Mike Holmgren shoots down Cowboys rumors


Mike Holmgren shoots down Cowboys rumors

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns president Mike Holmgren is on his way out. He just hasn't decided where he's going or what he wants to do.

Hoping to squelch a weekend report that he would be interested in coaching the Dallas Cowboys if Jason Garrett gets fired, Holmgren, who may leave the Browns before this season ends, went out of his way Monday to make it known he isn't angling for any job.

Holmgren made an unscheduled appearance in the media room at Browns headquarters to deny he is pursuing a future with the Cowboys. During a farewell news conference on Oct. 23, Holmgren had opened the possibility of a return to coaching.

``I haven't booked my tickets to Dallas,'' joked Holmgren, who spent Cleveland's bye week with his wife, Kathy, in Arizona. ``I haven't talked to a single soul. That's the first thing. The second thing is I honestly don't know what the future holds or what I want to do. Honestly. Believe me on that. Thirdly, I've always been, quite honestly, bothered by the speculation during the season when coaches are trying to work and they're fighting like crazy for their jobs, and I would never do that.

``I would never do that to anybody. I have tremendous respect for obviously Jason Garrett.''

Adding intrigue is that the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5) this week.

On Sunday, Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com reported that Holmgren has ``serious interest'' in the Dallas' job if it opened because of a competitive roster, skill players and his relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The two served together on the NFL's competition committee.

The 64-year-old Holmgren said while he and Jones have remained good friends, he hasn't expressed any interest in them working together again.

``I just wouldn't do that,'' he said. ``So help me with that, please. I'm telling you the way it is. I have no idea how any of that stuff gets started, but I'm telling you the straight scoop on that, OK?''

Holmgren said he has not spoken to his agent, Bob LaMonte, in a month and that he doesn't know where the report started.

``I don't know anything about it, I'm just telling you what I'm saying,'' he said. ``I'm telling you and you got it straight from the horse's mouth.''

Holmgren hopes to remain with the Browns until the end of this season in an advisory role. He was not offered a position under new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who brought in former Philadelphia President Joe Banner as the club's CEO.

``As long as I feel I can contribute a little bit and helping some of the players and helping the coaches a little bit, Joe (Banner) and I have talked,'' Holmgren said. ``As long as I'm feeling good about a contribution I'll stay, but if I'm not helping that could change, but right now the plan is to be here through the end of the season.''

Holmgren doesn't think the report on any link to the Cowboys will distract the Browns from preparing for this week's game.

``I cannot imagine that,'' he said. ``Why I came down here is that it's everything I don't believe in on a story like that. I wouldn't do that. And I didn't do it. That's why.''

Browns cornerback Joe Haden laughed when he was asked if Holmgren's situation would sidetrack him and his teammates.

``There's nothing that can distract us,'' Haden said. ``We've been through it all.''

Holmgren intends to attend Sunday's game at Cowboy Stadium - but not for an interview.

``Yeah, and I hope to say hello to Jerry (Jones) and those guys,'' he said.


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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.