Bounty architect joins the Titans

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Bounty architect joins the Titans

From Comcast SportsNetNASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Gregg Williams knows he's got to prove himself every day.The former Saints defensive coordinator said he received a "great rebirth" Thursday when he was reinstated by the NFL and hired by the Tennessee Titans after serving a nearly yearlong suspension for his role in the New Orleans bounty scandal.But now that he's back in the league, he'll have to change the way he's done things in the past."I've got a very positive outlook on things," Williams said. "I understand and respect the game an awful lot, and the past is the past and what I'm talking about doing right now is creating a resume from this day forward."Williams took the first step when the Titans hired him as a senior assistant coach for defense. Williams thanked Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstating him while speaking at a news conference."I take full responsibility and apologize for my previous actions, and I've used this year to reorganize my life and put focus on positive energy and positive ways to inspire and coach and motivate in this profession," Williams said, reading from a statement."I'm grateful for this opportunity."The league issued a statement saying that Goodell cited several reasons for reinstating Williams, including Williams accepting responsibility for his role in the bounty program, his commitment to never be involved in any pay for performance system and pledging to teach safe play and respect for the rules."The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance," the NFL said in its statement.While he was out of football in 2012, Williams started his path back.He said he spoke to football players from the Pop Warner level up to high school over the past year. He also worked with his charity, traveled and tried to improve himself including losing about "a kindergartener" when challenged by his sons to lose weight.Williams, suspended indefinitely last March, now is the last person involved in the scandal to be reinstated by league. New Orleans coach Sean Payton had his suspension lifted on Jan. 22.Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six. Four current or former Saints players were also suspended after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.Williams coached for the Saints between 2009 and 2011 and was hired as defensive coordinator by the St. Louis Rams in January 2012 before being suspended. Williams had been free to look for a new job in the NFL since the playoffs started, and now he is returning to the team where he got his start in the league back in 1990 as a quality control assistant.Titans coach Mike Munchak said he spent the past month trying to figure out how to improve his coaching staff and a defense that set a franchise-record giving up 471 points. He immediately thought about Williams, so Munchak said he called Goodell for a long talk to learn about the bounty situation and Williams' status.Munchak said hiring Williams on a one-year contract was "the right thing to do.""What better place for him to come back to for a second opportunity after making some mistakes and to recharge his career going forward," Munchak said."He knows we're going to do things the right way. He knows how we do things. I think he knows changes have to be done maybe in some of the ways he's done things in the past. I think we're on the same page. I think we're excited about the opportunity."Still, this is the NFL, and Williams said an aggressive approach on defense is what people get when he gets a chance to help."It's been my thought process as a player, as a coach, in all the years I've been doing this is that I'd rather be aggressive than passive," Williams said. "And sometimes the fastest approach to getting a job done is being more aggressive, and that can be a style of defense, scheme of defense, attitude of defense. ... I feel like that will always be a huge tenet of the National Football League."How well this move works for both the Titans and Williams remains to be seen.The Titans missed the playoffs in Munchak's first season on a tiebreaker in 2011 before slumping to a 6-10 record in 2012. Fans have not been happy that Munchak has kept Jerry Gray as coordinator after a season when Tennessee also gave up at least 30 points in seven different games and ranked 27th in yards allowed.Munchak previously made only one move on his defensive staff, firing linebackers coach Frank Bush and moving Chet Parlavecchio from assisting with special teams to linebackers coach."The bottom line guys is winning next year," Munchak said. "We know that."Williams and Gray have worked together for years first in Tennessee, then Williams took Gray with him to Buffalo when hired as the Bills head coach in 2001 after four seasons as Tennessee's defensive coordinator under then-coach Jeff Fisher. They worked together in Washington between 2004-07 before Williams went to Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008 and then the Saints.Gray said he told Munchak to bring Williams on in when asked for his opinion of a man who's like a brother. When pressed on who will make the defensive calls in games this season, Gray pointed questions to Munchak who said Gray is the coordinator making the calls "right now."Notes: The Titans face a deadline Friday where they could release Chris Johnson and avoid guaranteeing 9 million of the 10 million salary due in 2013. Munchak said they will be honoring both Johnson's contract and that of safety Michael Griffin, who is due 6.2 million this season.

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

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MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”