Ben Rohrbach

  • Reminder: Brad Johnson paid for Super Bowl footballs to be doctored

    Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner 4 days ago

    As deflate-gate reaches DEFCON 1 levels — refocusing on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots under the microscope — we are reminded of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson's admission he paid to have footballs doctored prior to Super Bowl XXXVII.

    Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud recounted the story he originally published in 2012, when the 2002 Bucs were honored during the 10th anniversary of their championship season. Johnson told Stroud he shelled out $7,500 to ensure "the balls were scuffed and ready" when the title game kicked off in San Diego.

    "I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson now admits. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."

    How much did it cost Johnson? "Seventy-five hundred [dollars]," he said.

  • Photo: 76ers teammates make Jason Richardson feel really, really old

    Ben Rohrbach at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

    If not for the presence of Jason Richardson on the roster, the Philadelphia 76ers would own the league's youngest roster (their average age of 24.5 years old currently trails only the Utah Jazz), so what better way to remind the former slam dunk champ of his impending retirement than some old man birthday gifts.

    Celebrating his birthday for the 14th time since entering the NBA in 2001, Richardson posted a picture of himself on Instagram with a package of Depend For Men underwear, a bathrobe and some baby food alongside the caption, "34th Birthday presents from my teammates!!!," and the requisite laughing emojis.

    He did not mention whether or not he asked one of the three current members of the 76ers who are not yet old enough to drink alcohol, "Now, how do I post this myselfie doodad to that Facegram thingy?"

    Once we get over the idea that  34 years old is only elderly in NBA years (so says the guy writing this who's on the verge of turning 35), it says a lot about Richardson that a) he took this in stride and b) he has this close a relationship with a Sixers team he hasn't played for since Jan. 18, 2013.

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  • Stephen Curry's mother fines the Warriors star for turnovers

    Ben Rohrbach at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

    Just like when your mother wouldn't let you watch television until you completed your homework and washed the dishes, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry's mom has figured out a rather genius way to motivate her son while making her own life a little more enjoyable — by fining her son for turnovers.

    In a piece from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion, Sonya Curry revealed that she and her soon-to-be All-Star son came to the handshake agreement years ago. Every game he commits more than three turnovers, Steph owes his mom $100 per giveaway. That total also comes down $100 for each turnover under three, and at the end of the season Sonya cashes in, handing him a list of fashion item demands.

    Considering Steph is slated to make $10.6 million this season, it's not quite the same as if my mom charged me a Benjamin per typo, but the Warriors star admitted to Killion the fines creep into his mind during games.

    Now, if only Josh Smith's mom would fine him a hundred bucks every time he jacked a 3-pointer.

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  • Mike Ditka: Risk of playing football 'worse than the reward'

    Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner 6 days ago

    The 1985 Chicago Bears embodied hard-nosed football, but three decades later their equally tough-minded Hall of Fame coach — who once famously declared, "If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn't have given us arms" — is rethinking his game plan.

    That's right: Even Mike Ditka is questioning the violent nature of the sport in the wake of advancements in concussion research and his own experience with veterans plagued by health problems.

    In an upcoming HBO "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" feature on a Bears squad that President Barack Obama dubbed "the greatest team in NFL history," Ditka says "the risk is worse than the reward" of playing football, telling Gumbel he would dissuade children from participating in the sport.

    Thanks to a transcription from ChicagoFootball.com, here is the exchange between Ditka and Gumbel.

    "If you had an 8-year-old kid now, would you tell him you want him to play football?" Ditka asks Gumbel.

  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dubs deflate-gate accusations 'ridiculous'

    Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner 6 days ago

    Another Super Bowl featuring the Patriots, another sensational scandal surrounding them.

    If you hadn't heard by now, the NFL is allegedly investigating whether the footballs were properly inflated during New England's 45-7 victory against the Colts, as first reported by Indianapolis-based WTHR-TV columnist Bob Kravitz and since confirmed by New York Newsday's Bob Glauber. You can read all about the fallout from Yahoo's Dan Wetzel here and Shutdown Corner's own Eric Edholm here.

    Tom Brady on the accusations of the Patriots deflating balls: "(laughter) I think I have heard it all at this point. That's ridiculous."

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  • Rivers collide: Doc's Clippers acquire Austin to form NBA's first father-son duo

    Ben Rohrbach at Ball Don't Lie 10 days ago

    When Rivers collide, weird stuff goes down, and it's about to happen in Los Angeles.

    In the most nepotastic of NBA occurrences, Clippers president of basketball operations Doc Rivers has acquired son Austin Rivers to aid a makeshift bench on which the dad also serves as coach, according to RealGM's Shams Charania and confirmed by the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy.

    The move marks the first father-son/player-coach relationship in the league's history, and that's where things get weird. In 2012, when Doc was still coaching the Celtics and Austin was dropping down the draft board as a Duke freshman, the father regularly faced questions about Boston potentially drafting his son. The responses were generally deflective, mostly jokes about his wife complaining about playing time.

    Don't worry, it gets weirder.

    Rivers are colliding. Let's get weird.

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  • NFL announces inaugural veteran combine

    Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner 10 days ago

    Vince Papale better dust off those cleats.

    The former Philadelphia Eagles walk-on made famous by the Mark Wahlberg vehicle "Invincible" and any other veteran free agent are welcome to apply for participation in the inaugural NFL Veteran Combine at the Arizona Cardinals' practice facility on March 22, according to the league's website.

    According to a memo obtained by NFL.com's Ian Rappaport, 100 applicants will be invited to take part in drills, testing and timing for representatives of all 32 teams. Previously, veteran free agents took part in regional rookie combines or worked out for individual teams for an opportunity to reenter the league.

    While we can probably rule out Papale, who is approaching his 69th birthday, the veteran combine gives a second chance to players young and old who couldn't stick with a team, played their way out of the league or fell through the cracks. Or have the name Terrell Owens. All are welcome to apply, although the league is limiting the number of spots so as not to create a circus on the eve of the annual owners' meeting.

    As with any big corporation's bright idea, it's a wonder nobody thought of this before.

  • Miami Heat's Hassan Whiteside opening up NBA's eager eyes

    Ben Rohrbach at Ball Don't Lie 11 days ago

    Comparisons to David Robinson and Alonzo Mourning are premature, but Hassan Whiteside's sudden rise to stardom for the Miami Heat must have handfuls of NBA talent evaluators scratching their heads.

    Offered the opportunity to play meaningful minutes for the first time in his NBA career, the 7-footer is making Heat president Pat Riley look like a genius all over again, averaging 10.8 rebounds, 8.5 points and four blocks since playing more than 20 minutes for the first time as an NBA pro four games ago.

    Those aren't empty stats, either. During that span — in which Miami has won three of four games for the first time since November — the Heat have been a remarkable 27.7 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents with Whiteside on the floor than with him on the bench, per NBA.com's stat tool.

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  • Fearsome 7-year-old football player captures J.J. Watt's heart

    Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner 11 days ago

    Few inspire fear quite like J.J. Watt, but the intimidating Houston Texans defensive end found his match.

    Of course, nobody in the NFL has approached Watt's dominance for three years running, so it took a 7-year-old peewee football player from Oklahoma to earn the three-time All-Pro's respect. In response to a package from young Anthony Tarantelli in which the boy included his own autographed jersey and a letter declaring himself "the most feared rusher in my league." Watt sent along some of his most prized possessions.

    This kid has some guts... I like it. pic.twitter.com/V1M7PTmMuf

    A month ago, Watt posted a picture of both the jersey and letter on Twitter with the caption, "This kid has some guts ... I like it." If you're having trouble reading the letter, here's a spell-checked version:

    If Tarantelli's fellow 7-year-olds already feared him, imagine how shellshocked they must be now.

  • Jack Del Rio expected to accept Oakland Raiders head-coaching position

    Ben Rohrbach at Shutdown Corner 11 days ago

    R.I.P. Jack Del Rio's career (1997-2015).

    The Oakland Raiders are expected to hire Del Rio as their head coach as early as Wednesday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. The departed Denver Broncos defensive coordinator has reportedly accepted a job that has changed hands nine times since 2001 — when Jon Gruden built an AFC contender — and Del Rio's five most recent predecessors haven't found a head-coaching gig in the NFL since leaving Oakland.

    Del Rio, however, brings more head coaching experience to the position than anyone since Norv Turner, having amassed a near-.500 record (68-71) and leading the Jacksonville Jaguars to a pair of playoff appearances during his nine seasons as the top dog. 

    Since then, though, the Broncos ranked 22nd and 16th in scoring defense the past two seasons despite five Pro Bowl selections on that side of the ball this year. He also served as interim head coach of the Broncos when Fox required open-heart surgery and missed several months during the 2013 season.