MLB commissioner Rob Manfred applauded the Oakland Athletics for their pursuit of Kyler Murray despite losing him to the NFL.

Murray was the Athletics' first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, however, he has opted to commit himself to the NFL.

The 21-year-old was due to report to spring training with the Athletics last week before switching his focus to American football.

"The two-sport athlete is always a challenging decision for an individual club," Manfred told reporters on Tuesday. "I give the A's a lot of credit.

"It can be risky, it can be high-return as well... Kyler Murray's decision, because he is the Heisman Trophy, got a lot of attention and [it was] kind of, 'Baseball lost an athlete.' 

"I think in general if you look at high school athletes that are both football, baseball, basketball players, we are getting more and more of those top athletes." 

In college baseball, Murray batted at an average of .296 with 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as an outfielder in 2018.

Murray led the Oklahoma Sooners to a 12-2 record and threw for 4,361 yards in 2018. He also ran for 1,001 yards and capped off his final collegiate season as a Heisman Trophy winner.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown met with Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II on Tuesday and said the two agreed "it is time to move on".

Brown, 30, has made no secret of his desire to be traded away from the six-time Super Bowl champions this offseason, dropping several hints of his wish to play elsewhere on social media.

He sat out the team's final regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals last year, reportedly due to a disagreement with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and Rooney released a statement earlier this month saying it was "hard to envision" Brown being with Pittsburgh at training camp in July.

Brown then bade Steelers fans farewell in an Instagram post earlier this month and he spoke about his situation with Rooney on Tuesday.

"Had a great meeting with Mr Rooney today, we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues," Brown wrote on Twitter.

"We both agreed that it is time to move on but I'll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and Steelers organisation!"

Brown, who had a career-best 15 touchdown receptions in 2018 and amassed 1,297 receiving yards, signed a four-year $68million contact extension in February 2017.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Brown told teams interested in his services he only wanted guaranteed money in any contract he signed. 

NFL draft prospect Kyler Murray said he "would be nice" to play for the Arizona Cardinals.

Oklahoma product Murray has committed to pursuing a job as a starting quarterback in the NFL despite being selected by the Oakland Athletics in the first-round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

While Murray does not appear to be banking on being selected by the Cardinals with the first pick in the upcoming draft, he would not mind playing for Arizona.

"At the end of the day, they're going to do what's best for them," Murray said on Monday. "I can't go into it with any expectations of being taken by the Cardinals. That would be nice for sure."

New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is a fan of Murray and his talent.

While he was still the coach at Texas Tech, Kingsburg said he would select Murray with the first pick in the draft but recently stated second-year quarterback Josh Rosen is the signal caller of the future for Arizona.

"I think, me and him are really tight. Great relationship with him," Murray said of Kingsbury. "I think that was just something, he's always felt strongly about me as a player and as a kid off the field." 

Murray led the Sooners to a 12-2 record and threw for 4,361 yards in 2018. He also ran for 1,001 yards and capped off his final collegiate season as a Heisman Trophy winner.

Arizona finished 2018 with a 3-13 record, which was the worst mark in the NFL. The Cardinals were also last in the league in points and yards per game.

 

Colin Kaepernick may never wish to return to the NFL, even after settling his legal case against the league, according to former Super Bowl champion Marcus Allen.

Ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick, who has not played since 2016, alleged the league colluded against him after he knelt during the American national anthem to protest against perceived racial injustices.

After the case was settled on Friday, Kaepernick's attorney Mark Geragos said he would not be surprised if the New England Patriots - winners of a sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy earlier this month - made a move to sign the 31-year-old.

But Hall-of-Fame running back Allen, named Super Bowl MVP in the Los Angeles Raiders' triumph over the Washington Redskins in 1984, believes Kaepernick may have no desire to come back to the NFL.

"Well, two years is a long time from being away from something like that," he told Omnisport at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2019.

"You can lose the love to play and that's only an issue he has to reconcile with himself.

"Whether he is still interested in playing, because being away for two years from a sport is not an easy thing to do.

"[It's hard] To come back and play with the intensity and love and level that's really necessary to be great again."

Colin Kaepernick's attorney Mark Geragos believes the quarterback will be employed soon in the NFL, suggesting Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots as a possible destination.

Eric Reid and Kaepernick settled their case against the NFL on Friday, which alleged the league colluded not to sign them because they kneeled during the United States national anthem starting in 2016 to protest racial injustice and inequality.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since that season. He has a career 28-30 record as a starting quarterback and has thrown 72 touchdowns to just 30 interceptions while completing 59.8 per cent of his passes.

Geragos believes Kaepernick will be back in the league within two weeks and he even went so far as to say where the 31-year-old thinks he will end up.

"It would not surprise me if Bob Kraft [owner of the Patriots] makes a move," Geragos told CNN on Saturday. 

"That would not surprise me, and it would not surprise me if his former coach…also makes a move."

Which other head coach he is referring to remains to be seen but Vic Fangio was the San Francisco 49ers defensive co-ordinator when Kaepernick was with the franchise, so he could be an option and Greg Roman was the team's offensive co-ordinator in that same year, so the Denver Broncos or Baltimore Ravens could be possibilities.

Geragos though did say he believes the Carolina Panthers could sign Kaepernick. 

Carolina signed Reid to a one-year deal last season which ended his extended time as a free agent and then it signed him to a three-year contract this offseason.

Kyler Murray received sound advice from another two-sport athlete in Tim Tebow before making the decision to focus on the NFL instead of MLB.

Tebow – the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner – told Murray he should follow his heart when deciding between a baseball career that would start with the Oakland Athletics or preparing for the NFL draft.

Murray, who won the Heisman last year during his only season as Oklahoma's starting quarterback, announced on Monday that he was fully committing to American football despite being selected ninth overall in the 2018 amateur baseball draft.

"Kyler, I think he's a really good young man, and I think this was a really tough decision for him," Tebow told reporters Saturday when he arrived at Mets' spring training.

"He loves two sports, and I can really relate to that. And he went with something that he's been really good at lately and dominating in. When we talked about it, and we did talk about that, I just gave him the advice to follow your heart. Whatever you're passionate about.

"You know what? Don't do it for your agents, or your friends and sometimes necessarily even your family. Do it for what's on your heart, and don't let other people define you. You're going to have all these coaches that you look up to and everybody else that's going to tell you what they think, but what's most important is following your heart and your passion. And so, I don't know, hopefully, he did that."

After last year's baseball draft, Murray agreed to a minor league contract with Oakland that had a $4.66million signing bonus attached.

The deal allowed Murray to receive $1.5m after approval by the league and $3.16m on March 1 — he now must return a portion of the money he received ($1,285,714).

Murray, who was the talk of both leagues before making a decision earlier in the week, had 54 total touchdowns and only seven interceptions as the Sooners starter last season.

"Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 percent of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships," Murray wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. 

Tebow, a former NFL quarterback, is now an outfielder in the New York Mets' system. He spent time with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles before pursuing baseball full time in 2016.

Antonio Brown says Pittsburgh Steelers team-mate Ben Roethlisberger has an "owner mentality" and team-mates cannot call him out as they risk losing their "meal ticket", but insists there is no conflict between the two.

The wide receiver's future in Pittsburgh is shrouded in doubt after he reportedly requested a trade and posted on social media this week to say goodbye to fans and thank them for a "big nine years".

Question marks over his future arose when Brown sat out the final match of the regular season following a reported dispute with Roethlisberger.

During a question and answer session on Twitter, designed to give fans the "real truth and real facts now", Brown covered a variety of topics, including his relationship with the team's quarterback.

"No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has [an] owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches," he wrote. 

"Players know but they can't say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It's a dirty game within a game."

When asked what he would say to those who believe he only wants a trade to make more money, he replied: "Not for the money its [sic] for the love of the sport! The commitment to win relentlessly consistently passionately! Plus I made 70 million it's public record not to be cocky just truth! Time to play for my own Team AB84 the family!"

He even addressed the controversy leading to him sitting out of the Steelers' last game and blamed coach Mike Tomlin.

"After the coach tell the team I quit while nursing some bumps then invite me to watch the show with same guys thinking I quit I cannot stand with that!," Brown wrote. "I’m the bad guy doe we miss post season think about it."

Trade rumours have linked Brown to several NFL teams, including the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.

Brown finished the 2018 season with 104 catches for 1,297 yards and a career-high and team-leading 15 touchdowns. 

LeBron James has expressed his full support for Colin Kaepernick, after the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback settled his collusion case against the NFL. 

After nearly a year and a half of legal manoeuvering, the NFL and former San Francisco 49ers team-mates Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid announced on Friday that they have reached a settlement that resolves the pair's grievance with the league. 

No details were announced and the settlement terms prevent the parties from commenting, but the end of legal proceedings in the case indicates the players got what they believed to be fair compensation from the league they accused of colluding against them. 

While Reid has remained employed during the process, landing a deal with the Carolina Panthers in 2018 and signing a new three-year contract earlier this week, Kaepernick has yet to find an NFL landing spot since opting out of his 49ers contract in March 2017. 

Here is a recap of how the parties got to this point:

August 26, 2016 — Kaepernick sits during the national anthem before the 49ers' pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. Asked about it after the match, the quarterback says he did so to protest police against brutality and the oppression of people of colour in the United States. 

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

September 1, 2016 — Kaepernick and Reid take a knee during the anthem before a 49ers-Los Angeles Chargers pre-season game, a practice that would continue into the regular season. 

September 5, 2016 — Then-President Barack Obama weighs in on what was a full-blown national controversy, supporting Kaepernick's right to protest: "He's exercising his constitutional right to make a statement," Obama said at a news conference during the G20 summit in China. "I think there is a long history of sports figures doing so. I think there are a lot of ways you can do it when it comes to the flag and national anthem."

September 7, 2016 — Two days later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell makes his first public comments on the matter: "I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing," Goodell said, adding, "I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that."

October 11, 2016 — After the 49ers get off to a 1-4 start with Blaine Gabbert playing quarterback, coach Chip Kelly announces Kaepernick will make his season debut in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills. He completes only 13 of 29 passes in a 45-16 loss but remains San Francisco's starter the rest of the season. 

January 1, 2017 — Kaepernick completes a nine-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Celek on San Francisco's final offensive play of a 25-23 season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the last NFL pass he has thrown to date. San Francisco finishes 2-14. 

February 28, 2017 — Kaepernick's agents inform all NFL teams that the QB will opt out of the rest of his contract. Previous reports had indicated the 49ers planned to release him if he had not opted out. 

April 26, 2017 — Reid tells reporters he plans to stand during the anthem in 2017: “Our goal was (to) open the floor to conversation. I believe we achieved that goal. So now we just want to move forward and partner with people that are trying to make a change. … I think we raised a lot of awareness about issues in this country and now it’s time to move on to just affecting change and not doing the gesture during the anthem.”

August 28, 2017 — After standing during the anthem at the 49ers' first two pre-season games, Reid reverts to kneeling following a conversation with Kaepernick. 

September 24, 2017 — Two days after President Donald Trump says players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired, players from numerous teams protest en masse, with members of several teams remaining in the locker room while the anthem is played.

October 15, 2017 — After remaining unsigned through the opening weeks of the 2017 season, Kaepernick files a formal grievance accusing NFL owners of colluding to keep him out of the game. 

April 18, 2018  — Kaepernick is present as his attorneys depose Goodell at the NFL's New York headquarters in connection with the grievance. Numerous other high-profile NFL figures also sit for depositions at various points in the process, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. 

May 2, 2018 — The NFL Players Association says it has filed a grievance on Reid's behalf after the veteran safety goes unsigned through the opening weeks of free agency. 

May 23, 2018 — The NFL announces a new policy that includes fines for personnel who "do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem," while giving players the option of remaining in the locker room during pre-game ceremonies. 

August 28, 2018 — Independent arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejects the NFL's request for a summary judgment dismissing Kaepernick's grievance, allowing the case to move forward. 

September 3, 2018 — Days before the start of the NFL season, Nike unveils a new 30th anniversary "Just Do It" ad campaign centering on Kaepernick. 

Sept. 27, 2018 — The Panthers sign Reid to a contract covering the rest of the season. Kaepernick tweets his congratulations: "He was the 1ST person 2 kneel alongside me. Eric is a social justice warrior, continues to support his family. and communities in need."

Oct. 7, 2018 — Reid kneels during the anthem before his first game with the Panthers. 

Jan. 9, 2019 — The NFL and NFLPA release a joint statement denying any impropriety after Reid complained multiple times during the 2018 season that he felt he had been singled out for excessive random drug testing by league officials. 

Feb. 11, 2019 — The Panthers sign Reid to a new three-year deal worth just more than $22 million. 

Feb. 15, 2019 — The NFL and Kaepernick and Reid's attorneys make a joint announcement that the players' grievances against the league have been settled. 

After months of ongoing conversations around Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid's grievances filed against the NFL, all sides have reached an agreement.  

Kaepernick and Reid's final hearings were scheduled for this month, but the settlement was reached before final evidence was presented to arbitrator Stephen Burbank. 

The NFL released a joint statement on Friday, revealing grievances have now been resolved.

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL.” the statement said.

“As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

It was reported Kaepernick had withdrawn his collusion complaint against the NFL, noting that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback would only withdraw "if a lucrative settlement was secured."

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) also acknowledged the two sides had settled and said the organisation "support(s) the decision by the players and their counsel."

"Today, we were informed by the NFL of the settlement of the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion cases.” An NFLPA statement said.

“We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel. We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them.

“We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”

In 2016, Kaepernick became the first player to take a knee during the national anthem in protest against social and racial inequality.

He filed his grievance against the NFL in October 2017 as part of the league's collective bargaining agreement. His former San Francisco team-mate, Reid, filed a similar grievance in May.

Reid signed with the Carolina Panthers to start the 2018 season, and recently signed a three-year deal, while Kaepernick remains a free agent.

Kyler Murray was a first-round pick in the MLB Draft last year, but that apparently does not matter much.

MLB did see some movement, but not in the way you would think, while Murray has decided he wants to play football.

And the Boston Bruins sustained yet another key injury to their roster.

That and more has been happening this week in US Sports.

 

1. Kyler Murray chooses football

MLB just lost a battle.

The number nine overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft has decided to pursue a career in football as Murray tweeted out on Monday he was committing to life as an NFL quarterback.

Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, was projected to be a top-100 prospect in baseball if he decided to play for the Oakland Athletics. Now, it looks like he will be a first-round pick in the NFL as well if all goes according to plan over the next few months.

The A's are not giving up on Murray though as they are holding a spot for him on a minor league team. Murray though is favoured to be taken by the Miami Dolphins with the 13th overall pick. Daron Payne, who was the number 13 pick in 2018, signed a $14.4million deal with the Washington Redskins. Murray's signing bonus with the A's was $4.66m.

2. Movement continues in MLB, but not in free agency

Several players finally signed contracts with MLB teams this week, but not where you would expect.

Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola, Minnesota Twins infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler all signed four- to five-year extensions with their respective teams on Wednesday and Thursday.

This means these players will not hit free agency until their age 29 to 31 seasons.

As they signed contracts though, more than 100 free agents, including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, remain unsigned.

 

3. Bruins suffer another injury and this one is of the bizarre variety

The Bruins have had a lot of injury problems this season as Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara have all missed significant time.

On Tuesday, Boston learned they will have to deal with another injured player as it was revealed David Pastrnak, the Bruins' leading goalscorer (31), is out for at least two weeks with a thumb injury.

Pastrnak sustained the injury when he fell at a sponsorship dinner on Sunday.

Boston sit in third place in the Atlantic Division, just three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. With only 25 games left this season, this injury came at a very bad time.

4. Isaiah Thomas makes triumphant return in dramatic win

Isaiah Thomas is finally back and looking really good for the Denver Nuggets.

The two-time All-Star returned from surgery on Wednesday and scored eight points in a three-minute span in the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings. He looked like his old self in that short stint.

While Thomas was the feel-good story, the true drama came from Nikola Jokic who dropped yet another triple-double and scored the game-winning bucket on a tip-in with less than a second to play.

Denver head into the All-Star break with a 39-18 record and the second playoff spot in the Western Conference.

5. Eric Reid signs three-year deal with Panthers

 

 

 

The Denver Broncos reportedly made the first major move of the offseason on Wednesday as they agreed a deal in principle to trade for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

A Super Bowl champion with the Ravens, Flacco's departure was expected after he was displaced as starter by Lamar Jackson last season.

However, the destination is curious given Flacco's struggles since winning Super Bowl XLVII at the end of the 2012 season and the Broncos' difficulties in finding consistency at quarterback following Peyton Manning's retirement after their Super Bowl 50 victory.

But just how much of a challenge will it be for offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and quarterback coach T.C. McCartney to revitalise Flacco? We crunched the Opta numbers to find out.


BETTER NUMBERS THAN ANY POST-MANNING BRONCO QB

Though he has been much maligned for his performance since lifting the Lombardi Trophy, Flacco's numbers are impressive compared to those of the Broncos quarterbacks who have followed Manning.

Since entering the NFL in 2008, Flacco has averaged 3,477 passing yards and 19 touchdowns per season. No Broncos QB has had those numbers in a season since Manning in 2014.

MORE TURNOVERS, FEWER TOUCHDOWNS

Flacco may have outperformed the Manning replacements in his career, but there is no denying his decline following a 2012 season that stands as his high-water mark.

In the 2012-13 playoffs, Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions over four games. Since then, he has gone no more than three consecutive games without an interception.

He had three games with three-plus touchdown passes – he has seven games with three-plus touchdown passes in the 68 games since then.


NO IMPROVEMENT ON KEENUM

Flacco's overall numbers in the last six seasons do not paint the picture of a quarterback who will elevate the Denver offense.

Since the start of 2013, Flacco ranks 17th in passing yards per game (248.3), 31st in completion percentage (62.6 per cent), 43rd in touchdown-interception ratio (1.4), tied for 53rd in yards per pass attempt (6.5) – the lowest for any quarterback with at least 50 starts in that time – and has been sacked the 14th most times (159) among quarterbacks with at least 16 starts.

He has not been credited with a fourth-quarter comeback or game-winning drive since Week 3 of the 2016 season (a 19-17 win at Jacksonville). Case Keenum was credited with three for the Broncos in 2018 alone.

Looking at the data, Flacco does not appear to even be an upgrade on Keenum, who was mediocre at best in his first season with the Broncos and who Denver will now reportedly look to trade.

With Keenum seemingly heading out the door, it will be interesting to see if the Broncos draft a rookie to learn under Flacco. If they do, and Flacco cannot improve on his post-2012 Baltimore form, the 2008 first-round pick could experience deja vu and eventually find himself benched for a younger alternative once again.

Kyler Murray's decision to pursue an NFL career over one in professional baseball did not come as much of a surprise to Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley. 

Murray announced on social media on Monday - four days before he was scheduled to report to spring training with the Oakland Athletics - that he is fully committed to becoming an NFL quarterback and has started an extensive program to prepare himself for upcoming NFL workouts and interviews.

And Riley, whose guidance helped Murray lead the Sooners to the College Football Playoff semi-finals, believes the decision was the right one.

"I think he got to the point where he knew he had a good situation either way, and I think in the end he just had a love of football that he just couldn't get past," Riley told ESPN Radio.

"I think the idea of being an NFL quarterback is what appealed to him the most.

"It also made sense as far as the way he's played and the way he's viewed in that league and, you know, where he's most likely getting ready to get drafted. So I think it just came together."

Murray, who was the Athletics' first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is projected to be one of the top quarterback prospects of the 2019 draft.

He completed 260 of 377 passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with only seven interceptions and rushed 140 times for another 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns in his lone season as Oklahoma's full-time starter. 

Murray will get the chance to show his skills at the NFL Scouting Combine, which runs from February 26 to March 4 in Indianapolis. He will have additional opportunities to work out for NFL talent evaluators before the draft, which will be held on April 25-27 in Nashville.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee expects to be back on the field for the 2019 NFL season.

The 32-year-old and two-time Pro Bowler was reportedly considering retiring in the offseason.

However, Lee told 247Sports on Wednesday that he plans "on playing next year".

Lee struggled with injuries throughout 2018 and was limited to just seven regular-season games, recording 30 total tackles.

He also tallied seven combined tackles in Dallas' two playoff matchups.

Lee, who is set to make $7million next season, could be used in a reserve role in 2019. But, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said the team wants him on the roster.

"What a special player he is," Jones said. "We want him back. I think he's a leader on this football team."

Dallas selected Lee in the second round of the 2010 draft and he has spent his entire career with the franchise. He has made two Pro Bowls during his nine NFL seasons.

The Cowboys finished last season with a 10-6 record and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they fell to the Los Angeles Rams.

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