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Saturday, July 4, 2020

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Robby Anderson takes shots at Jets over pay, quarterback play

Robby Anderson

Robby Anderson left the New York Jets for the Carolina Panthers this offseason, and he seems to have few positive memories of his time in New York.

Anderson sent multiple tweets on Friday taking shots at the Jets. The first involved him retweeting a compilation of Jets quarterbacks missing him when he was open, seemingly signifying his unhappiness with the team’s quarterback play while there.

Later, Anderson tweeted that the Jets had “won” their situation, as they had not felt any need to pay him what he felt he was worth due to his status as an undrafted free agent.

Anderson certainly knew his value, and priced the Jets out of it as a free agent. He caught five touchdowns and racked up 779 yards in 2019, but will probably feel he can do better if he has more consistent quarterback play.

Jerome Bettis was ‘shocked’ about Ben Roethlisberger’s addiction admission

Ben Roethlisberger

Jerome Bettis admits he was “shocked” to hear Ben Roethlisberger admit to past addiction.

Bettis, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, was teammates with Roethlisberger on the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2004-2005. The two won a Super Bowl together in 2005, which was Bettis’ last season before retirement, and Roethlisberger’s second as a pro.

During an interview with “Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Network/ CBS Sports Radio“, Bettis talked about Big Ben’s admission.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know anything about it. I never really saw it. From an alcohol perspective, I never saw him get pissy or drunk. It was a surprise to me, but he’s human. That just shows that he’s human like all the rest of us. We’re all flawed in our own way. He has been man enough to show that,” Bettis said.

Roethlisberger spoke in a virtual, religious-oriented talk put on by Mike Tomlin for Father’s Day. In the talk, Roethlisberger opened up about his past alcohol addiction.

Roethlisberger did not specify any time frame for his addictions, nor did he discuss the how badly it may have affected him. The depths of his addiction were not the focus of the talk so much as preaching the values of family, faith, and fatherhood. It’s possible he might have even exaggerated so much for the purpose of relating to those on the call.

On a football note, Bettis did say he believes the Steelers can be a “dominant” team this season. The former running back believes if Roethlisberger can return to even 75 percent of his previous ability from his arm surgery, Pittsburgh will be in good shape.

“It is a tough injury, but if he can come back and be 75 percent of the player he was – you need a veteran guy who can manage the game,” Bettis said. “If he can throw it 20 to 30 yards, you don’t need the deep balls all the time. They’re going to be able to run the football. You still got a really good offensive line. If you just get 75 percent of what Ben was, I think you’re going to have a highly functional offense with threats all over the football field.”

I’m skeptical of the Steelers being able to beat the best teams in the league with Roethlisberger only at 75 percent, but they would be better off with Big Ben at 75 percent than they would with Mason Rudolph or Duck Hodges at full strength.

Trevor Bauer takes another shot at Astros upon returning to Reds camp

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer really doesn’t like the Houston Astros.

The Cincinnati Reds pitcher celebrated the return of summer camps on Friday by posting a picture of himself in the clubhouse. Fans very quickly noticed that his shirt had a pretty clear message about the Astros.

The remark in the caption about “anything to help us win” certainly seems to be a shot at the Astros as well.

The 2017 Astros infamously used a trash can scheme to steal signs throughout the season, and the fact that no players were punished and the title was allowed to stand sparked severe outcry throughout the league. Bauer has been one of the leading critics of both the Astros and MLB’s response to the scandal.

That shirt is clearly pretty popular. Bauer isn’t even the only player to have been spotted wearing one.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

MLB announces 38 positive coronavirus tests league-wide

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball has released the first set of results from leaguewide coronavirus testing.

In a joint statement from MLB and the MLBPA, it was announced that of 3,185 samples collected, 38 came back positive, a 1.2% positive rate. 31 players and seven staff tested positive, with 19 clubs having at least one positive test. The identities of the positive tests have not been released.

Given the high number of samples collected, it’s somewhat encouraging that the number of positives was this low.

Last we heard, the league was not planning daily tests for players. We’ll see if that changes. For now, teams at least have a picture of the scope of what they’re dealing with leaguewide as summer camps get underway.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has hilarious take on MLB’s delayed opening

The MLB season is going to look very different in 2020, but Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is looking on the bright side.

The Orioles aren’t expected to contend this year, but Hyde couldn’t help but note that the Orioles are going to be in first place at the end of the month — which is quite an accomplishment.

This is actually a hilarious way to look at it. It’s also a reminder that anything could happen in a 60-game season, and some teams that aren’t likely to contend over a full season may get hot for just long enough to make a surprise run at a playoff spot.

Put it this way: in early August, the Orioles are unlikely to be completely out of it. At the bare minimum, that’s a far cry from where they were last year at that point.

Donovan Mitchell says things are ‘good’ with him and Rudy Gobert

Donovan Mitchell

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was openly unhappy with teammate Rudy Gobert over the way Gobert acted prior to testing positive for the coronavirus, but Mitchell insists things are fine between the two heading into the resumption of the season.

Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus, which led to the league and other major sports leagues shutting down. Mitchell tested positive later that day, and he was upset with Gobert for the cavalier attitude the center showed about the coronavirus prior to testing positive. Four months later, Mitchell says things are “good” between the two.

“To be honest with you, I understand that y’all got to ask this question. But you know, right now we’re good,” Mitchell told reporters on Thursday, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. “We’re going out there ready to hoop, um, and I think the biggest thing, you know, that, that kind of sucks was that it took away from the guys on the team, um, took (away) from what the guys on the team were trying to do, and I really wish that, as going forward, you know I think that will be, really, the primary focus, is just us jelling as a team.”

Mitchell was then asked why he chose to let the situation linger for so long rather than addressing it. He said he didn’t want to provide headline material by addressing the same issue over and over again. Mitchell said he only cared about his teammates knowing the truth.

“I wanted my teammates to know that this is how I feel,” he added. “There are moments when you’re just tired of continuing to hear over and over again, and I’m tired of addressing it, kind of going, ‘No, that’s not true’ and ‘No, this is not true’ because then you find yourself all over Twitter trying to call out people for no reason. So I just let it, and addressed it with my teammates.”

Gobert mocked concerns over the coronavirus before he realized he had contracted it. It’s unclear if he passed it on to Mitchell. In any event, the two players appear to have smoothed things over.

The Jazz are 41-23 and seeded fourth in the West.

Victor Oladipo opts out of NBA restart

Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo is the latest player to opt out of participating in the NBA’s restarted season.

Oladipo is still working his way back from a ruptured quad he suffered in January 2019, and did not appear at full strength when he returned prior to the league shutdown. He told Shams Charania of The Athletic that he wanted to play, but did not feel comfortable due to the risks of the bubble and the danger of potential soft tissue injuries after so much time off.

“I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart,” Oladipo said. “I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent. With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing. I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”

Oladipo missed a full year with his injury. When he returned before the NBA shutdown, he averaged 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game in 13 games. He admitted that he was not all that close to full strength in those games, which likely helped account for his modest stats.

The 28-year-old has been working with personal therapist Luke Miller during the shutdown. While the Pacers guard looks and feels good, he’s simply not willing to risk all that hard work being for naught by playing in this environment after that much time off.

Oladipo’s Pacers are 39-26 and occupy the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They managed to go 32-20 without him in the lineup this season, so they’ll hope they can find that form again in spite of his absence.

Ed Orgeron takes up boxing during college football offseason

Ed Orgeron has a new hobby.

The LSU coach has had extra free time this offseason due to many college football activities being suspended. With that free time, Orgeron has taken up a new sport: boxing.

Orgeron began training with Baton Rouge-based trainer L.J. Morvant roughly two months ago, spending two hours a night three nights a week working on his form and technique. Morvant is impressed with Orgeron’s skills, and the LSU coach has even managed to bruise his trainer through body pads.

“He’s an incredibly strong and explosive man,” Morvant told Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated. “He loves boxing. It was love at first punch.”

Orgeron has been a lifelong boxing fan and always wanted to learn the sport, and took advantage of the free time to do it. He even added that being the pupil and not the teacher has made him a better coach.

“I have extra time now,” Orgeron said. “I get in there in the ring and I am the pupil. We go at it. He teaches me. It’s really good for me to see how it is to be the pupil again. It makes me a better coach.”

As for Morvant, a lifelong LSU fan, training the school’s football coach has been a dream — and even made him cool to his kids.

“This man has motivated me in ways he doesn’t understand. He has redeemed me completely in my kids’ eyes,” Morvant said. “When daddy is coaching Coach Orgeron, daddy is a hero.”

Well, Coach O is definitely a guy who knows how to motivate people. It sounds like he’s becoming quite the amateur boxer at the age of 59, and is in pretty good shape. Plus, it’s certain to impress his players once they’re together again in person.

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap dies from coronavirus

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father and trainer of UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, has died at the age of 57.

Abdulmanap had been hospitalized in Moscow since May, when Khabib said during an Instagram video that his father had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and was in “serious condition.” According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Abdulmanap underwent surgery for a preexisting heart condition that was further complicated by the coronavirus. ESPN also reported in May that the elder Nurmagomedov had been placed into a medically induced coma.

Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz confirmed the news to Okamoto on Friday.

“We’ve lost our backbone,” Abdelaziz said. “He was a father, coach, brother, an icon. Things will never be the same without him.”

Khabib has credited his father with his success in mixed martial arts. Abdulmanap also trained other fighters, including UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev.

Khabib’s next fight was expected to come later this year against interim champion Justin Gaethje, but it’s unclear if that fight will still be scheduled. Gaethje shared his condolences on Twitter.

Khabib is now the second known professional athlete who had a parent die following complications from the coronavirus. NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 back in April.

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  • MMA

David Njoku asks for trade from Browns

David Njoku

The Cleveland Browns have a problem on their hands less than a month before the start of training camp.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Browns tight end David Njoku has asked for a trade. The Browns are trying to keep him, but Njoku is adamant about being traded before the start of camp.

It’s not clear what motivated Njoku’s trade request, but it may be a fear of a lack of reps. The Browns signed Austin Hooper as a free agent, and he is likely to get the majority of targets in the passing game.

Njoku was limited by injuries in 2019, playing in just four games. Before that, he had appeared to be a player on the rise, catching 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. He’s still only 23 as well, and has plenty of room to grow.

The Browns will have a tough time handling this one, and it remains to be seen what they do — or how hard Njoku and his camp are willing to agitate for a move.