Dennard deals with draft disappointment

Dennard deals with draft disappointment

By Tom E. Curran

On the third day of the 2012 NFL Draft, after 223 young men had already been selected, Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was chosen by the Patriots.

Until a week before the draft, the 100 or so friends and family gathered in the Wilcox High gym in Georgia figured they'd be celebrating a proud moment for a native son.

But after Dennard got arrested for assaulting a police officer and spent the weekend before the draft in jail, the tenor of the event changed some.

Relief trumped rejoice. Bad enough that Dennard had gone about 150 spots after he could have been drafted, imagine if he hadn't been selected at all?

No sympathetic looks were sent Dennard's way, no attempts at deciphering his outward level of disappointment. He'd left the event hours earlier.

Their native son was the nation's example of what a stupid incident less than a week before the draft can do to your NFL employment prospects.

Dennard punched a cop. That's what the incident report from a night out in Lincoln, Nebraska says and Dennard will be arraigned on the charge this Wednesday.

While the offense carries a maximum five-year prison term, even if Dennard's found guilty, jail seems a remote possibility since he's got no history of legal troubles.

In fact, Dennard's paying for the incident already both in the amount of money he would have made as a second or third-round pick (his pre-incident projection) and in reputation and embarrassment.

The Patriots haven't made Dennard available to the media. But his agent, Brian Murphy, said that Dennard had a surprising reaction to his draft freefall.

"His reaction to the whole process was mind-boggling to me because he said, 'Things happen the way they're supposed to happen. And this is all happening for a reason and all I can do is prove everyone wrong and show that I'm a great cornerback, a great teammate and a great man and he wants to reward the Patriots for the faith they showed,' " said Murphy. "I wouldn't describe him as down and out."

As Dennard's agent, Murphy has an obvious interest in putting a positive face on a negative situation. But coupling Murphy's comments with those made by Dennard's head coach at Nebraska and by Bill Belichick, the notion Dennard's arrest was completely out of character is more believable.
"That isn't who he is, that's never been who he is, and that's not going to be who he is in the future," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said to ESPNBoston's Field Yates. "And I put my reputation, and I put everything I stand for as a football coach behind that young man."He is a tremendous young man, and one who you want not only representing you as a football player, but the type of kid you want in your community, the type of kid you want representing your organization."Meanwhile, Belichick told SIRIUS-XM's NFL Radio that, "We just don't feel that's who he is, or even how the account of the incident came out in some places, that's what happened. But we'll see. Bottom line is we were comfortable with him, and that if he did make a mistake like so many of us have, that he'll be able to represent our organization and our team the way we want it represented and we were comfortable taking him."

That so many people showed up to Dennard's draft party even with the legal issues shows a healthy respect for Dennard among people who know him well.

"He's a perfect representative of the town and they're so proud of him," said Murphy. "When I met him, it was always, 'Yes, sir; No, sir; Yes, Mr. Murphy.' When I asked what was important to him, he said taking care of his mom and representing his town well. It was a neat experience watching how the people in town reacted to him."

Murphy got to know Dennard well after the 22-year-old agreed to be represented by Murphy's firm.

"When they sign with Athlete's First, they come out to California and train at our academy," Murphy explained. "We literally see them every day and we get to know them pretty well. And we had 13 or 14 people out there including (Patriots third-round chouce) Jake Bequette and of all those guys, Alfonzo was as polite, respectful, quiet and hard-working as anyone. He's the type of guy you want to represent because you know he's not going to get in trouble, ironically. ... We described him to many teams as, 'This is a guy you don't have to worry about. He just wants to play football and take care of his family.' "

According to Murphy, the past 10 months have been filled with adversity for Dennard. To be candid, though, some of it - like the Lincoln arrest and a fight with South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery in the Capital One Bowl - was self-created.

A thigh injury (Murphy described as "severe") early in his senior season and a hip injury before the Senior Bowl were other issues Dennard faced.

"Those were three things that happened during the course of the season that built his character through adversity," Murphy explained. "Each time he said, 'I'm going to learn from this, I'm going to get better from this.' "

Regardless of what happens Wednesday, the jury will remain out on Dennard until some time passes.

Declarations that his arrest is "Not who Alfonzo is..." won't carry any weight if he can't stay trouble-free.

He's got people who believe in him, though. From Foxboro to Lincoln, Nebraska to Georgia a lot of people insist Dennard is worth backing.

Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

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Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

BOSTON – It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are among the many teams that would love to swing a deal to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Well for now at least, it appears the Bulls aren’t willing to budge off moving their all-star small forward.

A league source tells CSNNE.com that the Bulls, while still open to listening to offers for Butler, are telling teams that are inquiring about his availability that their plan for now is to keep him in the fold.

And while there was some thought that a top-3 pick coupled with a few decent players might be enough to entice the Bulls to pull the trigger on a deal to trade Butler, CSNNE.com has been told such an offer would have to include at least one “legitimate, NBA starter” for the Bulls to even possibly consider trading him.

“And that might be a stretch,” the source indicated.

Any deal involving Butler to Boston from Chicago’s perspective, would most likely have to include Jae Crowder who is one of the best bargains in the NBA – and will be so for years to come.

With the increased salary cap on the horizon this summer for teams, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed last summer is looking like an absolute steal on the Celtics’ part.

Meanwhile, Butler just completed the first year of a five-year, $92.3 million contract which raises questions if you’re the Celtics as to whether the difference in their salaries makes doing such a deal worth it.

If you’re the Celtics, such a deal would be a significant bump in paid-out salaries but it would also better position Boston to acquire a second superstar a la Kevin Durant who will be a free agent this summer.

There are a number of options for the Celtics to consider in their current rebuilding process, with one possibility being to fall back on the ‘07 “blueprint for success.”

Boston used the No. 5 overall pick (Jeff Green) as part of a trade with Seattle (now Oklahoma City) that helped the Celtics land Ray Allen.

A couple of months later, Boston was able to engineer a trade for Kevin Garnett who played for Minnesota at the time.

And the rest was Banner 17 history.

Without acquiring Allen, there was no way the Celtics were going to land Garnett.

And if the goal for the Celtics is to catapult itself to being a title contender sooner rather than later, they’re going to have to acquire an elite, all-star caliber talent before they have a serious shot at Durant.

Could Butler be this year’s Ray Allen?

At this point, the Bulls have no intention of allowing that to happen.

More likely than not, the Celtics will have to go in a different direction which may result in Boston pulling off a deal for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

Like the Bulls, the Kings are saying all the right things now about not wanting to trade him.

Pastrnak, Marchand and Vatrano represent Bruins at World Championship

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Pastrnak, Marchand and Vatrano represent Bruins at World Championship

The Bruins have three players headed to the IIHF Hockey World Championship, which begin this weekend in Russia.

Brad Marchand was invited to play for Team Canada early on in the process, coming off his 37-goal season for the Bruins. Last week the Czech Republic added 19-year-old right wing David Pastrnak to their squad with plans to skate on a line with the Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec.

And Frank Vatrano -- who scored a total of 44 goals between Boston and Providence in this, his first full professional season -- was added to the Team USA roster this week. Vatrano, 22, confirmed it on his own Twitter account on Tuesday night prior to hopping on a flight bound for Russia:

Torey Krug played for Team USA last season, but was unavailable this time around after undergoing right shoulder surgery just a couple of weeks ago that will have him sidelined until late October. 

Vatrano is one of four Massachusetts players on this year's version of Team USA. The others are Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon, Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin and Devils D-man David Warsofsky.

Both Marchand and Pastrnak previously suited up for their countries in the World Junior championships, and Vatrano played in the U.S. National Team Development Program prior to playing college hockey at the University of Massachusetts. Vatrano also previously represented the U.S. at the 2012 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic, where he helped Team USA claim the gold medal.

The IIHF Men's World Championships will start Friday and run until May 22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. It features featuring many of the NHL players that aren’t participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

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MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

Brian MacPherson calls in to Toucher & Rich to speak on the shoulder surgery Pablo Sandoval underwent, which will keep him out of use for the season.