Rex: Never felt more pressure than 911 opener

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Rex: Never felt more pressure than 911 opener

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, September 6, 2011
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Rex Ryan says this one is for New York. The Jets coach has been involved in lots of big games during his career: a Super Bowl, conference title games and fierce rivalry matchups. The season opener Sunday night against Dallas on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks tops em all. "The significance of it, I think it's stronger than any game I've ever felt," Ryan said Monday. "I feel more pressure on this game for whatever reason than any game I've ever coached, it seems like." That's saying a lot for a coach who has been involved in several pressure-packed games, including the last two AFC championships. But with the game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., a few miles across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center site, comes a responsibility, Ryan feels, to win in front of a national television audience for the city his team represents. "I think maybe that's it," Ryan said. "This whole region, this whole area. I know it's football and we're not talking about life or death or anything like that. I don't know, that's kind of how I'm taking it. It's my job. My job is to get this team ready to go, and we will." Ryan, in his third season as coach of the Jets, was an assistant in Baltimore at the time of the attacks. He recalled that he was walking by the office of Pat Moriarty, a Ravens executive, and they both watched on TV as the second plane struck the World Trade Center. "It was like, Oh my goodness,'" Ryan said. He remembered thinking about his cousin, Matthew Russo -- his stepmother's nephew -- who was a member of the New York City Fire Department at the time. Russo, who has since retired, was not called to the World Trade Center that day but knew plenty of firefighters who were. Ryan knows there will be several fans sitting in the stadium Sunday night, and many more at home, who were directly affected by what went on that day back in 2001. That reality is what is motivating Ryan to have the Jets make them all proud. "I feel, I don't know, it's different, like a responsibility," he said. "Every week, it's my responsibility to make sure our team is prepared. But I don't know, it just feels different to me." The Jets got an up-close look at the construction site at the World Trade Center last Wednesday, when they took a team trip there after their annual charity luncheon in Manhattan. "When you go there, there's a certain aura that you have when you stand there and you just imagine that day and just the chaos and everything that so many families and people went through," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "It just gave you that feeling that you're special. You're lucky to be standing on that spot, but at the same time you're special because you get a chance to do something that a lot of people don't get to do. But it's very humbling at the same time." It will be an emotional start to what Ryan has repeatedly promised will be a special season, one he insists will end with a trip -- and a win -- to Indianapolis and the Jets holding the Lombardi Trophy. And it all begins with a matchup against his brother, Rob, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator and a team that always has Super Bowl aspirations. "You can't ask for a better stage," wide receiver Plaxico Burress said. "Especially with everything going on with the 10-year anniversary of 911 and playing America's Team,' the Cowboys. It's the first Sunday night game of the year. We're playing them here. Great organization, great stadium. You just can't set a better stage for the things that we want to accomplish as a team. We're just embracing it. I think we're going to go out and handle our business." Already a night loaded with story lines, the game will also mark the official return of Burress, who hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2008. Burress spent 20 months in prison on a gun charge after accidentally shooting himself in the leg in a Manhattan nightclub, wondering what was in store for his football career. He's now expected to be a top receiver for Mark Sanchez, teaming with Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason on an offense that is expected to air things out a little more this season. And, Burress can't wait to run out of the tunnel Sunday. "I kind of go over in my mind what it's going to feel like, but I don't even know," he said. "When I get out there, whatever happens, if I shed a few tears or whatever, the world will see it." Notes: Ryan expects FB John Conner to play in the opener after he missed the preseason finale with a sprained left ankle. "I've been doing everything," Conner said. "Strengthening exercises, pool workouts, everything I can just to be back as soon as possible." TE Matt Mulligan would serve as the fullback if Conner can't go. ... OL Rob Turner isn't sure when he'll return from a broken right leg, but hopes it's sometime this season. He's getting around the facility on a scooter with a Texas "ROB 75" license plate. He was injured in the preseason opener at Houston. "I felt it pop when I got rolled up on, but I took two steps and I felt the bone shift in my leg," he said. "That's when I sat down and tapped my helmet because I knew something was broken." ... CB Darrelle Revis is recovering from a tweaked hip and rookie DL Kenrick Ellis from a left hamstring issue, but Ryan said neither ailment is serious.

Jose Canseco joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage

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AP

Jose Canseco joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage

MESA, Ariz. — Through all of the controversy and sensational headlines that have marked his baseball career and beyond, one constant has stood firm in regard to Jose Canseco:

The man speaks exactly what’s on his mind.

That will serve A’s fans well as Canseco joins NBC Sports California as an on-air analyst for A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live. He’s part of a revamped lineup of former Athletics who will provide their expert insights and opinions throughout the 2017 season.

“I’ve got quite a bit of experience. I’ve pretty much been there, done all of that whether it’s on or off the field,” Canseco said. “I think the fans can expect the truth — an honest opinion, honest analysis — and hopefully in some shape or form we expand the fan base.”

The 1988 American League MVP and first player ever to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, Canseco’s baseball resume speaks for itself. For so many fans who grew up with a “Bash Brothers” poster on their wall, he was the defining presence of three consecutive pennant-winning A’s teams from 1988-90.

Those teams dominated with an ensemble cast of contributors. But in a time period when the Bay Area produced some of the biggest superstars across the national sports landscape, no one’s profile stood taller than Canseco’s.

“I pulled his rookie baseball card out of packs, watched him play countless games in person at the Coliseum,” said Brodie Brazil, host for A’s Pregame and Postgame Live. “It still hasn't sunk in that we've added one of the Bash Brothers to our core of analysts. The kid and adult in me are both pretty stoked.”

Canseco retired after 17 big league seasons and 462 home runs, which ranked 22nd on the all-time list when he hung up his spikes. After his playing career, he wrote the controversial tell-all book “Juiced”, which blew open just how widespread steroid use was in the major leagues.

Canseco received a hefty amount of criticism upon the book’s release. But as the years have gone by and it’s become apparent just how many players were using performance-enhancing drugs, Canseco has proven to be much more credible with the claims he made.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said of writing “Juiced.” “It made the game better because it made the game look at what was going on internally. On the other end, because I wrote the book and went up against Major League Baseball, I got excommunicated.”

He’s enthused about taking on his first role as an analyst, and he joins NBC Sports California at a time of budding excitement surrounding the A’s and the expectation of them building a new ballpark in Oakland. Canseco, the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, played for the A’s when they were one of the Bay Area’s hottest sports stories.

He believes a new ballpark would create the needed buzz. And, it’s not surprising that he’s got a unique preference in what he’d like to see built.

“I’m hoping for a dome to be honest with you,” he said. “It can get cold (in Oakland). The ball doesn’t carry. I would push for a dome. I think baseball is so different from other sports. It’s definitely the best sport in the world. The Oakland A’s deserve their own stadium.”

OK, so perhaps a dome isn’t in the forefront of the A’s thoughts. But remember, one fan proposed to team president Dave Kaval the idea of a floating stadium on the Bay, so Kaval has heard wackier suggestions.

Canseco can draw on the experience of having played for seven different big league organizations in providing his analysis.

He was preparing for Game 3 of the 1989 World Series when the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Candlestick Park. In the 1988 World Series, he was playing right field when Kirk Gibson’s legendary home run went soaring over his head.

He’s traveled a unique road in the game, and he’s willing to speak frankly about the peaks and valleys.

“It’s the first time I’ve gotten the opportunity to do something like this,” Canseco said. “… Maybe fans would like to hear what my thoughts are, how things can be fixed or made better for the Oakland A’s.”

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.