January 30, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Beast Mode was Least Mode again.

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch abruptly ended his media availability – again – walking away from a throng of reporters while escorted by a member of the New Jersey State Police on Wednesday after about 7 uncomfortable minutes in which he answered just a few questions.

The elusive Lynch, who created a stir at media day Tuesday by talking for only 6-1/2 minutes, writhed in his seat and leaned his head back at times. A few dozen reporters, lined up as much as five deep, tried to ask questions during the players’ 45-minute availability at the team hotel.

“I really don’t have too much to say, boss,” Lynch said in a tone barely above a whisper. “I really don’t. I appreciate it, but I don’t get it. I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss. That’s the only reason I’m here.”

Earlier this month, Lynch was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with the Seattle media. The NFL put that fine on hold, saying it would be rescinded if he complied with media obligations. During media day, Lynch spoke for 6-1/2 minutes before leaving, then returning to speak to Deion Sanders for NFL Network, to the Seahawks website, and to Armed Forces Network – and acknowledged he was trying to avoid being fined by the league for not meeting his media requirements.

It didn’t appear Lynch would be fined, for either Tuesday or Wednesday.

“Players are required to participate and he participated,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press. “His comments of the past two days have been widely circulated.”

In a statement before Tuesday’s media session, the Pro Football Writers of America said it was “extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access” to Lynch at media day. The PFWA added that several “long-standing and high-profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch's conduct and refusal to answer any questions.”

The organization also called the statement by the league that Lynch participated Tuesday “an affront to our membership,” but added that it was “encouraged” that the NFL would continue to monitor the situation.

Players have clauses in their contract requiring them to cooperate with the media.

Fullback Michael Robinson, one of Lynch's buddies who was seated to his left, even poked fun at the situation by asking Lynch a question of his own.

“What do you think of your fullback?” Robinson said, laughing. “Is he a pretty cool brother?”

“No,” Lynch responded.

“What?” Robinson asked incredulously.

“No,” Lynch repeated.

“That’s messed up,” a smiling Robinson said. “We went to dinner last night and everything, man.”

After Lynch was short with his answers to a few questions, Robinson moved the microphone in front of himself and began answering questions for Lynch.

“I’m going to slide up in this thing,” Robinson said with a smile, “and break up the monotony a little bit. Uhh, Marshawn ain’t going to try to say nothing to you guys, so you can direct your questions toward me.”

Robinson used the running back’s “boss” figure of speech to end each sentence.

One reporter asked how Lynch was feeling.

“He just wants to play ball, boss,” Robinson said.

Robinson was then asked how he would define “Beast Mode.”

“It’s a lifestyle, boss,” Robinson responded as Lynch, wearing headphones on top of his head, sat back in his chair smiling.

Lynch was asked if he was concerned he could be fined for not showing up at the availability, and he handled that one himself.

“I’m here, man,” Lynch said. “So, I don’t have to pay the fine, boss.”

Lynch said it was a “false” assumption that he doesn’t like talking to the media because he was once misquoted. He also said that it's not hard balancing being a private person and a football star because the fans don’t mind how he goes about his business.

“The media has a problem with it,” Lynch said. “It’s a problem if they choose to take something away from me for not doing it.”

A reporter reminded Lynch that it’s the NFL that issues the fines.

“Well, reporters have to call it in,” Lynch said. “So, it starts somewhere, right?”

At one point, Lynch looked up at a team staffer and asked, “What’s up with that time?” A few moments later, a reporter tried to ask a question, shouting, “Hey, Marshawn!” Lynch got up, climbed over a few chairs and made his way through the crowd of reporters and disappeared through an area restricted to team personnel.

“He gets it done on game day,” Robinson said after Lynch left. “If you’re looking for somebody who’s going lead by example, all you have to do is watch him run the ball and you know what time it is.”

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January 30, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

Evelyn Lozada announced this week that she and her Los Angeles Dodgers fiancé Carl Crawford are expecting a baby boy.

“Surprisingly, I found out when I had my first trimester screening,” she told People magazine. “I was about 13 weeks when they told me the sex. I was honestly praying for a boy. I have wanted to have a son for years.”

The “Basketball Wives” star has a 20-year-old daughter Shaniece from a previous relationship. She was by her mom’s side when the baby’s gender was revealed.

“We were both so happy. There are all girls on my side, so this will be our first boy. My family is over the moon,” Lozada, who is due in March, told the magazine. “Every time I go to the doctor, I have them check to make sure it’s a boy. I’m still in disbelief!”

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January 23, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

DALLAS  -- Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter Wednesday for a fiery wreck that killed his teammate and close friend, Jerry Brown.

He faces up to 20 years in prison for a December 2012 wreck after a night of partying with fellow Cowboys players. He could also get probation.

Jurors took about nine hours over two days to convict Brent, who was led from the courtroom in handcuffs as family members sitting in the front row of the gallery sobbed.

Among those sitting with Brent's family was Stacey Jackson, Brown's mother. Jackson did not respond to questions as she left the courtroom Wednesday with Brent's family, but she has said in interviews that she's forgiven Brent and could testify in support of a lighter sentence for him when that phase of the trial begins Thursday.

Attorneys from both sides remain under a gag order that prevented them from commenting after the proceedings.

Prosecutors say Brent, a defensive tackle, was drunk when he crashed his Mercedes on a suburban Dallas highway in December 2012, killing Brown, a linebacker on the Cowboys practice squad who had also been Brent's teammate at the University of Illinois. Officers who arrived on scene saw Brent trying to pull Brown's body from the wreckage.

Police say Brent's blood alcohol level was tested shortly after the crash at 0.18 percent, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Texas. Prosecutors last week argued that the burly, 320-pound defensive tackle had as many as 17 drinks the night of the crash.

Brent's attorneys argued the blood tests used by police were faulty and that Brent could not have drank nearly that much. Attorney George Milner said his client was "guilty of being stupid behind the wheel of a car," not drinking beforehand.

Brent retired from the NFL last year, but his ties to the Cowboys were prominent at trial. Two current players, Barry Church and Danny McCray, testified about hanging out with Brent and Brown, first playing video games, then having dinner and going to Privae, a Dallas nightclub.

Sean Lee, a Cowboys linebacker, attended part of the trial to show support for Brent, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this week that he was closely watching for a verdict.

"Certainly it's tragic. We've all, to some degree, have been a part of this," Jones said on Tuesday, according to the Cowboys' website. "We support Josh. This has been just a terrible experience for the families who lost a loved one and for Josh who loved Jerry as well."

Jurors saw video of Brent appearing to hold bottles of Champagne in each hand and credit-card receipts that showed Brent had purchased three bottles. They also saw police dash cam footage of Brent losing his balance during field sobriety tests and occasionally stumbling over his words while talking to officers.

It was, in the words of prosecutors Jason Hermus and Heath Harris, a textbook case of intoxication manslaughter. The prosecutors told jurors in their closing argument that they should send a message about the danger posed by drunken drivers.

Hermus stood in front of Brent, hit the table and shouted: "They shouldn't be driving, no exceptions, no excuses!"

Prosecutors have indicated they will push for jail time for Brent. His conviction comes just after weeks of fierce debate about a North Texas teen, Ethan Couch, who received probation for intoxication manslaughter after a wreck that left four people dead. Couch's case, and the so-called "affluenza" defense his attorneys employed, became the subject of fierce, widespread scrutiny.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has attended parts of Brent's trial and whispered in prosecutors' ears during the questioning of one witness. Watkins told a sports radio station last year that prosecutors had the responsibility to make sure Brent "loses his freedom."

Brent, a defensive tackle, had played in all 12 games of the 2012 NFL season before the crash. He retired in July.

Brown was signed to the Cowboys' practice squad in the 2012 season.

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January 30, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather has placed a $10.4 million bet on the Denver Broncos to beat the Seattle Seahawks by more than two points in the upcoming Super Bowl.

Twitter post suggesting that Mayweather had used seven different agencies (no one agency would take it).

Mayweather has made large bets in the past.

He apparently bet $220,000 to win just $200,000 back on college football team Texas A&M leading by more than 17 points at half-time against Southern Methodist.

Vegas Gambling Steam, which bills itself as “Industries #1 #Handicapping #Gambling #Watch­dog #Updating #Steamed & Public Betting Percentages from top books in #Vegas” — gave some background of Floyd’s betting process.

“Floyd Mayweather is worth over 80 Million liquid. Sportsbooks / Offshore books executives gladly float this man 2-3 million in credit.”

“They have a phone number, they call up owners of the sportsbooks they want action at. ‘Put me down for 2 million on Broncos.. It’s Floyd’”

“He has runners to make those baby bets for him. He doesn’t post all his bets especially the big ones #IRS”

Floyd Mayweather is expected to fight Amir Khan in Las Vegas in May 2014.

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January 23, 2014

LAWT Wire Services

 

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods was posing for pictures with a trophy Wednesday at Torrey Pines, and the tournament had not even started.

He has made winning look routine, particularly on this public course along Pacific Bluffs where he already has won eight times as a pro, including a U.S. Open.

The trophy Woods received on the eve of his title defense at the Farmers Insurance Open was for being voted PGA Tour player of the year for the 11th time.

Woods doesn’t take winning for granted, even if others don’t appreciate how difficult it is.

That includes his daughter.

Woods told a story of 6-year-old Sam being curious about the Torrey pine on the trophy, which reminded his daughter of the Bonsai tree she had seen in “Karate Kid.”

“She thought that’s what it was,” Woods said. “I said, ‘No, they’re a little bit bigger than that.’ I had to go online and show her the pictures and everything. I had all these trophies lined up and she said, ‘You need to get one of those.’”

Woods tried to explain that it wasn’t that simple, that he had to play better golf than 155 other guys to earn it.

“She said, ‘OK, go do it,’” he said.

And so he did. Woods had an eight-shot lead on the back nine before the final round in a fog-delayed tournament was so backed up that it took forever to finish and Woods lost patience.

He won by four shots, and then surprised tournament officials when he wanted to take the trophy home on the plane instead of the tradition of shipping. He did not want to walk in the door as the winner at Torrey Pines without that trophy.

“They put it literally in the middle of the living room,” Woods said. “Everybody was dancing around the trophy.”

The music cranks back up on Thursday — another dance, his 19th year as a pro.

The tune hasn’t changed.

Woods conceded there are things he can’t do at 38 that he could when he was 24, such as produce the same speed when he rotates through the ball. But he’s also stronger and a lot smarter in dissecting a golf course.

“You’re still able to be successful, but you do it a different way,” Woods said. “You evolve as you age, and I think I’ve done that so far.”

The talk about Woods hasn’t changed, either.

Even though the Masters just under three months away, any mention of Woods starts with the majors.

The playoff win at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open was the last major he won. He has been stuck on 14 for the past five years, squandering good chances at the U.S. Open in 2012 and the British Open last year.

This would seem to shape up as an important year because three of the majors are on courses where he has won — Augusta National, Royal Liverpool and Valhalla. The U.S. Open is at Pinehurst No. 2, where Woods has finished third and second.

“I view it as every year is a big year,” Woods said. “Every year that I get a chance to compete and play in tournaments and major championships for as long as I decide to do it ... every year counts. Looking back from the beginning of my career to now, I know that I don’t have 20 years in my prime. I don’t see being 58 and being in my prime. Most guys don’t dunk from the foul line at age 58, so it’s a little different. But the outlook is still the same.

“I still prepare the same,” he said. “I still work my tail off to be ready to compete at this level and beat everyone that I’m playing against.”

Woods and Phil Mickelson are the star attractions, as usual, at Torrey Pines. This was the first PGA Tour event that both watched when they were boys — Mickelson is from San Diego, Woods from about 90 minutes north in Orange County.

Mickelson started his year last week in Abu Dhabi where he was runner-up despite a double-hit out of the bushes that led to triple bogey. Mickelson is excited about everything this year — his new driver, his putting, off-course activities and a chance at the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.

The South Course? That doesn’t excite him as much. Mickelson is a three-time winner of this event, but not since Rees Jones began redesigning the South for the U.S. Open.

Mickelson can relate with Woods when it comes to advancing age. He turns 44 in June.

“The difficult for me is that as I get older, it’s a lot more work to be physically able to perform the way I would like,” he said.

“I’ve got to watch what I eat, I’ve got to work out, manage arthritis and I’ve been fortunate that the treatment on that’s been phenomenal. I haven’t had anything holding me back from working on my game or what have you, but I’ve got to spend a lot more time in the gym making sure that ligaments and tendons and muscles and joints and everything are strong and healthy.

“It's just more effort to be able to play golf at the highest level.”

There was one other reminder for Woods. He received his trophy at the same time 20-year-old Jordan Spieth received a crystal as rookie of the year.

Spieth had a tremendous year, and he looked over at the bronze Jack Nicklaus Award to be given to Woods.

“Now it’s time to chase this other award,” he said.

Woods smiled. He didn’t look as if he was willing to let it go that easily.

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