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Volume 26 No. 4

Franchises

Hunt was cut by the Chiefs in December after TMZ released video of his February '18 incident
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Browns GM John Dorsey "was the face" of the team yesterday after the signing of RB Kareem Hunt, but the decision to bring in Hunt is "an organizational one" that includes coaches, front-office personnel and Browns co-Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, according to Dan Labbe of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Browns "can’t be held responsible" for Hunt's domestic violence incident that led to his release from the Chiefs, but in signing him, they "inherit the baggage and the public-relations fallout that comes from that night" last February. The Browns, with this signing, "declare from ownership on down, that talent and winning matter above all else." Dorsey, to his "credit, didn’t spend much time talking about football" yesterday. He instead talked about the "research that was done on Hunt" and about his "view of Hunt as a person and the remorse Hunt has shown" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/12). In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot notes Dorsey "fully grasps the backlash he’ll receive from the signing, especially considering he’s been through it before." However, Dorsey yesterday "made it clear that Dee Haslam, who’s on the NFL Conduct committee, was on board with the decision." He said, "She’s part of ownership. At the end of the day, they approved it" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/12).

WRONG DIRECTION? SI.com's Jenny Ventras wrote Hunt's signing "makes a statement on its own." While Dorsey’s decision to meet with the local media yesterday "may have been well-intentioned," his comments were "lacking in the depth and specificity for which the situation called" (SI.com, 2/11). In Cleveland, Doug Lesmerises writes Hunt "will write his own future" with the Browns, and Dorsey "will create his own standards." The Browns said that a zero-tolerance policy is in place, so if Hunt "breaks that and is cut, everyone can tell the Browns 'we told you so' and move on." The franchise "will face easy and earned criticism" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/12). THE ATHLETIC's Zac Jackson wrote there is "no way to spin" the move as "anything besides a risk the Browns didn’t need to take." There was "no right thing Dorsey could say" to explain it. Going forward, he "just has to be right." All Dorsey can "work and hope for is wins, lots of them" (THEATHLETIC.com, 2/11). NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes said the signing is a “risky move in a number ways,” including a “potential fan base alienation” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 2/11). FS1's Jason Whitlock: "Bad look for the Browns and the NFL." He added this "desperation will not land well with a segment" of the league's fan base (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 2/11). In Akron, Marla Ridenour in a front-page piece writes, "What bothers me more is the path the Browns have taken under Dorsey." The team "hired Mike Priefer as special teams coach despite a homophobic slur he made" in '12. Dorsey in the '18 Draft "traded up in the fourth round" to select WR Antonio Callaway, whose "past was littered with red flags." But drafting Callaway "fit with Dorsey’s MO as Chiefs GM, when he overlooked the baggage and selected" WR Tyreek Hill. The Browns are "turning a blind eye to character issues" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/12). ESPN’s Clinton Yates: “It’s not like the Browns have built up enough capital with their fans to be making moves like this” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/11). 

ONE LAST CHANCE: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes as the NFL deals with domestic violence cases moving forward, Commissioner Roger Goodell "can issue lengthy suspensions ... and tout all the money the league has donated to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, and it will do little good unless owners get on board." If Hunt or the Browns "fall short anywhere, then the NFL steps in." Some team was "always going to sign" Hunt. Now that the Browns have, it is "up to them and the NFL to ensure more good comes out of it than a few touchdowns and 100-yard games" (USA TODAY, 2/12).

Jeter said he used last season mostly as a learning experience in his new post
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

As Derek Jeter begins his second year as CEO of the Marlins, a franchise that has "gone 10 years without a winner on the field and ranked dead last in attendance" in '18, the immediate prospects are "bleak," according to Clark Spencer of the MIAMI HERALD. Jeter yesterday "refused to put a timeline" on how long the rebuild process might take. He said, "If you come out and say it’s going to take us five years, 10 years, 15 years -- you’re saying it’s okay to lose. But that’s not the case. I have no patience. I have zero patience. I’ve been preaching it. But I don’t have it." Jeter since joining the team has "gone about distancing the franchise from its not-so-successful recent past." But while the Marlins' four NL East rivals have "spent the offseason strengthening their teams in bids to win now, the Marlins have continued the methodical process of building for the future by acquiring young prospects." Jeter "spent much of his first year observing." He said that he will "take a more visible role this season." Jeter: "I kept a distance, so to speak because I wanted to learn about the players last year, the ones who were in the organization that I didn’t know. I used last year as sort of a learning experience" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/12).

HIGHER EXPECTATIONS: The AP's Tim Reynolds noted Jeter is "being tested in ways now that he never was during his playing days," when competing for titles "seemed like an annual occurrence." But after hinting he will be more involved with players, "people are buying" what he is selling. Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said of the message from Jeter’s office to players, “You’re either going to be on board, or you’re out.” The Marlins also "vow they’re going to make the experience" at Marlins Park "better this year." The team is "trying to better embrace the Latin flavor of Miami, and want fans to even feel comfortable bringing instruments to games if so inclined" (AP, 2/11). In Miami, Jordan McPherson noted even Billy the Marlin "became part" of the Marlins’ rebrand this offseason, as the mascot "received a hefty makeover" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 2/11). 

WINNING SOLVES EVERYTHING: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes some "obvious" changes at Marlins Park this year are the "home run sculpture (gone), the outfield fence (blue, not green), the team logo" and uniform colors. But "no one cares about" former Owner Jeffrey Loria’s fingerprints being "wiped clean as much as when Jeter’s team wins." Hyde: "If it does." Losing like Loria is what Jeter "really needs to separate himself from, and no one knows when that will happen." Hyde: "Patience is the only approach this season. And most fans are out of patience" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/12).

On Long Island, Neil Best notes Islanders tickets saw the "second-highest increase in the NHL on the resale market from the start of the season to its midpoint." Asking prices for the Islanders rose 25.5%, from an "average of $102 to $128, second only to the Blue Jackets, whose asking prices rose" by 27%. The increase "moved the Islanders from 26th place in the 31-team league to 14th." The Islanders' "better-than-expected play obviously is a factor, but so presumably is the fact that more late-season games than early season ones were scheduled for Nassau Coliseum, where ticket demand has been higher than at Barclays Center" (NEWSDAY, 2/12).

MAKING AMENDS: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE noted Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts and VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green met with the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Friday, "days after the publication of a series of emails" from his father in which Joe Ricketts "shared and endorsed racist jokes and conspiracy theories." Green yesterday said, “What we’re attempting to do is mend fences and try to take a very sad, hurtful, offensive situation and turn it into something good.” Green: "We didn’t come into the meeting to stand up with a photo op with a check to give to the organization, nor did they recommend that." He added the Cubs are "going to be involved' and "take some concrete and actual steps" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/11).

Notable elements of orange are on the jersey top with its vertical striping and trim along the sleeves and neck
Photo: FC CINCINNATI

FIRST LOOK: In Cincinnati, Patrick Brennan noted FC Cincinnati yesterday unveiled its home jersey to the public "during a ticketed event at Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine." The jersey is a "primarily blue top with blue shorts and socks." Each separate piece has "elements of orange, most noticeably on the jersey top with its vertical orange striping and orange trim along the sleeves and neck." The jersey top has "three orange stripes, a signature feature for Adidas, across the shoulders." The jersey also "features a 'jock tag' in the left hip area that celebrates the club's inaugural season" (CINCINNATI.com, 2/11).