It is not uncommon for NBA superstars to flex their influence so they can land a one way ticket to a new destination. In recent seasons we’ve seen Anthony Davis pull a power move on the New Orleans Pelicans, Kawhi Leonard spur his way out of San Antonio, Kyrie Irving force a cross over from Cleveland to Boston and Chris Paul catch a rocket to Houston.
Love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that NBA superstars have enormous punching power when it comes to fighting for their futures.
The NFL is a different story. With 53-man rosters and mostly non-guaranteed contracts and colluding owners, players (quarterbacks being the exception) are generally forced to “play their position.”Sure, NFL players can move wherever they want in free agency, but when under contract they seemingly have had much less clout than their basketball counterparts. That may all be changing.
Over the past week, two of the best wide receivers in the league found themselves moving to new destinations.
First, Antonio Brown was dealt from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick and fifth-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Despite being one of the most productive receivers in the league, Brown’s relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger and Coach Mike Tomlin soured leading Brown to request a trade at the end of the season.
After Brown nixed a deal that would have sent him to the Buffalo Bills, he accepted one that will send him to Oakland/Las Vegas to play with Derek Carr.
The Steelers team was likely happy to waive good riddance to Brown. The Steelers front office was fatigued from dealing with running back Le'Veon Bell. Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after being unhappy with his contract situation. The team ultimately allowed Bell to become a free agent. He recently signed with the New York Jets for less money than he would have made in Pittsburgh.
Though Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t publicly request a trade like Brown, the human highlight with highlights ensured that it was no secret that he was unhappy with the New York Giants. In an interview with ESPN, Beckham criticized Giants coaches for not getting him the ball enough. He also opined that the team was getting “out-schemed” by opposing coaches.
Additionally, his extra antics such as animated on-field celebrations, a fight with Josh Norman and bedding models on Instagram led the Giants front office to believe the “OBJ” distraction was not worth the production.
According to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, the Beckham trade was not a football-only decision. “He had become too much of a pain in the [butt].”
Just one year after signing a five-year, $90 million contract extension, Beckham was dealt to the Cleveland Browns for safety Jabrill Peppers, a first-round draft pick and a third-round draft pick. Clevelanders are probably celebrating in the streets. A year after LeBron James shook the spot, the Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian show is no longer the biggest ongoing sports story in Cleveland.
Much like James led the Cavs to the promised land, Beckham’s arrival could help the Browns end a 16-year playoff drought.
Unfortunately for NFL owners and fans, the successful flexes could encourage other NFL superstars to force themselves out of unhappy situations.
Westbrook fined $25K for clapback against racist Jazz fan
Russell Westbrook was fined $25K after threatening to beat down a couple of Utah Jazz fans on Monday night. After video of the tail end of the verbal altercation circled the web, Westbrook defended his comments (which are not suitable for this family-friendly newspaper) by insisting that a Jazz fan, identified as Shane Keisel, made “completely disrespectful” and “racial” remarks during the game.
Keisel did a TV interview in Utah where he completely denied using any profanity or disparaging remarks in his conversation with Westbrook. The Jazz’s investigation, which included video and interviews with nearby fans, determined that was a lie. The former Utah Highway Patrolman was permanently banned from all Utah Jazz games and Vivint Smart Home Arena events.
Never to be outdone by official investigations, Twitter sleuths uncovered Keisel’s Twitter account where the proud MAGA American dropped the N-word and had tweeted negative, racist and disparaging tweets about Westbrook throughout the season.
“Westbrook needs to go back where he came from. #MAGA,” one tweet read.
Another suggested Westbrook should be beaten up and directed profanities towards the Thunder guard.
Though Keisel tried deleting old tweets and making his page private, nothing is ever deleted from the internet. Luckily for Westbrook and other NBA players, there’s now one less jerk they’ll have to listen to during games.
Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert came out in support of Westbrook.
"Sometimes it almost feels like a zoo," Gobert told ESPN. "People pay money to watch us and feel like they can touch us or do whatever they want. Because we make millions, we're just expected to shut up and take it. But they can't do whatever they want.
"I want to thank my team and the NBA for quickly responding to this hateful incident, and for helping to make our arena a place where all fans and players are welcome,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I join other players in calling for all teams to take a stand. We should not be subject to hate speech or racist acts at any time, and definitely not in our arenas.”
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