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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

NFL moving Chiefs-Rams game from Mexico City to LA

The field surface at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City has been deemed unsafe for an NFL game to be played, and Monday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams is being relocated as a result.

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the NFL announced that league officials and field experts examined the field as Estadio Asteca and determined that it does not meet the league’s “standards for playability and consistency.” The game will now be played at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, which is where the Rams play their home games.

Estadio Azteca recently hosted soccer games and concerts that apparently left the field in poor condition. Between issues with the Mexico City venue and the wildfires that have been raging in California, the NFL has had to deal with some unexpected scheduling issues over the past week.

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Urban Meyer responds to latest disturbing allegations against Ohio State

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer has once again found himself on the defensive in the wake of a report that includes disturbing allegations against the Ohio State football program, and he is responding in familiar fashion.

LeBron Grimes, the father of former Ohio State wide receiver Trevon Grimes, told Brett McMurphy of WatchStadium that his son transferred to Florida following an altercation with former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith, during which LeBron says Smith called his son the N-word. Ohio State confirmed that there was an “interaction” between Smith and Grimes but said there was no racist language used. Both Meyer and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith have vehemently denied that the incident took place.

McMurphy’s report also outlines how Grimes was declared eligible to play immediately at Florida, which was by way of a hardship waiver because his mother, Leah, was diagnosed with an illness. Details were shared about how Meyer and some Ohio State players and staffers flew to Florida last year to meet with Grimes and his mother. LeBron said the meeting had to do with Ohio State trying to keep Trevon quiet about the incident with Smith, telling him they would allow him to transfer anywhere if he did not come forward about it. An Ohio State spokesman said Meyer flew to Florida because Trevon was struggling after his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

Both Leah and Trevon declined to comment on the visit, but McMurphy’s report went on to share some information about Leah’s troubled past. Meyer indicated he felt that was unethical of McMurphy and said legal action could be taken.

McMurphy was the same reporter who broke the story about Meyer keeping Smith on his staff despite multiple domestic violence allegations against the former Ohio State assistant. Meyer was defiant in responding to the original report but later ended up being suspended for his knowledge of the incidents.

Le’Veon Bell not reporting to Steelers, won’t play in 2018

LeVeon Bell

Tuesday was the deadline for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to report to the team and sign his franchise tender in order to be eligible to play in 2018, and that will not be happening.

Just before the 4 p.m. EST deadline, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Bell would not be showing up.

Many reports indicated that Bell had to report by Nov. 13 in order to avoid being hit with the same $14.5 million franchise tag again this offseason, but Bell recently learned that the Steelers cannot go that route. If they used the tag on Bell again, that would be the third tag and would amount to the average of the top-five quarterback salaries in the NFL. Since Bell knows the Steelers aren’t going to pay him $25 million for one season, he’s confident he will either be transition tagged — which allows him to negotiate with other teams — or simply be allowed to become an unrestricted free agent.

Ironically, an old tweet from Bell went viral over the weekend that makes him look like a bit of a hypocrite. Time will tell if his business decision pays off, as Bell will now be a full year removed from football and have turned down $14.5 million guaranteed for 2018.

Report: Kevin Durant, Draymond Green had heated locker room exchange

Kevin Durant was openly angry with Draymond Green over the way Green handled the final seconds of regulation in Monday night’s game against the Clippers, and the two players apparently were no calmer after the final buzzer sounded.

Green grabbed a rebound with about five seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 106. Durant clearly wanted the ball so he could make something happen for the final shot, but Green chose to keep it and ended up dribbling himself into trouble. The game went to overtime, where the Warriors lost.

As you can see, Durant appeared to confront Green about the decision as Golden State huddled together before overtime. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears, the frustrations spilled over into the locker room in what was described as “one of the most intense” locker room scenes to date for this Warriors regime.

Durant had five fouls at the time Green grabbed the rebound, and he ended up fouling out in OT. He was also trailing behind Green, so it’s possible Green was looking up the court and didn’t want to pass the ball backwards with so little time remaining. Either way, Durant and other Golden State players obviously thought the Warriors could have gotten a much better look with a chance to win the game in regulation.

We’ve seen countless examples in the past of how Green gets under the skin of opponents, and we know he has one of the strongest personalities in the NBA. It’s not a huge surprise the disagreement carried over into the locker room, especially after a tough loss.

Aaron Rodgers says Packers need to keep feeding Aaron Jones

Aaron Rodgers

The lack of a consistent running game has contributed to some of the struggles the Green Bay Packers have had on offense over the last two seasons, but Aaron Jones may be well on his way to solving that problem. His MVP quarterback certainly seems to think so.

On the heels of Jones rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Miami Dolphins, Rodgers spoke about the important role the running back has played in moving the chains and in red zone situations.

Jones, who was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, is averaging 6.8 yards per carry on the season. His touches have significantly increased over the past four games, and he’s making the most of them. Jamaal Williams, who began the season as the starter, has all but been phased out of the running game.

Green Bay’s offense is nowhere near as explosive as it used to be, and Jones can help change that if he continues to play at a high level.

Caris LeVert gets excellent news after gruesome looking injury

Caris LeVert

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert suffered what looked like an incredibly gruesome leg injury during Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he received some great news after undergoing tests.

There was speculation that LeVert may have suffered a fracture like the one Gordon Hayward sustained at the start of last season, but the 24-year-old has been diagnosed with a dislocated right foot. He has some ligament damage, but the outcome could not have been much better given how bad the injury looked. What’s even more encouraging is that LeVert is expected to play again this season.

You could tell by the outpouring of support LeVert received from the NBA community that the injury news was expected to be far worse. The fact that he was able to avoid any fractures or broken bones was very fortunate.

LeVert is having a breakout season for Brooklyn, as he entered Monday’s game averaging 19 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting. It’s unclear exactly how much time he will miss.

Jimmy Butler addresses talk that he has been problem in locker room

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler was successful in forcing his way out of Minnesota, but the star swingman wants people to understand the difference between demanding a trade and becoming a problem within the locker room.

At his introductory press conference with the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, Butler was asked about some of the concerns regarding his character. He expressed confidence that none of his past teammates had issues with him.

That sentiment was shared by 76ers general manager Elton Brand, who said the team spoke with some of Butler’s past teammates before trading for him.

Even after he told the T-Wolves he wanted to be traded, Butler went out of his way to talk about how much he loves his teammates and insisted that wanting out had nothing to do with any of them. He even demonstrated that with an incredibly nice gesture for one Minnesota player last week.

Butler is obviously a difficult personality on some level, but that doesn’t mean guys dislike playing with him. Time will tell if he becomes a distraction on a contending team in Philadelphia.

Browns CB has interesting theory on why Bengals hired Hue Jackson

Hue Jackson

The Cincinnati Bengals announced on Tuesday that Hue Jackson will join the team for the remainder of the season as a special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis, and at least one Cleveland Browns player finds the move quite entertaining.

Browns cornerback Damarious Randall, who played under Jackson for less than a season, shared an interesting theory on Twitter about why the Bengals may have decided to bring back Jackson. He thinks it might have something to do with Jackson providing information on his former team.

The 3-6-1 Browns are much better this season than they were in years past, but Randall may be flattering himself a bit if he thinks a division rival is making coaching hires just to get information about Cleveland. They’re not that good yet, are they?

Jackson coached under Lewis in Cincinnati from 2004-2006 and 2012-2015, so there’s a history between the two. Given what teams have done to Cincy’s defense over the past three weeks, they probably have much bigger concerns than trying to find out as much information as possible on the Browns.