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Vontaze Burfict of Cincinnati Bengals officially suspended for first four games of 2018 for PED violation

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The NFL on Thursday suspended Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in March that Burfict was facing the suspension for a failed test on Dec. 27 of last year.

Sources told Schefter that Burfict’s appeal was to be centered around the fact that he was on prescribed medication for the concussion that he suffered on a hit from Steelers wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith Schuster on Dec. 4 and that he suffered a Grade 3 shoulder AC sprain during the Detroit Lions game on Dec. 24 and was on prescribed medications for this injury as well.

Burfict has been suspended in the past, but for on-field transgressions. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season for an illegal hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason. He initially was suspended five games but had the penalty reduced on appeal.

Burfict was also suspended the first three games of the 2016 season for numerous violations of player safety rules, including an illegal hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs.

Separate from those suspensions, Burfict has been fined $303,637 for 11 on-field incidents in his NFL career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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Atlanta Falcons sitting DE Takk McKinley Thursday

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The Atlanta Falcons are holding pass rusher Takk McKinley out of Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers, according to sources, fueling talk of a potential trade.

The Falcons are sitting McKinley so a lingering groin injury can heal. But multiple league sources say the Falcons are open to trade options with the fourth-year player, so listing him as inactive can serve Atlanta on both fronts if necessary.

McKinley, a first-round pick in 2017, has missed two games with the groin issue and played 23 snaps in last week’s loss to the Detroit Lions. The team did not pick up his fifth-year option, so McKinley is set to hit free agency in March. He has one sack on the season and 17.5 for his career.

Sitting at 1-6 and searching for a new head coach and general manager, the Falcons are positioned to be sellers at the Tuesday trade deadline. Quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones, with a combined cap hit of nearly $64 million next season, are set to stay put, but the franchise could be looking pieces of its supporting cast.

The team fired coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff after an 0-5 start. Raheem Morris is the interim coach.

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Mike McCartney gets last laugh when Twitter confuses him for Dallas Cowboys coach

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FRISCO, Texas — It’s not easy being Mike McCarthy these days. The Dallas Cowboys are 2-5, trending more toward a top-five draft pick in 2021 than a playoff spot in the woeful NFC East in the coach’s first year.

Nothing has gone right for McCarthy.

It’s not easy being Mike McCartney, either.

As bad as it was after the Cowboys’ Week 7 loss to the Washington Football Team, it might get worse Sunday (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) for McCarthy and McCartney when Dallas takes on the Philadelphia Eagles.

McCartney, 56, is one of the top agents in the NFL, representing players such as Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, and serving as the director of football at Priority Sports & Entertainment.

McCarthy, 56, is the Cowboys’ coach, hired in January 2020 and looking to find his foothold after a calamitous start to the season filled with defensive ineptitude, major injuries and questionable decision-making.

Somehow, football fans confuse these two men on Twitter. Often.

Such is life when your Twitter handle is @MikeMcCartney7.

“It definitely started when Mike was in Green Bay a few seasons ago,” McCartney said. “I’m on Twitter and I just remember a person tweeted at me as if I was the coach. And it was in-game. I was like, ‘Are they really that clueless? Our names are spelled differently.’ But then I thought it could be fun to reply as if I’m Mike McCarthy.”

On Sunday, McCartney’s son, Brandon, will be in his dorm room at Olivet Nazarene University glued to his television and Twitter, watching the Cowboys play in Philadelphia.

He knows the social media trolls will be coming for his father incessantly. The confusion and mix-ups seem to happen every week.

“Probably before kickoff,” said Brandon, a junior radio broadcasting major, who laughed at the thought.

“It’s one of my favorite parts about Sundays,” Brandon said. “People get mad at my dad and the Packers winning [now]. Is it OK to admit that? Yes, I’m a Packers fan.”

Two days before the Cowboys officially named McCarthy as coach, McCartney began receiving messages of congratulations on the new job.

“I’m driving to work and I’m two blocks from my office, and my wife sends me a text, ‘So we’re moving to Dallas?’ and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I bet the Cowboys just hired Mike.'”

McCartney tweeted out his wife’s text with an emoji. One of the responders on Twitter was Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott‘s brother, Tad, tweeted that: “Our winters are warmer,” referring to Dallas being of a warmer clime than McCartney’s home outside of Chicago.

A day later, McCartney updated his Twitter feed, telling Dallas fans that a move isn’t happening.

McCartney and McCarthy have joked about the mix-ups with their names and identities. Well, McCartney has joked about it anyway.

“I don’t know if he knew what I was talking about,” McCartney said. “That’s OK. But imagine if he was on Twitter? Well, I guess I could imagine what it would be like if he was on Twitter.”

This isn’t the coach, this is the agent

McCartney has a deep football background. His father, Bill, was the head football coach at Colorado from 1982 to 1994. Mike spent time as a coach at Colorado and North Carolina. He was the pro scouting director for the Philadelphia Eagles for a time as well, but the game became too consuming, and he did not want be an absent father most of the year.

The McCarthy-McCartney mix-ups predate social media. Years ago, McCartney and McCarthy stayed at the same hotel in Mobile, Alabama, for the annual Senior Bowl. The front desk would transfer calls to the wrong room. He even has received calls from the NFL office in New York thinking he was the NFL coach.

“I’m not going to mention names, but someone from the Cowboys three times in the last six months called me. I’ll say, ‘What’s up?’ It’s ‘Not much,’ and then, ‘Oh, shoot, I thought you were the other Mike.’ He hangs up on me every time. I called him back, and he made some excuse, but we just laugh about it,” McCartney said. “My name is right below or above Mike’s name I’m sure.

“I got some texts after Mike won the Super Bowl with Green Bay in Dallas. I got a few texts congratulating me. I had a head coach [before the 2020 season started] text me, ‘Hey, Mike can you give me a call? Not about a trade.’ Even my cell phone gets it.”

For those in on the joke, it is high comedy.

“I was at the all-star game in Los Angeles, the NFLPA game, and one of the Cowboys scouts came out and said as he’s walking on the field, ‘Hey, when are you moving to Dallas? Can I make an appointment to see you?'” McCartney laughed at the attempt from the scout to make light of the mix-ups.

But, it is even funnier for those who are not in on the joke.

“I don’t think they get it from what I tweet, but others will tweet at them, ‘This isn’t the coach from the Packers or the Cowboys. This is the agent,'” McCartney said.

Said Brandon: “There was a tweet [after the Week 4 Cleveland game] that some guy said, ‘Coach McCartney needs to get out of Dallas.’ I was like, ‘You need to know how to spell your coach’s last name before you criticize anybody.'”

When it first started happening, McCartney said, “I was thinking for a while somebody’s trolling me. It took me a while to figure it out. And it’s usually unique people every time. It is funny when someone tweets at me, but then you can see the light go on.”

In the Cowboys’ season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, McCarthy opted not to attempt a short field goal that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter. When the Cowboys were stopped, the agent got “lit up pretty good” on social media.

As long as the tweets are clean, McCartney will respond, mostly in jest.

“But people are so angry these days,” he said.

When the Cowboys win, which has not been frequent enough for the fans of the Dallas coach so far, the social media bombs being flung at McCartney become fewer.

“My dad should get more credit when the Cowboys win,” Brandon said.

McCartney will even offer some consolation to others who are feeling the same wrath.

In the Cowboys’ season opener, football blogger Marcus Mosher tweeted, “Get rid of first down runs forever, @kellenmoore.”

Unfortunately that tweet didn’t go to the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. That Kellen Moore is a youth pastor at a church in California.

The pastor Kellen Moore has been receiving tweets since the Cowboys’ Kellen Moore was a star quarterback at Boise State. At least the Moores have the same name, unlike McCartney and McCarthy.

McCartney tweeted at the pastor, “I feel ya Kellen!”

“I think my dad loves it,” Brandon said. “He has a lot of fun with it, and to be honest, I think he’s in the same boat as me, he enjoys every Sunday.”

How much?

Mike’s fantasy football team name is: McCarthy 3 hrs a week.



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Houston Texans close facility after positive COVID-19 test while on bye week

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HOUSTON — The Texans have closed their facility after a player tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Wednesday.

It is the Texans’ bye week, but the facility is closed for a deep cleaning and the team is performing contract tracing.

“Late last night, we received notice that a Texans player tested positive for COVID-19,” the team said in a statement. “In accordance with NFL protocols, the player immediately self-isolated and our Infection Control Officer and other members of the Infection Response Team began working with the NFL to perform contact tracing. Our facility will be closed today to players for deep cleaning. We are in close consultation with the NFL, as well as our team of independent doctors and specialists, and will follow their guidance regarding our scheduled bye week operations. The health and safety of our team, as well as our entire staff, are of highest priority.”

This is the first positive test for the Texans since the start of training camp. Houston hosted the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

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