Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Packers decide to cut WoodsonWisconsin Sports
-- The Green Bay Packers cut All-Pro safety Charles Woodson today. The 36-year-old defensive back is perceived to have lost a step after breaking his collarbone twice. The move takes an estimated $10-million-dollars off Green Bay’s salary cap, and creates space that general manager Ted Thompson will need to re-sign his top stars like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers cut All-Pro safety Charles Woodson today. The 36-year-old defensive back is perceived to have lost a step after breaking his collarbone twice. The move takes an estimated $10-million-dollars off Green Bay’s salary cap, and creates space that general manager Ted Thompson will need to re-sign his top stars like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.
In confirming Woodson’s release, Thompson said quote, “We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the past seven years. He has been an integral part of the Packers’ success, and our Super Bowl title in 2010 would not have been possible without his contributions.” Thompson also called Woodson a “once-in-a-generation talent as a player,” and “a great leader and ambassador for the organization off the field.” Woodson has spent 16 seasons in the NFL, his first nine with Oakland. He was the league’s defensive player-of-the-year in 2009. And he’s the only player in league history to score touchdowns off interceptions in six straight years, from 2006-through-11. Woodson told ESPN Wisconsin in a text message, “We had a good run.” Despite his age and injuries, Woodson is still likely to be in demand as a free agent. His agent, Carl Poston, said Woodson would like to play for another Super Bowl contender.
Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder Norichika Aoki wants to be stronger in his second Major League season. So the 31-year-old former Japanese batting champion changed his workout routine over the winter so he could bulk up just a little. Aoki reported to Spring Training yesterday, and manager Ron Roenicke joked that Aoki wanted to be a 20-to-30-homer player this year. But at 5-9 and 180 pounds, that’s still not all that likely. Aoki’s first Major League campaign was with Milwaukee last year. He earned the starting right field spot after Corey Hart moved to first base and Nyjer Morgan struggled at the plate. Aoki batted .288 last year with 10 homers, 50 RBI’s, 37 doubles, and 30 stolen bases. Roenicke says he wants to see Aoki in the lead-off spot when the Spring Training games begin a week from tomorrow. The skipper says Aoki will see a lot of pitches in that spot – and his goal should be to get on base more often.
Ex-Brewers’ reliever Grant Balfour will be out for at least 4-to-6 weeks, after he had surgery yesterday to fix a torn meniscus in his right knee. The Oakland A’s are hopeful to have Balfour available on Opening Day. He led the A’s with 24 saves a year ago, with an ERA of just over two-and-a-half. He felt soreness in the knee near the end of last season, and an MRI revealed that it was torn. The 35-year-old Balfour spent part of 2007 with the Brew Crew. He’s 27-and-14 for his career with 34 saves and a 3.83 ERA.
The UW-Green Bay men’s basketball team will go for a season sweep of its series against Cleveland State tonight. The Phoenix crushed the Vikings 77-50 on January 19th in Green Bay. It was the biggest margin of victory by the Phoenix in a Horizon League game since 2005. UWGB is 7-5 in the conference and 13-12 overall. Cleveland State is 4-8 in the Horizon League and 12-14 overall.
The UW-Milwaukee men’s basketball team will go for its second straight win tonight, when it plays at Youngstown State. Victories have been few-and-far between for the Panthers, who ended a seven-game skid on Tuesday night with an 18-point home romp of Loyola. UWM shot a season-high 47-percent in that game, and Paris Gulley scored a season-high 21 points. Milwaukee is 2-10 in the Horizon League and 6-20 overall. They’ll face a Youngstown squad that’s 6-6 in the conference, and 14-11 overall. The Penguins are coming off a triple-overtime loss to Illinois-Chicago last Sunday. Youngstown State is led by Kendrick Perry, who scores almost 17 points a game.
Former Milwaukee Bucks’ radio and TV announcer Eddie Doucette was named today as the winner of the Curt Gowdy Media Award, along with author John Feinstein. The announcement was made today in Houston as part of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Doucette and Feinstein will be honored during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Fame’s enshrinement events in early September in Springfield, Massachusetts. Doucette was the Bucks’ first radio play-by-play announcer. He spent 16 years with the team, and was best known for his colorful on-air descriptions. He labeled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hook shot as the “Sky Hook.” He described the post area as the “toaster.” And when a coach cleared his bench at the end of a game, he called it “garbage time.” Doucette has spent 30 years covering the NBA – and he has also worked for the league TV and radio networks, the USA Network, and CBS.
It’s a three-game weekend for the Milwaukee Admirals – but fortunately for them, they won’t have to leave the comforts of home. The Admirals will host San Antonio tonight, Charlotte tomorrow night, and Abbotsford of British Columbia, Canada late Sunday afternoon. Retired Green Bay Packers’ receiver Donald Driver will drop the puck tonight and take part in some of the other festivities. Milwaukee is 21-19-3-3, and goaltender Magnus Hellberg has won his last two games while giving up just one goal. The Admirals have an 11-game streak of killing penalties. Tonight, they’ll face a San Antonio squad that’s 21-23-0-4. The Rampage is last in the American Hockey League’s South Division.
Top-seeded UW-Eau Claire has a first-round bye this weekend, as the men’s playoffs begin in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. Six other teams will each play two-game series, with mini-games if necessary to determine who advances. Saint Norbert, which has the No. 2 seed, will host UW-Stout. Third-seeded UW-Stevens Point is at home against UW-River Falls. And fifth-seeded UW-Superior travels to nearby Duluth to play Saint Scholastica. Each series winner will advance to the semi-finals a week from tomorrow night. The Peters Cup title game is set for March second. Meanwhile, senior goal-tender Brandon Stephenson of Eau Claire has been named the NCHA men’s player-of-the-year. He helped the Blugolds win their first outright league title in school history, while building up a 17-3-2 record. Eau Claire’s Matt Loen was named the league’s coach-of-the-year for the second time in three seasons. He led the Blugolds to an overall mark of 19-4-2. Meanwhile, NCHA women’s teams are playing their final regular season games this weekend. River Falls has a one-point lead in the standings over Adrian of Michigan.
Grinnell College of Iowa is starting to go for its 11th straight Midwest Conference men’s swimming title today. And the Grinnell women are trying to take back the crown they held for 13 straight seasons, before Lake Forest took first a year ago. The Midwest Conference meet continues through Sunday in the Grinnell pool.