Dan Wetzel

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Dan Wetzel is an award-winning sportswriter, author and screenwriter. He has covered all levels of basketball as well as college football, the NFL, MLB and NHL. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • Cowboys' La'el Collins in position to rebound from nightmare scenario

    OXNARD, Calif. – La'el Collins was about to board a flight to Chicago in May, to the NFL draft, to the dream come true for a kid from Baton Rouge who was projected to be a top-15 selection as an offensive lineman.

    La'el Collins (R) and defensive end Kenneth Boatright run a drill during a practice in May. (AP)La'el Collins (R) and defensive end Kenneth Boatright run a drill during a practice in May. (AP)That's when news broke publicly that a Brittany Mills – 29 years old, eight months pregnant and briefly romantically linked with Collins – had been shot and murdered in the doorstep of her apartment complex. Her unborn son would later die also. Worse for Collins, the police were interested in talking to him.

    By the time he landed in Chicago, his phone wouldn't stop blowing up and his agent was telling him that he may need to turn around and go home, that the draft was now in flux and in a post-Aaron Hernandez world, the NFL was panicked. The agency, Priority Sports, had already hired a defense attorney and a private investigator and was convinced of Collins' alibi and innocence. But this was the swirl of dwindling hours of the draft.

    Rumors fly. Teams scare.

    Collins tearfully

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  • Tony Romo, Cowboys will be unable to dodge Super Bowl expectations talk

    OXNARD, Calif. – The Dallas Cowboys' first public practice session of the 2015 training camp was scheduled for 3:45 p.m. Thursday. So naturally fans started parking along the sides of N. Ventura Road at 6 a.m.

    They brought coolers and cookers and a sense of optimism – try exhilaration – about a season that hasn't been felt around this franchise in years. Everyone here thinks Dez caught the ball. Most think the refs up in Lambeau saying otherwise did nothing but delay a long-awaited return to the Super Bowl one season.

    Tony Romo during the walk through at training camp Thursday. (Getty)Tony Romo during the walk through at training camp Thursday. (Getty)And that season is now here, Super Bowl or bust, and for all of them, perhaps especially the ones wearing Tony Romo jerseys, that means the chance for their quarterback to fulfill a long-awaited potential. Not that Romo wants to hear about outside expectations.

    "Last year we were in fifth in the NFC East going into the season," he joked about the four-team division.

    They wound up 12-4 though, beat Detroit in the wild-card round for a rare playoff victory and then nearly

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  • How Tom Brady and the Patriots walked into Roger Goodell's trap is baffling

    It's a term you'd never think to use when describing the New England Patriots – from owner Robert Kraft right down to star quarterback Tom Brady:

    Naïve.

    Yet there was Kraft on Wednesday morning at a stunning and unscheduled news conference all but admitting he was just that as he apologized to fans for backing off the fight against the NFL over deflate-gate.

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    He was acknowledging the obvious: the Patriots lost this case – lost two draft picks, a million bucks, four games of Tom Brady's service and incalculable reputation for all involved. And they lost it as much out of poor strategy as evidence.

    "I have come to the conclusion this was never about what was fair and just," Kraft said. "I was wrong to put my faith in the league."

    Robert Kraft prepares to speak at a press conference at Gillette Stadium. (Getty Images)Robert Kraft prepares to speak at a press conference at Gillette Stadium. (Getty Images)Welcome to the party. Kraft finally concluded what many others did if not immediately, then months and months ago.

    This is where the story leaves the easy narratives that each side wants the

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  • Tom Brady's destroyed cell phone is smoking gun that crushed the Patriots superstar

    Tom Brady is too smart for this, or at least he's supposed to be.

    It's why even if he were somehow proven innocent on the facts surrounding the inflation level of footballs in January's AFC championship game, he probably deserves a four-game suspension for being such an idiot during the investigation.

    Brady knew the NFL was after him for being involved in what the league believed was the deflation of footballs in that playoff game. He knew commissioner Roger Goodell fancied himself as a law and order sheriff, here to punish players for all sorts of misconduct. He knew the NFL wanted his cell phone, or the information it held. The NFL upheld its four-game suspension of Tom Brady for his role in the deflate-gate scandal. (AP) The NFL upheld its four-game suspension of Tom Brady for his role in the deflate-gate scandal. (AP)

    Knowing all of this, he should have known one thing: don't destroy the phone.

    Yet Brady did, according to the NFL, which announced it would uphold the quarterback's four-game suspension on Tuesday.

    He gift-wrapped a present for Goodell, who was desperate for an angle to drop the hammer on the New England Patriots star.

    "On or shortly before March 6, the day that

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  • This lame take shouldn't gain steam: Notre Dame should be barred from College Football Playoff

    Notre Dame should have a strong team this year, with the NFL salivating over linebacker Jaylon Smith, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and wideout William Fuller, among others. Brian Kelly has to break in a new quarterback in Malik Zaire, but the Fightin' Irish are a legit playoff contender.

    Of course, in the playoff era every team – from Alabama to Army – is, or should be, a legit playoff contender. What they do on the field of play is the only thing that matters.

    Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel says a team should be in a conference in order to be playoff-eligible. (AP)Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel says a team should be in a conference in order to be playoff-eligible. (AP)Then again, both Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and Clemson's Dabo Swinney recently discounted ND not on the potential strength of the team, but because the school refuses to join a conference full-time and instead remains a throwback independent. Swinney seemed most concerned that this limited their season to 12, rather than 13 games.

    "They don't have independents in NFL," Pinkel noted.

    "Absolutely Notre Dame needs to be in conference or play 13 games to be in," Swinney echoed.

    These are intellectually lazy opinions that can't

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  • NFL's latest deflate-gate move could make its punishment of Tom Brady, Pats laughable

    Over the weekend Mike Pereira, the former vice president of officiating for the NFL and current Fox Sports analyst, detailed that the league will use "new procedures" for how the inflation levels of footballs will be "prepared and monitored."

    There will be more footballs used – 12 primary, 12 backup. Each will be numbered. All footballs will be set to 13 pounds per square inch before the game and then measured again afterward. At select games, the primary balls will be measured and removed at halftime and the second half will be played with the backups.

    The story has been framed as the NFL doing a better job securing its game balls – a long overdue development. However, this is way more than that. This is a science experiment, allowing the league to begin to understand how weather, game use and other factors impact the inflation level (if at all) of footballs.

    Commissioning a real study is one of the most responsible and professional things the league office has done in the

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  • Roger Goodell's handling of deflate-gate has become three-ring circus

    One month has passed since Tom Brady's appeal hearing in deflate-gate. One month and Roger Goodell still hasn't announced a decision.

    Roger Goodell (R) and Patriots owner Robert Kraft may not be so buddy-buddy right now. (AP)Roger Goodell (R) and Patriots owner Robert Kraft may not be so buddy-buddy right now. (AP)Nothing. No upholding the suspension. No reversing the suspension. No lightening of the suspension. This isn't a Supreme Court case. This isn't complicated. It shouldn't take a month of leaving a player hung out to dry, as the biggest storyline going into the start of training camp remains an overblown, self-inflicted soap opera from last season.

    One month and Goodell still can't figure out what to do, which somehow isn't really all that surprising since if he knew what to do in the first place the entire story would have been snuffed out in a day or so – or however long it took the NFL to figure out it has no idea, let alone any actual proof, that the footballs at the AFC title game were even all that deflated.

    The Washington Post is reporting some owners are trying to figure out how the NFL commissioner can come out of this appearing "credible and

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  • DeAndre Jordan spurns the Mavericks, and the Clippers laugh at someone else for a change

    For years and years, decades even, seemingly everything about the Los Angeles Clippers felt cloaked in failure and embarrassment.

    There was the racist slumlord of an owner. There were endless losing seasons. There were terrible draft picks, bad trades and brutal injuries. There was a general malaise that surrounded the place. That everything occurred in the shadow of the glamorous Lakers, who turned L.A. into a basketball town, made everything worse.

    So it's a short list when recounting the greatest days in Clippers history. The fact it's probably topped by the time NBA commissioner Adam Silver stripped Donald Sterling of ownership kind of says it all.

    Wednesday was one of the good ones, though, perhaps the most unexpected of them: a day of tweets and emojis and jokes and foolishness befitting a free-agency circus. Only, this time the Clips weren't the punch line.

    A week ago, they were. That's when DeAndre Jordan, their 6-foot-11 center, decided to bail on Blake Griffin and Chris Paul

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  • Daniel Snyder's fight over Washington's nickname is a lost cause

    Eventually the nickname and logo of Washington's NFL franchise is headed to the dustbin of history, where future generations will look back in bafflement that it was ever allowed.

    This is undeniable.

    You can support the name and logo all you want. You can decry the excesses of political correctness (no "Dukes of Hazzard"?) You can find a Native American cloaked in an RG3 jersey in an attempt to prove your point. That's fine. This column isn't about trying to change anyone's opinion because too many opinions have already changed that it doesn't matter. Daniel Snyder (AP) Daniel Snyder (AP)

    You can hum the fight song in your sleep and still realize that the die is cast here. It's just a matter of time. That's just being practical.

    Last year, team owner Daniel Snyder declared the nickname and logo would never change. That was last year though. This year is this year and the winds of change have swept swiftly across the nation.

    Last year no one would have predicted South Carolina politicians would vote in a bipartisan manner

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  • Roger Goodell and Tom Brady, the NFL commissioner and the league's four-time Super Bowl quarterback, meet face-to-face in Manhattan on Tuesday morning. They will arrive with lawyers, teams of them.

    Officially, Goodell is the judge and Brady is the convict seeking appellate relief from a four-game suspension and loss of about $1.8 million in salary for what the NFL deemed was his role in the deflation of footballs used in January's AFC championship game.

    The fact the NFL never really proved the balls were actually, you know, deflated is just one reason this is like no other case in sports and why this is far more than trying to sort out the facts in a story with so few of them. NFL commish Roger Goodell will decide whether to uphold Tom Brady's four-game suspension. (AP) NFL commish Roger Goodell will decide whether to uphold Tom Brady's four-game suspension. (AP)

    From the start, this has been built on the twin pillars of suspicion and perception, each side assuming the worst in each other's actions. It's been fueled by spin, speculation and media leaks, including the NFL allowing a story to run wild of trumped up allegations against Brady that was both extremely

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