Morning State Sports Briefs: Pack decide to release CliftonWisconsin Sports
-- After 13 seasons, it appears that left tackle Chad Clifton’s career is over with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers plan to release the 35-year-old Clifton.
GREEN BAY - After 13 seasons, it appears that left tackle Chad Clifton’s career is over with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers plan to release the 35-year-old Clifton.
Clifton has long anchored the left side of the Packers’ offensive line – but he only played in six regular season games last year due to hamstring and back injuries. He returned for the playoffs, but was replaced by Marshall Newhouse in Green Bay’s divisional-round loss to the New York Giants. At last month’s NFL owners’ meetings, coach Mike McCarthy said Clifton would still be in the mix for this season if he’s healthy enough. But money could also be a consideration. Clifton was scheduled to make five-and-a-quarter million dollars this year, plus another half-million in reporting and workout bonuses. Those would all be taken off the salary cap if he’s released. And the amount could be close to what the Packers would need to sign 12 picks they’re currently scheduled to have when the NFL Draft takes place Thursday night through Saturday. Should Clifton leave, either Newhouse or last year’s top pick Derek Sherrod could replace him.
Mark Tauscher knows what Chad Clifton must be going through. Both played for years as the right-and-left tackles on the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line. Injuries ended Tauscher’s career in 2010. And yesterday, the Packers released the 35-year-old Clifton after 12 years as a starter. Tauscher – still a close friend of Clifton’s called yesterday a tough day. Quote, “When you’re playing and then it ends just like that, it’s tough. I know what it’s like. Chad had an unbelievable career.” The Packers did not confirm an ESPN report that Clifton failed a physical when he returned for off-season workouts in the hopes of starting his 13th season. Clifton has not commented, and Tauscher says he’s not sure what Clifton will do next. But Tauscher said we cannot over-state the impact he’s had. Packers’ GM Ted Thompson released a statement calling Clifton an “integral part” of the team’s success and a member of quote, “some of the most prolific offenses in team history.”
The Packers are giving Erik Walden a second chance. The outside linebacker was signed to a new contract yesterday. Details were not disclosed. Walden started all but one game last season with three sacks, two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. But the quality of his play suffered after he was arrested in a physical dispute with his live-in girlfriend in late November. Walden spent Thanksgiving weekend in jail, and he eventually entered into a deferred prosecution agreement. His charge will be dropped if he stays clean, gets counseling, and performs 50 hours of community service. Walden is a fifth-year pro whom the Packers signed late in the 2010 season.
The UW-Stevens Point baseball team moved up three places to 13th in this week’s national Division-Three poll from D3baseball.com. The Points are 22-8 overall, with a nine-game winning streak. UW-La Crosse entered the poll at No. 22. Whitewater dropped out of the Top-25, after being 20th a week ago. The Warhawks were still listed as receiving votes. Marietta of Ohio remains Number-One.
UW-Milwaukee officials said yesterday that athletic director Rick Costello has resigned, after only about a year on the job. There was no immediate word on his next position. The move comes while UWM officials started a full review of its athletic programs –- and then held it up. And the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says concerns have been raised about Costello’s management style. The university is currently under an NCAA investigation for a half-dozen secondary violations in the men’s soccer program. Team coach Chris Whalley was fired earlier this year. In a statement, Chancellor Mike Lovell called Costello a “hard-working, dedicated professional” who will “do well in the future.” Costello has not directly commented to reporters. In the school’s statement, Costello called UWM a “great university,” and he wished everyone well. He became the new athletic director in December of 2010, but he did not arrive on campus until a few months later. As for the athletic study, UWM officials now say it will begin soon – and will be part of an entire campus-wide review.
Steve Stricker of Madison is still at No. 7 in the new World Golf Rankings released this morning. The Top-10 players are unchanged, including Number-One Rory McIlroy. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson fell one place to 29th after taking the weekend off. Jerry Kelly of Madison rose five spots to 137th, after he tied for 18th at the PGA’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. In the Fed-Ex Cup point standings, Wilson remains ninth while Stricker drops one spot to 15th. Kelly jumped 13 places to 104th. And Fox Point native Skip Kendall, who tied for 41st at San Antonio, is 184th after making the cut in all three PGA events in which he’s played this year. Kendall is a Nationwide Tour who hopes to return to the top circuit full-time next year, for the first time since 2005.
The second-ranked Wisconsin women’s lightweight rowing team lost a pair of races to top-ranked Stanford in Boston yesterday. Both the Badgers’ varsity eight and second varsity-eight fell to the Cardinal, after beating Stanford among several other boats on Saturday. The Wisconsin varsity eight made a late push in its final 500-meters, but lost to Stanford by almost five seconds in a tie of 6:40-point-three. The second varsity eight lost to the Cardinal by one-point-four seconds.
In the Midwest League…
South Bend 8, Wisconsin 1
West Michigan 6, Beloit 1
Lake County 11, Kane County 8
Dayton 8, Cedar Rapids 3
Clinton 5, Fort Wayne 3
Lansing 7, Peoria 3
Burlington 8, Great Lakes 4
Quad Cities 10, Bowling Green 2