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#pounditThursday, February 29, 2024

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NFL sends clear message about future of ‘tush push’ play

Roger Goodell at the podium

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks with the media. Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles have consistently broken the spirit of opposing defenses with the effectiveness of their quarterback sneak play, and it sounds like they will be free to continue doing that in 2024 and beyond.

During an appearance on “PFT Live” Thursday, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the league is not looking to implement any rule that would ban the so-called “tush push” play. Vincent said the NFL Competition Committee did not even discuss the play during meetings at the NFL Scouting Combine this week because there is consensus that a ban is not needed.

“Don’t punish a team that strategically does it well,” Vincent said.

Vincent added that the general sentiment within the league is that the Eagles deserve credit for finding a short-yardage play that works so well for them. He called the success rate Jalen Hurts and company have had with the play “just amazing.”

There will likely still be a discussion about the “tush push” play at some point during the offseason, as teams will have an opportunity to voice their concerns. However, it is safe to conclude that the play is not going anywhere since the Competition Committee did not even bother to discuss it.

The Eagles have been virtually unstoppable with the “tush push,” which is why the play is known to many as the “Brotherly Shove.” Critics of the play believe it is more like a rugby scrum than a football play. There have also been some possible safety concerns raised.

Other teams have tried to execute the same sneak play, but they have had significantly less success. The Eagles have made it clear that they take great pride in that, and Vincent feels they have every right to.

Bob Melvin makes 1 notable policy change for Giants

Bob Melvin at a press conference

Bob Melvin has implemented a few changes heading into his first season as manager of the San Francisco Giants, and one will result in more players being on the field prior to first pitch.

Melvin is requiring every single person who could be in the dugout for a game to be on the field for the playing of the national anthem, according to Alex Simon of SFGate.com. That includes players, coaches, trainers and all staff members.

The policy has already been implemented during spring training, which we saw last weekend when NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic shared a photo of the Giants filing back into the dugout after the anthem.

Melvin said earlier in the week that his anthem policy is more about being “ready to play” than making a political statement.

“It’s all about the perception that we’re out there ready to play. That’s it,” the manager explained, via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. “You want your team ready to play and I want the other team to notice it, too. It’s really as simple as that.”

Giants veterans have been very receptive to the policy, which represents a big change from the way things were done under former manager Gabe Kapler. Players were allowed to do whatever they felt was best for them during the national anthem when Kapler was in charge. Kapler himself even once made a political statement by choosing not to take the field for the anthem.

In addition to the anthem rule, Melvin is also requiring players to stay in the dugout for a certain number of innings during spring training games based on their service time. Those who are in their first major league spring training must remain in the dugout for the entire game.

The Giants have missed the playoffs the last two years and in six of their last seven seasons. Melvin, who enjoyed success with the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres before taking the Giants job, clearly wants to change the culture in San Francisco.

Atlanta Hawks waive ex-NBA champion

Atlanta Hawks court logo

Apr 19, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) is guarded against Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) near the Atlanta Hawks logo in the fourth quarter of game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 89-72. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are parting ways with a former NBA champion.

Veteran point guard Patty Mills was waived by the Hawks on Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Atlanta will use the roster spot for two-way guard Trent Forrest.

Mills, who is in his 15th NBA season, has averaged 2.7 points and 1.1 rebounds across 19 games this season. He is shooting 38.2% from three-point range, which is in line with his 38.9% career three-point percentage.

The 35-year-old Mills spent the bulk of his career with the San Antonio Spurs and won an NBA championship with the team in 2014. He could be a nice addition for a playoff contender that is looking for shooting depth at the end of the bench.

Report reveals Patriots’ plan for No. 3 overall pick in draft

Patriots helmet on the bench

Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; A New England Patriots helmet sits on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots seem to have made up their mind about what they want to do with the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic wrote on Thursday that the Patriots “badly want a quarterback” with their first pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. New England’s front office and coaching staff are all reportedly in agreement that the most efficient way to start their post-Bill Belichick rebuild is to draft an elite quarterback prospect.

While there is still plenty of time to evaluate and meet with players, the Patriots are said to be high on all three of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Caleb Williams is a virtual lock to be taken first overall, but New England is guaranteed a shot at either Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels at No. 3. Howe said he was told by executives not associated with the Patriots that all three QBs appear to have the traits that director of player personnel Eliot Wolf covets.

The Patriots also desperately need a wide receiver, so another option would be to take Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 3 and address the quarterback position later. However, as Howe notes, there is a growing belief around the NFL that the next tier of QB prospects — JJ McCarthy, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. — could be gone by the time New England picks again at No. 34.

Mac Jones is still on his rookie contract, but the former Alabama star has regressed over the past two seasons. While part of the issue was his relationship with Belichick, it sounds like at least some with the Patriots would not be happy if Jones returns as the starter in 2024.

Signing a veteran like Baker Mayfield in free agency would be another option, but that would be costly. The Patriots have several needs and would be better suited spending that money elsewhere, which is likely another reason they are leaning toward drafting a quarterback early.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell had great greeting for Scott Boras

Craig Counsell in a Cubs hat

Feb 23, 2024; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Craig Counsell in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs recently kept one of agent Scott Boras’ biggest clients when they signed Cody Bellinger to a new contract, and it sounds like they would like to add another.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell had a noteworthy greeting for Boras prior to Wednesday’s press conference announcing Bellinger’s new three-year deal. According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Counsell told the agent “I thought Montgomery was coming with you.”

Counsell was referring to starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery, who is another big-name Boras client. While Counsell may have just been needling Boras, he probably would not have said that if the Cubs did not have at least some interest in Montgomery.

The Cubs have not made the playoffs since 2020, so they could use all the help they can get. Montgomery would certainly improve their rotation.

Montgomery, 31, was acquired by the Texas Rangers in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline last season. Overall in 2023, he was 10-11 with a 3.20 ERA over 32 total starts. Over his postseason career, Montgomery has gone 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA.

There have been rumblings that Montgomery is moving toward signing with an AL team, but Counsell’s quip on Wednesday may be an indication that the Cubs would like a say before the left-hander makes a decision.

D’Angelo Russell taunts Clippers fans after making huge 3-pointer

Dangelo Russell with his finger to his mouth

D’Angelo Russell had some fun with Los Angeles Clippers fans on Wednesday night after making a big shot in his Lakers’ 116-112 win over their intracity rivals at crypto.com Arena.

Russell made a corner 3-pointer with 1:12 left in the game to give his Lakers a 114-108 lead over the Clippers. That was the last of three 3-pointers made by Russell in the game. He went 6/10 from the field and scored 18 in the win.

After making his shot, Russell put his finger to his mouth to shush Clippers fans who were in attendance for the game.

That had to sting for Clippers fans.

The Clippers led by 21 in the game and blew it. In addition to Russell’s strong play, LeBron James scored 34 points and made seven 3-pointers in the win.

The Clippers were regarded as the home game for the contest. But the Lakers’ win gave them the season series over the Clippers (3-1), marking the first time since 2011-2012 the Lakers beat the Clippers in their season series.

Wednesday also marked the final regular-season game between the Lakers and Clippers at crypto.com Arena where the Clippers would be regarded as the home team. They will be moving into the Intuit Dome in Inglewood, Calif. next season.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Video of Kentucky players fighting in locker room goes viral

Kentucky players fight

A video of some Kentucky Wildcats football players fighting in the locker room went viral on Wednesday.

The video is old but has surfaced on social media for the first time. The video captures two Kentucky players going at it inside the team’s locker room. The players trade weak slap-like punches before Jeremy Flax, who is in the blue skull-cap, grabs his opponent, lifts him up, and suplexes him. Flax’s suplex put his teammate on the ground, with the person’s face hitting the floor.

Other Kentucky players then stepped in to stop the fighting between them after Flax achieved the takedown and started raining some punches.

There is no consensus regarding when that fight took place, but it’s definitely old given that Flax is no longer on the team and preparing for the NFL Draft.

And while nobody is going to condone a player suplexing his teammate’s face into the ground, football players wrestling/fighting in a locker room is not completely uncommon. Videos of said fighting going public is a different story.

Widow of Tim Wakefield dies months after former pitcher’s death

Tim and Stacy Wakefield

Stacy Wakefield, the widow of former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, died on Wednesday, fewer than five months after her late husband died.

The Red Sox shared a statement from the Wakefield family that shared the news regarding Stacy’s death.

“It is with deep sadness that we share that our beloved mother, daughter, sister, niece, and aunt, Stacy, passed away today at her home in Massachusetts. She was surrounded by her family and dear friends, as well as her wonderful caretakers and nurses. The loss is unimaginable, especially in the wake of losing Tim just under five months ago. Our hearts are beyond broken,” the statement said.

“We will remember Stacy as a strong, loving, thoughtful, and kind person, who was as down-to-earth as they come. We feel so lucky to have had her in our lives, and we take comfort in the fact that she will be reunited with Tim, the love of her life.

“We would like to thank all of Stacy’s doctors, nurses, and caretakers who helped her from diagnosis to today—we are eternally grateful for your unmatched care and support. And to all of you who have sent well wishes over these last several months, we truly appreciate your kindness.”

Tim died on October 1, 2023 due to brain cancer at the age of 57. His former Red Sox teammate, Curt Schilling, went against the family’s wishes for privacy by divulging in a podcast that Tim had been battling brain cancer and Stacy was fighting pancreatic cancer.

Tim and Stacy were married in November 2002. They are survived by their two children, Trevor and Brianna.

Browns make move to save big money against salary cap

A Cleveland Browns helmet on the grass

Dec. 18, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of a Cleveland Browns helmet sitting on the field against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Browns 20-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns made a big move on Wednesday to improve their salary cap situation.

The Browns restructured Denzel Ward’s contract to clear $11.359 million in salary cap space, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.

Ward had signed a 5-year, $100.5 million contract in 2022. He took home around $21 million in 2022 and $22 million in 2023. He converted just over $14 million in base salary into a signing bonus in order to ameliorate matters for the Browns and give them more flexibility entering free agency.

The Browns are now in a pretty good cap situation, especially if they’re able to get Nick Chubb to restructure his deal in order to remain with the team. The big issue for them continues to be the Deshaun Watson contract.

Watson is on a 5-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed. He has a base salary of $46 million for each of the next three seasons, but worse than that, he carries a cap hit of nearly $64 million in each season from 2024-2026.

The Browns were able to get Watson to restructure his deal last year. The two sides may be able to do something similar this offseason.

Brian Hoyer responds to Johnny Manziel’s allegation

Brian Hoyer in front of a microphone

Brian Hoyer responded on Tuesday to an allegation made by Johnny Manziel against him.

Manziel made plenty of headlines last week over what he said during an appearance on Shannon Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” show. One thing Manziel had said that drew attention was that Hoyer was unhelpful toward him while the two were quarterbacks in Cleveland.

Hoyer, Manziel and Connor Shaw were the three quarterbacks who played for the Browns in 2014, which was Manziel’s rookie season. Hoyer made 13 starts, Manziel two, and Shaw made one.

Manziel said on Sharpe’s show that Hoyer didn’t help him because the journeyman quarterback saw it as an opportunity to finally be a starter.

“My quarterback room was not a home for me because of Brian Hoyer,” Manziel told Sharpe. “Brian Hoyer had been waiting on an opportunity to go really provide for his family, get an opportunity and he saw how much of an upper hand he had on me, and he didn’t hold back when it came to that.

“There were instances in the quarterback room early on where I would ask the same question a couple of times and he’d be at the head of the table and go, ‘Pfft, again? We’re doing this again? Keep him out of it. Cut that off.’ And I don’t have a bad word to say about Brian Hoyer. That is just fact of what happened in that room.”

Manziel said that you could ask Shaw or the Browns’ quarterbacks coach at the time, Dowell Loggains, to corroborate the claims.

Hoyer joined NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” show on Tuesday and responded. The 38-year-old veteran described himself as “apathetic” toward Manziel and acknowledged he was trying to win the job.

“Look, I’ll be honest, Johnny’s right, that was an opportunity for me to go out and be the starter for my hometown team, but I was kind of apathetic toward him I would say. I didn’t go out of my way to be a jerk to him, but in the same sense, I was trying to win this job and go out and perform the best I could. I feel sorry that he feels that way about it,” Hoyer said on “Good Morning Football.”

Hoyer said he was more upset with the Browns for drafting Manziel.

“I always looked at it like, I never had any animosity toward Johnny. If anything, it was toward the owner and the GM who were always trying to push him ahead of me when clearly he wasn’t ready and I was gonna be the starter. It’s unfortunate that that left a bad taste in his mouth, but like I said, never had any animosity toward Johnny. I feel bad that he feels that way, but I don’t really recall it being that way, either.”

Hoyer didn’t entirely deny Manziel’s claims. And it’s hard to blame him for behaving the way he did.

Manziel did not study, did not watch film, and akin to a class clown preventing all the kids in class from learning because he wasn’t doing his homework. Had Manziel taken more of a professional approach to the situation, things probably would have been much, much different.