I don’t really pay attention to a lot of it

Set aside the commonly-referenced lack of playoff success — last year’s regression and lack of a playoff berth is a bad look for Marvin Lewis, who’s entering his 15th season as the Bengals’ coach.

Cincinnati can only hope line issues don’t derail an otherwise promising offense, in which draft picks John Ross and Joe Mixon should produce immediately. That offense won’t have enough chances, though, if the defense can’t control the line of scrimmage and stop opponents’ running games.

I love ESPN, Gruden said. I mean I love what I’m doing. I’m with a great team a great group of guys. I’m still real close to the game. I still stay in contact with a lot of players and coaches at the league at every level. I don’t know if [all the talk] is flattering or irritating.

“I don’t really pay attention to a lot of it. But I am every year preparing myself to coach. Sometimes I show up at camp and I show up in the offseason and people let me coach. I jump in drills and they still let me install plays and call plays at some places. I still have a lot of fun.

Gruden, who coached the Buccaneers to victory in the Super Bowl after the 2002 season, posted a 95-81 mark in 11 seasons as an NFL head coach. Since getting fired after the 2008 season, the 53-year-old Gruden has surfaced as a potential head coach almost every off-season.

“I haven’t lost the itch, though,” Gruden said. “I miss the players. I miss # I won’t deny that. I don’t want to start anything, but I say the same thing to everybody. There are very few passions in my life. The man upstairs, family and football.

Do you have a theory on all the home runs this year?

Along with that respect, Holland appreciates the talents of these professional wrestlers and the athleticism and endurance pro wrestling requires.

“These guys put a beating on their bodies. As baseball players we have our wear and tear, but they’re doing as much every day,” Holland said. “They make it entertaining — they grab one character and they go, and it’s a cool thing to watch when you’re not playing the game.”

As Holland sats at his locker, filled with the collectibles and figurines he has acquired and swapped with young WWE fans over the years, he smiled and gestured to one of the action figures, noting its missing belt.

“One day we had a two-way tie for the belt,” Holland said, referring to the large championship belt that makes its rounds with each victory. “So I decided it would be funny to give the little belt to the next guy, so now we have an MVP and a mini-MVP.”

First, a couple of .500-range teams we won’t talk about because they’ve already declared their intentions include the Cubs (46-45 4.5 back in the NL Central and 5.5 back of a wild-card spot) and the Royals (45-45, 2 back in the AL Central, 2.5 out of a wild-card spot). And the Yankees and Twins play what should be an entertaining series starting Monday — the Yankees own the second wild-card spot, with the Twins 1.5 back — but it’s not a make-or-break for either squad.

Question: Do you have a theory on all the home runs this year?
Answer: “Baseballs are juiced! No, I don’t know (he was kidding, just so that’s clear). I think it’s a combination of guys throwing hard and maybe there’s not as much emphasis on location or maybe you’ve got players coming out that aren’t as concerned with cutting down when there’s two strikes, and they’re swinging a little bit more aggressively than with two strikes. I don’t know. Feels like it wasn’t too long ago we were talking about how far down home runs were, so I guess it’s cyclical. That’s my theory.”broncos_118

76ers fan starts GoFundMe page for Joel Embiid’s ‘F— LaVar Ball’ fine

Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid was hit with a $10,000 fine after saying “F— LaVar Ball” during an Instagram Live post July 4.

Though Embiid can easily cover the bill, a faithful Philly fan created a GoFundMe page titled “Pay JoJo’s Fine” with a $10,000 goal.

All money processed will actually be donated to the SCPA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). As of Monday morning, more than $2,300 was collected.

Maybe there can be some good to come from LaVar Ball’s insufferable antics and the reactions they create.

Johnson is a good rotational big man that pushes the Sixers closer to the playoffs in 2017. He’s a smart defender that can occasionally space the floor, but is much more effective around the basket. This is a small overpay, but on a one-year deal, there’s not any room to complain. He can play 20-25 minutes per night on a playoff team, and he can help all of the young players on the Sixers learn the tricks of the trade defensively. He’ll be a strong mentor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

He also leaves the Sixers with slightly over $15 million in cap space, meaning they still have space to renegotiate and extend Robert Covington if they so choose to do so. The Johnson signing is a totally fine move for a team trying to accelerate their development and get their young core into the playoffs soon.

This is such a fun fit, and such an interesting idea for a Sixers team that looks like it will be rapidly approaching playoff status as soon as next season. And at a one-year contract using the massive dollars and salary cap space the Sixers have at their disposal, there’s no downside. jets_034

NBA Playoffs 2017: Russell Westbrook won’t change in Game 3 of Thunder vs. Rockets

Russell Westbrook had a historically good, and a historically bad performance in Game 2 of the Thunder’s playoff series against the Rockets. He became the first player in NBA history to have a 50-point triple-double in the playoffs. He also went 4 of 18 in the fourth quarter, which set an NBA playoff record for shots attempted in the final quarter.

We told him right away, you’re not going to have to pay that, Conley said, per the San Antonio Express-News’ Mike Finger.

As Fizdale noted following Game 2, the Spurs (31 of 32) more than doubled the Grizzlies’ output from the free-throw line (13 of 15) while Kawhi Leonard outshot Memphis by himself (19 of 19). Fizdale could have been genuinely upset with the lack of foul calls he felt his players earned near the basket. But his words also served a larger purpose.

With the Grizzlies attempting to crawl out of an 0-2 hole against a team that is simply better on paper, Fizdale did his best to light a fire under his team and let them know in no uncertain terms, I’m not done fighting, and you guys aren’t either. Taking the fine for his comments may get Memphis a few extra calls here and there before the series ends, but it will undoubtedly endear him to everyone in the locker room, from Conley and Marc Gasol all the way down to Jarrell Martin and Wade Baldwin IV.

Losing, like I said, it’s never easy, especially when you’ve won championships before. Whenever you lose it always sucks, but you sit back and reflect on the positive, you look at the things that came out of it, and there’s always some good, more than bad. When you’re playing basketball for money at the top level, it’s not all bad. I definitely don’t regret my decision of being here this season.

Before signing with the Bulls this season, Wade was also linked to the Cavaliers, Knicks, Raptors and Wizards.

Nene, Rockets finally come to terms on new deal

After Saturday’s on-again, off-again reports that Nene and the Rockets had agreed to extend the big man’s contract, a deal was finally reached Sunday, according to ESPN.com.

Nene’s new deal is for three years and $11 million, the report says.

Early Saturday morning, reports said Nene had agreed to a new four-year, $15 million contract. But that deal was nullified by the Over 38 rule in the collective bargaining agreement, since a four-year term would have extended past Nene’s 38th birthday.

Finalizing Nene continues a stellar offseason for the Rockets, who traded for Chris Paul last week and signed free agent P.J. Tucker this weekend.

The Celtics want to clear cap space for new forward Gordon Hayward, and it looks as though the Jazz are ready to help them do that. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported a Hayward-for-Jae-Crowder swap has been discussed; later in the evening, the Salt Lake Tribune’s Tony Jones reported the Jazz and Hayward’s camp are willing to work on on a sign-and-trade that would get Hayward to Boston. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey declined to comment to Jones about the possibility.

Now that Boston has received a commitment from free-agent forward Gordon Hayward, it has to offload money, and lots of it, to pay him a max deal AND fit him under the salary cap

NBA Finals: Here’s why Draymond Green wasn’t ejected from Game 4

CLEVELAND — Warriors forward Draymond Green appeared to be ejected from in Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Cavaliers on Friday night after a second technical foul.

But here’s what happened. Green picked up a technical foul with 6:18 left in the third quarter after arguing with officials about picking up his fourth foul. Green, however, was not ejected.

Green was issued a technical foul in the first quarter after picking up a foul on Iman Shumpert during a jump ball, but that was later rescinded and given to Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

This is eerily familiar territory. Remember, Green was suspended for one game for a late-game altercation with LeBron James in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

Markkanen might enter the NBA as the best shooter in the entire league at his position. However, what else does he bring beyond his scoring ability? He’s a below-average rebounder, not a great passer and his defensive tools leave something to be desired. Still, in a spacing-oriented NBA, he’s going to have tremendous value as a knockdown shooter and scorer who can get his shot off in a variety of ways.

Collins is a skilled big man who measured with a 9-foot-3 standing reach. He has terrific post moves, a good shooting stroke and was a strong rim protector for Gonzaga who learned a lot mechanically from their coaching staff. The questions are with his overall feel for the game — given that he has played less basketball than the other elite players — and his physical strength. He might end up being a steal at this spot, but there’s more uncertainty with his talent.

Detroit’s run defense wasn’t very good coming into Saturday

The Seahawks had big plans for their uptempo offense hitting another gear in ’16. Those plans were derailed by Wilson getting his knee and ankle banged up early. They were further hampered by Rawls reinjuring himself right as he was working up to full speed. Through all their fancy passing, the Seahawks were missing the more explosive sequel to Beast Mode they expected to have.

Detroit’s run defense wasn’t very good coming into Saturday; it allowed the 15th-most rushing yards during the regular season and 4.4 yards per carry. That should make Atlanta worry plenty when it hosts Seattle in the divisional playoffs. The Falcons allowed the 16th-most rushing yards and gave up 4.5 yards per carry.

When the teams met in Seattle in Week 5, the steelers_040 didn’t have a healthy Rawls and managed only 72 yards rushing in a 26-24 victory. But the Falcons struggled to stop the running game in the red zone, allowing three rushing TDs inside the 10.

If were supposed to defiantly hold grudges indefinitely, even after someone has paid the legal price for his sins and especially when those sins didn’t affect us personally then whats the point of the system? If prison, bankruptcy, a damaged reputation and apparent genuine remorse dont put someone back in proper standing with society, then what will?

Don’t misunderstand: None of this means we have to forget what Vick did. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It just means we no longer hold his crimes against him. Of course, forgiveness can’t be forced. It’s not always easy. But I believe it’s always right. As the old saying goes, holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free inside your mind.

We have a societal agreement that the punishment should fit the crime. That’s the premise of justice. Vick’s punishment was just in the eyes of the law, and in the eyes of common sense.

Victor Cruz admits Giants’ boat trip ‘wasn’t worth it’

Victor Cruz and other members of the Giants were harassed after photos of them partying on a boat made headlines, less than a week before their playoff game against the Packers.

After being beat by Green Bay, many fans were quick to put the blame on the boat trip, claiming those who attended weren’t mentally prepared. While Cruz wasn’t ready to go quite that far, he did say in his own words that it was a mistake.

Mickelson, who grew up in San Diego and is making his return from injury this week at the PGA Tour’s CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., was quoted by the Golf Channel as saying: I just wish that all the people in San Diego loved them the way I do and fought a little harder to keep them, but I understand it.

What’s disappointing to me is that the city of San Diego didn’t appreciate the value that they had. And it was obvious in their votes.

So, I’m sad, but I don’t blame them. I understand the way that the economics in the NFL works and the ticket sharing of 60/40 percent and how the suite money is where you make your money. I get it. And the suites at Qualcomm (Stadium in San Diego) are the worst I’ve ever seen out of all the stadiums I’ve been to. So I totally understand where the Chargers are at.

”When the vote came in it was disappointing. Because if it were me, on the other end, I would feel very unwanted. It’s no fun being at a place you’re not wanted.”rams_067

MLB prospects 2017: Elite rookies ready to shine after ‘Super-Two’ deadline

June 1 typically marks the date after which MLB teams no longer need to worry about accelerating their top prospects’ arbitration eligibility by promoting them to the majors. In recent years, teams have increasingly tried to stash their big league-ready prospects in the minors in order to delay the players’ arbitration eligibility (and thus save the club lots of money down the road).

The Cubs’ Kris Bryant was the poster child for “Super Two” abuse when he was sent to Triple-A to open the 2015 season despite a blistering performance in spring training. The ensuing uproar highlighted clubs’ manipulation of the “Super Two” rules but didn’t do anything to change clubs’ behavior. While there are no “Bryant-esque” cases this season, there are a number of high-profile prospects who should see relatively rapid promotions once the unofficial deadline has passed.

And then there’s McKay, the most intriguing prospect in the draft whose two-way stardom has situated him at the top of most analysts’ draft boards. The Darlington, Pa., native pairs a .333 career batting average and 25 home runs (15 this season and counting) with a 2.10 career-ERA in 291.1 innings pitched during his time at the University of Louisville.

When Seattle committed to drafting Griffey, Pittsburgh moved fast. Merchant signed his contract June 1, 1987, the night before the draft. He graduated high school three days later and, within a week, was playing for the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team in Bradenton, Fla.

“I was ready to get my career started,” Merchant said.

Darrelle Revis released on bond

Darrelle Revis, who turned himself in to police on Friday, has been released on a non-monetary bond, according to multiple reports.

New England was trailing by 16 points when Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan made the ill-fated decision to pass on third-and-1 from their own 36-yard line with 8:31 remaining. Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower forced a fumble by stripping Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan from behind on a sack.

In the scrum that ensued, Branch found himself lying on his side atop the football. That’s when Ninkovich took measures to insure Branch secured the pigskin.

“I was trying to scoop it out but I couldn’t move my arm,” Branch told co-host Kirk Morrison and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Rob started to punch the ball to where it was inside my breadbasket. He punched it just enough where it spit up in front of my belly and I was able to cover it up.”

Branch believes he would have recovered the football without Ninkovich’s help but “he made it a lot easier.”

“I actually thought he was another offensive lineman trying to get the ball out so I was throwing a couple of elbows down there trying to make sure no one was getting it,” Branch said.

“I think he did receive a fair evaluation of his career, both pros and cons,” Fouts said. “But obviously ripping the Hall of Fame in the process, what good is that going to do. I just don’t understand that. I didn’t understand a lot of things he did in his career.”seahawks_044