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Monroe retires from NFL at 29, worried about CTE

Eugene Monroe, starting left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, announced his retirement at the early age of 29.  In this trend he follows San Francisco’s Anthony Davis and Chris Borland, who retired a year ago before reaching age 30.  In the past year, 14 players 30 and under have retired from the NFL.  In The Players’ Tribune (“Leaving the Game I Love”), Monroe writes: “The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to my head and my body.  I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.”  He expresses concern about the widespread use by players of opioides to counter the pain.  He’d like more research on medical marijuana as an alternative.  But most of all he worries about his brain, wondering if he’s more forgetful than the average 29-year-old.  “Has the damage to my brain already been done?  Do I have CTE?  I hope I don’t, but over 90% of brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease.  I’m terrified.”   

NotepadDear Gene:  Your concerns are warranted.  However, the  90% figure is misleading, as most of the autopsied brains were from players who had shown symptoms of CTE.  This was no random sample.


Rice to donate entire salary to women’s causes, if he plays again

The endlessly replayed video of Ray Rice knocking out his wife with one punch in an elevator is so nauseating that it all but eliminated his chance of continuing his football career.  Never mind that other NFL players returned to the field after doing worse to a woman than Rice did.  There was no video on them.  The former Pro Bowl running back is 29 and probably still in his physical prime after sitting out two seasons.  “I’m in the best shape of my life,” he claims.  If the league will give him another chance he promises to give away his entire salary ($885,000 being the league minimum he might hope to obtain) to charities helping battered women. “I know there’s a lot of people affected by domestic violence, and every dollar helps.”

NotepadDear Ray:  Everyone deserves a second chance, but Roger Goodell knows your return would bring renewed attention to an incident that was horribly mishandled by his office


Elliott claims ex-girlfriend falsely accused him of abuse

Ezekiel Elliott, first-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys, has been gathering evidence do refute allegations by an ex-girlfriend that he assaulted her.  Cowboys officials say he showed them voicemails in which she threatened to “ruin” him for breaking up with her.   The woman filed a complaint with police in Columbus, Ohio, claiming the former Ohio State running back assaulted her at 2:35 a.m. Friday while she was sitting in her car in a parking lot on West Third Avenue.  However, police interviewed four witnesses who were in the parking lot at that time, and none said they noticed any assault.  The woman filed another report claiming Elliott hit her on two other occasions in mid-July.  She showed photos of bruises on her arms.  But Elliott said those were from an altercation in a bar that did not involve him.  A police spokesperson called it “a he-said, she-said case.”  No charges have been filed.


Wahlberg says NFL complained about ‘Ballers’

Mark Wahlberg, executive producer of the HBO television series Ballers, said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and some of the team owners complained to him about the show presenting a side of the league they’d rather not publicize, players blowing their fortunes and occasionally showing violent behavior off the field.  The show is fiction but features some NFL players, such as Terrell Suggs, playing themselves.  In an interview on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, Wahlberg said the show “is actually a good thing for the league and the players because hopefully you get the word out there with the crazy stuff and the financial side of it, hopefully we’ll get the guys to realize they’ve got to be more careful with what they do with their money.”


Westbrook ‘hurt’ that Durant didn’t consult with him

Russell Westbrook, All-Star point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is angry and hurt because Kevin Durant left the team and did not call him to tell him personally about his decision.  Durant has said he talked with Westbrook after committing to the Golden State Warriors, but Royce Young of ESPN and Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman both reported that Westbrook has said otherwise.  Westbrook is in the final year of his contract, and the Thunder management wants to extend him.  However, if Westbrook won’t commit to an extension, he will be traded before the next season begins.  The team does not want a repeat of the Durant situation, losing a superstar and getting no compensation.

NotepadDear Russ: Durant left because you preferred shooting to passing him the ball.  You’ re mentioned with James Harden and Carmelo Anthony as being the most selfish players in the NBA.


D-Rose imagines Knicks being called ‘super team’

Derrick Rose, the new point guard of the New York Knicks, seems to think the team is creating much higher expectations than it actually is.  “With these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams,” Rose said in an interview with  He did not reveal the names of any people saying the Knicks are a “super team,” worthy of comparison to Golden State or, for that matter, NBA champion Cleveland.  The Knicks won 32 games last season, and though improved by the acquisitions of ex-Chicago Bulls Rose and Joakim Noah, they are not considered a championship contender.  By anyone but Derrick Rose.


Barkley praises Draymond Green for slapping fan

Charles Barkley, who is never without a controversial opinion, praised Golden State’s Draymond Green for hitting a former Michigan State football player, Jermaine Edmondson, outside a night club in East Lansing.  “Good for Draymond Green,” Barkley said to Dan LeBatard on ESPN.  “You and the other idiots in the press have given these fools power to tweet and say anything they want about these professional players . . . because of the amount of money they make and things like that.  So more power to Draymond for slapping the hell out of that kid, or whoever he was.”  Charged with misdemeanor assault, Green accepted a plea bargain and a $560 fine with no criminal charges to be on his record.  In 1997, when Barkley was playing in the NBA, he shoved a fan through a window in a bar.  “The guy threw ice in my face,” Barkley said.  “He got what he deserved.”  When the judge in the case asked Barkley if he had any regrets, the player said, “Yeah, I regret we were on the first floor.”


Aussies delay move into Olympic Village until repairs are made

Australia’s Olympians delayed moving into the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro as they complained of “blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring.”  Shades of Sochi?  But Kitty Chiller, manager of Australia’s delegation, said improvements are being made and the move-in will occur before the weekend.  The village is expected to house 18,000 athletes, with the Olympics scheduled to begin Aug. 5.

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