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Forget messy divorce: James Harrison remembered as Steeler great – Pittsburgh Steelers Blog

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PITTSBURGH — With James Harrison announcing his second and final retirement Monday, the 39-year-old should be known for his timely playmaking and Super Bowl pedigree with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Harrison’s clunky exit out of Pittsburgh in 2017 affected his standing with the team in the short term but won’t be an issue years from now. His legacy will age as well as he did.

He’s the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and the owner of one of the best defensive plays in Super Bowl history, a 100-yard interception return during a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.

In December, several teammates blasted Harrison for basically forcing his way out of town over lack of playing time. The Steelers had signed Harrison to a two-year deal as a positional hedge in case a draft pick didn’t develop. Well, T.J. Watt developed in a hurry, leaving Harrison in street clothes for parts of the season.

Harrison expressed displeasure in part by missing practices and sleeping through meetings. Players had no problem revealing some of Harrison’s issues in 2017, with center Maurkice Pouncey saying Harrison had tarnished his Steelers legacy, a statement Pouncey softened a month later at the Pro Bowl.

But Harrison has always been a different dude. Considering how he fought his way into league prominence as an undrafted free agent who played in the World League, Harrison going out on his own terms was hardly a surprise. His short stint with the New England Patriots made the Steelers salty for a time, but he needed a job and Bill Belichick offered him one.

That doesn’t change the reality that inside Heinz Field, Harrison almost always produced. His 80.5 career sacks with the Steelers won’t be touched for a while. The franchise’s active leader, defensive end Cam Heyward, has 37 sacks.

Even in his late 30s, Harrison showcased moments of brilliance. He first retired in 2014, then returned for 23 sacks over four seasons, including the playoffs. His 7.5 sacks over an 11-game stretch in 2016 energized the Steelers during a midseason lull. Even in limited action in 2017, Harrison showed his fastball with a Week 6 sack against tackle Eric Fisher in Kansas City.

The modern Steelers defense has emphasized speedy linebackers who can cover, which isn’t Harrison’s game, but he could apply pressure on quarterbacks until the very end.

Steelers fans don’t remember Franco Harris for his one season in Seattle, and they won’t remember Harrison as a Patriot.

They’ll remember him taking a Kurt Warner pass to the house, his insane workout regimen and his bull rush off the edge.

As it should be.

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Kevin Dodd of Tennessee Titans placed on reserve did not report list after not reporting for training camp

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Dodd‘s puzzling offseason continued Sunday when he did not report for Titans training camp. He was placed on the reserve/did not report list.

Right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Phillip Supernaw were placed on the physically unable to perform list. Linebacker Rashaan Evans and receiver Michael Campanaro were placed on the non-football illness list. Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay was placed on the non-football injury list.

Dodd, a 2016 second-round pick, missed all of voluntary offseason workouts before being a limited participant during mandatory minicamp. He never gave a reason for his absence and declined to answer questions.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel wanted to give Dodd a clean slate after two disappointing seasons to start his NFL career. Injuries derailed his rookie season, but he hasn’t shown much when he has played. A 6-foot-5, 280-pound outside linebacker, he has one sack and 12 tackles in 18 games.

The Titans drafted Harold Landry in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft to give them much-needed depth in their pass rush, but as of earlier this offseason there was still hope within the organization that Dodd could be a contributor. Dodd hasn’t helped his cause.

Conklin is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the Titans’ Jan. 13 divisional playoff loss to the Patriots. He won’t be on the field to start training camp, and the optimistic goal is to try to get him back by Week 1. Conklin said he lost weight and attacked his rehab without any setbacks, but the Titans may need to prepare as if they will be without him to start the season.

Veteran reserve Dennis Kelly is expected to slide in at right tackle while Conklin recovers from his injury.

Evans’ designation isn’t expected to keep him off the field much during training camp.

Quarterbacks, rookies and players injured at the end of the June offseason program were due to report Sunday. Dodd and Conklin were included in that group. The rest of the Titans are set to report Wednesday.

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Minnesota Vikings O-line coach Tony Sparano dies at age 56

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Former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has died at the age of 56.

Since 2016, Sparano had served as the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, who confirmed his death.

“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. Tony’s presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed. We are only thinking of Tony’s family during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that the entire NFL and Vikings family keep the Sparanos in their thoughts.”

Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in his coaching career, including coaching the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and serving as Oakland Raiders interim head coach in 2014. He also had stints with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers.

He had reunited with coach Mike Zimmer in Minnesota. The two coached under Bill Parcells with the Cowboys from 2003 to 2006.

Sparano was 32-41 as a head coach and took the Dolphins to his only playoff appearance during his first season in 2008.

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Mike Evans of Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives $11,000 to aid family of slain man

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Mike Evans is staying true to his word to “help a lot of people” after signing an extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year.

On Saturday, he donated $11,000 to the family of Gregory Hill, who was shot and killed by a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office deputy in 2014.

Hill’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and after a two-week trial in May, a jury ruled in favor of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, saying Hill was 99 percent responsible for his death and the department 1 percent responsible. The jury awarded the family $4, $1 for each of Hill’s three children and $1 for funeral expenses. The family, however, received just 4 cents (1 percent of the $4 award).

Evans asked how he could help the family in a tweet Saturday and was directed to a GoFundMe page that was created after the verdict. Evans’ donation helped push the total raised to nearly $100,000.

When the 24-year-old wide receiver signed his five-year, $82 million extension in March, Evans said of his charity plans, “It’s hard to put into words. With my actions you’ll see it.” Last year, Evans and his wife, Ashli, also founded the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which gives scholarships to high school graduates coming from low-income situations and provides help to women and their families who are victims of domestic violence.

Gregory Hill was 30 when he was shot and killed by an officer responding to a complaint about loud music in 2014. After officers knocked on his garage and front doors, Hill opened his garage door. He was shot when he lowered the garage door and police alleged that Hill pointed a gun at the deputies. An unloaded gun was found in his pocket and tests revealed that his blood alcohol content was 0.40.



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