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Pro football player finishes chemo treatments, accidentally breaks victory bell

Houston Texans offensive tackle David Quessenberry finished his last round of chemotherapy Tuesday after a 3-year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

A video shared online shows the NFL star celebrating by ringing a victory bell and accidentally breaking it.

Quessenberry, who was drafted by the Texans in 2013, has been receiving treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The hospital has a small bell hanging on a wall for patients to ring after they finish their last round of chemo.

Quessenberry, 26, rang the bell enthusiastically and ended up yanking the whole thing off the wall.

“It has been more than 1,000 days since my fight began. Yesterday, I received my last infusion of chemo therapy. The things I have seen and the things I felt through my fight I could never forget,” Quessenberry wrote on Instagram. “This bell, just like cancer, never stood a chance.”

Quessenberry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2014. Doctors discovered a mass in his lungs when the 300-pound player sought treatment for a persistent cough and shortness of breath, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Giants deny Eli Manning involved in fake memorabilia scheme

Quarterback Eli Manning surrendered an email earlier this month in connection with a lawsuit that claims he, along with the New York Giants and a team equipment manager, knowingly provided false game-worn memorabilia to collectors, ESPN reported.

 >> Read more trending news

The email was included in a court filing in Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court by collectors Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown, who filed suit three years ago.

According to the New York Post, which obtained court records, Manning, who has a contract with memorabilia dealer Steiner Sports, instructed equipment manager Joe Skiba to retrieve the equipment so it could be sold off as authentic.

“2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli,” Manning wrote to Skiba from a BlackBerry on April 27, 2010, according to court documents.

The email was initiated after Manning was sent a note by Alan Zucker, his marketing agent throughout his career, to come up with some equipment to satisfy his obligation to provide such materials to Steiner Sports, ESPN reported.

The plaintiffs' lawyer, Brian Brook of Clinton, Brook & Peed, told ESPN that the email, included among roughly 200 pages of documents Manning produced as part of legal discovery, was key to specifically linking the quarterback to the lawsuit, which alleges an elaborate scheme to produce, pass off and sell memorabilia as game-used that was not.

The suit also alleges that the Giants were complicit by deleting the email from their accounts.

"The email, taken out of context, was shared with the media by an unscrupulous memorabilia dealer and his counsel who for years has been seeking to leverage a big payday," McCarter & English, the law firm representing the Giants in the case, said in a statement. "The email predates any litigation, and there was no legal obligation to store it on the Giants server. Eli Manning is well known for his integrity and this is just the latest misguided attempt to defame his character."

It is not likely that Manning, the Giants or their employees would be subject to criminal prosecution as the alleged actions in question have passed the federal five-year statute of limitations, ESPN reported.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 25.

 

Pitt will hire Keith Gavin as next wrestling coach, per reports

Pitt's long and winding road in search of a new wrestling head coach finally seems to have come to an end on Thursday. At least we think so. Reports state that former Pitt grappler Keith Gavin has gotten the job.

Pitt hasn't given any official word yet but Oklahoma's official site posted the news earlier. When you click the link, however, the page is no longer there. Perhaps it's just a glitch but my guess is that they pulled the page until Pitt makes the announcement official.

That announcement, by the way, it seems, is being delayed in lieu of the news that Dan Rooney passed away earlier today.

That last link was courtesy of Knops Knotes on Twitter, who has probably had the best/most accurate news out there on this fiasco. And I believe it was him who had the first news of the hiring:

#BreakingNews @keithgavin84 to be named @Pitt_WRES coach https://t.co/8yLNRe7TeK pic.twitter.com/TwcyzaD6hS — Knops Knotes (@KnopsKnotes) April 13, 2017

FloWrestling also reports that Gavin is the pick. And also, here's his bio if you want to know more.

Assuming Gavin is indeed the next coach, what do I think?

If you've been following my thoughts on the situation, you know that I always thought it was a good enough job to land a quality, proven coach. I still believe that. There are a lot of rumors as to what Pitt could have had with Pat Santoro or Tim Flynn. And if they could have had either of those guys, I'm guessing that even the most ardent Gavin supporters would say it was a missed opportunity. And, for what it's worth, they also reportedly offered and were subsequently rebuffed by San Diego State (yes, San Diego State) head coach Chris Bono, who was the Big 12 Coach of the Year. Any of those three guys would have probably made a good 80% of the wrestling fanbase happy as they had proven, head coaching success. This one's going to be more divided.

The Pitt job, I still insist, can be a great one. The school sits in the state with the best recruiting territory in the country. They compete in the ACC, which is a winnable conference as Pitt proved a few years ago winning it in their first season. While the team has not been great itself lately, they are routinely a Top 25 program so a new coach wouldn't be starting from scratch. And, while you might not know it, as the search proved there are actually a decent amount of people that follow the sport in the area. It has to be a very attractive job for almost any assistant and, if you throw money at it, would be very attractive for any number of great head coaches. Three of them, apparently, felt it was worth the time to interview, after all.

Given that it is a pretty good job, landing a quality coach with experience shouldn't have been the tooth-pulling exercise it appears to have been.

Now, to Gavin specifically, it could turn out to be a very good hire and there are some things to like here.

First, he was a Pitt grad and while not the be all end all, it's nice to know that he's not going to be leaving to head to an Alma Mater anywhere else. That always has some value as far as hoping to keep successful coaches and he is familiar with the school and its selling points. He was not only a wrestler here, but one of the best in school history. He won a national championship at Pitt in 2008 and was a runner-up the year before. That type of stuff has to resonate, at least a little, with recruits. He's a young, up-and-comer, who could be here for a while. He comes to Pitt after being an assistant at Oklahoma and previously, Virginia and Pitt so he's been around several programs.

But given all of that, the one glaring hole is that he's still got very little actual experience. He was only an assistant at Virginia for two years and at Oklahoma only one. Before that he had one year of experience as an assistant at Pitt. Add it up and you have zero head coaching experience and four years of being an assistant. I mean, it's not nothing. It's just kind of ... there.

The argument, of course, is that everyone has to start somewhere. That plenty of assistants have gone on to incredible careers as head coaches. That, perhaps, all he needs is a chance. And all of that is or may be true. But as I said earlier, this isn't a lower-level job. It's not a job at a smaller school where you almost have to settle for an assistant and take chances on guys in most cases. This is a pretty decent gig that should (and did attract) proven head coaches. And when you consider that, it's just a tepid hire at best given his lack of experience. Sure, you might really like him. And sure, you might think he's a great pick. But it really gets difficult to argue that it's a better hire than getting a proven guy like Santoro or Flynn.

Now, if this was the guy they wanted from the start, perhaps I feel a little differently. After all, if you've been targeting an assistant that you feel is under the radar and your top candidate, that's different. But given that Pitt reportedly interviewed several guys before landing on Gavin, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Hopefully he turns out to be a good one and, as someone who has come to love the sport, I wish him the best, obviously since I want to see Pitt win more. I'm in the corner of any Pitt coach and really hope he turns out to be a good one. But given his lack of experience, it's just sort of a shot in the dark.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll How do you feel about the Keith Gavin hire? Slam Dunk - great choice Good choice Decent Below average Ugh What is this wrasslin' nonsense?   0 votes | Results

Pittsburgh Steelers' owner Dan Rooney dies

When Dan Rooney was born in 1932, there was no professional football team in Pittsburgh. But one year later, the Pirates Football Club, which is what the Steelers were called then, took the field for the first time. 

>> Read more trending news

It didn’t take long for Dan Rooney to get involved in his father Art’s business.

“I started to go to the training camp with my father when I was 5,” Rooney said. “I started to work out as a ball boy, a water boy, Jock Sutherland was the coach, and I learned a lot from him."

Rooney got married and graduated from Duquesne University with an accounting degree, but neither accounting nor football were his first choice.

“I really wanted to be an architect when I was in high school,” he said.

Rooney got involved with the Steelers, working first with player personnel. He soon joined his dad managing the team.

In the 1960s, he fought against horseshoe-shaped designs for Three Rivers Stadium. The designs would have favored baseball.

Rooney and his father didn’t always see eye to eye. Dan Rooney didn’t want to move to the new American Football Conference during the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

“I was terribly against it,” Rooney said. “I thought this was a terrible thing. I was part of the wars where we were trying to keep our players, trying to get players out of college.”

In 1975, Rooney became team president. His NFL accomplishments since taking the reins are legendary. He has chaired several committees, taken the lead on ending a players’ strike and helped in the creation of the salary cap in 1993. He also created the “Rooney Rule,” which resulted in minorities getting more chance to coach in the NFL.

On the field, Rooney was the head of a team that has won six Super Bowls, more than any other. He remembered his father when he became part of just the second father-son combination to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

“My father is one of the early men who did everything to make the NFL succeed,” Rooney said. “It is special to join him here.”

Rooney could be tough when he had to be, as when he bargained for a new stadium and the possibility the Steelers could leave Pittsburgh.

"What we've done is to say that if this doesn't get done, we are exercising our option and all of those options will be available in two years,” he said.

Of course, the Steelers stayed, and years later Rooney would fight to keep them in the family when his brothers sold their shares.

“Everybody was very congenial,” Rooney said. “Our thoughts now are to move everything forward and get things worked out.”

Off the field, one of Rooney’s greatest loves was flying. He had one scare in which he was forced to make an emergency landing.

“All the electrical system entirely went out and I had to come in and I couldn't talk to the tower,” he said. “So I pulled out my cellphone and called 911, and actually I got 911 in Greensburg. I told the fellow that I was having problems, ‘I'm Dan Rooney,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, right.’"

Rooney’s Irish roots were always important to him. He helped create The Ireland Fund in the 1970s and led a trip to Dublin in 1997. After making waves when he supported Barack Obama for president, Rooney was named U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

“He and his family are as gracious and thoughtful a group of people as I know and so I know that he is just going to do an outstanding job,” Obama said about the appointment.

As Dan Rooney moved into a new role, he was able to reflect on what he saw as his greatest accomplishment.

"I think it would be keeping the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a viable way, playing good football. You know, realizing the fans are why we're here,” he said.

Rooney’s legacy is undeniable. As part of major improvements to the team headquarters, it was renamed the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. For Dan though, it was never about him.

“The players are the reasons we're making these changes,” he said. “We want these facilities to be the tops in the NFL.”

He also recognized the importance of handing down the Rooney name from his father, through him, to his son.

"He treated everybody as people and I've tried to carry that on,” Rooney said of his father. “I'm sure Art will carry that on after me. It's the right way to be."

With family, with football, with life, Dan Rooney was a shining example of the right way to be.

Atlanta Super Bowl date announced

Super Bowl LIII will be held on Feb. 3, 2019, at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the NFL announced Thursday.

Atlanta was named as the site of Super Bowl LIII in May 2016 after the NFL owners meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

>> Read more trending news

Super Bowl LIII will be Atlanta’s third Super Bowl after the Georgia Dome hosted Super Bowl XXVIII on Jan. 30, 1994 (Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills) and Super Bowl XXXIV on Jan. 30, 2000 (St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans).

Super Bowl LII will take place at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium Feb. 4, 2018.

Pitt Blue-Gold Spring Game draft held and honorary coaches named as practices come to a close

Pitt's spring practices are wrapping up with the Blue-Gold game to be held Saturday. Here was the preliminary information in case you hadn't seen it yet. I won't be in town but Jim will be down at the game and should have an update at some point afterwards.

The draft was held for the game yesterday, which is fine. For me, it's hard to get too interested up over something like this, but I know there's some interest among the fans. You can see the full team rosters here and if you wanted to see the order of picks, the Pitt Twitter account has a rundown of those. Coaches assigned all of the seniors to teams prior to the draft and then offensive tackle Brian O'Neill was the first overall pick.

Pitt also brought back the honorary coaches thing again. This year's picks there are Tyler Boyd and Jabaal Sheard, although the initial release didn't say which guy would captain which team.

As for the rest of the spring, it was mostly uneventful and I suppose that's a good thing. With practices mostly closed off to the media, there's not a ton of information out there, anyway. One of the bigger developments was probably the anticipated move of Jordan Whitehead to free safety, which should allow him to make more big plays. Other than that, however, I'm not sure too many relevant things really happened other than the insertion of the offense of new coordinator Shawn Watson. Fall camp should give us a better indication of where this team stands before the season begins.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt infielder McKayla Taylor named ACC Softball Player of the Week

Pitt's softball team has struggled a good bit this season but still sits five games over the .500 mark and is 21-16 on the year. That's in part due to winning their last four games, which included a sweep of Virginia Tech last weekend.

Over that stretch, shortstop/infielder McKayla Taylor has been on fire. She hit a home run in each of the four games (four of her six hits were long balls) and she had a total of seven RBI and scored six runs while batting .400. For her efforts, she was named as the ACC Player of the Week.

At only 4-11 in conference play, Pitt has a long way to go to move up drastically in the standings. But they also have a good opportunity to begin that climb with a series against Syracuse (19-15 / 3-9 in conference) this weekend.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Stories of WWE bullying pour onto web; include ESPN anchor who defended company

World Wrestling Entertainment’s bullying culture, led by alleged management enforcer, former wrestler and TV announcer John Layfield, extends 20 years according to an article by Brandon Howard of Fightful.com, the popular MMA, boxing and wrestling website. 

>> Read more trending news 

Some of the quotes are sexually explicit and use foul language, and paint a picture of a company led by Vince McMahon, which allowed a hostile culture to continue that other wrestlers said doesn’t occur in contemporary companies other than WWE. 

The most surprising of quotes come from Layfield, who admits to his behavior in several instances, referring to it as hazing.

Another surprising admission came from Jonathan Coachman in a quote found by David Bixenspan of Deadspin, where the ESPN anchor said he was once left crying for 10 minutes after being “pranked" by management into thinking he was arrested. 

Layfield admits in one quote to enjoy his bullying, saying he sees it as a test of toughness and trust between wrestlers when asked if he hazed wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin.

“Did I haze The Miz? Hell yeah I did,” Layfield is quoted in the article. “A lot of people want to talk about me and did I haze people? Yes. Absolutely. I make no apologies whatsoever.” 

Deadspin unearthed an interview Coachman did with BackSportsPage.com in 2014 where he said he was set up by WWE’s top management - Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Jerry Briscoe and Paul “Triple H” Levesque - to believe he was arrested for running an illegal football pool in the locker room. He said he was berated by McMahon for shaming the company for 45 minutes then driven off by police, before being being returned to the arena.

“Greatest rip in the history of the business,” Coachman said. “And for about 10 minutes I literally walked to a place in the building and started crying.” 

One quote from Brian “The Blue Meanie” Heffron said a tag match with Layfield and his partner Ron Simmons led to Heffron’s partner Duane Gill blacking out twice from the severity of the unchoreographed blows. 

Mike Bucci, who wrestled in WWE as Nova and Simon Dean said Layfield’s antics often occurred while he was drunk, and were excused as “seeing what he’s made of” when making life and work difficult for a WWE employee.

WWE and ESPN have come under fire over the last week. The controversy started over the unannounced absence of lead TV announcer Mauro Ranallo due to a bout of depression. Layfield blasted Ranallo for not being on TV while on-air and during a non-character segment on WWE’s streaming service. Ranallo’s absence timed with the publication of the book “Best Seat in the House” by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who detailed harassment he took from Layfield.

ESPN began a weekly segment with WWE wrestlers a year ago, but is now canceled as of this weekend after Coachman began blasting people on Twitter who called for ESPN to cover the pro wrestling company like it would any other story. 

ESPN anchor draws ire over network’s soft WWE coverage, drops pro wrestling SportsCenter segment

Pro wrestling fans and writers had questioned World Wrestling Entertainment for several weeks after the disappearance of one of its lead announcers from television, Mauro Ranallo, who was suffering from depression.

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer said Ranallo may have been the victim of WWE’s bullying culture, particularly John Layfield, his color commentator who made disparaging remarks about Ranallo following his absence on TV and during an out-of-character segment on the company’s streaming network.

The allegations became more rampant after the release of “Best Seat in The House,” a book by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts. Roberts alleged Layfield bullied him and others regularly, particularly announcers. This behavior and culture was not only tolerated but encouraged by WWE owner Vince McMahon.

ESPN started covering WWE regularly last year, launching its own pro wrestling section on its website, and with a weekly SportsCenter segment by ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman, a former WWE announcer himself.

ESPN has been questioned for its involvement with WWE, especially its reluctance to cover negative news about the company, almost to the point of sticking to storyline-esque interviews on its programming. The questioning began heating up over the weekend when the story bullying story began to go viral. When asked in a tweet if ESPN would cover the controversy, wrestling journalist Meltzer replied expressing doubt in strong language. 

Coachman wasn’t involved in the discussion, but entered the fray anyway with a shot at Meltzer.

In the middle of his argument, Coachman announced he was dropping the weekly WWE segment from SportsCenter. He deleted the Tweet later, then said he had been planning on dropping it for several weeks because of other projects, but his timing seemed suspect. He pointed fans toward ESPN’s vertical for pro wrestling and WWE coverage.

ESPN has drawn ire for its news coverage, often for its abundance of debate shows during the morning hours and conflict of interest of having TV deals with the companies it covers. The network dropped a planned fictional show based on a pro football team after criticism from the NFL, then later dropped support of a PBS Frontline documentary on accusations the NFL had covered up concussion issues. 

Teen basketball sensation with no arms inspires others around the world

Jamarion Styles lost his arms years ago to a rare bacterial infection, but that’s not stopping him from playing the sport he loves.

>> Read more trending news

Styles, 13, became an online sensation after video posted to Twitter captured him sinking a 3-pointer just before the buzzer went off. The video was shared by several major sports networks.

Styles said he just loves playing ball.

“I love the game, personally,” Styles told WPEC. “My teammates help me out good and my school is good.”

Styles said despite his disability, he plans to continue to pursue his passion for basketball. He shared some advice for other kids who may also be differently-abled.

“Just stay positive and you can do whatever you can if you want.”

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