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Aaron Rodgers rumors: The release of Jake Kumerow was ‘death knell’ in relationship with Packers

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Aaron Rodgers rumors: The release of Jake Kumerow was 'death knell' in relationship with Packers

During the 2021 NFL Draft, it became evidently clear that the relationship between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is on the rocks. There are countless factors that have played a part in the erosion of the relationship from the team’s decision to draft QB Jordan Love in 2020 to Rodgers’ desire for an extension.

However, one of the apparent straws that broke the camel’s back was something that not even the most passionate football fans would expect.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the “death knell in the relationship” between Rodgers and the Packers came when Green Bay made the decision to release wide receiver Jake Kumerow ahead of the 2020 season.

“Rodgers, I’m told, also wanted to be involved in more of the personnel decisions,” Rapoport said. “This is crazy, but it does seem like the one thing that drove Rodgers nuts was when the organization released Jake Kumerow just a day after he praised him publicly. [That’s] described as a little bit of a death knell in the relationship.”

MORE: Green Bay targeted a WR in 2020 draft before taking Jordan Love

On the surface, this may seem bizarre. After all, Kumerow had totaled just 20 catches, 322 receiving yards, and two touchdowns during the ’18 and ’19 seasons with the Packers. He didn’t seem like a big part of the receiver room. He was just a fine depth option.

That said, as Rapoport detailed, Rodgers liked Kumerow, and just five days before final cuts, he commended Kumerow’s effort and called him “a fantastic, steady player” in an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

“Jake Kumerow has been such a solid performer for us for the last couple of years. I love his reliability,” Rodgers said. “I think he’s a fantastic, steady player, who’s very heady on the field. He makes plays, he plays with a lot of confidence, and he’s a guy who you love having on the squad.”

Granted, Rodgers did bring up other receivers during that interview, including Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Nonetheless, Rodgers was clearly fond of Kumerow, yet the front office still decided to cut the receiver.

Perhaps it wasn’t the release of Kumerow specifically that got to Rodgers. More likely, it was the fact that the front office didn’t make him privy to the information before making the decision to part with a receiver that he liked. It could be similar to the Love situation, where Rodgers wasn’t made aware of the organization’s decision before the selection of Love in the first round of the ’20 draft.

Kumerow’s release, in and of itself, isn’t close to the only reason that there’s some strain on the relationship between Rodgers and the Packers. It’s just one of the very many little things that have piled up to disgruntle the veteran quarterback.

Now, it’s time to see if the Packers can do enough to fix this or if the disagreement between the two sides will come to a head in the future.

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Wizards’ Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

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Wizards' Scott Brooks pokes fun at LeBron James with play-in tournament comments

The Wizards closed the 2020-21 NBA regular season with a torrid stretch. They were 17-6 in their final 23 games and went from a likely lottery team to a participant in the NBA’s inaugural play-in tournament.

Washington finished its climb up the standings Sunday. It defeated the Hornets 115-110 to secure eighth place in the Eastern Conference, which is a win-and-in spot in the conference’s four-team tournament.

Under the old playoff format, the Wizards would’ve clinched the No. 8 seed and guaranteed themselves a spot in the posteason with Sunday’s win. They would have started playing for their lives in a seven-game series, not a one- or two-game set.

MORE: Knicks clinch No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference

Wizards coach Scott Brooks saw that as an opportunity to poke fun at the play-in tournament and LeBron James’ recent comments about it.

“I’m with the King,” Brooks said. “Who created this play-in thing? Whoever did that, they need to be fired.”

Seconds later, Brooks affirmed that he was just kidding. He was paraphrasing James’ comments from May 2 when the Lakers star said that “whoever came up with that s— needs to be fired.”

Unlike James, Brooks thinks the play-in tournament is a net positive for the NBA, despite his team finishing eighth in the East.

MORE: How the play-in tournament works

“I love this [format]. It created so much excitement the last two weeks and, as we all know, any time you can create excitement and meaningful games in the last 10 games of the season is great for everyone involved,” Brooks said. “Fans, TV partners, everybody. I love it. Even though we’re not the 8-seed, I still love it.”

The play-in tournament gave fringe playoff teams like the Wizards incentive to compete later into the season. Brooks is right about that. Now, it’s a matter of whether the on-court product will match the late-season chase to make (or avoid) the tournament.

With stars like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Domantas Sabonis and one of James or Damian Lillard guaranteed to participate in the play-in, there is a good chance it will live up to the hype.

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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani adds to highlight reel with go-ahead HR in 9th off one of MLB’s top closers

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Angels: Albert Pujols release about giving Shohei Ohtani more ABs, moving Jared Walsh to 1B

Matt Barnes was one out away from sealing a Red Sox victory when Angels DH Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box.

It was a mano a mano battle between one of baseball’s best pitchers and the emerging two-way superstar.

Ohtani won the battle.

MORE: Albert Pujols to sign with Dodgers

He hit a monster two-run home run that curled around the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park to give the Angels a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning Sunday. LA went on to win by that score.

Teeing off against Barnes is no easy feat. Before Ohtani batted in the ninth, Barnes had allowed two hits and no runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings. For the season, he was averaging 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings and had allowed just one home run in 18 appearances. At one point, he had a negative FIP, something that is unheard of. 

But Ohtani managed to get the best of him Sunday and add another highlight to his superb season.

Ohtani’s homer was his 12th in 2021, tying him for the MLB lead with the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger. His 29 RBIs are tied for the Angels’ team lead with Jared Walsh. His .597 slugging percentage is second on the team only to Mike Trout.

Ohtani has been spectacular as a pitcher as well. He has thrown 25 2/3 innings over five outings, with a sparkling 2.10 ERA and 14 strikeouts per nine.

In short, he is one of the game’s most electric players right now. Barnes knows that.

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Alisson Wonderland! Liverpool goalkeeper’s magic moment keeps Champions League dream alive

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Alisson Wonderland! Liverpool goalkeeper's magic moment keeps Champions League dream alive

Match statistics: West Brom 1-2 Liverpool

Football, eh? Bloody hell!

Even after all these years, this sport still finds a way to surprise you, to thrill you, to take the breath away.

Step forward, Alisson Becker.

Liverpool’s season was fizzling out. The clock had ticked past 90 minutes, past the four that had been added on. The Reds were drawing, desperate, watching their Champions League hopes melt away in the west Midlands rain. 

And then their goalkeeper decided to take matters into his own hands. Or onto his own head, to be more specific.  

The Brazil international has been up for corners before. A few times this season, in fact. But here, when Jurgen Klopp needed him most, there he was, rising to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold’s left-wing corner with the most perfect of headers. Far corner, 2-1 Liverpool.

Bedlam.

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What is it about this club? How can they just keep conjuring up these moments, these feelings, these roller-coaster rides?

What can you possibly say?

Alisson is the sixth goalkeeper to score a Premier League goal and the first to score for Liverpool. 

And this was not just any goal, this was a huge one, in the context of the Reds’ season. It keeps their top-four destiny pretty much in their own hands. As Liverpool celebrated — and boy, did they celebrate — the groans could be heard in Leicester and at Chelsea. They meet at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. Any result suits the Reds.

It had looked like Klopp’s men had faltered, unable to find a way through a stubborn West Brom defense at 1-1. They had trailed to Hal Robson-Kanu’s early strike, leveling through Mo Salah’s customary equalizer.

And then they huffed and they puffed, without blowing the house down.

Salah missed. Roberto Firmino missed. Trent Alexander-Arnold missed when he simply had to score. Seven minutes left. Gini Wijnaldum missed. Two minutes remaining.

Up went the board. Four added. Klopp grinned. One of those sarcastic, rueful grins. Not enough time. Not this time.

Wrong.

alisson goal west brom liverpool
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What a moment Alisson provided. What pictures, what memories. What celebrations. What an interview.

The emotion was etched all over his face. He has had a terrible few months, losing his father, Jose, in February. He deserved this. Not even Sam Allardyce could argue otherwise. The West Brom boss was smiling himself at the final whistle. What else could he do?

“I am too emotional these last months for everything that happened with me and my life, but football is my life,” a clearly tearful Alisson told Sky Sports moments after his attacking intervention.

“I hope my father was here to see it. It’s for my family and for the boys.”

Klopp could barely have hugged his ‘keeper harder. “If Olivier Giroud scores like that you say it’s a worldie!” he told Sky. 

“It’s the best goal I ever saw from a goalkeeper. It’s a worldie! Wow!”

It cannot be for nothing, can it? You can’t let a moment like this go to waste. Liverpool needs two more wins and it should be in the Champions League. Burnley on Wednesday, Crystal Palace next Sunday. There will be fans present at those games. The noise will be there, the atmosphere, the tension, the release.

One doubts whether it will be anything like it was at around 6.25 p.m. here, mind!

Football, eh? How could we ever doubt you?

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