More legal moves made in Saints' bounty case

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More legal moves made in Saints' bounty case

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of three players suspended in connection with the bounty investigation, calling Commissioner Roger Goodell "incurably and evidently biased." The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove on Thursday in federal court in New Orleans, highlighted a flurry of legal activity surrounding the punishment of four players for what the NFL says was their roles in a program that paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents. Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is suing separately in the same court, asked a judge to overturn his suspension while also requesting a temporary restraining order and injunction that would allow the linebacker to quickly return to work and keep working while his case is pending. Goodell, meanwhile, filed a motion to dismiss defamation claims that Vilma made in his initial lawsuit against the commissioner in May. The motion, which was expected, states that Vilma is barred from making such claims by the dispute resolution process outlined in the NFL's labor agreement, which also includes a provision barring lawsuits by players against the NFL. But Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsburg, said the defamation claims focus "exclusively on statements Mr. Goodell has made publicly and outside the confines of the CBA." "Mr. Goodell cannot escape responsibility for those public statements based on an argument that statements in a different forum and in a different context might have avoided judicial scrutiny," Ginsberg said in an email. "Having the title of Commissioner' does not provide Mr. Goodell with a license to make the accusations and allegations he has made against Jonathan in public forums without facing the same scrutiny as other citizens." The Saints linebacker, whose suspension is effective immediately, wants the injunction so he may resume rehabilitating his left knee injury at Saints headquarters. Vilma is suspended for a season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith four and Fujita three. Vilma and Smith still play for New Orleans, while Hargrove is with Green Bay and Fujita with Cleveland. The NFLPA lawsuit said Goodell violated the league's labor agreement by showing he had pre-determined the guilt of players punished in the bounty probe before serving as the arbitrator for their June 18 appeal hearing. Two days ago, Goodell denied the players' appeals, and now the NFLPA is asking a judge to set aside earlier arbitration rulings and order a new arbitrator to preside over the matter. The NFL responded that the action is an "improper attempt to litigate" and said there is "no basis for asking a federal court to put its judgment in place of the procedures agreed upon with the NFLPA in collective bargaining." "These procedures have been in place, and have served the game and players well, for many decades," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press. The NFL has said it found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran a bounty program that paid improper cash bonuses for injuring opponents. Saints had coach Sean Payton has been suspended the entire 2012 season for failing to put a stop to it, while general manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended half a season and assistant head coach Joe Vitt six games. Williams, now with St. Louis, is suspended indefinitely and, according to the NFL, cooperating with the investigation. The players, however, have claimed they never sought or accepted rewards for injuring opponents. Fujita has said the NFL grossly mischaracterized what was an informal accountability program for teammates to reward one another for big plays such as sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions, something players on many teams have taken part in for years. Several current Saints defensive players who have not been punished, including safety Roman Harper and linebacker Scott Shanle, have publicly defended their current and former teammates, denying that any Saints player sought to do anything more than what they were already paid to do -- deliver clean hits as hard as they could. Some players have also suggested that Goodell's bounty punishments are part of an agenda to make the league look tough on player-safety matters in order to mitigate exposure to lawsuits filed by numerous retired NFL players who claim the league failed to educate them about or prepare them for many of the long-term physical ailments, including brain disease, that a pro football career can cause. "A seminal question for this court is whether the NFL collective bargaining agreement ... granted the commissioner, when serving as an arbitrator, the authority to disregard the essence of the parties' agreement, to conduct proceedings that are fundamentally unfair, and to act with evident bias and without jurisdiction," the lawsuit states. "The answer, under governing case law, is clearly no.' "The investigation and arbitration process that the Commissioner's public relations machinery touted as thorough and fair' has, in reality, been a sham," the lawsuit stated. The lawsuit said the NFL violated the labor agreement by refusing to provide players with access to "critical documents or witnesses, or anything resembling the fairness mandated by the CBA and governing industrial due process law." The suit also states that Goodell "launched a public campaign defending the punishments he intended to arbitrate, rendering him incurably and evidently biased." The NFLPA also reiterated a claim that the CBA requires much of the "pay-for-performance" conduct outlined in the NFL's bounty investigation to be handled by a system arbitrator and not the commissioner, who has "improperly usurped" control over that process. The NFL has argued that the bounty matter falls under conduct detrimental to the league, which the commissioner has authority to punish. Two arbitration rulings so far have ruled in the NFL's favor on that matter, but the NFLPA lawsuit says the NFL's handling of the bounty matter amounts to a "rare case" in which the arbitrators' previous rulings should be set aside. The union contends one arbitrator, Stephen Burbank, based his ruling on a statement that he saw his jurisdiction covering only improper payments made to players, but not the payments the NFL has said players made into the bounty pool. "This distinction cannot be justified by the CBA, nor can it override the fact that the NFLPA has never agreed to arbitrate these types of disputes before the Commissioner," the lawsuit said. Included with the 55-page lawsuit are 400 pages of exhibits, including about 200 pages of evidence that the NFL presented at the appeal hearing. The lawsuit notes that those documents represent a "sparse" sampling of the 18,000 documents totaling about 50,000 pages that the league said it compiled during its investigation. One exhibit is a sworn declaration from Duke Naipohn, a fatigue risk management specialist who was working closely with the Saints defense throughout the 2011 season. Naipohn said he attended most defensive meetings and never saw bounties placed on opposing players or saw Saints players rewarded for injuring opponents.

Deja Vu: Jon Lester throws his glove to first base...again

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Deja Vu: Jon Lester throws his glove to first base...again

Jon Lester still hasn't gotten over his yips throwing to first base.

But he appears to have no issues throwing the ball to first when it's stuck in his glove.

For the second year in a row, Lester fielding a comebacker on the mound only to see the ball get stuck in the webbing of his glove.

For the second year in a row, Lester ran toward first base before eventually tossing his entire glove over to Anthony Rizzo.

And for the second year in a row, Rizzo dropped his own glove to catch Lester's glove and the ball, recording the out at first.

Check it:

And compare to last year's:

Might as well just make this an annual event, eh?

Rutgers unveils new football uniforms

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Rutgers unveils new football uniforms

Rutgers has updated its look a bit, and that means some new uniforms for the football team.

As part of updating the brand identity and establishing a consistent look across all sports the Rutgers football team got some new duds.

Check em out.

It's certainly a time for new starts at Rutgers, with a new football coach in Chris Ash, a new men's basketball coach in Steve Pikiell and a new athletics director in Patrick Hobbs. Makes sense that a new look would follow.

From the school's release:

Over the past 18 months, Rutgers and Nike collaborated on the brand evolution program that honors the transformative and hardworking nature of its teams and personnel. Rutgers and Nike worked with student-athletes, coaches, administrators and alumni to pay tribute to key attributes of the institution.

As part of the updated brand identity, all 24 Rutgers teams will showcase consistent colors, logos, lettering and numerals over the course of the next few seasons. The football uniforms offer a very traditional look, with visibly larger numbers, chainmail pattern and new helmets. Women’s basketball, women’s soccer and men’s basketball also support traditional looks, and add both the chainmail and secondary mark as well.

The Block R (spirit mark) is the emblem for strong, emotive support given by students, alumni and all those associated with Rutgers. The Block R suggests pride and affinity and will continue to serve as the primary logo for Rutgers University athletics.

Over 5.5 million Chicago market TV households tuned in for 45 live pro games in April on CSN

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Over 5.5 million Chicago market TV households tuned in for 45 live pro games in April on CSN

 

#1 Highest-Rated “Cable” Network in Primetime in April for Households & ALL Key Adult, Male & Female Demos

Chicago, IL (May 4, 2016) – Fueled by the highest-rated pro game telecast in network history (Blackhawks at St. Louis/Game 7 – 19.07 Chicago market household rating), an amazing start to the 2016 MLB season featuring the top team in the American League (White Sox) and the top team in the National League (Cubs), along with a massive month-long marketing blitz, which included a media signage takeover throughout the Metra Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago, Comcast SportsNet’s #WhatAnApril proved to be one of the network’s busiest and best-performing months to date.  Note the following April 2016 highlights for Comcast SportsNet Chicago:

  • Comcast SportsNet was the #1-highest rated “cable” television network in the Chicago market during primetime (7:00-10:00 PM CT) for every major TV ratings category including Households (HH) & all key Adult, Male, and Female demo categories (see below chart as it pertains to Adults 25-54). 

  • Comcast SportsNet was also #1 “overall” in primetime (which includes all broadcast TV stations) in the demo categories of Men 18-34, Men 18-49, and Men 25-54 (NOTE: Comcast SportsNet was #2 overall in Adults 18-34 and #3 overall in Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54).
  • Over 5.5 MILLION Chicago market TV households tuned in to 45 live professional game telecasts from April 1 – May 1 (Blackhawks: three regular season/five playoffs; Bulls: three regular season; Cubs: 14 regular season; White Sox: 17 regular season; and Fire: three regular season). 
  • Comcast SportsNet also attracted an additional 3.7 million Chicago market TV homes tuning in for all editions of Pregame Live and Postgame Live, along with the network’s locally-produced, live sports news, talk, and Original Content programming, which includes SportsNet Central and SportsTalk Live.  (Source for all ratings information is provided by Nielsen Media Research)
  • Comcast SportsNet’s live streaming of its Chicago Bulls game telecasts experienced significant year-to-year traffic growth as over 10.9 MILLION total minutes were consumed by fans in the network’s second season of live streaming coverage on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports Live Extra app (an increase of 30% compared to the 2014-15 season).  (Source for all digital traffic information is provided by Adobe Reports & Analytics)