– SI.com’s Don Banks reports that Colts’ QB Peyton Manning (neck surgeries) has undergone four surgeries on his neck over the past two seasons, not three as believed. The fourth was an undisclosed procedure, according to Banks, and occurred between his May 23 and September 9 surgeries. Essentially, Manning had three neck operations in one offseason. Banks reports that Manning’s neck may have “developed bone spurs,” and Colts doctors believe he will “inevitably … at some point require further surgery.” Manning reportedly still wanted to play in 2011 and was targeting Week 16, but doctors eliminated the possibility after a brief workout. At the time, it is estimated that Manning had 80% of his usual arm strength and “his passes wobbled at times.” Manning’s neck problems could be chronic and genetic, as his brother, Cooper, was forced to leave his NFL career early because of spinal stenosis. Stay tuned.
– The Buccaneers have released DT Albert Haynesworth. He remains a talented player, but attitude and work ethic issues are making it very difficult for the 31-year-old to keep a job. He was due $7.2M.
– Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes are trying to mend their rocky relationship over Twitter. The two had statistically the lowest success rate of any quarterback and receiver tandem in the NFL. On Valentine’s Day, Sanchez tweeted Holmes with this picture attached.
“@santonio10 you want to be my Valentine? #fb”
“@santonio10 you want to be my Valentine? #fb”
– 2012 SI Swimsuit cover girl Kate Upton was recently featured in a fantastic montage with her dancing. Enjoy:
– Linsanity continues! On Tuesday night, Knicks’ G Jeremy Lin hit a ridiculous 3-ball with 0.05 seconds left on the clock to beat the Raptors in Toronto. New York trailed by 11 at the half, and by 9 entering the fourth quarter. The Knicks have now won six in a row. Check it out:
– Clippers’ G Chauncey Billups (torn Achilles) has undergone successful surgery. Billups has vowed to return to the NBA next season.
– Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini has shot down rumours that the team is looking to trade impending UFA F Ryan Smyth. ”I have no plans to move Ryan. He wants to be here, he enjoys playing for the Oilers. He’s in control (because of the no-move clause). If people are asking me about Ryan, I’m telling them what I’ve just told you.” Smyth is looking to re-sign with the team, but is hoping to get a deal done prior to the February 27 trade deadline.
– Flyers’ F James van Riemsdyk (concussion) skated in a regular jersey at practice on Wednesday. He participated in drills with Philadelphia’s top line.
– The Panthers have signed D Tyson Strachan to a 1-year/$600K extension. Strachan has one goal and three points in eight games this season.
– Capitals’ D Mike Green (sports hernia) could return as early as this weekend. He went through a regular practice for the first time on Wednesday since undergoing a procedure back on January 17. Green has been limited to 10 games this season due to injuries, but said he felt good on Tuesday and he appears close to playing again.
– Islanders’ F P.A. Parenteau has reportedly decided to shelve contract negotiation talk until after the season, according to TSN. Parenteau’s agent, Allan Walsh says he and his client don’t believe it is appropriate to pursue contract discussions at this time, but will listen if New York is eager to negotiate.
“He’s made it very clear from the outset that he’s highly motivated to stay with the New York Islanders. The Islanders gave him his first real opportunity to thrive in the NHL, he has a fantastic relationship with his teammates, the coaches, Garth Snow and the fans. Most importantly, PA sees the Islanders trending up and believes they will be a contending team for many years to come. With that being said, the Islanders are currently 6 points out of a playoff spot. Now is the time to play hockey, not to discuss or focus on contracts. When the season is over, I’m sure both parties will work diligently towards an agreement that will insure a mutual long term commitment to one another.”
Parenteau has 12 goals and 39 assists for 51 points, two points shy of equalling a career-high and is scheduled to become a UFA on July 1. Walsh adds that Parenteau’s focus remains on getting a deal done with the Islanders before July 1.
– Updating a previous item, Wild’ D Marek Zidlicky has waived his no-trade clause to go to the Devils, but there is no deal in place yet. GM Chuck Fletcher said all “very premature” and said that he hasn’t been told from Zidlicky’s camp that the he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause. Zidlicky’s agent, Larry Kelly, confirmed that his client has waived his no-trade clause. Fletcher said, “I haven’t called him and said anything’s close. I can tell you for sure I’m planning on talking to other teams. We haven’t traded Zid, we haven’t made the decision to trade Zid at this point.”
– Blue Jackets’ D James Wisniewski scored with 0.01 seconds left to beat the Blues. Check it out:
– The Flames announced today the “Forever A Flame” program which was established to honour members of the Flames organization, with D Al MacInnis being the first inductee. MacInnis was drafted by the Flames in the first round, 15th overall, of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. While with the Flames, he played in eight All-Star Games, but more importantly, was a key component of a Stanley Cup championship for Calgary in 1989. For his contributions in the playoffs that spring, including 7 goals and 24 assists in 22 games, MacInnis was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. In 803 games played with the Flames, MacInnis recorded 822 points. He also holds the career franchise record for assists (609).
“I am truly honoured to receive this recognition as a member of the Flames family and to have my name and number recognized by one of the finest hockey teams I have ever had the pleasure to compete on. The Forever A Flame program serves a multitude of purposes but most importantly for me as a former player, it permits a bright young player in the future to wear my number and the tradition that accompanies it.”
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that trade talks with Yankees’ RHP A.J. Burnett face a “soft deadline” of Saturday. The hope is to have some resolution before Yankees’ pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Sunday. The Yankees continue to discuss a potential deal with the Pirates, but the two sides remained at an impasse as of Wednesday morning. The Bucs would reportedly prefer to cover $10M of the $33M remaining on Burnett’s contract, but the Yanks are hoping to up that to $13-15M. Pittsburgh remains the most likely landing spot. If a deal does get done, Rosenthal reports that the Yankees are expected to quickly sign DH Raul Ibanez and DH Eric Chavez.
– Red Sox’ manager Bobby Valentine said Wednesday that he wouldn’t be surprised if OF Carl Crawford (left wrist) misses the first few weeks of the season. Crawford underwent surgery last month to have cartilage removed. It was a minor procedure, but given his poor year last season, the wise move is to wait it out.
– Rangers’ OF Josh Hamilton says he’s undergoing counselling individually and with his wife in the aftermath of his admitted relapse with alcohol and is “doing things right a day at a time.” In an exclusive interview Wednesday with Pastor James Robinson on Glenn Beck’s live streaming video network, Hamilton said he knows it’s a serious issue. He said he’s doing well and so is his family. The interview came just more than two weeks after Hamilton had several drinks during dinner in Dallas and continued drinking later that night. It was the second known relapse with alcohol in the past three years for the recovering drug addict. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, says he feels shame about his mistakes, but is willing to admit them.
– Doctors who operated on Tony Gwynn say it appears the Hall of Fame outfielder’s cancer has not spread. But they say it will take up to 18 months for him to regain movement in the right side of his face. The UC San Diego Health System said Wednesday that surgeons removed a facial nerve because it was intertwined with the tumour. They grafted a nerve from Gwynn’s neck to make sure he will eventually regain facial movement. The hospital system says Gwynn is in good spirits and that Tuesday’s surgery went “extremely well.” It says the type of Gwynn’s cancer accounts for less than one per cent of all head and neck cancers. Gwynn had a malignant growth removed from the same spot in August 2010.
– OF Magglio Ordonez said Wednesday that he is not interested in signing a minor league contract. He’s drawn interest from the A’s, but it’s doubtful they’ll offer him a guaranteed roster spot. Ordonez, 38, batted .252/.303/.331 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 92 regular-season games last season for the Tigers.
– According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Yankees and Phillies have been “hardest on” OF Jorge Soler. The Blue Jays held a private workout with the 19-year-old on Wednesday in the Dominican Republic, and the Orioles are expected to meet with him this weekend. The Cubs reportedly had a deal in place, but obviously nothing is confirmed. Soler isn’t likely to top the $36M contract that Athletics’ OF Yoenis Cespedes drew. Soler has applied for residency in the Dominican Republic, an important hurdle before he can be granted free agency by MLB. The Marlins are reportedly out of the mix.
– The Twins have signed 2B Alexi Casilla to a 1-year/$1.383M contract, avoiding arbitration. The Twins offered $1.065M, and Casilla asked for $1.75M. The 27-year-old Casilla hurt his right hamstring and played in only one game last season after July 27. He batted .260 in 323 at-bats with 21 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 21 RBIs.
– According to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, Major League Baseball will void the contract of LHP Seong-Min Kim. The Korean Baseball Organization issued a permanent ban on Orioles scouts and filed a complaint with MLB earlier this month after the 17-year-old broke protocol and signed a contract state-side without first telling the KBO of his intentions. O’s executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette has called the whole ordeal a minor mix-up. Kim is expected to hit the free agent market again at a later date.
– The Rays have officially signed manager Joe Maddon to a 3-year/$6M contract extension. Maddon was already under contract for this season, so the extension will carry him through 2015. A two-time AL Manager of the Year, Maddon has a 495-477 record over six seasons at the helm in Tampa Bay and has led his club to the playoffs in three out of the last four seasons.
– According to Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio, Orioles’ LHP Zach Britton (strained left shoulder) will be limited at the start of spring training due to lingering issues that landed him on the DL last August. Britton had a minimum stay and managed to make his final nine starts of the season, but he couldn’t stay healthy this offseason.
– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will hold a press conference Thursday at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to announce that WrestleMania XXIX will take place at the sporting complex in April 2013. MetLife officials, who spent “more than a year” working with WWE to bring WrestleMania to the stadium, expect the event to draw 70,000 fans. WrestleMania festivities will also take place in New Jersey as the IZOD Center will host Axxess and the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. WWE had initially planned to hold events in New York City but New Jersey state officials convinced them to hold everything in The Garden State. The official announcement was originally scheduled for Wednesday but pushed back a day.
– With WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view taking place this Sunday night, the official “full speed ahead” march to WrestleMania begins Monday night on RAW. WWE has plans to begin several new angles on next Monday’s RAW Supershow. Two names that are expected to start appearing on WWE television for WrestleMania 28 are Kharma and NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal. Kharma is rumored to face Beth Phoenix at WrestleMania with Shaq expected to wrestle the Big Show. Also scheduled for several upcoming RAW shows are The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Triple H.
– WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart told a fan on Twitter this week that Montreal is a dead issue and unfortunately, some of his siblings are still jealous of him and take any chance they can to tear him down. A fan asked Bret, “Your brother Smith Hart said in an interview that Stu Hart stated, “Bret should have just done the job in Montreal.” Any truth to that?” Bret replied with the following:
“I’ve had numerous conversations w/my dad about Montreal & he never ever indicated anything of this sort to me.”
“There are certain members of my family that never miss an opportunity 2 tear me down or minimize my achievements. My dad’s nickname for my brother Smith was “shed”, short for shithead. So take it from the source.”
“I don’t give a damn what anyone says re:Montreal & it’s a dead issue.”
– According to the Wrestling Observer, The Miz has as much heat as anyone in WWE, but it has little to do with him not catching R-Truth during the Six-Pack Challenge on last week’s Raw SuperShow. Rather, the animosity is being attributed to his obnoxious behavior as many of his co-workers are turned off by it.
“The feeling is he’s like a little frat boy who is loud and has to be the center of attention.”
As reported last week, it is widely believed within WWE that his work has regressed, both in the squared circle and verbally. When he was low on the totem pole, he appeared motivated and forced management to make him a headliner. He is now back to mid-card status and isn’t giving WWE much reason to elevate him again.
– WWE officials have reportedly decided to put Brodus Clay’s “Funkasaurus” gimmick on hold for the time being, according to the Wrestling Globe Newsletter. Despite the positive reaction that the character received from live audience and Internet fans, WWE officials feel that Clay’s wrestling wasn’t where it needed to be for WWE TV. Clay’s match against Heath Slater was cut from SmackDown a few weeks back when the decision was made that Clay needed to improve on his in-ring skills.
– Dusty Rhodes, Iron Sheik, Jimmy Snuka, Sgt. Slaughter and The Honky Tonk Man will not be appearing on WWE Legends’ House. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Mean” Gene Okerlund and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper have been confirmed to appear on the program. The show began filming last week at the former house of Harpo Marx in Rancho Mirage, California. WWE officials contemplated having Sheik appear on the reality program due to the perception that he is funny but a doctrine is in place for the show to not appear “sad.”
– CM Punk and John Cena “are neck-and-neck” as the top merchandise sellers in WWE. Punk, however, is ahead in the adult male demographic. Zack Ryder is also among the company’s top merchandise sellers.
– WWE announced on Tuesday night that SmackDown superstar Randy Orton suffered a concussion on RAW and will not be able to compete in this Sunday’s Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight championship. A battle royal was held at the Smackdown tapings to determine who would fill Orton’s spot in the Chamber and that battle royal was won by none other than Santino Marella. Here’s what looks to be the final card for Sunday’s pay-per-view:
Elimination Chamber for the WWE Title: CM Punk vs. The Miz vs. R-Truth vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler
Elimination Chamber for the World Heavyweight Title: Daniel Bryan vs. Santino Marella vs. The Great Khali vs. Big Show vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes
WWE Divas Title Match: Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina Snuka
Ambulance Match: Kane vs. John Cena
– According to the Wrestling Observer, R-Truth appearing more animated in recent weeks has to do with Triple H. The WWE executive wants him performing “silly comedy” as opposed to dancing and rapping.
– Mark Henry will “unexpectedly” return to WWE SmackDown this Frday night, according to an announcement on the company website.
– Jim Ross wrote the following on Twitter regarding The Undertaker apparently cutting his hair in the video promo that aired on Monday’s RAW:
“Don’t know why Taker cut his hair but assume we’ll learn more on the next installment of RAW. Obviously Deadman altering his look but why?”
Regarding the concussion Randy Orton reportedly suffered on Monday’s RAW, JR wrote:
“Re: Orton’s concussion, he’s out of Sundays PPV.WWE travels a medical doctor & certified athletic trainer to every event..4 those who asked.”
– According to the Wrestling Observer, Triple H reportedly wants more Spanish-speaking wrestlers signed since he believes the Hispanic market is a major key to the prosperity of WWE. More specifically, he wants wrestlers who can conduct interviews in both English and Spanish. Rosa Mendes in particular has been directed to yell at ringside in Spanish as much as possible since she’s bilingual.
– The February 13, 2012 episode of the Raw SuperShow averaged 4.14 million viewers for a 3.01 cable rating. The prior week’s show garnered a 3.25 cable rating and averaged 4.62 million viewers. In the segment-by-segment breakdown, the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Debate that kicked off Raw drew a 2.93 rating. From there, Chris Jericho’s match against Kofi Kingston lost 49,000 viewers. Backstage segments with John Cena, Zack Ryder, John Laurinaitis and David Otunga lost 24,000 viewers. Randy Orton taking on Big Show gained 93,000 viewers. The advertised return of Shawn Michaels, with an appearance by Triple H, gained 822,000 viewers for a 3.56 quarter hour rating. The subsequent Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth match lost 621,000 viewers. Tamina Snuka’s victory over Brie Bella and the angle where John Cena kissed Eve in front of Zack Ryder lost 320,000 additional viewers. The low point of the show was the advertised main event as WWE Champion CM Punk’s match against The Miz lost 139,000 additional viewers to draw a 2.77 quarter hour rating. The overrun with Cena, Ryder and Kane gained 505,000 viewers for a 3.14.
– Deadline.com is reporting that WWE Studios and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have come to terms on a new deal that will yield 3 straight-to-DVD titles – including another Marine film.
The Marine: Homefront will be the third installment of WWE’s Marine franchise. The original Marine movie from 2006 generated over $18M in revenue and was the most successful WWE Studios project by far. Ted DiBiase starred in the straight-to-DVD sequel. Deadline.com originally reported that John Cena would be starring in the new Marine movie, but has since updated their article and removed the part about Cena starring.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will handle worldwide distribution for the 3 movies via Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and digital download and WWE will use their juggernaut promotional machine to maximize exposure. WWE Studios President, Michael Luisi said,
“WWE Studios will continue to expand its film offerings to appeal to a wide range of movie fans in 2012 and 2013. We look forward to building upon our relationship with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to present movies that bring action, adventure and humor to audiences all over the globe.”
No word yet on the other two movies, but one of them is expected to star CM Punk.
– UFC Octagon girl Brittany Palmer is the featured model for the March edition of Playboy magazine.
Palmer follows in the footsteps of another Octagon girl, Arianny Celeste, who also posed for Playboy back in November of 2010. The popularity of MMA and the UFC can definitely be measured in ratings and attendance figures, but having their Octagon girls pose for Playboy is another great indicator.
Five years ago no one knew who the Octagon girls were for the UFC, nowadays being an Octagon girl is a lucrative business. These girls hold number signs a couple times a month and they are in high demand every day in between. In fact, the Octagon girls may have the cushiest job in pro sports. The only pressure they face is to remain hot.
Let’s face it, these girls probably make more money than most fighters on the UFC roster, and they just have to show up and look good.
– Eric Bischoff officially welcomed Dave Lagana to TNA with the following message posted on Facebook & Twitter:
“Welcome David Lagana! Had the opportunity to work with David in WWE and learned to respect his knowledge of story structure and detail.”
As we reported on Tuesday, Vince Russo and TNA have officially parted ways. Early reports indicated that Lagana was replacing Russo, however this is not entirely true. Lagana exact role in TNA is unknown at this time. While he will be contributing to the creative process, he is not assuming Russo’s job. It’s believed that Eric Bischoff will assume more power behind the scenes now that Russo is finally out.
– Kurt Angle wrote the following on Twitter about Jesse Sorensen, stating that doctors gave him a 1-year recovery time:
“I Visited Jesse Sorenson.He Is Moving His Arms and Legs.Drs’ say 1 Year recovery. I Say 4 Months.Jesse Is a Hero and Fighter. “I’ll Be Back””
– NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said Wednesday that he fully expects Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill to be a 1st-round pick in April. ”He’s got everything you want. He’s got size, he’s got arm strength, really good athlete. All you have to do is look at his tape as a wide receiver two years ago. He’s a big, fast kid with a really good arm.” The 23-year-old made just 19 college starts.