Gator Bites for Thursday, November 1

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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been a fan favorite in his short time as a superstar in Cleveland, OH but not only because of what he does on the field. Haden shows up to a ton of local sporting events (especially Cleveland Cavaliers games), attended prom as a high school student’s date, sponsored a kid’s baseball team and even invites fans to meet him out at random places in Cleveland for free food and drinks. Haden’s latest gesture of good will occurred this week when he bumped into a fan looking at NFL jerseys at Finish Line. Noticing that the fan, Bradley Morrison, was specifically looking at his jersey, Haden took it off the rack, paid for it and then signed it on the spot without being asked. It is rare for an athlete to embrace a city he never previously lived in as much as Haden has Cleveland, but he has proven to be completely authentic in his love for the town which he now calls home.

» Though it is not yet official, it appears as if Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will soon be signing a multi-year deal with Nike. Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein told The Washington Post last week that they are “excited” about the relationship and opportunity. “Obviously Nike does terrific things and I think he’s going to be a big part of their plans going forward,” Bartelstein told the paper.

» Does New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow have a celebrity girlfriend? The rumors and tabloid gossip appear to be real this time as TMZ recently spotted Tebow out bowling with actress Camilla Belle. Reports the website:

Tim and Camilla Belle showed up at Latitude 30 in Jacksonville, Florida Tuesday night, where they bowled and partied. Camilla has a history with other putatively pure celebs. She dated Joe Jonas for awhile, but they split up in 2009. People who were at Latitude 30 last night tell us … Tim and Camilla were overly affectionate throughout the evening, holding hands and touching. Camilla’s rep didn’t get back to us, but sources connected with Camilla tell us they are definitely an item.

Check out SIX more Gator Bites…after the break!
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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 8 (2012)

Now eight weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season, there are 32 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 22 players participated in week eight action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the eighth week of the 2012 regular season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Seven receptions for 90 yards (targets: 12, long: 32) [team-highs], touchdown (Video); carry for -1 yard; kick return for 43 yards^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 7 (2012)

Now seven weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season, there are 32 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 18 players participated in week seven action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the seventhweek of the 2012 regular season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Four receptions for 37 yards (targets: 5, long: 14) [team-highs], touchdown (Video); two carries for 10 yards (long: 5); two kick returns for 47 yards (long: 28)^
RB CHRIS RAINEY*, Pittsburgh Steelers: Four carries for 17 yards (long: 11), touchdown [game-winner]; reception for eight yards; four kick returns for 122 yards (long: 41)^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 6 (2012)

Now six weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season, there are 32 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 22 players participated in week six action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the sixth week of the 2012 regular season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Seven tackles (six solo), interception (14-yard return), three pass defenses^
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings 11 receptions for 133 yards (targets: 14, long: 23) [team-highs]; two carries for one yard, fumble (not lost); three kick returns for 100 yards (long: 45)^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
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Will Hill third former Florida Gators player to receive NFL suspension for ADHD medication

In the middle of what could only have been considered an epic career turnaround, New York Giants safety Will Hill learned Monday that he has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hill released an official statement immediately following the NFL’s announcement explaining that the suspension is for using Adderall, a drug used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that was prescribed to him by a doctor before he was picked up by New York as an undrafted free agent this summer.

“I received a doctor’s prescription for Adderall prior to signing with the Giants. Shortly after signing with the team, I was in a meeting with [director of player development] Charles Way, who reviewed the list of the league’s banned substances. I knew at that point that this may be an issue. I was tested and the results came back that Adderall was in my system. I appealed but lost the appeal. I accept full responsibility for this situation, and it won’t happen again. The Giants have given me a great opportunity when nobody else would, and I don’t take that for granted. I feel badly this has happened. I will work hard and stay in great shape these next four weeks so I can come back and contribute to this team after my suspension.”

Hill was undrafted after leaving the Florida Gators as a junior in 2011 due to a combination of immaturity and his use of illegal drugs, namely marijuana. He went a long way to fixing that negative reputation over the last year and was signed by the Giants after wowing the team with his character off the field and ability on the field.

Ironically enough, Hill’s suspension comes on the same day that fellow former Florida defensive back Joe Haden, now a member of the Cleveland Browns, completed his four-game suspension for using the same substance.

Haden was found with Adderall in his system during a preseason test but unlike Hill never had a prescription for the drug. He allegedly used it as an upper during an offseason vacation in Las Vegas, NV.

“I would like to apologize to my fans, Haden Nation, the Cleveland Browns organization, front office, all the coaches. I hurt a lot of people. I hurt myself for sure. But I hurt a lot of people with the decision I made, and I just want everybody to know that I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he said Monday, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “There’s no script. Nobody told me what to say. I just feel that and I want everybody to know that it was a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes, but my mistake happened to hurt a lot more people than I thought.”

Haden and Hill join New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes as three former Gators that have received NFL suspensions over the last three years for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substance. Spikes was suspended for the final four games of his rookie season in 2010 after testing positive for an ingredient that was contained in his ADHD medication.

Hill will be eligible to return to New York’s active roster on Nov. 5.

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 1 (2012)

The 2012 NFL regular season began on Wednesday with 32 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 26 players participated in week one action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the first week of the 2012 regular season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
SS AHMAD BLACK, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Interception (no return), pass defense

Black caught his first career interception on Sunday and was obviously enthralled with the ball afterward. Image credit: SB Nation

TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Six receptions [team-high] for 59 yards (targets: 7, long: 23), touchdown; carry for five yards

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
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TWO BITS: Nelson injured, Haden suspended

1 » Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson was officially ruled out for the remainder of the 2011 on Monday when the injury he sustained to his knee on Sunday was deemed to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The team’s No. 3 wide receiver, Nelson compiled 658 yards and five touchdowns on 61 receptions in 2011, his second as an undrafted free agent after a long career with the Florida Gators. Nelson, who had two receptions for 31 yards on Sunday before injuring himself, is in the final season of his three-year rookie agreement and is set to be a restricted free agent in 2013.

2 » Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been suspended for four games after breaking the NFL’s banned substance policy, the league officially announced on Monday. Haden, who had already technically received the suspension but immediately filed an appeal to delay the proceedings after getting word that he tested positive for Adderall, was able to play in his team’s season opener on Sunday because a ruling had not been made on his appeal. He finished the game with six tackles (five solo) and an interception with a 50-yard return (one of three Gators to pick off a quarterback on kickoff weekend). Haden will return after his team’s game on Sunday, Oct. 7. He is arguably Cleveland’s best player but is now no longer eligible for Pro Bowl recognition.

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FOUR BITS: Texas A&M, Haden, Schutte, Paco

1 » With the Florida Gators’ game against the Texas A&M Aggies under 48 hours away, now is as good of a time as ever to check on ESPN College GameDay’s promotional video for the contest set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

2 » Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren announced on Tuesday that cornerback Joe Haden has indeed been suspended by the NFL for failing the league’s banned substance policy (testing positive for Adderall); however, he is set to play in the team’s season opener on Sunday and every game from that point forward until his already-filed appeal is ruled on by the league. Haden’s suspension, should it be enacted after the NFL reviews his appeal, will be for four games. He would at that time become the second former Gators player in the last three years to receive a suspension for violating that policy as New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes missed the last four games of his rookie season in 2010 after testing positive for an ingredient that was contained in his ADHD medication.

3 » Florida catcher Brittany Schutte, who missed most of the 2012 season after suffering a broken jaw early in the campaign, has decided to skip her final season with the team in order to move on and coach softball at the Oak Hall School in Gainesville, FL. According to Oak Hill, Schutte recently informed Gators head coach Tim Walton that she will not return to the team and “is shifting interest in her academic career with hopes of becoming an educator.” Her departure is a major loss for a Florida team that saw a huge star graduate and suffered three other major defections last season. The Gators lost senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie and saw sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle as well as sisters Kasey Fagan and Sami Fagan leave the program after Walton suspended all three during the opening portion of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. In her first two years with the team, Schutte hit .335 with 41 home runs, 128 RBIs, 118 runs, 83 walks and 82 stolen bases. She also slugged .751 and fielded her position at a .989 clip. Schutte’s departure, coupled with Moultrie’s graduation and the three transfers, leaves the Gators without five of their best players heading into the 2013 season.

4 » Former Florida left-handed pitcher Steven Rodriguez, selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the No. 82 overall pick in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft, became the first player from that draft to be called up to the majors when Los Angeles brought him into the fold on Wednesday. Rodriguez, who was always thought to be a player who might be in this situation, was dominant in the minors, posting a 0.92 ERA with 32 strikeouts and six walks in 19 2/3 innings over 21 games. “Everybody here’s been great to me,” he told MLB.com this week. “Now I’ve got to perform. I’ve got to get over it. But on the mound, looking up at all the decks, the biggest place I’ve ever played before was Omaha and they only have two decks.”

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