4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

1 » During an interview with the Boomer and Carton Show on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson was asked about former teammate Aaron Hernandez and whether he ever had an inkling that the former tight end was be capable of going off the rails. “You know, there was definitely some tendencies – I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t – but it was a huge surprise,” he said. “It really shocked me. Because this is a guy I saw get into a fight in practice and [he was] crying 15 minutes later because he had just hurt his teammate. So this was a guy who was extremely sensitive, he was extremely vulnerable, but the thing is, he was who he hung out with. So if he was hanging out with somebody he was very influenced.

Nelson corroborated what has been reported elsewhere, that members of the Florida Gators were worried about Hernandez going home to Connecticut and hanging out with his old crowd. He also noted that head coach Urban Meyer purposely put Hernandez around himself and Tim Tebow to help improve his character. “You saw some issues with him in college, but they were minor – some drug stuff and that was about it – but nothing to this extreme,” Nelson added. “So he started to hang out with the wrong crowd, get a lot of fame, a lot of money, start to get that ‘I can do whatever I want’ invincible kind of mentality a lot of NFL guys get. And I think you saw him make a really bad mistake.”

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4 BITS: Andrews, ESPYS, Milton-Jones, softball

1 » FOX Sports sideline reporter Erin Andrews was dealt a tough task on Tuesday when she interviewed St. Louis Cardinals hurler Adam Wainwright in the dugout just hours after he admitted/joked about throwing a gimmie pitch to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Wainwright attempted to assure the public that he was simply being lighthearted with his comment while clarifying that he did not groove a pitch to Jeter, and Andrews did not press him on the subject considering Jeter was the one being honored on Tuesday night. Dennis and Callahan Morning Show cohost Kirk Minihane took Andrews to task for joking with Wainwright that his comments blew up due to social media, unleashing an offensive verbal tirade at her on the air.

”What a bitch! I hate her! What a gutless bitch! Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Secondly, the guy admitted he did it. He admitted he told reporters he threw a couple of pipe bombs. How is that social media’s fault? Seriously, I hate her. I seriously hat her so much! … Shut up. Shut up. I shouldn’t call her a ‘bitch.’ I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she’s…she’s probably a bitch. I freaking hate her. … And this bimbo says, ‘Don’t you love social media?’ I’m going to get in trouble for this.”

Apparently not. As of press time, Minihane has not been disciplined for his completely misogynistic and hateful comments, though he did issue an apology.

“This morning on the radio I used a series of words to describe Erin Andrews’ work at the All-Star Game. My choice of words was wrong; I was wrong to have used them. To all whom I offended — particularly Ms. Andrews — I apologize. There is no place for what was said. It was immature and completely uncalled for. I am often critical of media members and their work and recognize here that I’ve made the kind of mistake I would call out if it was done by another sportscaster or writer. Again, to all involved, I’m very sorry.”

FOX Sports released the following statement on Wednesday: “Comments such as these are beyond inappropriate and inexcusable. It is unfortunate that one of the best sports talk radio stations in the country would allow and condone such low-class behavior from one of their on-air personalities.”

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Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current discuss the Final Four

Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-3) was riding high on Saturday as the team prepared to play in the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the AT&T Center in Arlington, TX. There was so much written about the team by former and current student-athletes, in fact, that this post had to be limited to those either with ties to the basketball program or in attendance at the game.

Though the (7) UConn Huskies (31-8) were victorious and eliminated Florida from the event, there was still plenty of well-wishers after the contest. Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game.

PRE-GAME

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Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current celebrate advancing to Final Four

Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) has been strong throughout the season and especially the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

It continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007 with a 62-52 Elite Eight win over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.

Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game. OnlyGators.com has also added a few other choice contributions that fit in with the overall theme.

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FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

1 » Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam, who just completed his rookie season, returned to Gainesville, FL recently in order to take classes in hopes of completing his degree program. While in town, the former Florida Gators star has also decided to take a job at FinishLine. According to his team’s website, Elam wanted to experience working in retail because he would like to open a sports merchandise store of his own someday. Elam has been working 20 hours per week at Oaks Mall since January. “I didn’t realize there was so much organization, so much planning. I didn’t realize there was so much to it,” he told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I just thought you’d say you want a shoe, so then you’d go back and grab a shoe. There’s way more to it. You have number coding. You have color coding, all of that. I just realized that there’s more to it than I thought.” Elam also said he has been recognized quite often but has no problem with the attention.

2 » Contrary to a weekend report that stated the Philadelphia Eagles had prioritized signing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin over Riley Cooper, ProFootballTalk.com reports that Cooper is by far the preferred potential signee. “We’d previously heard that the market for Cooper is expected to be active,” wrote Mike Florio. “Which means that, if the Eagles plan to keep him, they need to match or beat whatever Cooper could get as a free agent.” Cooper only earned $2.11 million during his four-year rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He had his best season – by far – in 2013, hauling in 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. In his previous three seasons, Cooper had just 46 receptions for 680 yards and four scores.

Late Wednesday, The Philadelphia News reported that the Eagles and Cooper are nearing agreement on a multi-year deal that could be announced by the end of the week.

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Jack Youngblood criticizes Urban Meyer on radio

Former Florida Gators defensive end Jack Youngblood can generally be found in a jovial mood, enthusiastic to talk about his collegiate and professional careers, always willing to lend his opinion about a variety of football-related topics.

That was the case more than two years ago when Youngblood sat down for an extensive 90-minute, three-part interview with OnlyGators.com that covered his life, career and post-football aspirations.

And while he once again had no problem sharing his thoughts on a variety of topics Thursday while on 740 The Game out of Orlando, FL, his tone became disapproving and bothered when discussing former Florida (now Ohio State Buckeyes) head coach Urban Meyer on the air with host Mike Bianchi.

Youngblood, a seven-time Pro Bowler and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who is also a member of the Gators’ Ring of Honor and UF Athletic Hall of Fame, explained that he once considered himself close with Meyer but no longer sees the coach in the same light.

“Very much so,” said Youngblood when asked if he was disappointed with how Meyer left Florida. “When somebody tells me something to my face confidentially, I expect it to be the truth. When it turns out to not be the truth, that doesn’t sit you very high on my Christmas card list, put it that way.

“[He told me] several things – that character was the No. 1 thing he was recruiting on, that was the main thing he was going to recruit on, character. That didn’t happen. And then all of the stuff at the end of the deal, it got convoluted and ‘I’m sick’ and ‘I needed some time off’ and then ‘I didn’t take time off’ and ‘I’m doing television,’ which if it’s not more intense than being a head coach, I don’t know what is.

“There was just no consistency to me, from my perspective.”

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Top 13 for 2013: Florida’s best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2013 (see the Not Top 13 for 2013), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to earning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2013. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 13 for 2013.

13 » A NEW TRADITION
Florida’s football program did not get much right in 2013, but instituting a new pre-game tradition – a “celebrity” serving as Mr. Two Bits in honor of the original, George Edmondson – was absolutely a bright spot. The Gators also picked the perfect person to kick off the new tradition with former running back Errict Rhett performing as if he was made for the role. Others had trouble stepping up to the high benchmark set by Rhett, but the honorary Mr. Two Bits was nevertheless a great sight for fans all season long…even if the team was not. OnlyGators.com sat down with Rhett after his appearance for an extensive interview about the experience and his career.

12 » 15-INNING MARATHON
In the fourth-longest game ever played at the Women’s College Series (longest since 1992), Florida softball prevailed 9-8 over Nebraska in a night game that lasted 15 innings and more than five hours, spanning into the early morning of the next day. The Gators lost two separate leads in the contest before rallying to score two runs in the top of the 15th; UF conceded a run in the latter half of the inning but held on for the victory. Unfortunately for Florida, it had to suit up just hours later for an elimination game against Texas at 1 p.m., one it lost 3-0. The Gators were ranked No. 2 entering the 2013 NCAA Tournament but fell short of a title.

11 » ALL HE WANTED WAS A CHANCE


Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy waited patiently as he got overlooked time and time again, most recently by head coach Will Muschamp and his offensive coordinators in favor of younger players with higher ratings coming out of high school. When junior QB Jeff Driskel went down with a fractured fibula against Tennessee, Murphy finally got his shot and made the most of it. Over a three-game stretch including games on Sept. 21, Sept. 28 (at Kentucky) and Oct. 5 (vs. Arkansas), Murphy completed 39-of-54 passes (72.2 percent) for 530 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. (He also gained 135 yards and picked up two more scores with his legs.) Unfortunately for him, Murphy injured his shoulder on Oct. 12 against LSU and was simply not the same player as he took the field in more pain than he or the coaching staff decided to admit publicly. Murphy missed the final three games of the season due to that injury and ultimately transferred, feeling Muschamp would not give him a fair chance to win the starting job in 2014.

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15 Gator Bites for Wednesday, September 11

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps missed the entire offseason while running track but officially joined the team on Monday in hopes of earning a roster spot and playing football in 2013. The Buccaneers have a roster exemption or Demps, who will have one full week to prove his worth and take one of the 53 available spots or else be released by Tampa Bay. Though the Bucs will certainly see what Demps can do for them, head coach Greg Schiano was perturbed a few weeks ago when asked where Demps was in the world and why he had not reported at the time.

» Former Florida Gators forward Cody Larson, who lost his scholarship and then quit the basketball team before the 2012-13 season but remained at Florida for academics, transferred to play for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in May and had a waiver to play immediately accepted by the NCAA this month. “We want to thank the committee and the NCAA for taking the time to look at Cody’s waiver,” head coach Scott Nagy said in a school release. “We appreciate the fact that this ruling allows him the opportunity to be eligible to compete immediately.” Larson will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining but has not played college basketball in two full seasons.

» One of the greatest tennis players in school history, Jill Craybas has decided to retire at age 39 after spending the last 18 years playing professional tennis. One of two Florida women to win the NCAA Singles Championship, Craybas captured the title in 1996 while leading the Gators women’s program to the team NCAA Championship that same season. Inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2008, Craybas never won a Grand Slam title but advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2005 after shocking Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the Round of 16 that year. She also represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long. But I feel like lately my priorities have been starting to change, I’ve been starting to want other things in my life,” she told Tennis Panorama about her retirement decision. “I really struggled this past year with my tennis and how I was doing. I started pursuing some other things and started getting interested in other things, but it’s never an easy decision. You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”

Check out 12 more Gator Bites…after the break!
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