Top Story

Santonio Holmes Gets Into Some Trouble With His iPod, No Charges

Now this is bad news I didn't want to hear. Two Pittsburgh area television stations reported that Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes was escorted off an airplane for being disruptive, but it turns out he walked off the plane himself after being warned by workers to turn off his iPod while the plane was landing. Holmes was not charged. The Jets said that authorities did write an incident report on Holmes for not turning off his iPod. The Jets said the incident took place on a flight from Newark, N.J. to Pittsburgh Thursday night.

"I know what has been told to me and it kind of got blown out of proportion it sounds like in some of the media outlets and things," Rex Ryan said during the team's rookie minicamp. "I mean, OK, let's face it, he should turn off his iPod. That's what he should do. He should do that. I haven't had a chance to talk to Santonio, but he certainly should do that."

For Holmes, who has a history of getting into trouble, this isn't good news. He is suspended for the first four game of the upcoming season. He was traded to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick.

Another Hit To Scumbags (I Mean Administration) That Run Hofstra

Hofstra University took another hit Friday when new men's basketball coach Tim Welsh was charged with driving while intoxicated this morning. Nassau County police said the coach was found stopped in his Lexus at about 1 a.m. at a steady green light at an intersection in Levittown on Long Island. He was taken into custody and charged with DWI, then later arraigned, where he pleaded not guilty. The school has suspended Welsh without pay effectively immediately. Welsh, the former coach at Providence and Iona, was hired in March.

This is another black eye for the school, which recently cut the football program. So, any negative news against the school is good news for those who attended Hofstra. Hopefully, the president has taken one more step toward the door and soon will leave the school. We can only hope. For what I thought about the embarrassing decision to cut the football program, check out that story RIGHT HERE.

(WCBS TV photo)

Bristol's Aaron Hernandez Issues Statement Saying He Tested Positive For Marijuana

Patriots tight end and Bristol native Aaron Hernandez issued a statement tonight concerning rumors that he tested positive multiple times for marijuana while at the University of Florida.

"Leading up to the draft, I provided every interested NFL team with all the information asked of me about football and my personal life. I was as candid as I could possibly be about everything, including my one single violation of the team’s substance testing policy over the course of three years at the University of Florida. That is why I was very surprised and disappointed by the recent inaccurate report of additional violations. I regret what happened, I learned from it and will make better decisions going forward. I couldn’t be more excited about beginning my NFL career and representing the New England Patriots well."

Reports surfaced Monday night in a Boston Globe story that Hernandez had tested positive multiple times for marijuana use and that scared off many teams in the NFL Draft. Hernandez was thought to be a second-round pick, but dropped to the Patriots in the fourth round.

Here's what one AFC college scout said to the Globe about Hernandez: "It’s not like he failed one test. He had repeated issues with it, to the point where you worry about whether he’ll be able to lay off the stuff at our level. To be honest, he’s super talented and, even with the issues, I’m surprised he fell as far he did."

Another executive said, "He’s not a tight end, he’s a big receiver, but he’s talented — he can run and catch, a damn good athlete. He had multiple positive tests, so he either had issues or he’s dumb. One or two tests? Fine. But four, five, six? Come on, now you’ve got an addiction. He’s not a bad kid. He just has an issue."

(AP photo)

Aaron Hernandez Reportedly Failed Multiple Drug Tests While At Florida

Leading up to the NFL Draft, the phrase "off-the-field issues" was attached to Bristol's Aaron Hernandez constantly. When he dropped to the fourth round of the draft, it didn't take a Mel Kiper mind to realize those issues contributed to the fall. While we never heard of anything that Hernandez did to deserve the stigma, it looks like we finally have an answer as to what those issues were.

Quoting sources from three different teams, the Boston Globe reports that Hernandez's drop was the result of multiple failed drug tests while at Florida. The drug of choice was marijuana. Hernandez also reportedly admitted his use to NFL teams at the Scouting Combine. He did not test positive at the Combine, though. The Globe quoted a source close to Hernandez that said the tight end only tested positive once, but also admitted that marijuana was a problem for the former Bristol Central star and the main reason for the fall. The Globe writes that the explanation Hernandez gave to teams was that the drug use was a result of his father's death in 2006.

Here's what one AFC college scout said to the Globe about Hernandez: "It’s not like he failed one test. He had repeated issues with it, to the point where you worry about whether he’ll be able to lay off the stuff at our level. To be honest, he’s super talented and, even with the issues, I’m surprised he fell as far he did."

Another executive said, "He’s not a tight end, he’s a big receiver, but he’s talented — he can run and catch, a damn good athlete. He had multiple positive tests, so he either had issues or he’s dumb. One or two tests? Fine. But four, five, six? Come on, now you’ve got an addiction. He’s not a bad kid. He just has an issue."

Hernandez was drafted in the fourth round by the New England Patriots.

(AP photo)

Southington Coach Bill Mella Resigns, Accepts Job At Wesleyan University

Southington High School football coach Bill Mella resigned as head coach of the Blue Knights Monday in a surprising move. Mella is leaving to become an assistant coach at Wesleyan University. He will, however, keep his teaching job at the school. Mella accepted an assistant offensive line coach position with Wesleyan, and will focus on the team's tight ends and H-backs.

“This only happened in about the last 10 days,” Mella said at a press conference in Southington Monday afternoon. “Being offered a job in college was something that I was interested in listening to. And then it was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So, this all kind of has happened very quickly.”

Mella told his team that he was leaving before the 3 p.m. press conference.

“After that initial reaction, there was a lot of congratulations and well-wishing. And I was really kind of proud that they had that kind of maturity,” Mella said.

It's a definite step up for Mella in his coaching career.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience in this town, in this school system, under this administration,” Mella said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the five years that I’ve had an opportunity [to coach], and I’ve been honored to be the head of this football program.”

For the Blue Knights, the search for a new coach starts now.

“The search will commence immediately and we plan on having a head coach in place for the start of next season,” Southington Director of Athletics Eric Swallow said.

Full coverage will be in tomorrow's New Britain Herald and Bristol Press.

(Rob Heyl photo)

As Javier Vazquez Gets Rocked Again, It Could Be Time For Yankees To Trade The Pitcher

Is it too early for the Yankees to call their trade for Javier Vazquez a terrible mistake? After Sunday's performance, Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have to be at least thinking it. One thing is for sure, Yankees fans are not happy and would probably ship Vazquez back to Atlanta for a simple thank you note right about now. Vazquez went 3.2 innings today against the Angels, allowing five hits, five runs, three walks and striking out just three. I'm not even waiting for the game to end before putting an "L" next to that pitching line. Vazquez has been horrendous since rejoining the Yankees, bringing back serious concerns that he simply can't pitch under the bright lights of New York.

Vazquez will soon be 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP on the season. He's struck out 18 and walked 11. That's not exactly what the Yankees thought they would be getting when they traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves. Vazquez won 15 games and had a 2.87 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP for Atlanta last year. He also struck out 238 batters in just over 219 innings. Those numbers will be nearly impossible to expect this year from Vazquez, unless the Yankees decide enough is enough and look for a trade partner in the National League as soon as possible.

Is it too early for that? Probably. The Yankees can get away with sub-par starts from Vazquez with their offense and talent level, and even win many of those games. But Vazquez has already lost trust with the team and the fans. Vazquez may survive the season with the Yankees, but there is no way in the world he pitches for the team in October. It might be time to start looking for possible trade partners.

(AP photo)

GameDay Live: NFL Draft

GameDay To Live Blog NFL Draft

Unlike last year, when I was able to reel off one of my favorite blogs of all time RIGHT HERE, work took me away from GameDay for the first two days and three rounds of this year's primetime version of the NFL Draft. But consider it a short break, as I'll be back Saturday morning for full coverage of the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds right here.

Of course, it will be an important day for local fans, as Bristol's Aaron Hernandez (who Mel Kiper Jr. has as the second best player still available) and New Britain's David Reed are sure to be drafted. Where is anyone's guess, but feel free to check in and leave your comments as the day progresses. I'll be here to break down our local players, the Jets, Giants and Patriots, and all the other interesting moves.

Jets To Cut Guard Alan Faneca

ESPNNewYork.com, which actually is an impressive website, is reporting the Jets will cut Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. I'm going back and forth on the decision, as Faneca hasn't played well in two years, but the Jets' offensive line is the best in the league and messing with that chemistry is a huge risk. On paper, the move makes sense. Faneca allowed 6.5 sacks last year, an extremely high number for a guard. He will turn 33 this year and is due to make $7.5 million.

The team also drafted offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse in the second round of the NFL Draft, who can seemingly step in and play Faneca's guard spot next year. On the other side, Faneca will still be paid more than $5 million by the Jets to do nothing. Is cutting Faneca and replacing him with Ducasse worth the $2 million in savings? No one will know for sure until, probably, the end of the season. The offensive line was getting old in two spots - Faneca at guard and Damien Woody at right tackle - so this decision was coming soon. I just didn't believe it would be this year. The Jets were trying to trade Faneca for a few weeks now, but found no takers.

An Inside Look At Our Sports Department's Version Of An NFL Draft Team's War Room

After Friday night, I believe I know exactly what it's like being in the pressure cooker of an NFL team's draft war room. With the NFL Draft winding down in the third round and the newspaper's deadline quickly approaching, I found myself, with others in the sports department, going through team's depth charts, their strengths and weaknesses, trying to figure out when and if our two local stars would be drafted that night. Bristol's Aaron Hernandez, who was said to be as high as a second-round talent, was still on the board late in Round 3. He could go at any moment. New Britain's David Reed was thought to be a sixth-round choice, so there was seemingly no reason to stress out about him being taken in the final few picks. But that quickly changed after looking at ESPN's best available prospects, and Reed's name was No. 1 on the best available WR's list.

Just like that, it was very possible that both players could have been picked ... even back-to-back.

While that would have been great for them, it would have created havoc with the sports section. If either one of the two players was drafted in that final half-hour, I would have had to blow up both back pages and inside pages as well, and do it within a few minutes. Needless to say, it was a stressful time of waiting and wondering. Obviously, having Hernandez or Reed on the back page would be a whole lot better than going with yet another Rock Cats losing effort. With that thought, a big part of me wanted to see the NFL announce one of our player's names, to hell with the deadline. The other side had me not wanting to explain to my bosses why the paper was so late and just go with the section already completed. (Knowing how much I love the NFL, I think readers know which one I would have preferred.)

But, in the end, Hernandez and Reed were both still on the draft board as Round 3 came to an end. The back pages went out as is. Luckily, we were able to tease a short Hernandez update story on the cover of The Bristol Press. Tomorrow, both Hernandez and Reed should finally hear their names called and will find out which NFL team city they will call home. For me, for one night anyway, I got the chance to live the life of a member of an NFL team's draft war room. Sure it was stressful, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Roethlisberger Suspended Six Games

The NFL has suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games. He also was ordered to undergo a comprehensive behavioral evaluation. If he makes progress before the season, the suspension could drop to four games. That will be up to commissioner Roger Goodell. How he can come to that conclusion, I have no idea, but look for the Steelers QB to miss the first four games of the season.

Here's part of the letter sent from Goodell to Roethlisberger: "As the District Attorney concluded, the extensive investigatory record shows that you contributed to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol by purchasing (or facilitating the purchase of) alcoholic beverages for underage college students, at least some of whom were likely already intoxicated. There is no question that the excessive consumption of alcohol that evening put the students and yourself at risk. The Personal Conduct Policy also states that discipline is appropriate for conduct that 'undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.' By any measure, your conduct satisfies that standard.

"In your six years in the NFL, you have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people. I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track."

Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon will quarterback the team to start the season. The Steelers have a very soft schedule to open the season, playing the Falcons, Buccaneers, Titans and Ravens.

On the trade front that was discussed earlier, I can't see any team in the top 10 of the NFL Draft now making the trade for Roethlisberger. Next offseason, though, Roethlisberger could be on the move.

(AP photo)

NFL Sacks Roethlisberger 4-6 Games

Multiple outlets are reporting that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended four to six games today by the NFL. That, if true, is a great move by the NFL. The league needs to step up and punish players who embarrass the league, especially in this case where Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault.

While the chargers were dropped, if you've read the report, or stories on it, you know the Steelers QB is at least guilty of being a total loser. The one wrong turn the NFL could take is if the reports are true that Roethlisberger could trim that suspension by staying out of trouble, because that would be completely bogus. How hard would it be for him to stay out of trouble for a couple months? Well, typically, not too hard. But it is Roethlisberger.

The bigger news is that ESPN is reporting that the Steelers are shopping the quarterback to teams in the top 10 of this year's NFL Draft. Now that would be a blockbuster.

(AP photo)

Jets Sadly Have Signed Jason Taylor

The joyous time for Jets fans has come to an end. Jason Taylor, one of if not the most hated man in Jets history, has signed with the team. Obviously the Jets and coach Rex Ryan are happy with the deal, but Jets fans are crying today, wondering how an offseason that has gone so well could end like this. Taylor is a flat-out bum. An old bum. A washed up bum. And now he's a Jet because the Dolphins didn't want anything to do with him.

Ryan, who has done and said all the right things since joining the team, just doesn't understand this situation. If he did, Taylor would not be a Jet today. "Clearly, this is one of the premier players in the game, one of the premier pass-rushers in the game," coach Rex Ryan said during a conference call. "We expect Jason to play a bunch and be a major contributor to our defense."

Taylor, who obviously has no backbone, joins enemy territory. He hates the Jets and their fans and the Jets and their fans hate him right back. But he's here. "Do I expect them to hate me some? Sure," Taylor said. "We've had a long history of going back and forth. We lost a lot of games to those guys for a few years. That wasn't fun. I was a big boy, and I always came back and added more fuel to it. It's a rivalry. That's the way it's supposed to be."

Ryan, "I look at it this way: What was the kind of impact Roger Clemens had? He was a Red Sox and went over to the Yankees and helped out there. I kind of look at Johnny Damon with the same type of deal. So, if Jason could have the same impact on the Jets as those players had on the Yankees and we win a championship, I think we'll all be happy."

Oh, Jets fans will be happy, but it won't have anything to do with Taylor.

So, hopefully, Jets fans will boo Taylor at the home opener. Hopefully they boo him every time his name is spoken over the PA system. Boo him every time he steps on the field. Taylor and the Jets don't mix ... this signing doesn't change that.

Future NFL Draft Pick Aaron Hernandez Pays Bristol Press A Visit For Pre-Draft Interview

Former Bristol Central and University of Florida star TE Aaron Hernandez was in The Bristol Press offices this afternoon, which was a great thing for the paper to talk to the future NFL pro before one of the biggest days and weekends of his life. Hernandez will most likely be drafted in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday with the first round, Friday for the second and third round and Saturday for the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. Johnny Burnham interviewed Hernandez and we'll have full coverage of the visit and talk in Wednesday's Bristol Press and New Britain Herald. I'll post some of the best quotes here later on tonight so everyone can get an early look at what Hernandez is thinking going into the draft. Not only will we have this pre-draft interview/story on Hernandez, but also full post-draft coverage as well. So be on the lookout for it all in the coming days.

UPDATE: Here's some quotes from Hernandez.

On what round he thinks he'll get drafted: “I try not to think about any of that stuff because you never really know [when you’ll be selected] until they call your name. So all you can do is relax and wait for your name to be called.”

On missing the scouting combine: “I’m just so competitive. I wanted to do the combine but my back was a little sore and I knew I wasn’t going to be 100 percent for it. I figured it’s the biggest day of my life — going to the NFL — and that I should do it when I’m healthy.”

On his blocking: “I definitely feel like I have something to prove because no one thinks that I can block. When I go and play on my next team, I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I have, everything I got. You can’t do anything but give it your all. If there’s people out there still complaining about what I can and can’t do, there’s nothing I can do about that but keep working.”

Hernandez also said that the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens have shown the most interest in him. Remember, full coverage in tomorrow's Press and Herald.

Patriots To Sign WR Tory Holt

Watch out AFC East, the Patriots have entered the wide receiver arms race. After the Jets added Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round draft pick and the Dolphins traded a pair of second-rounders for Brandon Marshall, the Patriots have finally answered their division mates. According to CSN, New England has signed WR Tory Holt to a one-year contract. That's right, Tory Holt! I guess Bill Belichick believes he can get something out of Holt, who has been a no-show on the field for three seasons now.

He had 51 catches for 722 yards last year for the Jaguars. Not exactly Holmes or Marshall numbers. But, hey, the Patriots had to do something, right? Holt could start next year if Wes Welker doesn't recover from his knee surgery, which has Tom Brady probably scratching his head right now.

Dolphins Add WR Brandon Marshall

The Miami Dolphins added WR Brandon Marshall to the fold today for a pair of second-round draft picks. What does this mean to the rest of the AFC East? Well, nothing. The Dolphins are horrible and this pickup will help some, but won't make a difference in wins and losses.

The team will still run their gimmick, wildcat offense. And, when they decide to actually play football, QB Chad Henne won't be able to get Marshall the ball enough. Henne is not a good quarterback and Marshall will be calling for his head by Week 4. Marshall won't be happy and it will show. It's still a two-team race between the Jets and Patriots.

By the way, people are asking who got more value from their recent trades for star WR's, the Jets or Dolphins. Are you kidding? The Jets gave up a fifth-round pick and about a million dollars to add Santonio Holmes. The Broncos gave up two valuable draft picks and then agreed to pay Marshall, who is better than Holmes, but not by much, $50 million over five years. I don't really see the need to discuss it further, as it seems pretty obvious.

Jets Do It Again, Trade Fifth-Round Pick To Steelers For Santonio Holmes

The Jets traded for Steelers WR Santonio Holmes Sunday night, giving the team yet another weapon in a suddenly star-studded offense. The Jets will give up just a fifth round draft pick in this year's draft for the wide-out. ESPN1050 in New York first reported the deal. Holmes is a star on the field and was MVP of Super Bowl XLIII. He had 79 receptions for 1,248 yards last season.

Holmes, however, has a history of finding trouble. He was recently accused of throwing a glass at a woman at a night club. He was also cited for marijuana possession in 2008 and was arrested in 2006 on a domestic violence charge, but that charge was later dropped. There is also talk that Holmes will be suspended for the first four games of the season under the league's substance abuse policy. His off-the-field troubles obviously dropped his value and the Jets pounced. Suspension or not, it's a great trade for the Jets, who will have Holmes and Braylon Edwards as their starting WR's next season.

The Jets offense will have Mark Sanchez at QB, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene at RB, Holmes, Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery at WR, Dustin Keller at TE and the best offensive line in the league, with Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Pair that offense with the best defense in the league and you have to put the Jets in the top group of favorites to win the Super Bowl. Also, hopefully this ends talk of bringing in Dolphins DE Jason Taylor, a huge loser who has no place even being at the Jets headquarters.

After Rangers-Flyers Classic, One Things's For Sure ... NHL Should Dump The Shootout


When the NHL decided to install the shootout to, in theory, bring fans back from the strike, I thought it was a great idea. Who wouldn't want to see a game end with a shootout? It made almost too much sense not to bring the idea to professional hockey. Well, it took several years, and one huge regular season game for me to say that I was completely wrong. The NHL is wrong. The shootout is horrible.

The change of heart happened earlier Sunday when the Flyers beat the Rangers in the regular season finale in a shootout. Both teams were fighting for their postseason lives, as the winner would qualify for the postseason and the other would get a one-way ticket home. After regulation ended in a tie and the 5-minute overtime period didn't provide a winner, the game went to the shootout. Now, an entire season would come down to each team getting three breakaway shots on goal. The Flyers scored twice and the Rangers once. Game over. Flyers advance to the playoffs. Rangers go home. Is that the way for a classic hockey game that was played like a Game 7 should end? Absolutely not. It was anticlimactic. It was, in a word, stupid. Three shots to determine the final spot in the Stanley Cup tournament - it can't end like that. But it did.

Granted, how many times will a regular season game have that kind of pressure attached to it? Maybe, maybe, once a year. But watching it first hand was enough to realize that the shootout just doesn't work.

I have my own thoughts about regular season overtime games, but I realize the current system probably won't change for at least another decade. I don't understand the five-minute overtime. I get it for basketball, but in that sport there are a ton of scoring chances in that small time frame. In hockey, five minutes is practically nothing. I've always thought it should be a 10-minute period, but whatever, that won't change. I do hope that the shootout will at least switch to have five shooters each. Three proves nothing. Three to five would be a huge difference that would add maybe five minutes to the game, tops. The rules won't change, but I hope after watching the horrible end to a classic hockey game Sunday afternoon, the ball (or puck) starts rolling toward positive change.

As for the Rangers, it's time for general manager Glen Sather to get his walking papers. And joining him on the unemployment line should be coach John Tortorella. It's almost too simple. But, then again, the team is run by morons, so they both will probably be back next year. Rangers' fans should feel free to comment, as they know the situation better than I do. But I'm sure they agree the two should go.

(AP photo)