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Atlanta radio hosts suspended after making fun of former NFL player Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS
If you’re the kind of nimrod who thinks it’s humorous to make fun of people suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) — a disease that mercilessly takes away nearly every bodily function most of us take for granted … well, Atlanta radio “talent” Nick Cellini, Chris Dimino, and Steak Shapiro might be your kinds of guys.
For the rest of us, however, what these two chuckleheads did on their show Monday morning for the 790 The Zone station was outrageous, unprofessional, and most certainly fireable. After former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, penned a guest column for SI.com’s Peter King that went up Monday morning (Gleason penned that column with his eyes, by the way), Cellini and Shapiro went on the air and made fun of Gleason. Yes, they did.
According to Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com, the hosts set up a skit in which they pretended that Gleason was a caller to the show and set up a fake caller with a robotic voice, because the disease has robbed Gleason of his ability to speak. They then wondered, on the air, whether Gleason would be alive by next week.
In an obvious “CYA” move, Cellini apologized via his Twitter account.
My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.
— Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 17, 2013
Cellini’s first tweet about the subject, however, was quite a bit less apologetic:
The station has suspended all three hosts indefinitely, which was announced by way of a boilerplate statement that isn’t really worth re-running here. What Rick Mack, Senior VP and General Manager of the station, should be asking himself is why these two individuals still have jobs. As Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com so eloquently wrote today, the station needs to make this right by firing Cellini and Shapiro, reaching out to Gleason with a public and heartfelt apology (if they can muster one up), and making a sizable donation to Team Gleason, which Gleason and his family established to help others suffering from ALS. (You may do so here, if you would like).
Nothing else will do. Formulaic apologies don’t even begin scratch the surface when you’re dealing with disgusting behavior like this. This wasn’t a slip of the tongue on a radio show — this was a premeditated attempt to ridicule a man who has worked ceaselessly to maintain his dignity, his opponent a damnable disease that does everything possible to remove it. Gleason beat ALS in that sense, so he doesn’t need to worry about a couple of sub-level radio goons. But the very idea that any of them could ever appear on that station again is as much as an endorsement of their repugnant actions.
And that is simply unacceptable.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden recently talked up perhaps his most intriguing target, second-year receiver Josh Gordon, who caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season after the Browns took in the 2012 supplemental draft.
“He’s a guy that has the ability to be a top-three receiver in this league,” Weeden said after his team’s practice on Thursday. “He has big-play capabilities. He can run by guys. He can do so many different things. He’s got a ton of ability. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Weeden will have to wait a bit longer than he would have liked to find out just how good Gordon can be. As first reported by ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi, Gordon has been suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season, and fined the first four games, for a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Grossi also reported that the suspension would have been longer but for the fact that collegiate violations of substance abuse policies can’t be factored in to NFL suspensions.
In a statement, Gordon said that he had strep throat in February, and took a cough medicine that he did not know contained codeine, which is prohibited per NFL rules.
“Policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case,” Gordon said. “Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, & Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and pre-season and contributing immediately when I return in week three.”
Gordon could have been suspended four games for the violation.
“Obviously we are all disappointed in this news,” Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said in his own statement. “In our short time with Josh, he has done everything that we’ve asked him to do and he has exhibited substantial improvement. We believe that he will continue to work diligently through training camp and the preseason. I am confident that others will step up in his absence.”
Gordon was suspended from the Baylor squad before the 2011 season after a marijuana arrest and a history failed drug tests, which denied him the opportunity to catch a bunch of passes from Robert Griffin III in RG3′s defining college season. He transferred to Utah, sat out the season, and was taken by the Browns in July, 2012, in a move that cost Cleveland its 2013 second-round pick.
“Despite everything I’ve been through, despite being a kid with a spotty background, the Cleveland Browns stuck their neck out and risked taking me and put their faith and belief in me, and I won’t let them down,” Gordon said in a phone interview with the Cleveland media on the day the Browns took a chance on him. “I’m grateful, and I know I can’t go back to being the person I used to be.”
It’s not known what substance got Gordon in trouble, but this isn’t a good sign. At the 2012 Gatorade Sports Star of the Year banquet, Griffin was asked about Gordon’s future by myself and Y! Sports colleague Mike Silver, and his response seemed uncertain at best.
“He’s been a kid that’s been in a bunch of unfortunate situations,” Griffin said, “and he knows that he was the reason that those [situations] happened. So I think any team that gets him, of course they’re gonna feel like they’re rolling the dice on the kid. I think that in the end, he’ll be successful if he wants to be successful. That’s all on him. And he knows that. He knows he’s used up all his chances and everybody’s watching him.”
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Seattle Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin has been suspended for the first four games of the 2013 regular season after violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Irvin, who is eligible to participate in training camp and the preseason, will miss games against the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans before he is reinstated on Monday, Sept. 30. The four-game suspension will cost the 2012 first-round pick out of West Virginia $ 191,681 in base salary and could potentially void the guarantees on the $ 3,717,870 that remains on his four-year, $ 9.342 million rookie contract. The Seahawks could also seek to recoup a prorated portion ($ 307,902) of Irvin’s signing bonus.
According to Dave “Softy” Mahler of 950-KJR in Seattle, Irvin’s suspension is due to unauthorized use of Adderall, a substance that led to 2012 suspensions of Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. Browner served his four-game ban, but Sherman challenged his suspension, which was overturned.
“I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption,” Irvin said in a statement. “I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.”
Selected with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Irvin came off the bench in all 16 games and was credited with 16 tackles, including eight sacks, with 19 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 43.41 percent of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps. Irvin added another sack in the playoffs and was expected to play a larger role in the defense in 2013 as starting defensive end Chris Clemons is recovering from a torn ACL.
The Seahawks did cover their bases at the position this offseason by signing former Detroit Lions pass-rusher Cliff Avril to a two-year, $ 13 million contract on March 15.
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Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon will miss the first month of the 2013 season as he has been suspended by the National Football League for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.
“I’ve made a mistake and I have no excuse. I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person,” Blackmon said in a statement issued by the Jaguars. “I will have a productive training camp and preseason with my team, and during the suspension I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team.”
Blackmon’s suspension is not his first misstep since entering the NFL.
Two days after the Jaguars completed their OTAs last offseason, Blackmon was arrested in Stillwater, Oklahoma on ggravated DUI charges. For Blackmon, it was his second DUI arrest (the first occurred while he was playing for Oklahoma State University in 2010, but his charges were reduced), and he avoided jail time with a guilty plea the following month. Blackmon received a deferred sentence of one year along with a $ 500 fine and an order to complete 50 hours of community service.
The four-game suspension will cost Blackmon $ 289,754 (4/17ths of his $ 1,231,455 base salary) and might void the guarantee language on the $ 10,722,248 in base salaries and annual roster bonuses that remain on his four-year, $ 18.512 million rookie contract. The Jaguars could also seek to recoup the prorated portion of his $ 7.11 million signing bonus for the weeks that he is suspended, which amounts to $ 418,235.
Blackmon, 23, was selected by the Jaguars with the fifth overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft. Blackmon started 14 of 16 games, playing in 90.78 percent of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps and led the team with 64 receptions and was second on the team behind Cecil Shorts with 865 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. Blackmon’s receiving yards was the most among NFL rookie wide receivers in 2012.
Blackmon came on strong over the final month of his first regular season, catching 25 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns over the final four games. The Jaguars had hoped that 6-foot-1, 207-pound Blackmon would carryover that performance as they attempt to improve the league’s 29th-ranked offense, but Blackmon’s 2013 debut will have to wait until the Jaguars visit the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 6. Blackmon will miss games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars are not particularly deep at the receiver position, with Cecil Shorts, free agent addition Mohamed Massaquoi, Jordan Shipley and 2013 fourth-round pick Ace Sanders behind Blackmon on the depth chart.
The Arizona Cardinals opened the 2012 season with four straight wins (before losing 11 of their last 12). Getting off to a similar hot start in 2013 will be more difficult as inside linebacker Daryl Washington has been suspended by the National Football League for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Washington, a 2010 second-round pick out of TCU, has 319 tackles, 15 sacks and four interceptions in 47 games over his first three seasons in the league. In 2012, Washington led the Cardinals with 134 tackles, including 15 for a loss, with nine sacks and an interception while logging 97.96 percent of the Cardinals’ defensive snaps. Washington’s performance last season resulted in a second-team All-Pro nod and the third-year pro was added to the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster, recording one tackle on special teams.
Prior to the start of the 2012 season, the Cardinals signed Washington, who had two seasons remaining on his rookie deal, to a four-year, $ 32 million contract extension. Under the extension, Washington was scheduled to earn $ 2.4 million in base salary in 2013. Washington’s four-game suspension will cost him $ 564,706 in base salary.
Washington has taken full responsibility for his suspension.
“I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you admit it, learn from it and face whatever consequences there are,” Washington said in a statement released by the Cardinals. “I take full responsibility and I understand that I let down my teammates, the organization and fans. I apologize for that and promise that no one will work harder to make up for it.”
The Cardinals likely saw Washington’s suspension coming for quite awhile.
According to a source with knowledge of Washington’s extension, the original deal called for a $ 10 million option bonus that was to be exercised on or before the last day of the 2013 league year. The two sides tweaked the contract on March 12, 2013, pushing the $ 10 million option bonus to the 2014 season.
The Cardinals signed inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley to a two-year, $ 3.5 million contract on March 19, but will need to find a starting-caliber linebacker to pair with him at the start of the season. In-house options include Reggie Walker, Zack Nash and Colin Parker. The Cardinals could opt to re-sign Paris Lenon, or pursue outside options such as Brian Urlacher, Karlos Dansby, Takeo Spikes, Tim Dobbins and Brandon Siler,
“Adversity and dealing with it is part of the business but when it’s avoidable like this was, it’s particularly tough,” Cardinals first-year head coach Bruce Arians said. “One of the biggest things we preach is accountability. Daryl knows that and our team knows that. We will deal with this and others will have to step up until he’s back. I’m confident they will.”
You may have wondered if the comments made by Rob Parker on ESPN’s “First Take” show last week regarding the subjects of race and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and the legitimate furor those comments created, would force the network to stop and think about its craven and ceaseless hunt for ratings, no matter the method.
You now have an answer.
The network has issued a statement in which it announced that Parker will be suspended 30 days. He will then, presumably, return to television duty. ESPN first suspended Parker on Friday, Dec. 14, one day after he made the following comments about Griffin:
“I’ve talked to some people in Washington, D.C. Some people in [Griffin's] press conferences,” Parker, when the subject of Griffin’s “blackness” came up for some reason. “Some people I’ve known for a long time. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is … is he a ‘brother,’ or is he a cornball ‘brother’? He’s not really … he’s black, but he’s not really down with the cause. He’s not one of us. He’s kind of black, but he’s not really like the guy you’d want to hang out with. I just want to find out about him. I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. He has a white fiancée, people talking about that he’s a Republican … there’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Tiger Woods was like, ‘I have black skin, but don’t call me black.’ People wondered about Tiger Woods early on — about him.”
ESPN re-ran Parker’s comments live, and then on the re-air of its most ridiculous debate show on a network that is drowning in them. It took a full day for the network to release any sort of statement, and then, it was the sort of canned apology you might expect.
“Following yesterday’s comments, Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice. We are conducting a full review,” spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.
What was ESPN reviewing? As it turns out, the network had more of a problem with the fact that the show slipped up in its alleged editorial policy. In the official announcement of Parker’s suspension, Marcia Keegan, the vice president of production for ESPN who oversees “First Take,” said far more about the show’s mechanism than about the weight of Parker’s comments.
“Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made,” Keegan said. “As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part. To address this, we have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel responsible for these failures.
“We will continue to discuss important issues in sports on ‘First Take,’ including race. Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on ‘First Take.’ However, we believe what we have learned here and the steps we have taken will help us do all that better.”
In other words, ESPN has learned nothing, and it will do nothing of substance to remedy a situation that clearly displays how far off the rails it has gone. There has been no intelligent statement about Parker’s comments on the show, but that comes as no surprise. Parker will be back on that idiot box, spewing his formidably inaccurate and ridiculous pablum, and we’ll all be worse for it.
SI.com’s Richard Deitsch asked to speak with Keegan, but the network declined, saying “We are having her statement speak to the issue.”
Her statement speaks volumes.
Parker, after leveling insults on social media to anyone who dared disagree with what he said, issued this statement on Twitter Wednesday:
“I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry. I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care.”
No, Mr. Parker, you most certainly do not. Fortunately for you, however, you are employed and directed by people who are just as insensitive, unprofessional, unaware, and clueless as you are.
As my esteemed colleague Jay Busbee pointed out Wednesday, ESPN has a lot to be proud of. It created a culture by which sports coverage could thrive as never before, and it still produces impressive, prize-winning coverage. The question, still unanswered, is how long the network will let the “debate disease” eat away at all the things it has accomplished.
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The National Football League announced on Monday that Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed has been suspended for one game without pay for repeated violations of player safety rules that prohibit hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.
In the third quarter of the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, Reed was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty following a hit on wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The penalty was considered to be Reed’s third violation in the past three seasons, resulting in Monday’s suspension announcement.
The first of Reed’s three violations occurred on Dec. 19, 2010, when Reed was penalized for roughing the passer and fined $ 10,000 for a hit to the head and neck area of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Reed’s second violation came on Sept. 23, 2012 after Reed was flagged for unnecessary roughness and fined $ 21,000 for striking a defenseless play, New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch.
“We cannot tolerate repeated violations of rules, especially rules related to player safety,” said NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson. “We will continue to take the strongest possible action to deter these types of violations and protect our players.”
Reed is earning a base salary of $ 7.2 million this season and a one-game suspension without pay would mean he is scheduled to forfeit $ 423,529 in pretax income. Reed would also not be allowed to practice this week or be at the team’s facility or stadium until he is reinstated on Nov. 26.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, Reed may appeal his suspension within three business days, and an expedited hearing and decision would come down prior to Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers. Reed’s appeal would be heard by either Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, who are jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association.
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The New England Patriots received some bad news on Friday when the NFL announced that rookie running back Brandon Bolden has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Bolden’s suspension will begin immediately and he will be eligible to return to the team on Monday, Dec. 3. Bolden is earning a base salary of $ 390,000 this season and will forfeit four game checks, or $ 91,765, in pretax income, as well as be ineligible for any postseason awards.
Undrafted out of Mississippi, the Patriots signed Bolden to a three-year contract that included a $ 15,000 signing bonus, one of the largest guarantees made to this year’s class of undrafted free agents. During the preseason, Bolden was second on the Patriots with 128 rushing yards and the ability to play fullback and contribute to the return game helped earn him a spot on the 53-man roster. In six regular-season games, Bolden has 43 carries for 234 yards and two touchdowns, including a 137-yard effort in the Patriots’ 52-28 win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.
Bolden missed the Patriots’ previous two games with a knee injury and had already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bills.
The substance that triggered Bolden’s suspension was not disclosed, but he is far from being the first player suspended under the league’s steroid policy this season. Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, and New York Giants safeties Tyler Sash and Will Hill served suspensions earlier this season, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers-turned-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has one week remaining on his suspension before joining his new team on Monday. All four defensive backs tested positive for Adderall, which is a banned substance if used without the written approval from the National Football League.
Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload sequel has hit another roadblock. The larger than life figure and alleged piracy kingpin previously announced that he was launching a new cloud-based file sharing service known as Mega in January. The website was expected to be hosted on the Gabon-based me.ga domain rather than a traditional .com, however the small West African nation has said it has suspended the domain, PHYS.org reported on Tuesday.
“I have instructed my departments to immediately suspend the site www.me.ga,” Gabon’s Communication Minister Blaise Louembe said, adding that the country will “protect intellectual property rights” and “fight cyber crime effectively”. The minister continued, “Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people.”
The paranoid founder chalked the ban up to “the bad faith witch hunt” conducted by the United States government and said the site already has “an alternative domain” lined up. Dotcom’s Silicon Valley lawyer, Ira Rothken, confirmed the story in an interview with CNET and once again proclaimed his client’s innocence.
“The [new] site is not even functional yet,” Rothken said. “MegaUpload and Kim are innocent and presumed innocent. It sounds like a lack of net neutrality in Gabon…We’re just going to use a different domain.”