TWO BITS: Fans and media, Swisher’s proposal

1 » The Florida Gators have made two announcements concerning fans in the last day or so, one about permitting them access to the players while another removing access from the team. The Gators will hold Verizon Wireless Football Fan Day on Sunday, Aug. 15 from 1-3 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Doors open at 12:30 p.m., admission is free and autographs will only be allowed on the team-provided 2010 football poster. However, fans will be barred from Florida football practices this season, as will the media and other on-lookers who want to catch a glimpse of the Gators before kickoff against Miami (OH) on Sept. 4

2 » With an Internet rumor spreading that New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher had the assistance of former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow when proposing to his girlfriend last year, the slugger spoke with Florida Today and wanted to squash that fib as soon as possible. “I’m a man! I don’t need to do that!” Swisher exclaimed. “That’s total BS! [Bleep] no! I don’t need some other dude to ask my girl to marry me. I’m a Major League Baseball player. I’m a man. I asked her on the balcony at my place in New York City. Tim Tebow wasn’t there.” Always the jokester in the clubhouse, Swisher’s tone doesn’t come across in the piece, but his fiancée is a big Florida fan – her entire family went there – and the All-Star got a chance to meet Tebow and head coach Urban Meyer while getting a tour of The Swamp at the tail end of the 2009 season.

“Don’t get me wrong, Tim Tebow’s a great guy. Class act. Definitely a role model for a lot of people,” he said. “I set it up through the Yankees that my girlfriend and her family could meet Tim. I couldn’t believe he took the time. It was his last game at Florida, against Florida State, Senior Day, and he came and talked to us for about 10 minutes. Great, great guy.” Though Swisher may not have been able to laugh at himself, at least his teammate and fellow OF Marcus Thames did. When told about the rumor regarding Tebow, Thames replied, “Probably, because you ain’t got no game. You need a college kid to help you.”

TWO BITS: Wright injured, Villegas sponsored

1 » After straining his groin muscle Monday, Chicago Bears safety Major Wright became the fourth former Florida Gators player (and third rookie) to get injured in the opening days of 2010-11 training camp. According to ESPNChicago.com, Wright hurt himself while “attempting to change direction and locate a deflected Jay Cutler pass during a full team drill.” He “appeared to lose his footing and almost ended up doing the splits. He then gingerly jogged off the field to receive treatment from the teams’ training staff and remained out the rest of the workout.” Bears head coach Lovie Smith was optimistic after practice, indicating that the trainers believe he will be fine. “I like the way he’s played football,” Smith said. “he’s been around the ball quite a bit. He has good hands and is eager and excited about being here. He’s a good football player. But we need to get him out on the football field because there’s good competition at the safety position.”

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was carted off the field after tweaking his ankle over the weekend; both Oakland Raiders WR Louis Murphy and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap suffered concussions.

2 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is not the only one making major sponsorship news. CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports that former Gators golfer Camilo Villegas has signed a brand new sponsorship deal with TaylorMade. Formerly with Cobra (Puma), Villegas will now sport a TaylorMade-adidas bag, equipment and attire during matches. “Camilo is a winner, a gentleman, and a fan favorite,” company president and CEO Mark King told Rovell. “Cameras tend to find him because he has presence and magnetism that’s impressive and rare. Camilo also shares the same values with our brand and our people, including a burning desire to improve and reach his potential. We very much want to help him do that, which is why believe this is a great fit.” In March, Villegas won the 2010 Honda Classic.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

TWO BITS: Dunlap concussed, Tebow hazed

1 » Overlooked this weekend was an injury suffered by former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who was dinged pretty hard during practice Saturday night. Team doctors told Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis that Dunlap suffered a concussion and will be out of action for the short-term. “Hopefully we’ll get him back here quickly,” Lewis said in a press conference Monday. “He had been encouraging. It seemed that he had turned the corner in some of the things we had asked him to do.”

2 » As expected, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow has been taking his “hazing” in stride with a smile on his face and a hop in his step. While some in the league question if similar practices are actually necessary to build chemistry, most rookies seem not to care and realize it is just a part of the process to be accepted by your teammates and NFL veterans. Though Tebow has plenty more to do in order to win over the Broncos both on the field and behind the scenes, carrying some pads on a hot day is a pretty good start.

Photo Credit: John Leyba/The Denver Post

SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

1 » Held out of action with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, former Florida Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy continues to struggle to recover from a concussion he suffered during camp on Friday when he got kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah. He complained of a bad headache Sunday and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Murphy remains out of action and is now having trouble with sunlight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vittorio Tafur. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests…something that looks to be at least a few days away.

2 » After tweaking his ankle earlier in the day, former Gators WR Percy Harvin returned to Minnesota Vikings practice on Saturday without a noticeable limp. Unfortunately, Harvin missed practice Sunday and will be absent Monday as well after learning of a death in his family. OGGOA‘s thoughts go out to Harvin during this difficult time.

3 » Florida juniors cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Will Hill were named to the 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list on Monday – two of only 35 of the nation’s best defensive backs to be selected. Conspicuous by his absence once again is senior safety Ahmad Black. There is a long way to go and plenty of players will be added and removed to this list as the season progresses.

Three more BITS on Reggie Nelson, Brad Beal and Joe Haden…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Murphy, Harvin, Jenkins, Hill, Nelson

TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

1 » Signing his rookie contract Thursday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow got his first taste of practice with the Denver Broncos on Friday in front of some reporters. Things were different Sunday at the team’s first public training camp event, as 3,103 Broncos fans packed the Dove Valley facility (the most since it opened in 2003) to get a glimpse of the former Heisman Trophy winner (and the rest of the team). [Another 1,891 attended in the afternoon, setting both session records and a one-day total of 4,994.] The Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Center was “almost at full capacity with fans sitting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the practice field.”

The Denver Post describes one notable moment: “During seven-on-seven drills, Tebow worked in the rotation to completed a 40-yard pass to Matthew Willis on a fly route. The crowd cheered and some stood to their feet, as if the season had already begun.” There were also chants of “Te-bow! Te-bow!” during portions of the practice. In fact, “Tebow received cheers for everything he did,” according to the Post. “For walking out of the locker room, handing the ball off or tossing a short screen pass. And especially for every time he tucked the ball under his arm and ran through the Broncos’ defense.”

Two Denver players – one a fellow Florida alum and another from Georgia – had their own thoughts on the festivities off the field.

“It’s darn near like Gainesville. It feels the same way,” former Gators defensive end/linebacker Jarvis Moss said. “I don’t know too many people who have fans like Tim. You can’t think of too many people who people just love like that.” Countering but still agreeing was a Bulldog. “You’ve got to think he’s the most marketable guy in the league right now so he’s definitely going to that attention. The only knock on him is he went to Florida,” cornerback Champ Bailey added.

Two BITS on Percy Harvin’s health and a fight started by Riley Cooper…
Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

Pouncey issues stronger denial of allegations

On July 21, former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey officially denied allegations that he took $100,000 from a runner for an agent between the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship and 2010 Sugar Bowl, an accusation that was sent to the University of Florida by a letter postmarked in Canada in June.

“I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim. I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me,” Pouncey had said.

Still technically under investigation by by the NCAA and UF for a potential rules violation, he has done everything he can up until this point to cooperate and prove his innocence, including providing “phone, bank and credit card statements that do not show large payments,” ESPN‘s Joe Schad previously reported.

Now signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pouncey has once again denied the allegations – doing so this time in an even more specific and direct manner.

“It’s not true,” Pouncey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I don’t know who would ever write a letter like that to try to distort somebody’s name. It’s not fair. It’s not true, everybody knows. [...] They went through a whole investigation and couldn’t find anything. It’s almost [over]. They couldn’t find anything. I am just happy that everybody said it wasn’t true. I am just happy everybody could just see it.”

He proclaims that, when choosing his agent, he did so according to regulations. “I did the player panel and everything,” he said. “When I picked my agent, I went through the school. They do it the right way. There is no fault there.”

Pouncey also described the range of emotions he went through when finding about the allegations. “I thought my brother was playing with me he first called me. I was actually [in Pittsburgh] when he first told me and I was like, ‘You have to be kidding me.’ I went to the school and kind of said, ‘You all better be behind me if it’s not true.’”

Harvin carted off field, Murphy concussed at camp

Going into their sophomore NFL training camps each as one of the most dynamic players on their respective teams, former Florida Gators wide receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy both suffered health-related setbacks Saturday.

Harvin, the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was carted off of the field during Minnesota Vikings practice according to reports out of the camp, while Murphy was held out of action with the Oakland Raiders with a concussion.

The extent of Harvin’s injury is not currently known, but many of his team’s coaches and players were unaware that it even occurred. This may speak to the severity of the injury being minor or simply the fact that no one saw exactly what happened.

UPDATE: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Harvin has returned to the field and is participating in Minnesota’s evening practice.

Murphy, on the other hand, suffered a concussion after getting kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah during camp on Friday. He complained of a bad headache and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests.

OGGOA will keep you updated on the latest developments…

Browns, CB Joe Haden agree to five-year deal

With all of his former teammates already signed to rookie contracts, Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden finally agreed to a five-year, $50 million max deal with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he will receive a $12 million signing bonus in 2010 and $26 million guaranteed on his deal, according to Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com.

“Joe is excited,” Haden’s agent, Malik Shareef, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “We’d like to thank the Browns for all their hard work on this.’ The Browns would like to have him on the field for the evening session, so hopefully we’ll get it signed and get him out there by then. I know Joe is ready to go.”

Haden’s contract was signed after the Browns’ first day of training camp Saturday, making him the only former Gators player to officially holdout. All are now under contract and ready to compete in their first NFL seasons.

OGGOA will continue updating this – and all of our Florida rookie contract stories – as further salary information is released.

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

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