The reason the Cardinals felt compelled to go that high was their need for speed

“You get a taste of winning a World Series and you want to do that again,” Fowler said at his introductory news conference. “You’re excited and you want to get back and Lance Kendricks Kids Jersey win the World Series. With the Cardinals, they’re always in the hunt. That was a big part of my decision.”

Fowler said Cubs president Theo Epstein called him shortly before Chicago acquired Jon Jay to inform Fowler the team would not be making him an offer to return.

“That shows you his personality, that he can still provide light in a situation like that, where he’s being obviously crushed on social media,” said Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, Price’s friend and former teammate. “But he really is just focused on the positive, and he’s able to just take everything and kind of spin it to a good way.”

And that’s where Price Johnathan Joseph Kids Jersey and his new Red Sox co-ace diverge. The only spin Chris Sale cares about is the rotation of his slider.

In a conference call Wednesday, Sale claimed he isn’t one to Google articles about himself or read coverage in the newspaper. Several journalists who have covered Sale said Wednesday that friends and family will often make the lefty aware of things written or said about him, but he will rarely seek it out. Twitter? Sale doesn’t have an account and — sorry, Red Sox fans — isn’t planning to start one.

“I’m really more focused on the between-the-lines stuff,” said Sale, who got his share of negative attention in July when he petulantly cut up Chicago White Sox throwback jerseys because he didn’t want to wear one. “That’s what I signed up for. That’s what I look forward to. That’s what I live for, playing the game of baseball. Everything else, it’ll take care of itself. It’ll shake out.”

Earl Thomas’ season is over thanks to a broken leg

Earl Thomas’ 2016 season is over.

On Monday, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll confirmed his All-Pro safety will miss the rest of the year due to a left leg fracture suffered in a 40-7 victory against the Carolina Panthers.

The next day, Thomas was placed on injured reserve. The Seahawks signed Jeron Johnson to help fill the void at safety. Johnson played for Seattle from 2011-14 and appeared in 46 games.

Giants linebacker Kelvin Sheppard looked to be the one to reach under Bell’s facemask, pulling backward and twisting his neck. Upon seeing this, Foster grabbed Sheppard, and threw him out of the pile.

This was the toss that got Foster fined:

The Steelers were up 14 when the incident happened. Bell was appreciative of his offensive linemen having his back.

Bell said, “I’m glad I got my guys. I call them my goons up front. They are down to ride with me whenever.”

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, a few teammates — specifically the offensive line — have offered to help pay the fine if Foster isn’t able to win on appeal.

That’s some great teamwork right there. Not only did they protect Bell, but they’ll help Foster pay for that protection if they need to.

The Raiders started the second half strong, though, forcing two turnovers in the first two minutes of play in the third quarter. Cornerback T.J. Carrie picked off Smith, and Khalil Mack sacked Smith on the next series, forcing a fumble.

Cam Newton on 2016 season: ‘It’s demoralizing’

Cam Newton was reflective and somewhat philosophical about many topics on Thursday, but on what this season has been like for him and the Carolina Panthers he went straight to the point.

“It’s demoralizing,’’ the reigning NFL MVP said.

Whether or not you believe Newton when he says being suspended for the first series of Sunday’s loss was because he didn’t wear the required tie on the flight to Seattle, you should believe him here.

“I watched back the tape and I shake my head sometimes at the things I did or the throws I didn’t make because I wasn’t trusting it,” Prescott said. “But I’ve definitely grown a ton since then, just being able to see the defenses faster, recognize what’s going on, knowing and making confident decisions and letting the ball go.”

Since then, Prescott has completed better than 66 percent of his passes in the last 11 games. He has 19 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. He has run for five touchdowns. He has two 300-yard games and three three-touchdown games.

In the opener, he failed to connect on his five passes thrown 20 yards or more. Since then, he has completed 44 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or more. In the fourth quarter he completed just six of 17 passes but had the Cowboys on the brink of a comeback. Since, he has complete 76 percent of his fourth-quarter passes.

Elliott called himself “average” after the first game. He had just seven carries in the preseason so he was not comfortable in the system.

“It was definitely frustrating because it was not how I imagined it,” Elliott said. “But I think it definitely helped shape me into the player I am today and put a chip on my shoulder early this season to go out there and get things right.”

the Seahawks lined up outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and inside linebacker Bobby Wagner in both A gaps

McKinnon looked to be in good position to pick up the first down with a nice throw and that catch may have given the Vikings some momentum as they were heading toward the red zone. Hell, maybe they could’ve punched it in for once and scored a touchdown instead of all those field goals. Imagine if the Vikings went into the fourth quarter leading the defending NFC Champion Seahawks 13-0 instead of 9-0.

How much did they lose by again?

But alas, none of that shit happened either.

What happened was that the Seahawks used their other starting defensive end, Cliff Avril, as a spy of sorts on that play. Avril was lined up at his normal left defensive end spot before the snap with Bennett at left defensive tackle right beside him in a super wide three technique.

On Carolina’s Cam Newton: “I see that Cam is more poised, there is a calmness. It’s what playing football is all about. There is speed in your mind but the game itself becomes slow. Muscle memory takes over. When the game seems slow for you, you just use your God-given ability. Cam is trusting himself.”

On Wilson: “When I watch Russell I can tell he uses his imagination out there. Our practice tempo cannot be exactly as fast as the games. But Russell in practices actually over-exaggerates everything. That makes him prepared for the game. When they come, he’s ready. Of course, with Russell, you can tell – people who love the game, who want to be great, the most special players have that. And that’s Russell Wilson. He has greatness all around him; we have great players. Our coaches have greatness, too.”

That’s Thomas, cognizant and convicted of who he is and who and what surrounds him.

This march to Carolina, to another Super Bowl, could correct plenty for Thomas and all of the Seahawks. There is a familiar feeling among them.

“Every game is a championship game,” Thomas said. “Every game should get that kind of effort. That is Pete’s philosophy. That’s mine. This is a great game to get the chance to show who we are.”

Doug Martin is still expected to shoulder most of the workload for the Buccaneers

Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, groin: Taylor having a groin injury could normally be a concern for fantasy owners, as he provides so much value through his ground game. The good news is that he was a full participant in practice each day despite the ailment and was removed entirely from the game status injury report. It does not appear he will enter the game with any limitations; hopefully it won’t be something he will aggravate in-game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets, knee: Fitzpatrick remains on the practice injury report, but he is expected to start again, as usual.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, toe, (Q): Last week we were monitoring Ingram’s status as he was moving through the concussion protocol; now we just want to know how he’s moving. Ingram appeared on the injury report with a toe ailment and did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He did return to a limited practice status on Friday. There was little information on Ingram’s injury, but it’s notable that he was not seen in a walking boot at all this week, and there was no report of injury immediately after last week’s game. Still, toe injuries in a running back can be cause for concern, depending on severity.’s Mike Triplett reports this toe injury is not as severe as previous episodes, according to Ingram. It sounds, however, as if a decision on his status will come down to how he feels at game time. The Saints haven’t been afraid to utilize Tim Hightower, and they could lean on him even more heavily if Ingram is limited.

For those who might be new to this feature, injury reports provide some insight into a player’s status. The NFL requires teams to submit practice injury reports several times a week, identifying the body part that is involved in the injury. This year, there has been a change in the language of injury reporting, per the league office. The most notable change is the removal of the “probable” designation. For more detailed information on the changes and what they mean, click here.

Early in the week, the practice injury reports indicate whether a player did not practice, was limited in practice or was a full participant in practice. On Fridays, all teams file a game status injury report assigning one of the following designations: questionable, doubtful or out. The designations listed here reflect the injury reports filed with the league office Friday evening. Teams playing Monday night do not have to issue their designations until Saturday. The explanation for each designation is as follows:

Out: This is the easy one: The guy is not playing this week.

Somebody rearranged the Super Bowl 50 statues to say ‘OOPS’ and ‘UP R BOWEL’

When we last checked in with the Super Bowl 50 statue in San Francisco’s Alamo Square, the letters had been rearranged to say “SUPERB OWL.” Overnight, it appears things escalated, with the Painted Ladies looking on.

Meanwhile, via Hoodline, the sign at Twin Peaks has been changed to “UP R BOWEL.”

This is just the latest in a string of vandalism against the giant “50” statues that have been popping up across San Francisco. This week, City Hall’s statue was changed to say “SUP BRO.” Alamo Square’s was vandalized the night it went up, cleaned up and then tagged again with the words “F*** ED LEE” shortly afterwards.

The people of San Francisco do not appear to be happy to have these statues going up, and with the Super Bowl more than a week away, expect more to come.

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was the headline player of this year’s Senior Bowl. Physically, Wentz has all the tools you want in a franchise quarterback. The week for Wentz began with an impressive weigh-in where he came in at just under 6’5 1/4 and 233 pounds. Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said Wentz could be a top-10 pick this year.

“Physically I’ve got a lot to offer with being able to make all of the throws and then some athleticism that people probably wouldn’t expect from a big 6’5 kid like me,” Wentz said. “Then, obviously the system we ran at North Dakota State was very pro-style, multiple, so I’m looking forward to that transitioning and helping me going forward.”

The system helps Wentz. The size and athleticism helps Wentz. He’s worth discussing as a high first-round pick because of those things. But Wentz didn’t exactly dazzle with his accuracy during the week. He missed several easy passes on Tuesday and looked best throwing short over the middle and on slants the rest of the week. Did Wentz have some good red zone completions? He did, particularly on one red zone pass placed on the back shoulder of Michigan State wide receiver Aaron Burbridge.

The week for Wentz was good. It was not great. From a player who some in the NFL expect to be the first quarterback taken in the draft, it’s not unreasonable to expect much more.

Michael Sam invited to NFL Veteran Combine

Michael Sam is going to get another look from NFL scouts and executives March 22 in the NFL Veteran Combine, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The report was confirmed by Cyd Zeigler at Outsports.

Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams as a seventh-round draft pick in 2014, was cut in training camp and signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. He was released without playing in a game.

This is the first Veteran’s Combine and will be held in Tempe, Ariz. Approximately 100 players will be chosen to take part in the proceedings, helping a few guys enjoy another opportunity. In the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Sam struggled with a slow 40-yard dash time of 4.91. Going into the event, Sam was projected to be a third- to fifth-round selection, but dropped in the draft.

Sam is the first openly gay player to attempt to make a career in the NFL. The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year is now on the outside looking in and earlier this week, signed on to be a contestant in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Sam has maintained throughout that he wants to continue playing football.

While McShay notes that the Rams’ biggest needs are probably quarterback and offensive line, neither of those positions will have highly ranked prospects available this late in the draft, so the best bet is for St. Louis to take a wide receiver at No. 10. Cooper should be a nice value pick here for the Rams. He is considered the most complete receiver and the most polished route runner in the draft.

With the Giants leaning heavily toward franchising defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, help on the offensive line becomes their biggest need here in the first round. Scherff is McShay’s highest-rated offensive lineman, and his combination of athleticism and versatility (he can line up at either guard or tackle) should provide a big upgrade up front for the Giants.

Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders led a West Division sweep at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night

2016 CFL stats: 51 receptions, 885 yards, nine touchdowns in 11 games

College: Notre Dame

After being waived by both the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots this summer, Daniels, 23, moved to the CFL and earned the outstanding rookie award. He carries some baggage following his departure from Notre Dame, but his season in Canada has proceeded without incident. “He’s the kind of guy that if he has a crazy-great game in the Grey Cup, we may never see him again [in the CFL],” Ferguson said.

Planet Football: Countries where the sport is thriving
It’s not just the CFL anymore. Leagues in Germany, Japan, China and other countries have popped up as “tackle” football grows. Here are the top countries grinding it out on the gridiron.

Mitchell leads Stampeders’ sweep of CFL awards
Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders led a West Division sweep at the CFL awards banquet Thursday night.
Offensive lineman Hunter Steward, BC Lions

No, I’m not suffering from an overdose of tryptophan. Consider:

The Jets (3-7) are well rested after the bye week; that’s important with so many older players. The Patriots are coming off a West Coast trip, their defense doesn’t scare anybody, Tom Brady (knee) is banged up and they probably won’t have star tight end Rob Gronkowski (chest).

The last blowout in this rivalry was the “Butt Fumble” game in 2012. The ensuing six games have been decided by seven points or fewer.

“We haven’t played anybody quite like the Jets,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “The players they have that we’ll have to block are very, very difficult. They’re well coached, they have good schemes. They have a lot of experienced players in the secondary. They do a great job of disguising coverages and disguising their pressures, and then dropping out of them, things like that. This will be a very challenging week for us.”

Personally, I think Fitzpatrick will play well. He will face a defense that has gone 15 quarters without a takeaway — his kind of defense.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brady is looking for his 200th career win, which would tie Peyton Manning for most combined wins (regular season and postseason) for a quarterback. In other words, Brady is chasing history while Fitzpatrick is fighting to avoid becoming it.

Ndamukong Suh signs record deal with Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have officially signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. As one of the top defensive players in the league, Suh was the biggest name in free agency. He was already one of the highest-paid players in the league a season ago, and he will remain as such on his new six-year deal worth $114 million, with $60 million coming in the first three years.

Players of Suh’s caliber rarely reach the open market. The Detroit Lions didn’t give him up without a fight, however. They were willing to pay $17 million per year with $58 million guaranteed to hold on to Suh, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The offer surpassed the record six-year, $100 million deal that Texans defensive end J.J. Watt signed last offseason, but it was just below the $19 million per year the Dolphins are set to give Suh.

When asked the inevitable question about the upcoming draft and Marcus Mariota, Kelly quickly shot down any speculation that the team will trade up for the former Oregon quarterback. He admitted he thought that Mariota is the best quarterback in the draft, but insisted that the Eagles would not “mortgage the future” because they have too many other needs to fill this offseason.

Even before the official free agency period opened, the Eagles sent shockwaves across the league when they traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Kelly justified trading away the franchise’s all-time leading rusher for a player who missed all of last season with a torn ACL because, financially, it allowed him to also sign cornerback Byron Maxwell. He didn’t want to lose McCoy, but noted that “you have to give something up to get something” in this league.

Kelly also addressed the dynamics of the power and decision-making structure within the Eagles organization. Notably, he confirmed that he would have final say on all moves made this winter and during the draft. However, he is not in charge of the personnel department, per NFL Network’s Albert Breer, and he also confirmed that it was not his decision to initiate the front office shakeup last December, which included the firing of VP of Player Personnel Tom Gamble.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ starting QB again

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles named Ryan Fitzpatrick the starting quarterback against the New England Patriots in Week 12.

In the Jets’ 27-23 loss against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9, Fitzpatrick did not play well. He threw for 193 yards to go along with a touchdown and two interceptions. While he did deliver accurate passes, like the 17-yard touchdown to Jalin Marshall, he committed two costly turnovers.

I didn’t feel like myself. I had never even had one major surgery before, much less three in one year. To have the game taken away from me three times — each time left to wonder if I would ever be the same again — that was hard.

Watt went home to Wisconsin to recover, and while there, he rekindled his passion for the game by remembering what made him love football in the first place. Standing under the Friday night lights at his high school convinced Watt that he isn’t finished with the NFL.

In that moment, I had a realization. I was actually overwhelmed by it. Football has been everything to me since I was 10 years old. For the past few months, all of that has been taken away. It’s been like a mini-retirement. And I realized that the money, the fame, the awards, the people talking about me on TV, none of that matters. None of those things have any effect on why I love this game and why I give everything I have to it.

After Watt landed on injured reserve in 2016 with the re-herniated disc, many questioned whether he would physically be able to continue playing in the NFL, or if he would have the desire to keep playing. Even Watt wasn’t certain, but his passion for the game is back, and he will be, also.

It’s been a devastating season for Browns quarterbacks in terms of injuries, and it’s understandable that Pryor and Thomas don’t want their teammates’ health to continue to be in jeopardy. Robert Griffin III was placed on injured reserve after fracturing his shoulder in Week 1. McCown has finally returned after recovering from a hairline fracture in his shoulder in Week 2, and Kessler is on his second concussion.