Ravens cheerleader Courtney Lenz upset about not going to Super Bowl

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 30, 2013 09:36 AM

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When Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced his impending retirement before the first game of the playoffs, the team rallied around him, honoring Lewis with both pomp and circumstance and inspired play.

When cheerleader Courtney Lenz, 23, announced her retirement at the end of the regular season, the Ravens reportedly left her off the Super Bowl cheerleading squad. Lenz, a five-year veteran, quit the team after getting a full-time job in marketing. Fans have taken up an online petition to try to get Lenz to cheer in the Super Bowl.

"I wouldn't even have reached out and let fans know if I didn't think it was clearly wrong," Lenz told ABCNews.com. "I'm just devastated by the whole situation. ...They've been really hard on me this year since I told them I was leaving,"

Lenz said she received an email last week with the names of the 32 cheerleaders who would join the team in New Orleans.

"I was the only three-plus year veteran that [is] not going," she said. " I immediately thought it was a mistake."

The Ravens said they had to cut the 60-member squad down to 32 and that Lenz did not make the cut.

Report: Bobby Valentine seeks college athletic director position

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 29, 2013 04:41 PM
Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is a candidate for the athletic director position at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, the Connecticut Post reported.

The Post report says Valentine visited Sacred Heart, which is in Fairfield, close to Valentine's hometown of Stamford, about two weeks ago. Dave Cook is leaving as athletic director July 1.

Valentine, who was fired in October after one season as the Red Sox manager, works as a broadcaster on NBC Sports Radio, among other endeavors.

According to the Stamford Advocate on Jan. 12, Valentine has been "approached by two colleges to discuss their vacant athletic director positions."

"I don't think I'd do that, but you never know," Valentine told the Advocate "I talked informally to the presidents and other people in higher learning, which is interesting. I'm always looking for something different."

Report: Ray Lewis may have used banned substance

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff January 29, 2013 02:34 PM
A report in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated suggests that Ravens superstar linebacker Ray Lewis may have used a banned substance while rehabbing from a torn triceps injury this year.

From the SI piece:

Hours after he tore his triceps during an Oct. 14 home game against the Cowboys, Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and [Mitch] Ross connected on the phone. Again, Ross videotaped the call.

"It's bottom, near the elbow," Lewis said of the tear. After asking a few pseudo diagnostic questions, Ross concluded, "All right, well this is going to be simple. . . . How many pain chips you got around the house?"

"I got plenty of them," Lewis replied.

Ross prescribed a deluxe program, including holographic stickers on the right elbow; copious quantities of the powder additive; sleeping in front of a beam-ray light programmed with frequencies for tissue regeneration and pain relief; drinking negatively charged water; a 10-per-day regimen of the deer-antler pills that will "rebuild your brain via your small intestines" (and which Lewis said he hadn't been taking, then swallowed four during the conversation); and spritzes of deer-antler velvet extract (the Ultimate Spray) every two hours.

The issue facing Lewis is that the extract contains IGF-1, which is on the NFL’s list of banned substances. The report became a hot topic in New Orleans moments before the Ravens were schedule to take the podiums at the NFL's Media Day in New Orleans.

"Two years ago that was the same report," Lewis said at the media event. "I wouldn't give that report or him any of my press. He's not worthy of that."

The SI report features a detailed look into S.W.A.T.S., an organization run by a former male stripper selling deer antler pills to professional athletes.

Read the full Sports Illustrated report here.

Report: Mastermind of Te'o hoax voiced fake girlfriend

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff January 24, 2013 09:49 AM

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In a photo provided by ESPN, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o pauses during an interview with ESPN on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/ESPN Images, Ryan Jones)

The man who orchestrated an elaborate hoax, duping Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o into believing he had a girlfriend that didn't exist, was the same person Te'o had lengthy conversations with on the phone pretending to be a woman.

The New York Daily News reports Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who conjured this startling work of deception and acquired the photo of female friend Diane O'Meara, pretended to be Lennay Kekua over the phone, Te'o's non-existent girlfriend.

Tuiasosopo, the paper reports, has vocal and dramatic training. His lawyer confirmed to the Daily News that he was the person Te'o had been speaking to for numerous hours.

"[Te'o] thought it was a female he was talking with,” lawyer Milton Grimes told the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”

Tuiasosopo took photos from O'Meara's Facebook page to bolster the hoax.

Read the New York Daily News' report here.

Brian Scalabrine dominates one-on-one challenge

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 23, 2013 09:20 AM
Former NBA player and current Celtics broadcaster Brian Scalabrine had some fun last week with the notion that an average player off the street could beat him one-on-one. In a contest organized by 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich show, Scalabrine easily beat four challengers who applied to take on the 11-year NBA veteran.

Comcast Sports Net aired the first portion of the contest Tuesday night. The clip features Scalabrine beating former Syracuse player Matt Tomaszewski by a score of 11-2. Tomaszewski scored early on a hook shot and then struggled on both ends as Scalabrine went down to the block often.

"They're all good basketball players," Scal told Toucher and Rich Wednesday. "People just don't understand the size and speed and strength of anybody in the NBA."

You can watch the first game below.

The bit sprung up organically from conversations Scalabrine had with hosts Rich Shertenlieb and Fred Toucher. On Wednesday, Scalabrine said he took on the challenge for fun.

"I'm not trying to prove anything with all this," said Scalabrine. "I like to have fun, I like to play basketball. I never thought that [proving myself] was what this was about."

You can watch the complete challenge below. Thanks to CBS Boston and CSNNE.com for the highlights.


Sloane Stephens has strong ties to Boston

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 23, 2013 08:07 AM

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Sloane Stephens, the tennis player who defeated Serena Williams and advanced to the Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday, has strong connections to Boston.

Her mother, Sybil Smith, was a swimmer at Boston University and a member of the school's athletics hall of fame. Her bio on the BU Hall of Fame web page calls her "the finest swimmer in Boston University history."

Her father was John Stephens, who was a Patriots running back for six seasons beginning in 1988. Stephens, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, was killed in a car accident in 2009 at age 43.

Sloane Stephens, 19, scored the biggest win of her pro tennis career in beating the top-ranked Williams, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. It ended a streak of 20 straight wins for Williams.

Stephens faces defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.

The Wall Street Journal reported Stephens' Twitter following more than doubled after her victory Wednesday. Boston University even sent a congratulatory message.

Sports stars and celebrities also checked in with messages for Stephens, including:

Rex Ryan involved in car accident

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 22, 2013 05:27 PM

Jets coach Rex Ryan was involved in a three-car accident last week in Bethlehem, Pa., according to a Deadspin report. Police told Deadspin that Ryan ran a red light in his red Mustang and collided with another vehicle, which struck a third vehicle. There were no injuries reported.

A Jets spokesman said Tuesday that Ryan was given a warning rather than a ticket or summons.

John Thomas, two-time Olympian, dies at age 71

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 17, 2013 02:40 PM

John Thomas, a two-time Olympic medalist in the high jump and former world record-holder, died Tuesday. The Brockton resident was 71.

As a freshman at Boston University in 1959, Thomas became the first athlete to clear 7 feet in the high jump indoors. A nine-time national champion, Thomas competed in the 1964 US Olympic trials as a member of the Boston Athletic Association team. He was the lone African-American on the team.

"To us in that day, his name meant excellence on the world stage, and it felt personal to us," said Thomas S. Grilk, BAA executive director. "His was the name we looked for in every track meet and two Olympics."

Thomas won a bronze medal in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome, and a silver medal four years later in Tokyo.

The BAA will update its web page as services/memorial plans are announced.

Ravens fans sing 'Bring on Brady', a 'Call Me Maybe' parody

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 17, 2013 12:36 PM

Found this on the Ravens' official website today. It's awesome.

Twitter reacts to Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax story

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2013 07:35 PM

Twitter exploded Wednesday afternoon following the news that the death of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend was a hoax. Here are some of the more entertaining tweets:



Manti Te’o responds to Deadspin report that death of his girlfriend was a hoax

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2013 06:48 PM

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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, was either the victim or fabricator of an inspirational story about the death of his girlfriend, according to a Deadspin report. In separate statements, the university and Te'o have confirmed that Te'o's girlfriend did not exist but insist that Te'o himself was the victim of a hoax, not its perpetrator.

The Deadspin report goes into elaborate detail to disprove what Te'o and others around him let reporters believe all season, that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, and his grandmother, Annette Santiago, died within six hours of each other in September. Te'o told several news outlets that the 22-year-old Kekua had been in a serious car accident and had then been diagnosed with leukemia. After hearing the news that both his girlfriend and his grandmother had died, Te'o led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State, recording 12 tackles.

There are official death records for Santiago, but in researching Kekua's passing, Deadspin could find no evidence of her death, the car accident, or even her birth. Photographs used for Twitter and Instagram accounts attributed to Kekua were confirmed to be of someone else.

Notre Dame reacted to the story with the following statement:

On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.

Dennis Brown
University Spokesman | Assistant Vice President

Te'o issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:

"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.

"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.

"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

After a 13-6 win over Michigan, Te'o was asked during the press conference why he did not attend funeral services for Kekua.

"You know, I really wanted to see her," said Te'o. "I really wanted to see her. But I knew that she made me promise, you know one day she made me promise that, she said, 'Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you'll still stay over there and that you'll play and that you'll honor me through the way you play, and know that I would rather have you there.' And just make sure that all she wanted was some white roses.
White is her favorite color.

"So she just wanted some white roses and that's all she asked for. So I sent her roses and sent her two picks (interceptions) along with that, so that was good."

-- Related: Globe story on Te'o before the Boston College game.

Ray Lewis's retirement party countdown on a billboard near you

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2013 02:03 PM

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FOXBOROUGH -- There's bulletin board material. Then there's billboard material.

Clear Channel Outdoor has put up a billboard on Rte. 93 north on the Medford/Stoneham line, and on Rte. 495 in Lawrence, that's surely going to get some attention in Baltimore and beyond.

The billboard promotes Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis's retirement party that may take place at Gillette Stadium Sunday night if the Patriots are victorious.

Clear Channel has been tweeting about the billboard today:

Hopefully, the Patriots come through on their end of the deal, otherwise this billboard will come down in a hurry.

Tim Tebow's brother takes shot at Broncos on Twitter

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 13, 2013 02:44 PM
The brother of former Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow couldn't resist taking a jab at Denver after the Broncos lost to the Ravens in the AFC Divisional playoffs on Saturday.

Peter Tebow tweeted about his delight at the outcome.

The Broncos opted to replace Tim Tebow with Peyton Manning as their starting quarterback this season, and traded Tebow to the Jets. With Tebow as quarterback last season, the Broncos also reached the divisional round of the playoffs, although they had to win a wild-card game to get there.

The Patriots eliminated Tebow and the Broncos en route to the AFC Championship last season.

New York Times covers Hall of Fame election with blank page

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 10, 2013 11:02 AM

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The New York Times chose its words carefully in its coverage of the Baseball Hall of Fame election results, opting to print a mostly blank lead sports page.

The Times did start a story on the results of the vote on its front page, and the page following the blank space is filled with stories about the outcome, which has been a hot topic because no players were chosen for induction in 2013.

Times sports editor Joe Sexton explained the decision to ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell as follows:

"Wayne Kamidoi, our boundary pushing art designer, came up with the idea, and Jay Schreiber, our baseball editor, saw the chance to capture the very old, very dispiriting story of steroids in baseball in a freshly powerful way. Yes, it was not a surprise that Bonds and Clemens didn't make it. But felt like history had spoken. How to convey that to our readers? I think we did it -- a striking, profound emptiness."

Watch: Boston College mascot in new SportsCenter promo

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 9, 2013 08:33 AM

Baldwin, the Boston College mascot dressed in an eagle costume, gets a moment in the spotlight on a new promotional video for ESPN's SportsCenter program.

Also featured is Temple's Hooter T. Owl, a humorous coincidence considering football coach Steve Addazio recently left Temple to take the same position at Boston College.

An ESPN spokesman confirmed the use of BC and Temple was a coincidence: "This spot came about very last minute as a replacement for a spot we were supposed to shoot but the athlete had to cancel due to a personal circumstance. We called around to as many bird mascots as we could find and flew in the ones who were available."

ESPN explained more about the promo in a story published Wednesday morning.

US Olympic stars headline New Balance Indoor Grand Prix

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 8, 2013 02:25 PM
A pair of Americans who medaled at the London Olympics are among the featured athletes at this year's New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.

Jenn Suhr, who won gold in the pole vault in London, won her first national title at the New Balance event in 2005 and is the world's top-ranked pole vaulter. She set an American record at last year's New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (16 feet, watch a video of the performance below).

“My first big performance of 2012 was in Boston and the year turned out to be my best ever,” said Suhr in an event press release. “So I can’t wait to come back to Boston and start off this World Championships year with one of my favorite crowds.”

Galen Rupp, who won silver in the Olympic 10,000 event, headlines the men's field.

The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix will be held Feb. 2 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College. Tickets or meet info available on the event web site.

Oregon reporter speculates on Chip Kelly's grand plan

Posted by Staff January 7, 2013 12:11 PM
One Oregon sports writer thinks he knows why Oregon coach Chip Kelly isn't taking a job in the NFL just yet.

According to John Canzano of The Oregonian, Kelly is holding out for something bigger than the Philadelphia Eagles or the Cleveland Browns: he wants Bill Belichick's job.

Canzano wrote, "I think the job Kelly absolutely wants is the [job] currently held by 60-year-old three-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Belichick, who is as close to Kelly in his monomaniacal drive and ultimate hands-on style as there is in sports.”

Kelly is the head coach for the Oregon Ducks, and as Canzano points out, "Belichick has unique control of Robert Kraft‘s franchise in the same way Kelly does at Oregon."

With Kelly as their head coach, the Ducks have gone 46-7 in the last four seasons and made four consecutive BCS Bowl games.

Rex Ryan's tattoo features wife in Mark Sanchez jersey

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 4, 2013 07:28 AM

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Can things get any weirder for Jets coach Rex Ryan?

Today the New York Daily News leads with the discovery that Ryan has a tattoo on his right arm of his wife wearing a green and white jersey with the number 6 on it. No. 6 happens to be the number of the Jets' quarterback, Mark Sanchez.

Some have speculated on social media and talk radio that the image shows Ryan's wife "Tebowing," the pose made famous by one of the Jets' backup quarterback, Tim Tebow.

Ryan was spotted in the Bahamas, where he is vacationing. According to the Daily News, Ryan was sunbathing near a pool, listening to music and reading. He declined to speak with the Daily News reporter and ran for cover.

It's the latest in a long line of Ryan "moments." Here's a look at his previous memorable moments and quotes.

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Friday's New York Daily News was New York tabloid newspapering at its best. A look at the front page (above), as well as the clever headlines on the back page and story page (below).


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Watch: South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney's massive hit in Outback Bowl

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 1, 2013 04:49 PM

South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney's hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in Tuesday's Outback Bowl is sure to be the talk of the watercooler this week.

Clowney hammered Smith in the backfield before Smith could even start running, popping Smith's helmet off and the ball loose. Clowney recovered the ball.

Watch ESPN's video of the play above. (Note the scoreline on the video is not the final ... South Carolina won, 33-28)

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