Michael Rubin group out as bidding for Panthers reportedly reaches $2.5 billion


An investment group headed by billionaire Michael Rubin has dropped out of the bidding process for the Panthers as the price reached an estimated $2.5 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

Rubin, who already owns a stake in the NBA’s 76ers, the NHL’s Devils and Premier League’s Crystal Palace, reportedly had Stephen Curry and Sean “Diddy” Combs among his group of prospective Panthers owners, according to ESPN.

Combs and Curry, a Charlotte, N.C., native and renowned Panthers fan, have openly expressed interest in being part of an ownership group, though neither has the finances to be a majority owner.

“There’s a reason that you got here,” coach John Hynes said. “You have to have a strong identity, which we do. You have to be able to play to that.”

The Capitals’ identity is coming into focus as they go into the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season feeling good about their game. Nicklas Backstrom, Michal Kempny and Andre Burakovsky also scored against New Jersey, and Braden Holtby stopped 23 of the 26 shots in his final chance to show he deserves to be Washington’s Game 1 starting goaltender over Philipp Grubauer.

The wide receiver was picked in the first round by the Titans in 2012 where he spent the next five seasons. His second season in the NFL proved to be his strongest where he caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards in 2013.

Once the Vikings announced the new addition to their roster, it didn’t take long for some of Wright’s new teammates to express their excitement and welcome him to Minnesota.

Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood also is dealing with food poisoning and had his next start pushed back a day to Wednesday, with Hyun-Jin Ryu moved up a day to Tuesday against Oakland.

Kershaw wasn’t impressed with himself despite allowing just one run and six hits in seven-plus innings. He credited his defense for his success, including good plays by Puig, Barnes at second base and left fielder Joc Pederson.cardinals_055

Judge issues warrant for Aldon Smith’s arrest after missed court date, report says


A judge has issued a bench warrant for Aldon Smith’s arrest after the former Raiders and 49ers linebacker missed his court date, according to TMZ.

Smith was due in court for violating a protective order on charges stemming from four misdemeanors he accrued in a domestic violence incident which occurred with his fiancée in March.

In the incident in question, Smith allegedly beat his girlfriend and bit her on her wrists. According to police dispatch records, Smith was thought to have drank two bottles of tequila before the incident.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade was presented with the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for March, recognizing his response to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union donated $200,000 toward getting students to the “March for Our Lives” event in Washington last month. “I came back to this city at a time when I was needed, when my voice was needed,” Wade said.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sat midcourt with Heat CEO Nick Arison, his former manager with the Blue Devils. Coach K was one of three accomplished college coaches at the game; Rick Pitino was also there, near Donovan — who played guard on Providence’s 1987 Final Four team (coached by Pitino), and a two-time NCAA title winner at Florida before going to Oklahoma City.

As a slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998, setting a single-season record.

McGwire, now a bench coach for the San Diego Padres, says he could have hit those home runs without PEDs.

“Deep down inside, I know me as a hitter,” McGwire said. “And I know what I did in that box. And I know how strong my mind is. And I know what kind of hitter I became.”

Victor Conte, the founder and president of Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), disagreed with McGwire’s claim. Conte served four months in prison in 2006 for distributing steroids in a scandal that has tarnished the reputation of top athletes.

“I think Mark McGwire is deluded if he thinks he would have hit 70 home runs without using PEDs in 1998,” Conte told USA Today on Monday via text message. “I don’t think he would have achieved 50 home runs without PEDs.”

Fundraiser for families of Humboldt tragedy reaches goal of $4M in 45 hours


A fundraiser organized for the families of the Humboldt junior hockey team tragedy had a goal of raising $4 million.

The fundraising site, which has raised more than $5 billion to date, oversaw more than $11 million raised for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last year and nearly $8 million for victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016.

The Humboldt fundraiser had reached nearly $4.2 million as of 8:35pm ET Sunday.

Fifteen people died Friday when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos crashed into a truck in Saskatchewan. Fourteen people were injured. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau flew to the hospital Sunday to visit the injured before heading to the city of Humboldt for a vigil.

After threatening to sit out or retire if the team used the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, Bell said he would not sit out the regular season, though he confirmed he will repeat his stance from last year and wait to sign his tender ahead of the start of the regular season.

Bell’s one-year tag is worth $14.544 million, which is up from the $12.12 million he earned under the franchise tag last year.

Bell, 26, finished with 321 carries for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games last season. He has 7,996 yards from scrimmage through 62 games over his first five NFL seasons and eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark three of his five years.

Martinez’s three-run homer capped a four-run third as the Cardinals took a 5-2 lead. Matt Carpenter drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.

I thought it was going to hit the concourse and it barely got over the wall, Matheny said of the homer. This cold weather I think you kind of anticipate the ball’s not going to carry quite as much, but he had to get all of it for the ball to get out of that part of the park today.cardinals_134

Broncos sign Marquette King to three-year deal


Well, that didn’t take long.

Shortly after reports surfaced that Marquette King was in Denver, the former Raiders punter agreed to a three-year deal with the Broncos.

The Raiders cut King last week, reportedly because new coach Jon Gruden had personality issues with King.

King, 29, spent five full seasons in Oakland. He has a career average of 46.8 yards per punt and a net average of 40.8. He is the only player in NFL history with at least a 40-yard net average in each of his first five seasons.

Former Pittsburgh Penguins and Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, Blackhawks assistant Don Granato and U.S. National Team Development Program coach Seth Appert were named as Blashill’s assistants. Granato is an assistant months after brother Tony was coach of the U.S. Olympic team.

Hockey Canada named Bill Peters of the Carolina Hurricanes as its head coach for the tournament with Florida’s Bob Boughner and St. Louis’ Mike Yeo as assistants. NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid and likely rookie of the year Mathew Barzal are among those expected to play for Canada.

“Canada has always managed to bring together elite-level coaches and players, and we’re again fortunate to be led by an experienced coaching staff for this year’s world championship,” co-general manager Sean Burke said.

He didn’t realize it had been that long until he got the text from his parents.

“It was a big feat,” Minor Said. “At the time, I wasn’t thinking about it.”

It was 42 degrees when Minor threw the first pitch, and he froze up Toronto’s hitters throughout the game. Minor (1-1) took a no-hitter into the fifth before allowing a one-out triple to Kevin Pillar. Steve Pearce homered an inning later for Toronto’s final hit of the game. Minor had seven strikeouts and two walks.

Texas scored four two-out runs in the fifth inning, all charged to Toronto starter Marcus Stroman (0-1). Joey Gallo pulled a two-run double past first base, then scored when Jurickson Profar doubled to right in the next at-bat. Juan Centeno singled to right to break open what had been a 1-0 game.

The coldest start to a game at Globe Life Park was 38 degrees on April 7, 2007, when Texas beat the Boston Red Sox 8-4. The weather required Minor to essentially abandon his fastball, which he had little feel for, and rely on his breaking pitches and changeup.texans_129

Ezekiel Elliott, other Cowboys conduct football camp in Mexico


The NFL wants football to be a global sport, and Ezekiel Elliott is doing his part to help make that happen.

Elliott and several other Cowboys are conducting a youth football camp in Mexico, in conjunction with the National Fantasy Football Convention. Elliott, coincidentally, spent his six-week, league-imposed suspension in Mexico last year.

The Suh acquisition epitomizes that.

Snead admitted he wasn’t sure whether the Rams would even be financially competitive in the bidding for Suh, who was released by the Dolphins just before the start of the free-agent signing period. Los Angeles, though, offered something other serious suitors the Saints, Titans and Raiders could not: the chance to play alongside another defensive tackle who would actually command more double-teams than Suh at this point in his nine-year NFL career.

“If Darnold is available, they’re taking Darnold,” the unnamed evaluator told Lombardo. “They don’t like Rosen.”

If the Browns take Darnold at No. 1, the Giants would then turn to former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or former N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb. The Giants reportedly are torn on whether to take Barkley or Chubb, balancing the need for an edge rusher after the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul against their high regard for Barkley.

If accurate, it’s a fascinating peek inside the New York draft board. But like so much of the information that flows from unnamed scouts this time of year, it’s fair to wonder whether someone is trying to push a subtle (or not) agenda. For example, if the Browns would like to explore trading out of the top spot in the draft with a team that wants Darnold, what better way to lure a viable offer than to push the idea that Darnold’s floor is No. 2?

Bills have most power in NFL Draft quarterback pursuit: How will they use it?


The Bills need a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft, and they will select one early. But now that Buffalo is equipped to take a quarterback wherever they want in the first round, the tough part is figuring out whom to target and when to target him.

Buffalo signed AJ McCarron in free agency, but his paltry contract (two years, $10 million) suggests he’s only insurance in case the Bills’ rookie QB of choice can’t get up to speed and start right away. For the draft, the team is sitting on two picks in each of the first three rounds, beginning with No. 12 and No. 22 overall thanks to trades with Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Pepper Johnson: A two-time Super Bowl-winning player as one of the NFL’s top linebackers, Johnson later spent 14 years (2000-13) on the coaching staff of New England’s Bill Belichick. Johnson’s career has sputtered since then after three seasons handling the defensive line for Rex Ryan-coached teams.

Jim Fassel: The 68-year-old has pined for a return to coaching since the alternative football league he was involved with (the UFL) went under in 2012. Fassel led the Giants to a Super Bowl and two other playoff appearances during his season seasons with the franchise (1997-03).

Doughty was a seventh-round pick in Miami in 2016 and spent most of the last two seasons on the practice squad. He was 39-of-69 for 448 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in preseason appearances during his time in Miami.

Doughty and Torgesen give the Cardinals a pair of arms to use in offseason work behind Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. The chances that both stick around through OTAs and/or training camp will probably be decided by what happens during the draft.

Where they end up will be a major factor, whether it relates to quality of coaching, the manner in which personalities mesh, and/or the overall stability of the organization. The teams that take the wrong guys (or who fail to develop a guy who otherwise would have done well) will have to deal with the disappointment of swinging and missing, along with the regret that comes from leaving star players on the board, like the Browns and Bengals did in 199 with the likes of Edgerrin James, Torry Holt, and Champ Bailey.texans_085

David Tapper remains in running to buy Panthers


Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tapper disputes a New York Times story that he has withdrawn from the bidding process for the Panthers. Tapper, a minority owner of the Steelers, told the Charlotte Observer he remains a candidate to buy the team.

“I have to tell you, for me, I like the people down there. They remind me of my original hometown, Pittsburgh. The only thing I’m telling you is I haven’t dropped out,” Tepper told the Observer on Monday. “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Steel company CEO Alan Kestenbaum and Charleston financier Ben Navarro also are candidates to buy the team.

Bloomberg reported last month that Michael Rubin dropped out after bids reached $2.5 billion.

Kestenbaum, Navarro and Tepper all have visited Charlotte, according to the Observer, and the team expects to present a buyer for approval at the owners’ meetings next month.

The Leafs and Canadiens also sported Broncos decals on their helmets.

Tied 1-1 through 40 minutes, Hyman chipped a rebound past Price just 37 seconds into the third for his 15th goal and 40th point of the season after Matthews took the initial shot.

That money suggests Matthews is anything but a sure thing to make the roster this year. Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt and special teams ace Matthew Slater return from last season while Cordarrelle Patterson has also joined the team this offseason.

If Matthews does make the team and is healthy, playing with Tom Brady in New England should offer Matthews a good chance to position himself for a bigger deal next offseason.

“We were just playing soft. We tend to do that from time to time,” Butler said. “Whenever we play hard, a lot of good things happen.”

The Wolves lost power forward Taj Gibson in the first quarter to a neck injury he suffered in the previous game and tried to play through. He left for the locker room without returning to the bench.


Matt Ryan expresses relief about health of wife, newborn twins


Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan expressed relief about the health of his wife, Sarah, and their newborn twins following complications related to the pregnancy.

Sarah Ryan revealed on Instagram she was placed on hospital bed rest on Jan. 9 due to those complications. Six weeks later, she gave birth to the couple’s first children. The twin boys were in the NICU — an intensive care unit specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants — for more than a month each. Sarah Ryan thanked the staff at Atlanta’s Northside Hospital for helping the family in a trying period as the “small but tough” boys fought through.

Matt Ryan, the 2016 MVP, is focused on making a return trip to the Super Bowl. He is in the final year of his contract, and the Falcons said extending him is a top priority without giving an exact timetable on completing the deal.

“I think things are good,” Ryan said of the contract talks. “Obviously, I’ve been through this before. I’ve always had the mindset that you kind of let your agents handle the business and let our front office take care of it. I think we have great people on both sides. I’m excited about that. I’m excited about being a Falcon for a long time.”

“Forty-eight minutes is a long time,” Popovich said. “And in an NBA game, things go back-and-forth. Sometimes one of the scariest things for a team is to go up quickly in the first quarter because it oftentimes changes back. But our defense kicked in, [the Kings] scored 35 in the second half and that’s what we have to be about. Sometimes we’re going to have droughts offensively, but our defense has to keep us in ballgames. In the second half we played really good defense and then on top of that, we made a few shots. So, I thought they dug down deep, kept their composure and did a fine job. It’s a wonderful win for them.”

The season, meanwhile, has shaped up to be one of the most rewarding of Popovich’s career, despite the adversity and the fact San Antonio found itself in the unfamiliar position of having to fight just to make the playoffs.

“It is a different position,” Popovich said. “We haven’t really been in that kind of a position very often. But all the same things apply: being humble in wins, learning from losses and moving on, not dwelling on things, just trying to improve. It’s like we’ve said in any other year: We want to be the best team we can be come playoff time. I think at this point, other than our road play, we’ve gotten to the point where we know our team pretty well.texans_014

Two men make Rams cheerleading squad


The Los Angeles Rams bridged a barrier by having two men named to the 2018 cheerleading squad.

Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies each made the squad after going through the standard tryout process. According to Steve Gardner of USA Today, Peron and Jinnies become the first two men to be fully participating members of an NFL cheerleading squad.

“He said, ‘I was on the golf course with Dan Marino and all these other quarterbacks, Elway, and they were all talking amongst themselves about that very same question. They said, ‘Being available.’ It doesn’t get talked about a lot because the guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, they’ve been available for so long. It’s because they take care of their bodies.”

In that sense, Rudolph said, he has more than proven his worth to prospective NFL teams.

“Peyton Manning never had a rocket arm,” Rudolph said. “I mean the guy was extremely accurate, but he was available and he was durable over his 18-year career. I think I’ve shown over my career I’ve been able to play with a lot of injuries. Only missed one start. Very available. Very durable. Do I have the strongest arm in this draft class? No, but I’m very accurate and I get the team down the field and I score points on most drives.”

“I got a simple rule: You can’t be scared in this league,” Snead told Peter King. “Look at Doug Pederson this year and, it wasn’t reckless but it took courage and guess what? They won a Super Bowl on some of those fourth-down plays. So you try to do that as a general manager, but I also think, and this is long-winded answer, some of the analytics that you have now to really look at what historically draft picks bring you in reality over time.”

Snead wasn’t afraid this offseason to trade for Brandin Cooks, trade for Marcus Peters, trade for Aqib Talib and sign Ndamukong Suh, among other moves. Whether those moves allow the Rams to do in the 2018 season what the Eagles did in the 2017 season remains to be seen, but Snead is willing to take risks to find out.

But helping identify Pederson as Kelly’s replacement and navigating the choppy quarterback waters are just part of the reason for Roseman’s success. An NFL executive of the year award typically is the culmination of several years of hard work as a team’s fortunes rise. Roseman has tapped into all potential avenues to construct a championship team the right way, building primarily through the draft and augmenting via free-agent signings and effective trades. Meanwhile, he oversees the Eagles’ salary cap — which is always challenging with a championship-caliber team — and he’s their chief contract negotiator.patriots_112-223x223

NFL sending five players, Rex Ryan on annual NFL-USO trip to Europe


The NFL is sending some players and a former coach to Italy and Germany for a week long NFL-USO tour this year. They will visit with U.S. troops and their families at military bases.

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, Atlanta Falcons guard Ben Garland, Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray and former NFL coach Rex Ryan were announced as the NFL’s representatives on this trip.

People make mistakes in life. One mistake doesn’t define a person. It’s what you do with that second chance. That’s what kind of person you really are. He’s certainly right in a philosophical sense. He has a long life to carve out a truer identity for himself. But in football, a single chance is hard to come by. A second chance is saved for the very few. When asked how he would react to another shot, his entire face brightened. I’m gonna take advantage of it, he said. I’m gonna embrace it and love ’em like family.

The rivalry between Richard Sherman and the San Francisco 49ers was very, very real — at least until he joined the team.

I think the coaches, unanimously, stood up and said’We’re with it. We understand it’s a major change and we take responsibility,’ which is what the union asked us, said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, the NFL competition committee chairman. They said,’We understand the rule, we understand the change. We need the coaches locked in arms with us arm in arm in the teaching of this.’ There were no concerns that coaches would fail to instruct player on safer methods of leading into hits. I did not hear a single coach who did not believe this is what he have to do and the right thing to do, Goodell said. We can do this. It’s going to take a collective effort. broncos_012-500x500