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#pounditMonday, August 15, 2022

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Tigers owner throws former GM under the bus

Chris Ilitch looking away.

Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch speaks at a press conference at Comerica Park in Detroit after the firing of general manager Al Avila Wednesday, August 10, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Tigers owner Chris Ilitch blamed recently-fired Tigers GM Al Avila for trading away two veteran players who went on to enjoy career resurgences with other teams.

The Tigers announced on Wednesday that they had fired Avila after seven years. Ilitch said he would lead the new GM search, and that assistant GM Sam Menzin would take over as interim GM.

Detroit had made some questionable moves during Avila’s tenure, including trading away Justin Verlander and JD Martinez.

While addressing reporters after Avila’s firing was announced, Ilitch was asked if he had any regrets about trading away Verlander and Martinez. Ilitch responded by placing the blame on Avila for dealing away the two franchise cornerstone players.

“I didn’t trade those players away,” Ilitch said. “Our general manager did. Al [Avila] did. That’s his role.”

Regardless of who had the final say in signing off on the two trades, both moves did not work out too well for the Tigers.

Verlander was traded to the Houston Astros in 2017 for Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers. Perez was released in 2021, while Verlander played a key role in Houston’s World Series championship in 2017. Verlander won his second Cy Young Award in 2019 with a 21-6 record, 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts to 42 walks in 223 innings. Entering Wednesday, the 39-year-old was 15-3 with a 1.73 ERA in 130 innings.

Martinez was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017 for Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King. He hit .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBI in just 62 games with Arizona. Martinez then signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, and proceeded to lead the league in both RBI (130) and total bases (358) while winning two Silver Slugger Awards and a World Series title that season.

Troubling details emerge from alleged Frank Gore domestic violence incident

Frank Gore at a press conference

Frank Gore was charged with simple assault this week stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident, and police records paint a disturbing picture of the former NFL star.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Gore is accused of grabbing a 28-year-old woman by the hair and dragging her across a hallway at the Tropicana Atlantic City hotel in New Jersey. The documents state that Gore “forcibly” grabbed the alleged victim by the hair before “violently dragging her nude person along the floor of the 59th hallway.”

Police said they responded to a domestic violence call at the Tropicana Atlantic City on July 31. When they got there, a woman was speaking with hotel security about an alleged incident but “did not exhibit signs of injury and complaints were not filed at the time.” No arrests were made or charges filed.

Police still opened an investigation, and Gore was charged with simple assault several days later. The 39-year-old is due in court for a hearing in October.

Gore played in the NFL for 16 seasons, the first 10 of which were with the San Francisco 49ers. He signed a one-day contract with them earlier this offseason to retire as a member of the franchise. Gore ranks third on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 16,000 yards. He averaged 4.3 yards per career during his career and made five Pro Bowls.

While he initially expressed interest in playing last season, Gore did not sign with a team. The 39-year-old instead turned his focus to professional boxing. He made his boxing debut in a loss to a former NBA player a few months ago.

Mike McDaniel addresses practicing with Tom Brady after tampering scandal

Mike McDaniel at a press conference

Feb 10, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel speaks during a press conference at Baptist Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins were hit with massive sanctions last week after an NFL investigation determined that they illegally tried to recruit Tom Brady. As luck would have it, the penalties came just before the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were set to hold joint practices. Mike McDaniel insists that is not an issue, however.

McDaniel was asked on Wednesday if it is uncomfortable to scrimmage against Brady a week after the NFL stripped the Dolphins of multiple draft picks, fined the team $1.5 million and suspended owner Stephen Ross. The coach downplayed it.

McDaniel was not with the Dolphins when any of the tampering occurred, so the violations have nothing to do with him. Still, the joint practices have to be at least slightly awkward for some people given the timing.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell described the Dolphins’ tampering violations as “of unprecedented scope and severity.” The investigation determined that they spoke with Brady about joining their franchise both in 2019 when he was with the New England Patriots and again last year. We can’t imagine the Bucs are happy about that, but McDaniel is right that none of it is his problem.

PGA Tour scores win in legal battle with LIV Golf players

Jay Monahan talks with the media

March 13, 2020; Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA; PGA commissioner Jay Monahan speaks to media after the cancellation of the 2020 edition of The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. The tournament was cancelled at the conclusion of the first round due to the developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour scored a big win in a legal battle with some LIV Golf players who are seeking to play in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones are three golfers who would be eligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs based on the points standings. But the three players are suspended from the PGA Tour because they joined the rival LIV Golf league and therefore blocked from participating in the playoffs.

The three players sought a legal restraining order to allow them to compete in the playoffs, which begin this week with the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn.

However, federal judge Beth Labson Freeman of the U.S. District Court of Northern California denied the golfers’ motion for a temporary restraining order. The golfers were arguing that they were being financially harmed by the PGA Tour’s decision.

Judge Freeman reasoned that the players’ contracts with LIV factored in wages lost from leaving the PGA Tour, and therefore the players are not being harmed by the Tour’s suspension.

The players’ restraining order motion is part of a greater antitrust lawsuit filed by 11 LIV Golf members against the PGA Tour.

Judge Freeman also indicated that the PGA Tour might not have a monopoly, and that even being a monopoly is not in itself illegal.

The greater legal battle between the two golf leagues is the antitrust suit. That won’t get sorted out for a while. But for now, the PGA Tour has taken the first round against LIV.

NFL owners upset with Browns over 1 contract issue

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson will not have to forfeit much money during his six-game suspension, and that apparently does not sit well with teams around the NFL.

Watson signed a massive contract extension with the Cleveland Browns after they acquired him from the Houston Texans this offseason. The deal will pay him $230 million guaranteed. His base salary for the 2022 season is just $1.035 million, however. There is a wide-ranging belief that the Browns intentionally structured the contract that way to protect Watson in the event of a suspension, as the star quarterback was facing numerous sexual assault allegations at the time he was traded to Cleveland.

According to Peter King of NBC Sports, executives around the NFL are not happy with the Browns for essentially bailing Watson out.

“One influential NFL person told me on this trip that it doesn’t sit well with the league or 31 other owners that the Browns rigged the Watson contract so that his suspension would cause him to lose only a fraction of his 2022 compensation,” King wrote.

Watson stands to lose just under $350,000 in game checks during his six-game ban. His new contract includes a $45 million signing bonus, which will not be impacted by the suspension. Teams often structure deals that way to give themselves more salary cap flexibility, but the Browns have nearly $50 million in cap space. That is by far the most in the NFL.

The length of Watson’s suspension was determined by Judge Sue L. Robinson, an independent party mutually approved by both the league and NFLPA. The NFL is unhappy with the punishment for two reasons. It sounds like those frustrations are shared by teams around the league.

H/T Bleacher Report

Report: Kevin Durant gave Nets owner an ultimatum

Kevin Durant dribbles

Oct 11, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant has given the Brooklyn Nets’ owner an ultimatum.

Durant met with team owner Joe Tsai in London over the weekend. During the meeting, Durant told Tsai two things, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Durant reportedly reiterated his trade request. Durant also apparently told Tsai he was unhappy with the team’s direction and requested a change to the franchise’s leadership.

Apparently the choice for Tsai is this: either keep Durant and get rid of GM Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, or trade Durant.

When presented with such an option, the choice seems obvious for Tsai: keep Durant and get rid of Marks and Nash.

Tsai gave power and control over the team to Durant and Kyrie Irving when he signed them in 2019. That means signing players they want, putting up with nonsense, and even firing a coach whose hiring the two approved (Nash).

The Nets added Royce O’Neale and TJ Warren this offseason. They also have Irving on the roster after he opted into his contract. They don’t want to trade Durant and break down the team, so it seems their most natural course of action would be to get rid of their coach and GM.

Cale Gundy resigns after inadvertently using inappropriate word during meeting

Cale Gundy in a visor

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.

Jon Gruden’s agent makes bold claim

Jon Gruden smiling

Aug 18, 2021; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden during a joint practice against the Los Angeles Rams. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gruden was forced to resign as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders midway through the 2021 season over a leaked email scandal. Many have predicted that we have seen the last of him in the NFL, but Gruden’s agent says that is a poor assumption.

Bob LaMonte, who has represented Gruden for many years, recently told Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com that he believes the 58-year-old will coach again.

“I really believe in my heart and soul he will coach again,” LaMonte said. “I’d be very surprised if he didn’t.”

Gruden stepped down last October after emails he sent from his personal account to then-Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive Bruce Allen were leaked to a few media outlets. The emails, which were written between 2011-2018, contained gay slurs and other inappropriate content. He is suing the NFL, alleging that the league held onto emails and selectively leaked them with the purpose of forcing Gruden to lose his job.

The NFL filed a motion to dismiss the case, but a judge denied the request. That took the case a step closer to going to trial, though it is possible the two sides could reach a settlement.

LaMonte said the email scandal “took a bad toll” on Gruden but that Gruden is in a much better place now. The agent said Gruden’s lawsuit is about getting his life back, not making money.

“I think Jon looks younger, happier and better now. He’s an infinitely wealthy person and the irony of this lawsuit is that everyone says he’ll make a fortune — he doesn’t really need the money,” LaMonte said. “All Jon Gruden wants is his life back — and he’s going to get it back.”

Even if Gruden wins his lawsuit against the NFL, a team would still have to hire him. That would be the biggest challenge for the former Super Bowl winner.

Jimmy Garoppolo could end up with surprising NFC team

Jimmy Garoppolo in pads

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is working his way back from an offseason shoulder surgery and expectations are that he’ll soon be traded. But to whom?

Most early rumors have centered around the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. However, with each passing day, it seems like potential destinations are being dropped off the list.

But things change rapidly in the NFL. As training camps wear on and preseason games begin, the possibility for injury increases. And as more and more quarterbacks around the league suffer the usual dings and dents, names will ultimately be added back to that list.

Case in point: the Los Angeles Rams.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is dealing with an “abnormal” elbow injury and has been limited for much of camp. There seems to be a growing concern about his potential availability this season, which may thrust Los Angeles into the quarterback market.

That, of course, is where the 49ers and Garoppolo come in to play.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk postulates that the Rams could keep a close eye on Garoppolo despite making strange bed fellow with the 49ers. If an awkward trade couldn’t be worked out, Los Angeles could simply wait to see if Garoppolo is released and then pounce.

It would be an odd turn of events to see Garoppolo end up with the Rams and even possibly start, but stranger things have happened. And while that potential end is still a ways down the road, it’s worth monitoring as Garoppolo’s market develops and Stafford’s status becomes clearer.

Demaryius Thomas’ cause of death revealed in autopsy report

Demaryius Thomas points his finger

Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) points to the crowd before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The autopsy report from the death of Demaryius Thomas has been made public.

Thomas died of “complications of a seizure disorder,” according to an autopsy report that was released by the Fulton County Medical examiner on Friday.

Thomas was found dead in the shower in his home on Dec. 9 of last year. Doctors from Boston University announced a month ago that the former Denver Broncos wide receiver was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The autopsy report stated that it is not believed that there was a direct link between the seizure disorder and CTE.

After Thomas died, his cousin said the family believes a seizure was the cause. The seizures began sometime after Thomas was involved in a car accident in 2019.

Thomas, who was 33, was a first-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2010 out of Georgia Tech. He grew into one of the league’s top receivers by his third season in the NFL. He made three straight Pro Bowls from 2012-2014 and four overall during his career.