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#pounditSunday, March 3, 2024

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Fanatics CEO deflects blame over MLB uniform fiasco

Michael Rubin on a red carpet

Jul 10, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin arrives on the red carpet at Microsoft Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The CEO of Fanatics, the company tasked with manufacturing Major League Baseball’s much-maligned new uniforms for 2024, defended his company and tried to deflect blame in public comments on Friday.

Michael Rubin, a former Philadelphia 76ers minority owner, spoke at a sports analytics conference on Friday, but was inevitably questioned about the controversy surrounding the uniforms his company manufactured. Rubin said Fanatics had been doing “everything as we’ve been told” and suggested Nike and MLB failed to get players on board with the changes.

“A difficult position for us — we’re doing everything as we’ve been told and we’re getting the s— kicked out of us. So that’s not fun,” Rubin said, via Michael Silverman of The Boston Globe. “Biggest thing I probably learned is if we’re involved in something, we need to make sure that everybody better be on board. … They got certain players on board, not all players on board.”

On one hand, Nike designed the uniforms, so Fanatics can only be blamed for so much. Still, it is hard to imagine they had no say in the process, and it’s tough to absolve the manufacturer when players are complaining about their quality and fit.

A number of players are unhappy with the uniform changes, and one prominent issue has drawn particular attention among fans. It remains to be seen if any changes are made prior to Opening Day at the end of March.

JJ McCarthy names 1 surprising receiver he would like to work with

JJ McCarthy in pads

Jan 6, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) looks on during a practice session before the College Football Playoff national championship game against the Washington Huskies at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy offered a fairly surprising answer to a question about which wide receivers he would like to work with in the NFL.

The question was put to McCarthy during an NFL Combine interview, and the quarterback’s first two responses were not that surprising. He named Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson and Las Vegas’ Davante Adams, and most quarterbacks would likely agree.

The third, however, caught some off-guard: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who formerly played for rival Ohio State. McCarthy admitted that seeing Smith-Njigba up close when the two teams played definitely left him impressed.

“Seeing him play my freshman year in the snow, his intangibles, his skill, that will be someone for sure,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy pointed out that he went 3-0 against the Buckeyes, so he was qualified to pick one of their former players despite the rivalry.

On the other hand, it’s easy to see what McCarthy sees. Smith-Njigba got off to a fairly slow start as a rookie, but wound up with 628 receiving yards while flashing his elite talent. Unfortunately for McCarthy, the Seahawks have no need for a quarterback, so the pairing is unlikely to come to fruition.

Tyreek Hill responds to Instagram model Sophie Hall’s lawsuit

Tyreek Hill runs with the ball

Sep 29, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

A lawyer for Tyreek Hill has responded to a lawsuit that was filed last week against the Miami Dolphins wide receiver.

On Feb. 23, Instagram model Sophie Hall filed a lawsuit in Broward County, Fla. circuit court over an injury she claims she sustained at Hill’s home. Hall claimed she signed her son up to participate in a football camp run by Hill, and Hill reached out to her and invited her to come to his home in June 2023. While at his mansion in South Florida, Hill invited Hall to do some football drills with her.

Hall claims Hill injured her in a pass-rushing drill in response to being embarrassed by her in a previous drill. She says she suffered a fractured leg and that Hill downplayed the injury.

Hill’s lawyer issued a response to ESPN Dolphins reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques and said that the suit was filed to “generate bad publicity for Mr. Hill in an attempt to ‘scare tactic’ him into personally covering the cost of Ms. Hall’s medical bills.”

Hill’s attorney says Hall suffered her leg injury tripping over a dog during the drill. Hill’s attorney claims that information was intentionally omitted from the lawsuit.

Hall is seeking between $50,001 and $75,000 from a jury trial. Hill’s attorney says there is a pending homeowner’s insurance claim over the injury sustained by Hall.

The Dolphins are aware of the lawsuit and have been in contact with the league about it.

Mecole Hardman issues response to allegations from ex-Jets teammates

Mecole Hardman looking on

Dec 5, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) greets fans while leaving the field after the win over the Denver Broncos at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mecole Hardman’s criticism of the New York Jets this week led to some wild accusations being made against him that he is now publicly addressing.

At least two of Hardman’s former Jets teammates suggested that the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver leaked the team’s offensive gameplan to the Philadelphia Eagles prior to a game last season. Those allegations were made in light of an interview Hardman gave in which he was critical of the Jets for a lack of structure or winning mentality.

On Friday, Hardman publicly responded to those claims, dismissing them as “false” and an attack on his character. In a post to X, the wide receiver said he would never leak a gameplan to an opponent and always wants to win “no matter the circumstances.”

Accusing a former teammate of essentially tipping off an opponent to one’s gameplan is a major claim, though more than one Jets player was willing to make it. It would be quite tough to prove that Hardman actually did it.

Hardman essentially had no role with the Jets during his time there, which undoubtedly led to frustration. They then traded him back to Kansas City where he scored the Super Bowl-winning touchdown. He certainly got the best outcome for himself in this whole saga.

Red Sox take flier on former All-Star slugger

A Boston Red Sox hat

Aug 23, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Hats and gloves from the Boston Red Sox team near the edge of the dugout before the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox are taking a flier on a former All-Star slugger.

The Red Sox and C.J. Cron agreed to terms on a 1-year deal pending a physical. It’s a minor-league deal.

According to Boston Globe Red Sox reporter Alex Speier, the deal calls for Cron to earn $2 million if he makes the MLB roster, with the potential to earn $500,000 in performance bonuses.

The 34-year-old first baseman began his career with the Los Angeles Angels and showed immediate power while splitting time at first and DH. He popped a career-high 30 home runs for the Rays in 2018. He slugged 28 homers for the Rockies in 2021 and 29 in 2022. He was named an All-Star for Colorado in 2022.

Cron was having another solid season with the Rockies last season before being re-acquired by the Angels in a trade. Cron batted .260 with a .780 OPS over 56 games with Colorado last season. He batted just .200 in 15 games with the Angels. He will likely compete with Bobby Dalbec for a spot off Boston’s bench.

Cron historically has hit very well at Fenway Park.

Joey Votto says he turned down 1 opportunity during offseason

Joey Votto in a hat

Apr 9, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto against the Arizona Diamondbacks during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joey Votto is still looking for a way to continue his MLB career in 2024, and that is clear from one admission he made on Friday.

In an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show,” Votto said he received significant interest from television networks during the offseason asking if he would potentially be interested in a broadcasting job. He made clear, however, that he still has his sights set on playing.

“I’ve had ten times the analyst (offers) over this offseason than I have had any baseball offers,” Votto admitted.

It’s easy to see why Votto would be targeted for a TV job, but he is clearly not ready to give up on his playing career. He has spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, but the team’s growing crop of prospects means there is no role for him there. The 40-year-old can still draw walks and flash some power occasionally, but he hit just .202 in 65 games last season.

Votto has taken to issuing some threats against society if he is not signed by a team. At least he knows he has a pretty solid set of backup options if all else fails.

DeMeco Ryans reveals his emotional reaction to 49ers’ Super Bowl loss

DeMeco Ryans at practice

Jul 30, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans watches players warm up during training camp practice at the Houston Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

DeMeco Ryans left the San Francisco 49ers after the 2022 season, but it’s safe to say he was still very emotionally invested in their playoff run.

Ryans, now the head coach of the Houston Texans, spent six years in the 49ers’ organization, including two years as defensive coordinator in 2021 and 2022. He said he was “distraught” to see his former team fall short in the Super Bowl, and actually fell to the floor when the Kansas City Chiefs scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

“I was sitting on the couch watching it and it was a heartbreaker,” Ryans said, via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I literally fell on the floor and I was distraught. I felt like they played such a great game against the top quarterback in the league. And for them to do what they did, it was just unfortunate to see them lose that way.”

Ryans’ reaction makes sense. He knew and worked with most of the players on the Niners’ defense. To see them play a good game and largely contain Patrick Mahomes, only to fall in overtime, was a heartbreaker.

The 49ers have seemingly struggled to replace Ryans, with his successor, Steve Wilks, lasting only a year. They will be hoping to find a better fit this time around.

Cam Newton issues response to viral fight video

Cam Newton throws before a game

Aug 22, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) warms up prior to the start of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton issued his first public response to viral video of his involvement in a fight at a youth football camp.

In a new episode of his “4th and 1” podcast, Newton took responsibility for the incident, saying he “let my emotions get the best of me” and that there was “no excuse” for his actions.

“I apologize to anybody affected. That’s Steph, that’s TJ, that’s their organization, that’s C1N, — my organization — my players, my parents, my staff members,” Newton said, via Mark Puleo of The Athletic. ‘There’s no excuse, there’s really not. It could’ve been a melee, more violence could’ve stemmed from that, and it’s just not called for.”

Newton admitted that he felt he let down his youth players, as he could not tell them to control their emotions when he could not do the same with his own.

“I think about the kids that look up to me, and whether they verbalize their appreciation or just stare in amazement, I feel like I let them down,” Newton said. “Because I can’t sit up here and say, ‘Hey bro, you gotta be bigger than that’ and then all of a sudden I do that. That just goes to show you, you gotta always stay in control of your emotions.”

Newton appeared to be largely defending himself in video of the fight that went viral over the weekend. One of the other youth organizations involved accused him of being the instigator, however, and Newton’s apology certainly implies he was not just playing peacemaker.

The 34-year-old Newton was out of the NFL last season after a brief return to the Carolina Panthers in 2021.

Cowboys eyeing trade for All-Pro Eagles player?

Haason Reddick with the Eagles

Aug 3, 2023; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick during practice at Novacare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles may be forced to part ways with one of their best defensive players this offseason, and the Dallas Cowboys reportedly have interest in taking him off their hands.

Eagles pass-rusher Haason Reddick is entering the final season of a 3-year, $45 million deal he signed in 2022. He has been openly seeking a contract extension. A recent report claimed the team told Reddick he is free to seek a trade.

According to Mike Fisher of CowboysSI.com, the Cowboys are interested in acquiring Reddick if the 29-year-old becomes available. The big question, of course, is whether the Eagles would ever trade Reddick to one of their biggest rivals.

Reddick has said he did not ask for a trade, but it is possible the Eagles do not want to give him an extension and have told him he is free to seek one elsewhere. That does not necessarily mean they would trade him to Dallas, of course.

Reddick finished with 11 sacks this year after posting a career-high 16 in 2022. He has double-digit sacks in each of his last four seasons. The Cowboys probably are not the only team interested in acquiring him.

Kris Bryant makes startling admission about signing with Rockies

Kris Bryant in a Rockies uniform

May 14, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Kris Bryant (23) during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Bryant recently made a startling admission about his decision to sign with the Colorado Rockies two years ago, and it sounds like he has some regrets.

Bryant surprised many when he signed with Colorado prior to the start of the 2022 season, and he opened up about that decision in a new interview. The outfielder recalled that he had discussions with the Rockies prior to the start of the MLB lockout late in 2021, but those discussions were forced to stop during labor negotiations. When the lockout ended in March 2022, Bryant admitted that he felt immediate pressure to make a decision on a new team, and may have rushed into making one.

“It’s like, ‘Oh shoot, I need to get there,'” Bryant told Sam Blum of The Athletic. “There were other teams interested, but I didn’t want to wait around. … It was a completely different situation for a lot of free agents at the time. I guess I didn’t do as much research into the prospects as I could.”

Bryant’s implication is that he perhaps assumed that the Rockies were closer to contention than they actually were. Had he checked into the team’s prospects and pipeline, he may have realized that was not the case, particularly as they had just traded Nolan Arenado to St. Louis several months earlier.

The odd thing is that even at the time, Bryant’s decision was considered a surprise. It may be a bit awkward for him that he essentially admitted to rushing into a decision without doing his homework, especially since he still has another five seasons to go on the seven-year, $182 million deal he signed.

Bryant has battled injury issues since signing with Colorado. Last season, he hit just .233 with 10 home runs in 80 games.