– The Titans and head coach Jeff Fisher have agreed to part ways after 16 years together. Fisher had been the most tenured head coach in the NFL as the only coach the franchise has known. RB Chris Johnson admitted Thursday that the Fisher-Vince Young feud was a huge distraction all season. Fisher recently fired DC Chuck Cecil while losing widely acclaimed DL coach Jim Washburn to the Eagles. Whether Fisher’s departure is ultimately labeled a firing or resignation remains to be seen. He was due $6.5M in 2011. Owner Bud Adams’ organization is a mess right now, lacking in leadership and direction. With no head coaching vacancies, Fisher could end up with Washburn in Philly as Andy Reid’s DC.
In lieu of Fisher being let go, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Titans still plan to trade or release QB Vince Young. The Titans’ front office had soured on V.Y. by the end of the season, but owner Bud Adams remains a strong supporter. The friction between Fisher and Adams obviously runs deeper than we know of. Per NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi, Young’s lack of work ethic is “legendary” in the locker room and around the NFL. With his trade value in the tank, Young is as likely to be released as traded.
– Eagles’ WR DeSean Jackson (knee) revealed that he’s dealing with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and bone bruise left over from the Wild Card round loss to the Packers. Jackson tried to practice NFC Pro Bowl squad this week, but the knee wasn’t ready. Jackson won’t need surgery to repair the injury, but there’s no use risking further damage by playing. Jackson should be back to 100% in plenty of time for OTAs.
– According to PFT’s Gregg Rosenthal, the NFL expects the franchise tag to be in play as normal in February. Rosenthal is reporting from a league meeting at NFL offices on Thursday. It was a widely held belief that some mechanism similar to the franchise tag would be available in the next CBA, but it’s somewhat surprising that teams are still planning to use the original tag in the coming weeks.
– The player rep for imprisoned free agent WR Plaxico Burress, Drew Rosenhaus, is fully confident that his client will play in the NFL in 2011. “I am not afraid to make the following prediction. Plaxico Burress will be playing in 2011, and he will play very well. And it will be a very happy ending to a very tough, tough story.” As PFT’s Michael David Smith points out, the bigger question is whether Burress has anything left after nearly two years behind bars. He will turn 34 this August.
– Saints’ GM Mickey Loomis was vague when asked if RB Reggie Bush will be back with New Orleans. Bush is owed $11.8M in 2011. “We’ve talked a lot about the (running back) position (internally) because we had a lot of injuries. It’s pretty difficult to prognosticate injuries.” Bush hasn’t made it through a 16-game season in five years, and has missed 10 of the Saints’ last 23 regular season games.
– Steelers’ DE Aaron Smith (triceps) is not expected to play in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers kept Smith on the roster rather than the IR for over three months in hopes of a postseason return, but a torn tricep isn’t easy to recover from. “It would be nice if it were under my control. If you could outwork this, it would be great, I’d just outwork the problem.”
– Steelers’ C Maurkice Pouncey (sprain and broken bone in left ankle) is reportedly also dealing with a broken bone in his left ankle. The ligament damage remains the biggest hurdle. The Steelers aren’t ruling Pouncey out for the Super Bowl, but he’s considered “highly doubtful” to play. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cites several teammates as being “privately skeptical” that Pouncey will play, and at least two of them have been publicly skeptical as well.
– Seahawks’ MLB Lofa Tatupu (knees) underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees Thursday. Tatupu dealt with an injury to at least one of the knees for the second half of the season. Tatupu still managed to play 97.1% of Seattle’s defensive snaps. The 28-year-old should be fine by OTAs.
– Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Cardinals are “very likely” to hire Dolphins DBs coach Todd Bowles as DC. Bowles has interviewed for three head coaching jobs so far and runs a 3-4 scheme. He’d be a solid addition to coach Ken Whisenhunt’s staff.
– The Capitals have signed F Alexander Semin to a 1-year/$6.7M extension. Semin would have become a UFA at season’s end. Semin, who is currently out with a lower body injury that has sidelined im for the past nine games, has 18 goals and 35 points in 39 games. He should return right after the All-Star break.
– Canucks’ D Alexander Edler (back) will undergo surgery and is out indefinitely. Edler missed Wednesday’s game with back spasms, but this news is relatively shocking. He has been the Canucks best offensive defenseman as he had 32 points this season. He’s expected to miss roughly 2 months, but his season is in jeopardy. A firmer timetable will be revealed on Monday after the surgery. This could mean the return of D Sami Salo, as Edler’s cap hit is $3.25M.
– Ducks’ F Ryan Getzlaf (sinus fractures) has been cleared to skate starting Monday. The scan showed the fractures are healing well and remain stable. Getzlaf has been cleared to skate with the team beginning January 31. As a precaution, he will be held out of game action for the next two contests. He should return on February 9 for the Ducks’ 3-game road trip. Getzlaf has been out of action since December 28 when a shot deflected off his face causing the sinus fractures.
– Bruins’ F Marc Savard (concussion) is back in his home in Peterborough, Ontario for some rest following his latest concussion. Coach Claude Julien said, “He’s gone back home. He’s just gone there to rest, and that’s all you can do when you’ve got a concussion. We’ll take it from there. I don’t think there is any daily report we can give, other than you’ve got to give him some time.” Savard sustained a severe concussion March 7, 2010 and what has been diagnosed as a moderate one just this past Saturday. There’s no timetable for his return, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he was out for at least a month or longer. Stay tuned.
– Senators’ F Jason Spezza (shoulder) is targeting February 5 for a possible return date. He has missed the past 13 games and the Senators have won just one those games without him. Ottawa returns from the break to play New Jersey on February 1 and against Detroit the next night in back-to-back contests, but Spezza doesn’t think he’ll be ready for those. “I’m just going to get back and skate … I’m going to need to take a couple of days of contact. I probably won’t play in the first two games, but then I’m hoping to get back after that. I’ve got to get hit a couple of times to see how it feels and go from there.” Stay tuned.
– F Craig Conroy is expected to weigh his future over the weekend and isn’t expected to formally announce his retirement before Sunday night.
– Former Norris Trophy winner Rob Blake has been named to the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department as a manager. Blake will work with Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell and his staff on all aspects of the game. He will work closely with hockey executives on the Club level and be involved with the Competition Committee and the NHL’s summer Research and Development Camp.
– F LeBron James headlines the Eastern Conference all-star starting lineup, announced Thursday. He will be joined in the starting lineup by G Derrick Rose, G Dwyane Wade, F Amare Stoudemire and F Dwight Howard. Rose is the first Chicago Bull to be named an all-star starter since 1998 (which happened to be Michael Jordan’s final year as a Bull). Stoudemire is making is first start for the East, while James, Wade, and Howard are Eastern regulars.
G Kobe Bryant was the leading vote-getter for the Western Conference all-stars, and will be joined in the starting lineup by G Chris Paul, F Carmelo Anthony and F Kevin Durant. Rockets’ F Yao Ming, who may never play professional basketball again, tallied the most votes at center, due to his enormous international (the population of China is about one billion) following. David Stern will name a replacement for Ming, while Coach Gregg Popovich will name a starter from among the reserves. This further proves that all-star games are an absolute farce, and fans have no business voting in the players.
– Grizzlies’ G O.J. Mayo has been suspended for 10 games without pay for violating the terms of the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Mayo tested positive for DHEA, a banned supplement which is sometimes used to build muscle. Mayo is already insisting that he didn’t know the over-the-counter drug was against the policy. Rashard Lewis tested positive for the exact same substance last season and was suspended 10 games.
– Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau said that F Joakim Noah (thumb) may be “a little bit ahead of schedule” in his rehab. Noah went under the knife on December 16, and the Bulls said he would miss 8-12 weeks–today marks exactly 7 weeks since surgery. The pin in Noah’s hand is out, and he’ll start non-contact practice in a week or two. That means that a mid-February return is well within reach.
– The Cavs have been calling around the league trying to trade G Mo Williams (hip), sources tell ESPN.com. Williams is out at least a couple weeks with a hip injury and has no desire to play for the debacle that is the Cavs. At age 28, he’d be a fantastic addition. Keep a close eye around the February 24 deadline.
– Pacers’ G Brandon Rush (sprained ankle) is expected to miss about 2 weeks after suffering the injuryWednesday night. Rush just lost his spot in the starting rotation.
– Bucks’ G John Salmons (strained right hip) could be back as soon as Friday night, according to coach Scott Skiles. Salmons missed his 5th straight game Wednesday night, but Skiles sounded optimistic. If Salmons can get through a full practice Thursday, he should be fine against the Raptors on Friday.
– WWE star Triple H was interviewed by RXMuscle.com’s “Heavy Muscle Radio” show earlier this month and spoke to host Dave Palumbo about a number of topics. Here are some highlights of what Triple H talked about:
He guaranteed that he will not want to be like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, who wrestle into their 60s. Hunter said he and Shawn Michaels agreed to tell the other when it was time to hang it up, and he said he never had to have that conversation with Shawn.
Regarding his in ring return, he said, Hopefully the goal is “sometime in the spring to come back.”
He spoke about his new daughter, Vaughn Evelyn Levesque. After 3 girls, he does want a boy and says he and Stephanie have a graet name planned, but wouldn’t’ share it. Originally, Stephanie wanted five kids and he wanted two. He said they’re not sure about having more children.
He currently does not have a lot to do with WWE’s creative process, but has been in charge of running a few WWE shows.
Consistent with what’s been repoted recently, Triple H said that father-in-law Vince McMahon has been pushing him to take a bigger role in WWE’s front office, “to learn the other side of the business.” He is at the WWE office in Stanford for the majority of the week and attends many of WWE’s televised shows.
Hunter also revealed details on how he injured his biceps, which has kept him out of action for months. His doctors initially believed it was nerve damage related to a neck injury. The injury occurred during a light workout, just weeks into filming a movie for WWE. WWE doctor Dr. James Andrews looked at the injured arm and said he could not finish shooting hte movie without having surgery first.
– When WWE legend Shawn Michaels is inducted into the Hall of Fame during WrestleMania weekend, he reportedly wants longtime friend Ric Flair to be at the ceremony. While there’s no word yet on whether Flair will appear, feeling is that WWE would have no problem with Flair attending, but they likely would not show him on camera. It remains to be seen whether TNA would have a problem with Flair attending a WWE event.
– There are rumours that Awesome Kong will make her WWE debut at Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view. One scenario that’s been discussed is for her to interfere during the Divas Title match between Natalya and LayCool.
– There are still people in WWE that believe Batista will return to the company this year. Big Dave is known to be a fan of the “good life” – enjoying the luxury lifestyle that being a top-drawing WWE superstar brings. Batista has been pursuing his acting career, as well as training for his professional mixed martial arts debut, but his best chance to make big money is still with WWE. While company officials remain optimistic that Batista has not wrestled his last match, the fact that Mason Ryan was brought in last week without changing his look (which most see as very similar to Batista’s) indicates that WWE is moving on without him, for now.
– Bret Hart’s latest role in WWE is taking part in the “Legends Roundtable” series that airs on WWE’s Classics On Demand channel. Jim Ross noted on Twitter this week that he was at WWE headquarters this week with Bret Hart, Pat Patterson, Michael Hayes and Gene Okerlund working on new Legends Roundtable episodes.
– WWE has plans plans to make a feature film on the life of WWE Hall of Famer Gorgeous George. There’s now talk of making a DVD set on the flamboyant superstar’s career in an effort ot make him more relevant to today’s generation of fans. Vince McMahon is said to be a huge fan of the Gorgeous George story and wants to push him as the originator of “sports entertainment” and wrestling’s “Babe Ruth” character. Gorgeous George was a tremendous star in his day, achieving international fame during the early years of television. Many famous athletes have named Gorgeous George as an influence, including boxing great Muhammad Ali.
– Late last month, WWE superstar Goldust wrote on Twitter that he will be out of action for the first half of 2011 following shoulder surgery. Right before New Years, the Golden One wrote,
“Recovery is like watchin paint dry…but me as an impatient person…has to watch it dry…shoulder will be better than ever in time.”
Goldust was interviewed this week by Detroit’s WDFN 1130 AM radio station and confirmed that he will be not be wrestling again until June at the earliest. Goldust said his shoulder had been working with a banged up shoulder for several months, when he decided to get the surgery. He is planning to return this summer, wrestle until the end of 2012 and then retire. Goldust, who recently released his “Cross Rhodes” WWE autobiography, said that WWE is panning to release a DVD set on his career soon, although he does not have details on when it would be coming out. Regarding Sunday’s Royal Rumble and his pick to win, Goldust had this to say:
“You know, I kind of like – if Triple H is coming back, which I think he might be, but I’m not sure. If he does, I would have to pick him. If not him, I would have to say probably Alberto Del Rio.”
– According to the PWI, WWE will be bringing back the WWE Diva Search. The Search will be conducted over a 10-week period on WWE programming. No word yet on the start date. WWE has been holding auditions over the past several months, so some of them are likely to be featured on the show.
In addition, WWE held a web conference to entice potential advertisers to promote their products with WWE. WWE’s Senior VP of Partner Sales Joe DelGrosso hosted the event. The following things were also discussed:
WWE will not be cutting back from 13 PPVs a year. 13 PPVs is actually the “minimum” going forward, implying that more PPV events may be added in the future.
WWE is hoping to have SummerSlam take place from Los Angeles, California every year. WWE regards SummerSlam as the second biggest show of the year and the company likes hosting it out in LA, where they have access to celebrities.
WWE is still looking for sponsors for WrestleMania in April. Sponsors can come aboard for a 5 week promotional period (Feb 28-April 3).
WWE pushed that 7-Eleven, Slim Jim and Twix have all enjoyed very successful sponsorship campaigns with the company.
Mr. DelGrosso closed the presentation by showing a slide which highlighted the Ad Age endorsement of WWE as “the hottest brand of 2010.”
– Mariners’ RHP David Aardsma (left hip) is expected to be ready to pitch in live games by the second week of the regular season. Aardsma underwent surgery on his hip in January that was more extensive than the Mariners had hoped it would have to be.
– The Indians have interest in signing 1B Casey Kotchman to a minor league contract, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. The 27-year-old posted a rough .217/.280/.336 batting line last season for the Mariners while playing substandard defence.