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National Sports Archives for 2017-04

ESPN: Browns' Joe Thomas: 'Willing to accept' the risks of playing in NFL

According to ESPN: Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas is experiencing memory loss, he said in an interview released Wednesday.
Thomas could not say, though, whether playing in the NFL has caused the problem.
"I definitely expect memory loss," Thomas said on "In Depth With Graham Bensinger." "I'm already seeing memory loss, and maybe that's just because of my old age or maybe it's football, it's hard to tell.
"I mean, there's no double-blind studies when it comes to people's life. It's just a part, I think, of sometimes getting older. And it's hard to tell it's because of football or because you're 32 and you're not 21 anymore and you have a lot of stuff going in your life."
What kind of memory loss? Bensinger asked.
"Short-term memory loss -- hard times remembering things that have happened recently," he said. "Like, you walk to the grocery store and you're like, 'Huh, I can't remember what I needed to get.'
"Just little stuff like that, and I think if you let it really bug you, I think it can make you depressed and feel sad. Like, 'Wow, I don't have the memory I used to have.' But, you know, I try to be relatively good-natured about it at this point."
Thomas, 32, is entering his 11th season with the Browns. He has not missed a snap since being drafted third overall in 2007. He said he is well aware of the risks of playing in terms of long-term brain damage, but they are risks he's willing to accept.
"There's definitely a concern," Thomas said. "But the way I look at it is just about every profession in our society: There's some lasting effects. It's just the way that our society is set up. People have to work. If I was a stone mason or if I was a painter or building bridges or whatever, there's going to be some wear and tear on your body and your brain. And that's just the way it is.
"To be able to live the lifestyle and provide for my family the way that football has been able to do, to me it's a trade-off that I'm willing to accept."
The NFL has agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit filed by 5,000 former players citing the damage to their brains caused by the constant trauma of NFL play. Thomas mentioned other long-term issues believed to be linked to brain trauma.
"You look at guys with significant Alzheimer's and dementia and the mood swings and the suicides that unfortunately NFL players have been faced with," Thomas said. "And depression. Lou Gehrig's disease. These are all things that have kind of been linked to the brain damage from football.
"Those are obviously scary and frightening things, but I think from my perspective, I can't do anything about it. This was the profession that I have already chosen, and most of the damage has probably been done already. So what are the things that I can do to try to minimize my chances of having those negative effects down the line, and then do everything I possibly can. Then I can't worry about it. I have to accept it.
"But I do hope that medicine continues to improve and, in 10 years maybe, they'll be able to fix my body better than they did for the poor guys who are crippled up from playing in the NFL in the '60s and the '70s."


ESPN: Reasons the Browns should draft Mitchell Trubisky with No. 1 pick

ESPN is reporting that one of the most important questions in the 2017 NFL draft is whether the Cleveland Browns should pick quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 1 overall selection.

The consensus around the league and among draft experts is that Trubisky is not worth taking at the very top of the draft and that the Browns should instead select Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett.

Those opinions make it seem like Trubisky won't be drafted at No. 1.

But let's take a look at a multitude of reasons why the Browns could easily justify selecting the North Carolina quarterback with their first selection.

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, the collegiate metrics and associated rankings detailed below are from contests between Power 5 teams.)

Trubisky was one of the most accurate passers in college football last season. He ranked fifth in percentage of off-target passes (7.9), per ESPN Stats & Information data. This trait showed up on both dink-and-dunk tosses and downfield throws, as Trubisky ranked seventh in short pass off-target percentage (3.3 on aerials thrown 10 or fewer yards downfield) and sixth in vertical off-target percentage (15.3 on targets traveling 11 or more yards downfield).

These traits were key in Trubisky setting North Carolina records for most consecutive completions in a single game (18) and over a multigame stretch (30).


Pirates OF Starling Marte gets 80-game ban after positive PED test

Accoriding to ESPN, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, it was announced Tuesday.

Marte tested positive for nandrolone, which violated MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension is effective immediately, and Marte is eligible to return in mid-July.

"I have been informed that I have tested positive in one of the tests that are regularly done in my job," Marte said in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association. "In this very difficult moment, I apologize to my family, the Pittsburgh Pirates, my teammates, my fans, and baseball in general.

"Neglect and lack of knowledge have led me to this mistake with the high price to pay of being away from the field that I enjoy and love so much. With much embarrassment and helplessness, I ask for forgiveness for unintentionally disrespecting so many people who have trusted in my work and have supported me so much. I promise to learn the lesson that this ordeal has left me. God bless you."

Marte, a first-time All-Star selection last season, was hitting .241 this season with two home runs and seven RBIs through 13 games. He moved from left field to center field in the offseason after winning his second Gold Glove. The 28-year-old has a .288 career batting average with 60 homers and 242 RBIs in his five-plus seasons with the Pirates.

"We are disappointed that Starling put himself, his teammates and the organization in this position," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for the division title with the men who are here and will look forward to getting Starling back after the All-Star break."

It is Marte's first positive test. Under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, he has the option to appeal, in which additional testing will be conducted to prove validity of the original test. If he were to appeal, Marte would be restricted from participation in all baseball activity. If an appeal is granted, the suspension could be reduced by 40 games.

Under a provision added in 2013, a suspended player is not allowed to participate in that year's postseason even if his suspension ends before then -- unless a suspension is reduced on appeal.

All suspensions are without pay. In addition, a suspended player can be replaced on the active roster by another player.


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