Herpes outbreak among horses at Arizona, New Mexico
Horses at a Phoenix racetrack, Turf Paradise, have been quarantined after an outbreak of equine herpes, which apparently was caused by contact with workers who had the human form of the disease at a New Mexico track, Sunland Park near El Paso. A mare arriving in a van from Sunland became stricken by the virus, was unable to stand, and was euthanized. Accompanying her in the van were two other horses who have been quarantined. So far, they have tested negative for the virus. Sanitation crews at Turf Paradise have been disinfecting stables, starting gates, water buckets, jockeys’ boots, anything that might have touched a contaminated horse. Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino reported 18 cases of herpes among its horses, one of which was put down. Sunland suspended all racing operations. Track officials said they’re exercising extreme caution because herpes is easily transferred from human to equine.
Between the Lines: In case you’re wondering, man and horse do not have to be kissing.
Browns give up on Manziel after another police report
Police in Fort Worth used a helicopter in search of Johnny Manziel after a woman identifying herself as his ex-girlfriend said she feared for his safety. The cops were responding to a report that the soon to be ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback had assaulted the woman. But she refused to press charges or to assist in making a case against Manziel who was found unharmed. The Browns announced they were parting ways with their 2014 first-round draft pick, who has been involved in several other embarrassing off-field incidents during his brief NFL career. On the field, Manziel made progress in his second season, ranking 24th among 37 starting quarterbacks in QBR, which quantifies the passer’s efficiency on every play. It’s rumored that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has embraced such unstable characters as Dez Bryant and Greg Hardy, will take a chance on Johnny Football for his marketing potential and as eventual replacement for 36-year-old Tony Romo.
Florida St. pays Winston’s accuser $950K, calls it a win
John Thrasher, president of Florida State University, tried to spin a victory out of the school paying $950,000 to the woman who accused quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her. Erica Kinsman sued FSU for Title IX violations, saying the school was “deliberately indifferent” in investigating her claims against Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2013 and was the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick, by Tampa Bay, last spring. In a statement regarding settlement of the lawsuit, Thrasher said the defendant would have won had the case gone to trial but that the school was settling only to “avoid additional litigation expenses.” Winston said he and Kinsman had consensual sex. When state prosecutor William Meggs investigated the matter he said the university and the Tallahassee police had done such a poor job of acquiring evidence that he could not bring charges against Winston. But the player still has to contend with a civil suit Kinsman has filed against him.
Bruised and battered Megatron ponders retiring at 30
After nine years in the NFL, perennial All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson observes his multiple fractured fingers and other scars and is not sure he wants to endure more battering. The Detroit Lions are trying to persuade the 30-year-old Megatron to delay his retirement, hoping that after a few weeks of rest and recovery he will feel his old desire to play football. Johnson is under contract for next season, but the Lions are willing to extend, much as the Arizona Cardinals did for Larry Fitzgerald. But it’s also possible Johnson is maneuvering to bring about a trade from one of the least successful of NFL franchises.
LeBron/Blatt relationship was doomed from the start
LeBron James insisted he “was caught off guard” and had nothing to do with the firing of David Blatt by the Cleveland Cavaliers. But it was obvious to all observers that James had been anything but supportive of his coach, whom he publicly referred to as “Blatt” and whose play calls he openly rejected. The inherent problem was that Blatt was hired three weeks before James signed to rejoin the Cavaliers. Blatt had succeeded internationally at coaching young athletes and was well qualified to develop an inexperienced, rebuilding Cleveland team. But the dynamics suddenly changed when James, who was born in Ohio, indicated he wanted to “go home.” Blatt had not been hired to coach the self-described “greatest player in basketball.” James quickly made it clear that he was not going to be grooved into Blatt’s system, that he would be the system. It didn’t help that Tyronn Lue, who had lost out on the head coaching job, was hired – for a $2 million salary — to assist Blatt. James made it obvious he respected Lue much more than Blatt and often sat next to the assistant coach on the bench. It was no surprise that Lue was chosen to replace Blatt.
Kings’ star player accuses team of racial insensitivity
The Sacramento Kings planned a promotion for a game Monday night in which they would give away black T-shirts with a purple monkey on the front to acknowledge the Chinese calendar’s Year of the Monkey which begins Feb. 8. But the Kings’ star player, DeMarcus Cousins, protested that the gesture was racially insensitive, that “monkey” is a slur white racists use against black people. The timing of the promotion was especially unfortunate, with Monday being the first day of Black History Month. The Kings’ front office responded to Cousins’ protest by canceling the promotion. Kings president Chris Granger said, “We all need a lesson in sensitivity.”
Between the Lines: What’s “sensitivity” to some is “political correctness” to others.