From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Hall of Famer Jerry Rice has no interest in a back-and-forth debate with Randy Moss during Super Bowl week about who's the greatest NFL wide receiver of all time."This is not about Randy and Jerry," Rice said Thursday. "It's OK. I don't need to talk about being the best receiver. I don't need to do that. I don't need to pat myself on the back."Rice has a strong opinion on the matter, yet insists he won't come out and say he is the best ever. The former San Francisco 49ers star turned television man will offer one thought to Moss: Check the stats."I know he says you can't bring the stats into the scenario, but I think that's part of being the best receiver to play the game," Rice said Thursday. "I'm just having fun with it right now. I think the thing is, I never took any plays off and I always gave 100 percent. Also, you put my numbers up against Randy's and my body of work compared to his, and there's a big difference."During media day Tuesday at the Superdome, Moss declared himself "the greatest receiver ever to play this game." The 35-year-old Moss, who returned to the league this season after a year off, Moss made 28 catches for 434 yards and three touchdowns this season. In 2007, he broke Rice's single-season record for touchdown catches with 23. Rice had 22 in 1987.Rice had 14 1,000-yard seasons. Moss is second with 10.Rice, who played the first 16 of his 21 NFL seasons with San Francisco from 1985-2000, holds virtually every significant receiving mark. That includes most career receptions (1,549); yards receiving (22,895); total touchdowns (208); and combined net yards (23,546) in his career with San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle.Rice gives Moss the nod for pure talent and athletic ability, but that's not all it takes."The thing about me guys -- and I still say this today -- I think Randy Moss was the most talented," Rice said. "But along with being the most talented, you have to work hard -- every season, every play. I was not the most talented, but I was going to outwork you. He probably could have been the greatest player ever to play the game. He's 6-5, could run a 4.3. Could outjump you. Struck fear in the heart of the defense. But you have to have it here, in your heart."Rice later pointed out that he wasn't questioning Moss' heart, just emphasizing his own and the passion for the game."This is how I impacted the game," Rice said, holding up the sparkly 1988-89 championship ring on his middle right finger, "with Super Bowl rings. I'm hoping he can go out there and win his first one and be a big factor."Before Rice spoke, during a media session for several in the lineup of ESPN commentators, he was announced as "arguably the best wide receiver ..." The woman couldn't finish before Rice interrupted."The second best," he quipped, laughing.Let the debate continue.
BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-2 win over the Orioles:
* Steven Wright had six 1-2-3 innings among the nine he pitched.
For a brief time in the second, after two were out, Wright battled command. Then, in the fifth, he yielded three straight hits and a sacrifice fly, accounting for the only two runs he allowed.
Otherwise? Wright carved through the Baltimore lineup, facing the minimum number of hitters in six of the nine other innings and one over the minimum in another.
He got a number of weak squibbers - including a couple he fielded himself and of the four hits he allowed, only three left the infield.
* Mookie Betts stole the first Red Sox run with some alert baserunning.
Betts was on second when Xander Bogaerts hit a tapped in front of the mound.
Catcher Caleb Joseph pounced on the ball about 15 feet from home plate, but then stood there after throwing out Bogaerts at first. With home plate unguarded, Betts got to third and alertly kept going, beating the throw home from first baseman Chris Davis.
Betts is the probably the Red Sox' fastest baserunner, but in instances like that one, he showed he's also one of their smartest.
* David Ortiz is a menace at Camden Yards.
There's a reason John Farrell waited to make out the lineup card, hoping that David Ortiz was available after missing Sunday's game with a sore foot. Ortiz usually makes his presence felt here and Monday was no different.
He homered to right to lead off the eighth, giving him seven homers in his last 10 games at Camden Yards and 12 homers in his last 28 games.
If Ortiz played for the Orioles, it's frightening to think what sort of power numbers he could put up playing half the time in a ballpark with an inviting right field porch.
* The Sox have gotten plenty of contributions from bench players.
Josh Rutledge (.830 OPS) has helped out in the infield, with Brock Holt relegated to LF, and more recently, the DL. On Monday, it was Marco Hernandez's turn. Hernandez supplied a three-run homer from the ninth spot in the eighth inning, turning a two-run lead into a five-run advantage.
Their contributions have allowed Farrell to make some moves around the infield, such as Monday's decision to give Hanley Ramirez a day off while shifting Travis Shaw to first.
Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter @Sean_McAdam.
Teams are still fighting for the 2016 Larry O’Brien Trophy, but the 2017 NBA title opening odds have already been released by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Warriors unsurprisingly come in as heavy 3/2 favorites. The Cavaliers already punched their ticket for this year’s finals and are second, with 5/2 odds. Then there’s the Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers, as you’d expect rounding off the top five.
But then there’s the Celtics with 20/1 odds -- sixth-best in the NBA -- to raise Banner 18.
With eight draft picks and a chunk of cap space, the Celtics are in a position to capitalize on any opportunities that may come their way. There is a lot of uncertainty at this point in the NBA calendar, so Vegas must be hedging their bets on the Celtics making a leap towards contender status.
Celtics fans will also be happy to know the Nets have 500/1 odds to hoist the trophy next season, which ranks last of all teams. The Celtics have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in the 2017 draft, which could give them another swing at a superstar prospect.
For full draft profiles of players the Celtics could draft this year, click here.
|Golden State Warriors||3/2|
|San Antonio Spurs||6/1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||8/1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||16/1|
|New Orleans Pelicans||60/1|
|Portland Trail Blazers||60/1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||100/1|
|New York Knicks||100/1|
FOXBORO -- Late last year, Bill Belichick went out of his way to explain just how far then-rookie defensive lineman Malcom Brown had progressed over the course of his first professional season.
From the sounds of it, the first-round defensive tackle's on-the-field growth was atypical.
"I think he’s really come on through the season, which isn’t always the case with first-year players," Belichick said on Dec. 30. "It took him a while to get to that point through training camp and the early part of the season, but he’s become much better and more consistent in every phase of the game – running game, passing game, play recognition, communication, adjustments – just everything. It seems like every week he just builds on it.
"He’s really hit a good slope, good incline. He’s worked hard. There is a lot on every rookie’s plate. There’s a lot on his plate as a rookie in the different situations that he plays in and the number of things that we do on the front, so it’s not easy, but he’s improved his techniques, his fundamental play and he’s improved his communication and overall understanding of the multiples that are involved. It’s been good."
Brown finished the year as the Patriots interior defensive lineman with the most snaps played (his 517 snaps trailed only Jabaal Sheard, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich among defensive linemen), and he established himself as a trustworthy option in the team's steady rotation on the interior of its front.
According to one of Brown's newest teammates, free-agent acquisition Terrance Knighton, Brown is now serving as a leader on the interior of the defensive line. Though he's only in his second season, Brown's understanding of the Patriots defense gives him a leg up on players who may have more experience in the league but are new to New England.
"Malcom Brown has basically been leading the group," Knighton said after an OTA practice last Thursday. "Being in his second year, he's probably the most experienced guy in it right now as far as this team. I'm picking his brain to see how things are done around here."
Knighton acknowledged that once the Patriots have Alan Branch back on the field -- Branch was one of 17 players missing from Thursday's OTA -- they'll get another player with a sound understanding of the defense. But right now, Brown is looked to as a source of information for veterans like Knighton and Markus Kuhn as well as rookie fourth-rounder Vincent Valentine.
"Young guy, obviously played at a high level last year and you can tell he's feeding off of that," Knighton said of Brown. "He's only continued, from what I've seen on tape to now. That's one of the things I try to talk to about with the young guys is being on the up, and not going up and down in your career. That's something I've been through in my career so I just try to share knowledge and help guys out."
Brown, who turned 22 in February, certainly ended last season "on the up." In the early going this offseason, it seems as though he's on track to continue that trajectory.