Compression Shorts: August 31st – September 6th 2015

Sony Altered ‘Concussion’ Film to Prevent N.F.L. Protests, Emails Show

When Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to make a movie focusing on the death and dementia professional football players have endured from repeated hits to the head — and the N.F.L.’s efforts toward a cover-up — it signed Will Smith to star as one of the first scientists to disclose the problem. It named the film bluntly, “Concussion.”

In the end even Sony, which unlike most other major studios in Hollywood has no significant business ties to the N.F.L., found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game.

In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the N.F.L. by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league.

“Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn’t planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn’t be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge,” Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email on Aug. 6, 2014, to three top studio executives about how to position the movie. “We’ll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”

(A Sony spokeswoman, who did not make Mr. Caines available for an interview, said late Tuesday, after this article was published, that the consultant cited in Mr. Caines’s email was not an N.F.L. employee, but was hired to deal with the N.F.L.)

Another email on Aug. 1, 2014, said some “unflattering moments for the N.F.L.” were deleted or changed, while in another note on July 30, 2014, a top Sony lawyer is said to have taken “most of the bite” out of the film “for legal reasons with the N.F.L. and that it was not a balance issue.” Other emails in September 2014 discuss an aborted effort to reach out to the N.F.L.

The movie is due out in December, but the trailer was released Monday. It showed Smith as Bennet Omalu, whose work diagnosing a disease in American football players known as C.T.E. — a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head — led to one of the N.F.L.’s biggest crises: a possibility that the game itself could be lethal.

Suicides by former star players, including Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, have heightened the scrutiny on the N.F.L., which has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by about 5,000 retired players, who accused the league of deliberately hiding the dangers of concussions.

The trailer showed several scenes depicting Dr. Omalu with jaw-dropping surprise in his lab and angrily demanding “the truth” from people who appear to be from the N.F.L. Many other scientists have built on Dr. Omalu’s work, which began in 2002, and the N.F.L. has since donated tens of millions of dollars to study the effects of concussions and develop ways of treating them.

The N.F.L. has declined to comment on the trailer or the movie, and several Sony executives, through a spokeswoman, declined to speak about the movie or its production and marketing strategy.

Mr. Landesman, who also wrote the movie, said in an interview that the email conversations do not show Sony bowing to the N.F.L., but rather trying to portray the characters and story as accurately as possible to reduce the chance that the league could attack the filmmakers for taking too much creative license.

He added that like many large companies, movie studios that take on controversial topics try to anticipate how their films might be criticized and prepare defenses. He confirmed that Sony lawyers deleted some material from the film, but he declined to elaborate on the cuts beyond saying that they did so to make the story “better and richer and fairer.”

Those changes, he said, did not alter the thrust of the story, which focuses on Dr. Omalu, a forensic pathologist who identified C.T.E., or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

“We don’t want to give the N.F.L. a toehold to say, ‘They are making it up,’ and damage the credibility of the movie,” Mr. Landesman said of Sony’s efforts.

He added: “There were things that might have been creatively fun to have actors say that might not have been accurate in the heads of the N.F.L. or doctors. We might have gotten away with it legally, but it might have damaged our integrity as filmmakers. We didn’t have a need to make up anything because it was powerful and revelatory on its own.”

Mr. Landesman continued, “There was never an instance where we compromised the storytelling to protect ourselves from the N.F.L.”

Still, the issue of how to portray the story of players living with the lethal hazards of the game has been fraught, even for a studio that has no substantial ties to the N.F.L. (Steve Tisch, a co-owner of the New York Giants, has a production company located at Sony Pictures, but he is not involved with the movie. Ridley Scott, a producer, and Mr. Landesman are represented by WME Entertainment, which also works with the N.F.L.)

The N.F.L. had previously pressured business partners to step back from issues that are potentially embarrassing to it.

In 2013, N.F.L. officials complained to ESPN executives about a documentary, “League of Denial,” that the network had produced with “Frontline,” detailing the league’s response to the dangers of head trauma. ESPN stopped working on the project with “Frontline,” which later broadcast it.

In 2004, the N.F.L. complained to the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ESPN, about a hard-hitting television series on the sports network that delivered an unsavory depiction of professional football players. The show ended after one season.

In this case, the emails, some of which were first reported on Reddit, suggested that Sony saw a dramatic story behind Dr. Omalu, a Nigerian immigrant who became a whistle-blower when he tried to warn the N.F.L. about the risk of playing football. Mr. Landesman, a former journalist who has written for The New York Times Magazine, was asked in November 2013 to join the project by Mr. Scott and his wife, Giannina, who are producing the film.

In one of the emails hacked from Sony by an unknown culprit and posted on WikiLeaks, Amy Pascal, then a co-chairwoman of Sony Pictures, called the movie “important and controversial” and said the studio was “committed passionate and enthusiastic” about making it.

But in the same email, from July 2014, she urged caution. “We need to know exactly what we can and can’t do and if this is a ‘true’ story or not,” she wrote, taking note of other movies about real events, including “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Moneyball” and “The Social Network,” all of which were later criticized to varying degrees for veering from accuracy. “I know these can be dicey waters but none more than this one,” she wrote.

In other emails, Sony executives discussed how to make the movie appear less threatening. In several emails they said that press materials should note that Mr. Smith likes football and one of his sons played the game. In another email, Hannah Minghella, a top executive, suggested that “rather than portray the N.F.L. as one corrupt organization can we identify the individuals within the N.F.L. who were guilty of denying/covering up the truth.”

Last September, Mr. Landesman wrote to Paul Hicks, the top spokesman at the N.F.L., to set up a meeting with the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell. Mr. Hicks asked Mr. Landesman for a copy of the script, but several Sony executives were aghast that Mr. Landesman had reached out to the N.F.L. independently and the idea of a meeting was scuttled.

Mr. Landesman said in an interview that in the end he never met with Mr. Hicks because it would have worked to the N.F.L.’s advantage. He never sent the N.F.L. the screenplay, but he said he thought the N.F.L. had seen it anyway because a version was in a hacked email, though a comprehensive review of the emails by The Times did not find it.

The only comment the N.F.L. has made is that it welcomes attention to health and safety issues.

“We are encouraged by the ongoing focus on the critical issue of player health and safety,” the league said in a statement when asked to comment on the film. “We have no higher priority. We all know more about this issue than we did 10 or 20 years ago. As we continue to learn more, we apply those learnings to make our game and players safer.”


Why Judge Berman Threw Out Tom Brady’s ‘Deflategate’ Suspension

A federal judge in New York on Thursday threw out the NFL’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension of Tom Brady, giving the New England Patriots star quarterback a hard-fought victory and dealing an embarrassing legal setback to league management.

The NFL said it would appeal U.S. District Judge Richard Berman’s decision. And Mr. Brady didn’t immediately comment.

He was accused by the NFL of scheming to deflate footballs during last year’s AFC Championship game. A report by Paul Weiss lawyer Ted Wells said Brady was “generally aware” of the alleged tampering. After Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension, Mr. Brady took the case to federal court with a lawsuit.

Judge Berman gave several reasons for vacating the punishment. Here are key excerpts from his 40-page opinion:

• Inadequate notice of punishment:

The Court finds that Brady had no notice that he could receive a four-game suspension for general awareness of ball deflation by others or participation in any scheme to deflate footballs, and non-cooperation with the ensuing Investigation. Brady also had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs.

It is the “law of the shop” to provide professional football players with (advance) notice of prohibited conduct and of potential discipline … Because there was no notice of a four-game suspension in the circumstances presented here, Commissioner Goodell may be said to have “dispense[d] his own brand of industrial justice.”…

The Court concludes that, as a matter of law, no NFL policy or precedent notifies players that they may be disciplined (much less suspended) for general awareness of misconduct by others. And, it does not appear that the NFL has ever, prior to this case, sought to punish players for such an alleged violation.

• Misplaced reliance on NFL’s ‘conduct detrimental’ policy:

Commissioner Goodell contends that Brady’s discipline stems from the general [Collective Bargaining Agreement] policy precluding players from engaging in any conduct that is “detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”

Goodell’s reliance on notice of broad CBA “conduct detrimental” policy — as opposed to specific Player Policies regarding equipment violations — to impose discipline upon Brady is legally misplaced. In both the Ray Rice case and the Adrian Peterson case, the players could, perhaps, be said to appreciate that acts of domestic violence might be deemed “conduct detrimental.” And yet, in both of these cases, the players were disciplined only after findings were made under the specific domestic violence policy

• Brady was denied the opportunity to examine a lead investigator:

Denied the opportunity to examine [Jeff] Pash at the arbitral hearing, Brady was prejudiced. He was foreclosed from exploring, among other things, whether the Pash Wells Investigation was truly “independent,” and how and why the NFL’ s General Counsel came to edit a supposedly independent investigation report…Brady was also prejudiced because there was no other witness, apart from Pash, who was as “competent to address the substantive core of the claim.”…As co-lead investigator and senior executive with the NFL, Pash was in the best position to testify about the NFL ‘s degree of involvement in, and potential shaping of, a heralded “independent” Investigation.

• Brady was denied equal access to investigative files from the Paul Weiss report:

The Court finds that Commissioner Goodell’s denial of the Players Association’s motion to produce the Paul, Weiss investigative files, including notes of witness interviews, for Brady’s use at the arbitral hearing was fundamentally unfair and in violation of 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(3) and that Brady was prejudiced as a result. The interview notes were, at the very least, the basis for the Wells Report, and Brady was prejudiced by his lack of access to them. Brady was denied the opportunity to examine and challenge materials that may have led to his suspension and which likely facilitated Paul, Weiss attorneys’ cross-examination of him.

Compounding Brady’s prejudice is the fact that, as noted, Paul, Weiss acted as both alleged “independent” counsel during the Investigation and also (perhaps inconsistently) as retained counsel to the NFL during the arbitration. Paul, Weiss uniquely was able to retain access to investigative files and interview notes which it had developed; was able to use them in direct and cross-examinations of Brady and other arbitration witnesses; share them with NFL officials during the arbitral proceedings; and, at the same time, withhold them from Brady.


 

Brady beats NFL: Federal judge tosses 4-game suspension in ‘Deflategate’

Chalk up another win for Tom Brady.
A federal judge deflated “Deflategate” Thursday, erasing the New England quarterback’s four-game suspension for a controversy that the NFL claimed threatened the integrity of the game.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went too far in affirming punishment of the Super Bowl winning quarterback. Brady has insisted he played no role in a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season’s AFC championship game.
The written decision frees Brady to prepare for the Sept. 10 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Berman either had to uphold the four-game suspension or throw it out completely; he could not author a lesser punishment for Brady.
“This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. “While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.”
“No NFL policy or precedent notifies players that they may be disciplined (much less suspended) for general awareness of misconduct by others”
– U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman
Goodell said the NFL will appeal the ruling.
“We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision,” Goodell said in a statement. “We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.”
The ruling was a surprise to some legal experts who believed Berman was merely pressuring the league to settle when he criticized its handling of the investigation and discipline over the last eight months.
The league’s investigation conducted by New York-based attorney Ted Wells, which was released in May, stopped short of finding as fact that the balls were deliberately deflated on Brady’s orders. The NFL’s threshold for imposing discipline requires merely a finding of strong probability of wrongdoing. The report found that it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” in the balls being deflated.
“With respect to ‘general awareness’ of others’ misconduct — which is the principal finding in both the Wells Report and the Vincent Letter — Brady had no notice that such conduct was prohibited, or any reasonable certainty of potential discipline stemming from such conduct,” Berman wrote in his decision. “The court concludes that, as a matter of law, no NFL policy or precedent notifies players that they may be disciplined (much less suspended) for general awareness of misconduct by others.”
Brady’s attorney, Don Yee, called the outcome of the report pre-determined and blamed the NFL for its lack of standards or protocols in handling footballs prior to games.
Although Brady was uncooperative with investigators, refusing to turn over his cellphone, two team employees did. Text messages between John Jastremski, a team equipment assistant, and locker room attendant Jim McNally, who appears to call himself the “deflator,” left little room for doubt that footballs were purposely doctored for Brady’s benefit.
Goodell, though, went beyond the initial investigation report, finding in late July as a result of testimony from Brady and others that the quarterback conspired with the ball handlers and tried to obstruct the league’s probe, including by destroying his cellphone.
The commissioner said he concluded Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to ensure balls were deflated.
Berman attacked the league while questioning one of its lawyers at two hearings, citing a lack of proof against Brady and asking how Goodell settled on a four-game suspension instead of other discipline. In his decision, Berman blasted the league, saying that if Brady indeed did have a hand in deflating the footballs, he could reasonably expect a fine but not a suspension, per the disciplinary guidelines laid out in the collective bargaining agreement.
“A player’s right to notice is at the heart of the CBA and, for that matter, of our criminal and civil justice systems,” Berman wrote.
He warned the league that he had the authority to overturn its punishment of Brady if he found the NFL acted unfairly by refusing to deliver NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash as a witness even though he worked on the NFL investigation.
“Denied the opportunity to examine Pash at the arbitral hearing, Brady was prejudiced,” Berman wrote in his decision. “He was foreclosed from exploring, among other things, whether the Pash/Wells investigation was truly ‘independent,’ and how and why the NFL’s General Counsel came to edit a supposedly independent investigation report.”
Berman had repeatedly urged both sides to settle and tone down their rhetoric. At a hearing Monday attended by Brady and Goodell, the judge announced that both sides had “tried quite hard” to reach a deal in morning talks. But the case was left for him to decide.
As they negotiated, the sides attacked each other in court papers.
In one August court filing, the union said the four-game suspension displayed “a clearly biased agenda — not an effort at fairness and consistency,” and it criticized Goodell’s ruling upholding the suspension as a “smear campaign,” a “propaganda piece written for public consumption.”
In its papers, the NFL said there was “ample support” in evidence for the commissioner to conclude Brady was involved in efforts by the Patriots equipment personnel to deflate footballs.
The Patriots routed the Colts by a 45-7 score in the Jan. 18 AFC Championship game, putting them in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. The lopsided score prompted many experts to doubt whether any advantage gained by deflating footballs had an impact. But reports that the team was under investigation for deflating game balls dominated the news during the two weeks leading up to the game, in which the Patriots came from behind to win, 28-24. Although New England was aided by an inexplicable call by Seahwaks Coach Pete Carroll to pass instead of run from the one-yard line, leading to an interception by the Patriots that iced the game, it was Brady who was named MVP.
Brady finished the game with 37 completions in 50 attempts for 328 yards and four touchdowns, winning his fourth Super Bowl ring. In addition to being one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game, he is married to high profile supermodel Giselle Bundchen.

Here are some things Deflategate has lasted longer than

Judge Richard Berman has ruled Tom Brady eligible to compete in Week 1 after nullifying his four-game suspension for involvement in the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal. The NFL will appeal the decision, which is only expected to extend the scandal’s 277-day lifespan after Thursday.
Here are things that Deflategate has outlived thus far:
Bill Belichick’s 1999 tenure as New York Jets head coach – one day
Kanye West’s 2015 speech at the VMAs – 13 minutes
Carmen Electra’s marriage to Dennis Rodman – Nine days
Pope Urban VII’s tenure at the Vatican – 13 days
2015 March Madness NCAA College Basketball Tournament – 20 days
William Henry Harrison’s presidency – 32 days
Lent – 40 days
J.R. Smith’s 2015 free-agency – 68 days
Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries – 72 days
Royal baby Charlotte Elizabeth Diana’s life (Born on May 2) – 124 days old, and counting
An entire NFL season, from preseason to Super Bowl –  Approximately 150 days
Alex Rodriguez’s suspension appeal to 162-game decision – 160 days
The 2011 NBA lockout – 161 days
Boston’s Olympic bid hopes – 200 days
Spanish-American War of 1898 – Approximately six months

American Pharoah to race again in Breeders’ Cup Classic

NEW YORK (AP) — A few days of indecision over, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah is back on schedule for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and a chance for a magical career-ending race.
After a tough loss in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course last Saturday, American Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat said his “gut feeling” was to retire rather than race on as planned.
On Thursday, following hours of talks with trainer Bob Baffert and the rest of Team Pharoah this week, the owner decided against retirement because “the champ deserves another chance.
“I am very confident that this is the right decision for American Pharoah,” Zayat said in a statement released to The Associated Press and several other media outlets. “He loves to race. He has provided my family, racing fans, and general sports fans with great thrills this year.
“He won the Triple Crown earlier this year, and he deserves the chance to be in the sport’s premier year-end event.”
Zayat says after conferring with Baffert, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, jockey Victor Espinoza and his son and racing manager, Justin Zayat, that American Pharoah came out of the Travers “in great shape.” His initial read was perhaps the chiseled bay colt was tiring from the grind of shipping more than 20,000 miles by air and horse van and running in seven tough races since March.
“I believe there were a combination of factors that prevented American Pharoah from running his absolute best on Saturday,” Zayat said without elaborating. “I have every confidence that he can run to his best again.”
Since the loss to Keen Ice in the $1.6 million Travers, American Pharoah was returned to Baffert’s home base at Del Mar Racetrack in California. He is to be paraded before fans at the track this weekend, and then on to Santa Anita to continue training.
There’s also a chance he could travel to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, for training in the weeks leading to the Classic at nearby Keeneland in Lexington on Oct. 31. Also, there’s an outside possibility of a race before the Classic.
The reception at the Spa also may also have played a part in Zayat’s decision to keep going. An appreciative crowd of 15,000 showed to watch American Pharoah gallop the day before the race, and a sellout crowd of 50,000 tried to cheer him to victory.
Zayat has said he wants to share the horse with racing fans, and even after the loss he was impressed with the support. Some fans called out to him and Baffert, “Thanks for bringing him here.”
The buildup to the BC Classic surely will be bigger than ever. In addition to the Triple Crown winner, the field could include two-time champion mare Beholder, who beat the boys in the Pacific Classic last month, Travers winner Keen Ice and Whitney Handicap winner Honor Code.
Breeders’ Cup President Craig Fravel said he usually doesn’t comment on individual horses considering the event, but “we want to acknowledge the Zayat family on their decision to keep American Pharoah in training, and look forward to his continued engagement with the fans who have so genuinely connected with the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.”
American Pharoah’s breeding rights were sold to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud for an unknown fee, likely in the tens of millions of dollars. Since the horse is still racing, a stud fee has not been announced.
American Pharoah has won eight of 10 races and earned nearly $6 million. The loss in the Travers was his first since Aug. 9, 2014 – his first career start.
The son of Pioneerof the Nile won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Aug. 2 in his first race since sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Atlanta Hawks to retire Dikembe Mutombo jersey number

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Mike Budenholzer announced earlier today that the organization will retire Dikembe Mutombo’s No. 55 uniform in a special ceremony on November 24th when the Hawks host the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena. The announcement was made during a ceremony recognizing today as Dikembe Mutombo Day in Fulton County.
“There are very few players who have had the impact on- and off-the-court that Dikembe has had, and he’s very deserving of this honor,” Koonin said. “As a player, man and humanitarian, he represents everything we want to be associated with. November 24th is going to be a memorable night in our franchise’s history, in Atlanta, in Fulton County, and for Dikembe and his family.”
Mutombo, who will be enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 11, spent five seasons (343 games) with the Hawks (1996-2001), finishing with averages of 11.9 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 1.2 assists in 36.2 minutes (.529 FG%).
He ranks third in franchise history in career field goal percentage (.529), blocks (1,094) and rebounds per game (12.6), seventh in defensive rebounds (3,093) and ninth in offensive rebounds (1,228) and minutes per game. He holds the second (277, 1997-98), fourth (269, 1999-00) and fifth positions (264, 1996-97) on the franchise list for most blocks in a single season, and has the sixth-best field goal percentage season (.562, 1999-00) in club history.
Overall, he played 18 years in the league (1,196 games), ranking second in NBA history in blocked shots (3,289) and 19th in rebounds (12,359), averaging 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.0 assists in 30.8 minutes (.518 FG%). He was a four-time Defensive Player of the Year (tied for the most in league history), eight-time All-Star and is the only two-time winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Mutombo will join Hawks legends Dominique Wilkins (#21), Lou Hudson (#23), Bob Pettit (#9) and Ted Turner as those honored in Philips Arena’s rafters.

Dwight Howard detained at airport due to gun

Rockets center Dwight Howard was detained at a Houston airport after trying to board a flight with a handgun in his carry-on luggage, the police said. The Houston police spokesman Kese Smith said the gun was discovered Friday by Transportation Security Administration officials. Howard was questioned, and the gun was seized by the airport authorities, who allowed him to board a later flight. The police said Howard would not be charged with a crime.

McCutchen named NL’s top player for August

Andrew McCutchen has been playing his best baseball of the season, and he was awarded for it Thursday, when the Pirates center fielder was named as the National League Player of the Month for August.
McCutchen had a slash line of .348/.470/.609 for an OPS of 1.079 in August — all monthly bests on the season — with five homers and 19 RBIs in 27 games to win the award.
McCutchen’s Pirates sit comfortably atop the NL Wild Card race with a 4 1/2-game lead for the first Wild Card spot entering Thursday night’s game.
McCutchen is hitting .303 with 20 homers and 85 RBIs on the season.

Arrieta named NL Pitcher of the Month

Jake Arrieta won’t forget August anytime soon. Arrieta was named the National League’s Pitcher of the Month for August on Thursday in recognition of a month that saw him go 6-0 with an 0.43 ERA and a no-hitter to his credit. Chicago’s ace currently leads all NL pitchers with 17 victories.
The right-hander held opposing hitters to a .130 batting average and a .196 on-base percentage last month, and he struck out 43 batters while walking just 10 in his six starts.
Arrieta, who hasn’t lost since July 25, started out August by throwing seven shutout innings in a 5-0 victory over the Pirates. He came back on Aug. 9 and pitched into the eighth inning without allowing a run in a win over the Giants, and he threw another quality start Aug. 15 against the White Sox.
The 29-year-old provided matching stat lines in his next two starts, when he went six innings and didn’t allow any earned runs in wins over the Braves and Giants. Arrieta capped his month by making history on Sunday night, when he threw a no-hitter and struck out 12 batters in a 2-0 win over the Dodgers.
Arrieta allowed just two baserunners in that gem, one on an error and the other on a walk. He became just the seventh player in big league history to throw a no-hitter in the same season in which he lost a no-hitter. Arrieta’s last loss came in a no-no thrown by Cole Hamels on July 25.
Arrieta was also named Pitcher of the Week on Monday, and he earned one other distinction in his historic game: Arrieta became the first big league pitcher since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in 1965 to finish off a no-hitter by striking out the side in order in the ninth inning.

Ice ready for Islanders’ first season in Brooklyn

The ice is down at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the new home of the New York Islanders.
A time-lapse video posted on the Islanders Twitter account Tuesday showed the ice being placed in the arena, followed by the traditional logo being added at center ice. The Islanders previously said they would not change their logo or jerseys upon moving to Brooklyn.
The jerseys will include a commemorative patch for the inaugural season in Brooklyn, Newsday reported in June.
The Islanders begin the regular season at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 9. New York will play three preseason games at Barclays Center, the first on Sept. 21 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“We want to make it a tough place to play right off the bat,” Islanders captain John Tavares said this summer. “I don’t think too many teams enjoyed [going to Nassau Coliseum], so you want to bring that same kind of feel to [this] season.”
The Islanders spent 43 years at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, winning four Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. Each of those four banners, along with those of six retired numbers — Denis Potvin (5), Mike Bossy (22), Clark Gillies (9), Bryan Trottier (19), Bob Nystrom (23) and Billy Smith (31) — and ones honoring coach Al Arbour and general manager Bill Torrey will hang at Barclays Center.

NBA star Stephen Curry to be Sharks bobblehead

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors won the NBA’s most valuable player award last season, but he’ll open this season in a San Jose Sharks jersey — sort of.
Curry and the Warriors, who won the NBA championship last season, will play their preseason opener Oct. 5 against the Toronto Raptors at the Sharks’ home, SAP Center. To commemorate the occasion, the first 10,000 fans will receive a bobblehead figure of Curry in a Sharks jersey.
Tickets for the game will go on sale Sept. 1, with presale opportunities for Warriors and Sharks season-ticket holders.

PATS ODDS SWING ON SUSPENSION NEWS

The betting pendulum swung quickly at the sportsbooks on Thursday morning with news that Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension had been overturned
While the Week 1 line of the New England Patriots game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers remained off the board in the immediate aftermath, there was speculation the spread would swing from -2.5 to -7. The line opened in the summer at -6.5 before the Brady suspension was announced and it looks like the line is headed back to a touchdown.
The news didn’t have a huge impact on Super Bowl 50 betting at Bovada as oddsmakers had already factored in the risk of the suspension being overturned and the fact that Brady would still have 12 weeks to ramp up before the playoffs.
The Pats were 10/1 on the odds to win the Super Bowl yesterday, and are at 9/1 today. New England had remained favorites to win the AFC East at 2/3, and the line lowered to 1/2. In AFC betting, they had been 4/1 and that line inched slightly lower at 15/4.
The regular season win total betting line also swung to favor the OVER 10.5 games. As well, a handful of Brady prop odds were also slashed, including NFL MVP betting (20/1 to 10/1) and others. See the latest lines just posted at Bovada.
TOM BRADY – NFL SEASON PROPS
Odds as of September 3 at Bovada
Total Passing Yards in the 2015 Regular Season – Over/Under 4300
Total TD Passes in the 2015 Regular Season – Over/Under 30
Total Interceptions in the 2015 Regular Season – Over/Under 10
PATRIOTS LINE MOVES SINCE BRADY SUSPENSION LIFTED
Odds as of September 3 at Bovada
Odds to Win Super Bowl – from 10/1 to 9/1
Odds to Win AFC – from 4/1 to 15/4
Odds to Win AFC East – from 2/3 to 1/2
Regular Season Wins – from 10.5 +100 to 10.5 -150 OVER
Odds to To Make Playoffs – from -375 Yes to -400 Yes
Brady Odds to Win MVP – from 20/1 to 10/1
Brady Odds to be Passing Yards Leader – from 20/1 to 12/1

EVANDER KANE BUYS BILLBOARD IN WEST HOLLYWOOD TO WIN BACK GIRLFRIEND MARA TEIGEN

Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane had a relationship which was in trouble, so he did what any 24-year-old would do – he bought a billboard on the sunset strip in West Hollywood in an attempt to win model girlfriend Mara Teigen back.
TMZ reported Kane and Teigen broke up, and in a last ditch attempt to win her back, Kane purchased the billboard. While some might say that’s desperate, you can’t fault Kane’s efforts because apparently it worked. A TMZ camera man caught up with Teigen and she was impressed with his effort saying: “I was very flattered. I thought it was really sweet and thought it was very clever.” She later added: “We’re working things out, he’s a good guy, so we’ll see.”
Here’s a picture of the massive billboard from TMZ. It serves as a giant advertisement for the model, as it features a great picture of her, her name, her modeling agency and an obligatory “I love you,” from Kane himself.
Whatever Kane did to warrant the split, he swung for the fences and hit a home run on winning Teigen back. I don’t know if this approach would work in any other situation, but for Kane apparently it’s exactly what he needed to do to remedy his troubles. This is a weird, but much needed lighthearted story in what’s been a pretty bleak offseason.

Floyd Mayweather on retiring: ‘Really nothing else to accomplish’

Floyd Mayweather isn’t wavering in his decision. As of Wednesday, Mayweather is still planning on retiring after his bout with Andre Berto, which is scheduled for September 12.
On Wednesday, Mayweather cited his health as one of the most important factors in his decision to call it quits.
“No one is in my shoes,” Mayweather said via Mlive.com. “My health is more important. Anything can happen. I’m not really worried about losing, but I want to have a sharp mind. You can make a lot of money, but you still want to be able to talk, walk and have a sharp mind.”
Mayweather has certainly made plenty of money in his career. For his last fight, against Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather’s haul reportedly hit $220 million.
As for any accomplishments that are left for Mayweather to seize, he doesn’t really see any out there.
“There’s really nothing else to accomplish,” he said.
Of course, assuming Mayweather tops Berto next weekend, there would be one accomplishment still out there for Mayweather to nab. If Mayweather beats Berto, he’ll raise his overall record to 49-0, leaving him just short of the 50-win mark. Fifty wins is more than a symbolic number, as reaching it would allow Mayweather to surpass Rocky Marciano, who compiled a 49-0 record.
Still, Mayweather is holding firm. When he was asked if would consider fighting either Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or Miguel Cotto, both of whom he defeated in recent years, Mayweather didn’t bite.
“If I’m through at 49, why would I fight one of them in my 50th fight?” Mayweather said.
Instead of Alvarez or Cotto, it’ll be Berto who sends Mayweather off. Though Mayweather will be heavily favored in the fight, he’s not overlooking his opponent.
“He’s got nothing to lose, and when you’ve got a guy that’s put in a situation with nothing to lose, it makes him work that much harder,” Mayweather said. “He’s got a chance to be one of the top guys in the sport when I’m through. So does he want to dethrone Floyd Mayweather? Absolutely.
“Like they say in football, ‘Any given Sunday.’ I say ‘Any given Saturday.’ Anything can happen.”

JOURNALISM WORLD FORMS LIKE VOLTRON, TWEETS DEFENSE OF ESPN REPORTER WHO WAS ACCUSED OF TRADING SEX FOR SCOOPS

It’s one thing to be accused of something you never did, but it’s an entirely different beast getting accused of doing something when you’ve made a career out of doing the exact opposite. That’s what appears to have happened to ESPN’s Dianna Marie Russini, the intrepid reporter tirelessly covering the smoldering garbage fire that is the Washington football team (and getting shamed in the process).
Wednesday night, Washington GM Scot McCloughan’s wife Jessica tweeted (then deleted) some pretty serious stuff about Russini’s relationship with her husband.
Washington’s P.R. czar Tony Wylie valiantly tried to pass of the account as a fake, which it very clearly wasn’t, only to have Jessica McCloughan apologize through the team, confirming that his initial assertion was either incorrect (at least) or an outright lie (at worst). Deadspin has been seeking an explanation for this inconsistency since Wednesday evening, publishing their confusing correspondence with the effusive Wylie
To insinuate that Russini traded sex for access is to deny her reputation in the industry as a particularly diligent, savvy NFL reporter. Not only does it make her look bad to even be connected to such a ridiculous story in the first place, but it devalues the work she’s done to get the scoops (like the RGIII-benching and DeSean Jackson-to-Washington stories) that SHOULD define her career.
ESPN, as well as many of her colleagues throughout the journalism world, have voiced their support over Twitter, attesting to her credibility and integrity as a journalist.

Matt Harvey says he has always considered 180 innings as his limit

Mets right-hander Matt Harvey spoke with reporters Saturday afternoon to address the brewing controversy over his innings limit. If there was any doubt about whether he’s on the same page with his agent, Scott Boras, we can officially put that to rest.
According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Harvey said he has always considered 180 innings as his limit for the season. He also refused to answer any questions about his availability for the playoffs and said that he’s merely focused on his next scheduled start Tuesday against the Nationals.
Harvey, who is in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, is currently at 166 1/3 innings for the year. Boras has said that Dr. James Andrews, Harvey’s surgeon, recommended that his client be shut down at 180 innings while Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has said that no hard cap was provided. Either there was a huge miscommunication here or somebody isn’t telling the truth about the timeline of events. Remember, Harvey was vocal about his dislike for a six-man rotation, which one would think he should have been on board with if managing his innings and pitching deeper into the season was the goal.
The Mets still plan to have Harvey finish out the regular season and be available for a potential postseason run, but it appears that they’ll be doing so against the player’s wishes. Oh boy. While you can’t blame a player for looking out for his long-term health and earning potential, these comments aren’t going to go over well in New York.

David Price stymies Orioles for 100th career victory

David Price continues to be money for the first-place Blue Jays. The ace left-hander held the Orioles to one run over seven innings this afternoon in a 5-1 victory. The effort gave him the 100th win of his career.
Price allowed just three hits while walking one and striking out eight. The lone run scored on an RBI single from Caleb Joseph in his final inning of work.
As for the offense, Jose Bautista hit a solo homer and an RBI double while the hot-hitting Ryan Goins went 2-for-4 with an RBI double of his own.
Price is now 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA on the year. He has a 2.15 ERA in seven starts since coming over to the Blue Jays and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all of them.
The Blue Jays currently hold a one-game lead in the American League East, pending what happens with Rays and Yankees this afternoon.

Red Sox place Hanley Ramirez on disabled list with shoulder injury

After missing more than a week, Hanley Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Red Sox today due to what was termed as right shoulder inflammation.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise, as rosters have expanded and there’s no obvious need to put him on the disabled list. At the very least, this rules him out from playing again until next Friday. According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, acting Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said yesterday that there’s no timetable for Ramirez’s return. If he does play again this season, it will be at first base, which is expected to be his position next season.
In the first year of a four-year, $88 million contract, Ramirez is batting .249/.291/.426 with 19 home runs and 53 RBI over 105 games. He has zero homers and a .450 OPS since the All-Star break.

Concussion doctor who handled RG3 case resigns from post

 NEW YORK (AP) — The independent neurological consultant who reversed course on Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s post-concussion playing status has resigned and been replaced as the team’s concussion doctor.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that Robert Kurtzke left the consultant program operated jointly by the league and the players’ union.

McCarthy said Kurtzke will stay on to continue to monitor Griffin’s status and determine when he can be cleared to play.

A message left by the AP at Kurtzke’s office Saturday was not immediately returned.

Abraham Kader is the new NFL-NFLPA independent neurological consultant assigned to the Redskins, McCarthy said.

The Washington Post first reported Kurtzke’s resignation and continued involvement with Griffin’s case.

Last month, Griffin missed Washington’s exhibition game at the Baltimore Ravens because of a concussion in the Redskins’ previous game, at home against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 20.

Two days before the Aug. 29 game against the Ravens, the Redskins announced Griffin had been cleared by a doctor to play. The next day, though, about 24 hours before kickoff in Baltimore, they changed direction and said Griffin would be held out of the game.

At the time of the reversal, the Redskins sent out a press release quoting Kurtzke, who said: “We had anticipated yesterday that the patient would be cleared for full participation in game play this weekend. However, upon further scrutiny today of the neuropsychology data, I agree with the neuropsychologist that he should be held from game play this weekend.”

The next week, Redskins coach Jay Gruden – who had said in February that Griffin would be the team’s starting quarterback this season – named Kirk Cousins the QB for 2015. Gruden said that decision was not because of Griffin’s head injury, but because Cousins earned the job with his play in the preseason.


 Jarryd Hayne’s ‘incredible journey’ continues with 49ers

Novelty became reality Saturday as Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby league star attempting to become an NFL player, made the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man roster.

Hayne made the announcement on Twitter.
Australian media highlighted Hayne making the roster early Sunday, Australia time.

“Hayne Plane arrives on schedule,” The Australian newspaper said.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Hayne “completed one of the greatest code-switches in sporting history.”

Hayne might be on the roster because of his performance in Week 2 of the preseason — rushing for 54 yards on eight carries and returning three punts for 84 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. He helped solidify his spot in the preseason finale, with 58 yards rushing on 10 attempts, two receptions for 17 yards and three punt returns for 43 yards while also running over a hapless San Diego Chargers cornerback on a catch-and-run.

“For the first time I was comfortable and got my pads low, which is good, so it’s good to be working on that all the time and finally get that down pat,” Hayne said after the Chargers game.

Hayne’s preseason total of 175 rushing yards on 25 carries, was second in the NFL, behind the Detroit Lions’ Zach Zenner. His 7.0 yards per carry led the league, and his 163 yards on 10 punt returns ranked third.

“It’s been really fun to watch. Right off the bat you notice how well he can catch a ball,” veteran place-kicker Phil Dawson said. “Catching a punt is probably one of the toughest skills in the NFL, and he’s just stepped right in and looks like a natural.”

Under a section of the newspaper called “Hayne Mania,” the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney said Hayne was sightseeing with his mother Jodie and two sisters in San Francisco when told he made the cut.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio said Hayne had gone from “curiosity to star” in a matter of weeks in the United States, while news of him making the cut was among the leading items on news and sports reports and morning breakfast shows Sunday.


Rangers hire Chris Drury to this key post

Former Rangers captain Chris Drury is the team’s new director of player development.
General manager Jeff Gorton said Friday Drury will work with the hockey operations department and the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. He also will help oversee and evaluate college players.
The 39-year-old Drury spent 12 years in the NHL. He played four seasons with the Rangers, the last in 2011. He was their captain for three seasons.
He also played for Colorado, Calgary and Buffalo. He finished with 255 goals and 360 assists and won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001.


Ortiz post team-record 9th 30-homer season with Red Sox

BOSTON — David Ortiz hit his 30th homer of the season Saturday for the ninth time with the Boston Red Sox, setting a club record.

The 39-year-old Ortiz surpassed Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ record of eight with a drive that hooked around the Pesky Pole, capping an eight-run fourth inning against Philadelphia.

It was Big Papi’s 496th career homer.


Terrelle Pryor snags roster spot as Browns wide receiver

CLEVELAND (AP) — Terrelle Pryor didn’t catch one pass during the preseason. He snagged a roster spot anyway.

The former Ohio State and Oakland quarterback made the Browns’ roster as a wide receiver, and he’s expected to be used in other ways by a Cleveland team lacking game-changing playmakers.

The 26-year-old Pryor was slowed by a hamstring injury during training camp and only made his exhibition debut Thursday night in Chicago. Pryor did not have a reception – he wasn’t targeted – but he displayed his versatility by taking two snaps at quarterback and blocking on the punt team. The Browns are intrigued by the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder’s potential and kept him on their initial 53-man roster.

There were few surprises as the Browns, who went 7-9 last season under first-year coach Mike Pettine, trimmed their roster on Saturday. Pryor was one of seven wide receivers to make the squad, and his selection came at the expense of rookie Vince Mayle, a fourth-round pick from Washington State who may end up on Cleveland’s practice squad. Wide receiver Josh Lenz, an undrafted free agent who played well in the preseason, was also let go.

The Browns also released veteran backup quarterback Thad Lewis, leaving them with just starter Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel, who has resumed throwing after being limited by a sore elbow the past few weeks. Pryor, who made 10 starts for the Raiders, could also serve as Cleveland’s third quarterback.

Lewis’ release seems to indicate Manziel will be available to back up McCown for next week’s season opener against the Jets.

Pettine said finalizing the roster wasn’t easy.

”Some of the discussions at the 75 cut were difficult. We knew it was going to be some tough choices that had to be made at the 53. We were right,” he said. ”There were lengthy discussions. It was not cut and dry. A lot of variables went into it. Still, even now past the deadline, the situation is still very fluid.”

Pryor had only played some wide receiver in high school before he decided to give it a go at the game’s highest level. He remains a work in progress, but Pryor’s size and speed make a unique athlete and the Browns can envision using him in multiple formations and packages.

It helped Pryor that he has some background with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as the two worked together with the Raiders. As Oakland’s starter for nine games in 2013, Pryor rushed for 576 yards and two touchdowns, including a 93-yarder on the first play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh – the longest run in NFL history by a quarterback.

The Browns kept only six offensive linemen and will likely add another one or two for depth. Last season, the team never recovered after losing Pro Bowl center Alex Mack with a broken leg in Week 6.

Cleveland is also starting the season with four tight ends, including E.J. Bibbs, the only undrafted rookie to make the squad.

Among the notables to survive the cut was defensive lineman Billy Winn, a four-year veteran whose future appeared in doubt because of the emergence of Jamie Meder and rookies Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper. Also, the club signed free agent Randy Starks in the offseason, bolstering the team’s depth up front.

”That was big with Meder stepping up. That’s like found money,” Pettine said. ”He’s a guy that was undrafted a year ago that we were able to add mid-season and then for him to step up and have the offseason he had and make a big jump, that was impressive. You add that to our rookie class with Danny and Xavier and then add veterans like Starks. Desmond (Bryant) had one of his better offseasons – he seems primed to have a big year – and the versatility of an Armonty Bryant that can swing back and forth between outside linebacker and defensive line gives you more depth there.”


Detroit Pistons conclude week of MMA training in Las Vegas

Some Detroit Pistons players recently learned MMA techniques that they probably won’t be applying in actual basketball games. But some extra toughness and additional training information can’t hurt. Here’s Detroit Live reporting:

Pistons conclude week of MMA training
The Pistons just wrapped a week of team bonding that saw most of Van Gundy’s youthful roster travel to the UFC training compound in Las Vegas, where they learned MMA techniques from Griffin, heavyweight Stefan Struve and strawweight women’s champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

“I love to do it, I’m excited to do it. I do get a little nervous,” Griffin told MMAJunkie.com. “That’s a very expensive knee going on there. The No. 1 job – my job – is to make sure these guys don’t get hurt.

“Do not get people hurt. Do not get million-dollar athletes hurt.”


 

Nkemdiche has surprise TD in 76-3 win for No. 17 Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Robert Nkemdiche got a huge thrill as he rumbled 31 yards down the sideline for his first career touchdown during No. 17 Mississippi’s incredibly lopsided 76-3 victory over UT Martin.
But the 296-pound Nkemdiche – whose day job is defensive lineman for the Rebels – knows someone who was even more elated.

His mother Beverly.

‘That was for mom,” Nkemdiche said. ”It’s rare that she can come. Coach Freeze and I came up with it and we worked on it in practice.”

Nkemdiche’s surprising touchdown catch was the highlight of a dominant day for the Ole Miss offense.

Chad Kelly’s first passing attempt was good for a 27-yard completion. Jaylen Walton’s first carry was right up the middle for a 60-yard touchdown.

Just about everything Ole Miss tried on Saturday worked and the touchdowns started piling up in a hurry. The end result: The most points in a game for the program since 1935. The Rebels finished with 662 total yards.

”It was a great day for the offense overall,” Kelly said. ”I was excited about the opportunity to play with my brothers for the first time in a game situation.”

Kelly – who is the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly – looked comfortable and efficient in his first start. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior has taken a long road to a starting role, starting at Clemson before transferring to East Mississippi Community College and finally Oxford.

He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns and also added a 20-yard touchdown run. He completed 9 of 15 passes.

Kelly earned the starting nod over Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade in what coach Hugh Freeze called a tight race. All three played well against the Skyhawks.

”You’ve got to know when you can take your shots,” Kelly said. ”We did a good job with that overall.”

The return of receiver Laquon Treadwell was also a good sign for the Rebels. Treadwell – who was the team’s leading receiver in 2014 – broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in a gruesome injury against Auburn last season.

He caught four passes for 44 yards on Saturday, though one of his dropped passes bounced off his hands and right into the arms of a UT Martin defender for an interception.

Ole Miss also had some good moments on defense, including Trae Elston’s 93-yard interception return for a touchdown. Nkemdiche, on top of his surprise offensive appearance, blocked a UT Martin field goal attempt.

”That’s the worst resemblance of defense that we have put on the field in 10 years. It’s embarrassing,” UT Martin coach Jason Simpson said.

The only bad moment for the Rebels was off the field.

Ole Miss announced less than an hour before the game that starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil would not play because of an ongoing issue with his NCAA eligibility.

The school said during the summer that is was looking into allegations by Tunsil’s stepfather that the offensive lineman had improper contact with agents and received illegal benefits.

Tunsil’s absence didn’t matter. The Rebels dominated the overmatched Skyhawks even with Fahn Cooper starting at left tackle. But the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Tunsil – a junior who is considered a possible first-round NFL draft pick in April – will be sorely needed when the Rebels open SEC play against Alabama on Sept. 19.

Freeze said he had ”no idea” if Tunsil would be eligible for next week’s game against Fresno State.


 

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