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#pounditMonday, August 8, 2022

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Ex-Oklahoma star defends Cale Gundy in statement

Nov 17, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) gestures on the sideline before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

A former Oklahoma Sooners star defended Cale Gundy in a statement released on Sunday night, not long after the coach announced his resignation.

Gundy announced on Sunday night that he was resigning from his job as a longtime Oklahoma assistant coach. The coach explained in his statement that he inadvertently read an inappropriate word when reading aloud what was on the iPad of a distracted player during a team meeting.

Joe Mixon, who played at Oklahoma from 2015-2016, immediately came to Gundy’s defense. The Cincinnati Bengals running back issued a statement on Twitter defending his former coach.

Below is the full text of Mixon’s statement:

“Coach Gundy is everything OU and any institution would want in a coach, teacher, and mentor. He is caring, thoughtful, intelligent, smart, funny, experienced, philanthropic, humble, and selfless. If not for Coach Gundy I would not have attended OU, survived at OU, stayed at OU, and succeeded in life after OU. I owe my education and professional career to him and most importantly I owe who I am as a person to him.

“Most importantly Coach Gundy is not, and I repeat is not a racist in any way nor has a racist bone in his body, mind, or soul. I grew up in the Bay area and went to school obviously in Oklahoma. I know racists, I have witnessed both obvious and discreet forms of racism and have known and detested even more actual racist [sic]. Coach Gundy is the farthest thing from this type of person. I spent every day for the 1,000 days I was in Norman with him, and I never saw anything that would lead anyone to believe this or think this.

“During my years at OU, there was one constant and that was Coach Gundy. He was always there for me and all of my teammates, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, summer, winter, spring, and fall. No favor was too big, no ask too small, no advise [sic] too meaningless. Within the rules of the NCAA, whatever he could do for all players and myself he did. He is a father figure, a mentor, coach, and best friend to me. He always had my best interest at heart and spent every moment enrichening [sic] my life, educating me, mentoring me, and making sure I was the best version of myself. I owe a lot to a lot of people for my success but no one more so than Coach Gundy. Without him, I am not the person I am today, the player I am in the NFL or the teammate I am.

“I know this about Coach, if he was admonishing a student athlete for any reason, it was because he was trying to help that athlete be a better person, player, teammate, and student athlete of OU. I know for a fact, that if he used any derogatory or inappropriate words, it was because they were written and not his own thoughts. I have never seen him say, think or utter and [sic] racist words, slang or sayings. And please keep in mind that he is in meeting rooms and locker rooms where such words are thrown around by the players and in the music we listen to as often and easily as football [sic] fly in the air at practices.

“In conclusion, I offer my highest support and admiration for Coach Gundy and will be extremely disappointed with the school, the program, and the administrators if he is not allowed to continue as a coach at the university going forward. If he in anyone’s eyes did anything wrong then let us show people how we give people second changes [sic], how we help all people be better people and that we teach all to work together, grow and evolve as people. I for one having gone through my own tribulations while at OU know that I am where I am because I was given a second chance at school, life and to be a better person. And I owe a lof of that to Coach Gundy as a person, teacher, and coach.”

Mixon’s statement carried a lot of meaning and weight, and no doubt Gundy appreciated the sentiment and words. The statement also is highly appropriate given the comparisons of their situations.

Mixon was suspended for all of the 2014 season for punching a female Oklahoma student at a campus eatery. He also received a suspension for an incident with a parking attendant. Mixon was given multiple chances, and Gundy apparently played a huge role in helping the running back. Mixon has not had legal issues since.

Second chances were given to Mixon, despite him committing a violent crime, and he took advantage. Gundy apparently repeated someone else’s bad word after a 32-year record without incident at Oklahoma, and he is resigning.

Cale Gundy resigns after inadvertently using inappropriate word during meeting

Apr 23, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners receivers coach Cale Gundy during the spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma assistant football coach Cale Gundy announced on Twitter Sunday night that he has resigned from his position over an incident that occurred last week.

Gundy, 50, issued a lengthy statement that provided a full explanation of what happened and the reason for his decision.

Here is exactly what Gundy’s statement said:

“I moved to Norman fresh out of high school in 1990. It feels like I never left. I have devoted nearly all my adult life to Oklahoma football. My children graduated from OU; so did my wife. For almost three decades, this university has een my home, these players have been my family.

“Today, with great anguish, I announce my resignation. I apologize to those who are disappointed by this news ….

“I owe it to Sooner Nation to be transparent about what led to this decision: Last week, during a film session, I instructed my players to take notes. I noticed a player was distracted and picked up his iPad and read aloud the words that were written on his screen. The words displayed had nothing to do with football.

“One particular word that I should never–under any circumstance–have uttered was displayed on that screen. In the moment, I did not even realize what I was reading and, as soon as I did, I was horrified.

“I want to be very clear: the words I read aloud from that screen were not my words. What I said was not malicious; it wasn’t even intentional. Still, I am mature enough to know that the word I said was shameful and hurtful, no matter my intentions.

“The unfortunate reality is that someone in my position can cause harm without ever meaning to do so. In that circumstance, a man of character accepts accountability. I take responsibility for my mistake. I apologize.

“While considering this decision, I have been overwhelmed by the love and support of those who know me, my character, and my love for this program. I truly appreciate the support my players and coaches have shown. That support means more than I can express; it proves what I’ve always known about #OUDNA–we are a family, so thank you.

“Nevertheless, I recognize this is a critical moment for Oklahoma football. This team–its coaches, players, administration, and fans–do not deserve to be distracted by off-the-field matters while working to continue the tradition of excellence that makes me so proud to be a Sooner. I won’t do the program I love the disservice of distracting from this mission. Effective immediately, I am stepping down.

“Naturally, I leave these sidelines heavy hearted. Coaching this football team truly has been my life’s passion. But I leave confident that the team will continue to prosper and I leave with tremendous love for the University of Oklahoma and its athletics department. Sooner born, Sooner bred, and so on…
Boomer!”

Gundy played quarterback at Oklahoma from 1990-1993. He served as a graduate assistant for the program in 1994. After coaching at UAB for four seasons, Gundy returned to the Sooners in 1999 when Bob Stoops took over. He remained as a coach at Oklahoma all the way until now, serving in various roles. He coached under Bob Stoops and then Lincoln Riley, but is now out before coaching a game under Brent Venables. He was serving as the team’s wide receivers coach this season. Now L’Damian Washington takes over in that role.

One has to wonder if there isn’t something more to this story. If Gundy has a 30-year record of playing with and coaching players of all backgrounds without ever having any issues regarding his character, wouldn’t that carry a lot more weight than him inadvertently using a word he was reading from a player’s iPad? Is he leaving something out from the story? There is a big difference from using the word on one’s own versus reading off someone else’s screen who had written it down.

Maybe Oklahoma feared the story getting out and gave Gundy the choice of termination or resignation. Either way, a longtime respected coach’s career at Oklahoma is now over.

Dan Campbell issues warning to rest of NFL

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell on the field before action against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2021, at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has become known for his motivational and sometimes hilarious quotes, and he added to that growing list on Saturday.

The Lions held their annual Fan Fest at Ford Field, an open practice inside Detroit’s home stadium for fans to attend.

Campbell addressed the fans in attendance, noting that the grittiness and blue-collar essence of the fanbase and city would be reflected in how his team tries to play every week.

The second-year head coach also took the opportunity to issue a warning to teams around the league with a lion-based analogy.

“We are freakin’ starving,” Campbell said. “We are starving! So the hyenas better get out of the way.”

Campbell’s tenure has provided some other notable soundbites. He gave wide receiver Jordan Reynolds the hilarious “The Praying Mantis” nickname during the first week of training camp, and delivered a funny quote about how he felt about defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn being considered for the Green Bay Packers’ head coaching job earlier this offseason.

The Lions finished with a 3-13-1 record during Campbell’s first season in 2021, but were a tougher team to play against than in recent years. While the team may still be some time away from getting the “hyenas” out of their way, Campbell has certainly given Lions fans some much-needed hope.

H/T USA Today

Jets host previously-arrested offensive lineman for free agent visit

Jan 9, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Duane Brown (76) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets look to be pretty set at the offensive tackle position but may be looking to beef up their depth chart.

Multiple reports on Saturday said that the Jets brought in former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Duane Brown for a visit. Brown attended the Jets’ Green & White practice on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.

Brown, a free agent, may be unsigned at this point due to his arrest at Los Angeles International Airport in July. The 36-year-old was charged for possession of a firearm.

The Jets seem to have their two starting tackles on the roster already in George Fant and Mekhi Becton. But Brown has the track record to at least push for a starting job if signed, and could serve as a valuable depth piece at the very least.

Brown played in all 17 games for Seattle last season, and made the Pro Bowl for the fifth time of his career in 2021. He was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2012 with the Houston Texans, who drafted Brown in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Brown will face any discipline from the NFL over his arrest.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Will Zalatoris reveals why he fired his caddie mid-tournament

Apr 11, 2021; Augusta, Georgia, USA; Will Zalatoris plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of The Masters golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Will Zalatoris shared the reasoning behind his decision to fire his longtime caddie during Friday’s second round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Zalatoris, the 14th-ranked golfer in the world, replaced caddie Ryan Goble with Josh Gregory as his fill-in caddie for the remainder of the tournament.

The 25-year-old spoke to reporters on Saturday about his decision, saying that his and Goble’s relationship had become strained recently. While Zalatoris said that Goble had practically been his “best friend for the last three years,” Zalatoris added that “it was just getting a little unhealthy” for both of them.

“We’ve kind of had a rough month together and it was starting to affect our relationship,” Zalatoris said via Adam Smith of the Burlington Times-News. “We were guys that we would love to have dinner together and hang out and what was happening on the course was starting bleed off the course and that’s not what you want.”

Zalatoris and Goble had a fruitful partnership on the course. While together, Zalatoris had eight top-10 finishes. This season, he finished tied for sixth place at the Masters, tied for second at the U.S Open, and lost the PGA Championship in a playoff. Zalatoris has earned over $6.6 million this season as well.

Gregory will be replaced by Joel Stock, who will caddie for Zalatoris in the FedEx Cup playoffs beginning next week.

Zalatoris shot 2-under par during Sunday’s final round. He finished the tournament in a tie for 21st place, and 9-under par overall.

James Harden has praise for 1 unexpected rival

Feb 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) brings the ball up court against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

At just 21 years old, one NBA player has already earned the respect of former MVP James Harden.

Harden pulled up to one of Rico Hines’ famed offseason scrimmages on the UCLA campus over the weekend. Among the other participants was Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes. During one particular possession, Barnes picked up Harden on defense and refused to give up a centimeter. He hounded Harden all the way down the floor, eventually forcing the Philadelphia 76ers star into a bricked midrange shot.

It was an impressive sequence from Barnes, especially during a pickup game where defense is often optional. Some time later, Harden complimented the reigning Rookie of the Year Barnes for his effort.

“I like the competitive spirit that’s going on here,” said Harden. “Like Scottie picked me up full court. It’s pickup, f–king first week of August. You don’t give a f–k. He got that mindset. He a dog. Everybody should have that mindset, especially if you wanna get paid, take care of your families.”

Barnes entered the NBA Draft last year with less hype than guys like Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green. But it was Barnes who won Rookie of the Year honors, starting 74 games and making a loud two-way impact for a Raptors team that earned 48 wins and a playoff berth.

Harden’s praise is a bit unexpected since the 76ers and Raptors had a bitter playoff battle this past year (which Philly won in six games). Barnes has also clowned some of Harden’s teammates since the season ended. But as a wise ancient Greek philosopher once eloquently stated, “Game recognize game.”

Video: Chiefs safety nails 65-yard practice field goal

The Kansas City Chiefs already have a top-notch kicker in Harrison Butker, but safety Justin Reid could apparently fill in just fine in the event of an emergency.

Reid tweeted a video Sunday of himself kicking a 65-yard field goal during training camp.

Reid, who kicks with his right foot, had the ball lined up near the right hash mark and at the opposing 45-yard line. He took three steps back and two to the left to get into position, before taking three steps towards the ball and launching it into the air. The camera captured the ball traveling in the air and going through the uprights with some room to spare.

That was some textbook form, and pretty much down the middle too. The kick may have been good from an even further distance.

Although done during practice and without the pressures of an in-game situation, as well as without a real hold, Reid’s kick was impressive. The field goal was one yard shy of the 66-yard NFL record set by Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker last season.

Reid, who signed a three-year contract with the Chiefs during the offseason, kicked in high school and has served as an emergency kicker before. During a preseason game with the Houston Texans last year, he showed off his powerful leg with a massive kickoff (see video here).

Video: Paolo Banchero gets embarrassed by NBA star at pro-am game

Jun 24, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic first overall draft pick Paolo Banchero speaks during a press conference at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Paolo Banchero is getting his “welcome to the NBA” moment before even playing in an actual NBA game.

The Orlando Magic rookie participated in Isaiah Thomas’ annual Zeke-End pro-am tournament this weekend. On Sunday, Banchero competed against current NBA All-Star Dejounte Murray. During one particular sequence, Murray got Banchero to bite on a shot fake. He then faked a pass around Banchero and threw it off the backboard to himself for an emphatic dunk. Murray then brought the disrespect up to 11 by yelling at Banchero, doing the “too small” hand gesture, and whipping the basketball right back at the former Duke star.

Here is the video.

Banchero probably has to retire from competitive basketball altogether after that one. Maybe he needs to skip town and live life under a new name too.

If this was an NBA game, the new Atlanta Hawks guard Murray would get hit with a technical foul faster than you can say “Zach Zarba.” But during pro-am season, anything goes. Since the tournament took place in Tacoma, Wash. as well, Murray, a Seattle native, was probably feeling extra saucy.

The 19-year-old Banchero comes with a lot of hype after going No. 1 overall in this year’s NBA Draft. But to Murray, Banchero is just another scrap of meat to add to his growing list of victims.

Braves’ Spencer Strider makes bold statement about Mets

Jun 21, 2022; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves on Sunday for the fourth time in five games, but one Atlanta player certainly did not seem too impressed by the NL East leaders.

Braves rookie pitcher Spencer Strider, the losing pitcher in Sunday’s 5-2 Mets victory, chalked his opponent’s offensive output up to “a lot of luck” and “weird hits.” Strider concluded by suggesting the Mets’ luck could turn against them in October.

Strider is likely frustrated by Pete Alonso’s key RBI double in the third, which was a sharp ground ball down the third base line that hit the bag and deflected into the outfield. However, that inning was capped off by a line drive double up the gap by Mark Canha that was not lucky in any sense of the word.

This is a pretty bold thing to say about a Mets team that is 70-39 and sits 6.5 games in front of Atlanta after Sunday’s contest. It also looks a bit silly coming from Strider after he gave up six hits and four earned runs in just 2.2 innings of work in the series finale, no matter how they came. Teams that put the ball in play can sometimes get breaks, and the Mets were able to take advantage of some against Atlanta.

The other problem with Strider’s logic is simple. Even if the Mets offense cools off a bit, any team facing them in the playoffs will have to find a way past Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom at the top of the rotation. deGrom has barely pitched in 2022 and they still boast the second-best team ERA in the league. There is nothing lucky about that. If those two perform to their capabilities, their own ball boys might be the only ones capable of stopping them.

Funny old Paul DeJong tweet goes viral after his torching of Yankees

Sep 24, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong (11) smiles after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning of game 2 of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Paul DeJong looked like he had a score to settle against the Yankees this weekend … probably because he has a score to settle against the Yankees.

The St. Louis Cardinals slugger DeJong fire-grilled the Yankees during Sunday’s game, collecting two hits and two walks in a 12-9 St. Louis win. That included a cold-blooded three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Cards a four-run lead (just as the Yankees were rallying).

After the game, a funny old tweet that DeJong posted in 2011 went viral. The tweet read simply, “I hate the yankees.”

DeJong, who was just 18 when he posted the tweet, is a native of Orlando, Fla. and has said that he grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. The Yankees beat the Braves in the World Series in both 1996 and 1999, so perhaps DeJong’s earliest baseball memories are of the Bronx Bombers slaying his team.

The ex-All-Star DeJong certainly got his revenge on Sunday though. But when it comes to these old tweets, they are always a wild card. Just a few days ago, we saw it go the other way with a different MLB player.