NFL to relax footwear rules during warmups

After notoriously being dubbed the “No Fun League,” the NFL is lightening up.

According to a memo sent to coaches and equipment managers on Monday and obtained by ESPN, the league intends to relax its footwear rules and let players wear more personalized cleats during pregame warmups.

Tannehill missed the final three games of the regular season and the Dolphins’ playoff loss to Pittsburgh after spraining ligaments in the same knee. He opted against surgery at the time and was wearing a brace for training camp workouts.

Tannehill went down with a non-contact injury last week while scrambling toward the sidelines. After initial reports that he had merely hyperextended the knee and an inconclusive initial MRI, his and the Dolphins’ worst fears were finally confirmed.

Last year’s injury was a first for Tannehill, who had started all 77 games for the Dolphins since being selected eighth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Now he’ll spend the 2017 season watching and rehabbing as his last-minute replacement Jay Cutler leads the Dolphins.

Speaking to Vic Lombardi on Altitude Sports 950 AM in Denver, Billups revealed he was aware Kyrie Irving was upset with his situation in Cleveland. As we found out Friday, Irving has requested a trade from the Cavs because he reportedly doesn’t want to play alongside LeBron James anymore.

Billups said when that report dropped, he wasn’t as shocked as the rest of the NBA community.

“It didn’t surprise me, I knew as they were doing their due diligence on me I was doing the same thing on them. I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know. But it’s unfortunate man because he’s a special talent. So much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been as the beneficiary of LeBron James. That would be alarming to me if I was a team looking to get him.
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NBA playoff schedule 2017: Raptors, Spurs look to close out series

Thursday night will bring us two elimination games as Raptors-Bucks and Spurs-Grizzlies will both play in their respective Game 6 of each series. The Bucks and Grizzlies have both showed fight as the underdogs in each matchup but will have to pull out home wins in order to keep their seasons alive.

It seemed as if Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks had the Raptors number early in this series. After the Bucks jumped out to a 2-1 lead, the Raptors have won back to back games and now lead the series 3-2. This Milwaukee Bucks team is filled with potential but they are lacking playoff experience like all good young teams do. We’ll see what they’re made of with their backs against the wall on Thursday. The same could be said for the Raptors though. If they’re for real, they won’t let this get to a Game 7.

The second game of the night is Spurs-Grizzlies with Game 6 back in Memphis. The Spurs jumped out to a 2-0 lead but after Game 2 postgame rant from Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, the Grizzlies found new life. Memphis bounced back and won the next two games at home, extending the series as much as they could. The Spurs now lead 3-2 going into tonight’s game but Memphis has been fantastic at home, so anything could happen.

Once again, Bird vowed there would be change and a faster tempo for Pacers in the 2016-2017 season. His first move was to hire Pacers assistant coach Nate McMillan without much of a public coaching search. The problem is, McMillan has never been known as a coach who excelled in pace. As a head coach, his teams finished 24th, 27th, 15th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 29th, 30th, 30th, and 30th respectively in pace. His teams have always been quite slow, in fact. Why was Nate McMillan the choice to coach a faster-paced team?
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Tony Romo will be honorary Dallas Maverick for a day, dressed up and on the bench

Days after Tony Romo retired from the NFL and announced a move to a broadcasting career with CBS, the Mavericks said they will make the former Cowboys quarterback a “Maverick for a day,” according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Henley’s shot did enough damage to the hole that the Augusta National greenskeeping crew had to plug the original hole and cut a new one as close to the old one as possible, causing a brief delay in play.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that in my career,” CBS’ Nick Faldo said as the workers dug the hole, sprayed the bottom of the cup with white paint, and tamped down the old one. Faldo is a six-time major champion, including a three-time Masters winner in 1989, 1990, and 1996.

CBS opted to show us 5 minutes of the Augusta suits fixing the cup on #5 over showing two Masters champions teeing off on one.

“This is like changing tires at a Formula 1 or NASCAR race,” Faldo remarked. “These guys have got to be on the clock. This is going to set a whole new standard for hole repair.”

Henley, by the way, added a birdie on the seventh to get to even-par for the tournament. Last season, Mercedes ran the gamut, as expected. But internally, there was a battle between Lewis Hamilton and eventual champion Nico Rosberg. That battle won’t be reignited this season, as Rosberg elected to retire after winning his first title. That left an opening on the team, which then managed to secure Valtteri Bottas from Williams to fill the vacancy.
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Selection Sunday Bracketology 2017: UNC/Duke No. 1 seed debate could go either way

I spent a good chunk of my afternoon doing something I didn’t expect to be doing 24 hours earlier, parsing the profiles of the ACC top seed (don’t say “regular season champion,” since no such title exists) North Carolina Tar Heels and ACC Tournament champion Duke Blue Devils. Yes, I could have thrown the Gonzaga Bulldogs in for good measure, but I don’t think the Selection Committee is going to kick a one-loss team that went 6-0 in games against the Top 50, with just one of those wins coming at home, off the top line. And that’s the case even if the West Coast Conference isn’t anywhere near the level of this season’s ACC.

The two teams are remarkably even, sitting right next to each other in the RPI table (UNC ranks fifth, Duke sixth). Both did well in games played against that metric’s Top 100 — Carolina went 17-6; Duke 16-7. And while the Blue Devils would be the first eight-loss team to earn a top seed, the Tar Heels have dropped seven games themselves.

Sitting with a one-stroke lead over Cantlay on the 16th tee, Hadwin cut his tee ball on the 16th left into the water. The wheels were coming off, and the door sat wide open for Cantlay to seize control.

We’ll keep all of the latest rumors about free agents updated here, so check back often for the latest. Our rumors are listed by date, and below that, is a list of some of the bigger name players in the NFL.

But comparing the two Tobacco Road rivals will be more difficult. The teams are very close in most of the main factors (quality wins, bad losses, record away from home, RPI), with strength of schedule looking like the main differentiators.

The28, after running roughshod through the ACC tournament and becoming the first team to win four games in four days at that conference tilt, grabbed up the East’s No. 2 seed, and they’ll meet No. 15 Troy in the opening round.

Cousins told ESPN that he’d sign the tender if he’s tagged again

Is the long-term security worth the tradeoff of earning a massive salary for at least one more year? That’s a question Cousins and his camp will have to figure out while Washington weighs its options.

But last month, Cousins told ESPN that he’d sign the tender if he’s tagged again, while conceding, “It will be hard to have a lack of security at that point.”

The one upside of the franchise tag is that it guarantees the player will be one of the highest-paid at his position for one year. Everything that happens after that year, though, is a mystery, and that uncertainty is why many players would rather avoid it altogether. And on the team’s part, general managers don’t like having such a huge part of the salary cap tied to one player, for one year, so they’re also eager to work out a more stable extension.

The tag affords more time for both sides to get something hammered out, but it’s certainly not a pleasant experience for the players, no matter how large their bank accou gets in the end.

Bauer, Cleveland’s resident deep thinker, adheres to his own program. On Wednesday, more than 30 Indians pitchers and catchers took part in a spirited endurance drill that consisted of sprinting back and forth between orange cones on a back field. Minor league pitcher Dylan Baker collapsed in exhaustion after winning the drill, and catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez pushed themselves to the limit while finishing second and third. The event was strenuous enough that one pitcher vomited in the grass.

Bauer, meanwhile, was the first player to exit the race and spent the rest of the time taking it in as a spectator. It was the kind of strange interlude that spurs “Trevor being Trevor” comments from his teammates and the occasional eye roll when his name comes up in conversation.

Bauer’s self-inflicted drone wound in October was the consummate example of his approaching of baseball and life from an off-kilter vantage point. Cleveland management has no plans to curtail his fondness for high-tech flying gizmos.

Eagles ejected a reporter for discussing press box etiquette

The Philadelphia Eagles’ season hasn’t gone quite as they would have liked. The team started 3-0, but since then there hasn’t been much to cheer for in the City of Brotherly Love.

On Sunday, the Eagles were hosting the Dallas Cowboys. During the game, Eagles beat writer Jeff McLane, who writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, was taken out of the press box by the Eagles’ PR staff, reportedly after discussion regarding etiquette with them.

Whaley’s answers to the questions left reporters in Buffalo confused about the actual responsibilities of his job, and asking questions straight out of Office Space:

According to Jay Glazer of FOX, Baalke was informed of the team’s decision to move on without him on Friday. Glazer also revealed that the 49ers were set to hire Adam Gase a year ago, but Baalke convinced ownership to avoid the hire at the last minute, setting San Francisco up with Kelly instead.

Baalke has shouldered the blame for the team’s struggles throughout the season, and doubled down that personnel decisions were his and his alone. There was some ‘miscommunication’ about Kelly’s role with personnel when he was with the Eagles, but he and Baalke have seemingly been on the same page.

Last year, the hot seat claimed coaches like Chip Kelly, Tom Coughlin, Lovie Smith, and Ken Whisenhunt. This winter will claim even more, including Kelly again. Here’s a look at the first round of rumors, grumblings, and reports about 2016’s embattled NFL coaches.

The 49ers closed out their regular season on Sunday at home with a 25-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Jeff Fisher: ‘I want a chance to play the Rams’

“I want a chance to play the Rams.”

Those words came directly from Jeff Fisher in an exclusive interview with Charissa Thompson set to appear during FOX’s Sunday pregame show.

The Falcons All-Pro receiver has been ruled out for Atlanta’s game against the San Francisco 49ers because of the sprained toe that kept him out of practice all week, the team announced.

Kiffin, who also joined Saban’s staff after being fired as USC head coach (in 2013), will remain with Alabama through the College Football Playoff. The Tide will play Washington in a Peach Bowl playoff semifinal on Dec. 31.

“We are pleased to be able to hire an offensive coordinator with the pedigree and experience of Steve Sarkisian,” Saban stated in a release. “He has a tremendous offensive mind and is someone we believe will do a great job of teaching and developing our football team on the offensive side of the ball. He has been a great asset to our coaching staff this season and brings a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to his job. Steve will be a phenomenal addition to our coaching staff and someone who can seamlessly transition into the job with a full understanding of how our organization works.”

Sarkisian was fired by then-USC athletic director Pat Haden after reportedly arriving for team meetings while intoxicated. He checked into rehab shortly after being dismissed. Sarkisian later filed a lawsuit against USC, alleging he was discriminated against because of a disability.

Prior to taking the USC job, Sarkisian led Washington to a 34-29 record as head coach from 2009-13.

Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams suffers sprained ankle vs. Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams suffered a leg injury on Sunday that sent him to the locker room and the team quickly announced that he was questionable to return with a right ankle injury. He was later downgraded to out, despite jogging back out of the locker room to join the team on the sideline.

Williams, 32, has been the leading rusher for the Steelers during the 2015 season in Le’Veon Bell’s absence, racking up 899 yards and an NFL-leading 11 touchdowns in the first 15 games of the season. He had just eight yards on five carries against the Cleveland Browns before he suffered his injury, which immediately looked serious and drew Mike Tomlin out on to the field to check on the veteran running back.

Team doctors helped Williams off the field and he wasn’t able to put any weight on his right leg. He was taken to the locker room shortly thereafter.

Over the last four years, a whopping 22 teams have changed head coaches. Eleven franchises — the Jaguars, Chiefs, Dolphins, Raiders, Buccaneers, Bills, Bears, Browns, Eagles, 49ers and Titans — have done it at least twice, counting interim selections.

During this time span, these clubs have posted winning records on only 10 occasions. Their combined record is 199-257 and only five of them have made the playoffs one year after making the change.

No team has cycled through more head coaches recently than the Browns, who fired their third head coach in four years this offseason. Owner Jimmy Haslam paid Rob Chudzinski the remaining $10.5 million over the three years remaining on his contract after sacking him in 2013 and will still have to pay Mike Pettine for two more years as well. No coach has lasted more than four years in Cleveland since Bill Belichick in 1995.

Though the Browns are the most egregious example of this phenomenon, few teams allow coaches ample time to reshape the organizations they inherit. Look no further than Chip Kelly, who the Eagles fired last week less than one year after owner Jeffrey Lurie gave him total control over player personnel.

Theo Epstein couldn’t have expected Jake Arrieta to turn into a Cy Young contender

Last spring, we brought a member of one team’s analytics department to speak to ESPN baseball employees about his job. I asked him later what his bosses said he could and couldn’t talk about, even in an off-the-record gathering. “Nothing about the amateur draft,” he said. Years ago, Beane felt college players were a market inefficiency, that high school players were essentially getting overdrafted; his studies on the subject were pretty basic. Imagine the work teams put into the draft these days compared to 15 years ago — from analytics and research to scouting that now itself includes more analytics.

All this means front offices are smarter and on more of an equal footing of knowledge than in 2003. Back then Lewis wrote, “It is the nature of being the general manager of a baseball team that you have to remain on familiar terms with people you are continually trying to screw.”

Throughout his career, Sandoval has struggled to stay in shape, gaining and losing weight with dramatic fluctuations. But since leaving the Giants, his weight gain greatly diminished his mobility and range at third base and contributing to a career-worst .658 OPS in 2015.

Over the past few months, Sandoval has shed “significant” weight, according to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Neither the team nor Sandoval has divulged specifics, but after principal owner John Henry’s widely derided comment this past spring that Sandoval’s body fat was only 17 percent, the exact number is almost beside the point with two months left before spring training.

The proof, for now, is in a picture that circulated on Twitter this week. Sandoval, standing in front of the batting cages at the Red Sox’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida, looks almost svelte.

By bringing in Chris Sale, the Red Sox now have seven big-league starting pitchers. They’ll almost surely trade one or more. Eventually.

After David Ortiz posted to Instagram that Chris Sale’s trade to the Red Sox got him “thinking,” Dave Dombrowski downplayed any speculation about a potential return for the beloved slugger.

Jackson’s stat line against the two toughest teams on his schedule: 511 yards passing

Those two games were against overmatched opponents, though. Then-No. 2 Florida State came next, and Jackson dismantled the Seminoles with ease. He recorded 362 yards and five total touchdowns in three quarters in a 63-20 victory that sent a clear message: Jackson had to be considered the Heisman favorite.

How could he not be after producing 18 touchdowns in three weeks? The yards and touchdowns kept piling up, including a whopping performance against then-No. 5 Clemson; Jackson compiled 457 yards and three touchdowns in a last-second, 42-36 loss.

Jackson’s stat line against the two toughest teams on his schedule: 511 yards passing, 308 yards rushing, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.

His season did not end as prolifically as it began, with consecutive losses to Houston and Kentucky that some thought might curtail his Heisman chances. Still, Jackson won ACC Player of the Year honors from the media and coaches, and he took home the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Maxwell Award.

“To be able to stand up here with all the former winners, I’m extremely proud to represent this class and Louisville as their first Heisman Trophy winner,” said Jackson, who wore a Louisville-red velvet blazer with shiny black lapels. “For my teammates, it’s an award for all of us. I can’t wait to cherish it with all of you.”

Jackson became the youngest player to win the Heisman at 19 years, 337 days — just five days younger than 2013 winner Jameis Winston — and just the fourth sophomore to take home the trophy. He joins Johnny Manziel (2012) as the only Heisman winners to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy in 14 of the past 16 years.

When he heard his name called, Jackson said his heart started racing.

“Man, I almost cried,” he said. “To hear my name called with all those great players, I was overwhelmed.”

His coach, Bobby Petrino, said after that ceremony that he was “very nervous” for his quarterback.

“I had no idea how the vote was going to come out,” Petrino said. “I want you to know how proud I am of Lamar. He’s a young man that prepared extremely hard, went out on the field and played as hard as he possibly could and did a great job being a leader for this football team.”

Jackson credited his mother, Felicia Jones, and said the trophy will go anywhere she decides to put it. Jones raised Jackson as a single mom and would put on football pads to help her son work on his game when he was a kid.

“Everything I do is for my mother,” Jackson said Saturday.