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#pounditMonday, October 3, 2022

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NFL Week 5 game in London to make history for interesting reason

Aaron Rodgers ready to throw

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Of the many splendid things our country has exported to the UK, our NFL games rank at the bottom of the list. Since the NFL began playing International Series games in London in 2007, the product we’ve sent England has not been great. Usually, the Brits are getting a crap game between a 3-win Jags team or 5-win Dolphins squad, or some variation like that.

But on October 9 in Week 5, London will finally be getting something they’ve never had before: an NFL game between two teams with winning records.

Yes, the 3-1 Giants and 3-1 Packers will face off in the first ever London meeting between two NFL teams with winning records.

The Giants are 2-0 in franchise history in their London games, while this (amazingly) will be the first time ever the Packers play in London.

The Giants have benefited from a soft schedule this season, which has contributed to their winning record. Quarterback Daniel Jones also is day-to-day with an ankle injury.

So long as the fans get another close game like the Vikings and Saints provided in Week 4, they should be happy.

Rams have to do 1 thing for chance at signing Odell Beckham Jr.?

Odell Beckham Jr. in a blue jersey

Jan 17, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) reacts before a NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams took a big punch on the chin from the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, losing 24-9. The defending Super Bowl champs sure look like they could use reinforcements. Some help could come later in the season in the form of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who helped the Rams win a Super Bowl last season but is rehabbing a knee injury.

Late in the 49ers’ win over the Rams on “Monday Night Football,” the ESPN broadcasting team discussed Beckham’s situation.

Reporter Lisa Salters said Beckham was in the Bahamas rehabbing and watching the Rams.

“The Rams are like family to him,” Salters said of Beckham.

Salters then went on to share Beckham’s feelings on the situation.

“There’s love on both sides, but this is a business. If I had my way, I’d love to be back with those guys,” Salters said of what Beckham told her about a Rams reunion.

Beckham is interested in a reunion with the Rams, and the Rams want him back. But there is one thing the Rams need to do to have a shot at re-signing Odell.

ESPN announcer Joe Buck discussed the situation from the perspective of Rams coach Sean McVay. Buck said McVay was dying to get Beckham back in Week 10 or 11. But Buck said the Rams know they face one issue: they need to be in contention.

“We have to stay in it and be relevant so that he wants to come back to the Rams,” Buck said of what McVay’s mindset is on how to get Beckham back.

Buck said the Rams know Beckham will have his choice of teams when he’s recovered, “and McVay wants him to slide right back into his old locker.”

The information the Monday night team had about Beckham comes from interviews they conduct with team personnel prior to the game. Broadcasters get to interview coaches and players in order to provide them with helpful information for the broadcast. It sounds like the ESPN announcers got the inside scoop on a potential Beckham return.

The Rams are now 2-2. They have three straight home games ahead, including a rematch against the Niners.

Video: Rams teammates Takk McKinley, Justin Hollins get into altercation

Takk McKinley points at himself

A couple of Los Angeles Rams defensive players got into an altercation on the sidelines during “Monday Night Football.”

During the fourth quarter of Monday’s game between the Rams and San Francisco 49ers, ESPN showed a video of an incident that occurred between Justin Hollins and Takk McKinley.

McKinley seemed really heated as the two players were restrained:

Hollins didn’t seem too bothered, while McKinley was taken away and talked to by a Rams staff member.

There may have been some sort of miscommunication on the field between the players.

McKinley was only signed by the Rams on Sept. 21, less than a week after he joined Tennessee’s practice squad. He has not been credited with any tackles this season. Hollins had three tackles in the loss.

Ben Simmons already booed during preseason game in Brooklyn

Ben Simmons at the free throw line

Ben Simmons’ return to the court is not getting of to a great start.

Simmons was booed during his Brooklyn Nets’ preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. You can hear the boos while Simmons was at the free throw line late in the first quarter.

Though the game was played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it’s possible the boos came from 76ers fans.

Simmons was drafted No. 1 overall by the Sixers in 2016 but missed his entire first season due to injury. Then he refused to play all of last season. Between his lack of availability, poor shooting and outright refusal to shoot the ball, Simmons became a big target of frustration from many Sixers fans. That appears to remain the case.

Report reveals how much Suns could potentially sell for

Robert Sarver shouts from the sideline

Jan 22, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver reacts against the Indiana Pacers in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns could be set up for a record-breaking purchase price.

Veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote this week in a post to Substack that multiple experts in sports team valuations would not be surprised if the Suns hit the $4 billion threshold in a potential sale.

For context, the current record for biggest sale of an NBA team was set in 2019 when Joe Tsai purchased the Brooklyn Nets for a total of $3.3 billion. In more recent years, the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves (two smaller-market teams) sold for $1.6 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively.

The Suns are a desirable franchise located on the West Coast who remain on the upswing after earning an NBA Finals berth in 2021 and winning a team-record 64 games last season. They also have a core of players who are 26 or younger (Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Cam Johnson) to go along with 37-year-old Chris Paul.

Owner Robert Sarver, who bought the Suns in 2004 for $401 million, has begun the process of selling the team. Sarver’s decision comes after he was sanctioned by the NBA for his racist and misogynistic behavior (and faced subsequent public pressure to sell). As for who his potential buyers might be, there have been a few reported candidates with some very deep pockets.

Video: Bobby Wagner absolutely destroys streaker on field

Bobby Wagner hits a fan

Bobby Wagner has no time for fans disrupting the game by running onto the field.

A spectator ran onto the field at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Monday night during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. As the person was running across the field and eluding the security staff workers who were chasing him, a few Rams players decided to get involved.

Rams defensive players Bobby Wagner and Takkarist McKinley took matters into their hands and decked the spectator, who had run near the Rams’ sideline.

That was a harsh ending for the spectator. At least we know based on the pink smoke that he’ll be having a girl to cheer him up.

That is the risk you take when you run onto the field during an NFL game. It’s not all bad news though; reports say the fan has been cleared by the Dolphins’ team doctor to return in the second half.

Karl-Anthony Towns reveals he had recent health scare

Karl-Anthony Towns looking on

Jul 9, 2019; Marina del Rey, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns attends the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards at Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Karl-Anthony Towns is back with the Minnesota Timberwolves this week after suffering a recent health scare.

The three-time All-Star big man told reporters on Monday that he had to be hospitalized with a non-COVID illness. Towns revealed that he only started walking again on Saturday and that he was down to 231 pounds because of the illness.

“There was more drastic things to worry about than basketball at that moment,” said Towns, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “I wasn’t too worried about basketball for a while. But I miss the game, I love the game. I miss these guys.”

Towns, who is officially listed at 248 pounds, did not provide any further details about his illness. But it forced him to miss the entire first week of training camp for the Timberwolves.

Jordyn Woods, Towns’ girlfriend, had shared on social media that she took him to a Minnesota hospital right after her birthday (Sept. 23).

The 26-year-old Towns averaged 24.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per contest for the Timberwolves last season. Towns also battled another difficult health situation in the middle of the year.

Robert Griffin III makes curious comment about ex-Washington coaches

Robert Griffin III smiling

Robert Griffin III on Monday made a curious comment about his former Washington coaches.

Washington traded up to take Griffin No. 2 overall in the 2012 draft. The move looked genius when RG3 won Offensive Rookie of the Year and led Washington to the playoffs in 2012. Washington went 10-6 that season but lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs to Seattle.

Griffin hurt his knee in Week 14, sat out in Week 15, and returned in Week 16. He reinjured his knee in the playoff game and ended up undergoing knee surgery.

There was a big controversy over the Washington coaching staff’s handling of Griffin, as well as their scheme for him. Griffin didn’t want to run any longer, while the coaches wanted to utilize that important aspect of the speedster’s game.

Griffin never replicated the success of the 2012 season, was supplanted by Kirk Cousins in 2015, and made just seven more starts the rest of his career after leaving Washington.

Meanwhile, Washington’s offensive coaching staff in that 2012 season included Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and Mike McDaniel. They were all coaching under head coach Mike Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls while guiding the Denver Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan has coached two teams to Super Bowl appearances (one as a coordinator, the other as a head coach). Sean McVay turned around the Rams’ franchise and won a Super Bowl. LaFleur has gone 42-11 since becoming the head coach of the Packers in 2019. And McDaniel has looked like an offensive wizard so far as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

It has become very apparent that the coaching staff in Washington was exceptional and that their schemes helped maximize Griffin’s abilities in 2012. It’s also become apparent that Griffin was completely wrong when he won a power struggle and told the coaches how to handle him.

But even 10 years later, Griffin doesn’t seem to recognize that.

Prior to the Rams-49ers game in San Francisco, “Monday Night Countdown” aired a conversation they hosted between Kyle Shanahan, McVay and LeFleur. The three NFC coaches are regarded as some of the brightest minds in the league.

After the package aired, Griffin somewhat cut down the coaching staff with an odd comment.

“I think they’re truly a story of … they weren’t ready to be successful in Washington,” Griffin said. “I wasn’t either. So, for them to come back and have the success that they’ve had as head coaches, I think it really shows their growth and development.”

That is quite a comment. And the comment shows that Griffin is still in denial.

10 years later, he still doesn’t realize how great of a coaching staff he had. He didn’t want to listen to them and thought he knew better. His family reportedly wanted Art Briles hired in place of Shanahan. The Shanahans were run out of Washington after the 2013 season, and we’ve seen the success Kyle went on to have. McVay remained in Washington and helped turn Kirk Cousins from an afterthought into a Pro Bowl quarterback. McDaniel left Washington and followed Kyle Shanahan, and we’ve seen what he can do.

It seems that Griffin’s comment would be completely correct if inverted. Those coaches were ready to be successful in Washington; it’s Griffin who wasn’t.

Tyler Herro has savage tweet after landing new extension from Heat

Tyler Herro dribbling

Dec 14, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) brings the ball up court against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Herro is officially laughing all the way to the bank.

The Miami Heat shooting guard secured a new four-year extension from the team this week that could be worth up to $130 million. After news of Herro’s extension broke, he took to Twitter with a savage post. Herro tweeted a GIF of Bugs Bunny counting up money.

The tweet could be interpreted as a message to Herro’s haters. Many fans called for Herro to be traded this summer, and when he managed to survive his inclusion in multiple trade rumors, Herro seemingly gloated a little bit.

Some have already labeled Herro’s new extension as an overpay, citing his limitations defensively and his uneven postseason performance last year. But for a player who is still only 22, averaged 21-5-4 in 2021-22, and won Sixth Man of the Year, it seems like pretty fair value. Herro’s extension also has $120 million guaranteed (the other $10 million is in incentives) and is $20-$30 million below a max deal, per salary cap expert Albert Nahmad.

For the Heat, who were the top seed in the East last season and came within a hangnail of another Finals berth, Herro becomes their third $100 million player on the books (after Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo). In addition to extending Herro, Miami appears to have some interesting plans this season.

Blake Griffin chooses unique new jersey number with Celtics

Blake Griffin warms up before a game

Apr 25, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin (2) warms up before game four of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Griffin is going a bit left with his new jersey number in Boston.

The new Celtics big man Griffin revealed on Monday that he will be wearing No. 91 for the coming season. Griffin said that he is doing so as a tribute to retired Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, who wore No. 91 on the Chicago Bulls.

The six-time All-Star Griffin, who signed a one-year deal with Boston a few days prior, becomes the very first player in Celtics history to wear No. 91.

Here is a picture of Griffin in his new threads, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

Griffin, who has worn the numbers 23, 32, and (most recently) 2 during his NBA career, mentioned a couple of years ago that he is a big fan of the ’90s Chicago Bulls. He also previously played for the Detroit Pistons (the team that Rodman began his NBA career with) and is a native of Oklahoma (where Rodman attended college at Southeastern Oklahoma State).

With starting big Robert Williams missing extended time with a knee injury, Griffin should be able to get playing time for Boston right out of the gate. As for Rodman, he was recently in the news again because of an interesting new movie about a particular era of his life.