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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

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.

Jon Gruden: Antonio Brown finally wearing certified helmet, is ‘all-in’

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown was present at practice with the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, and head coach Jon Gruden seems confident that the star wide receiver is ready to put all the helmet drama in the rearview.

Following the walkthrough, Gruden told reporters Brown practiced with a certified helmet and has told the team he is “all-in.”

Brown needs a certified helmet to be able to take part in practice, so it’s a positive sign that he’s willing to wear one so he can join his teammates in preparing for the season. However, there is no reason to believe he has given up his fight against the league after he filed a second grievance over the helmet issue on Monday.

Brown is adamant about being able to continue wearing the same model helmet he has worn since his rookie year, and he even reportedly tried to trick the Raiders with a bootleg helmet. The situation has been a distraction for weeks, which can’t be sitting well with Gruden or the organization.

Report: Thunder trying to create impression they want to keep Chris Paul

Chris Paul Rockets

The Oklahoma City Thunder may have never intended to keep Chris Paul when they acquired him as part of the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, but they are doing everything they can to convince rival teams that is not the way they view it.

Team executives have found that the Thunder are trying to create the impression that they want to keep Paul to help mentor their younger players, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “The Jump” this week. However, they are privately hoping something will change this offseason that will inspire a team to make an offer for the veteran point guard.

“Here’s what executives expect to happen: They expect the Thunder to put out a message that, ‘We’re not looking to trade Chris Paul. We want him here. We want him as part of our unit with our young guys,'” Windhorst said. “They don’t want anybody to think they’re panicked trying to trade him. They want to hope that somebody has something happen where they need Chris Paul.”

The Thunder have traded Westbrook and Paul George and entered a complete rebuilding phase, so no one is going to believe they want to keep Paul. Taking on his contract was the only way they were able to send Westbrook to Houston. There have been some indications that Paul will begin the season in OKC, but that won’t be due to a lack of effort to trade him.

While Paul is still capable of playing at a high level, he has battled injuries in recent years and turned 34 in May. The Thunder can only hope a contending team gets desperate at some point between now and next season’s trade deadline.

Drew Lock reportedly has ‘bad sprain,’ won’t need surgery

Drew Lock

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock left Monday night’s preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers with an injury to his throwing hand, and the rookie has been given good news and bad news after undergoing tests.

The good news is Lock will not need surgery. The bad news is he suffered what has been described as a “bad sprain,” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Lock completed 7-of-12 passes for 42 yards before exiting the game. Joe Flacco is already locked in as Denver’s starter and Lock has received some harsh criticism from head coach Vic Fangio, but his development is important for the future of the Broncos. It seems unlikely that the former Missouri star will be ready to go by Week 1.

Baker Mayfield says comments about Daniel Jones were misinterpreted

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield saw his name pop up in headlines again on Tuesday because of a recent comment he made that many took as an insult to Daniel Jones, but the Cleveland Browns quarterback says the media is twisting his words.

As part of a lengthy profile for GQ, 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 apparently he did not mean that in a bad way.

Shortly after the comment went viral, Mayfield took to Instagram to explain that he was talking about the flaws of evaluating quarterbacks. He also said he was surprised that the Cleveland Browns used the No. 1 overall pick on him.

Mayfield knows what it feels like to be doubted, so it seems unlikely that he would take a shot at Jones for being drafted higher than expected. He knows a lot of people said the same about him, so if anything he should feel like him and Jones have a lot in common. Plus, Jones hasn’t even played a down in a real NFL game yet.

Mayfield has done a number of interviews this offseason, so he can’t be surprised by the headlines they have generated — whether accurate or not. Even though he addressed the remarks about Jones, he seems to genuinely enjoy most of the so-called “click bait.

Chef explains how fish head mishap led to lawsuit against Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown has been named in numerous lawsuits over the past year, and the most recent was filed by a chef who claims the Raiders wide receiver owes him nearly $40,000. The story behind the falling out between Brown and the chef is one you may have trouble believing.

Brown rented a mansion in Orlando during the 2018 Pro Bowl, and he hired renowned chef Stefano Tedeschi to prepare food and provide other services for him and several other NFL players and guests. Not long after that, Tedeschi learned that Brown was backing out of their arrangement. The chef is seeking $38,521.20 after he claims Brown wrongfully terminated him and did not allow him to retrieve his equipment or food from the home.

So why the sudden breakup? Tedeschi told TMZ this week that one of his meals involved filleting a salmon, and he stored the head of the fish in the freezer with the intention of using it to make a fish stock the following day. He says Brown and some friends discovered the head when they came home late one night and interpreted it as a mob-style threat.

“So they saw that fish head at like 2 in the morning. They must have been whacked out of their minds or something and thought, ‘Oh my god, the chef’s pissed off. This is a bad sign. This could be bad, he’s Italian,'” Tedeschi explained.

Tedeschi says he has no criminal record and is “squeaky clean,” so he initially thought the reaction to the fish head was a joke. Apparently it was not.

“Who could have possibly misunderstood a fish head in the freezer?” the chef asked. “Tell me, what person with intelligence could mistake a fish head with some mob horse head.”

The lawsuit states that Tedeschi never received an official reason from Brown for why he terminated the agreement, but he was paid nothing. The chef said he has cooked for countless athletes and celebrities and never had an issue with anyone before Brown.

While there are two sides to every story, Brown being sued has become a common theme over the past year or so. He recently settled a lawsuit that stemmed from him allegedly throwing furniture off the balcony of an apartment complex in a fit of range and nearly killing a young child. He is also being sued by a personal trainer who claims Brown never paid him.

Lakers to hold individual workouts with Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah

The Los Angeles Lakers are searching for frontcourt help in the wake of DeMarcus Cousins suffering a torn ACL, and they are planning to take a closer look at some big-name veterans.

The Lakers have scheduled individual workouts this week with Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. They will also bring in Mo Speights and are gathering information on Marcin Gortat.

Howard is still under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, but they have given the Lakers permission to speak with him and are open to a buyout agreement. Howard, who turns 34 in December and only appeared in nine games last season because of a glute injury, would likely be open to returning to Los Angeles despite his negative history with the team.

Noah played in 42 games for the Grizzlies last year, averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Ronda Rousey suffered gruesome finger injury while filming ‘911’ show

Ronda Rousey WWE

Ronda Rousey is no longer subjecting her body to the types of hazards associated with mixed martial arts, but that did not save the former UFC champion from suffering a brutal injury last week.

Rousey was filming a scene for the FOX television show “911” in Mexico last week when she suffered a gruesome finger injury. Rousey, who plays an LA firefighter named Lena on the show, was doing a scene where she was supposed to dramatically slam a door, but there was an accident. A source told TMZ “she was a little over-exuberant and slammed the door on her finger.”

TMZ shared a graphic photo of the injury, and you probably don’t want to look at it unless you have a strong stomach. Rousey actually damaged two fingers, with her middle finger being broken and having a tendon nearly severed in addition to a fracture on the tip of her ring finger. The middle finger was reportedly mended using a bolt and screws.

Not surprisingly, Rousey kept her composure during the incident. She reportedly continued filming the scene until a director intervened, at which point she was taken to a local hospital. She was back on set the next morning.

Rousey has enjoyed a successful career since leaving the UFC, though she recently hinted at some potentially big changes. However, she is apparently serious enough about her acting endeavors that she’s willing to keep shooting a scene with her finger practically falling off.