Mark Madden's Hot Take: Big contract means higher expectations for Steelers' T.J. Watt

Sports

TribLIVE 11 September, 2021 - 11:43am 4 views

Did the Steelers sign TJ Watt?

The Steelers signed defensive lineman T.J. Watt to a four-year, $112 million extension on Thursday, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Watt, 26, will earn $80 million guaranteed, per Rapoport. ... Watt's mega-contract comes after three years of dominant production for the Steelers. Sports IllustratedReport: Steelers Sign T.J. Watt to Four-Year, $112 Million Extension

Who is the highest paid defensive player in the NFL?

T.J. Watt became the NFL's highest-paid defensive player just hours before the 2021 NFL season kicked off. He signed a four-year deal worth an excess of $112 million. His $28 million annual salary is the most for a defensive player in NFL history. Sporting NewsThe NFL's highest-paid players on defense in 2021 salary, guaranteed money and total contract value

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Now that T.J. Watt has signed his record-breaking contract, expectations for him must rise.

Watt got star quarterback money. He has got to do star quarterback things.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ record and finish is undeniably tied to Watt just as much as it is Ben Roethlisberger, perhaps more so. If the Steelers miss the playoffs, Watt will have failed.

Watt must go the extra mile. He prefers to sit a series in the fourth quarter by way of getting a final wind. That should stop, especially in games that are up for grabs. If your contract has an average annual value of $28 million-plus, play every down.

Watt’s contract set new highs. So must his play.

The NFL sack record for a season is 22½ sacks. Watt should put that mark in jeopardy every year. He should ultimately break it.

NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn’t a bonus. It’s a requirement. Watt makes more than Aaron Donald. He should do better than Donald.

Watt gets paid more than any other defender in football. He has got to be the best defender in football.

Watt should be all over “SportsCenter.” He should be a one-man highlight reel.

If those things don’t happen, Watt must bear blame and criticism. That especially applies if the Steelers come up short as a team. If Watt can’t impact results to the tune of $28 million-plus per year, then he shouldn’t get $28 million-plus per year.

Heavy lies the head that wears the crown. Watt wears the Steelers’ crown now, not Roethlisberger.

It’s Watt’s team. He absorbs everything that goes with that.

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Pittsburgh Steelers 'need to take care of' T.J. Watt with new deal | Pro Football Talk | NBC Sports

NBC Sports 12 September, 2021 - 12:01am

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 17: Patton Oswalt performs onstage at the International Myeloma Foundation 13th Annual Comedy Celebration at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 17, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for International Myeloma Foundation)

(NBC News/WFLA) — Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt canceled his upcoming tour dates in Florida and Salt Lake City because the venues would not comply with his request that attendees either show proof of full vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

Oswalt was scheduled to perform in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 27, Orlando on Dec. 29 and Clearwater on Dec. 30. 

Oswalt told fans in an Instagram video that he made the requests to protect people coming to his “Patton Oswalt Live: Who’s Ready To Laugh?” tour.

“The good news is we’re keeping everyone who comes to these shows safe and healthy because the numbers are going up,” he said last Wednesday. “Now the bad news, of course, is there are five venues on the tour that are not complying with this.”

Oswalt said the cancelations affect four December dates in Florida and one in Salt Lake City that was scheduled for 2022.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered an injury in the first quarter of their first game of the season against the Dallas Cowboys.

While he was attempting to cover Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was hurt on the play. He tried to punch the ball out of Lamb's hands and, after watching the replay, it appears Murphy-Bunting's right arm got caught between Lamb and his teammate, Antoine Winfield Jr.

BayCare, which runs 14 acute-care hospitals in the Tampa Bay area and employs over 28,000 employees, said 44 percent of their employees are currently unvaccinated.

"RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus and it's a common virus that's seasonal like the flu is and it really affects young kids and those with chronic lung disease and it's the most common cause of bronchiolitis which is a viral infection that causes inflammation in your lungs," says Tampa General Hospital Urgent Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Nanda.

T.J. Watt Signs Contract Extension With Steelers, Reportedly Making Him NFL’s Highest-Paid Defensive Player

CBS Pittsburgh 12 September, 2021 - 12:01am

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed T.J. Watt to a five-year contract. The team made it official this morning posting the news to their website and Twitter.

We have signed LB T.J. Watt to a new five-year contract. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 10, 2021

Pen to paper ✍️ pic.twitter.com/bVJXJJuSSw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 10, 2021

The deal reportedly makes the star linebacker the highest-paid defensive player in football.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the contract extension is reportedly worth more than $112 million, with $80 million fully guaranteed at signing. The average annual value is $28.003 million, Rapoport reported Thursday.

Sources: The #Steelers and star pass-rusher TJ Watt have a mega-deal. He’s going to sign a 4-year extension worth more than $112M — $28.003M average per year — with $80M fully guaranteed at signing. The highest paid defensive player in football. 💰 💰 💰

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 9, 2021

“T.J. Watt gets what’s believed to be the strongest guarantee structure ever given out by the Pittsburgh Steelers — $80 million in full guarantees, per source,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports.

T.J. Watt gets what's believed to be the strongest guarantee structure ever given out by the Pittsburgh Steelers — $80 million in full guarantees, per source.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 9, 2021

ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the deal is expected to be completed in the next 24 hours.

“Steelers and T.J. Watt have made “significant progress” on an extension now expected to be completed in the next 24 hours, per source. The deal will make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. “It’s getting done,” per source.”

Steelers and T.J. Watt have made "significant progress" on an extension now expected to be completed in the next 24 hours, per source. The deal will make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. "It's getting done," per source.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2021

Schefter added that Watt told Steelers president Art Rooney II on Thursday that they had a deal.

“Steelers’ OLB T.J. Watt overruled his agents who believed they could get more money today, marched into the office of Steelers president Art Rooney and told him they had a deal. Then the NFL’s new highest-paid defensive player excused himself and announced he had to go work out.”

Steelers’ OLB T.J. Watt overruled his agents who believed they could get more money today, marched into the office of Steelers president Art Rooney and told him they had a deal. Then the NFL’s new highest-paid defensive player excused himself and announced he had to go work out.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2021

On social media, Watt celebrated his new deal.

“If it’s ok with Yinz, I’d like to stay a while!! LETS GO PITTSBURGH!!!!”

If it’s ok with Yinz, I’d like to stay a while!! LETS GO PITTSBURGH!!!! pic.twitter.com/itjnF7XNLd

— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) September 9, 2021

Watt’s teammates JuJu Smith-Schuster, Joe Haden and Cam Heyward also took to Twitter to celebrate the reported deal. His brother, Derek Watt, congratulated him, too.

Happy for my dude @_TJWatt pic.twitter.com/k2bJp3lNqz

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) September 9, 2021

Congrats @_TJWatt !! 🔥💪🏾💰 https://t.co/pXHq5z9mew

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) September 9, 2021

I could Cry!!! Congrats fam! U deserve every penny!! I got to Pittsburgh your rookie year and you have done nothing but display professionalism and play at the Highest level in the league!!! Let’s get it brother SWAT!!! @_TJWatt !!!! https://t.co/h6Rme6dvAA

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) September 9, 2021

Let’s Go! 🔥 @_TJWatt https://t.co/8dKHEaCKsi pic.twitter.com/w3nNBzAyql

— Derek Watt (@DerekWatt34) September 9, 2021

The Next Steelers Players Due For An Extension

Still Curtain 11 September, 2021 - 10:59am

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally signed weak side linebacker T.J. Watt to a contract extension, and the events leading to it are comparable to a television drama.

When Watt pressed for a reason for the delay in the negotiations, his agent was stalling because they could get more money from the Steelers.

But the reigning sacks leader overruled the approach and went to the office of Steelers president Art Rooney II.

He then declared that he was accepting the offer and excused himself to start his workout.

The stalemate ended with Watt signing a four-year, $112 million extension that will start in the 2022 season.

Steelers, T.J. Watt agree to four-year extension worth more than $112 million. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/IJS70TGD7C

— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2021

The deal gives him a $28 million annual average, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

He will get $80 million in guaranteed money, including his $35 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary for 2021, $22 million for 2022, and $20 million in 2023.

With Watt playing for Pittsburgh until 2025, the Steelers front office hopes to sign the other building blocks towards their seventh Super Bowl title.

Here are the players in their fold that they might target for a long-term agreement.

The 2021 NFL season may be Ben Roethlisberger’s last.

He gets one more crack at winning a title, and it isn’t easy to see him playing beyond 2021.

But who will take the reins as the Steelers’ starter under center?

Mason Rudolph will likely succeed, but that’s not a guarantee because Joshua Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins can fight for the job.

Dwayne Haskins among 3rd-year QBs this preseason:

— PFF (@PFF) August 31, 2021

However, they must sign both Haskins and Dobbs to give them a shot to compete.

Haskins will be earning $850,000 while Dobbs gets $1,040,000.

It’s not ground breaking money, but both showed some promise during the preseason.

The Steelers hope that Roethlisberger will play the majority of the snaps this season.

But they will prepare one of their backups to continue the franchise’s winning tradition.

Ebron signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Steelers before the 2020 season.

He was solid throughout the year with 56 catches for 558 and five touchdowns.

The Steelers would like to see a big year from him to offer a longer deal.

Taking a quick look at the Steelers 1st team offense from preseason. Eric Ebron still can’t catch but Pat Freiermuth looks like a real red zone threat. Obvious depth at WR for Pitt so IF Bills can’t consistently pressure Big Ben, could be some success for Steelers pass game.

— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) September 6, 2021

Aside from running short and intermediate routes, Ebron will be an extra blocker if the revamped offensive line runs into trouble.

Ebron cannot be complacent this season because Pat Freiermuth can take his place.

The rookie tight end from Penn State had solid performances during the preseason, and the Steelers might want to see more of him in-game.

Juju Smith-Schuster is on a one-year, $8 million deal with Pittsburgh.

There will be several teams interested in his services once the 2021 season ends.

He had a career-high nine touchdowns in 2020 to go with 831 yards on 97 receptions.

Smith-Schuster also caught 13 balls for 157 yards in their playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Been waiting 8 months for this weekend. LET’S GO! pic.twitter.com/yl3xsa2iBn

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) September 10, 2021

He does have his share of controversial statements in the past.

But he will be of big help to any team that he plays.

Lining him up with Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson will give the Steelers a potent aerial attack.

This article first appeared on The Cold Wire and was syndicated with permission.

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Earlier this week, Notre Dame was named the most overrated team in college football in a Twitter poll, and the Fighting Irish certainly lived up to that label in Saturday’s stunningly close call against Toledo. Thanks to a late Jack Coan touchdown pass to star tight end Michael Mayer, the hosts escaped the disaster a loss would’ve been, squeaking by with a 32-29 nail-biter: The AP eighth-ranked Fighting Irish not only gave their fans in South Bend a horrid viewing experience, but frustrated fans across the country had a difficult time with their decision not to televise the game on NBC. Instead, Notre Dame’s deal with fledgling streaming service Peacock forced many customers to pay to see their home opener. As you might imagine, the combination of the Irish’s woeful effort against the Rockets and the trivial hoops fans had to jump through to gain streaming access led to plenty of hilarious reactions on social media. It seemed conceivable that Notre Dame could get off to a slow start in Week 1, and coach Brian Kelly’s bunch definitely did in a 41-38 close escape at Florida State in the season opener. Returning home was supposed to be a big bounce-back showing in which the Irish rolled over Toledo. That’s not at all what came to pass. Stay up to date with every game on the NCAA football schedule with our College Football Games Today flagship post Whether it was open criticism about Peacock itself, or denying the reality of how badly the Irish played, the streaming experience was not at all what the Notre Dame faithful were anticipating. The grievances began even before the gridiron action unfolded, as disaffected would-be watchers of the English Premier League found Peacock was straight up not working initially. Notre Dame narrowly beats Toledo, Twitter reacts accordingly It really was not a good look for the Irish to let Toledo nearly beat them. The College Football Playoff committee will no doubt remember Notre Dame’s sluggish start to the year, and it’s reasonable to presume the Fighting Irish will fall down the current AP rankings and coaches poll next week. Check out some of the ways the Irish got served on the Twitterverse after their poor Week 2 performance:

Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward exited Saturday's game against San Francisco in the fourth inning after sliding into third and getting kneed in the head by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. Heyward reached on a single and was advancing to third on a David Bote ground ball into the shortstop hole. Crawford ran to cover a vacated third base and caught a throw from first baseman Brandon Belt. Heyward beat Belt's throw, but as Crawford took the throw on the run, he jumped over Heyward and ended up kneeing him in the head. The 32-year-old stayed on the field for a few minutes as he was checked by medical staff. It's unclear if Heyward has a concussion or if he will miss time. The five-time Gold Glover entered Saturday's game hitting .212/.279/.346 with eight home runs and 30 RBI in 103 games. He's in the sixth year of an eight-year, $184 million deal.

The Pac-12 has denied that it seriously pursued expansion, but a new report suggests the conference was closer to adding teams than previously known. According to Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Pac-12 targeted both TCU and Houston as possible additions and was very close to adding both. The conference found the location and quality of the schools’ athletics to be appealing. In the end, Houston ended up joining the Big 12 instead, with TCU staying put in the conference once it decided to expand. Three other schools are also joining the Big 12. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff denied the report when it was put to him earlier Saturday. The Pac-12 didn’t publicly rule out expansion until the end of August, but it’s pretty clear they at least explored it. It sure sounds like they came closer than previously believed to doing it.

It appears the relationship between the Michigan Wolverines and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Chris Webber isn't quite as repaired as first thought. Webber was famously accused of accepting money from former booster Ed Martin and ultimately pleaded guilty to a criminal contempt charge in 2003 and admitted to giving more than $38,000 to Martin as a repayment. In response, Michigan disassociated itself from Webber for 10 years and also stripped his collegiate stats from its record books. Webber, 48, claimed earlier this week that current Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel privately apologized to him for how the university treated the five-time NBA All-Star during and after the 2003 investigation. According to Myron Medcalf of ESPN, however, Manuel responded in a school statement and said no such apology occurred. "I enjoyed the conversation with Chris when we met several years ago," Manuel explained. "But I can assure you I made no apology to Chris and, for those who may be curious, I never asked him to apologize to the University of Michigan. I wish Chris nothing but the best, and I'm happy that he's being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame." College athletes can now earn money from their names, images and likenesses without violating NCAA rules, so discussions about whether or not Webber is owed an apology for incidents that may or may not have occurred when the "Fab Five" were the hottest thing in college basketball are downright silly.

Novak Djokovic delivered an awesome quote ahead of his potentially historic U.S. Open final. Djokovic dropped the first set of his semifinal match against Sascha Zverev at the U.S. Open on Friday night. But he won the match in five sets 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to advance to the final. Now it is just Daniil Medvedev standing between Nole and history. If Djokovic wins, he will become the first male player since Rod Laver in 1969 to achieve the calendar-year Grand Slam. The Serbian star resisted questions all tournament about the Grand Slam. But now that he has reached the final, he was willing to address the matter. “All-in, all-in. Let’s do it,” Djokovic told Patrick McEnroe. “I’m going to put my heart, my soul and my body and my head into that one. “I’m going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career,” he said. Wow. Djokovic is not messing around in this one. The 34-year-old is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most majors with 20. Not only would winning the final against Medvedev give him the Grand Slam, it would also give him more majors than any other male player in history. That’s a lot at stake.

The NFL announced back in May that Amazon will be paying approximately $1.2 billion per year to become the exclusive home of "Thursday Night Football" broadcasts beginning next season. It appears Amazon isn't done yet. According to Alex Sherman of CNBC, Amazon is now viewed by some as "the front-runner" to land the rights to the NFL "Sunday Ticket" out-of-market package after the league's agreement with DirecTV expires following the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. "Sunday Ticket" has been a DirecTV commodity for the past 27 years, but Amazon could be willing to pay somewhere around $2-2.5 billion to change that. Additionally, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told CNBC an interested party may be asked to invest in NFL Network and the widely-popular NFL RedZone channel. Disney (ESPN) and Apple are also reportedly interested in "Sunday Ticket." DirecTV, meanwhile, may not be able to compete with those entities in a bidding war, and CNBC adds DirecTV has lost money on the NFL service "for many years." The NFL is set to earn roughly $10 billion per year from media rights deals that start with "TNF" shifting to Amazon. Having "Sunday Ticket" on a streaming service would allow diehard fans and new customers to enjoy the product without having to subscribe to a full-time cable or satellite television package, which understandably appeals to the NFL at a time when so many are "unplugging" from traditional TV.

Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Carson Wentz has completed an impressive recovery from foot surgery to make his debut with his new club. Per JJ Stankevitz of the Colts' website, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich confirmed Wentz will start for Sunday's regular-season opener against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts officially acquired Wentz to be their new QB1 from the Philadelphia Eagles in March, but the 28-year-old was feared to miss anywhere from five to 12 weeks of action after he required "very successful" surgery Aug. 2 to repair a foot issue. However, he participated in on-the-field drills later that month, and he had been a full participant in practice earlier this week. The Colts were linked with numerous proven commodities in trade rumors throughout August, but Reich seemed ready to hand the keys to his offense over to 2020 fourth-round draft pick Jacob Eason for at least the Week 1 showdown if Wentz couldn't play. That's no longer a worry for Reich and his staff, as Wentz will keep Eason a spectator and show all curious observers how he looks during the early stages of his career restart in a new offense.

Big men often end up passengers. The great ones put the game where it stands with two minutes to play, but they often spend crunchtime at the periphery of the action, setting screens at the arc, skulking in the corner, calling from the packed post like a body subsumed by a wave, a bobbing arm that merely suggests the rest of the person. Meanwhile, the guards and wings decide the rest of the tilt. Except in Philadelphia, they don’t have any star guards, their wings range from skittish to downright useless in the closing possessions. So they dump the ball to Joel Embiid as close to the bucket as he can catch it, which is usually about 16 feet, and he tries to do the things that Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo do, MVP- and title-winning versions of Dirk Nowitzki. He doesn’t realize this ambition. He turns it over a lot, whirling into double-teams or exploding rimward and leaving the ball behind. He takes really tough jumpers — turnarounds, baseline faders — he cannot hit with the consistency, sorry, of a generational shooting talent. It doesn’t seem like he should be able to make it work from 16 feet, and he kind of doesn’t. Hardly anyone blames him for this. He’s just describing the limits of what a fella his size can do, at that remove. You can’t make seven feet and 280 pounds dance between the raindrops, that is one of the few things Joel Embiid can’t do. And yet there he is, some pivotal Game 3, gassed in the spotlight, sharing the court with four ghosts and five defenders. Alright Joel, do the impossible. Clank. You think Ben Simmons might have ticked him off? A potential late-game pick and roll partner, a slash-and-kicker, a rim-attacker, an off-the-dribble creator, a double team splitter, even just a spot-up option. He could be one or two of those things, so Joel wouldn’t have to carry so much, or could do it in greater comfort, or wouldn’t have to hope against hope that Tobias Harris or Seth Curry can do it, but Simmons is not the helpful type. Not when it counts, anyway. He’s probably a better overall player than C.J. McCollum but McCollum will drain a couple shots at 1:33 and 0:21. If I’d spent the last few years getting whapped like Embiid does, playing on a shoddy meniscus like he did against the Hawks, I’d have gone to the front office and told them I don’t care what Ben might be capable of. Get me some help that isn’t highly theoretical. Embiid has probably said something like that. In anger or in earnest or both. Big men are ornery types; it’s not hard to see why Hakeem’s elegance and Jokic’s goofy exuberance are anomalous. When it’s such a chore to carry your body up and down the floor, when you’re getting leaned on by similarly sized men and mugged by smaller ones — who are strong in their own right — you tend to acquire a melancholic quality, a put-uponness that nobody else truly understands. I wonder if Embiid has ever rung up David Robinson. Admiral, I’ve got a quick question that only you and maybe nine other people on the planet could speak to… Of course, Sean Elliott shot with conviction. Tim Duncan entered the league without any affect or fear. There are certain aggravations Embiid and Robinson do not share. Athlete relationships are difficult to parse, and they’re not. Did Bradley Beal and John Wall hate each other? It doesn’t matter. They frustrated each other, each one wanted the other to leave town. Beal wanted Wall to work harder, and Wall wanted Beal to respect his eminence. When Embiid tweets that the rift between he and Simmons is a media fabrication — he would be an authority on that, but we do have eyes. The two of them are not personally close. Simmons’ superior talent and passive demeanor make him a frustrating teammate. He seems to be opting out of Philadelphia every bit as much, if not more, than the Sixers are eager to move on from him. Embiid isn’t oblivious or sentimental, though he might be imperious enough to think that he can just lie and say that reporters are making stuff up. Famous people do that all the time, they exploit public cynicism, assuming they’ll be believed or otherwise not caring. If Embiid is committed to making his relationship with Simmons work, it’s in the way that you commit to your own existence, its relative immalleability. He’s making the best of a bad situation, with a positivity that reads surly. While privately hoping the situation will change. Because this is untenable; he can’t do it himself. He can’t just create offense, as often as the Sixers ask him to, and not consistently down the stretch. That’s a use of his ability that makes it seem small and insufficient, which it’s certainly not. You can win a title with Joel Embiid as your best player. There’s no doubt about that, after the past few seasons he’s put together. He’ll score 26 and board 15 and lock down the paint and space the floor and switch on screens and set them himself and demolish the opposition down low. He’ll do a ton for you; he’ll be dominant. He also needs to be able to cede the wheel sometimes. A three-point game with 1:08 remaining, for instance. It’s not in his nature to ask for that help, not in front of microphones or on Twitter, and not in a way that sells out Ben Simmons. Because the press does make a big deal out of that last thing. But that’s because most criticism of Simmons is valid, and when Embiid forgets himself and complains about Simmons, it confirms what we already believe to be true. As hard as this summer has been on his shaken teammate, Embiid has surely been struggling, too. Struggling to keep his thoughts to himself, to put in the work knowing that his fate will be decided by forces beyond his own commitment. It’s an existential bother, a fittingly big mannish problem: what are you to do when you’ve given everything, and now it’s up to everyone else?

Cam Newton promised to share thoughts about his release from the New England Patriots with a "Funky Friday" video, and he delivered on that promise. The former MVP sat down with his father for a conversation about his final days in New England, including the days of practice he missed after a COVID-19 protocol misunderstanding while away from the team. There was initial speculation that the Patriots released Newton because of the protocol misunderstanding and because he's not vaccinated against COVID-19. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. Newton told his father that he thinks he would've been released whether he was with the team for those five days or not. "Do I think this would have happened without me being away for five days? Honestly, yes," Newton said. "It was gonna happen. Did it help ease the decision? Yes." Those comments led to the question about why he got released when final roster cuts were made last month. Newton said he began to receive fewer first-team reps in practice than rookie quarterback Mac Jones, which signaled the team's eventual decision. The 32-year-old added that he would have "absolutely" been fine backing up Jones and even told the Patriots that was the case but was confused when he realized he was being cut in a meeting with Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia. Newton went on to explain that he believes he was released because it would have been uncomfortable for Jones to have a seasoned veteran looking over his shoulder, which would have put unnecessary pressure on the Alabama product. "The reason they released me is because, indirectly, I was going to be a distraction without being the starter," Newton said. "Just my aura... That's my gift and my curse. When you bring a Cam Newton to your facility, when you bring a Cam Newton to your franchise, people are interested." Newton added he thinks the Patriots would be winners with either quarterback calling the shots, but sticking with him would have made it more challenging to switch to Jones later in the year. Belichick and the Patriots will see if they made the right decision this weekend when Jones makes his NFL regular-season debut against former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins.

Paul Pierce was being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Before the big event, Pierce took a moment to reflect on his 15-year stint with the Boston Celtics. Namely, his biggest regret. After more than a decade with the organization, Pierce won his first ever career title in 2007-08. It was unquestionably the most notable achievement of his career – but also in a way the source of his biggest disappointment. “The only regret I have is not winning that second one,” he said, via NBC Sports. “That’s it.” Pierce also noted that he believes that his lone ring, although it came thanks to the team-up between Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and him, was not like the super team-charged championships players are winning today. “It’s different now. Players move around a lot. They manufacture their teams. The way we did it was a little different,” Pierce said. “People will say I played on the new era super team, but it’s like, we had to get lucky. We got lucky with the draft pick, we got lucky with the trade, we got lucky with Kevin Garnett dropping his no-trade clause. “So all these things had to line up, whereas today guys manufacture playing with each other, building super teams through free agency, building friendships. And I have nothing against that. That’s why I take so much pride in being with the team I was with so long, going through the tough times and finally being able to win a championship.” Pierce is an interesting fellow. Between his weird departure from ESPN and some of his odd behavior both past and present, it’s safe to say he’s very unique. Nevertheless, when he gets introspective, like he has regarding Kobe Bryant and the one player who “scared him to death,” he’s one of the NBA’s most interesting personalities. Hopefully over the next few years Pierce can finally settle down, come into his own and eventually get the adoration he obviously so desperately wants from hoops fans everywhere.

2 Additional 9/11 Victims Identified Almost 20 Years After Attacks

Yardbarker 08 September, 2021 - 06:30am

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just days before we mark 20 years since 9/11, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner has identified two more victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

One victim has been identified as Dorothy Morgan, of Hempstead.

The second victim’s name is not being released at the request of the family.

They are the 1,646th and 1,647th victims to be identified through ongoing DNA analysis of unidentified remains recovered from the attacks.

“Twenty years ago, we made a promise to the families of World Trade Center victims to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to identify their loved ones, and with these two new identifications, we continue to fulfill that sacred obligation,” Dr. Barbara A. Sampson, Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, said in a statement. “No matter how much time passes since September 11, 2001, we will never forget, and we pledge to use all the tools at our disposal to make sure all those who were lost can be reunited with their families.”

Morgan and the unnamed man are the first victims to be identified since October 2019.

About 40% of those who died in the World Trade Center attacks remain unidentified.

The medical examiner’s office says next-generation sequencing technology being used by their DNA laboratory “promises to result in more new identifications.”

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