NFL: No further action needed against Russ Brandon

Former Bills CEO Russ Brandon will be facing no further issues following his abrupt resignation. The NFL announced on Friday that it has investigated the situation, and that the case can be closed.

We are satisfied the club addressed the matter in a timely, thorough and appropriate manner, the league said, via

The Yankees got Cole, usually a starting pitcher, from the Nationals on April 2Baseball America had ranked the right-hander No. 91 on its top prospects list before the 2015 season. had him ranked No. 52 at the same time.

It’s a great effort by him, really proud of him, especially considering he just hasn’t had the work to have a chance to even be sharp. It was a big effort, Boone said.

I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name. Twenty-two years ago, I was falsely accused of something very serious — very serious allegations. There were claims made about me that never happened. I’m thankful, on one level, that the process worked and the case was dismissed. At the same time, I was never given the opportunity to defend myself or to allow push back and the truth to clear my name.

This was something that was very traumatic to me when I was 21 years old. Once it was finally addressed, I tried to put it behind me. For those of you that are just getting to know me, and for those who have known me for a long time, you should know I was raised the right way by two amazing parents who taught me to know the difference between right and wrong. To stand up for what’s right. And to stand up for those who have been wronged. I have two older sisters that taught me respect and love. I will always try to protect them, and keep them from harm. I’m a husband and a father to a wonderful and amazing family. I try to share those same values with them.

I’m so thankful for my wife and my family for being supportive of me. I believe and have always acted with respect for all people, knowing everyone is someone’s dad, mom, sister, brother, son or daughter. I do not condone any of the type of behavior that has been alleged, and I never have.colts_094

Into the conference semis, the Knights are playing with house money

The team opened its hearts to the city’s healing, and in turn, fans have embraced the team. When the Knights hosted a fan festival on Jan. 14, more than 10,000 people showed up. The team has sold tickets at 103.7 percent of capacity, fourth best in the NHL.

In typical Vegas fashion, the team has made games a destination. “It’s like you’re in a nightclub,” explained the Capitals’ Ovechkin at this season’s All-Star Game. “It’s like a party. Everybody dancing. It’s like, ‘Holy Jesus, are we in a hockey game or is this like a pool party out there?'” There’s an elaborate pregame ceremony — part rip-off of a Medieval Times skit — and a glow-in-the-dark drum line perched in the 200 level.

It is also clearly different from what most road teams expect from Sin City: The league’s methods for preparing for the “Vegas Flu” have become legendary. The Flames organized their first moms trip when they visited on Feb. 21. The Ducks called an audible in February and flew into town just hours before puck drop. The Maple Leafs stayed nearly 30 minutes away by Red Rock Canyon — and all three teams lost anyway.

Of course, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella actually encouraged his players to go out so they would “play guilty,” and they lost 6-3. All of this mostly serves to amuse the Golden Knights, who, by the way, also have a winning record away from home. “You hear of teams doing this and that,” Schmidt says. “Sure, stay off the Strip, but you’re just adding time to your Uber trip.”

Not only did the Knights finish with a .655 point percentage, they placed first in the Pacific Division and cruised into the second round of the playoffs — the first NHL team to make the postseason in its inaugural season since the Oilers and Whalers merged from the WHA in 1979-80, when just five of the league’s 21 teams didn’t make the playoffs.

Cynics will point out that Vegas enjoyed a more generous expansion format than the NHL has ever granted before, as teams could protect fewer players than in the past. That’s true, but the Knights also gamed the system: Vegas GM George McPhee orchestrated 10 official trades ahead of the draft, collecting 10 picks and six additional players on top of his 30 draftees.

“A lot of teams got in their own heads,” a Western Conference GM says. “In reality, you just need to suck it up and lose one player. But a lot of teams wanted to protect certain assets and got fancy making side deals, and it kind of nipped them in the butt.”

Eli Manning memorabilia fraud case to go to trial, judge orders

A memorabilia fraud case against Giants quarterback Eli Manning, among others, will go to trial in May, a New Jersey judge ruled Thursday, according to

In a summary judgment, state Superior Court Judge James DeLuca ruled that various civil-court claims brought by three collectors against Manning, Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba, team co-owner John Mara, memorabilia company Steiner Sports and others can proceed.

“We’re getting guys on,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’re getting opportunities. We’re just struggling to get that big base hit.”

Giolito allowed two runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings. His only hiccup was a Jorge Soler home run with Mike Moustakas aboard in the fourth.

The Royals loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and managed to score a run on Alcides Escobar’s two-out single. Joakim Soria worked a scoreless ninth for his third save in four chances.

The White Sox picked up just their second victory in 11 games. The Royals dropped to a major league-worst 1-10 at home.

The White Sox sent 1B Casey Gillaspie outright off the 40-man roster. Gillaspie, a 2014 first-round pick of the Rays, was hitting .214 with 29 strikeouts in 76 at-bats with Triple-A Charlotte. … The White Sox acquired OF Todd Cunningham from the Pirates for future considerations. He has spent parts of three seasons in the majors with the Braves and Angels.

Browns general manager John Dorsey told NFL Network the team hasn’t received any “legitimate trade offers” for the top overall pick. Dorsey declined to say who the team was considering drafting.

Cleveland is expected to select a quarterback with the pick. The team has recently been tied to former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who won the 2017 Heisman trophy. Cleveland could also take Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Cleveland also holds the draft’s fourth overall selection.

The Browns failed to win a game in 2017. Rookie DeShone Kizer started 15 games at quarterback, throwing 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He was traded to the Packers in early March for cornerback Damarious Randall. Cleveland also dealt backup Cody Kessler to the Jaguars three weeks later.

With Henson out again on Tuesday, Maker and veteran Tyler Zeller will be counted on to maintain the momentum the group has enjoyed recently. Despite his struggles throughout the season, the Bucks’ confidence in Maker has never wavered.

UF record-setters Johnny Townsend, Eddy Piñeiro poised to make NFL draft history

UF record-setters Johnny Townsend, Eddy Piñeiro poised to make NFL draft history More Punter Johnny Townsend and placekicker Eddy Piñeiro spent the past two seasons setting records at UF. The dynamic duo now looks to make history for the Gators this coming weekend. Never has a punter and kicker from the same school been selected during the same NFL draft since the league reduced the number of rounds to seven in 1994. The odds are against the two specialists, since NFL teams often use draft picks on position players.

Seems CBS’ Spero Dedes received a copy of the plan: How to succeed as a modern TV play-by-play man. He hollered at anything and everything throughout Michigan-Houston.

Wonder how many “senior graduate transfers,” as identified during NCAA Tournament telecasts, return to their latest colleges to continue their pursuit of their master’s degree? Or are they just one-season rentals?

Ready to wince? Reader Alan Streisfeld: “When Aaron Boone emailed his pitchers, did he remember to cc Sabathia?” Warned ya.

No college has produced more than five first overall picks in the NFL draft. But if the Browns take Sam Darnold first overall on Thursday night, he’ll be the sixth No. 1 pick from USC.

Southern Cal is one of three schools to have five first overall draft picks. The others, Auburn and Notre Dame, don’t have any players with a chance to go first overall this year. But Darnold remains under consideration for the Browns.

Circumstances can change quickly in the NFL. Just ask the Jacksonville Jaguars . A year ago, the Jaguars sat at No. 4 in the draft order after a three-win season. This year, they’re scheduled to pick 29th after a 10-win season that ended in the AFC Championship Game, where they got Tom Brady’d.  That’s what happens when you’re able to spend freely in free agency ( Calais Campbell , A.J. Bouye, Malik Jackson , and so on) and hit on some notable draft picks ( Jalen Ramsey , Myles Jack , Telvin Smith , and so on).seahawks_194

Oklahoma boosts defensive line with addition of grad transfer Jay Hayes

Oklahoma bolstered its defensive line Sunday by picking up a commitment from Notre Dame graduate transfer Jay Hayes.

Hayes started all 13 games for the Irish last season. He finished with 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery.

“That’s big,” Snyder adds. “That’s a huge point, being square, because that’s why that’s a threat.”

THE NEXT CLIP features another instance of Mitchell coming off a great screen by Gobert and getting in the lane, this time blowing by Guerschon Yabusele for an easy layup.

“This is really good by Rudy,” Snyder says. “Especially when they’re up on you like that, Jaylen Brown’s got no chance. Right? And Yabusele has no chance.”

Snyder rewinds to show Yabusele jab his right foot toward Mitchell as the rookie hesitates.

“And all you’ve got to do is get him f—ing leaning a little bit, especially because all these guys now are trained to jab, to fake at you. Look at that.

“Look where Jaylen Brown’s at once you get the ball back from Joe,” Bryant says. “He’s loading up ready to help on the drive. You’re the threat.

“This is what James Harden’s really good at. He’ll see the shift, and before he even comes off the pick-and-roll, it’s a quick swing. So as you’re playing, Rudy may come up and set a pick-and-roll, but it may be a situation where we swing it real quick, and then we have an advantage.”

AFTER GOBERT ENGULFS Brown with a screen at the top of the arc, Mitchell gets Boston big man Aron Baynes to bite on the possibility that he’ll pull the trigger on a 3, setting up an easy blow-by into the teeth of the Celtics’ defense. Jayson Tatum grabs Mitchell instead of giving up the easy dunk or layup.

“So why was this open?” Bryant asks. “Why did he foul you right here?”

Mitchell: “Because I hesitated and got back into it.”

Bryant’s eyes light up as he nods his head, proud that his prize pupil has gotten the message. Mitchell has the gift of rare explosiveness, but he can’t make the most of it if he drives only 100 mph and misses some billboards, as Bryant puts it.

“Exactly. You changed speeds, right? So the threat of you being able to shoot that shot brings him up,” Bryant says, clapping his hands.

“Now he comes up toward you. It’s the same clips we watched yesterday morning [on Damian Lillard]. Now he comes up. Now you attack.”

Snyder adds his two cents in support of Bryant’s point of emphasis.jets_055

Kony Ealy leaves Dallas without a deal

Free agent defensive end Kony Ealy left Dallas without a deal, Todd Archer of ESPN reports. The Cowboys do not appear in a rush to get something done, and with the Jets still interested in an Ealy return, he could end up back in New York.

The Panthers made Ealy a second-round pick in 2014. He spent three seasons there before Carolina traded him to New England for a second-round pick last offseason.

Thanks to their two-game interleague series in Los Angeles on Tuesday-Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers suffer the misfortune of the league’s only five-game weeks, in a week in which 12 other teams are scheduled to play seven times. It’s especially bad news for the Athletics, who lose their designated hitter for those two games in the National League park and are a matchups-oriented team, and it’s quite a contrast to the team’s 11-day Week 1 schedule, which was loaded with volume opportunity.

With the Dodgers starting both Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the team’s week-opening series, Athletics hitters will face three left-handed starters, which is awful news for Matt Olson, Matt Joyce and Boog Powell. Khris Davis and Matt Chapman are the team’s only two “automatics” on the hitting side, though Marcus Semien and perhaps Olson are worth a look.

Kaplan: I’m iffy on Keith Kinkaid of the New Jersey Devils — or, even worse, a platoon situation between Kinkaid and Cory Schneider. Typically, teams are buoyed in the playoffs by their goaltender getting hot. I’ll leave that option open for Kinkaid — who helped will the Devils into the playoffs by allowing two goals or fewer in 13 of his past 20 starts, recording a .932 save percentage in that stretch.

Kinkaid’s larger body of work (.913 save percentage for the season), however, is less impressive. He’s a solid backup who might find himself in over his head come playoff time. If the job ends up going to Schneider at any point? Well, we’d be asking him to play a lot better than he has since his return from a groin injury.

Arledge: I’m not so positive about Martin Jones or the Devils’ duo of Kinkaid and Schneider. Jones is perhaps a surprise here because he brought the San Jose Sharks to the Final a couple of seasons ago, but I’m not too bullish on the 28-year-old. Aaron Dell almost stole the starting gig from Jones at the end of January, but Jones responded with a stout February.

Both the 49ers and Rams have made unbelievable acquisitions this offseason.

The 49ers picked up a franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Rams have essentially transformed their defense.

These two teams are shaping up to be one of the NFL’s great rivalries in 2018. The NFC West has turned into a good old-fashioned arms race.

We haven’t seen anything like this in a long time. If you want to understand why the NFL remains so popular despite some of the dunderheaded things its leadership has done, this is why.

Hooper might like him as a hitter, but if Babe were really that good, you’d think his managers would have noticed it, too. Babe’s previous managers have batted him ninth, and he pinch hit only 11 times last year. That’s a lot — for a pitcher! But if this guy were really the world’s greatest hitter, a smart manager would find a place for him to pinch hit almost every day. We’re big believers not just in stats but also in trusting the judgment of experts such as Jack Barry and Bill Carrigan, Ruth’s previous managers.

Babe is agile for a big man. But Babe is a big, big man, and he’s getting bigger — he’s known to order 10 hot dogs and eight sodas at a time, and word around the club is he recently acquired a taste for beer. That’s not too damaging at his age, but (a) his weight will be a bigger concern as he gets older, dramatically reducing his long-term potential as a defender and (b) it might already be catching up to him. We saw this yesterday, when Babe pitched: The Yankees bunted repeatedly at him, forcing him to take 13 chances (and commit two errors). They see Babe as a poor defender. That’s valuable data.

The 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was a godsend for the Saints. Players at Lattimore’s position rarely step on the field and play like an elite option from Day 1 against star wideouts such as Julio Jones.

In 2016, the Saints ranked dead last in the NFL in pass defense and won all of seven games. After New Orleans drafted Lattimore 11th overall last April, it jumped to 15th in the NFL in pass defense and won the NFC South.

While Lattimore doesn’t deserve sole credit for that jump, the idea of losing him for any length of time should be abjectly terrifying to Saints fans.

In early November, an estimated crowd of 750,000 to 1 million people paid tribute to the Astros at the team’s championship parade. Fans throughout the region had found comfort and solace in the Astros’ inspirational run after the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in August.patriots_379

Vinny Curry quickly lands in Tampa

The Eagles decided that $9 million in 2018 would be too much for defensive end Vinny Curry. The Buccaneers quickly gobbled him up.

The 66-year-old woman, a stadium employee, sprained a shoulder after Bennett shoved her while trying to rush the field after the game, Houston police chief Art Acevedo said.

Latos seemed like a regression candidate, but the extent of his regression likely included some poor luck – particularly the home run department.Mathews is nursing ankle injury, while Kenjon Barner and Smallwood each had two rushes as well.I used to cut his hair, says his also 30 years old now, a time when most running backs seem to watch their numbers slowly decline.I think he’s a very honest kid to believe himself.that moment it’s not a football match.

Gaines, 26, would be reunited with Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who coached him with the Rams from 2014-2016 after the Rams drafted him in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out Missouri.

Gaines (5-10, 190) started 15 games for Williams in 2014 and 10 in 2016. He sat out the 2015 season with a Lisfranc foot injury.

If Fernandez is shopped, an epic bidding war is inevitable.As a Trophy candidate?Both, obviously, fit a very similar profile to Juluke.

Both men are going to kick off their hunt for a new job in the same place. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that both ers are scheduled to be in Washington on Sunday to visit with the Redskins.

Scandrick is a familiar face to the organization as someone in the building has been watching tape of him with the Cowboys a couple of times a year since he started his career in 2008. The Redskins traded cornerback Kendall Fuller to Kansas City for Alex Smith and Bashaud Breeland agreed to a deal with the Panthers that fell apart when he failed his physical.

Hankins would seem to make a lot of sense for a team that ranked last against the run during the 2017 season. If the numbers discussed on Sunday make sense as well, Hankins’ stay on the open market could be a short one.

Carradine visited Oakland on Thursday.

He ed 44 games, with eight starts, in four seasons in San Francisco after the 49ers made him a second-round pick. He made 5.5 sacks and 76 tackles in his career there.

Carradine, 29, missed eight games last season with an ankle injury and made only 1.5 sacks.49ers_182

The documentary, “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered,” is set to air in two parts, on Saturday and Sunday night.

Multiple people close to Aaron Hernandez say the late Patriots star turned convicted murderer was gay, and that internal strife about his sexuality may have been a factor in his violent behavior, an Oxygen documentary reveals (via

In it, Alyssa Anderson, a former girlfriend of Hernandez, said she learned he had a relationship with a man while they both attended Florida. He denied it at the time, but he “cryptically acknowledged her suspicions were true” several years later, according to TMZ.

The 38-year-old McCown is a consummate professional, and he’s coming off a career season before suffering a broken hand. Bridgewater is the lottery ticket. The 2014 first-round pick hasn’t played a significant snap since the 2015 campaign due to a devastating knee injury yet looked like a potential franchise quarterback during his first two seasons.

The quarterbacks will be joined by Isaiah Crowell in the backfield. Bilal Powell led the Jets last season with 772 rushing yards. Crowell ran for at least 853 in each of the past two seasons as the Cleveland Browns’ leading rusher. The 25-year-old back is at his best when utilized as a downhill runner with homerun capabilities.

Finally, Avery Williamson becomes the Jets’ new defensive field general. Williamson is younger (26 years old) and a better working in space compared to Demario Davis, who signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Grant’s agent, Rocky Arceneaux, told Adam Schefter of ESPN his client is fully capable of playing and there is no lingering issue with his ankle. Grant set numerous career highs in his fourth year in the league last season, hauling in 45 catches for 573 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Norwell developed into a great player for the Carolina Panthers, but $66.5 million, with $30 million guaranteed, is a huge payday for a guard. It will be hard for Norwell to live up to that contract.

Brate has 14 touchdown catches the last two years, but $41 million is a lot to pay for a tight end who might soon be a No. 2 option if first-round pick O.J. Howard develops. ?patriots_321

Dan Bylsma: Sidney Crosby is not the world’s best hockey player — but he is the smartest

The following was excerpted from this week’s episode of the ESPN On Ice podcast. Subscribe now, and check out the archives here.

“Sid is not the best hockey player in the world, skill-wise. He has an unbelievable ability to take a situation, analyze it, work on it in a very small sample size and improve drastically. So if he sees a play on TV the night before, and he’s like, ‘we should do this,’ he’ll go and practice it 10 times and he’s got it,” said Bylsma on the ESPN On Ice podcast this week.

“We talk about faceoffs and what he did with faceoffs. We talk about his shot, what he did with his shot. But there was an instance where the puck hit the end boards, and he was near the side of the net, and it came out and he had a chance to score and he missed it. The next day, he was out getting pucks to go off the end boards, to that area and he’d make a play. He did 15 pucks and he’s got it.”

Bylsma said the moves that we take for granted from Crosby have been honed and refined through practice.

“We’ve seen him tip behind his back and score goals, and it’s amazing. But it’s not amazing. I’d see him do it every day. He doesn’t do 100 of them. He does five every day, and he’s got it,” he said.

The Sabres, who lost 5-1 at home to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday for the first time since March 15, 1996, are tied with the Arizona Coyotes for the fewest points in the NHL.

Former Senators goaltender Robin Lehner is 5-0-3 against his old team with a .950 save percentage and a 1.57 goals-against average. He is expected to get the start.

Lehner replaced Sabres starter Chad Johnson on Wednesday at 13:59 of the second period after the Flames made it 4-0.

Sabres coach Phil Housley said he wasn’t happy with the way his team let the Flames get to the net on Wednesday night. The game was a letdown for the Sabres, who had won three of four games heading into their game against the Flames, including wins over the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs, all playoff teams in the Atlantic Division.

“That’s a good phrase for it, standing around watching,” Housley told the Buffalo News, describing his players’ performance against the Flames.

“That wasn’t what we wanted. That was disappointing. We have a lot better than that,” Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly told the Buffalo News after the game.