NFL Defends Two-Game Suspension of Ravens RB Ray Rice

ray rice

Amid the national debate that has jumped off on sports radio and social media over the seemingly light two-game suspension of Ray Rice for his domestic violence arrest, the NFL has come out today to defend its decision.

NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch strongly disagreed Monday that the league’s two-game suspension of the Baltimore Ravens running back was nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

The penalty was handed down Thursday and stems from Rice’s arrest after he allegedly struck then-fiancée Janay Palmer unconscious in an Atlantic City casino hotel elevator in February.

Appearing Monday morning on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike,” Birch addressed the outrage.

“Listen, I think if you are any player and you think that based on this decision that it’s OK to go out and commit that kind of conduct, I think that is something that I would suggest to you that no player is going to go out and do that,” Birch said Monday. “So in terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we’ve done that. We can talk about the degree of discipline, we can talk about whether or not third parties need to be involved. I would suggest to you that a third party has been involved in this matter and that was the court that reviewed it, the prosecutor that reviewed it.

“But if it is a question about what the principle of the league is and what standards we stand by, that cannot be questioned. I think it is absolutely clear to all involved that the NFL does not condone domestic violence in any way and will not tolerate it in our league. I don’t know how you can reach a conclusion other than that although I certainly respect the opinion.”

In February, video of the incident surfaced online showing Rice dragging an apparently unconscious Palmer out of the elevator. The couple has since married.

Rice pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May.

In addition to the suspension, Rice also was fined an additional regular-season game check but is eligible to participate in training camp and all of Baltimore’s preseason games. In addition, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expects the three-time Pro Bowler to continue to attend counseling.

“The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred, with respect to Mr. Rice, in this case,” Birch said. “I think that, were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would be able to receive any punishment from any other source.

“On balance, we reviewed all the materials, listened to the persons we listened to, took the input of the Players Association. When we looked on balance at all of that, we believe that discipline we issued is appropriate. It is multiple games and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that’s fair to say that doesn’t reflect that you condone the behavior. I think we can put that to rest.”

A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Monday that Rice has not appealed the suspension, and the three-day period to do so has now passed.

Carmelo Anthony Launches Investment Fund for Tech Startups

NBA player Carmelo Anthony accepts Clutch Player of the Year onstage during Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 17, 2014 in Los Angeles, California

With the drama of his new deal with the New York Knicks behind him, All-Star Carmelo Anthony is padding his business portfolio with the formation of a fund to invest in technology startups.

Melo, who wears No. 7 on his jersey, founded M7 Tech Partners with Stuart Goldfarb, a former executive vice president of worldwide business development at NBC, Goldfarb told Bloomberg.com.

New York-based M7 Tech Partners won’t have outside investors or limited partners, Goldfarb said. It will invest in startups that focus on digital media and consumer technology, Goldfarb said, adding that the fund has made an undisclosed investment in Hullabalu Inc., which creates digital children’s books. Hullabalu’s other investors include Reddit Inc. co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Anthony, a seven-time National Basketball Association All-Star, said in a statement that he’s been interested in technology “for as long as I can remember.”

“We are actively looking for ventures with strong leaders creating breakthrough products that resonate with consumers,” he said. “I particularly have my eye on companies that are involved with wearable technology and connected devices – these will be huge areas for the future.”

While at NBC, Goldfarb was responsible for creating partnerships that resulted in the formation of National Geographic Channel and Ralph Lauren’s polo.com.

Anthony earlier this month re-signed with the Knicks for $125 million over five years.

 

NFL Suspends Ray Rice for 2 Days Over Domestic Violence Arrest

ray rice

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice received a two-game suspension from the NFL on Thursday following his offseason arrest for domestic violence.

Rice will miss the season opener against AFC North champion Cincinnati on Sept. 7 and the Sept. 11 game on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The six-year veteran was arrested following a Feb. 15 altercation in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he allegedly struck then-fiancee Janay Palmer. The 27-year-old Rice has been accepted into a diversion program, which upon completion could lead to the charges being expunged.

Rice met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last month after joining the diversion program. Goodell ultimately decided to suspend the running back for two games without pay and fine him an additional game check “for conduct detrimental to the NFL in violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.”

Despite the court’s decision not to impose criminal punishment, “the Commissioner determined, as he advised Rice, that the conduct was incompatible with NFL policies and warranted disciplinary action.”

In a letter to Rice, Goodell wrote: “As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL. The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”

Rice’s suspension will begin on Aug. 30. He will be eligible for reinstatement Sept. 12 after the Pittsburgh game. Rice may participate in all aspects of training camp and preseason games.

“It is disappointing that I will not be with my teammates for the first two games of the season, but that’s my fault,” Rice said in a statement issued by the Ravens. “As I said earlier, I failed in many ways. But, Janay and I have learned from this. We have become better as a couple and as parents. I am better because of everything we have experienced since that night. The counseling has helped tremendously.”

Rice is the team’s career leader in total scrimmage yards and ranks behind only Jamal Lewis in total yards rushing.

Bernard Pierce is expected to start for Rice in Baltimore’s first two games.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement: “We appreciate the thorough process the league office used to evaluate the incident with Ray Rice. The time the Commissioner spent with Ray and Janay is typical of the extra steps the NFL takes when making decisions regarding discipline issues. While not having Ray for the first two games is significant to our team, we respect the league’s decision and believe it is fair.”

He added, “We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be. That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Rice’s teammates were not stunned by the news of the suspension.

Rice participated Thursday in Baltimore’s first full-squad practice. Before that session began, the Ravens lost cornerback Aaron Ross for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, a mishap that occurred during his conditioning test.

LeBron Apologizes for Neighborhood Media Circus with Cupcakes


lebron james

LeBron James wants to make sure he’s in the good graces of his neighbors now that he’s back in Ohio.

So, on Tuesday night, James sent a team from a Fairlawn, Ohio, bakery around his immediate neighborhood in Bath Township to deliver cupcakes to apologize for the traffic jams caused by the interest in James’ return earlier this month.

LeBron James and his family sent cupcakes to neighbors as a goodwill gesture after fans swarmed the area when James said earlier this month that he would return to the Cavaliers.
Lakisha Williams, co-owner of Baker Blvd Decadent Desserts, said the James family placed an order for 70 dozen cupcakes — 65 to be delivered to his neighbors and five to be delivered to the Bath Township police department.

“Dear Friend,” read a card that came with the treats. “We know things have been hectic in our neighborhood these past few weeks and we are sorry for the chaos. We are so thankful to live in this wonderful community and we are so blessed to have understanding neighbors like you.”

The card noted that the two kinds of cupcakes in the box were originally devised for James’ foundation. Each box contained six “Just A Kid From Akron Cherry Cola” cupcakes and six “Homecourt Chocolate Chunk” cupcakes.

“It was really hectic around here,” said David Galehouse, a rising sophomore at Ohio State whose childhood home is a few blocks from James’ house. “But it’s really nice for LeBron to do something like this.”

James, who currently is in China, bought the property in 2003 and went on to build a 30,000-square-foot mansion on the land.

Galehouse said that despite his close proximity to the basketball star’s home, he has seen him only once.

Said Galehouse: “They were some of the best cupcakes I ever had.”

LeBron’s Mural Defaced in Miami – Carmelo to Stay in New York


lebron miami mural defaced

LeBron James has decided to take his amazing talents back to his original team the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Miami Heat fans were quick to express their discontent.

The Heat fans quickly turned on man who was instrumental in bringing two titles to Miami and four straight NBA Finals appearances.

Just a few hours after announcing his decision to return to the Cavaliers, a mural depicting LeBron and the rest of the supporting cast during the era of the Big Three was defaced in South Beach.

The mural, which took artist Serge Toussaint two years to complete, now has LeBron’s face blacked out with paint and the words “Thanks LeBron” spray painted across it. Later on in the day after his decision to leave, there were pictures of humorous LeBron faces posted on top of the vandalized mural.

However, while Miami is trying its hardest to forget about LeBron, Cleveland is already doing everything in their power to welcome King James back to their struggling basketball team, and erase all the feelings of the rocky divorce between LeBron and the Cavaliers the first time around.

Meanwhile, another NBA free agent has caused quite a stir after giving multiple teams the runaround. After weeks of waiting on Carmelo Anthony to make a decision as to whether or not he will leave the New York Knicks and sign with another team, he decides to return to the Knicks.

After entertaining offers from the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and the Chicago Bulls, Anthony has decided to re-sign with the Knicks based on the fact that he trusts Phil Jackson and his abilities in the front office to build a championship caliber team within the next couple of years.

Jackson has already begun to assert himself within the organization by bringing in guards such as Jose Calderon and Shane Larking, as well as the capable swingman Wayne Ellington to beef up the Knicks roster. No doubt Jackson will also be trying to make financial adjustments by moving Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire next season after both of their contracts are up to create some breathing room to add more talent.

Anthony also has great faith in new head coach Derek Fisher and his abilities to bring a veteran and championship mentality to the team. After an 11-year career, Anthony has been able to accomplish making it to the first couple rounds of the playoffs, but he has still not won a championship. It is clear that patience will have to be a virtue Anthony will have to learn to develop if he is putting his faith in the development of the New York Knicks franchise.

30 year old Anthony has agreed to a five-year maximum contract with the Knicks for about $130 million.

Move Over Miami – LeBron James is Going Home to … Cleveland!

lebron james (cleveland uniform)

Lawd have mercy! They are jumping for joy in Cleveland ’cause the prodigal son is coming home

That’s right, LeBron James is returning to … Cleveland.

In a dramatic move announced Friday via an interview with Sports Illustrated, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the sweepstakes for the biggest free agent on the market and best player in the world.

Here’s what USA Today Sports is reporting:

What once seemed inconceivable is now a reality. LeBron James is a Cavalier again.

Let that sink in.

LeBron James is a Cavalier again.

“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission,” James told SI. “I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”

The magnetic pull of returning to Cleveland, where James spent the first seven years of his NBA career, and trying to bring the city its first major championship since 1964 was too strong to resist.

“To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough,” James told SI. “The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, ‘OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.’ But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

You can get the rest of this story at USA Today.

Venus Williams Butt Naked in ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue (Watch)

venus williams espn

Although Venus is older than her sister Serena, she is following in lil’ sis’ footsteps when it comes to stripping down for ESPN The Magazine.

The sixth annual edition of its Body Issue features 22 athletes posing nude, including the five-time Wimbledon champion.

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In an interview accompanying the spread, Venus, joked about posting nude: “It didn’t dawn on me until right when I walked on set that I would have to be without clothes. If I would have thought about it before, there may have been a little less of a chance.”

She also discussed the challenges of Sjogren’s syndrome, which leaves her fatigued and forces her to make concessions in training.  [Scroll down to watch the interview and photo shoot.]

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The issue, which hits newsstands July 11, is ESPN The Magazine’s annual celebration of the athletic form.

Also baring all for the issue is Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and boxer Bernard Hopkins (the oldest title winner in the sport’s history).

“We somehow manage to raise the bar each year,” said ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com editor in chief Chad Millman. “This year’s collection of exceptional athletes and stunning photography showcases an array of sports and body types. It inhabits our mission to pay tribute to these athletes’ bodies and all they are capable of.”

Serena graced the magazine’s Body Issue cover in 2009.

serena-williams-espn

Other athletes in this year’s issue includes 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder, professional surfer Coco Ho, cliff diver Ginger Huber, Olympic hockey player Hilary Knight, WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry, the husband-wife team of X Games stars Travis Pastrana and Lyn-Z, snowboarder Jamie Anderson, tennis player Tomas Berdych, Olympic bronze-medal-winning bobsledder Aja Evans,  and U.S. World Cup soccer player Omar Gonzalez, who also plays on the Los Angeles Galaxy.

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