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#pounditMonday, November 29, 2021

Stories by Dan Benton:

Davante Adams had funny zinger for Odell Beckham Jr.

Prior to signing with the Los Angeles Rams earlier this year, Odell Beckham Jr. was serious about potentially joining the Green Bay Packers. That didn’t happen and on Sunday, OBJ went up against the Packers and fellow wide receiver Davante Adams.

In the end, Green Bay held onto a 36-28 victory. That sent Los Angeles to 7-4 on the season and 0-3 since Beckham arrived.

But struggling at Lambeau Field is nothing new for Beckham. During his last trip there — a 2016 wild-card game as a member of the New York Giants — OBJ came up small. The Giants were ousted from the playoffs and in a moment of frustration, Beckham put his fist through a locker-room wall.

Despite being sent home with another loss on Sunday, Beckham, who hauled in five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown, was much more subdued this time around. But that didn’t stop Davante Adams from poking a little fun at him.

Following the game, Adams sent his jersey to the Rams’ locker-room for Beckham with one simple message: No more drywall damage, please.

That jab from Adams came in the aftermath of another haymaker he took at Beckham just days earlier.

“We did talk two days ago, he said he needed a jersey after the game. I told him ‘go get a Cooper Kupp jersey’ since that’s obviously his guy and that’s who he wanted to be with,” Adams told Michael Irvin, referencing OBJ’s decision to sign with the Rams over the Packers.

In the end, it was all in good fun. More fun for Adams than Beckham, but fun for both nonetheless.

“That’s my guy, man. I love Odell. I think he would’ve been a great fit here but I wish nothing but the best for him,” Adams said.

Lakers legend critical of team after 3-OT loss to Kings

Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy is tired of what he’s seen from the team this season. And that includes what he’s seen from LeBron James.

Following a triple-overtime loss to the sub-.500 Sacramento Kings on Friday night, Worthy decided to let loose.

“I just want to go home, man. There’s really not a lot to talk about. I mean, They were 15-for-44 from behind the arc from three. AD was 0-for-5. LeBron was 2-of-13 and that’s all they shot down the stretch was threes,” Worthy said during the Lakers postgame show. “If that’s all we’re gonna do is stand around and shoot threes, we’ve got to do more than that. That is not team basketball.”

It’s not as if the Lakers didn’t have chances. They did. Unlike the Kings however, they unraveled as each opportunity presented itself. That’s become a theme for Los Angeles here in 2021.

In overtime, the Lakers sank just one three-pointer and went 11-of-14 from two-point range. Had they continued to keep the game in the paint, perhaps the outcome would have been different. Instead, they continued to launch shots from beyond the arc despite dwindling percentages.

Like Worthy, Robert Horry has seen enough.

“I watch the game, and as soon as they get a lead, they start smiling and having all these antics not realizing the other team is watching you. And that’s fueling their fire,” Horry said, via YardBarker. “If you wanna be a championship team, you gotta come up with the grit and the grind, no smiling and just beat someone down. They’ve only won one game this year by 10 points, at Houston, and Houston is the worst team in the NBA.”

Faith in the Lakers is fading. Not just among the fans and pundits, but among their former players and NBA greats as well.

Marcus Stroman throws some shade at Mets

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman would love to return to the New York Mets in 2022, but the team’s new front office doesn’t appear overly interested.

Stroman, a free agent, started 33 games for the Mets this past season, compiling a record of 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA. He was easily their healthiest asset on the mound, but even he can read the writing on the wall.

Stroman told a fan who begged him not to leave the Mets that he had a source who told him the Mets prefer other pitchers.

Stroman later added that the “source” he referenced was himself.

The Mets acquired Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for several prospects at the 2019 trade deadline. He opted out of the shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19 before returning this past year.

With Stroman out there dangling on the open market, the Mets decided to take a different route on Friday. They signed outfielder Starling Marte to a four-year, $78 million deal and added veterans Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha on two-year deals.

Photo: Erik Slgckgc/Flickr via CC-BY 2.0

Washington State RB’s quote about rival Washington goes viral

The Washington State Cougars and Washington Huskies squared off in the Apple Cup on Friday evening, and the game wasn’t even close. The Cougars blew out the Huskies 40-13, much to the delight of Washington State running back Max Borghi.

After the game, Borghi, who amassed 142 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns, shredded his in-state rivals.

“I absolutely hate the Huskies. Every Cougar absolutely hates the Huskies,” Borghi said after the game, via the Seattle Times. “Purple is the ugliest color in the world, and I just know that this cup is never coming back over here.”

With the win, which snapped a seven-game Apple Cup losing streak, the Cougars improved to 7-5 on the season and 6-3 in the Pac-12 North. The Huskies, meanwhile, fell to 4-8 on the season and 3-6 in the conference, just one game over Stanford for last place.

“It’s special. Coug Nation deserves it, this team deserved it, the seniors deserved it,” Borghi added, via ESPN. “I can’t really put words into it yet, it hasn’t really sunk in. But holding that Apple Cup trophy is something we’ve all dreamt about and it was incredible.”

“This win, it wasn’t just for us,” Washington State linebacker Justus Rogers said. “It was for the people that came before us, the teams that came before us that I’ve been a part of as well.”

If Oregon State (7-4) can somehow upset Oregon (9-2) on Saturday, Washington State would take on Utah (9-3) in the Pac-12 championship next week.

Image: Nov 26, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars running back Max Borghi (21) celebrates with fans following a 40-13 victory against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-NFL QB sends hilarious tweet about Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson

Retired NFL wide receiver and seven-time Pro Bowler Andre Johnson is among 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2022. It is his first year of eligibility.

Johnson joins an elite group of semifinalists that also consists of DeMarcus Ware, Eddie George and many more outstanding former players. Johnson’s resume speaks for itself, but perhaps Johnson’s most ringing endorsement came from a former teammate, retired quarterback Sage Rosenfels.

Following word of Johnson’s Hall of Fame eligibility, Rosenfels hit Twitter to make his case for Johnson. And to say it was self-deprecating tweet would be an understatement.

Rosenfels, a former fourth-round pick who spent 12 seasons in the NFL, played alongside Johnson from 2006-2008. He saw his most action over those three seasons, completing 65.6% of his passes for 3,380 yards, 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

Johnson had some of his better years over that same span, eclipsing 1,000 yards twice, including 1,500-plus yards in 2008. He also hauled in 21 touchdowns during Rosenfels’ Houston tenure.

Over his entire 14-year career, Johnson recorded 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. Those numbers alone warrant the Hall of Fame, but making Rosenfels look legit could also go a long way in the minds of voters.

Photo: AJ Guel/Flickr via CC BY 2.0

Steelers fan’s obituary takes funny shot at the team

Steelers logo

Wayne Olexa, a 76-year-old Pittsburgh-area man, died “after a long bout with the Pittsburgh Steelers,” according to his family.

Olexa passed away on November 14 — the same day the Steelers and Detroit Lions played to an overtime tie. His family said that was all the life-long fan could handle.

“He was at his home with family when the Steelers went into overtime against the 0-8 Lions and that was all he could take,” his obituary read.

Olexa was a high school sports standout and inducted into both the Swissvale High School Hall of Fame and the West Virginia Wesleyan Hall of Fame. He was prolific in three sports — football, basketball and baseball — and even drew an MLB tryout for the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the 1960s.

Olexa is survived by his wife, Jolie, and their three children.

JJ Watt has amazing gesture for Waukesha parade victims

JJ Watt

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman JJ Watt, a Waukesha, Wisconsin native, is stepping up in a big way for the six victims of last Sunday’s deadly Christmas parade attack and their families.

According to local media members, Watt has offered to pay the funeral costs for all six of the victims.

After learning of the heartbreaking and life-changing attack, Watt also tweeted out his sympathies.

The six victims have been identified as 81-year-old Wilhelm Hospel, 79-year-old Virginia Sorenson, 71-year-old LeAnna Owen, 52-year-old Tamara Durand, 52-year-old Jane Kulich and 8-year-old Jackson Sparks.

In addition to the six who perished in the attack, nearly 50 others suffered injuries.

The alleged perpetrator, Darrell Brooks, has been charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He is currently being held on $5 million bail.

Watt’s brothers, T.J. and Derek, each of whom play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, also offered their sympathies on social media.

Mike Leach thinks he knows why so many coaches are being fired

Mike Leach on the sidelines

With two weeks still remaining on the college football schedule, there have been 12 head coach firings at the FBS level and more are expected to come. But what has spurred on this rapid recycling of coaches? Mississippi State coach Mike Leach believes he has the answer.

During the SEC coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday, Leach, who himself was fired by Texas Tech following the 2009 season, blamed it on trends and mental illness.

“Because people are nuts,” Leach said, via Football Scoop. “First of all, I think things go in trends. General societal mental illness, I think, and I think the other thing that contributes to it, and the same thing has happened with (athletics directors), it’s almost like there’s been a bounty on A.D.s. Then as a result there’s been one on coaches, too.

“I think that, to me, it seems like when people were all stuck at home with COVID (in 2020), they had all this nervous energy, and you saw a bunch of A.D.s and coaches fired that hadn’t coached a game for that season. [Like people said] ‘Well, we’re not doing anything so let’s fire somebody.'”

Leach also believes too many decisions are made in haste. We live in an instant gratification era and that has found its way into the football ranks.

“I don’t think it’s productive,” Leach said. “If you’re a farmer, and you go out and say, ‘I wanna grow corn,’ and it grows six inches, and you say, ‘Well, it didn’t grow fast enough’ so yank up it out of the ground ground … There’s coach after coach in the NFL Hall of Fame that back in the day if they were held to that standard (of immediately winning), they wouldn’t be there.”

In terms of the rapid firings, Leach has a point. Consistency is essential in every aspect of life, but especially within a football program — college, professional or otherwise.

There’s also the issue of communication and the growing lack of interpersonal skills due to technology, Leach says. With everything done digitally, the human element has been lost.

“I think the addiction to machines is part of it. Then instead of people, one communicating with one another, two, making their decisions based on kind of independent thought, I think a lot of times machines and social media do the thinking for people, and I don’t think that’s very healthy,” Leach added.

Leach blaming the firings on mental illness may be hyperbolic, but there is some truth to the perceived demand for instant success. There’s also a level of truth to the degradation of communication. Both have heavily factored into the coaching carousel at multiple levels of the sport.

Image: Oct 2, 2021; College Station, Texas, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach argues a call while playing against the Texas A&M Aggies in the third quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports