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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

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Georgia star makes surprising admission about first matchup with Alabama

Jordan Davis after a game

The Georgia Bulldogs were embarrassed by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship, and one Georgia player made a fairly surprising admission about that game.

Georgia nose guard Jordan Davis admitted on Saturday that the Bulldogs did not have the proper conditioning coming into their 41-24 loss, and that Alabama took advantage.

“I’d say we wasn’t as conditioned as we should have been, especially on my part,” Davis said, via Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “And definitely this week we’ve been working hard. Coach Smart has been working us hard. And actually I’m about to go run right now after this meeting.”

That’s not something you typically hear from any athletes, though the candor is appreciated. It does suggest that Georgia wasn’t prepared for the first Alabama matchup, or at least not as much as they should have been. Combine that with the “rat poison” Alabama fed off of and you have a recipe for an upset.

Georgia and Alabama will face off again Monday for the National Championship. Do not expect the Bulldogs to make the same mistakes again.

Sep 18, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) reacts as he leaves the field after defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers offers hilarious response to crazy Super Bowl rumor

Aaron Rodgers after a play

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers does not usually directly address a lot of the rumors around him. One surfaced Friday that was so ridiculous, even Rodgers had to respond to it.

Boomer Esiason of WFAN’s “Boomer and Gio” show claimed Friday that Rodgers would boycott the Super Bowl if the Packers made it there. The claim was that Rodgers wanted to protest against the NFL’s COVID-19 guidance, and had told backup Jordan Love to “be ready.”

Rodgers did take notice of this. Not only did he retweet the clip on social media with three cry-laugh emojis, but he shared a series of sarcastic hashtags in response. In one of them, he referred to the rumor as the “dumbest f—ing story ever” and called for a bunch of boycotts, including one of coach Matt LaFleur’s eyebrows.

Rodgers has grown more outspoken in recent seasons, but he’ll still usually only address rumors and claims that are put to him directly or spread far enough that they become major stories. Few believed Esiason’s anonymous source, so Rodgers didn’t really have to defuse this one. The story was just too ridiculous for him not to.

Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Boomer Esiason shares wildest Aaron Rodgers rumor yet

Aaron Rodgers on the sideline

There have been plenty of rumors about Aaron Rodgers dating back to last offseason, and many of them have seemed quite farfetched. None are more insane than the one Boomer Esiason shared on Friday.

During the “Boomer and Gio” show on WFAN, Esiason shared some information he received about Rodgers from a source he said he trusts. The source claimed Rodgers is planning to threaten a boycott of the Super Bowl if the Packers make it that far. Esiason’s source said he has been told by multiple people in Rodgers’ “direct circle” that the star quarterback will use the week leading up to the Super Bowl to “make a major point” about the NFL’s COVID protocols.

Esiason’s cohost Gregg Giannotti read the text message from Boomer’s source on the air.

“He will threaten the NFL by saying he won’t play in the big game or next season if they don’t eliminate some of the COVID-related rules,” the text message read. “One big one that upsets him the most is the testing of non-symptomatic players. He’s told Jordan Love to be ready.”

It is no secret that Rodgers disagrees with how the NFL has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. He has said as much numerous times during his scheduled press conferences and regular appearances on “The Pat McAfee Show.” Rodgers spent time during the offseason trying to get the NFL to treat him the same as a vaccinated player based on a holistic treatment he received. He has very strong opinions about COVID, but would he really abandon his teammates before the biggest game of most of their lives?

We highly, highly doubt it. Rodgers made some cryptic comments about his future during an interview recently. He also said he committed to being “all in with the team” when he ended his holdout during the summer.

Rodgers has become more outspoken in recent years. He is rarely afraid to speak his mind, which we were reminded of this week when he absolutely torched the MVP voter who called him a “jerk.” We wouldn’t doubt that he would use the week leading up to the Super Bowl to criticize the NFL, but it is impossible to believe he would skip the game altogether.

Jim Harbaugh hinted to recruit that he could leave Michigan?

Jim Harbaugh in a Michigan hat

Jim Harbaugh just led Michigan to its most successful season since he was hired by the school seven years ago, but there has been some talk about him potentially leaving for a new job. Apparently the coach has not ruled it out.

A report earlier this week claimed Harbaugh is considering a potential return to the NFL. According to one recruit’s father, Harbaugh recently admitted that is a possibility.

Larry Clemons, the father of four-star wide receiver Darius Clemons, told Sam Webb of The Michigan Insider that Harbaugh admitted to the Clemons family that he will “entertain” conversations with NFL teams.

“He said that he’ll entertain (it),” Larry Clemons said. “He was up front with us about that. I had Coach Harbaugh speak to my pastor. They had a good conversation. Our pastor asked him about that, and that’s just that’s the (reply) that he gave him.”

Darius Clemons committed to Michigan last month, so he must not have been too concerned. If anything, he probably appreciated the honesty from Harbaugh.

There are two schools of thought with Harbaugh. One is that he actually is contemplating a return to the NFL, where he enjoyed plenty of success as a head coach. He went 44-19-1 in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014 before being forced out over issues with the team’s front office. He took the team to the NFC Championship Game three straight years and Super Bowl in 2012.

Harbaugh also could be trying to create leverage with Michigan. He signed an extension at a discounted rate last season, so he may want a raise after winning the Big Ten and taking the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff. College coaches use offers from other programs and NFL teams all the time to secure new contracts. It is certainly possible Harbaugh is taking that approach.

Harbaugh seems to genuinely love Michigan. He was swatting away NFL coaching rumors even when things were going poorly in Ann Arbor. We doubt he’ll leave, but you never know.

Photo: Aug 31, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh before the game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Reporter shares big Kawhi Leonard injury update

Kawhi Leonard in his Clippers uniform

There is a big update in the Kawhi Leonard injury situation.

TNT’s Chris B. Haynes reported during the Los Angeles Clippers’ game against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night that that Leonard is ahead of schedule in his rehab from a torn ACL.

Haynes further says that there is a “strong possibility” Leonard could return this season.

The Clippers entered Thursday’s game with a .500 record at 19-19, which put them seventh in the West. They reportedly are not too concerned with playoff seeding because they feel with Leonard in the lineup, they can compete with anyone.

Leonard suffered his torn ACL during last season’s playoffs. The team was supposedly being kept in the dark regarding Leonard’s status, but now we have an update.

This report matches up well with another report we shared in October. The previous report suggested the two-time NBA champion might be able to return before the NBA playoffs.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Arians shares what led to Antonio Brown being kicked off sideline

Bruce Arians smiling

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally cut Antonio Brown on Thursday. Shortly after the roster move was made, head coach Bruce Arians shared his side of what led to Brown stripping off his uniform and leaving the field during last Sunday’s game.

Brown said in a lengthy statement through his attorney on Wednesday that he was bothered by his ankle injury and Bucs coaches tried to force him to play hurt. Arians told reporters that is not what happened. The coach says the trouble started at halftime, when Brown was frustrated that he wasn’t getting enough targets. His teammates managed to calm him down, but Brown was still angry when the second half began and refused to play.

“He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. We got that calmed down. The players took care of that,” Arians said. “It started again on the sideline. We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game. He refused to go in the game. That’s when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back and approached him about what was going on. (He said), ‘I ain’t playing. I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said, ‘You’re done. Get the F out of here.’ That’s the end of it.”

Arians also said Brown never informed a trainer or doctor during the game that his ankle was bothering him, which is the “normal protocol.” You can hear the coach’s full comments below:

Arians’ account of what took place sounds plausible. The statement from Brown’s attorney claimed the receiver was in serious pain. Yet, the ankle injury did not stop Brown from hopping around the end zone after he stripped off his uniform and left MetLife Stadium (video here). It’s certainly possible Brown informed one or more Bucs coaches that he was too hurt to play, but they likely didn’t believe him given what transpired at halftime.

Brown also felt well enough to attend an NBA game this week. He didn’t have any type of walking boot, cast or crutches. The former Pro Bowler was suspended this season after he was caught using a fake COVID vaccine card. He has had countless other off-field issues. Brown certainly has not earned any benefit of the doubt.

Photo: Sep 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown accuses Tom Brady’s trainer of stiffing him

Tom Brady nods to the crowd

Antonio Brown issued a lengthy statement on Wednesday in which he accused the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of covering up his ankle injury and trying to force him to play through it. Now, the star receiver is taking aim at Tom Brady’s longtime personal trainer.

Brown shared screenshots of several text messages on his Instagram story early Thursday morning. One of them claims to show an exchange he had with Brady’s longtime trainer and best friend, Alex Guerrero. Brown texted Guerrero on the morning of Dec. 24 and said he would like half of the $100,000 back that he allegedly paid Guerrero. It’s unclear why Brown no longer wanted to work with Guerrero.

Guerrero responded telling Brown he completely understands if he wants to go in another direction and calling him a “wonderful person.” Guerrero also said “please let me know where you want me to send the balance.” In his Instagram caption, however, Brown indicated Guerrero never paid him back. Here’s the screenshot:

“(Tom Brady’s) guy (Alex Guerrero) charging me 100k never doing the work on me! how you even work wit (sic) people like this! This what I was dealing wit (sic),” Brown wrote.

Brown also tweeted the screenshot and wrote, “Then imagine your QB trainer charging you 100k then doing no work must be was apart of these guys plans all Along #missionImpossible.”

It seems unlikely that Guerrero would ask Brown where to send the payment and then not pay him, but perhaps there was some sort of mix-up.

Brown seems determined to make the Buccaneers and everyone associated with them look bad. The surprising part about him calling out Guerrero is that Brady has been one of Brown’s biggest supporters. The quarterback has tried to help Brown salvage his career for several years now. He has continued to publicly support Brown even after Brown stripped off his uniform last Sunday and left the field. You can see the video of that incident here.

Photo: Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) jogs off the field after a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown’s attorney accuses Bucs of ‘cover-up’ in statement

Antonio Brown smiling

The attorney for Antonio Brown issued a statement on Wednesday in which he shared the wide receiver’s side of Sunday’s events, which culminated in the former Bucs star stripping off his uniform and exiting the field midgame.

Sean Burstyn, the current attorney for Brown, shared Brown’s side of things in a lengthy statement. Burstyn accused the Bucs of a “cover-up.”

The statement argues that Brown was bothered by an ankle injury, one the coaches knew about before the game, and one he received a painkilling injection for. The statement says one of the Buccaneers coaches shouted at Brown to ask what was wrong. Brown claims he said he couldn’t go in the game because of his ankle. After that, Brown claims the coach yelled “you’re done!” and ran his thumb across his throat.

Brown is now saying that he was cut by the Bucs, so he ran off the field in response to that.

Burstyn also says that Brown will undergo surgery on his ankle after an MRI showed the extent of the receiver’s injury.

The statement provided additional background that may explain why the Bucs have not yet cut Brown. Tampa Bay is trying to get Brown to see a doctor of the team’s choice, according to the attorney. Brown’s party seems to be preparing for some sort of possible injury-related grievance with the Bucs.

What’s amazing is given how painful the attorney describes Brown’s ankle to be, the pain did not stop Brown from hopping around the end zone as he headed off the field (video here). The painful ankle injury that requires surgery and prevented Brown from playing also did not stop the receiver from attending an NBA game on Monday, where he did not appear to have any walking boot, cast or crutches.

Given how he was just caught by the NFL for using a fake vaccine card, Brown might have a hard time getting the public to believe his entire side of the story.

Photo: Aug 22, 2019; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown reacts before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Investors Group Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers unloads on MVP voter who called him a ‘jerk’

Aaron Rodgers gets ready to throw

A veteran NFL reporter took heat on Tuesday when he revealed he will not give Aaron Rodgers an MVP vote due to off-field issues, and Rodgers did not exactly take the high road when asked about the remarks.

Hub Arkush, the editor of Pro Football Weekly, said during a radio appearance that Rodgers does not deserve to be MVP again because he is a “jerk.” He said you can make a case that Rodgers is the most valuable player on his team but that you should not win the award if you are “the biggest jerk in the league and punish your team and your organization and your fanbase the way he did.” You can listen to the comments here.

Rodgers was asked on Wednesday about Arkush bashing him. He returned the favor, calling Arkush an “absolute bum.” Rodgers also said Arkush’s only issue with him is that he did not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think he’s a bum. I think he’s an absolute bum,” Rodgers said. “He doesn’t know me. I don’t know who he is. Nobody knew who he was, probably, until yesterday’s comments. … His problem isn’t with me being a bad guy or the biggest jerk in the league. He doesn’t know anything about me. His problem is I’m not vaccinated. So if he wants to go on a crusade and collude and come up with an extra letter to put on the award just for this season and make it the Most Valuable Vaccinated Player, then he should do that. He’s a bum. I’m not gonna waste any time worrying about that stuff.”

Arkush didn’t mention anything specifically about Rodgers’ vaccination status, but the way Rodgers handled that situation angered a lot of people. Arkush was critical of Rodgers for what he did to the Packers and their fan base, so that was likely a reference to the QB demanding a trade.

It’s one thing to argue that other players like Tom Brady, Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp have been more valuable to their teams than Rodgers. But Rodgers’ behavior — whether you agree with it or not — clearly has not negatively impacted the Packers. They’re the best team in the NFL by record. Arkush’s rationale is totally out of whack, and many within the NFL community called him on it.

Rodgers could have ignored Arkush altogether, but it’s no surprise he didn’t. The 38-year-old has been fed up with the media this season and even shown it with his wardrobe on occasions.

Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Wild playoff scenario could unfold in Week 18 if Jaguars beat Colts

Derek Carr with a helmet on

The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to wrap up yet another disappointing year, but that does not mean they are playing an insignificant game in Week 18. In fact, they have a chance to potentially create chaos ahead of the postseason.

The Jaguars are hosting the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. For the Colts, the road to the playoffs is simple — win and get in. If Jacksonville wins, however, things could get very interesting. Why? Because that would set up a scenario where the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers, who will play each other on Sunday, would both get into the playoffs with a tie.

As luck would have it, the Jaguars and Colts play in the early window and the Raiders host the Chargers in the late window. That means the latter two teams will know before they play if a tie would get both into the playoffs. The big question, then, would be how they handle the situation.

You might think the Jaguars have almost no chance of beating the Colts, but history favors them. The Colts are 0-6 when playing at Jacksonville since 2015. Granted, some of those Jags teams were better and Indy teams were worse, but anything could happen.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, the NFL prohibits efforts by teams that undermine the integrity of the game. There may be no explicit rule that teams can’t agree to play to a tie, but commissioner Roger Goodell could punish the Raiders and Chargers if it were determined that they colluded.

The NFL is probably hoping the Colts just beat the Jaguars, that way there are no questions. But if the Jags are looking for one last piece of motivation as they close out a disastrous season, they definitely have something to play for.

Photo: Sep 13, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) before playing against the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports