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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

MLB sends memo warning players about over-the-counter sexual enhancement pills

Professional sports organizations often send memos to players and teams reminding them of important issues throughout the course of a season, but the latest from Major League Baseball is unlike many we have seen before it.

MLB issued a memo to players this week warning them of the potential risks associated with taking over-the-counter sexual enhancement pills that can often be purchased at gas stations, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. The notice stated that there have been at least two players suspended this year for performance-enhancing drugs due to banned substances that were found in the products.

The use of non-prescription sexual enhancement pills has reportedly become prevalent among MLB players, and the memo reminded players that they are subject to discipline even if they genuinely were unaware they were ingesting a banned substance.

“Sexual or male enhancement products present a very real risk for drug-tested players, and the high likelihood for contamination or unidentified ingredients in these products underscores the importance of consuming only those products that are NSF Certified for Sport,” the memo read.

The league went on to state that it has learned from experience that a number of sexual enhancement pills that can be purchased online and at retail stores contain anabolic steroids and other substances that will trigger positive tests. Players who suffer from legitimate issues related to their sexual performance were encouraged to seek help from licensed doctors rather than trying to treat the problem on their own.

It has become more and more common over the years for athletes to fail drug tests because of banned substances they were unaware they were ingesting, and we saw that recently with one NFL player who says a fertility drug triggered his positive test. Unfortunately, this is the world we now live in.

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Baker Mayfield reached out to Daniel Jones to clear the air

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield insists the comments he made about Daniel Jones during a recent interview were taken out of context, and he wanted to make sure the New York Giants rookie knew he did not mean to disrespect him in any way.

As part of a lengthy profile for GQ that was published on Tuesday, Mayfield said he was in disbelief that the New York Giants drafted former Duke star Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick this year. Mayfield said the decision “blows my mind,” but he later clarified that he was talking about the flaws of evaluating quarterbacks and said he was surprised the Cleveland Browns took him No. 1 overall, as well.

On Wednesday, Mayfield told reporters he reached out to Jones via text message to clear the air.

“I reached out to Daniel because all that blew out, way out of hand,” Mayfield said, via Kevin Patra of Around the NFL. “And I wanted him to know how I felt and I’ve heard nothing but great things from Saquon and Sterling Shepard, guys that have a lot of respect for him and that I respect their opinions. Just wanted to clear the air with him.”

Mayfield added that he understands why his comments seemed “very disrespectful,” but his entire rant about QB evaluation was omitted from the interview.

“What people didn’t realize the conversation entailed of me saying that I was surprised I was drafted No. 1 overall, too. … It had nothing to do specifically about Daniel, about the winning and stuff,” he said.

Mayfield also noted that he typically doesn’t care about the media’s opinion, but he felt the way his commentary about Jones was presented “looked like my character was way out of line.” He says Jones texted him back and said “no worries.”

Although he seems to genuinely enjoy some of the negative things that are said about him, Mayfield knows what it is like to be doubted before you even take a snap in the NFL. It seemed strange that he would criticize Jones, so his explanation makes sense.

NBA reporter Marc Stein calls out rival reporter Shams Charania

Shams Charania

A good old fashioned NBA reporter feud began brewing on Wednesday, and the news that Tyronn Lue is joining the Los Angeles Clippers as an associate head coach is apparently at the root of it.

Marc Stein of the New York Times sent a tweet congratulating The Athletic on reaching 600,000 subscribers, but he also took the opportunity to air out some frustration about people who work there claiming other reporters’ work as their own. He followed up with an apology and said his gripe is “exclusively with one reporter.”

The one reporter Stein was referring to is Shams Charania. On Tuesday, Charania reported that Lue has agreed to a deal to become the top assistant on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Clippers. Stein reported that the two sides were close to an agreement last week, but Charania didn’t mention anything about Stein having it first. That did not sit well with Stein, who retweeted the following from Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

Even if Charania’s report was slightly different in that Stein reported that Lue was close to a deal with the Clippers and Charania reported that a contract had been agreed to, it’s still good practice to mention who had it first. Whether or not Stein should have called Charania out the way he did is another debate altogether.

Ray Lewis, Lamar Odom to compete on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Ray Lewis

The latest season of the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars” is going to feature a strong presence from the sports world.

ABC revealed the full celebrity cast of DWTS on Wednesday’s edition of “Good Morning America,” and two of the contestants are Ray Lewis and Lamar Odom. The latest season will premiere on Sept. 16.

Lewis has worked in various TV roles since retiring after the 2012 season, while Odom has been adamant about wanting to continue his professional basketball career. The former Los Angeles Laker spent a very brief stint with the BIG3 basketball league recently but never appeared in an actual game. He recently expressed interest in returning overseas to play.

One of the things Lewis became known for during his NFL career was his famous celebratory dance, so perhaps he will incorporate some of those moves into the show.

If DWTS is something you’re into, Lewis and Odom should make for intriguing contestants.

Former No. 1 NFL draft pick Mario Williams arrested for alleged trespassing

Houston Texans logo

Former NFL defensive lineman Mario Williams was arrested this week for allegedly trespassing.

Williams, who was drafted by the Houston Texans with the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, was accused of entering a woman’s home without permission on Tuesday, according to court records reviewed by Julian Gill of the Houston Chronicle. He was charged with a Class B misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing and posted $100 bond.

TMZ reports that Williams and the woman have a child together, though it’s unclear if they are still in a relationship. Williams allegedly broke into the woman’s home and began yelling, and she became extremely emotional and told him to leave.

A judge has ordered a mental health and intellectual disability assessment for Williams.

Williams, 34, played 11 seasons in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl four times and recorded 97.5 sacks.

Jon Gruden defends Antonio Brown: ‘It’s not been a distraction’

Antonio Brown has made headlines for all the wrong reasons during his first offseason with the Oakland Raiders, but head coach Jon Gruden insists none of that has been a detriment to the team.

Brown practiced on Tuesday amid his latest grievance against the NFL, and Gruden said the star receiver wore a certified helmet and is “all-in.” Gruden was later asked if Brown’s highly publicized helmet dispute or unfortunate foot injury have become a distraction for the Raiders, and he defended the Pro Bowler.

It would appear that Gruden and Raiders GM Mike Mayock are playing good cop, bad cop with Brown, and Gruden is clearly the former. Mayock essentially gave Brown an ultimatum last week and told him he needs to decide where his priorities lie, while Gruden is saying publicly that the receiver’s helmet grievance is an important issue.

Brown is doing everything he can to keep wearing the same helmet he has had since his rookie year despite already losing one grievance over it. He’s even reportedly gone as far as to try to trick the Raiders by wearing a bootleg helmet, but apparently Gruden isn’t concerned.

Kenny Stills knew in advance Dolphins coach was going to play Jay-Z music

Kenny Stills was openly critical of the NFL’s new partnership with Roc Nation on Monday, so it’s fair to wonder if the Miami Dolphins wide receiver was irritated when a series of Jay-Z songs played at the start of practice the following day. At the very least, Stills knew it was coming.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores picks the soundtrack for practice, and he chose eight straight Jay-Z songs to kick things off on Tuesday. Some wondered if he was sending a message to Stills, but a team spokesperson says Stills knew the songs would be played and Flores did not mean anything by it.

Flores has yet to explain his reasoning, but one Dolphins reporter speculated that the coach may have been trying to prepare Stills for potential distractions he will have to deal with.

Stills said Monday that the NFL’s partnership with Jay-Z’s company is “not something I agree with or respect.” The veteran also made headlines earlier in the month when he challenged Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ support of Donald Trump. Stills has been a community activist during his time in Miami and is among those who protested during the national anthem.

We don’t know what motivation Flores may have had, but it’s hard to believe starting practice with eight consecutive Jay-Z songs the day after Stills made his comments was a coincidence.

Jaylon Smith, Cowboys agree to long-term contract extension

Jaylon Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have been unable to reach an agreement on a new deal with Ezekiel Elliott as the star running back continues to hold out, but that is not stopping them from spending money elsewhere.

The Cowboys agreed to a long-term contract extension on Tuesday with linebacker Jaylon Smith, as Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network first reported. The former Notre Dame star was entering the final year of his rookie contract and was scheduled to become a restricted free agent following the 2019 season.

Smith has become one of the best stories in the NFL over the past two years after he did not play at all in his rookie season in 2016. He suffered two torn ligaments and nerve damage in his knee while playing in the Fiesta Bowl prior to being drafted, and some wondered if he would ever be able to play in the NFL. The Cowboys decided to spend a second-round pick on him anyway, and the risk has paid off.

Smith had an outstanding season in 2018 with 121 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. He was openly upset about not being named to the Pro Bowl, and he had a right to be. Assuming he can remain healthy, he will be a centerpiece of the Dallas defense for years to come.