FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

1 » Just a couple days after voicing his belief in the talent and potential of former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was forced to waive the player for non-football reasons. “You can see the athleticism, the burst, the speed,” he said Saturday. “He puts a foot in the ground and gets north and south.” Pagano is expected to address the situation after training camp on Monday, though it is doubtful that he will detail what specific conduct rule that Rainey violated. It will be the second time in as many offseasons that Rainey will be released by a team for non-football reasons. Just one year ago, Rainey was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after an arrest for domestic violence, a charge that was later dropped and expunged from his record. The Steelers also had concerns about Rainey’s off-field activity including a gambling habit that affected him during his rookie season.

2 » Updating an item from Friday, former Gators safety Will Hill spoke with the media about being signed by the Baltimore Ravens, claiming once again that “everything is behind me” in terms of his marijuana use. “[I was] just being irresponsible,” he said, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “Yeah, I feel like I’ve learned. I’m ready to play football. [The Ravens] talked to the [New York] Giants and they had nothing but good words to say about me.” Apparently Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome sat down with Hill and was assured that the player’s drug use – which has been an issue since he started playing at Florida – is now in the back window. “It was just getting comfortable with each other and letting him know that the things that happened before won’t be happening here,” Hill added. Though he will be able to practice with the team and play in preseason games, Hill will not be activated for the 2014 regular season until Oct. 13 as he must first serve a six-game suspension, his third for drug use (second for a substance of abuse) since being signed by the Giants three years ago.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

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TWO BITS: Hill signed by Ravens, Pounceys sued

1 » Former Florida Gators safety Will Hill is being given yet another chance by an NFL team with the Baltimore Ravens signing the free agent and adding him to their training camp roster on Friday. Hill, who is serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a second time, has also previously been suspended under the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He will be cleared for reinstatement on Oct. 13, at which time he will be able to play for the Ravens. Until then, Hill can practice with the team and participate in preseason games in hopes of earning a roster spot. In his second year with the New York Giants in 2013, Hill amassed 77 tackles with two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles. He has proven to be a capable NFL player and even a spot starter but is still struggling with off-the-field issues that have prevented him from keeping a job or earning a healthy contract.

2 » After weeks of accusations, a lawsuit has finally been filed against brothers and NFL centers Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey for an alleged assault at a night club in early July. Though neither man has been charged for a crime by the Miami-Dade Police Department, and both Pounceys claim their innocence through their lawyer, the accusers are nevertheless suing for damages in excess of $15,000.

The accusers claim that both brothers began by addressing Ricquan James with “derogatory and homophobic remarks and anti gay slurs” before shoving the man. Eventually he claims, Maurkice struck him “in the face several times,” causing him to fall to the ground in a fetal position. At that time, he claims Maurkice, Mike, “their security and agents all began to punch, hit and kick” him. When his friend, Niya Pickett, “attempted to intervene and requested that the Pouncey group seize from beating” James, “Maurkice then grabbed [her], spun her towards him, punched her in the face and knocked her unconscious.” Furthermore, the suit states that “James and Pickett were then violently beat and thrown throughout the club and eventually thrown outside the club.” The victims are claiming blunt force trauma, contusions, bruising, broken teeth and an eye injury. The Pounceys are each being sued for assault & battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and vicarious liability by each of the three co-defendants.

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Tebow, Evans, Cunningham

1 » The New York Giants on Monday officially waived former Florida Gators safety Will Hill just days after the NFL officially suspended him for the first six games of the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Hill, who tested positive for marijuana for the second time as a professional, has now been suspended for drugs thrice in as many seasons (once for a performance-enhancing substance after testing positive for Adderall). The Giants gave Hill a chance despite his character flaws, signing him to a free agent contract in 2012 (after he went undrafted in 2011) and providing him with plenty of avenues for counseling and help should he need it during his tenure with the team. New York was willing to overlook his first transgression in 2012 as Hill claimed he needed Adderall for his attention deficit disorder but was perturbed when he was caught smoking marijuana in 2013. Three suspensions were simply too much for the Giants to stomach, even if Hill did amass 115 tackles (89 solo), two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four pass defenses, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in two seasons.

2 » Quarterback Tim Tebow has not played a meaningful NFL snap since 2011 but has not given up on his dream of playing professional football even though he’s accepted a new role as analyst for the SEC Network. “I’m training every day and feel like I’m the best that I’ve ever been,” he told The Tennessean. “I still love it, love playing, talking about it, and I’m just excited about whatever the future holds. Who knows what could happen? But I’m excited about it, though.” Tebow will return to Gainesville, Florida, on Sept. 13 as the Florida-Kentucky game will be featured as the host of his SEC Nation game day program.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Tebow, Evans, Cunningham

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Reed, Division IV, Idaho

1 » New York Giants safety Will Hill on Friday was officially suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2014 season, marking the third-straight year that he will open an NFL campaign unable to play due to league punishment. Hill was first suspended four games before the 2012 season for use of performance-enhancing drugs – he claims he tested positive for Adderall – and also missed the first four games of 2013 when he tested positive for marijuana and was suspended under the league’s substance-abuse policy. Undrafted after three seasons with the Florida Gators, the former five-star prospect did not play at all in 2011 and only got a chance with the Giants after supposedly staying clean of drugs and focusing on his familial duties during his year off. New York has “put a lot of time and energy into trying to keep Will Hill clean,” according to Tom Rock of Newsday. This suspension will likely end his career with the Giants.and could result in another missed season until if or when another team gives him a chance.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Reed, Division IV, Idaho

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FOUR BITS: Orr, Hill, SEC Network, Parsons

1 » Florida Gators redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr sat down recently for a webcam interview with Campus Insiders where he spoke freely about a number of topics concerning himself and the team. Orr, one of Florida’s most important defenders entering the 2014 season, also did a decent job with some freestyling before signing off.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Orr, Hill, SEC Network, Parsons

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FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

1 » Linebacker Brandon Spikes became the third former Florida Gators football player to find a new home this offseason when he agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in late March. Spikes is guaranteed just $900,000 (his signing bonus) as part of the deal, which has a base salary of $1.25 million and an additional $1.1 million available via bonuses. he can also earn up to $250,000 through incentives. Though Spikes was a favorite of New England owner Robert Kraft, he did not enjoy his time with the Patriots. Especially bothersome to Spikes was the fact that he played injured the entire 2013 season and was suddenly placed on injury reserve before a playoff game despite not suffering a setback. Now Spikes will be able to go head-to-head with his former team as he is on another squad in the AFC East.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

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SIX BITS: Wambach, Murphy, Jordan, McDonald, Trattou, Young, Bullard

1 » Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach, star of the U.S. Women’s National Team, married her long-time girlfriend and current teammate with the Western New York Flash, Sarah Huffman, over the weekend in Hawaii. “Sarah and I wanted to thank everyone for all the love and support,” Wambach said in a tweet sent Wednesday. “We couldn’t be happier. What an amazing week it’s been. #honeymoon”

2 » Former Florida wide receiver Louis Murphy, currently under contract with the New York Giants, surprised the Lakewood High School football team by donating $5,000 in mid-September to upgrade the players’ helmets. “We knew that he was going to do something, but we didn’t know it was going to be this year,” Necole Tunsil, the associate athletic director at Murphy’s alma mater, told the Tampa Bay Times. The NFL was kind enough to match Murphy’s donation, giving the school even more money to upgrade the team’s football equipment.

3 » Gators freshman forward Savannah Jordan has put together a sensational season already for Florida, scoring 12 goals in her first 13 games, a mark that surpasses even Wambach’s total goals through the same number of contests during her freshman season. Jordan has played so well, in fact, that the USWNT has added her to its under-18 roster for a training camp that takes place from Oct. 13-19 in Lakeland Ranch, FL. She is the only collegiate player invited to participate on the team. Should Jordan take advantage of the opportunity, she would likely miss UF’s game on Oct. 18 at home against Kentucky. The contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but the USWNT has a scrimmage set for 2 p.m. that day against the under-17 team.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Wambach, Murphy, Jordan, McDonald, Trattou, Young, Bullard

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Hill, Beal, Zunino

1 » Though he will officially get a second opinion about his injured hip on Tuesday, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is expected to be able to avoid surgery. According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, the “conservative Seahawks doctors … believe the injury isn’t season-threatening” and are allowing him to get a specialist to look at his hip as a method of showing their trust in the player. “Percy’s a confidence player – he needs to feel good about his condition and himself,” a “Seattle source” told King. “This time should give him the best chance to feel right entering the season.” Harvin may (1) not need surgery, just a cortisone shot and some rest, (2) need minor surgery that would force him to miss some time, or (3) need season-ending surgery, which is considered doubtful at this point. This may be about Harvin being a “confidence player,” but it may also be about Harvin following his career-long trend of doing whatever he believes is necessary to sit out training camps and practices.

2 » New York Giants safety Will Hill candidly admitted on Sunday that his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy was for a positive marijuana test from last season. Hill said he failed more than one test and appealed the suspension but ultimately lost. He later explained that he started using drugs again because he felt a massive amount of stress. “It’s from family members, to everyone reaching their hand out thinking I’m an ATM, and people who think you owe them something. It was just a situation where I was visiting my hometown and a guy pulled a shotgun out on me right there in a park for some money. How do you deal with those situations? You really can’t, so I just dealt with it the best way I knew how,” he said.

Hill said he has not used any drugs since his last positive test and accepted the Giants’ offer to send him to a rehabilitation facility in Boston, MA. He was in rehab in March and April and went to an outpatient facility in Parsippany, NJ. “I talked to the team and they just told me to keep on moving forward, keep being positive,” Hill said. “Just take the suspension and leave it at that and don’t’ have any more mishaps.”

3 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was unable to participate in USA Basketball’s most recent minicamp as he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his leg, but he told The Washington Post last week that he will continue to pursue representing his country and will remain involved with the program going forward. He also noted that, after three months on the shelf, he will begin participating in live contact work within the next week or two and will be 100 percent by the time his team’s training camp starts in approximately two months. “I have to take it slow. That’s the reason I didn’t participate [at Team USA minicamp]. I didn’t want to force the issue and end up being reinjured. Patience is definitely the key,” Beal said.

4 » Seattle Mariners rookie catcher Mike Zunino was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday after an MRI revealed he fractured the hamate bone in his left hand. Zunino will undergo surgery this week and is expected to miss six weeks while healing. Should he return to action after that timeframe, there would only be three weeks remaining in the regular season. He was hitting .242 with two home runs and 10 RBI in the first 29 games of his career before being injured on Thursday when he took a foul tip off his hand; he stayed in the game for three more innings.

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