Showing posts with label football. Show all posts
Showing posts with label football. Show all posts

Monday, August 13, 2018

Veteran Football Player Honors Military Veterans

Former NFL star shows his love and respect for Veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs

Upon receiving the call a few months ago, former National Football League star running back Earnest Byner felt honored to be tapped for the role. He had been selected as a guest speaker during the annual “Parade of Athletes” at the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Albuquerque.

Byner is the founder of The Healing Dawgs, a non-profit group that is aimed at teaching, helping, and healing through humanitarian efforts in communities, with a special focus on Veterans, the homeless, and youth. He has led visits to VA medical centers in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., in hopes of assuring wounded Veterans that their service and the sacrifices they have made for their country are not going unnoticed.

The “Parade of Athletes” took place Sunday evening at the Kiva Auditorium at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The nearly 1,000 Veterans who are participating in the Golden Age Games—which run from Aug. 3-8 in Albuquerque and offer many sports and recreational events for Veterans age 55 and older—were on hand to hear Byner speak.

Speaking with passion and emotion, Byner urged the Veterans to keep on competing in sports “because healing comes from within when you are competing,” he said. “If you are trying to get better on a daily basis, you provide healing for the mind, body, and spirit.”

He also told the Vets: “I appreciate and honor and love you because of the freedoms you have fought for. You have given your life and limbs.”

Byner said the Veteran community and retired NFL players like himself share several potential similarities. Members of both groups could be experiencing debilitating symptoms from concussions. In addition, the Veteran population is battling alarming rates of suicide and drug and alcohol addiction, issues that are also of concern in the community of retired NFL players.
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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Marine MP Led Patriots Onto Field

Maine veteran experiences thrill of carrying flag at Patriots opener

Bangor Daily News
Ryan McLaughlin
September 9, 2017

Like a lot of New England Patriots fans from Fort Kent to Stamford, Connecticut, Michael Flanagan was hoping for a different outcome than the shocking one the Kansas City Chiefs served up on Thursday night.
Contributed Photo | BDN
Sanford native Michael Flanagan poses with New England Patriots mascot Pat Patriot at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Thursday evening. Flanagan, a U.S. Marine veteran, led the Patriots onto the field prior to their game carrying a U.S. flag.
But the Sanford native and 18-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps experienced a thrill that made the final score somewhat irrelevant.
Flanagan, who is currently stationed with the Navy’s ROTC program at the University of Maine, was one of four military personnel selected to lead the Patriots onto the field carrying a U.S. flag. The longtime Patriots fan was chosen to represent the Marines for Thursday’s season-opener, which featured a speech from actor Mark Wahlberg and the unveiling of the Patriots’ fifth championship banner.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity” said Flanagan, who has enjoyed multiple jobs in the Marines but most of his service has been as a Military Police officer.
He did two tours in Iraq as a military officer, and went back to the University of Mississippi to earn a law enforcement degree and remained in the military police field.
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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Air Force Football Home Games Force Prayer?

Naturally I'd have something to say about this. I find it offensive, but not for the reasons an ex-Chaplain complained about. It is more an issue over trivializing faith down to wining a game than anything else to me.

No one can force anyone to pray at all. Who knows if they are humming a commercial jingle in their heads or not as someone else says a prayer? Plus, if God is mentioned during a prayer, no one explains which one. Is the God referred to Jewish, Christian or Muslim (same God different beliefs) or is it the God worshiped by other faiths around the world? If God is the Christian God then which denomination? Each one has their own beliefs and doctrine. So far I haven't run across any mention of God being interested in the outcome of a football game.

Ex-Chaplain Criticizes 'Tebow' Prayer at Air Force Football Home Games
Bryant Jordan
December 10, 2015
Members of the Air Force Academy's football team pray together before a game; their public religious displays are now being investigated by the academy. (DoD photo)
A former Air Force Academy chaplain calls the end zone praying by members of the school's football team "another 'territorial conquest' of the Christian right."

"This stands in a long line of conservative Christian usurpation of government space via supposed voluntary demonstrations of Christian piety," MeLinda Morton, a former captain, said in an email.

Morton, who said she never saw the Falcons offer public prayers when she served at the academy 10 years ago, said the fact that home games are essentially mandatory formations for cadets should bar any public display of faith.

"I've not been to the academy in a decade. I didn't see it when I was there," she told on Wednesday.

Morton was fired from her position at the academy in 2005 after she backed up reports that Christian officials were improperly attempting to proselytize cadets. She then resigned her commission after 13 years in the service and now serves on the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group that promotes the separation of church and state.

The academy is investigating the public prayer ritual, in which team members take to one knee after the fashion of NFL free-agent quarterback Tim Tebow. Some of the Falcons take part only to avoid conflict with teammates or out of fear of retribution, according to Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of foundation.
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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan Ready to Ram

The rookie is a veteran: Aspiring Ram Daniel Rodriguez is battle tested
LA Times
August 26, 2016
Rodriguez is no ordinary undrafted rookie. He is an Army veteran who served separate tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was wounded in the Battle of Kamdesh, among the bloodiest firefights in the war, and was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with valor device for his actions that day.

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez takes part in a drill during training camp at the NFL football team's practice facility on Tuesday. (Jeff Roberson / AP)
It was impulsive. It was foolhardy. It made no football sense.

Yet Jeff Fisher couldn't help but smile.

The St. Louis Rams coach didn't slam his headset to the ground when rookie Daniel Rodriguez fielded that kickoff nine yards deep in the end zone and, instead of taking the obvious touchback, decided to run it out. Fisher only smiled.

"I was thinking, 'Just let him return it,'" Fisher said. "He's savoring every moment."

First of all, it was only an exhibition game at Oakland. But more important, Rodriguez deserved his moment in the spotlight. OK, so it was miraculous that the 5-foot-8, 180-pound returner was able to get the ball to the 15, but his story is all about miracles anyway.
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Monday, May 11, 2015

NFL Teams Have to Be Paid to Honor Military? Seriously?

14 NFL teams took tax dollars for patriotic pregame displays
NBC Sportstalk
Posted by Darin Gantt
May 11, 2015

The Jets are just as patriotic as anybody else, I’m sure.

But it’s easier to wave the red, white and blue when it comes with a healthy dose of green.

According to Christopher Baxter and Jonathan Salant of, the New Jersey Army National Guard and the Department of Defense paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, citing federal contracts.

While the heartfelt salutes to military members seems like a win-win (good for the league’s image, high-visibility advertising for the military), the reality that it’s as much of an ad as the ones for beer and trucks does make it a bit distasteful, not to mention expensive.

According to their documents, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million over the past four seasons for the patriotic displays.
read more here

Ok! Tracked back the link to the list of teams and it turns out that the report came from

Which NFL teams got your federal tax dollars?
By Christopher Baxter | NJ Advance Media for
May 07, 2015

TRENTON — At the same time Congress and the president have imposed caps on military spending, the Department of Defense has paid $5.4 million in taxpayer money to 14 NFL teams across the country, including $377,500 to the Jets, with the bulk spent by the National Guard.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) last week called out the New Jersey Army National Guard for the spending, which, in part, paid for a segment at Jets home games in which soldiers were featured on the big screen, thanked for their service and given tickets to the game.
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Here is the list. Suggest you go to the link back to New to see how much money they were paid to "honor" our military members at the same time they were getting pink slips while deployed to Afghanistan!

While they were being forced out of the military after being willing to sacrifice their lives for.

After they were betrayed with less than honorable discharges instead of being taken care of and helped to heal.

After their families were using food stamps to feed their kids.

After they were the subject of debate when it came to being able to raise their pay to a living wage!

If you get the impression I am furious over this you are not even close to what is coming out of my mouth while I attempt to type fairly calmly.













Do you think they deserve some angry emails from you?

Deals Between National Guard and NFL Cause Stir
Los Angeles Times
by Nathan Fenno
May 12, 2015

At halftime of each home game last season, the New England Patriots invited a soldier on the field to honor the troops. Dressed in camouflage, they smiled and waved to the crowd during the feel-good moment.

However, the "True Patriot" program wasn't simply patriotism. It was part of a $225,000 advertising deal between the team and the Massachusetts and New Hampshire National Guard.

The military has long advertised at sporting events and during sports broadcasts as a way to reach potential recruits. But new revelations about deals between professional football teams and the National Guard have caused a stir over whether the military and the league should be more transparent about what's a display of goodwill toward the troops and what's a paid advertisement.

A report on government waste issued last week by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) detailed the expenditure and questioned why the Guard spent $49.1 million on professional sports sponsorships in 2014. Some of that money funded programs by NFL teams similar to the "True Patriot" program that appeared to honor the military but were actually part of advertising agreements with the Guard.
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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Green Beret Becomes Seahawk

Former Green Beret and Texas long snapper Nate Boyer hopes to hook on in NFL 
Nate Davis
May 2, 2015

(UPDATE: Boyer was offered a contract by the Seattle Seahawks after the NFL draft concluded Saturday evening.)
Boyer served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo: Courtesy Nate Boyer)
Nate Boyer is a special teams ace, which seems highly appropriate once you're familiar with his background.

A man who willingly tackles challenges, Boyer is currently trying to surmount a huge one — latching on with an NFL team as a long snapper.

At 5-11, 220 pounds and 34 years of age, he is the longest of long shots. But unfavorable odds typically don't deter men who have served with the Green Berets, and Boyer's beaten them before.

After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, he decided at age 29 that he better attend college, fearing he never would otherwise. In the process of matriculating at the University of Texas, Boyer also walked onto the football team even though he'd never played a competitive down in his life.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kansas University Alumni Football Player Touchdown at 89!

Bryan Sperry, 89, steals show in alumni flag football game 
Lawrence Journal
By Benton Smith
April 25, 2015

With time winding down, his younger teammates called Sperry’s number, and then formed a circle of blockers around him as the opposition feigned tackling attempts, complete with dives to the turf.
Photo by Nick Krug. Nick Krug.
Former Kansas University football player Bryan Sperry talks with reporters following the Alumni Football game which preceded the Spring Game on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. Sperry played for KU from 1946-1948.
Prior to Saturday's spring football game, Kansas University had about 40 alumni take the field for a flag football contest. While most participants weren’t too far removed from their glory days, it was a Kansas standout from 1946-48 who stole the show.

Wearing his blue No. 28 jersey with khaki pants and some comfy sneakers, 89-year-old Bryan Sperry closed down the flag football showcase by winning over the crowd with a slow-progressing touchdown run on the final play.
A World War II veteran who enrolled at KU after serving in the Army, Sperry said it had been quite a while since he ran as far as he did Saturday at Memorial Stadium. As one of the alumni who recommended the event, Sperry wasn’t about to miss out on the action. read more here
Bryan Sperry Touchdown in Alumni Game // Kansas Football // 4.25.15 Kansas Athletics

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lashawn Williams Lost Leg Gained Support From Green Beret

Veterans aim to help teen amputee
Tampa Bay Online
By Howard Altman
Tribune Staff
Published: November 2, 2014

Billy Costello has some advice for Lashawn Williams, the Northeast High School defensive lineman who needed his right leg amputated after a freak injury during a game last week

“The biggest thing for him is to surround himself with people who have been successful after an amputation,” says Costello, who has an intimate knowledge of the subject.

On Sept. 20, 2011, Army Staff Sgt. Billy Costello stepped on an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

Like Williams, Costello had his right leg amputated above the knee.

But unlike Williams, Costello has had a chance to adjust to his new reality.

And not only adjust, but thrive.

Since the IED exploded and his leg came off, Costello has climbed mountains, returned to scuba diving and is in the process of designing his own prosthetic leg that will allow him to do what he did as an Army Green Beret combat diver — operate on land and in the water.

Costello, who medically retired in March as a sergeant first class, has never met Williams. Taking a few minutes before his astronomy class at the University of North Carolina, where he is studying film and psychology, Costello says he wants to pass along the wisdom of someone who knows better than most about where the road ahead may lead.

“That’s a tough situation,” says Costello when I tell him about what happened to Williams, who just turned 18 last week. “It’s a whole new set of circumstances. Right now he is thinking about the permanence of his situation, how young he is, all the doors that have just shut for him. He is going to worry about the relationships that he is never going to form. The accomplishments not made.”
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ryan Kreider stepped in and saved Reveille

Reveille VIII: Texas A and M Collie Mascot Saved By Handler From Sideline Hit
[Viral Video]
The best block of the SMU-Texas A and M game may have occurred off the field, as a quick acting cadet dog handler saved the Aggies’ mascot from being accidentally run over during yesterday’s NCAA football action.

Reveille VIII, the Lassie-lookalike who is the school’s current mascot, might have had a close encounter on the sidelines, but the game wasn’t even close as Johnny “Football” Manziel’s former team defeated SMU by a score of 58-6 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas.

Designated as a Senior Military College, one of only six in the U.S., Texas A and M is one of three public universities with a full-time volunteer Corps of Cadets in an ROTC program. One of the Corps duties is to protect the mascot.

The Dallas Morning News summarized what happened on the sidelines with Reveille VIII’s close call.

“Late in the second quarter of Texas A and M’s game against SMU, Mustangs receiver Der’ikk Thompson stumbled out of bounds after an incomplete pass and was on a collision path with Reveille. That’s when sophomore Ryan Kreider stepped in. Kredier threw a body check on Thompson to knock him off course and leave Reveille unharmed.”
read more here

Corps Member Saves Reveille

But here is the best part of all

Texas A and M cadet to be rewarded for saving Reveille
By Tom Fornelli
College Football Writer
September 22, 2014
We now know the identity of the cadet who saved the day because he's being rewarded for his mascot heroism. Ryan Krieder will receive a special gift from the Commandant of Texas A and M's Corps of Cadets, Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez.

"Cadet Ryan Kreider made ALL Aggies VERY proud today! What a selfless way for a cadet to take care of our beloved mascot, Miss Reveille," wrote Ramirez on his Facebook page. "As a result, the Commandant is going to buy Ryan's Senior Boots. Fellow cadets can give him junior/senior privileges as they deem appropriate, but I am so proud of what he did, that I'm willing to do something a little more 'substantial' to show the appreciation of ALL Aggies for his selfless act. Ryan, thanks for being such a superb example of what being a member of the Corps of Cadets and being an Aggie is all about! Your senior boots are now compliments of the Commandant! Well done, Ryan! Aggie nation is VERY proud of you!"
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Bucs host Combat Wounded, Veteran Gave Purple Heart

Veteran spreads hope, handing over Purple Heart to Bucs
Chris Fischer
August 3, 2014

Frey reminisces of that time in his life "There was just so many bad things that happened that day, we tried to go in and save him and that's when I got shot in my arm. It was just the fog of war clearing houses in Fallujah. I really thought I was a goner."
Frey received the first purple heart in 2004, following a RPG attack in Fallujah; yet the second nearly took his life just two weeks prior to returning home. Still haunting him to this day is when his friend, Hudson native, Lance Corporal Josh Dickinson went into a house to battle insurgents.

Severely bleeding, Frey required 6 blood transfusions and 22 operations to repair his right arm.

At that point, Frey thought he wasn't going to come home.

But Friday night, Frey felt right at home, as the Bucs honored wounded warriors at their annual night practice. The story of his grand gesture fresh in the minds of the Bucs players and staff.
read more here

Friday, April 25, 2014

Emergency leave granted to soldier with husband in coma

Soldier's emergency leave ends while husband remains in coma
Gabriel Roxas
April 23, 2014

SACRAMENTO - When a head injury on the football field left Sacramento Wildcats player D'Ondre Ransom in a coma earlier this month, the toll on his family was overwhelming. His wife, who is on active duty in the Army, brought some relief when she returned to the family on emergency leave.

But Tuesday the family faced a painful goodbye.

Army Specialist Jessica Ransom said going back to her base in Georgia with so much left uncertain is one of the many sacrifices she has to make as a soldier.

"You would think he would be safe. You'd think he'd be fine back home," Jessica Ransom said as she prepared to board her plane at Sacramento International Airport.

D'Ondre Ransom was injured during a game with the semi-pro Wildcats April 5 in Santa Rosa. His mother said he fell down after he was hit. He got back up, fell again and then stopped breathing.

Families fear that phone call about their loved ones away at war, but soldiers know that same dread all too well.
read more here

Monday, March 24, 2014

Navy Football player in coma after injury

Navy slotback Will McKamey in coma after collapse at practice
McKamey, a rising sophomore from Knoxville, Tenn., sustained a brain injury Saturday
The Baltimore Sun
By Don Markus
March 23, 2014
Will McKamey (U.S. Naval Academy Photo / March 23, 2014)

Navy football player Will McKamey remained in critical condition late Sunday at Maryland Shock Trauma, one day after he sustained a brain injury during a spring practice in Annapolis, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Kara McKamey posted on Facebook Saturday that her son was in a coma, and on Sunday, the family — through the Naval Academy — released a statement saying it has received "only small responses" from the 19-year-old.

McKamey, a 5-9, 170-pound rising sophomore slotback from Knoxville, Tenn. underwent surgery Saturday to reduce the bleeding and swelling on his brain. It is the third brain injury McKamey had sustained playing football in the past 18 months.

As a senior at Grace Christian Academy, where his father, Randy, is the head football coach, McKamey was injured during a playoff game in October of 2012 and was transported to a hospital in Chattanooga, where he remained in intensive care for several days.
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Football player's parents wear combat boots

Michigan DB Channing Stribling's mind never far from mother serving in Afghanistan 
The Detroit News
Angelique S. Chengelis
December 26, 2013

Michigan defensive back Channing Stribling worries about his Army mother's safety.
(John T. Greilick / Detroit News)

Scottsdale, Ariz. — Late in the season, there was a change in Channing Stribling.

Clearly, his coaches and teammates realized, he was distracted.

The Michigan freshman defensive back, recently turned 19, is always in regular contact with his mother, Sonjay, a captain in the U.S. Army serving in Afghanistan, but during the week before the Ohio State game, he didn’t hear from her.

She only recently has returned to the U.S. after eight months overseas.

“He’s a young kid and people don’t realize, his mom was serving in the service, and she was gone, and he didn’t hear from her,” Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said this week as the Wolverines continue preparations for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday night. “And now she’s back home, you can see this guy is the same guy we had earlier.”

For Stribling, it was a challenge to not panic about his mother, especially because he could never initiate phone communication with her. She could only call him.

“It was a hard situation, mom being in Afghanistan and having to think about her every day, so trying to focusing on football is kind of hard,” Stribling said. “I’d focus on my mom. If she didn’t give me a call that week, I’d be worried.”
This is not Stribling’s first experience having a parent serve overseas. His father, Dennis, also is a member of the Army. He was stationed in Korea during his son’s final high school season at Butler High in North Carolina.

“I’m getting used to it,” Stribling said. “It is hard. Since I was younger they’ve always been gone.”

His parents are in Arizona for the bowl game, although his father will have to return overseas in a few months.
read more here

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Army Reservist shocks daughter and gets cheered by 80,000 football fans

Soldier talks about surprising daughter in front of 80,000 football fans in Madison (with video)
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
Written by
Katie Hoffman
September 27, 2013

Decked out in red and white, Bella Lund stood next to Bucky Badger in the middle of Camp Randall, surrounded by more than 80,000 screaming, cheering football fans.

She couldn’t hear anything over the roar of the crowd. But when Bella turned around, everyone around her immediately disappeared.

Her mom was home after six months serving in Afghanistan with the Army Reserve, and she was standing just yards away.

“I just kinda saw the uniform, and I was like, ‘That’s my mom.’ I just knew,” she said. “I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything better than that.”

Bella’s mom, Army Capt. Jane Renee “J.R.” Lund, 36, is a 1995 D.C. Everest Senior High School graduate who joined the Army Reserve four years ago. She began a six-month deployment in April as a veterinarian with the 719th medical detachment in Afghanistan.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who really deserves to be called hero?

Who really deserves the title of hero? Is it a football player? After all, they risk their lives for their jobs. Don't they? They do it for glory

There have been a lot of reports on football players committing suicide after a head injury. There have also been many reports of troops and veterans committing suicide after TBI.
They do it for each other

Jordan Riddle's family fought hard to prevent him from becoming a statistic
Jordan Riddle's family fought hard to prevent him from becoming a statistic. They said he left for Iraq five years ago and never really came home.

"He was angry. He was hurt," said Shannon Murphy, his sister.

"It was so seldom we saw him smile," added Tommy Riddle, his dad.

His family said he suffered from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. It got so bad his dad quit his job to try to manage his mental health care.

"The VA just, they dropped the ball," Tommy Riddle said.

So who really deserves to be called hero? Some of the football players had donated their bodies so that scientists could study their brains after head injury out of hope that one day others would not suffer the way they did. In their own way, they were thinking of their buddies the same way the troops think of theirs.

Maybe the answer to the question depends more on what they do with their lives for others, than anything else.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Marine banned one minute by NCAA can play the next

NCAA: Marine can play
Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Aug 19 2013

College football • The NCAA ruled Monday that a Middle Tennessee football player who spent five years in the Marines will be allowed to compete this fall and that he will have four years of eligibility remaining. It’s a reversal from the NCAA’s earlier decision to rule Steven Rhodes was ineligible because he played in a recreational league during his military service.

The NCAA issued a news release saying Rhodes could play immediately and member schools would continue to re-examine the competition rules, especially as they impact those returning from military service. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Rhodes has been practicing at both tight end and defensive end.
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Marine who played at base banned
Updated: August 19, 2013

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- A Middle Tennessee freshman who finished five years of active service in the Marines this summer is appealing an NCAA rule preventing him from playing this season because he played in a recreational league in the military.

According to The Daily News Journal, the rule essentially says student-athletes that do not enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of collegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.

By NCAA standards, Steven Rhodes' play at the Marine base counted as "organized competition" because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept.

But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant said the recreational league was nothing close to organized.

"Man, it was like intramurals for us," said the 24-year-old. "There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old. The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games."

The NCAA says it's working with Middle Tennessee and hasn't made a final decision on Rhodes' eligibility. MTSU spokesman Mark Owens told The Associated Press on Sunday that the school hopes to hear from the NCAA within the next month. The Blue Raiders open the season Aug. 29 hosting Western Carolina.
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