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Published: Saturday, September 30, 2017 @ 9:14 AM
— The NFL’s Denver Broncos announced that team members and coaches would stand together before Sunday’s game in respect for the national anthem, the country and its veterans, Fox News reported Saturday. The Broncos will be hosting the Oakland Raiders in a nationally televised game on CBS.
In a joint statement that also was posted to the team’s Twitter account, the 52-member squad said its actions last week were "in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe."
The statement comes a few days after Broncos executive John Elway -- who led Denver to victory in Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998 -- said he believes in standing for the anthem.
"Take the politics out of football," Elway said.
The team's statement also explained its demonstrations from the past week:
"Last week, members of our team joined their brothers around the NFL in a powerful display of unity. As controversial as it appeared, we needed to show our collective strength and resolve," the Broncos said.
The team said its locker room is very diverse, but that being members of the same squad unite them as a team.
"No matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should get in the way of that," the team said, appearing to reference President Donald Trump's comments in Alabama last week about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. The president suggested that players who took a knee should be fired from their teams, Fox News reported.
Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, who helped lead the team's demonstrations last week, said after that game that Trump "assaulted" their freedom of speech and that "we had to do something."
A message from our players: pic.twitter.com/eQs3z7OcqV— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 28, 2017
Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:57 AM
COLUMBUS — Former Ohio State Buckeyes head football coach Earle Bruce, the man who succeeded Woody Hayes and served as a mentor for Urban Meyer, died early Friday at 87 at his home in Powell, Ohio State announced.
Bruce, who was hired in January 1979 after Hayes was fired, coached the Buckeyes from 1979-87 and had a record of 81-26-1 in nine seasons. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
“He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a respected coach to many,” a statement by his daughters (Lynn, Michele, Aimee and Noel) read. “Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.”
» HARTMAN: Bruce one of most influential Buckeyes ever
Bruce won four Big Ten championships (1979, 1981, 1984, 1986). He won his first 11 games in 1979 and was named national coach of the year. Only a 17-16 loss to Southern California in the Rose Bowl kept him from winning a national championship in his first season.
Bruce was 5-4 against Michigan in his career and 5-3 in bowl games. He began his coaching career at Iowa State (1973-78) and coached four seasons at Colorado State (1989-92) after he was fired by Ohio State in 1988. His career record in 19 seasons was 139-82-2.
“I’m proud of about three things in my career,” Bruce said in 2001. “One is the Michigan record: 5-4. And the only games they won were because there wasn’t a fifth quarter. If there had been a fifth quarter, we would have kicked their butts. We just ran out of time, that’s how I look at it. And I went against Bo Schembechler, the best coach they ever had, no question.”
Bruce remained close to the program. In 2016, he dotted the “I’ in Script Ohio before a game against Rutgers at Ohio Stadium. He attended Ohio State’s spring practice on March 8, the day he turned 87.
Meyer was a graduate assistant at Ohio State in the 1986 and 1987 seasons, Bruce’s final two years with the program, and often credited Bruce for teaching him about the importance of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
“I’ve made it clear many times that, other than my father, coach Bruce was the most influential man in my life,” Meyer said in a press release. “Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife (Jean) and he were the role models for Shelley and me. They did everything with class. He was not afraid to show how much he loved his family and cared for his family.”
Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 11:09 AM
— For the second day in a row, we had some breaking news first thing in the morning. Here is my tribute to Earle Bruce, who passed away this morning after 87 years of filling the world with passion and energy for football and Ohio State.
Here’s what else is going on…
Cincinnati Reds general manager Dick Williams said pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear in regards to the firing of Bryan Price.
“We’re very focused on creating a sense of urgency for these guys to perform now,” Williams said yesterday. “We talk about rebuilding, and there’s things going on away from the field and in the farm system and investments in the franchise that are part of that rebuilding process, but when guys show up to work every day, they need to have a sense of urgency to win that day. They need to take care of the details on the field. They need to play hard. They need to play smart. They need to play it right. That we can control, and we need to get this team playing that way because we know they have the ability to do it. That is the short-team immediate focus.”
Beyond that, I have seen the argument made that firing Price was pointless because the team wasn’t really good enough to win.
That’s a pretty dumb way to look at it.
For one thing, it ignores just how terrible the Reds have been since the start of the season.
It’s not as if we’re talking about a squad that is a few games under .500.
They have not been below average.
They have been dreadful — historically bad.
Cincinnati’s record is 3-15, and there’s no reason to think the Reds should have many, if any, more wins the way they have played… except if like me you think Price botched a handful of chances to win games with head-scratching late-game decisions.
I’ve also seen it suggested the whole organization is rotten and they need to start over.
This isn’t completely out of the question, but it’s a pretty big overreaction at this point.
Yes multiple people — players, managers, management, ownership, etc — had to make mistakes for the team to be in this predicament, but many of them are already gone.
Walt Jocketty blew the end of the last era of good times with help from Dusty Baker, his scouting department and at least some on the development side.
Several years of terrible drafts and an inability to find cheap options to fill out the bench and the bullpen at the major-league level were major issues, and Baker’s attempts to maximize a flawed roster were generally inept.
RELATED: Barry Larkin on deck?
Jocketty badly misplayed the start of the rebuild, perhaps because ownership wouldn’t let hims start it as soon as he needed to.
Whatever the reason, the Reds waited too long to start the rebuild at the major-league level.
That prevented them from maximizing the return on players like Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce and exacerbated the effect of those bad drafts.
(They were able to sell high on Todd Frazier and got surprisingly good returns on some other players who weren’t as high-profile, like Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon and Dan Straily.)
More recently, they seem to have figured out a few things in the draft. The past two efforts have been rated very highly.
Help is on the way, and there are good pieces in place already.
Health remains an issue, of course. Figuring out if anything can be done about that is not easy.
Williams has only been in the big chair for about a year and a half, and I’m willing to see how his early moves play out.
Waiting on young pitchers to develop can be maddening, but it is also pretty clearly their best option given their market and the ballpark.
They talked about accountability when Baker was fired.
Price never answered that bell.
As he was shown the door, a need to create a winning culture was identified.
Will anything change?
It couldn’t have gotten much worse…
Meanwhile, the firing of Price yesterday morning obscured a few other noteworthy items.
Chief among them was Hunter Greene’s second start.
Watching this talented young guy develop is already fascinating.
The South Bend Cubs were clearly sitting on his fastball, and they hit it hard a few times.
He didn’t hesitate to go to his secondary pitches, working curves and changes to varying degrees of success.
Having to pitch through a pretty hard rain for 10 minutes or so seemed to frustrate him, but that’s understandable.
He still hung in there and showed his competitiveness.
It was less than three innings, but it was encouraging to see his mental makeup and tools despite his inexperience…
Ohio State held spring exit interviews with its assistant coaches Wednesday, and the most noteworthy local development regarded Josh Myers.
Coach Greg Studrawa revealed the Miamisburg product overcame some struggles early in the spring to turn in a strong final two weeks as he learns to play center.
He might have to settle for the backup job to fifth-year senior Brady Taylor, but that’s not a bad place to be for an offensive lineman still only a year out of high school.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson also had great things to say about Wayne grad Robert Landers, a tackle who has shown a lot of growth as a leader...
This slate looks tougher to me than the NFL’s calculation of last year’s winning percentages indicates it should be.
Maybe that’s just a function of being unsure of how good the Bengals will actually be.
#Bengals sked— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) April 20, 2018
Wk1: @ Indy
Wk2: BALT (Thurs)
Wk3: @ Car
Wk4 @ Atl
Wk7: @ KC
Wk11; @ Balt
Wk14: at Chargers
Wk16: @ Cle
Wk17: @ Pitt
The Browns and Colts are rebuilding, but those AFC West teams and the Dolphins all have the potential to be playoff contenders with the right moves so there is a high potential for variance.
Of course, last season I was incorrectly optimistic about the Bengals based in large part because I thought their schedule was pretty easy.
That’s not exactly how it worked out.Follow @marcushartman
Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 9:25 AM
— There will never be another Earle Bruce.
The Hall of Fame Ohio State football coach, who died early Friday at the age of 87, was an import from out of state, but he ended up being one of the most influential Buckeyes of all time.
A hotshot halfback from Cumberland, Md., “Lefty” Bruce had his playing career cut short by a knee injury.
PHOTOS: Earle Bruce through the years
First-year head coach Woody Hayes re-recruited him to stick around and help out the team, though, and that turned out to be a fateful decision for both men and the program.
Bruce is best known nationally for his nine years as head coach of the Buckeyes.
The College Football Hall of Fame tenure began with a Big Ten championship and an undefeated regular season and ended with his players carrying him off the Michigan Stadium field after an upset win over the Wolverines.
He won (81-26-1), but not enough to live up to the high standards of Ohio State.
The firing of “Ol’ 9 and 3 Earle” at the end of a disappointing 1987 season was controversial at the time, but subsequent seasons showed recruiting had declined and a change was probably needed before things got worse.
Regardless, it proved to be far from the end of Bruce’s association with the Scarlet and Gray.
Better days were to come, and Earle Bruce played a large part in making them possible.
Bruce’s successor, John Cooper, modernized the program by nationalizing recruiting and updating Ohio State’s schemes, but two Bruce proteges took the Buckeyes back to the top of the college football world.
Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, winners of the national championship in 2002 and 2014, respectively, both were brought to Ohio State initially by Bruce, and both counted him as an important mentor.
Bruce was also a difference-maker away from the field.
Through multiple efforts — including his annual Beat Michigan Tailgate — he helped raise over $1 million for Alzheimer’s research, a disease that claimed his father and two sisters.
His family revealed last summer he was also in the early stages of battling the disease.
Death is a part of life, and few lived as full of one as Earle Bruce, a player, coach and mentor who left an indelible mark on Ohio State football.
Over the past 20-plus years, he remained a presence with the program and a go-to resource for media members who wanted first-hand accounts of the days of Hayes or insight on what makes Tressel and Meyer tick.
I was sitting with Jerry Hanlon, former U of M assistant at an awards dinner. He would later drive me to Ann Arbor for my visit. Coach Bruce was the keynote speaker and said, "Ohio fullbacks should stay in Ohio and play at Ohio State." It was a long ride to Ann Arbor. RIP Coach. pic.twitter.com/PTxGAmshSR— Vaughn Broadnax (@vaughnbroadnax) April 20, 2018
During the Tressel days, “Hurricane Earle” was famous for blowing through the Woody Hayes Athletic Center early in Michigan Week.
He would give one of those old fashioned fire and brimstone speeches to get the players fired up to face the Wolverines, a fitting coda to a life lived as one of the ultimate Buckeyes.
One can’t help but wonder how many young Ohio State players -- including those who like him came from out of state -- first learned about the intensity of The Game from Bruce.
Too many to count.
That might not be the biggest part of his legacy, but it’s perhaps the most appropriate.Follow @marcushartman
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:45 PM
DAYTON — Always athletic and tall for his age, Montrell Marshall was a natural at football and basketball while growing up in Pinehurst, North Carolina. That’s also prime stick-and-ball country; golf.
“I’m not a good golfer, but I pass by it all the time,” the Dragons first baseman sheepishly admitted.
»RELATED: Another gem by Hunter Greene
A solid 6-feet-5 and 215 pounds, Marshall gave up football at his mom’s insistence. “I didn’t play after middle school,” he recalled. “My mom, she was terrified of it.”
Basketball, too, is a distant memory.
Apparently headed to Auburn University to play baseball, the Reds took a chance and drafted Marshall out of high school. The rest is developing minor-league baseball history.
“It was a tough decision to make,” said Marshall, who was drafted by the Reds in the 12th round of 2014 and spent the last two seasons in rookie ball at Billings, Mont.
“I really liked Auburn. They showed me a lot of love. That’s a fun atmosphere and my best friend was going there the year after. It was a tough decision.”
Marshall is among a core group who graduated from Billings last season to low Class A Dayton in the Midwest League. On Thursday night, his run-scoring single was the difference in a 3-2 defeat of visiting South Bend at Fifth Third Field. That was noteworthy for all the right reasons.
• It was the Dragons’ eighth straight win. The last time that happened was in May of 2011 when Billy Hamilton was setting stolen base records for the Dragons.
• The win streak has all played out at home. That’s just two wins shy of matching the home win streak of 10.
• The Dragons (8-3) previously swept home series from Bowling Green and Lake County, and now have rung up South Bend, a Chicago Cubs affiliate.
• The Dragons did not commit an error in the three-game series. It’s the first time since August of 2016 that has happened.
Dragons catcher Mark Kolozsvary’s two-run single in the second inning evened it at 2-all. Dragons starting pitcher Packy Naughton (1-0) earned the win, going six innings, allowing four hits and two earned runs. He also struck out four. Relievers Luis Alecis, Cory Thompson and John Ghyzel (third save) also pitched shutout innings.
“This is fun,” Marshall said. “I don’t think I’ve ever won eight in a row. It’s a fun team.”
Dragons tales: Wednesday was shake-up day for the Reds with the firing of manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins. Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said that wasn’t a hot topic among players.
“We don’t address anything with them,” he said. “They’re aware of what’s going on, but it doesn’t affect us much of what’s going on here. I don’t want them thinking about stuff. I want them concentrating on games and to get better.”
Reds special assistant Eric Davis, with the Dragons for practice and the game, declined to address Price’s firing.
• The Dragons took a roster hit Wednesday when closer Sarkis Ohanian was promoted to high Class A Daytona. Taking his place was former Dragon Dauri Moreta, who had been in extended spring training.
»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton
Ohanian (1-0) had four appearances, collecting two saves and a 5.40 ERA. Moreta was at his best during the Dragons’ postseason last year. In his final 16 appearances he had a 1.85 ERA and earned a save in two playoff wins. He didn’t allow a run in four playoff games.
• The Dragons are at Fort Wayne for a three-game series beginning Friday, then at Lansing for a four-game series. Their next home game is Friday, April 27 to start a three-game series against Fort Wayne.
Dayton at Fort Wayne, 7 p.m.