Fred Davis, the Washington Redskins’ tight end who was suspended once by the NFL for violating its drug policy, was suspended indefinitely Thursday, a move that could mark the end of his career.Davis is set to become a free agent next month, and there would hardly be a team interested in signing a suspended player who has a history of issues.The 28-year-old Davis claims the suspension stems from a supplement he took that contained a banned substance.“In the past, I made the mistake of knowingly ingesting a banned substance,” he said in a statement. “For over two years, I’ve worked very hard to eliminate marijuana from my life, and I have not had a positive test for it since 2011. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago I took a supplement that contained a banned substance. I now know that supplements are not regulated by the FDA and may contain banned substances.“The NFL policy is strict, and not knowing that a supplement might contain a banned substance doesn’t excuse a violation of the policy. I’ve worked closely with the NFLPA and NFL to resolve this violation, and I will be permitted to apply for reinstatement in the fall. I look forward to staying in football shape, remaining in compliance with the NFL policy and having a chance to get back on the field to contribute to a team’s success next season.”Davis is the second player associated with the Redskins who has been suspended indefinitely. Safety Tanard Jackson received the same penalty in August 2012 and has yet to be reinstated.Davis failed multiple drug tests in 2011 for marijuana and was suspended for four games. In May 2012, he told reporters, “You can’t cry over spilled milk. The worst part of my day was losing those four games and having to sit and not help my teammates. So the worst is over, something I can learn from and something that’s not going to come up again.”This is the third straight year Davis was set to enter free agency only to have a personal issue cost him. He tore his Achilles tendon during the 2012 season and re-signed with Washington on a one-year deal, rejecting a two-year contract offer from the Buffalo Bills that would have paid him about $700,000 more. Davis gambled that he would return to form and cash in this offseason.But he caught only seven passes last season and was replaced as a starter by rookie Jordan Reed. Davis, a second-round pick in 2008, has 162 career receptions, with a career high of 59 in 2011.
Derek Jeter, a regionally popular player for a local New York ball club, announced his retirement in February, presaging the end to 20 seasons in Major League Baseball.I’ll leave it to the sports desk to discuss the actual performance of Jeter, but one effect the announcement had was a meteoric rise in the price of tickets to both his last game at Yankee Stadium, this Thursday, and his last, last game, in Boston this Sunday.And while they’re not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Yankees are what we in the statistics community call “pretty boned, all things considered.” So, it’s reasonable to expect that Sunday will be Jeter’s final game in the majors.We’ve seen a steady increase in recent weeks in the price of tickets sold on the secondary market StubHub. Here’s the day-by-day average sale-price data it sent us, starting Dec. 1 and going through the spike in February and up to Friday:Here’s the game in Boston:
The Seattle Seahawks rarely have a hard time stopping any opposing offensive player. During last year’s playoffs alone, over the course of three successive games they shut down New Orleans’ star tight end Jimmy Graham, short-circuited San Francisco’s entire passing game, and humiliated Denver’s Peyton Manning (arguably the best quarterback ever). But on Sunday, the “Legion of Boom” had no answers for San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who caught three touchdown passes in an upset victory over the defending Super Bowl champs.Seattle shouldn’t feel too bad, though. Gates has been doing this kind of thing for 12 NFL seasons now, practically since he made the transition from being the second-leading scorer on Kent State’s 2002 Elite Eight basketball team1Astonishingly, Gates didn’t play a down of football in college. to being an All-Pro NFL tight end. Yet, for all of his accomplishments — by Pro-Football-Reference’s Approximate Value system, he’s the second-best tight end ever — Gates’s career remains under-appreciated. That’s what happens when you play in the long shadow of Tony Gonzalez.Gonzalez, a former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, was a contemporary, a fellow converted basketballer and usually a division rival. Unfortunately for Gates, Gonzalez is also generally considered the greatest tight end the game has ever seen. That has often rendered Gates the position’s second banana within the AFC West alone, much less the whole league or all pro football history. But Gonzalez retired at the end of last season, and Gates (albeit a diminished version of the player he once was) showed Sunday he can still produce feats worthy of our full attention.It’s a quirk of timing that Gates followed Gonzalez’s script almost line for line. In college, Gates had real NBA aspirations but lacked a true position; at 6 feet 4 inches, he was too small to bang inside against pro-sized power forwards, but he also didn’t have the quickness to chase small forwards around the perimeter.2If Gonzalez started the trend of jumping from hoops to the NFL, Gates solidified it as a legitimate career option; in recent years, Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Jordan Cameron became elite tight ends after playing basketball — and not football — in college. Gates’s agent, realizing his client’s lack of a future at basketball’s next level, scheduled him for a workout in front of NFL scouts and coaches, one of whom was Chargers tight ends coach Tim Brewster. San Diego signed him as an undrafted free agent.Ever since Kellen Winslow redefined the position while playing in Don Coryell’s Chargers system of the 1980s, coaches have been consumed with finding tight ends who check off enough boxes to create mismatches with opposing defenses. Now, when NFL scouts evaluate tight ends, they look for a combination of size, strength, speed and soft hands. In fact, because of the role’s versatility, a tight end can be an offense’s ideal all-around chess piece.Gates possesses an absurd mix of height, quickness, speed and eye-hand coordination. Even his instincts for the game are superior, despite not having the formative experience of playing in college. He runs routes, for instance, with skill and precision, smoothly changing direction and picking out holes in zone coverages, and shows a preternatural ability to adjust to the ball in midair (witness the transcendent one-handed catch he made on his third touchdown against Seattle).The incorporation of such talents in one package made Gates nearly impossible to cover in his prime,3Especially considering he frequently lined up against hopelessly overmatched linebackers or safeties. and puts him very much in the conversation for the most productive pass-catching tight end of his era — Gonzalez included.4Note that I said “pass-catching tight end.” For what it’s worth, neither Gates nor Gonzalez provided much value as a blocker; in the years for which Pro Football Focus’s play-by-play grades are available (2008-13), both were rated as significantly below average in that area, particularly in the running game. Among NFL tight ends over the past 10 full seasons,5So, the decade between 2004 and 2013. only Gonzalez produced more True Receiving Yards (TRY), and none came close to matching Gates’s Approximate Value.Gonzalez hit the scene first, though, and has had the advantage of longevity. Gates started his NFL career slightly later6Gonzalez was a rookie at age 21; Gates began playing in the league at 23. and his production began to slide due to injuries by age 30, while Gonzalez’s numbers were amazingly consistent throughout his 30s (including a remarkable second act with the Atlanta Falcons in which he was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls in his final four NFL seasons).That’s why, if we zoom out to consider the entirety of NFL history, Gonzalez’s body of work is plainly superior to that of Gates — and every other tight end who ever played the game.As football has evolved to the point where first-class tight ends argue (for salary purposes) that the league should simply consider them wide receivers, there’s a case to be made that Gates and Gonzalez should be side by side on the position’s Mount Rushmore.While the decades leading up to the 2000s saw occasional statistical aberrations like Winslow, Ozzie Newsome of the Cleveland Browns and Shannon Sharpe of the Denver Broncos, the best tight ends of the era were still more like Jay Novacek of the Dallas Cowboys or Brent Jones of the San Francisco 49ers — sure-handed receivers who mostly ran underneath routes and could block when needed. Between 1983 (Winslow’s final 1,000-TRY season) and 2000 (Gonzalez’s first), only twice did a tight end crack 1,000 True Receiving Yards in a season: Todd Christensen of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1986, and Sharpe in 1996.But the arrivals of Gonzalez and Gates signaled a change in the position. They ran routes like wide receivers, adding an invaluable dimension to their offenses, and in turn their style of play directly helped spawn today’s generation of supercharged receiving tight ends. There have been more 1,000-TRY seasons by tight ends since 2000, when Gonzalez opened the floodgates, than in the previous 27 years, and more than half of those were by either Gates or Gonzalez.Because they emerged at nearly the same time, in the same division, Gates will probably never truly escape the comparison to Gonzalez. That’s unfortunate; it’s one that Gates can’t possibly win. But if you compare him to every other tight end in history, it’s hard to find another career that stacks up to his, at least in terms of pass-catching prowess. At age 34, Gates is only intermittently capable of the types of outbursts we saw from him on Sunday, but his legacy as a trendsetter — and one of the very best tight ends ever — should nonetheless be secure.
OSU senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer (32) kicks the ball during a game against Cleveland State on Oct. 21 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 1-0. Credit: Christopher Slack, Lantern PhotographerThe Ohio State men’s soccer team rebounded after a slow start to win the regular-season Big Ten title. Now, two of its players have received a personal accolade to go along with the team title. On Friday, it was announced that OSU senior defender Liam Doyle was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, while senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer was awarded Goalkeeper of the Year for the conference.Doyle and Froschauer, along with a fellow Buckeye in senior forward Kyle Culbertson, were voted onto the first-team all-Big Ten, as well.After transferring to OSU from Cincinnati State, Doyle has made his mark on the program. The Isle of Man, United Kingdom, native started every game last season before being named a co-captain for the 2015 season.Doyle, who was also first-team all-Big Ten in 2014, was a critical cog to the OSU backline that surrendered just six conference goals this season. The senior, who was a unanimous first-team selection, also chipped in two goals of his own— one of which was a game-winner against Indiana on Oct. 10 — while registering six assists.After leading the Big Ten in save percentage with a mark of .805 and tallying eight clean sheets in 2015, the Goalkeeper of the Year award is a fitting way for Froschauer to cap off his final collegiate campaign.Like Doyle, Froschauer also began his career elsewhere. The Union, Kentucky, native transferred to OSU after being the starting goalie for Dayton for three seasons. Froschauer won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week four times during OSU’s run to capture the regular-season title.The top-seeded Buckeyes are set to kick off play in the conference tournament on Sunday at 4 p.m. on the turf of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU is scheduled to face the winner of No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 9 Penn State.
OSU sophomore forward Lauren Spring (27) controls the puck during a game against Minnesota on Oct. 16 at the OSU Ice Rink. OSU lost 7-2.Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Ohio State women’s ice ice hockey team (10-25-1, 6-21-1) was swept by Minnesota (31-3-1, 24-3-1) in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s playoffs over the weekend, putting an end to its tumultuous first season under coach Jenny Potter.The Buckeyes entered the series with some momentum after splitting their final regular-season series against No. 10 North Dakota. Minnesota countered with some mojo of its own entering the series as the Golden Gophers finished the regular season by sweeping the No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers.In the regular-season matchups between the teams this season, Minnesota swept OSU twice. The Golden Gophers outscored the Buckeyes 30-5 over the four games.The No. 2-ranked Golden Gopher offense proved to be too much for the Buckeyes in the first-round series, as the home team topped the Buckeyes 5-2 on Friday and 5-0 the following evening.On Friday, the Gophers and Buckeyes battled in the first period, but neither team was able to break through. Junior forward Dani Cameranesi scored her conference-leading 32nd goal of the season to put Minnesota up halfway through the second period. Three minutes later, freshman forward Maddy Field put OSU on the board and evened the game. However, the Buckeyes were unable to hold that tie before the second intermission, as Minnesota added another goal with less than two minutes remaining.The Buckeyes tied the game once again in the beginning of the third period when Claudia Kepler, the team’s leading goal scorer, netted her 14th of the season.With the lock on the scoreboard, the idea of a stunning Game 1 upset began to creep into the minds of the Buckeyes.But it was not meant to be.Minnesota answered with three more goals, the last coming on an empty net, to make the close game look lopsided and give the Gophers the 5-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.On Saturday, Cameranesi once again started the goal scoring for the Gophers. This time she found the back of the net about halfway through the first period. Minnesota then dominated the second period by outshooting the Buckeyes 10-5 and knocking three goals past OSU goalie Alex LaMere.Despite leading in shots in the third period 9-8, OSU was never able to capitalize on its goal-scoring chances and come anywhere close to mounting a miraculous comeback. The Golden Gophers added another goal with less than seven minutes remaining to finish the scoring and end the Buckeyes’ season.The No. 2 seed now moves on to the WCHA Final Face-off and is lined up to face No. 4-seeded North Dakota in the semifinals. The other semifinal will be top-seeded Wisconsin facing off against No. 6 seed Minnesota Duluth, which upset Bemidji State in the first round.
OSU sophomore Kyle Snyder gets his hand raised during a meet against Nebraska at St. John Arena on Jan. 17. OSU won 21-17. Credit: Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo EditorNEW YORK CITY — It was a rowdy and loud environment in Madison Square Garden as the NCAA wrestling national championships got underway. Ohio State began its title defense by winning six of its first eight matches and advancing five competitors into the quarterfinals.The Buckeyes are sitting well in second place as a team at the end of Day 1.OSU started things off with a defending individual national champion in redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello. Tomasello picked up a technical fall over Kyle Larson of Iowa State.In his next matchup, the Parma, Ohio, native drew an opponent he faced earlier this season in Elijah Oliver of Indiana. Much like before, Tomasello dominated the match after a slow start, and the 125-pound champion from last year moved on to the next round.Redshirt senior Johnni DiJulius attacked early against Robert Deutsch of Rider. A fall with just under a minute left in the first period got the Scarlet and Gray fans on their feet.DiJulius did not produce the same kind success in the next round, though. The underdog against Eric Montoya of Nebraska, the redshirt senior fought hard but dropped a 2-0 decision and moved to Friday’s consolation round.Both redshirt freshman Micah Jordan and redshirt sophomore Bo Jordan pinned their first opponents. The brothers kept things the same in the next round, as both Jordans won by way of decision.“I didn’t quite finish the way I wanted to wrestling-wise, so that’s something to take into my next match,” Bo Jordan said after his first bout. “But it was a good first match and I had some fun, so looking forward to the next round.”Freshman Myles Martin earned a major decision in the first round before picking up a second-round upset. His win over Cody Walters of Ohio put him in the quarterfinals in his first NCAA tournament.To finish out a dominant morning, sophomore Kyle Snyder did something he had never done before at the college level: win by fall.Snyder earned an early pin in the second over Antonio Pelusi of Franklin and Marshall. He did not slow down, picking up a 26-10 technical fall in the next round, which was his sixth match of 20 or more points on the year.Two Buckeyes were eliminated from contention on the first day, as redshirt freshman Jake Ryan and redshirt senior Kenny Courts lost in the consolation rounds.Action is scheduled to continue on Friday, beginning at 9 a.m.Correction: An earlier version of this story said Friday’s action marks the semifinals of the championships, when in fact it is the quarterfinals.
On a day in which play was suspended twice due to inclement weather, three players found the conditions to be quite nice at the Memorial Tournament’s first round, each posting rounds of 65 (-7), good enough for first place.While Justin Rose sat alone atop the leader board for most of the afternoon, both Geoff Ogilvy and youngster Rickie Fowler were able to match Rose’s 65 to create a three-way tie for the lead.“You always hear guys saying the course fits my eye. It certainly does,” said Rose, the 2008 Memorial runner-up. “I like all the tee shots, and the greens are so pure here that, if you do get a putting stroke going, you’re going to make some putts.”Despite each player posting the same score, Fowler’s performance was especially impressive having played the course for the first time ever just two days ago.“It’s the first time I’ve been inside the gates. Tuesday morning I played 18. Played nine on Wednesday morning,” said the PGA rookie. “So I’m pretty stoked to go out the first tournament round and put up that number.Following the leading threesome are five different players tied for second including World No. 2 Phil Mickelson who has a chance to claim the No.1 spot with a win this weekend.Absorbing much rain over the past few days, the greens at Muirfield have become much softer, giving players the opportunity to challenge the pin locations.And that’s exactly what they did on the sixth toughest course on tour from a year ago.“I felt like the course was in great shape and without much wind and soft conditions,” Mickelson said. “There were a lot of birdies out there. But it was a good start.”While Mickelson is sitting pretty at 5-under, current No. 1 Tiger Woods struggled to get much of anything going, shooting even par, seven shots off the lead, on a course he has dominated over the years.“Wish I could have been lower,” Woods said. “I played the par 5s terrible today. I played them even par. You can’t play these par 5s even par. You’ve got to take care of the par 5s.”However, in the 30-plus year history of this tournament a first round leader has only gone on to win once. So with three rounds remaining and low scores to be had, it still seems to be anyone’s tournament to win.
After nearly a month on the road, the No. 9 Ohio State men’s volleyball team was happy to finally be back home at St. John Arena this weekend. The Buckeyes (20-6, 11-2 MIVA) returned from the long road trip and swept Princeton (3-17) in the two-game series. On Friday, OSU jumped out early over the seemingly overwhelmed Tigers in the first two sets, 25-17, 25-18, to take a 2-0 lead. Although many of the fans expected the Buckeyes to complete the sweep, Princeton would not go down easily. The Tigers rallied to take the next two sets, 22-25, 22-25, to stun OSU and send the match into a deciding fifth set. “Princeton played a pesky game of volleyball,” OSU coach Pete Hanson said. Hanson, who had gone with a deeper-than-normal rotation for the match, looked back toward his senior leaders to get the job done. “We had some older guys and fifth-year seniors to fall back on,” Hanson said. “Ultimately we were stronger at the end.” The Buckeyes jumped to an 8-2 lead and ultimately to the set and match with a 15-9 victory. OSU was led by fifth-year senior Jason Tobkin, who had nine kills and an OSU-record eight aces for the match, and junior Shawn Sangrey, who also contributed nine kills. “I wouldn’t say that happens too often,” Tobkin said of his performance. “It was more serves of frustration and determination to keep momentum on our side.” OSU outhit Princeton .357 to .266 and had a 63-52 margin in kills for the match. OSU rebounded from its close call the previous night with a 3-0 sweep of the Tigers on Saturday. The Buckeyes opened up the match by taking the first two sets, 25-18, 25-20, with relative ease much like the night before. But instead of letting Princeton get back in the game, the Buckeyes came out with a fiery determination. OSU rolled over the Tigers, 25-12, in the third set, completing the sweep for the day and the weekend. A big difference for the match was OSU’s play at the net, where it outblocked the Tigers, 10-2. Fifth-year senior Kevin Heine led the effort with a match-high five blocks to go along with his 10 kills. For the match, OSU outhit the Tigers again .548 to .087 and had a 39-28 margin in kills. The Buckeyes’ success came to end on Sunday. OSU fell 3-1 (25-21, 18-25, 25-19, 25-9) to No. 10 Penn State. The Buckeyes are back on the road again this weekend as they travel to George Mason and St. Francis to close out their regular season.
Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell (3) takes the ball down the court in the game against Penn State on Jan. 31. Ohio State won 94-64. Credit: James King | Sports DirectorA day after the Ohio State women’s basketball team clinched the outright Big Ten title with a win against Penn State, the Big Ten honored the main reason for its success the past four seasons.The conference’s coaches selected Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell as the Big Ten Player of the Year for the third time in four years. She was also named conference player of the year in 2015 and 2017.The media selected Iowa forward Megan Gustafson as Big Ten Player of the Year instead of Mitchell. Gustafson tore up the Buckeyes in a win on Jan. 25, dropping 29 points.In the regular season, Mitchell averaged 24.4 points per game, the second most in the conference behind Gustafson, on 46.1 percent shooting and 40.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. She also managed 4.1 assists per game and 3.2 rebounds per game.She maintains the longest streak in the history of the NCAA — 86 games — in which she knocked down a 3-pointer. Mitchell has both knocked down and attempted more career 3-pointers than anyone in NCAA history.On Sunday, she passed former Baylor forward Brittney Griner to have the third-most points in NCAA history. Mitchell has scored 3,286 points and is within 108 points of passing former Southwest Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles to become the second-highest career scorer.A preseason All-American, Mitchell has a chance to become the first four-time All-American in program history. She was a first-team All-American in 2016 and a second-team All-American in 2015 and 2017.Best in the Big TenMitchell also earned a spot on the first-team All-Big Ten team. She was joined by redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga, who became a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both coaches and media after earning a spot on the second team last year. Mavunga averaged a double-double in the regular season for the second year in a row with 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.Both the coaches and players selected redshirt senior guard Linnae Harper as a second-team All-Big Ten selection. She also earned a spot on the conference’s All-Defense team. The 5-foot-8 guard averages 15.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.Senior guard Asia Doss and redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun were named honorable mention by the coaches.The Buckeyes will begin their postseason when they take on the winner of Rutgers/Purdue at noon Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.
Ohio State sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins (2) carries the ball downfield in the fourth quarter of the game against Minnesota on Oct. 13. Ohio State won. 30-14. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorWalking out of the locker room after Ohio State’s 52-51 overtime win against Maryland on Nov. 17, J.K. Dobbins was not sore. He was just tired.But the sophomore running back was visibly pleased, knowing he made a significant impact, an impact similar to the one he had made in the first game of his collegiate career. More than doubling his normal carry count during the 2018 season, he recorded a career-high 37 touches for 203 yards, scoring his eighth touchdown of the season on a one-yard rush late in the second quarter. With a brimming confidence normally carried by a featured back, Dobbins said after his performance he knew how to carry a load. He wanted the Ohio State offense to continue to rely on his success. “When you can play more than one drive at a time, you can get in a groove,” Dobbins said. “I’m an energetic guy, so whenever I get in a groove, I get pretty energetic.” For the remainder of the season, Dobbins did not have the opportunity to get into that groove. The sophomore back recorded 114 yards on 29 carries in the next two games combined, scoring his ninth touchdown of the season on a two-yard rush in the first quarter against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game. The carries with Weber became proportionate again, with the redshirt junior recording 30 carries and 147 yards with a touchdown in the next two games, returning to the “A1 and A2” offensive approach offensive coordinator Ryan Day set at the beginning of the season. “I am not a selfish person. I am a team player first,” Dobbins said. “Whatever the team needs to do to win a game, that’s what we’re going to do. If it’s him getting 30 carries and I get five, and if we win, I’m fine with it.” The split carries helped Weber this season, saying that playing in the Big Ten conference — what he considers as a rough conference with a lot of physicality — is something he felt both he and Dobbins got used to. But it is still not an approach that gives an opportunity for one player to shine. “I know my potential and I still haven’t reached it yet,” Weber said.Weber announced Sunday he will forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the 2019 NFL Draft, leaving that potential to be possibly achieved for a professional team.But for Dobbins, that potential is achievable, becoming the featured back for the Ohio State offense in what many consider to be a “contract year” for the upcoming junior, who will have a chance to enter the draft after the 2019 season. Without knowing whether Weber would return, Dobbins said he was excited about possibly getting the nod as the back the Buckeyes will depend on. “It was great having him here,” Dobbins said. “If I am the only guy next year, then I’ll be excited for that.”But it will be an experience that Dobbins has not had in his college career. Ever since the departure of Ezekiel Elliott after the 2015 season, Weber has always been a major part of Ohio State’s plan for the running game, whether that was him as the featured back during the 2016 season or even after the emergence of Dobbins against Indiana in 2017. Despite two consecutive seasons as a 1,000-yard back, recording 16 touchdowns in two seasons with Ohio State, Dobbins has never been considered the featured back at Ohio State. After the Rose Bowl, the running back room will be Dobbins’. And the expectations remain high, if not higher with the departure of Weber. No Ohio State running back has ever recorded a 2,000-yard season, with Eddie George recording 1,927 yards in 1995. The talk surrounding Dobbins, whose career high is 1,403, is that with the offense that has been run, with him as the featured back, 2,000 yards seems feasible. When asked if he thinks that is achievable, Dobbins smiled and laughed with that same brimming confidence he had after the Maryland game, raising his arms in a full shrug, reminiscent of former Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. “We’ll see about that,” Dobbins said.