Truth & Rumors: Dec. 16, 2004
Posted: Thursday December 16, 2004 12:14PM; Updated: Thursday December 16, 2004 4:36PM
Baseball's Hot Stove is heating up with a flurry of rumors and gossip. To keep you up-to-date, we've created a special edition of Hot Stove Truth & Rumors.
The Dolphins didn't wait until the end of the 2004 season before pursuing a new head coach, as team owner H. Wayne Huizenga and President Eddie Jones met with Louisiana State's Nick Saban on Tuesday night.
Saban is expected to decide whether to take the job within seven to 10 days.
"Dolphins coach Nick Saban." Nice ring to it, right? Now try this one: Dolphins GM and coach Nick Saban. And this title is no doubt at the center of the mating dance between Saban and the Dolphins that will play out in the coming days.
While speculation continues about the future of Vikings coach Mike Tice, club owner Red McCombs made it clear he definitely will exercise the option he has for Tice to coach the team in 2005.
Tom Heckert, the Eagles vice president of player personnel, is on a short list of candidates to be the next GM of the Browns.
San Francisco 49ers Coach Dennis Erickson withdrew his name from consideration yesterday for the head coaching vacancy at the University of Mississippi, the day after interviewing for the job.
Erickson and the 49ers continue to face a standoff regarding his assistants, some of whom management wants to fire. If Erickson balks at this, the 49ers would have to fire him in order to get rid of the assistants, because Erickson has final say on their fate. The organization probably would spend about $10 million to pay off the coach and his staff.
Texans secondary coach Jon Hoke confirmed he talked to University of Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long about that school's head coaching vacancy, but he said it was too early to tell where the situation was headed.
Should the Bucs keep Brian Griese? If it were only $4 million, the decision would be simple. If it were $6 million, you might gulp, but it would still make sense to bring Griese back. At $8 million, it's worth a debate. So what's a team to do? Pay Griese more than he's worth? Or have a roster that's less substantial than it should be? So what are the Bucs thinking? They're probably thinking $8 million is too much. But they're also thinking the alternative is too frightening to consider. How often does a good quarterback hit the open market?
Joey Harrington, the Lions' starting quarterback through the first 13 games of the season, will start No. 14 against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Ford Field. Coach Steve Mariucci was asked if his decision was because backup Mike McMahon was in the final year of his contract and might not be re-signed. "That's one part of the reality of the situation with our quarterbacks," Mariucci said. "That is just one part of the equation; that's not the determining factor."
Veterans in backup roles, such as Brad Johnson of Tampa Bay and Jon Kitna of Cincinnati, have been mentioned as possibilities to land in Detroit. But both are under contract beyond the 2004 season.
The comments made by Deion Sanders, that the Giants' play-calling is predictable, the atmosphere is "horrible," and that the Giants had quit, did not sit well with the Giants. "Deion does not know the New York Giants," center Shaun O'Hara said. "Just because he's Deion Sanders that doesn't mean everything he says is right. I don't like any time a player talks about another team and what he thinks that team is going through. He has no idea what this team is all about." O'Hara concluded by saying "Deion Sanders is the Paris Hilton of the NFL."
Jets coach Herman Edwards said yesterday that Chad Pennington still has some discomfort in his right arm, lingering effects of a strained rotator cuff.
Drew Henson's ascension up the Cowboys' depth chart has stopped for the moment. Tony Romo said he will serve as Vinny Testaverde's backup Sunday at Philadelphia, although coach Bill Parcells said Wednesday he has yet to make up his mind on the No. 2 job.
Despite denials, the Timberwolves and Nets are having discussions centering on Nets point guard Jason Kidd, and the latest is that the name of Wolves point guard Troy Hudson has entered into talks.
Karl Malone, reported by one Internet site to have agreed to terms with the Spurs, was believed to be on his ranch in Arkansas. He also was believed to have missed several phone calls made the past two days by coach Gregg Popovich, who remains interested in signing him to a contract but might be running out of patience.
One reason Malone, if he decides to return from a knee injury this season, won't be coming to the Timberwolves is that he isn't a fan of the Wolves' Latrell Sprewell.
The Lakers plan to meet with Malone and his agent, Dwight Manley, after the fallout between Kobe Bryant and Malone. "[Malone] is a person who's really been great for this organization," GM Mitch Kupchak said. "For there not to be a gathering of Dr. (Jerry) Buss and Karl and/or myself and Dwight is not the right thing. A lot's happened in the last 10 days, but there should be a meeting." -- Los Angeles Times
Buried in a recent Boston Herald gossip column between tidbits about Ben Affleck's mom (a breakup!) and singer Gwen Stefani (a surprise concert appearance!) was an item about Hawks forward Antoine Walker pining to return to Boston. How about it, 'Toine? Walker burst into laughter. "I ain't going back there," said Walker. "Honestly, I never said that."
The Celtics do not feel any pressure to trade Gary Payton in the wake of his pronouncement this will be his only year in Green.
Michael Stewart's next game will (a) be his first and (b) probably be with someone else. Stewart is on the injured list with what the Celtics call bilateral knee tendinitis. Truth be told, he's as healthy as a horse, but he wishes he had a chance to prove it. Stewart remains valuable to the Celtics in a monetary sense; he's on the last year of his contract, which makes him attractive come trade deadline time.
The Jalen Rose-for-Eddie Jones trade talk was never serious. The Raptors, though, did offer Vince Carter for Jones at one point, which the Heat respectfully declined.
Now that he is tradable, Wesley Person has come up as a possible pick-up for the Nuggets, who are in need of a shooting guard.
Detroit's Smush Parker knows his name has been mentioned in a possible trade with Chicago and once his contract is eligible to be traded (Dec. 30), he could be gone. "I would like to stay here," Parker said. "I feel like I can contribute to this team. I want to help this team win basketball games, and I believe I can."
Frank Williams claimed to have no knowledge of his possible trade to Detroit for Parker.
Magic GM John Weisbrod said he still had no plans to deal disgruntled guard DeShawn Stevenson.
The Bucks' injury situation has become so unsettling that GM Larry Harris applied to the NBA for a roster exemption that would allow them to sign an additional player over the 15-man limit.
Red Wings goalie and player rep Manny Legace blames NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for the breakdown in labor talks, saying, "We gave him the groundwork for what should have been a deal, and an opportunity to get back on the ice and playing hockey again. But it's hard to deal with someone as pigheaded as he is. He doesn't care about the game. He's not a hockey guy. All he talks about is a salary cap and breaking the union. He's done a terrible job of marketing the game. As commissioner he should be working on growing the game, but he's not doing that. When was the last time you saw a hockey player in a national promotion? Why shouldn't a Steve Yzerman be out there nationally, just like any football or basketball player? You don't see any hockey players getting in trouble. A better job should be done making the game more popular. He hasn't done that."
The lockout is hurting attendance at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The Hall usually attracts between 325,000 to 350,000 visitors annually, but this year's total will be below that. Public relations spokesperson Kelly Masse said yesterday, "Usually, we get a lot of fans when the Leafs have home games, especially against border teams like Buffalo and Detroit."
The Blackhawks hired former Panthers GM Rick Dudley as a hockey operations consultant on Wednesday. He joins a hockey department that includes senior VP and GM Bob Pulford and assistant GM Dale Tallon.
Three men have been banned from football matches for five years after they hurled racial abuse at Birmingham City striker Dwight Yorke during a Birmingham-Blackburn Rovers match in Blackburn last month. Birmingham lodged a formal complaint about the incidents, while Blackburn backed the police enquiry, saying that racism would not be tolerated at their Ewood Park games.
Commenting on the Spanish Football Associations opening an investigation into racist remarks made by national team coach Luis Aragones in October, The Kick Racism Out of Football campaign believes the two-month wait for action to be taken shows the Spanish FA is not prepared to stamp out racism. Campaign officials want Aragones to be fired but are not confident. Piara Powar, the director of Kick It Out, said: "They've taken so long and their initial forthright defense suggests it will be a whitewash. We would be very surprised if there was anything other than a slap on the wrist. If they were serious then they would have done more by now. It does not take two months to start a formal investigation."
Arsenal manager Aresne Wenger has decided to let the 'facts' stand as his defense and stay away from FA headquarters this afternoon as he contests the improper conduct charge levied in the wake of his verbal attack on Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. His lawyers will present a video dossier of van Nistelrooy to try to prove Wenger was right to call van Nistelrooy a cheat. Wenger was charged after comments in a BBC interview in the aftermath of the 2-0 Old Trafford defeat on October 24 that ended Arsenal's record 49-match unbeaten league run.
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