New York City Marathon canceled

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New York City Marathon canceled

NEW YORK Under growing pressure as thousands still shivered from Sandy, the New York City Marathon was canceled Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that this was not the time for a race.

With people in storm-ravaged areas shivering without electricity and the death toll in the city at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon, storm victims being evicted from hotels to make way for runners, and big generators humming along at the finish-line tents in Central Park.

Around 47,500 runners from around the globe had been expected to take part in the 26.2-mile event Sunday, with more than 1 million spectators usually lining the route for the world's largest marathon. The race had been scheduled to start in Staten Island, one of the storm's hardest-hit places.

Bloomberg had pressed ahead with plans run the marathon on schedule, but opposition intensified quickly Friday afternoon from the city controller, Manhattan borough president and sanitation workers.

Finally, the mayor backed down about three hours later.

"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event even one as meaningful as this to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."

The cancellation means there won't be another NYC Marathon until next year.

Bloomberg called the marathon an "integral part of New York City's life for 40 years" and "an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch."

He still insisted that holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, but understood the level of friction.

"It is clear it that it has become the source of controversy and division," Bloomberg said. "The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination.

Bloomberg's decision came just a day after he appealed to the grit and resiliency of New Yorkers, saying "This city is a city where we have to go on."

The nationally televised race that winds through the city's five boroughs and has been held annually since 1970 it was held in 2001, about two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Mary Wittenberg, president of the organizing New York Road Runners, said it was the right move to cancel.

"This is what we need to do and the right thing at this time," she said.

"It's been a week where we worked very closely with the mayor's office and felt very strongly, both of us together, that on Tuesday it seemed that the best thing for New York on Sunday would be moving forward. As the days went on, just today it got to the point where that was no longer the case."

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association the police department's largest union called the decision to cancel the marathon "a wise choice."

Wittenberg said about 10,000 runners were expected to drop out after the storm arrived.

As of now, NYRR is sticking to its policy of no refunds for the runners, but will guarantee entry to next year's marathon. But Wittenberg said they will review that stance.

Eric Jones said he was part of a group from the Netherlands that collected 1.5 million to donate to a children's cancer charity if the runners competed.

"We understand, but maybe the decision could have been made earlier, before we traveled this far," said Jones, whose group came to New York a day earlier.

Steve Brune, a Manhattan entrepreneur, was set to run his fourth NYC Marathon.

"I'm disappointed, but I can understand why it's more important to use our resources for those who have lost a lot," he said.

Brune said he thinks foreign runners who traveled for the race will be even more disappointed.

"When you have a significant amount of people voicing real pain and unhappiness over its running, you have to hear that. You have to take that into consideration," said Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor for government affairs and communications.

"Something that is such a celebration of the best of New York can't become divisive. That is not good for the city now as we try to complete our recovery effort, and it is not good for the marathon in the long run," he said.

Earlier in the day, race preparations seemed under way as normal.

White tents where the runners would meet were already erected. Plastic crates lined the park's wall for two blocks, with tangles of electric wires and other setup equipment where workers buzzed around. A few TV news crews set up camp.

Along the race route in Queens, a couple of marathon banners hung from street lamps.

In Brooklyn, the effects of the storm were more apparent. One gas station had a long line of cars extending down the block. Another had dozens of people standing on the sidewalk, clutching red fuel cans.

At the midtown New Yorker Hotel, the lobby was filled with anguished runners, some crying and others with puffy eyes. In one corner, a group of Italian runners watched the news with blank looks.

"I have no words," said Roberto Dell'Olmo, from Vercelli, Italy. Then later: "I would like that the money I give from the marathon goes to victims."

Gisela Clausen, of Munich, told her fellow runners about the cancellation as they walked in.

"You don't understand. We spend a year on this. We don't eat what we want. We don't drink what we want. And we're on the streets for hours. We live for this marathon, but we understand," she said.

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Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik, Michael Rubinkam and Cara Ana in New York contributed to this report.

Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

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Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.

Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?

Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.

The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.

Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.

Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

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Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

The Patriots have eight picks remaining on the final day of the draft. While they may not use all of those selections -- they currently have 80 players on the roster, leaving them with only two slots for undrafted free agents if they use all of their picks -- they still have plenty of opportunities to take chances on talented athletes Saturday. 

Here's a quick look at some of the best players available after they spent their first four selections on a corner (Cyrus Jones, Alabama, pick No. 60), an offensive lineman (Joe Thuney, North Carolina State, No. 78), a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State, No. 91) and a defensive tackle (Vincent Valentine, Nebraska, No. 96). 

The Patriots have one fourth-round pick, five sixth-round picks and two seventh-rounders remaining.

RUNNING BACK: KENNETH DIXON, LOUISIANA TECH

Listed as one of our top players available after Day 1, Dixon is still hanging around after nearly 100 picks have gone off the board. Perhaps his level of competition at Louisiana Tech has worked against him. Perhaps his fumbling issues have come back to bite him. Perhaps this is simply an indication of how the rest of the league considers this position. Only four backs have been drafted through the first three rounds. 

Other top running backs available: Jordan Howard, Indiana; Devontae Booker, Utah; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Alex Collins, Arkansas. 

RECEIVER: DANIEL BRAVERMAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN

If ever there was a player who stood out as a potential Patriots pick, it would be Braverman. At 5-foot-10, 177 pounds, he is a prototypical slot receiver whose skill set resembles that of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Troy Brown. He's very shifty in and out of his breaks, he does a great deal of his work while risking big hits over the middle of the field, he catches just about everything thrown his way, and he churns out yards after the catch with speed and good vision. 

Other top receivers available: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Devon Cajuste, Stanford; Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa; Keenan Reynolds, Navy.

LINEBACKER: JOSH PERRY, OHIO STATE

This Buckeye seems to fit the size profile the Patriots typically like in their receivers at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds. He runs well enough to be able to track ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline, and he has a ton of experience coming downhill to make big hits in the running game. Perry will need some work before he's a reliable defender in coverage, but on first and second downs he could be a force. 

Other top linebackers available: Scooby Wright III, Arizona; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt; Blake Martinez, Stanford; De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: HASSAN RIDGEWAY, TEXAS

A college teammate of Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown, Ridgeway is considered by many to be more physically talented than Brown was when he declared for the draft. Injuries hurt Ridgeway's productivity last season, and there are some who question his conditioning, but he understands how to be a disruptive force on the interior, both in the running game and in the passing game. If he's in shape and can maintain the level of fitness that will be expected of him as a pro, he could turn into an immediate contributor.

Other top defensive tackles available: Andrew Billings, Baylor; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; DJ Reader, Clemson; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Justin Zimmer, Ferris State.