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Monday, September 16, 2019

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NBA reportedly taking steps to crack down on tampering

Adam Silver

NBA teams and players have made something of a mockery of the league’s anti-tampering rules, and there is a clear desire to put a stop to that.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA recently sent a memo to teams outlining several proposals intended to increase compliance. These measures include a significant hike in tampering fines, audits, and forcing teams to report on and certify their own behavior.

This comes on the heels of a season when the league’s tampering rules seemed like more of a suggestion than a set of laws. One prominent case came when LeBron James publicly urged the Lakers to acquire Anthony Davis, which the NBA let pass to the fury of many small market owners. The free agency period was also filled with players working things out with other players — and involving teams — during a period where it should not have been permissible. The league doesn’t want to see that happening anymore, and increasing the fines should make it less of a slap on the wrist, too.

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Jalen Ramsey asks Jaguars to trade him

Jalen Ramsey

Following a game in which he had a heated exchange on the sideline with Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey has asked the team to trade him.

Ramsey’s agent confirmed on Monday that his client wants out of Jacksonville. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen report that the Jaguars have spoken with interested teams, but they have no definite plans to trade the two-time Pro Bowler.

Cameras showed Ramsey shove Marrone as he came off the field during the first half of Jacksonville’s loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. Marrone then approached Ramsey when Ramsey was sitting on the bench, and the two had to be separated by Jags players and coaches. Marrone told reporters on Monday that Ramsey will not be disciplined over the incident.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that one of the issues for Ramsey is that he is being forced to play too much zone defense.

Ramsey has seemingly had a rocky relationship with Marrone and the Jaguars’ front office for quite some time now. He offered a blunt assessment of Marrone’s job security during Jacksonville’s disappointing season last year, and he flamboyantly campaigned for a new contract during training camp this year.

Ramsey still has a year left on his contract after this season, so the Jaguars don’t need to rush to accommodate his request. However, it would not be a surprise if he became more of a headache if they don’t.

Report: NFL, NFLPA to reassess concussion protocol after Sterling Shepard error

Sterling Shepard

The NFL and NFLPA are taking another look at the league’s concussion protocols after New York Giants receiver Sterling Shepard played through a head injury last Sunday.

Shepard suffered a concussion during last week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys but finished the game anyway. That’s a failure of protocol and has prompted an investigation from the NFL and the players’ union.

Shepard’s concussion was serious enough that he’s already been ruled out for Week 2. The NFL has aggressively tried to be proactive about head injuries, so the fact that Sterling played through one despite all the protocols is a bad look.

Mike Fiers goes viral for funky new beard, facial hair design

Mike Fiers beard

Mike Fiers went viral on Saturday night for his crazy choice of facial hair.

Fiers was absolutely bombed in his most recent start. He was lit up for nine runs on nine hits — including five home runs — in 1-plus innings as his Oakland A’s lost 15-0 to the Houston Astros last time out. Fast forward to Saturday, and Fiers was looking for a change for good luck. So he went with a new, crazy facial hair design.

The A’s official Twitter account called it the cinnamon roll.

What would you call this gem?

Fiers’ maneuver did not work. He gave up three runs in the second inning against Texas and was replaced.

We’ve seen a player shave some facial hair mid-game to try and turn some luck. Fiers got creative before the game, but it did not help.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys reportedly at ‘impasse’ in contract talks

Dak Prescott

The Dallas Cowboys have expressed confidence publicly that they will be able to sign Dak Prescott to a long-term extension before the quarterback becomes a free agent, but negotiations may not be progressing as quickly as Jerry Jones claims they are.

Prescott and the Cowboys are not expected to have a new contract in place in the foreseeable future, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. While Jones said last week that an extension was “imminent,” talks have apparently hit a snag.

According to Rapoport, the holdup may be due to the Cowboys wanting to continue with their recent trend of signing players to deals spanning five or more years, while Prescott likely wants a contract more in line with the four-year extensions Jared Goff and Carson Wentz recently signed.

Prescott is only 26, so a four-year contract would allow him to potentially hit the free agent market again at age 30. The NFL salary cap will have risen significantly at that point, so he could capitalize on a new quarterback market. The Cowboys, understandably, would like to avoid that.

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones walked back Jerry’s comments about the Prescott extension being imminent, though there have been other indications that the discussions are progressing.

Charlie Culberson suffers facial fractures after being hit in face with pitch

Atlanta Braves outfielder Charlie Culberson left Saturday night’s game against the Washington Nationals after he was hit in the face with a pitch from Fernando Rodney, and he has fortunately already been released from the hospital.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Sunday that Culberson suffered fractures, but he did not have to spend the night in the hospital.

That sounds incredibly painful, but it is good news all things considered. The fact that Culberson was already sent home from the hospital is a positive sign, especially when you see how brutal the injury looked. You can see a video of the pitch below, but keep in mind it may be difficult to watch:

Home plate umpire Tim Timmons said after Washington’s 10-1 win that Nationals manager Dave Martinez appealed to him on the play to see if Culberson offered at the pitch, which he did. That led to Snitker coming out of the dugout and giving the umpiring crew an earful, but Martinez said Sunday that the conversation he had with Timmons was misrepresented by the umpire.

Rodney also expressed remorse over what happened and said Sunday that he was hoping to get a message to Culberson.

It’s always a terrifying thing when a batter takes a pitch to the face, and we’re glad to hear Culberson was not hospitalized for very long. We’ll have to wait to see the extent of the facial fractures.

Adam Vinatieri sounds like he plans to retire

Adam Vinatieri

After another brutal kicking day, Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri strongly hinted that he may have played his final game.

The 46-year-old kicker continued his bad start to the 2019 season by missing two more extra points in the Colts’ 19-17 win over Tennessee. After the game, Vinatieri told a reporter that he’d “hear from me tomorrow” despite the fact that he would not typically be available to the media.

Vinatieri’s words were taken by many as a sign that he was going to opt to retire, though it remains speculative at this point.

Vinatieri has had an incredibly accomplished career and will always be remembered for his Super Bowl-winning exploits with the New England Patriots. He has kicked in the NFL since 1996 and has made 84.3 percent of his career field goals in the regular season.

Vinatieri’s kicking issues have become a huge hindrance to the Colts, and he may recognize that it’s simply time to move on for everyone’s own good.