have the opportunity to course-correct his career. And whether or not he actually believes it himself, head coach Robert Saleh is saying all of the right things.

Wilson will bring a different mindset with him upon his return. He realizes the mistakes he made, both on and off the field, and was humbled by hitting the basement floor.

“The worst has already happened, right? For me, personally,” Wilson said, via the New York Post. “I’m going to just have fun and whatever happens, happens. I’m going to do whatever is best for the team, and that’s out of my control if they make that change down the road.”

With a quick turnaround for the Jets, who play Detroit on Sunday and Jacksonville on Thursday, it may not be a one-off for Wilson. White has “multiple consecutive rib fractures” and may not return in time to start in Week 16. That means Wilson will have a couple of opportunities to turn back the clock.

Marlins could take extra step to sign Justin Turner?

Justin Turner smiling.

Jul 3, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) reacts during game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. THe Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-4 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the Los Angeles Dodgers declined a $16 million club option for Justin Turner in November, the 38-year-old hit free agency.

Initially, Turner’s market was a bit quiet, but things have begun to heat up over the past couple of weeks.

The Miami Marlins stepped in and made Turner a “competitive offer,” while San Diego Padres now find themselves sniffing around the free agent. The Dodgers also remain interested in a potential reunion, but they’ve opted to play the waiting game.

Other reports suggest the Arizona Diamondbacks are also interested in potentially signing Turner.

With so many teams suddenly lurking, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that the Marlins may up their offer by adding in a second year.

Despite missing more than a month’s worth of games in 2022, Turner still produced quality numbers at the plate. He batted .278/.350/.438 with 13 home runs and 81 RBIs and even stole three bags. And while his play in the field has deteriorated, Turner still brings quite a bit to the table as a DH — an area the Marlins are desperate to improve upon.

Report: Texas, Oklahoma could leave Big 12 early

Big 12 logo

Texas and Oklahoma were expected to remain in the Big 12 through the 2024 season but apparently, something has changed.

During the Big 12 meetings in Las Vegas last week, the long-standing narrative that OU and Texas wouldn’t leave early got busted. Now, it seems, both programs intend to make their exit following the 2023 season.

“They’re definitely engaged on it and moving towards something where they will leave after next season,” a Big 12 school official told The Athletic.

“It’s likely they are leaving early,” an anonymous source also said.

With the apparent change of plans, the 2023 football schedule release has been delayed. However, one Big 12 official told The Athletic that a resolution is expected in a matter of weeks, not months. They also believe that an early divorce will benefit all parties involved.

But that comes with its own set of complications. Because of the Big 12’s bylaws, both Texas and Oklahoma would have to forfeit their final two years of conference revenue distributions. That could total as much as $90 million per school. As a result, negotiations for a potentially reduced buyout are reportedly ongoing.

Texas and Oklahoma have until December 31 to provide the required 18-month notice of departure if they wish to join the SEC by July 1, 2024.

Cause of death for ex-Bengals coach Adam Zimmer revealed

Adam Zimmer with the Vikings

Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer during the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime NFL assistant coach Adam Zimmer, the son of former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, died in late October at the age of 38.

Zimmer’s sister, Corri, shared the news of his unexpected death in an emotional Instagram post.

Shortly after Zimmer’s death, the Cincinnati Bengals, where Adam served as an offensive analyst, released a statement.

“Our organization has had the privilege of knowing and working with the Zimmer family for 15 years. We have the highest regard for Mike and Adam, and we are incredibly saddened by this tragic news. Mike and Adam were more than just coaches for us – they were friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Zimmer family at this time.”

On Friday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner released a report on Zimmer’s death and attributed it to “complications of chronic ethanol use disorder.”

Zimmer began his coaching career in 2006 as a member of the New Orleans Saints. He later made stops with the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and, of course, the aforementioned Bengals. In 2010, he earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Saints.

If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, call the SAMHSA’s National Helpline or reach out to Alcoholic Anonymous.

Aaron Rodgers goes to great lengths to protect his hand signals

Aaron Rodgers ready to throw

Nov 5, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass during warm ups before a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is very particular about a number of things. One of those are hand signals, which he goes to great lengths to protect. But he also goes to equally great lengths to ensure his teammates know the signals, which can be around 30.

It would be easy for players to know the signals if they were written down somewhere or included in the playbook. But they’re not, and that’s because Rodgers treats his signals like secrets; the Packers doesn’t want just any player who could easily be cut to share them with another team.

Every Saturday, Rodgers meets with his teammates and gives them pop quizzes on the hand signals. It’s a stressful time for the players.

“The signal meetings was by far the worst thing,” former Packers wide receiver Chris Blair told The Athletic. “I used to hate those.”

“You don’t want to get called on because. . . you gotta do it in front of the whole team,” Bears wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who was previously with the Packers, added.

Whether the player is a veteran or a rookie, Rodgers has the same expectations; they must know all of the signals and be able to recognize them on the fly.

“It’s probably the most nerve-racking for a young player because we don’t get taught them,” ex-Packers running back Kylin Hill said.

Rodgers is so protective of the hand signals, they aren’t written down anywhere. The coaches themselves don’t even know them.

“We don’t teach them because players get released every day or traded, so we don’t want anybody giving out A-Rod’s signals,” Hill said.

It’s memory only for Rodgers and his teammates. And oftentimes, he’ll even recycle hand signals from years past. It’s a constant rotation and a very difficult thing for young players to grasp.

Apparently the system works because it’s helped deliver consecutive MVP awards for Rodgers.

Draymond Green addresses why he wanted fan removed

Draymond Green during a game

May 26, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) reacts after a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half during game five of the 2022 western conference finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green had a Milwaukee Bucks fan ejected from the game midway through the third quarter.

The fan began chirping at Green around the 6:30 mark and the back-and-forth continued for over a full minute. But as Steph Curry stepped to the line for a free throw, Green had had enough. He pointed out the fan to an official who then sent the ticket-holder packing.

It was initially unclear what was said that upset Green so much, but he elaborated further during a post-game interview.

“Some people look at NBA players like they’re superhuman,” Green said, via ESPN. “That they’re this larger-than-life figure. So you come and you get someone to say something back and they get fined. They go home and laugh with their buddies.

“I think it’s just one of those things when you can hold it in and get to the ref and get them out, it’s great.”

For Green, the tipping point came when the fan allegedly said some “threatening stuff” toward his life. It angered Green so much that he considered “diving” into the stands to confront the fan. Luckily for Green, the fan and the NBA, that didn’t happen. After all, we each remember Malice at the Palace vividly.

This also isn’t the first time Green has gotten into it with the fans this season. He was fined $25,000 just a few weeks ago after a verbal altercation in Dallas on November 29.

“They jump and fine guys for saying something back,” he said. “I think when you see guys get fined, it’s more often a license for more people to do it.”

Alteractions between NBA players and fans is on the rise, and Green’s incident is just the latest.

Tom Brady had cool gesture for his high school

Tom Brady fired up during a game

Dec 5, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady’s former high school, Serra of San Mateo, is currently 13-0 and slated to play nationally-ranked St. John Bosco in the California State Championship Bowl Game for the Open Division.

The game will be played at Saddleback College, which is 417 miles south of the high school.

That’s a long distance for Serra High, but they’ll have a little help from the G.O.A.T. himself. Brady has pitched in to help cover the team’s travel costs.

Brady also took a moment to shout out Serra this week during a routine press conference when discussing his upcoming game against the San Francisco 49ers.

“(Coach) Patrick Walsh has done an incredible job,” Brady said. “He was a high school running back at De La Salle, where my uncle (Christopher) was a principal, and they were are hugely successful in NorCal.”

Although Brady won’t be on hand, you better believe he’ll be keeping an eye on Serra High from a distance and rooting for a massive upset.

Lions making big move ahead of Vikings game

Dan Campbell on the sideline

Aug 28, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell watches the third quarter action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers won 19-9. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions, winners of four of their last five, will take on the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday afternoon. Because of the mid-season turnaround, the game carries possible playoff ramifications. Needless to say, a Ford Field ticket is a hot item at the moment.

Because of the demand, the Lions have decided to once again provide standing-room-only seats.

“Our fans have got to show up, which I know they will,” head coach Dan Campbell said, via MLive. “This is going to be electric. It is big. This is big for our players, it’s big for us, shoot, it’s a big game for them.”

Home attendance has risen significantly for the Lions. It’s up 21.5% from last season and has been at 97.1% capacity this year. Ford Field is averaging 62,609 fans per game through seven home games this season and more than 65,000 are expected in Week 14.

“I think the fans are going to be awesome,” wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said. “I think Detroit has some of the best fans around. They bring a lot of energy every week for us, it helps us out a lot.”

They may not be Seattle’s 12th Man, but the Lions faithful will undoubtedly factor into the outcome on Sunday. If Detroit pulls off the upset over their rivals, their unlikely playoff push will continue.