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#pounditFriday, January 22, 2021

Headlines

Matthew Stafford wants out of Detroit?

Matthew Stafford

The Detroit Lions have their new braintrust in place, and the first thing they might have to deal with is Matthew Stafford’s future with the organization.

Trade rumors followed the quarterback last offseason, and it appears likely that the same will happen this offseason. Boomer Esiason added fuel to the fire on Wednesday, saying on CBS Sports Radio that he is hearing that Stafford “wants out” of Detroit.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a huge shock, especially if the Lions think they will need a couple years to be competitive. Stafford turns 33 in February, and he won’t want to wait around through another rebuild. That makes a trade more likely.

Stafford started all 16 games for the Lions in 2020, throwing for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Perhaps he may yet be won over by his new coach’s press conferences.

Photo: A Healthier Michigan/Flickr via cc-by-sa 2.0

New Lions coach Dan Campbell has epic intro press conference

Dan Campbell

Dan Campbell has yet to coach a game or hold a practice with the Detroit Lions, but we can already say with confidence that he will be the most intense head coach in football next season.

Campbell was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Lions on Thursday. The highlight of the press conference was when he spoke about the losing that has gone on in Detroit for years now. The former NFL tight end said he can’t guarantee wins, but he can promise his players are going to “bite a kneecap off” after they get knocked down.

You can see some of the fiery speech below, but beware that it contains a curse word:

Now we know why the Lions were impressed with Campbell.

Campbell was an assistant head coach and tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints prior to taking the Detroit job. He was with the Miami Dolphins from 2010-2015 before that and served as their interim coach in 2015 after Joe Philbin was fired.

Those who have heard this absolutely legendary story about Campbell probably were not surprised by his press conference on Thursday. If nothing else, the guy is going to be a quote machine.

Report: Hue Jackson interviewed for Steelers OC job

Hue Jackson

The Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for a new offensive coordinator after not renewing Randy Fichtner’s contract, and Hue Jackson is a candidate for the job.

Jackson interviewed with the Steelers for their OC position earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Jackson was fired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2018 after he went 3-36-1 in three seasons with the team. He then worked as an assistant on Marvin Lewis’ staff with the Cincinnati Bengals before Lewis was fired.

While his head coaching record is rough, Jackson made a name for himself as a respected offensive coordinator. He should wind up back in that role for an NFL team eventually.

Larry Scott finally fired as Pac-12 commissioner

Larry Scott

The Pac-12 will finally have some new leadership.

Larry Scott was fired as commissioner of the Pac-12 on Wednesday. CEOs of the conference finished a meeting that led to the decision.

Scott sent an email to the Pac-12 athletic directors, telling them it was a mutual decision, even though he had a contract that ran through 2022.

The move is long overdue and really is coming far too late.

Scott took over as Pac-12 commissioner in 2009. Since then, the conference has become less and less relevant in college football and basketball, and is viewed as a joke among the Power 5 conferences, especially in football. The conference barely having a season in 2020 set it back even more than it already had been in terms of nationwide reputation.

The biggest error Scott made was keeping the Pac-12 Networks, which were launched in 2012, off of DirecTV. A significant percentage of the conferences fans were unable to watch their teams due to this horrible TV deal and became more disconnected with their programs. Simultaneously, Scott recently introduced 9 AM football games, which would give no chance for fans to have a typical college football Saturday.

Under Scott, the conference also expanded to include Colorado and Utah. Once highly-regarded as the Conference as Champions, the Pac-12 has plummeted in stature due to Scott’s horrendous leadership.

Philip Rivers announces retirement from NFL

Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers led the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs in his first season with the team, but the veteran quarterback will not be doing it again in 2021.

Rivers told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday that he is retiring from the NFL. He will make the official announcement on Wednesday.

“It’s just time,” Rivers said. “It’s just right.”

Rivers also issued the following statement:

Rivers says he still loves playing and knows he can make throws, but he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. He certainly proved he is still capable of winning in the NFL this season, as he led the Colts to an 11-5 record and an AFC South title.

Despite that success, Rivers said he is most excited now about the opportunity to coach high school football.

“What has helped me come to this (decision) is the growing desire to coach high school football,” Rivers told Acee. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s been growing. I can’t wait.”

Not long after he signed a one-year, $25 million deal with the Colts, Rivers committed to coaching at St. Michael Catholic High School in Fairhope, Ala., upon his retirement. That made it seem likely that he would only play one season in Indianapolis, though he did hint fairly recently that he wanted to keep playing.

There has already been speculation that Rivers could become an NFL analyst, and plenty of major networks want him. He did not mention entering that line of work, however, and it’s unlikely that he could do that while coaching a high school team.

Rivers finishes his career ranked fifth all-time in the NFL with 63,440 passing yards and 421 touchdown passes. His streak of 240 consecutive games started is the second-longest ever behind Brett Favre’s 297. The Hall of Fame awaits.

George Springer gets $150 million deal from Blue Jays

George Springer

The Toronto Blue Jays have landed one of the biggest free agents of the offseason

The Jays and George Springer have agreed to a six-year deal worth $150 million.

We had heard for over two months that the Jays had interest in some of the top free agent outfielders. Then came reports saying Springer was choosing between Toronto and the Mets.

Things between Springer and the Jays heated up this week, culminating in Tuesday’s deal.

According to Mark Feinsand, the Jays outbid the Mets by $25-$30 million.

Springer is a career .270 hitter with an .852 career OPS and finished in the top ten of AL MVP voting in 2019. He also has three All-Star appearances in his career. The 31-year-old was named World Series MVP while with Houston in 2017.

Toronto was looking to beef up an up-and-coming roster, which features the likes of Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Teoscar Hernandez.

Mets GM Jared Porter fired amid harassment scandal

Jared Porter

The New York Mets have quickly moved on from general manager Jared Porter in the wake of the disturbing allegations that surfaced against him this week.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes published a story on that detailed how Porter allegedly harassed a foreign female reporter with several inappropriate text messages back in 2016. On Tuesday morning, Mets owner Steve Cohen announced that Porter has been fired.

“We have terminated Jared Porter this morning. In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

Porter was hired as GM of the Mets in December. The alleged harassment began when Porter had met a foreign woman who came to the U.S. to report about baseball in June, 2016. The two exchanged numbers in an elevator, and the woman said she believed they were exchanging information to keep in touch as a possible source for reporting. Porter began sending the woman inappropriate text messages that day. He allegedly included one photo of a naked penis, which he later said was a stock photo.

You can read more details from the story here.

Porter, 41, was working in the Cubs’ front office at the time of the lewd texting. He joined the Diamondbacks after the 2016 season, and he was hired by the Mets in December as their new general manager.

Report: Mets GM Jared Porter harassed female reporter with penis photos in 2016

Jared Porter

New York Mets general manager Jared Porter harassed a foreign female reporter with several inappropriate text messages, including an unsolicited penis photo, according to a report.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes published a story on Monday about the allegations, which come over four years after the incidents took place.

A foreign woman who came to the U.S. to report about baseball claims she met Porter in an elevator in June, 2016. They talked baseball and exchanged information. The woman thought they were exchanging information to keep in touch as a possible source for reporting. Porter apparently had other ideas.

According to the report, which provides screenshots of text messages as proof, Porter began texting the woman that same day they met. Porter sent her multiple messages and photos and kept pushing boundaries more and more after the woman did not push back initially. The woman says she was confused by the behavior, but being in a foreign country and not knowing the culture, she wasn’t sure how to respond.

Eventually, he ended up sending her several photos, including one of a naked penis. Porter now claims that the photo was a stock image, but he sent plenty of other photos to the woman that were of him.

The woman then met with a player and interpreter from her country, who helped her craft a response to tell him to stop.

The woman says she ignored over 60 text messages from Porter before he sent the final lewd photo, according to the report.

The woman considered filing a lawsuit but decided not to. She ultimately returned to her home country and left the journalism field altogether.

ESPN learned of the story in late 2017 and maintained contact with the woman. It wasn’t until recently that she decided she felt comfortable going public with the story.

Porter, 41, was working in the Cubs’ front office at the time of the lewd texting. He joined the Diamondbacks after the 2016 season, and he was hired by the Mets in December as their new general manager. Porter acknowledged to ESPN that he texted with the woman, though he tried to claim the naked photos were not of him. The Mets are reviewing the issue.

Peyton Manning will reportedly have ‘big role’ in Tennessee coaching search

Peyton Manning

Tennessee is once again searching for a new head football coach after Jeremy Pruitt was fired on Monday, and the greatest player in the program’s history is expected to be involved in the process.

Peyton Manning will play a “big role” in Tennessee’s search for a new head coach, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reports.

Pruitt was fired with cause amid a recruiting investigation, and it sounds like the penalties will be significant for Tennessee. The school hired its own legal team to look into allegations of recruiting violations, and Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman said Monday that it is “stunning” how deep the issues run. Plowman said the NCAA is likely to find both Level II and Level I violations. A Level I violation is categorized as a “severe breach of conduct.”

The investigation will likely make it difficult for Tennessee to attract top head coaching candidates, which is where Manning could be a big help. He reportedly made a big pitch to a rival head coach on the Vols’ behalf in the past.

Manning threw for more than 11,000 yards, 89 touchdowns and 33 interceptions in four seasons at Tennessee. He was inducted into the Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016 and College Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

Jeremy Pruitt fired as head coach at Tennessee

Jeremy Pruitt

Jeremy Pruitt has been on the hot seat for weeks amid an investigation into the Tennessee football program, and the head coach will soon be officially out.

Tennessee fired Pruitt on Monday, according to multiple reports. Sources told Blake Toppmeyer of the Knoxville News Sentinel that Pruitt has been fired for cause, meaning he will not be entitled to a buyout.

Phillip Fulmer is also stepping down as athletic director at Tennessee, though the decision is reportedly not related to the investigation.

Tennessee is conducting an internal investigation into its football program over alleged recruiting violations. The probe began as far back as November, and ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has reported that the recruitment of offensive tackle Amarius Mims is part of the investigation. Mims, one of the top players in the country for 2021, has signed with Georgia.

There has been talk that the investigation is serious in nature, and Pruitt’s dismissal seemingly confirms that.

Pruitt, 46, went 16-19 in three seasons at Tennessee. The school initially intended to keep him, as evidenced by the contract extension he signed four months ago. The investigation obviously changed things.