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#pounditMonday, January 24, 2022

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Deebo Samuel criticizes Rams for controversial ticket policy

Deebo Samuel warms up

The Los Angeles Rams implemented an unusual ticket restriction in an attempt to keep San Francisco 49ers fans out of SoFi Stadium next weekend, and Deebo Samuel is not happy about it.

Samuel, who has enjoyed a breakout third NFL season, criticized the Rams over the ticket policy in a tweet on Monday. He said he understands the Rams not wanting 49ers fans to take over their stadium but doesn’t think it is right to restrict sales.

The Rams only allowed fans who live in the greater Los Angeles area (based on billing address) to purchase tickets for the NFC Championship Game when they first went on sale. Obviously, the goal was to make it difficult for Niners fans in San Francisco and elsewhere to buy tickets.

It appears 49ers fans are now free to purchase tickets, just not at face value. As of Monday morning, Ticketmaster’s website no longer featured a notice that said “Public sales to the game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA will be restricted to residents of the Greater Los Angeles region.” A Rams spokesperson told Eric Ting of SFGate.com that the policy was lifted after all tickets were sold during a presale over the weekend. There are only verified resale tickets available now, and apparently the policy does not apply to those.

There are plenty of Niners fans living in the Los Angeles area. There are also many who will purchase tickets through Ticketmaster’s resale program and other secondary markets, so we would still expect to see a lot of burgundy and gold at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. San Francisco players have been encouraging it.

The Tennessee Titans also made an adjustment to their ticket policy ahead of their playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They lost anyway.

The last time the Rams hosted the 49ers at SoFi Stadium was in the final week of the regular season. The Niners came back to win that game in overtime 27-24. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford could not believe how the Rams lacked a home-field advantage for the game.

Photo: Aug 29, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

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Cardinals owner fuming over seeing rivals in NFC Championship game

Michael Bidwill

The Arizona Cardinals are particularly fuming over their early playoff exit, not to mention what transpired afterwards.

After a 7-0 start to the season, the Cardinals faded down the stretch and lost their playoff opener to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card round. To make matters worse, the Rams went on to the NFC Championship to face the San Francisco 49ers. That means the Cardinals are at home watching two division rivals compete for the right to play in the Super Bowl.

To say that has gone down poorly would be an understatement, as evidenced by Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill’s reaction to that.

“Anytime you see your direct competitors in the playoffs, it should bother any football fan, and it certainly bothers this one,” Bidwill said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

The Cardinals know they’re capable of beating both NFC finalists. They swept the 49ers, and split their two regular season meeting with the Rams. That makes the way the NFC playoff picture has unfolded even harder to swallow for Arizona.

There have been reports that the late season tailspin and early playoff exit have really ramped up tensions within the Cardinals’ organization. Bidwill might not have anything to say about that, but it’s quite obvious he’s not happy.

Photo: Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill walks onto the field before his team plays against the Atlanta Falcons October 13, 2019. He’s wearing a bow tie, a trademark of his late father and team owner, William Bidwill, who died Oct 2.
Falcons Vs Cardinals

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Spurs willing to trade their best player?

Gregg Popovich

There may truly be no untouchable players on the San Antonio Spurs roster right now.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said this week on “The Hoop Collective” podcast that there is talk around the league about the Spurs potentially being open to trading guard Dejounte Murray.

“There’s been some chatter in the league about whether the Spurs would be willing to trade him,” said Windhorst of Murray. “Maybe not during the season but next summer.”

The 25-year-old Murray is easily San Antonio’s best player. He is quietly averaging a near triple-double this season with 19.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game. Murray is also an impactful defender with a 6-foot-10 wingspan out of the point guard spot.

That said, the Spurs are faltering right now with Murray running the show. At 17-30, they are 3.5 games back of the play-in tournament area. Murray has two years and roughly $34 million left on his deal after this season, making him an interesting young trade chip if the Spurs really want to rebuild. That is not the only recent rumor involving San Antonio either.

H/T HoopsHype

Photo: Feb 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on the sideline against the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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Dez Bryant, Dak Prescott’s brother get into heated Twitter beef

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant took to social media on Sunday to offer a suggestion for how Dak Prescott can improve as a player, and Prescott’s brother did not appreciate the comments.

Bryant wrote in a tweet that Prescott should consider seeking advice from Tony Romo on how to read defenses. Bryant, who put up Pro Bowl numbers while playing with Romo, in the past has praised Romo’s ability to dissect defenses. Bryant has also said Romo would make a great offensive coordinator.

Bryant noted in a follow-up tweet that he did not intend for his comments to knock Prescott.

Prescott’s older brother Tad did not think the criticism (if you want to call it that) was constructive.

“Because @DezBryant & Romo won so many playoff games together. Miss me with this s—,” Tad wrote (tweet edited by LBS for profanity).

Bryant reiterated that he was being genuine when he said Dak should reach out to Romo.

Tad still wasn’t having it, and things got more heated from there. Prescott accused Bryant of being a phony.

“@DezBryant is the same guy who’d smile & hug me while talking s— about Romo, Witten, & those he called Romo’s boys,” Prescott wrote (edited by LBS for profanity. “Now you turn on Dak, and myself. To think, I truly used to respect this man. @DezBryant
what did I say that was false? How many games did you and Romo win together. I saw you’re (sic) message where you asked I not let fans fool me, but than you address me directly after I hadn’t said s—. I’m not here for beef but you’re a (clown) bro.”

Bryant then shared a screenshot of a text message Prescott supposedly sent him, but Tad said the message didn’t come from his phone number.

Prescott accused Bryant of creating a fake conversation to make it seem like Tad texted him. He also called Dez “as fake as they come.” Bryant was sure to get the last word.

It’s worth noting that Bryant has been openly supportive of Dak Prescott in the past. His suggestion that the Cowboys QB reach out to Romo for advice also isn’t unreasonable, especially after the way Dak handled the Cowboys’ final play in his team’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Tad was probably being overly sensitive, but we’ll take a good Twitter beef any way we can get it.

Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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Saints owner has interesting response to Sean Payton rumor

Sean Payton on the sideline

A report over the weekend claimed Sean Payton has not yet decided if he wants to coach the New Orleans Saints next season, and it sounds as though he has left the team in the dark as well.

Saints owner Gayle Benson was asked on Monday if she expects Payton to coach the team in 2022. She laughed it off and essentially said you never know with Payton.

“We’ll find out soon enough, I guess. I don’t think any of us know, but he’ll let us know soon,” Benson said.

Payton is signed through 2024, so it is significant that his boss is unsure if he plans to return next season. The 58-year-old has reportedly been contemplating his future while on vacation.

If Payton decides to take a year off in 2022, he may have another job waiting for him. However, that would likely be the end of his tenure in New Orleans, which began in 2006.

Drew Brees retired following the 2020 season, which has left the Saints in a transitional period. Jameis Winston then suffered a torn ACL back in November. The Saints seemed desperate for QB help down the stretch. They still managed to finish 9-8, but it’s possible all the uncertainty has taken a toll on Payton.

Photo: Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second half against Jacksonville Jaguars at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

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Pelicans’ Jaxson Hayes facing 12 charges over altercation with police

Jaxson Hayes

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes was arrested over the summer for an alleged domestic violence incident and altercation with police. Formal charges have since been filed against him, and there are plenty of them.

According to TMZ, Hayes is facing 12 charges in Los Angeles. The charges filed by the L.A. County city attorney — all misdemeanors — include domestic violence, destroying property, use of force, resisting a police officer, using force and violence against a Los Angeles Police Department member. Hayes could face jail time if convicted on all charges.

Hayes was arrested in July after police responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home. A woman called 911 and claimed she received “disturbing” text messages from her cousin, who allegedly told her Hayes was “getting loud and violent” and that she was afraid.

When police arrived, Hayes was confrontational and told them they could not enter his house without a warrant. Things eventually turned physical, and Hayes appeared to shove an officer into the outside of his house. Police then used a Taser and handcuffed him. You can see the video here.

Hayes had blood on his shirt and was taken to the hospital to be treated for an injury. One of the officers was also treated at a hospital. Hayes claimed during the scrum that he couldn’t breathe, which led to a use of force investigation with the LAPD. The results of the probe have not been released, according to TMZ.

Hayes, the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, is averaging 6.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 33 games this season.

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Report: 76ers want specific All-Star in exchange for Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons handling a basketball

The Philadelphia 76ers have continued to be patient with the Ben Simmons saga, and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey maintains he is in no rush to move the star point guard. That may be because he wants to acquire one specific player via a Simmons trade.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Monday that Morey is determined to find a way to trade Simmons for Brooklyn Nets star James Harden. The Sixers have engaged with teams recently in trade talks involving Simmons, but people with knowledge of those discussions believe Morey wants to wait until the summer so he can make a run at Harden.

Harden has a $47.3 million player option on his contract for the 2022-23 season. The 76ers are $20 million over the salary cap for next season, so they almost certainly will not be able to sign Harden even if he becomes a free agent. Rather, they would likely need to complete a sign-and-trade with the Nets involving Simmons and his $35 million salary and one other player. A recent report claimed the Sixers are trying to work Tobias Harris, who is owed $37 million next season, into potential Simmons trades.

Of course, the Nets would have to agree to any sign-and-trade deal. That is hardly a given, but there have been hints that Harden is open to moving on from Brooklyn.

Morey and Harden had a successful partnership with the Houston Rockets from 2012 to 2020. They have maintained a friendly relationship. When Morey left Houston to join the Sixers, he tried to acquire Harden from the Rockets. There has been talk for a while that he still wants to find a way to make it happen.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 10. Morey recently explained why he may lower his asking price for Simmons, but he is said to have support from ownership to take as long as he sees fit. It would not be a surprise if he wants to see how the Harden situation shakes out after the season.

Photo: Dec 27, 2019; Orlando, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Baker Mayfield frustrated with ‘toxic’ social media

Baker Mayfield on the sidelines

Baker Mayfield was as entertained as the rest of us with the finish in Sunday night’s playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. The Cleveland Browns quarterback was far less thrilled with the backlash he received for expressing his admiration on social media.

There were several great games during Divisional Round weekend, and Mayfield decided to share his reaction to them on Twitter. He congratulated all the teams that moved on while noting that he would “much rather be playing.”

The tweet seemed innocent enough, but many fans jumped at the opportunity to troll Mayfield. The former first overall pick seemed to take note when a member of the media jabbed him for not being as good as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes.

Shortly after sharing his initial observation about how competitive the games were over the weekend, Mayfield wrote in a follow-up that social media is “toxic.” He said he is going to go back to keeping his circle tight, though it’s unclear what that means.

Mayfield recently underwent shoulder surgery to address an injury he played through during a frustrating fourth NFL season. His career has not gone as planned to this point, though he recently made a big prediction about the future.

Many players use criticism to fuel them, but there are times when Mayfield seems like he focuses a bit too much on the negative things people say about him. We saw an example of that recently when he unloaded on a reporter over some trade rumors. Calling social media “toxic” is further proof of how much he listens to outside noise.

Photo: Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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Patrick Mahomes’ girlfriend Brittany Matthews showered Chiefs fans after win

Patrick Mahomes and Brittany Matthews

The Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the AFC Championship Game with a dramatic win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night, and Patrick Mahomes’ fiancée did not hold back with her celebration.

Brittany Matthews, Mahomes’ longtime girlfriend, showered fans at Arrowhead Stadium with champagne after the Chiefs defeated the Bills in overtime.

Matthews, who has a daughter with Mahomes, is known for her enthusiastic support of the Chiefs. She has been criticized many times in the past for taking it too far and making Mahomes look bad, though she never backs down from those critics.

In this instance, Chiefs fans were probably happy to be showered in champagne. Their team somehow tied the game in regulation despite beginning a drive with 13 seconds left at their own 25. They then won the coin toss in OT and scored a touchdown to win.

The Bills may have helped the Chiefs with a huge mistake late in the game, but that doesn’t matter to Matthews and the rest of Chiefs Nation.

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Patrick Mahomes had classy move after Chiefs’ win

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen hug

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen put on a show for fans in their Divisional Round overtime thriller on Sunday night, and the Kansas City Chiefs star had a great show of respect following his team’s victory.

Allen threw what looked like the game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in regulation, but Mahomes had other plans. He completed long passes to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on the ensuing possession to set up the tying field goal as time expired. The Chiefs then won the toss in overtime and scored a touchdown to win. Amid the celebration, Mahomes sprinted to find Allen to congratulate him on a hard-fought game and season.

While Allen is undoubtedly disappointed, he played an outstanding game. He finished 27/37 for 329 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 68 yards. Mahomes went 33/44 for 378 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. He rushed for 69 yards and a score. Both quarterbacks were incredible.

The Bills may have given Kansas City a gift with a massive mistake at the end of regulation. Either way, the future of the AFC looks bright with Allen and Mahomes leading the way. Mahomes’ postgame gesture was likely an acknowledgement of that.

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