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Volume 25 No. 156

Franchises

Hunt apologized for his mistake and pleaded to the Chiefs to reconsider their decision
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt admitted he did not tell the team everything about the hotel incident earlier this year that resulted in his release late Friday night. A video released on Friday shows Hunt kicking a female, and during a live interview yesterday on ESPN, Hunt said, "I don't blame them for anything. My actions caused this" ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 12/2). The Chiefs issued a statement Friday in conjunction with their release of Hunt, which read, "As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately." In K.C., Brooke Pryor noted the video of Hunt, released by TMZ, is "related to a February 2018 altercation." The Chiefs and NFL "did not take any action against Hunt after the altercation was reported to police in February." No charges have been "filed stemming from the altercation" (K.C. STAR, 12/1). THE ATHLETIC's Nate Taylor noted the Chiefs "sent Hunt home" on Friday moments after TMZ posted the video. Hours later, they "called him back to tell him in person they were releasing him." Sources said that Hunt "cried in front of his coaches and members of the front office." With "trembling emotion in his voice, Hunt apologized for his mistake and pleaded to the Chiefs to reconsider their decision" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/1).

WAS THE LIE BIGGER THAN THE ACT? In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote there is "no way to know what might’ve happened if Hunt was truthful from the beginning, but the Chiefs’ statement gave the impression that this was about the lie." Hunt made Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt "look bad and weak." Clark Hunt responded in the "strongest way possible, one that may cost his team on the field." There are "no moral high grounds left in the NFL, but this is at least a move sacrificing short-term football for broader priorities" (K.C. STAR, 12/1). In N.Y., Ken Belson noted Kareem Hunt is "one of the most prominent players on a contending team to lose his job in the middle of a season because of an incident involving violence against a woman" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/1).

A LOOK AT THE LEAGUE: THE MMQB's Albert Breer noted the Chiefs "followed the league's lead throughout on the case -- standard procedure holds that once the NFL starts an investigation, the club has to yield" (SI.com, 12/2). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg noted there is "no indication, at least right now, that the NFL knew what Hunt did until Friday." There is "no evidence that the NFL failed here" (SI.com, 11/30). ESPN.com's Dan Graziano wrote what the Chiefs did Friday was "throw the league a lifeline." The NFL still has "so far to go before it's credible to the public on these matters, and it's fair to wonder if it can ever get there." But, one of its teams "bailed out the league Friday with a decision that future teams and players might just see as a game-changer" (ESPN.com, 12/1). However, USA TODAY's Mike Jones wrote under the header, "Don't Applaud The Chiefs And NFL For Too Late Actions On Kareem Hunt" (USA TODAY, 12/1).

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? CBSSPORTS.com's Jason La Canfora noted Hunt is "expected to play in the NFL again" and some league execs "believe he might even be claimed on waivers this week." However, sources said that they "did not foresee any circumstances where Hunt was eligible to play again this season." Hunt was put on the NFL Commissioner's Exempt list prior to the Chiefs releasing him (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/1). CBS Sports' Amy Trask said she would not consider putting in a claim on Hunt "without sitting down with him in person, looking him in the eye and having a conversation to get a sense of whether I think he is being honest and whether I think he has learned from this" ("The NFL Today," CBS, 12/2).

CHANGING IMAGE: In Baltimore, Holden Wilen noted Under Armour "parted ways" with Hunt in the wake of the video released Friday. News of the incident involving Hunt comes as UA "attempts to repair its own image with women" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/1).

Foster was arrested in November on his second domestic violence charge in '18
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

There was a "strong sense of shock and dismay" among NFL teams when the Redskins claimed LB Reuben Foster on waivers last week, after being the "only team to place a waiver claim" on the player, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. The Redskins have been ridiculed for the "ham-handed way" in which they have addressed the signing. However, within the NFL, the move is "being viewed" as the work of Redskins Owner Dan Snyder and President Bruce Allen, with other teams "baffled as to why they would make a claim" for a player who is unable to play this season while the incident is investigated. One prominent team exec said of the Redskins move, "It reflects poorly on the entire league. It makes all of us look bad" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/2). ESPN.com's John Keim noted Redskins Senior VP/Player Personnel Doug Williams had "caught heat both inside and outside the organization" after comments he made addressing the team's claiming of Foster (ESPN.com, 11/30).

STARTS AT THE TOP: In DC, Thomas Boswell wrote Snyder "can't or won't be changed" after 20 years of owning the team. The trajectory of the Redskins' popularity "now seems cast in stone: down, down, down, year after year." At this rate of "fan alienation, Snyder's team probably will fall behind" the Capitals and Nationals in "local popularity within a decade." Boswell: "Who knew that a relationship between a town and a team, begun 81 years ago, might someday be so deeply impaired by just one man who, while born and raised here, reflects the values and behaviors of so few of us?" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/30).

McCarthy's team following yesterday's loss is unlikely to make the playoffs for the second straight season
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy after losing to the Cardinals yesterday and falling to 4-7-1 this season, as there was "no good reason to wait no matter how much" Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutekunst "might like or respect McCarthy," according to Pete Dougherty of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE. For more than 20 years, the Packers franchise has been the "picture of stability, and firing a coach with games still to play certainly runs counter to that." However, with the season’s "shaky playoff hopes on the line" and playing a 2-win Cardinals team, McCarthy’s team "bombed." So, rather than "allow McCarthy’s job status to hang over the locker room, Murphy cut the cord" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 12/3). NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King writes, "What would have been accomplished by letting Mike McCarthy lame-duck his way through the next four weeks, other than keeping the franchise’s 65-year streak of never making an in-season coaching change intact?" Management "knew McCarthy was getting whacked, and McCarthy would have had to be blind to not know" (NBCSPORTS.com, 12/3). In Milwaukee, Tom Silverstein in a front-page piece writes whether Murphy "pulled the plug on McCarthy now or four Mondays from now, changes were going to come all around" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/3). USA TODAY's Nate Davis writes the firing "felt like a mercy killing," as the "writing was on the wall for McCarthy" (USA TODAY, 12/3). THE MMQB's Albert Breer writes the firing is a "stunner only in that it came now, and not in four weeks." But Murphy, in "tandem with Gutekunst, decided to make the move now, to get a head start on the coaching search" (SI.com, 12/3).

NEXT STEPS: In Milwaukee, Jim Owczarski cited a source as saying that the "power structure Murphy created in the offseason will remain the same." Murphy "will hire the head coach but he will get heavy input from Gutekunst." In the past, Murphy has used search firm Korn Ferry to "identify talent, including the process" of hiring Gutekunst last offseason (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/3). In Wisconsin, Tom Oates writes McCarthy's firing "will mean nothing unless it signals the start of widespread changes in the organization." Still, it was a sign that Murphy "finally recognized" that the Packers are "no longer a good team" (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, 12/3).

Nassau Coliseum has undergone a $165M renovation since the Islanders last played there in '15
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Islanders played their first of 21 games in the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night, and fans "celebrated in the most appropriate way possible: with a tailgate and a raucous comeback victory," according to Allan Kreda of the N.Y. TIMES. Longtime fan Leon Bassen said of the win over the Blue Jackets, "Going to Barclays Center, you feel like a stranger in someone’s house. Here, even before you walk in that building, you’re home." Kreda noted the game drew a "capacity crowd of 13,917," and the Isles are "expected to split games over the next two seasons before they move to an 18,000-seat arena adjacent to the Belmont Park grandstand." The Isles have "nine home games remaining in Brooklyn" this season. Nassau Coliseum has undergone a $165M renovation and now "accommodates a league smallest of about 13,900 hockey fans, compared with 16,234 before the Islanders left." The locker rooms have been "refurbished, with the Islanders now using the former visitors’ dressing area" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2). In N.Y., Brett Cyrgalis noted the renovation "did not change" the venue's character, as the corridors were "just as cramped as ever, and the lines for the bathrooms just as long." The "same problems that led to the Islanders leaving were hardly fixed." But the sight lines "remained terrific, with seats on top of the ice that allowed the fans’ voices to not just be heard, but felt." Islanders coach Barry Trotz said, "Play with that atmosphere all year, that’s at least a dozen points" (N.Y. POST, 12/2).

GOOD TO BE BACK: On Long Island, Mark Herrmann writes the Islanders were "home, truly home, for the first time" since they left for Brooklyn in April '15. The "overwhelming majority of the fans still live on the Island." Hermann, on the team's history at Nassau, "To a ludicrous degree, the franchise violated the first rule of business by making it tough on the customers to get the product" (NEWSDAY, 12/2). Also on Long Island, Andrew Gross wrote the atmosphere was "electric, a Long Island-heavy fan base welcoming the Islanders back to their past and now present home." Isles C Casey Cizikas said of the fans, "That was more than any of us could have anticipated" (NEWSDAY, 12/2).

Cano is one of the biggest names potentially being shipped out during the Mariners rebuild
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The Mariners have been active in the trade market in recent days, and while the team "may label it a 'step back,' it's starting to resemble a rebuild with each transaction" that Exec VP & GM Jerry Dipoto makes, according to Ryan Divish of the SEATTLE TIMES. The Mariners, who held the second AL Wild Card spot in early August and finished with 89 wins, are "working toward finishing a trade" that would send SS Jean Segura and possibly one other player to the Phillies in exchange for a package of players including 1B Carlos Santana and SS J.P. Crawford. Additionally, a "much-publicized trade" that would send Mariners 2B Robinson Cano and P Edwin Diaz to the Mets could be finalized by today (SEATTLE TIMES, 12/3). In Tacoma, T.J. Cotterill writes the Mariners' "everything-must-go sale continues." Including the potential Mets and Segura deals, that is "already five major Mariners trades involving shipping players off of their 25-man roster for younger talent." The team earlier traded C Mike Zunino and OF Guillermo Heredia to the Rays, P James Paxton to the Yankees and P Alex Colome to the White Sox. The Mariners will presumably "try to turn Santana's contract onto another team, similarly to what they'll likely do" with RF Jay Bruce as part of the Cano/Diaz return from the Mets (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 12/3).

BEST COURSE OF ACTION? In Seattle, Larry Stone wrote there are "dark, desolate times" ahead for the team with the "foundation-ripping moves the Mariners have made and the inevitable ones still to come." The Mariners will be a "lousy baseball team" in '19 and '20. Stone: "Then we'll take inventory and see how the rebuild is going, but you can probably add on a couple crummy years on top of that." However, this is "nevertheless the right way for the Mariners to go, weighing all the circumstances at play." It is the "right way for the Mariners to go only because of a tidal wave of bad decisions they've made over the years" (SEATTLE TIMES, 12/2). SI.com's Jon Tayler wrote the "tank is officially on" for the Mariners. But whether or not a teardown is the "right call for Seattle is a tougher question" (SI.com, 12/2).

The Red Sox are "ready to greet" betting on baseball in Massachusetts "with open arms," as legal sports betting in the state could be on the horizon, according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy said, "There will be a positive revenue impact for the team -- how much I don’t know -- but that is absolutely secondary in my opinion to the (increased) engagement, to people following, paying attention, being engaged." Silverman noted the Red Sox already "have a sponsorship deal in place with Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, but the competition to capture the attention of Red Sox fans will only increase." Rhode Island's Twin Rivers Casino already has its sports book "up and running," while in Massachusetts, the MGM Springfield hotel and casino is "open for business and next year, Everett’s Encore Boston Harbor hotel and casino is slated to open." MLB’s recent deal with MGM "does not prevent the 30 teams from striking their own business arrangements with casinos or sports books." Potential deals with sports books "offer an opportunity for the Red Sox to increase revenues from advertising, signage and sponsorship deals." As more states look to pass sports betting legislation, MLB is "handling lobbying efforts state-by-state, so outside of making introductions to a few key members at the State House, Kennedy said 'there’s not a huge lobby effort by the team.'" The Red Sox are "hopeful that Massachusetts will begin debating sports betting legislation sometime" in '19. If it passes, Kennedy "does not foresee Fenway Park ever having a window where a patron can place a bet" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/2).

Heat's Vice Nights jerseys are scheduled to be worn seven more times in Miami and once on the road
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The Heat have "apparently given up on trying to win" in their Vice Nights jerseys for now after they "drew plenty of attention for Miami, but also coincided with a recent home losing streak," according to David Wilson of the MIAMI HERALD. Pelicans-Heat on Friday night was "scheduled to be the seventh straight home game" for the team to "wear its black alternate jerseys." But the team "donned its typical red and black warmups" prior to the game and beat the Pelicans wearing its red "Statement" jerseys to end the home losing streak. The Vice Nights jerseys are "scheduled to be worn seven more times in Miami and once on the road" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 11/30). In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman wrote there "seemingly is superstition in basketball." Despite not wearing the Vice Nights jerseys on Friday, the Heat "continued to play on the special Vice Nights court trimmed in pink and blue pastels, again opening with the team's special Vice Nights introduction video." The team "continues to sell the Vice Nights merchandise, as well as other uniform styles" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 12/1). YAHOO SPORTS' Jack Baer noted the six-game losing streak "led some players to blame the jerseys on their backs." The win over the Pelicans "might only validate whoever decided to ditch the Vice jerseys," and that "sure would be a shame" if they are not worn again (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/30).

NO CONTROVERSY: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the end of the home losing streak "had nothing to do" with the team's last-minute switch. Spoelstra: "We've done this before as an organization when we go to the red uniforms, just to change the dynamic." He added, "We love the Vice campaign. Our players love it. Our staff loves it. This was just something that we wanted to do for a game to mix it up and it really had nothing to do with anything other than that." The SUN SENTINEL's Winderman noted the black Vice Nights jerseys "had been in the players' locker stalls an hour before Friday's opening tip" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 12/1).