Wizards’ John Wall on forcing a Game 7: ‘We’re very confident’

After relinquishing a five-point fourth-quarter lead on the road in Wednesday’s Game 5, John Wall said the Washington Wizards still are extremely confident that they’ll force a Game 7 and be back in Toronto on Sunday.

A buzzer-beater. A 25-point comeback. A team moving on to the second round. Wednesday’s NBA playoff action had everything, and we have it all here.

“We love our chances,” Wall said when asked how he likes the Wizards’ odds of winning Friday’s Game 6 at home against the Raptors and returning to Canada. “We’re very confident.”

“We’ve been down 2-0 before, so I don’t think being down 3-2 when we are going home is anything psychologically draining,” Oubre said.

“Y’all have seen how we play when our backs are against the wall.”

Gronkowski, who turns 29 on May 14, earned All-Pro honors in 2017 as he bounced back from a season in which he was limited to eight regular-season games in 2016 and underwent back surgery. He led the Patriots with 69 receptions, which went for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

He missed two games in the regular season — one because of a thigh injury and one due to NFL suspension — and was knocked out of the AFC Championship Game with a concussion.
His health might have been on his mind after Super Bowl LII when he was asked about possibly retiring.

“I don’t know how you heard that, but I mean, I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure,” Gronkowski said moments after the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. “I’m going to sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at.”

When asked that day what would make him retire, Gronkowski said, “I’m not ready for these types of questions right now. I mean, I’m just going to sit down, reflect on the season, keep talking to my teammates … and just see what happens.”

Gronkowski, who has undergone three back surgeries in his career, in addition to procedures on his knee and forearm, said after the Super Bowl that concussions would not be the reason for him to retire.

Brian Burke to step down as Calgary Flames president

While serving as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke infamously spoke about a “five-year plan” for success. He was hired in November 2008 and fired in January 2013.

Another “five-year plan” has wrapped up for Burke, as the Calgary Flames announced Friday that their president of hockey operations “will be stepping back from the organization,” effective May 1.

Burke’s hiring was an unconventional move for Calgary, as he was seen as the driver for player personnel decisions over the general manager.

“This is a relatively new structure in professional hockey,” Burke said at the time. “There are two teams in the NHL that have this type of management structure. There are a number of teams in the National Football League that do, a number of teams in Major League Baseball that do and a number of teams in the NBA that do. And it works effectively. And it’s going to work here.”

Over time, the outspoken executive faded into the background for the Flames, allowing Treliving to be the front-facing manager for the team and make the majority of the calls on player transactions.

In addition to his time with the Flames and Maple Leafs, Burke also served as general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers. He won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. He also was the director of player personnel for the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“I can’t understand why it was a bombshell, OK?” Khan said during a news conference at EverBank Field hours before the NFL draft. “I have business deals, investments all over the world. So I don’t understand. Every time there’s a transaction that has visibility, especially you folks [the media] start connecting dots that shouldn’t be connected.”

Khan’s purchase of Wembley would add significant additional revenue — such as food and beverage sales and suite revenue — and the team would save money because it would not have to pay rent for its annual home game in London. In addition, Jaguars president Mark Lamping said there were approximately 30 non-NFL games or events held at Wembley and that additional revenue would help financially stabilize the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars have played a home game at Wembley Stadium annually since 2013 and will do so through the 2020 season. The deal has been beneficial to the franchise because the NFL granted the team extended territorial rights in the United Kingdom, and the additional ticket revenue from a game at the 90,000-seat stadium has had a positive impact on the team’s local revenue.

London is an important part of the team’s stability in Jacksonville (the revenue from that annual home game accounts for 11 percent of the team’s total local revenue), and Khan said there were no plans at this time to play any additional games in London each season.

Hellebuyck smothers Preds as Jets grab 1-0 lead with 4-1 win

Connor Hellebuyck loves what he’s seeing in his first NHL postseason, and the 24-year-old goalie is doing his best to make sure the Winnipeg Jets do much more than just stick around.

Hellebuyck made 47 saves and the Jets beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Friday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal between the NHL’s top teams in the regular season.

“You give me two choices on where to be, our game or their win, I’d take the win,” Laviolette said. “It’s about winning hockey games right now.”

The Predators had the sparkling pregame show with the retractable screen dropping from the ceiling and country star Dierks Bentley singing the U.S. anthem, and a couple catfish hit the ice before the puck drop to boot. Then they pelted Hellebuyck with 15 of the first 19 shots.

Then the Jets scored the game’s first goal for a sixth straight playoff game. Tanev’s wrister beat Rinne’s outstretched right skate at 14:51 of the first.

Nashville finished the period with 20 shots, a franchise postseason record for a period, with Hellebuyck continuing his shutout streak started with consecutive shutouts to finish off Minnesota in the first round.

“He was awesome,” Jets forward Blake Wheeler said about Hellebuyck. “They were throwing everything at the net. What we were trying to do in front of him was just get bodies, get sticks, let him see things. You could tell early on if he was seeing the puck he was going to make the stops.”

“I hope you know and others know I’m not the type of person I was at 14 and 15 that I tweeted so recklessly. … I don’t want that to be the impression of who I am because that is not me. I apologize for what I did.”

Allen, who had been seen by many as a potential No. 1 overall pick, was selected seventh by the Buffalo Bills, who traded up to make the pick. Allen was the third quarterback drafted.

The tweets, sent in 2012 and 2013, no longer appear on his account. However, they contained racial slurs and other offensive language, according to Yahoo! Sports.

The former Wyoming quarterback acknowledged the tweets to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith late Wednesday night and apologized, saying he was young and dumb.

Allen told Smith that some of the tweets made reference to rap lyrics and television, including a saying that was part of an episode from the sitcom “Modern Family.”

On ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that his sources indicated that Allen’s Twitter account was vetted in January and that the offensive tweets were removed then.

Allen told Mortensen he thought he had gone through his Twitter account a year ago.

“I had even typed in keywords to see if anything I had tweeted popped up that I needed to clean up, but nothing like these came up or I just missed them,” Allen said. “My agency went over any past social media, and these didn’t come up after I did the search.”

Kendall Wright visits Vikings

Wide receiver Kendall Wright has visited the Vikings, Field Yates of ESPN reports.

Wright, 28, is one of the better players left in free agency. He visited Kansas City last week.

Plays like this have spread around the league: two and even three shooters circle around a screener, sewing confusion about which is the intended shooter. Sometimes, the play is for one of those whirring shooters; Washington runs a few such actions for Bradley Beal.

But sometimes that final shooter stops his cut, veers into the screener’s man, and reveals that the plan all along was to spring that big guy for an open 3-pointer:

Miami runs several versions for Olynyk. Spoelstra is genius about changing the placement, personnel and prelude to Olynyk somehow popping open.

As superior options disappeared amid injuries and tankery, the Hawks gradually let Collins explore the world of working off the dribble in the NBA. This is another version of healthy player development! Collins is fast, with some off-the-bounce skill. A lot of teams defend Collins with their centers — assigning their power forwards to Dewayne Dedmon, since Dedmon has more 3-point range — and that leaves Collins with a quickness advantage.

“The one question that sticks out is I sat down, and the first thing the coach asked me is what I would do if he punched me in the face right now? To me, being from Cleveland, my natural reaction was, ‘Coach, no disrespect but if you punch me in the face, we’re gonna fight right here,’” Baker told USA Today. “That was just my natural response. I guess that’s what he wanted to hear, because he said, ‘Good.’ It was definitely a fun interview. I didn’t get asked too many weird questions.”

Baker said the coach later told him it’s a question he often poses, and he wants to hear players say they’d fight back.

“I crossed paths with him a little later in the day and I asked him why he asked me that,” Baker said. “He said most guys freeze up or say they wouldn’t do anything when he asks them that. He said, ‘I don’t know about you, but if somebody were to randomly punch me in the face right now, I wouldn’t just stand there. I’d fight back.’ I guess he liked my response.”

So remember that in your next job interview: Tell your prospective boss you would hit back if he punched you in the face

Arrieta gave up three runs in the first inning but settled down with three shutout frames and left with the score tied at 3. He threw 74 pitches.

“It was good to be back on the field,” Manziel told a gaggle of reporters on the field immediately following the game. “I’m frustrated right now. First quarter was short, being in there. But nevertheless, I mean, on the field with two minutes left to win the game… I’m pissed right now. Trying to shake it off a little bit.

“It’s our first game. We shot ourselves with mistakes. I mean, we practiced a lot, a lot of stuff this week. But I mean it’s a showcase game. It’s a quick two-week, two-game spring league. So as frustrated as I am now, I made it through the two quarters that I did play. I’m healthy. Had fun. I had fun nonetheless. The touchdown in the first quarter was fun. But it’s just a sour, sour taste right now.”

After the game, Manziel was irked by the result, but pleased that he was back playing football.

It was unfathomable a couple seasons ago to think Mathieu would be cleaning up on the back end of the same defense as J.J. Watt. Mathieu gets a “prove it again” deal and perfectly fits Houston’s need for a roaming corner/safety hybrid who can shore up the nickel and dime coverage while also helping fill against the run. The only question is durability.

Is Taylor the splashiest veteran Cleveland could have added? No. Is he a long-term solution? Probably not. But he’s the type of stable, efficient QB they can use right now. Taylor also is a cheap pocket holder for the franchise QB the Browns are bound to draft, and he can win some games to make them a lot more respectable in the meantime. He also has a big arm and athleticism, two attributes that can work well for Todd Haley.

Miami broke the 3-3 tie with three runs against Phillies’ relievers Luis Garcia and Adam Morgan in the eighth. Garcia (0-1) hit Miguel Rojas with a pitch to start the inning and walked Starlin Castro before Morgan gave up a one-out, two-run double to Brian Anderson and Bryan Holaday’s two-out RBI hit.

Arrieta pitched into some bad luck in the first.

After inducing a groundout from Derek Dietrich, the first batter he faced, Arrieta gave up a home run to Miguel Rojas.

Starlin Castro walked and Justin Bour’s tailor-made double play ball ended up an infield single because shortstop J.P. Crawford was shifted to the right side of the second-base bag.

Packers WR Trevor Davis Arrested for Making Bomb Joke at LAX Airport

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Trevor Davis was reportedly arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport Sunday after jokingly telling an attendant at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter he had smuggled in a bomb while being asked security questions, according to Stella Chan of CNN.

Chan spoke with LAX Police public information officer Robert Pedregon, who stated that Davis “was at the Hawaiian Airlines counter with a female companion Sunday morning answering a series of typical questions asked of all travelers.”

Fortunately, to get a better sense of what the league actually thought about quarterbacks, there’s Bob McGinn. The legendary Packers beat writer took an annual poll of anonymous evaluators before the draft during his time with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and asked them to rank the quarterbacks from each year’s draft class. McGinn then scored each of those ballots with five points for the top-ranked quarterback, four for the second-ranked quarterback and onward.

I was able to find polls going back to the 2005 draft, which was a fateful session for the team McGinn covered. Let’s run through the top five from those polls to see just how difficult it is to project quarterbacks.

This comes after Ralph Vacchiano of SNY cited a team source who said it was “highly unlikely” the Giants would move the wide receiver.

The mere idea of trading Beckham would have turned plenty of heads not long ago. However, the talented receiver played just four games last season because of an ankle injury. What’s more, Vacchiano suggested the Giants are “near their breaking point with Beckham and these nuisance controversies” after he was shown in a video with a suspicious cigarette.

Team president John Mara even said “I wouldn’t say anyone’s untouchable” when asked whether the team could move Beckham this offseason at the league’s owners’ meetings, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

Gronkowski wasn’t the only player pondering tomorrow after that grueling Super Bowl defeat.

The Athletic noted that 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady “also appeared conflicted about his future at the conclusion of his Tom vs. Time documentary.”

“I think (Gronkowski) is the best tight end in the game, maybe in the history of the game, so we’re privileged to have a quarterback (in Brady) and tight end in those positions,” Kraft said. “I do believe, though, people feel differently (after a loss). That was a tough loss. We’ll let things sort out and see what happens.”

The Jets got a strong surprise season at the same position from Demario Davis, but Williamson is three years younger and rangier as a replacement. He’s an excellent run defender and has the upside to be better than Davis in coverage.

Richardson leaves the Seahawks to line up next to Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen, creating a big upgrade over aging free-agent Tom Johnson. Throw in Danielle Hunter, and this is the scariest front four in the NFL.

As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted, he has now been suspended four different times in his career for violating the league’s policies on both substance abuse and performance-enhancing drugs.

With the latest punishment, Collins has been suspended for 28 games.

However, he is apparently not letting any criticism get to him:

The 25-year-old has been a quality contributor when on the field, playing all 16 games as a rookie in 2015 while gaining an even bigger role in 2016. He started six of eight regular-season games and finished with two interceptions and 10 passes defended.

He also started Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots and totaled 11 tackles in the 34-28 loss.