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Friday, August 23, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Daniel Cormier apologizes, hints at potential retirement in moving Instagram post

Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier issued a moving apology to his fans via Instagram on Monday, two days after losing the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Cormier entered his match against Stipe Miocic at UFC 241 in Anaheim on Saturday 22-1 in his pro MMA career with one no contest. The lone loss on his record came to Jon Jones at UFC 182 in 2015. He also lost to Jones two years later, though the result was overturned due to a positive steroids test from Jones.

A year after beating Miocic to win the heavyweight belt, Cormier was beaten in the rematch via fourth-round TKO. He expressed his “disappointment” over his loss and also hinted at retirement.

“It’s been a couple of days and I can’t stress the disappointment, I am so sorry to all I have let down,” Cormier wrote. “To my wife and kids I am so sorry you guys had to experience that, I never wanted y’all to see that and the hurt you guys showed breaks my heart everytime I think about it. My coaches I am sorry, i appreciate the work and time you’ve spent with me. My fans, thank you guys for all the love and support you have guided me to all these amazing accomplishments. Stipe Miocic and his team, congratulations on a tremendous victory, you showed so much heart and grit, you are the definition of Cleveland tough. @danawhite And all at the @ufc thank you all for everything you have done for me and my family. This has been the most amazing journey, I will decide what I am gonna do now, and as soon as I decide you will all know right away. I love you all. DC”.

Cormier, who turned 40 in March, has been talking about retirement for around a year. He talked about it ahead of his fight with Miocic, and then again in his post-fight interview.

“I’ve long said I don’t want to be a guy that goes out on my back,” Cormier told MMA Fighting last week. “A lot of our greatest champions they leave the sport on their back. They leave as former champions. They leave their fans with that last vision of their favorite fighter on their back, [then] standing in the middle of the Octagon while their belt is getting strapped on someone else. I don’t want to be that guy.”

Considering he’s on the record saying he doesn’t want to go out a loser, we would be surprised if Cormier actually retired. Maybe a third fight against Miocic would attract him. Getting revenge and winning that fight would be the perfect way to go out, though it wouldn’t be easy.

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De’Aaron Fox happy to remain in Sacramento, not looking for big market

DeAaron Fox

De’Aaron Fox’s comments in a recent interview will bring comfort to Sacramento Kings fans.

Fox spoke with one37pm for a feature that was published on Monday. In the article, the point guard expressed his contentedness with the Kings, unlike other players who wish to play in a big market.

“I don’t crave to be in a big market,” Fox told the site. “After last season, there was a buzz in Sacramento. Everyone in Sacramento is a Kings fan. If we start making the playoffs, or if we become a championship contender, the entire city is going to go nuts. That’s the difference between a big market and a small one.”

Fox’s comments touch on the big fish in a small pond concept. Some players prefer to be a smaller fish in a bigger pond — playing in a big-market city like Los Angeles and New York — where there’s a huge percentage of the area’s population that doesn’t even care about basketball. By contrast, in a smaller city like Sacramento, a greater percentage of the area is more likely to follow the team and care about it.

The Kings have not been to the playoffs since 2006, but they had a prime run of success from 2000-2005 where they won at least 50 games each season. Many fans became die-hards during that time and have been longing for the team to become successful again. With Fox, Marvin Bagley, and Buddy Hield at the core of a young team, they had their best season last year since 2006.

Fox, who was drafted in 2017 and has great motivation to perform, is still under team control for three more seasons. Based on his comments, the Kings will have a good chance at locking him up long term.

RB Tony Pollard is a legit weapon for Cowboys with Ezekiel Elliott holding out

Tony Pollard

The Dallas Cowboys want Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout to end, but they do seem to have an emerging backup option in case it doesn’t.

Rookie running back Tony Pollard started in the Cowboys’ second preseason game and looked good. He rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on five carries. He also caught a pass for nine yards. His vision and balance stood out:

Pollard was picked in the fourth round No. 128 overall out of Memphis. Immediately after being drafted, the Cowboys said they expected Pollard could have a big impact. That certainly would be the case if Elliott does not report to the team by Week 1.

The big-play ability for Pollard is evident based on his college stats. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt last season and 6.8 for his college career. He had nine rushing touchdowns, nine receiving, and most impressively, seven kickoffs returned for a score.

The Cowboys would be fools not to want Elliott, a two-time rushing champ, back on the squad, but Pollard seems to have them in a good place.

Seahawks’ DK Metcalf needs minor knee surgery

DK Metcalf

Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf has dealt with a few injuries during training camp and now has a knee injury that will require surgery.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said after the team’s preseason game Sunday against the Vikings that Metcalf needs surgery. He said that the knee injury occurred a few days ago, but the good news is the team is optimistic that the recovery period will be quick.

Metcalf, who has also dealt with an oblique injury, was drafted in the second round by Seattle with the No. 64 pick. His predraft stock exploded thanks to some incredible combine measurables. Though his route tree was limited in college at Ole Miss, the Seahawks were raving about him throughout offseason workouts and probably can’t wait to have him back.

Holding penalties have spiked during the preseason

Pass interference penalties will be something to watch this NFL season, but another point of emphasis around the league seems to be holding.

Through two weeks of the preseason, holding penalty calls have spiked compared to the first two weeks of games in last year’s preseason.

According to a graphic from FOX, there has been an average of 8.9 holding calls per game the first two weeks of the preseason. By comparison, the average through two preseason games last year was 3.9.

Just how high is 8.9? FOX NFL rules analyst Dean Blandino says the regular season has never averaged more than four holds per game.

“There was a point of emphasis on backside holding, but we are seeing holds in the kicking game, in the run game and passing game. That will start to regulate as we get to the regular season. But it’s not a good time to be an offensive lineman right now with these flags for holding,” Blandino said during an appearance on FOX’s broadcast of the Vikings-Seahawks preseason game Sunday night.

Roughing the passer rule changes last year were the talk of the league the first few weeks of the season and even had Clay Matthews questioning his future following several high-profile calls. Holding penalties could be the subject to watch this year.

In addition to the emphasis on holding calls, the league is cracking down on blindside blocks. No forceable contact with a player’s helmet, shoulder or forearm while heading back to their goal line is allowed. That’s the foul that was called on Detroit Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi that had fans upset.

Beyond the holding and blindside blocks, another rule change to watch includes revisions to leaping (a player must be on the line of scrimmage and stationary). Teams also will have the choice of enforcing penalties for a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct on the point after touchdown attempt or kickoff.

An increase in holding penalties could have severe effects for teams that want to run the ball.

Paxton Lynch exits preseason game after huge hit from Holton Hill

Paxton Lynch

Paxton Lynch exited Sunday night’s preseason game between the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings after taking a massive helmet-to-helmet hit from Holton Hill.

Lynch decided to tuck and run on a run-pass option play with around four minutes remaining in the game. As he went to slide, Hill came in head-first and nailed him in the helmet.

Hill was ejected for the hit, while Lynch left the field for a medical examination. Former Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett entered the game in Lynch’s place.

Lynch was 6/15 for 67 yards prior to his exit. He is competing with Geno Smith for the Seahawks’ backup quarterback job behind Russell Wilson.

Lynch was waived by the Broncos before the start of last season, just two years after they made him a first-round pick.

Watch: Is James Harden working on new move?

James harden

James Harden is a masterful offensive player and may be adding a new move to his arsenal.

Rico Hines, a player development coach for the Sacramento Kings, shared video on Instagram Sunday that shows Harden playing on the practice courts at UCLA. The video shows Harden faking one way and then moving the other to take a running one-legged 3-point shot:

Harden’s move seems very atypical. Players use crossover moves, but few ever take long-distance shots on the run the way Harden did. They’re usually moving towards the basket on runners, not going sideways. It takes an incredible amount of leg strength to push off for a shot like that.

Harden has already perfected the step-back 3-pointer and is the best in the league at drawing fouls, which frequently annoys critics.

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey already called Harden the best scorer in history. Despite that label, he is still working constantly to improve.


Cody Bellinger congratulates Pete Alonso on breaking his record

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger had nothing but love for Pete Alonso after seeing his record fall on Sunday.

Alonso went 3-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored and two RBIs in the New York Mets’ 11-5 win over the Kansas City Royals. He slugged a solo home run in the ninth inning off Jacob Barnes to give him 40 on the season. The 40 home runs is a National League rookie record, surpassing Bellinger’s mark of 39 set in 2017.

The Dodgers star congratulated Alonso over Twitter, who was grateful for the recognition and sent some back.

Even though his record fell, Bellinger probably isn’t the least bit concerned. He smacked a 3-run home run on Sunday, giving him 42 homers and 97 RBIs on the season. He is the frontrunner to win National League MVP this season.