Month: February 2018

Johnny Manziel says he’s sober and working on his NFL comeback

Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel spoke with Good Morning America about his sobriety and trying to make an NFL comeback.

In his interview, Manziel also revealed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year. He’s since stopped drinking, started taking medication, and is seeing improvements. Now, he says he wants back on the football field.

He told GMA’s T.J. Holmes that taking care of his mental health is more important than anything.

”I don’t know what kind of comeback it will be,” he said, “but I know I want to get back on a football field to what brought me so much joy in my life and it makes me happy doing as my job.”

Manziel will have a contract approved by the CFL for him to play in 2018, which seems to be the first step to an NFL comeback. His rights are currently held by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Spring League is a three-week scouting event in Austin, Texas. Four teams play two games each, where Manziel will play on the South team.

Arvidsson, who scored twice in the Predators’ 5-2 win over Ottawa on Monday, now has eight goals and five assists in the last 14 games.

“The last two games, I think our line has been a lot better and we’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Nashville’s Ryan Johansen said. “Arvie has been a huge factor in that, because he’s been making plays all over the ice lately.”

Arvidsson’s goal at 4:50 of the third period pushed the Predators’ lead to 3-1. The puck skipped over the stick of Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, allowing Arvidsson to get in alone and snap a shot by Howard on the stick side.

Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar scored for the Red Wings, and Jimmy Howard finished with 26 saves.

The Predators grabbed the lead just 4:18 into the opening period. Roman Josi’s wrist shot from the point deflected off the right skate of Nashville forward Hartnell before settling into the net behind Howard.

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Warriors seeking payback vs. Thunder

The Golden State Warriors will have rare double-revenge motivation Saturday night when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a matchup of teams coming off what they hope will be momentum-building wins.

The Warriors used a strong start as the driving force in their 134-127 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night in both teams’ first game after the All-Star break.

Ninety miles to the northeast in Sacramento, the Thunder blew a 23-point lead before Russell Westbrook bailed them out with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that produced a 110-107 road win over the Kings.

Golden State was far better in the first quarter against the Clippers, limiting the visitors to 23 points on 41.7 percent shooting while building an 11-point lead.

He recognizes he needs to be crafty in the way he plays.

“If you don’t have the skating ability like Connor does, which I don’t, clearly, it’s hard to beat guys with speed for me,” Draisaitl told reporters after the Colorado win. “I’ve got to find other ways.”

McDavid said Draisaitl doesn’t get the attention he deserves.

He’s one of the best players in the world,” McDavid said. “He showed that last year. He’s really come on here in the last little bit, and is playing great hockey.”

Hurney has been Carolina’s interim general manager since July 19, 2017. He previously was the team’s GM from 2002-12.

Marty is the perfect person to help us in the interim, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said. He worked with us for 15 years and understands the culture we have here. He had a lot to do with the core of our team being in place. I’m thankful that he is willing to help us in this transition period.

He’d spend the next fall with the Rams. In his one season with St. Louis, he’d pilot the league’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense. Despite that failure, he’d still find the chance to redeem himself with the Patriots after 2011 offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien left to rebuild Penn State’s football program. McDaniels, who was New England’s offensive coordinator from 2006-08, returned to the same role in 2012 and has remained there since.

It’s possible that McDaniels will be Belichick’s successor for the Patriots, or maybe he just got cold feet at the last second. Either way, this latest stunt is just the latest PR disaster for McDaniels, who continues to burn bridges everywhere outside New England.

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The move made so much sense for the league at a time when the Rising Stars Challenge needed life.

Remember his 2013? Corbin finished that season 92nd overall, and 23rd among starting pitchers, on the Player Rater, thanks in large part to huge jumps in his swinging-strike and first-pitch strike rates. Now consider this: He set a personal best with a 12.1 percent swinging-strike rate and finished 22nd among 58 ERA qualifiers in first-pitch strike rate (63.0 percent) last season, concluding the year with a 3.24 ERA and 23.2 percent strikeout rate in his final 15 starts and one relief appearance. In many ways, his underlying metrics in 2017 looked a lot like 2013’s, except that his ERA was nearly two-thirds of a run higher and his WHIP more than half a point higher.

If the skills had shown any signs of fading, it’d be different, but they didn’t: Gausman kept his swinging-strike rate above 12 percent for the third consecutive season, he had the highest first-pitch strike rate of his career (60.2 percent) and posted 10 quality starts, a 3.41 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 26.2 percent strikeout rate in 15 starts after the All-Star break.

I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I think people need to let things play out down there and give it a chance. People are going to say, ‘How come you didn’t give it a chance?’ That stuff takes time, and I didn’t know if it was going to get done in the amount of time I had left there. But I think it’s going to get better there. The fan base has been through a lot the past few years, but I truly believe this ownership group will do things different.

Marlins pitcher Dan Straily caused a stir last week when he said he agrees with the Marlins’ rebuild and did not lament the departures of Stanton and Yelich in trades.

Glad they’re gone, Straily told reporters in Miami. If they don’t want to be here, then good for them. They can continue their career elsewhere.

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It was just sort of building it from the ground up again, he said.

Zunino narrowed his swing, incorporated a leg kick and changed the direction of his swing to focus more on hitting to the middle of the field.

He was recalled from Tacoma on May 22 and had a June to remember. Zunino hit .304 with 10 home runs and a major-league leading 31 RBIs that month. He hit .281 after the All-Star break.

Manager Scott Servais said Zunino is taking more of a leadership role after a successful season.

If the Badgers do make a playoff game, then their loyal fan base — one that propels Wisconsin to 15th in attendance and 11th in revenue, not to mention one that can take over the Rose Bowl — will descend like locusts. And if they win a title, the host city’s alcohol reserves will be tested.

The Badgers’ demerits are that their fans are not exactly jealous of the success of nearby rivals like Minnesota and the fact that UW’s enjoyed plenty of great seasons but with only a handful of true near-misses. (However, Minnesota fans can claim a bunch of old titles that everyone’s mostly forgotten, much like a couple of the Eagles’ NFC East rivals.)

In 2016, Martin signed a five-year deal worth $35.75 million, including $15 million guaranteed. But the NFL suspended him for four games that season for violating the policy on performance-enhancing substances, and he entered a drug rehabilitation program. Because he engaged in conduct detrimental to the team, the Bucs were no longer on the hook for any guaranteed money, facilitating his release.

The move was hardly a surprise. When asked by ESPN about Martin’s struggles in 2017 and whether he had a future with the team, general manager Jason Licht said, Without going into much detail, it’s safe to say that we need more out of our running game in general. We need to get better run-blocking, we need more explosive plays out of the running back position. I was really happy [and] we were really happy with Peyton with the way he came on at the end of the season, so that was positive. Obviously Doug had a down season by his standards and by our standards.

The Bucs averaged 90.6 rushing yards per game in 2017, 27th in the league.

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The league likewise is taking a long-term view.

“They knew going in this wasn’t a one-game or one-year solution where they could turn a light on and get the support they expect to get moving toward the opening of the new [stadium],” Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, said during a conference call with reporters this week. “We remain confident the city of Los Angeles can support two franchises and committed toward making that happen.”

The early stages of this NFL season have been plagued by poor offensive play resulting in dull, low-scoring games. And the Thursday night games never have been exactly known for their crispness and can’t-turn-away watch-ability.

With Kelly following him out the door, the NFL’s coaching vacancies now stands at six, with the Chargers firing Coach Mike McCoy on Sunday night and Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak officially stepping down due to health reasons. Kubiak helped lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl just last season. The Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams have already parted ways with their head coaches.

In one other bit of key NFL offseason news, by losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime — despite several good chances to win the game late and in OT, and despite the fact the Steelers rested all of their key offensive starters — the Cleveland Browns have locked up the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft thanks to their inglorious one-win season.

Sports Illustrated media columnist Richard Deitsch named Romo SI’s 2017 “Media Person of the Year.” Wrote Deitsch: “Having currency (Romo was on the Cowboys’ roster until April) does not always translate into astute analysis but Romo’s knowledge of the league — specifically the formations and fronts of teams and how an offense attacks a defense — made him an invaluable resource for NFL viewers.”

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The Titans have a chance to show what they can do against a top AFC playoff contender when they play Thursday night at Pittsburgh.

The Dolphins offered little resistance Monday night. Still, it was an excellent performance by the Panthers, with Cam Newton excelling both as a passer and a runner.

A victory over the Steelers would signal that the Titans might be capable not only of reaching the postseason, but of being a factor once they get there.

The Chiefs return from their bye needing to reestablish that they are among the league’s top teams. It hasn’t looked that way lately, with three losses in four games since a 5-0 start. They play Sunday in the Meadowlands against the Giants, who are in total disarray. Anything less than a decisive victory would raise further questions about the Chiefs.

The shocking win in Seattle was followed by Sunday’s loss at home to the Vikings. There’s no disgrace in losing to a very good Minnesota team. But it remains one step forward and one step back for these Redskins, who perhaps have found their level. Unfortunately for them, that level appears to be right around the .500 mark.

Case Keenum remains the starter at QB despite throwing two interceptions in the loss at Carolina. Keenum’s performance against the Panthers was an issue. So, too, were the performances of an offensive line that allowed Keenum to be sacked six times, and a defense that permitted the Panthers to run for 216 yards.

The crowd’s behavior at the end of Sunday’s game was not acceptable. It’s the Jaguars’ responsibility to ensure that things like that don’t happen in their stadium, and they must keep their fans under control. As for the game, beating Seattle counts as a very good win for a team that looks more promising all the time.

It’s fair to question whether Matthew Stafford has played to the level demanded by his monstrous contract. But don’t ever question the QB’s toughness or late-game mettle. Both were on vivid display in Sunday’s gritty victory in Tampa.

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A hyperextended knee could force Amendola to sit out Week 8 against the Chargers.

That’s an attractive matchup for owners who have anyone on the Patriots. Teammate Chris Hogan stands to inherit some additional targets. He has five games with 60 or more yards; that trend should continue.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings: Minnesota’s top wideout fully practiced on Thursday and Friday, and seems in line to play Sunday at Cleveland. Diggs’s return is a sigh of relief for his owners, who hope he picks up the pace he was setting through the first four weeks of the season. He should be in your lineup on Sunday.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars: Fournette doesn’t play this week with Jacksonville on a bye, but for owners wondering about his status upon his return, the expectation is that he’ll be fine for Week 9.

I don’t really know. I’ll watch the playoffs. I’ll probably have feelings of disappointment that the Redskins aren’t there very often. It’s hard to just say “I quit.” Maybe I’ll just shut it off for a while. I don’t really know.

He has hit 100 mph and will work with an upper-90s fastball and upper-80s slider that can show plus. He’ll show a curveball and changeup but can slow his arm enough on the latter to tip better hitters off that he’s throwing it.

Lockhart was a vocal and forceful presence during his time in the league. He responded aggressively to reports he deemed unfair to the league’s record on health and safety issues. This season, he conducted regular conference calls with reporters to make certain the NFL’s views on relevant issues were known.

“When I got here, my mission was to shake things up a bit,” Lockhart wrote in Thursday’s memo. “As one of the most important and iconic cultural institutions in our country, the NFL is subject to almost as much scrutiny as our Government. Americans’ passion for the game generates debates every bit as heated as those in politics. In fact, as I’ve shared with some of you, the two years in this role feels a lot like my two years as White House press secretary.

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Fixing the arcane and clunky Catch Rule should be atop the league’s to-do list for on-field improvements in the offseason.

Pence and his wife exited the game after members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the national anthem to protest racism in America and police violence, claiming that it was disrespectful to veterans.

“I’d have thought you were crazy to think that, or I was crazy to think that,” Brady said. “This has just all been — I guess it’s my life, so I’m living it, and it feels very natural and normal, just because I wake up every day and I feel very much the same as I did when I walked in here 18 years ago, I really do. It’s a great privilege to play here, and it’s a great privilege to play in the NFL, and I try to represent the team well, I try to represent my family, I try to do things the right way, and I’m very blessed. I could never imagine getting the kind of team achievements we’ve done and had.

So I can just throw it in their general direction, and because I’m not under pressure and because they’re in the area, it won’t matter. And you saw what happened. I threw the ball and it looks like I’m throwing to nobody, but in my opinion — or before I threw the ball, my opinion was he’ll be in the general area.

But let’s hope the Raiders or Jets take their plight as a motivator to fix another puzzling article in the rulebook.

No, I’m not. First, we need to do something similar for player on-court and off-court stats. Jacob Goldstein started this process recently on Nylon Calculus, though his method tends to overstate the magnitude of good or bad luck for players because it doesn’t account for the fact that more missed shots also mean some points via offensive rebounds.

I’m a little more skeptical at the lineup level because the samples are so much smaller in most cases that I think looking just at shooting luck will ignore other possible sources of randomness.

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