Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sports Chowdah Update- Patriots Deal Texas-Sized Ass Whuppin' to Houston; Napoli, Flyin' Hawaiian Land In Beantown; Navy Survives Late Army Rally; Duck Duck, Longhorn!

Jerry Brown: 1987-2012. AP File photo
NFL- A week after the highly publicized murder-suicide involving Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a single car accident in Arlington, TX. The car was being driven by nose tackle Josh Brent, who was a teammate of Brown's both in Dallas and at the University of Illinois.
According to police, Brent and Brown were speeding west in the 1400 block of the East State Highway 114 service road around 2:21 a.m. Brent’s car “hit the outside curb” and traveled about 900 feet before coming to rest upside down in the middle of the road.

“Our investigators are certain that they were traveling well above the posted speed limit, and they base that on the physical evidence that is out on the scene — gouge marks, skid marks, where the vehicle initially impacted the curb and where the vehicle came to rest,” said Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz. The posted speed limit was 45 mph, he said.

Arriving officers saw Brent trying to drag his teammate from the burning car. Brown, unresponsive, was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The small fire was quickly extinguished.

Brent had minor injuries, mostly scrapes, police said. He failed field sobriety tests and was taken to a hospital. He was later booked into the Irving jail on the second-degree felony charge, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
The Dallas Morning News is also reporting that Brent had a DUI dating back to his college days in Illinois. Court records from Champaign county, IL show that in February 2009, Brent was arrested for DUI, driving without a valid liscence and speeding near the University of Illinois campus and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 200 hours community service and two years probation.

Born and raised in St Louis, Brown was on the roster when Vashon High School won three Missouri district titles and had him ranked among the top 100 best defensive ends in the country before he accepted a scholarship to Illinois. During the Illini 2007 run to the Rose Bowl, Brown had 2 and a half sacks in 13 games.

Although he was initially undrafted by the NFL in 2011, he did play for the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Legue and was on the practice squad for the Hamilton Tigercats of the CFL. In 2012, Brown worked out for the Texans, Jets and Eagles before being signed to the Indianaplos Colts practice squad. After he appeared in one game- the Colts 35-9 loss to the Jets on Oct 14th- he was waived and then signed to the practice roster once again before being cut. Later that month, Dallas picked him up off of waivers and assigned him to the Cowboys practice squad where he reportedly was recieving consideration for a move to the active roster.

Brent is charged with DUI and intoxicated manslaughter.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS- Former NFL Comissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned current comissioner Roger Goddel's suspension of four New Orleans Saints defensive players who were accused of participating in the Bountygate scandal.
In a surprising rejection of his successor's overreaching punishments, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue threw out "all discipline" current Commissioner Roger Goodell had imposed on two current Saints, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, and two players no longer with the club, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.

Tagliabue, appointed by Goodell to handle player appeals in the matter, essentially absolved Fujita, but agreed with Goodell's finding that the other three players "engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football."

The 22-page ruling Tuesday allowed both sides to claim victory more than nine months after the league first revealed the Saints' bounty scandal to shocked fans, describing a performance pool operated by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that, among other things, rewarded hits that injured opponents.

The four players punished by Goodell have maintained they were innocent of taking part in bounty program from the beginning, saying they never intended to injure anyone on the field. Vilma even has filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell in U.S. District Court in Louisiana, and his lawyers, Peter Ginsberg and Duke Williams, said they intend to continue to pursue those claims "vigorously."
The NFL alleges that defensive players from the 2009-2010 New Orleans Saints paid each other off-the-books bonuses for knocking out or injuring players from opposing teams throughout the season. During the 2009-2010 season, the Saints defensive players would've had the opportunity to tee off on quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.

However, while Tagliabue's ruling allows the players to get back on the field without further NFL sanction, he also made clear that he holds the Saints coaching staff culpable for allowing the bounty program to continue.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- In what was only their second prime-time game of the 2012 season, the Patriots delivered a Lone Star state-sized beatdown of the Houston Texans on Monday night football.

In all honesty, I expected the Patriots to win in a fairly close contest where they started to pull away in the 4th quarter. However, Monday night's game in Foxborough seemed to be decided by halftime with the Patriots jumping out to a 14-0 lead on their first two posessions.  Wes Welker's 31 yard punt return and 25 yard reception set the tone early, leading to a 7 yard TD pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez to open up the scoring. The TD came despite Stevan Ridley being stripped of the ball while rushing for the end zone on 1st and goal.

Trailing 7-0, the Texans were looking to get on the board and put together a nice looking drive until QB Matt Schaub's pass into the end zone was picked off by CB Devin McCourty who ran it back to the New England 19. On the following posession, Brady connected with a wide open Brandon Lloyd for a 37 yard TD reception.

New England went into the locker room at the half up 21-0, but with the Texans inability to get anything going offensively [along with a couple of iffy calls that went New England's way and the fortuitous fumble recovery early on by Hernandez- NANESB!] it felt like much more than that. To emphasise this, the Patriots opened up the scoring in the second half with a 63 yard pass reception and TD run from Brady to WR Donte Stallworth to put New England up 28-0. The Texans finally got on the board late in the 3rd, but New England won this one going away by a 42-14 final.

Brady went 21-35 with 4 TDs and 296 yards on Monday night. This is his 18th career game with 4 or more TDs, moving him past Johnny Unitas to 4th all-time on the list. TE Aaron Hernandez had 8 receptions- two of them for TDs- and 58 yards while Donte Stallworth's 63 yard catch and TD run was his lone reception of the night.

Although Houston lost bad, they still maintain the best overall record in the AFC at 11-2. However, two out of Houston's three remaining games are against the 9-4 Indianapolis Colts- the next closest team in the AFC South, so even though the Texans may have clinched a playoff berth before heading into Foxborough on Monday, clinching the division still isn't a given this late in the season.

New England's next game will be its last scheduled prime-time matchup of the 2012 season- a Sunday Night matchup at Gillette Stadium against the NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers. The game kicks off on Sunday night at 8:20 ET, 5:20 Pacific [no word on whether or not Bob Costas will deliver another patronizing lecture during NBC's halftime show- NANESB!]. After that, the Patriots will take on two Florida teams-  the Jacksonville Jaguars and a home game against AFC East foe Miami to wrap up the regular season.

RED SOX- The Red Sox have been pretty busy during the winter offseason. So far this month, they've reportedly acquired C/1B Mike Napoli [although FOX Sports is reporting that the contract has yet to be finalized, implying that the deal has hit some sort of snag, most likely pending the physical- NANESB!]. The deal- if and when it is finalized- is for three years and will be worth $39M. In 100 games with the Texas Rangers last season, Napoli started as catcher in more than 70 of them, batting .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI. During the 2010 season, the Red Sox attempted to claim Napoli when the Angels placed him on waivers- although there was speculaton that was a move by Boston to pre-empt the Yankees from picking up Napoli. The Angels then pulled back Napoli from waivers and he remained with the Halos for the remainder of the season before being traded to Texas.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
This week, the Red Sox also held a press conference to announce the signing of former Phillies and Dodgers outfielder Shane Victorino to a contract of similar duration and monetary value as Napoli's contract. Victorino- a native of the Aloha State- recieved the monicker 'The Flyin' Hawaiian' from his Philadelphia days and was traded by the Phillies to the Dodgers at the trade deadline last season. In his 101 games with Philly last season, he hit .261 with 9 HR, 40 RBI and 24 stolen bases. After being traded to LA, Victorino had 15 stolen bases, 15 RBI and batted .245 with 2 HR.

On Thursday afternoon, the AP was reporting that the Red Sox and starting pitcher Ryan Dempster were close to reaching an agreement reportedly worth $26.5 million for two years. Dempster was also moved during the 2012 trade deadline, going from Chicago to the Texas Rangers. Between the North Side and the Lone Star state, Dempster was 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA last season- that was broken down to a 5-5 record with a 2.25 ERA with the Cubbies and a 7-3 record with Texas and a 5.03 ERA.

ELSEWHERE IN MLB- In a move that easily eclipsed all other rumored deals and transactions on Thursday was the Angels reported signing of free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. The deal is reportedly worth $125 million and would have Hamilton playing his home games in Orange county through 2018.

Former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who left for Detroit as a free agent this offseason, tweeted mockingly that Angels owner Artie Moreno must've had found some money hidden under a mattress after the Halo's front office failed to come up with a qualifying minimum $13.3 million offter to retain Hunter.

Hamilton was batting .285 with 43 HR and 128 RBI for Texas last season.

Earlier this week, the New York Yankees and former Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis had reportedly agreed to a 1-year, $12 million deal. Youkilis was traded from the Red Sox to the White Sox in June immediately after an emotional win against the Atlanta Braves where the crowd at Fenway gave him a standing ovation upon leaving the game- before the trade was even announced.

Youkilis is expected to fill in for big money 3B Alex Rodriguez, who will be recovering from hip surgery and isn't expected to return to the Bronx Bomber's lineup until at least June 2013.

NCAA FOOTBALL- With a long overdue victory against Navy in sight, the Army Black Knights broke out the heavy artillery late in the 4th quarter and proceeded to immediately shoot themsleves in the foot with a fumbled handoff that was recovered by the Midshipmen.

Unlike recent Army-Navy games, this one was pretty close with the teams heading into the locer room at halftime tied 10-10. However, late in the 3rd, Navy was able to successfully keep the Black Knights out of the end zone and Army had to settle for a short FG. Although that gave them a 13-10 lead over Navy, it would prove to be short-lived as the Midshipmen took the lead once and for all with 5:17 to go in the 4th quarter. However, even though Army was able to put together a sustained drive deep into Navy territory after starting on their own 17, Army RB fumbled the handoff at the Navy 14 with 1:27 to go and the Midshipmen pounced on the ball and were simply able to run out the clock from there.

Navy hangs on to win by the final of 17-13 and wins the Commander in Chief trophy- Army hasn't won since 1996. That wraps up the season for 2-10 Army while 8-4 Navy will face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec 29th in San Francisco.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL- Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel- dubbed by Aggies faithful and some in the press as 'Johnny Football'- made history over the weekend by becoming the first ever freshman to win the Heisman trophy.

Manziel averaged for more than 284 yards per game in 2012 and had 24 TD's versus 8 interceptions. This was also A&M's first season in the SEC, garnering attention in November when they upset undefeated Alabama by a 29-24 final.

Manziel recieved a total of 474 first place votes in the Heisman balloting- Notre Dame's Manti Te'o came in a distant second with 321 first place votes.

Nathan Goldsmith- Daily Texan photo

NCAA VOLLEYBALL- The final two teams for this year's NCAA women's volleyball tournament are set and defending women's champions UCLA will not be participating after getting knocked out by Michigan State.

In fact, UCLA didn't even advance to the semifinals this week- instead, thie year's NCAA women's volleyball title game will be between a team that hasn't won since 1988 and another that is making their first-ever trip to the finals.

Oregon upended Penn State's bid to return to the title match by defeating them 3 sets to one to advance to their first ever women's volleyball championship berth. Meanwhile, the Texas Longhorns defeated the Michigan Wolverines 3 sets to 2 for their first finals appearence since 2009 when they lost to Penn State. The last time Texas women's volleyball won a national title was in 1988.

The game is set for Saturday, December 15th and will be televised on ESPN2 and streaming on ESPN3 beginning at 7:00 ET from the KFC/Yum! Center in Louisville, KY.

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