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.

  • Aaron Hernandez, upbeat murder defendant

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Aaron Hernandez, bright-eyed and sharply dressed, came bouncing into the fifth-floor courtroom here Wednesday, just before 9 a.m., wearing a soft smile, like he does almost every morning of his now 6-week-old murder trial.

    Aaron Hernandez consults his attorney during his murder trial. (REUTERS)Aaron Hernandez consults his attorney during his murder trial. (REUTERS)He was confronted with an empty front row of seats. The realization that not one family member or friend came to support him (the second time it's happened this week alone) didn't outwardly faze him, though. His expression never changed as he instead locked eyes on the small cluster of media and offered a welcoming grin, a nod of hello and a "good morning."

    He remained engaged, upbeat and active across another day of plodding, powder dry testimony – finger-print analysis, tire-tread-mark comparison and mitochondrial DNA defining.

    At the end of hours of evidence piling up against him, he stood casually and shared a big back slap with one of his attorneys, James Sultan, as he strolled out (albeit under the escort of multiple court officers) with a

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  • Aaron Hernandez avoids major defeat

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Aaron Hernandez avoided disaster here Wednesday when Judge E. Susan Garsh denied a prosecution motion that would have allowed the admission into the murder trial of the former New England Patriot that he shot a friend and dumped the body in a prior and unrelated incident.

    "The Commonwealth is trying to show [Hernandez has a] propensity to shoot his friends," defense attorney James Sultan argued. "This case is about Odin Lloyd and no one else."

    Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh, left, denied a prosecution's motion on Wednesday. (AP)Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh, left, denied a prosecution's motion on Wednesday. (AP)Hernandez is on trial for the murder of Lloyd, a friend, who was found dead from gunshot wounds behind an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleboro, Mass., home in June 2013.

    The prior shooting involved allegations that Hernandez shot another friend, Alexander Bradley, between the eyes after an argument following a night out at a South Florida strip club in February 2013. Bradley was thrown from the car in a secluded area. He survived, but lost his right eye.

    Bradley did not cooperate with authorities but has sued

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  • Aaron Hernandez defense calls prosecution filing 'utterly frivolous'

    Aaron Hernandez looks at the prosecutor during his murder trial. (REUTERS)Aaron Hernandez looks at the prosecutor during his murder trial. (REUTERS)FALL RIVER, Mass. – On Monday, the prosecution in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial filed a motion seeking to admit into evidence allegations of a prior, separate 2013 shooting of a friend by the former New England Patriots star.

    Hernandez's defense didn't waste any time responding, filing its own motion Tuesday morning here at Bristol County Superior Court calling the state's attempt "utterly frivolous."

    Judge E. Susan Garsh has yet to rule on the back and forth, which, if admitted, could prove devastating to Hernandez, who is currently on trial for the June 2013 murder of friend Odin Lloyd.

    At issue is an incident that occurred in February 2013, when Hernandez allegedly shot his longtime friend, Alexander Bradley, after a visit to a South Florida strip club.

    No criminal charges were filed in that incident because Bradley refused to cooperate with authorities. Bradley later sued Hernandez in federal court. He is also considered a key eyewitness in Hernandez's upcoming trial for a 2012

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  • Potential devastating turn for Aaron Hernandez

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – One of the central tenets of the defense of Aaron Hernandez is a lack of motive: Why would an NFL star with so much going for him – money, fame, growing family – be involved in murdering Odin Lloyd, a possible future brother-in-law with whom he regularly partied?

    "His friend Odin," is how Hernandez's attorney Michael Fee repeatedly described their relationship during January's opening statements in the trial of whether the former New England Patriot killed Lloyd on June 17, 2013. Fee used the term "friend" over a dozen times that day.

    Alexander Bradley was allegedly shot in the face by Aaron Hernandez in Florida. (REUTERS)Alexander Bradley was allegedly shot in the face by Aaron Hernandez in Florida. (REUTERS)It's a strong point to which the prosecution has struggled to counter. Not only is there a lack of motive, the defense has argued, but if anything there is motive for Hernandez to not commit the crime. Who just kills his buddy?

    Then came Monday when the prosecution went on the attack and tried to ingeniously flip the entire line of defense, and indeed the defense team's hubris, around.

    In a filing here at Bristol County Superior Court,

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  • Joey Logano, out of a job at 22, Daytona 500 champ at 24

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – They dubbed him "Sliced Bread" because he was, you know, supposed to be the greatest thing since …

    They predicted he'd be "one of the greatest that ever raced in NASCAR." He was 15 at the time Mark Martin said that. Teams waged a recruiting war for him, like he was a five-star college football recruit. Everyone counted down to his 18th birthday when he could finally run in the Sprint Cup Series and, by expectation, dominate the Sprint Cup Series. The marketing and promotional teams went with all of it. And then some.

    A kid's going to follow along with all of this, of course. The legends say I'm going to be a legend? Who doesn't want to be LeBron?

    Joey Logano was put on a path to be LeBron, seamlessly moving from high school kid to professional star. The only problem was Joey Logano wasn't LeBron.

    He was still young, still a kid, still a bit goofy and worse, it just doesn't always come as easy as everyone predicts. This isn't a team sport in the truest sense.

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  • Kurt Busch case a product of the post-Ray Rice world in sports

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kurt Busch has never been arrested for allegedly assaulting his one-time girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, on Sept. 26, 2014, inside his motorhome at Dover International Speedway.

    Kurt Busch has never been charged with that crime. Kurt Busch has never been convicted of that crime. Kurt Busch never settled the case, in part, because there is no case to settle. There have been no criminal or civil charges filed against him.Kurt Busch leaves his appeal hearing at NASCAR headquarters. (USAT)Kurt Busch leaves his appeal hearing at NASCAR headquarters. (USAT)

    What did happen was a commissioner of a family court in Delaware issued an order of protection on Monday to keep Busch away from Driscoll, followed by an explanation of the decision on Friday.

    That led to NASCAR suspending the driver immediately and indefinitely, including for Sunday's Daytona 500. Busch appealed twice and lost twice in a matter of six hours on Saturday. The 36-year-old's career, which features 25 Sprint Cup victories and one championship, might be done.

    The decision by commissioner David Jones came after an expansive hearing

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  • Long overdue Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will not save boxing

    For years now, when blessed with a free moment, Freddie Roach would pull up video of Floyd Mayweather fights and look for weaknesses. He was devising a strategy just in case his fighter, Manny Pacquiao, actually one day got a shot at the unbeaten champ.

    Manny Pacquiao defeats Chris Algieri in November. (AP)Manny Pacquiao defeats Chris Algieri in November. (AP) Over and over, shoulder roll after shoulder roll, Roach, maybe more than any participant, promoter or fan, dreamed of the dream matchup.

    "It's a huge challenge for Manny, no question," Roach told Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole. "But I think it's a fight that he can win."

    Now, or at least on May 2, we'll find out.

    The mega-fight is signed and what will come in a 2½-month blitz of promotion will be big hype, big talk and big money. The bout promises to shatter all sorts of records, from total gate to pay-per-view purchases until both parties rake in more than $100 million each.

    What it won't do is "save" the sport or anything along that vein, even if that's what will almost certainly become a media narrative.

    Boxing isn't going to be saved by

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  • NASCAR's next big thing in no hurry to be NASCAR's next big thing

    Chase Elliott, 18, celebrates his Nationwide (now Xfinity) championship with his father Bill Elliott. (AP)Chase Elliott, 18, celebrates his Nationwide (now Xfinity) championship with his father Bill Elliott. (AP)DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It wasn't much more than a year ago, the week before Christmas, 2013, back in the Elliott family shop in Dawsonville, Ga.

    NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott – Awesome Bill from Dawsonville – and his son Chase were working on a super late model that Chase had run in the Snowball Derby a couple weeks prior. They hoped to race it again in South Georgia in January.

    That was the plan for 18-year-old Chase. Sponsorship delays and business realities had caused everything to stall. Both Elliotts figured Chase's 2014 would consist of a hodgepodge of races, many of them minor. They figured maybe half a dozen, at best, in the Nationwide Series, the second highest level of NASCAR.

    It's not bad for a kid his age, but it's hard to gain any continuity or experience needed for long-term growth.

    Then a call came in for Bill. He took it, returned to the shop and told Chase in his typical, matter-of-fact style, that NAPA had agreed to return to racing as a major sponsor and Chase

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  • Danica Patrick: 'I'm not positive enough'

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The two motor coaches sit side by side in the infield of Daytona International Speedway – Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin, neighbors.

    "That's his bus," Patrick said, pointing out her kitchen window Friday morning, the day after Hamlin spun her out for the second consecutive day, requiring her and her team to stage a wild comeback in Thursday's Duel 150 to qualify for Sunday's Daytona 500.

    What followed was a nationally televised argument complete with lapel grabbing, raised voices and little common ground.

    "There were so many cameras around I had to make sure I didn't swear too much," Patrick said with a laugh some 12 hours later.

    Hamlin, as of midday Friday, had not called Danica, had not texted Danica, had not come over with a plate of peace-offering baked goods or maybe a bottle of her preferred wine. He wasn't budging – or was possibly oblivious – even as their dispute was on near constant loop on the highlight shows

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  • Drama finds Danica in nail-biter at Daytona

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – All that remained for Danica Patrick to qualify for Sunday's Daytona 500 was what should have been three simple laps.

    That's when she noticed Denny Hamlin in her rearview mirror. It was the same vision she saw in practice Wednesday just before Hamlin spun her out, wrecking her primary car and making a stressful qualifying process into perhaps, she said, the most nerve-racking race of her career.

    Now here he was again, her friend, her golfing buddy, her neighbor in the infield lot here at Daytona, only he was running close, closer, too close again to her rear bumper.

    Next thing she knew she was spinning around on Daytona International Speedway, clipping cars and slashing through the infield grass, the dream of running Sunday flashing before her eyes, the dread of failing her team, her fans and her sponsors racing through her mind.

    "I just can't believe it," she shouted to her crew through her radio. "I can't believe Denny wrecked me again."

    There are plenty who

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