TIME Baseball

Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval Agree to 5-Year, $100 Million Deal

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Two
Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants warms up before Game Two of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on October 22, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Dilip Vishwanat—Getty Images

Deal reported Monday said to be worth close to $100 million

Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval has agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. Sandoval’s agent Gustavo Vasquez told reporters that the deal is done, pending a physical.

According to Heyman, the deal will be for five years and close to $100 million.

Sandoval met with the Red Sox in Boston last week and had said he wants at least a six-year contract in free agency.

Sandoval is a two-time All-Star who won three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants in his eight seasons with the team. He hit .279 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and a .739 OPS in 157 games last season and was even better in the postseason, hitting .366 with a record 26 hits in 71 at-bats during the team’s 17 playoff games.

Sandoval, 28, reportedly turned down a three-year, $40 million deal at the start of the 2014 season and was one of 12 players to reject a $15.1 million one-year qualifying offer from their team.

The Red Sox are also reportedly signing shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who is expected to receive a five-year, $90 million deal.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

Report: Browns Quarterback Johnny Manziel Involved in Fight

Manziel and his entourage were reportedly involved in a brawl early Saturday morning


Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel and his entourage were involved in a fight in a Cleveland hotel and apartment building early Saturday morning, according to a police report obtained by Cleveland Scene.

No arrests were made in the incident, and Manziel is not listed as a suspect in the police report.

According to the report, when police arrived at the Metropolitan at the 9 at 2:36 a.m., the alleged victim, 33-year-old Chris Gonos, told them that he had been assaulted by “Johnny Football and his entourage.”

The report says that while waiting for an elevator with his girlfriend, Gonos saw a man he believed to be Manziel and approached him, telling him, “I’m the biggest Browns fan ever, I love you, I want to give you a hug.” Gonos says at that point he was struck in the face several times by a man who was with Manziel.

Several other men then allegedly “pushed and attacked” Gonos until a hotel staff member broke up the fight. The staff member was also hit in the face. The alleged offender said Gonos attempted to assault his “client,” apparently referring to Manziel.

Gonos told Cleveland Scene that his brother tackled Manziel and another member of his group “smashed” Manziel in his face.

According to Gonos, Manziel retaliated by “sucker punching” Gonos’ brother while he was being held by a security guard. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who also obtained the police report, said there is video footage of the incident.

Browns general manager Ray Farmer released the following statement:

“We are aware of the incident and are in the process of gathering additional information in order to gain a complete understanding of what occurred. Nonetheless, the time of the incident is concerning to us. We continually stress to all of our players the importance of sound decision making in an effort to avoid putting themselves in these types of situations. We have addressed this appropriately with the player and will have no further comment at this time.”

The general manager of Metropolitan at the 9 told Cleveland Scene that he had no comment on the incident. According to the magazine, “many” Cleveland professional athletes live in the building.

Manziel, selected by the Browns in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, has made headlines in the past for off-field incidents. Before his redshirt freshman year at Texas A&M, Manziel was arrested and charged with failure to identify, disorderly conduct and possession of a fictitious driver’s license after being involved in a fight. He later pleaded guilty to the former charge. He was fined $2,000 as part of a plea deal and had a two-day jail sentence waived because he was placed in jail after his arrest.

Manziel lost out to Brian Hoyer for the Browns’ starting quarterback job in training camp. He has appeared in two games this season, attempting one pass.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

Watch This Ridiculous 1-Handed Touchdown Catch

The Cowboys still beat the Giants 31-28

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.‘s breakout rookie season has taken yet another step forward.

Facing the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Beckham leaped high and behind himself to haul in a touchdown pass from Eli Manning — with Brandon Carrdraped all over him, and with only one hand. Carr was whistled for defensive pass interference, which the Giants declined after the touchdown was upheld on review.

That touchdown was Beckham’s second of the day, and it gave him four receptions for 71 yards. With the score, the Giants went up 14-3 on the Cowboys early in the second quarter.

Since making his NFL debut in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, Beckham has become a savior for a Giants offense decimated by injuries. With Victor Cruz out for the season with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, Beckham posted at least 93 receiving yards in three of his first six games, also catching at least six passes in each of those three games (New York’s last three games vs. Indianapolis, Seattle and San Francisco).

The Giants entered the game 3-7, a half-game ahead of the Washington Redskins for last place in the NFC East. The Cowboys (7-3) are neck-and-neck with the PhiladelphiaEagles (8-3) for the division lead.

This article originally appeared on SI.com


Raiders Stun the Chiefs for Their First Victory

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 20, 2014.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 20, 2014. Marcio Jose Sanchez—AP

The Raiders hadn't won a game since Nov. 17 of last season

The Kansas City Chiefs entered Thursday looking like clear Super Bowl contenders, having won five straight to chase down Denver in the AFC West standings. The Oakland Raiders appeared to be on their way to 0-16 and had gone 368 days without a regular-season win.

So of course, in this incredibly unpredictable NFL season, the night belonged to Oakland.

The Raiders used a 17-play touchdown drive (their longest of the season at 7:21) and a late defensive stop to pull off the shocking upset, 24-20. It was their first victory since a 28-23 triumph at Houston on Nov. 17 of last season. Since then, the Raiders had come up short in 16 consecutive games, including all 10 to start 2014.

“These losses have been hard,” Raiders QB Derek Carr said in the aftermath of his team’s win.

Carr dropped to his knees and threw his hands up toward the sky after Alex Smith‘s final fourth-down pass fell incomplete. His teammates celebrated with equal exuberance, almost to a fault. After a sack of Smith one play earlier, Oakland linebacker Sio Moore celebrated with his teammates behind the line of scrimmage for so long that DE Justin Tuck called timeout to avoid an offside penalty.

The Raiders’ celebration was on for good just a few seconds later. Three thoughts on Oakland’s breakthrough:

1. This was no fluke: Kansas City clearly is the more talented of the two teams, but it hardly looked that way for much of Thursday night. The Raiders came out firing on all cylinders, streaking to a 14-0 lead behind stalwart efforts at the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively.

The tables turned for a bit late in the third quarter, with the Chiefs running off 17 straight points to take the lead.

But with their backs against the wall, the Raiders responded via that epic game-winning drive, which included three third-down conversions and a 4th-and-1 QB sneak from Carr to move the chains. Carr then capped the possession by slinging one to an open James Jones in the end zone, sending the Black Hole into pandemonium.

“I needed this win like I need to breathe,” said veteran DB Charles Woodson, who Thursday became the first player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks over his career. “The whole team, this whole organization needed this win tonight.

“[The Chiefs] fought back, they made it interesting but we [were] going to get this one,” Woodson added. “We needed it.”

Perhaps it’s fitting that Jones made the grab. He was one of several relatively big-name free agents added by the Raiders this offseason with an eye on moving forward from back-to-back 4-12 seasons. Several of those pickups — Maurice Jones-Drew, LaMarr Woodley and others — have fallen far shy of expectations.

Oakland had been a deserving 0-10, even with Carr and first-round pick Khalil Mack offering a silver lining. Thursday, the Raiders looked nothing like a winless squad.

2. On Kansas City’s play calling … : Following a couple of Kansas City losses earlier in the year, head coach Andy Reid criticized himself for not getting Jamaal Charles enough touches. He might sound a similar tune after this costly setback.

Charles wound up with 23 touches (19 rushes, four passes), but on a night when the Chiefs’ offense was sluggish for extended periods, though, the number probably could have been higher.

That goes for the final drive, too. Kansas City was up against it, trailing by four and without a timeout. There still was plenty of time to work in a Charles run or two, especially with the Raiders so focused on not getting beat over the top. The star running back’s only work on the decisive possession came on a 4-yard pass from Smith.

The Chiefs also waited until they faced a 17-3 third-quarter deficit to really lean on talented TE Travis Kelce. He made two catches to help set up Kansas City’s first touchdown, then hauled in a 27-yard completion to open the Chiefs’ next offensive series.

There undoubtedly will be questions asked of Smith, who is three months removed from signing a $68 million extension. Plenty of Smith critics remain skeptical of his ability to take the Chiefs deep into the playoffs or past the Peyton Manning-ledBroncos in the AFC West. Performances like the one he endured Thursday only add fuel to the fire.

Smith was all out of whack in the early going, misfiring badly on several short throws. He did connect on a pair of second-half touchdown passes, yet came up short in the closing seconds. Smith took a sack on 3rd-and-6, despite solid initial protection, and then came up well short of Frankie Hammond on fourth down.

Give credit to the Oakland defense for disrupting its opponent up front. The Chiefs failed to find any counters in the first half, opting for (often unsuccessful) screens or inside handoffs to Charles.

That said, Reid’s offense left some points on the field.

3. Latavius Murray’s all-too-brief brilliance: Murray was headed toward a potential all-timer type of night before a concussion sent him to the locker room. On just four carries, spread over the first and second quarters, Murray piled up 112 yards and scored twice. His 90-yard touchdown scamper was the longest ever allowed by the Chiefs and had CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz recalling a Bo Jackson highlight.

Once Murray left a few minutes later, the Oakland offense absolutely bogged down. Only when the coaching staff bailed almost completely on Darren McFadden and Jones-Drew in favor of hybrid fullback Marcel Reece did any oomph return, and just in time for the late drive that won the game.

Hopefully, Murray can recover in short order, because the starting running back job ought to be his moving forward. The 2013 sixth-round pick out of Central Florida has a burst that neither McFadden nor Jones-Drew possesses any longer.

He could be a perfect partner for Carr in the backfield as the Raiders continue their rebuild. And Murray helped set the tone vs. Kansas City, landing a couple of haymakers early in the upset.

This article originally appeared on SI.com


Bills-Jets Game Will Be Played in Detroit on Monday

Signora said the decision to not play Sunday in Buffalo was made "due to public safety concerns and the ongoing weather emergency"

The New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game will be played at Ford Field in Detroit at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, the NFL announced Thursday night.

The game will be televised by CBS in the Buffalo and New York City markets.

NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora earlier announced that the game wouldn’t be played on Sunday in Buffalo. Signora said the decision to not play Sunday in Buffalo was made “due to public safety concerns and the ongoing weather emergency” and that the league was in the process of rescheduling and relocating the game.

Earlier Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bills coaches were preparing for the game to be held in Detroit, Pittsburgh or Washington, D.C.

FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported that one of Buffalo’s contingency plans was to fly out on Friday to wherever the game wouuld be played. Bills president Russ Brandon said that it “may not be possible” to get the team out of Buffalo for a game elsewhere.

A source told Schefter that Buffalo “will be hard pressed to get [the] stadium ready” for its Nov. 30 home game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Buffalo area has received more than six feet of snow this week and the region is expected to receive an additional 20 to 30 inches of snow Thursday, according to CNN.

The Bills said Wednesday that Ralph Wilson Stadium is currently under an estimated 220,000 tons of snow and the organization has offered to pay fans $10 an hour plus game tickets to shovel it. On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is “impractical” for the Bills and Jets to play on Sunday due to the snow.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports Jets coach Rex Ryan said he has contingency plans in place in the event the game and/or date is changed.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME nhl

Jack Johnson’s Shocking Bankruptcy Story; Maple Leafs Point Fingers

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) during the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets played at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Nov. 1, 2014.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) during the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets played at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Nov. 1, 2014. Rich Graessle—AP

Johnson, currently playing the fourth season of a seven-year, $30 million deal, has less than $50,000 in assets and more than $10 million in debt

The hockey world has been taught a couple of vitally important lessons this week.

From Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, who is suffering from terminal cancer, we’ve learned of the life-saving potential of colonoscopies. It’s an uncomfortable thought, especially for men who tend to shrug off medical care for anything short of limb reattachment, but the preventative value of this simple procedure is enormous.

And then we learned that if you make your living in this game, you need to get yourself a good agent. It’s advice that would have saved Jack Johnson from bankruptcy.

The story of the financial ruination of the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman that was told this morning by Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline is both shocking and heartbreaking. Johnson, currently playing the fourth season of a seven-year, $30 million deal, has less than $50,000 in assets and more than $10 million in debt, the result, Johnson says, of “picking the wrong people who led me down the wrong path.”

Those people, according to Portzline, were Johnson’s own parents.

Earlier in his career Johnson had Pat Brisson, one of the best agents in the game, looking after his affairs. But the two parted ways in 2008 and Johnson signed a power of attorney that turned over full control of his finances to his mother, Tina Johnson.

In hindsight, the decision to put millions of dollars into inexperienced hands was incredibly naive. But these were his parents. The two people in the world he trusted the most. Put into the same situation, there are plenty of us who might have done the same thing.

Fortunately, most of us don’t have parents like Johnson’s. The picture of them that’s painted by Portzline’s research is beyond ugly. Instead of making safe, conventional investments that would protect the financial future of their son, the pair blew through past and future earnings via a complicated series of risky loans at high interest rates, defaults on which resulted in massive fees, higher interest rates and three lawsuits against Johnson.

There are also reports of lavish spending on houses and travel, leaving Johnson not just broke but essentially working for nothing as garnishments swallowed his massive bi-monthly paychecks.

“I’ve seen lots of instances of parents riding their kid’s coattails around,” a league source told Portzline. “I’ve never seen a case as ugly as this one, where the parents took such advantage of their kid.”

Johnson has since surrounded himself with competent attorneys and financial experts who actually have his best interests in mind. Assuming relief will be provided in bankruptcy, he has a chance to climb out of this hole, save his future and maybe put his focus back on playing hockey.

But his relationship with his parents? That’s a tragic casualty of this mess. And one that no court can piece back together.

This article originally appeared on SI.com


NBA Suspends Hornets Forward Jeffery Taylor 24 Games

Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor appears in a photo after his arrest on Sept. 25, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich., on domestic assault charges.
Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor appears in a photo after his arrest on Sept. 25, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich., on domestic assault charges. AP

Taylor pled guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in October

The NBA announced Wednesday that it has suspended Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor 24 games for his domestic violence incident.

Taylor was arrested Sept. 25 and charged with assault, misdemeanor domestic assault and misdemeanor malicious destruction of property, later pleading guilty to the latter two charges on Oct. 29. The assault charge was dropped as a part of his plea deal.

Taylor said in court that he pushed his then-girlfriend, damaging a wall in an East Lansing, Mich., hotel.

In his opinion, NBA commissioner Adam Silver highlighted his commitment to stopping domestic violence, saying the issue has the league’s full attention.

I have the responsibility to safeguard the best interests of the league and all of its constituents. In addition to its profound impact on victims, domestic violence committed by any member of the NBA family causes damage to the league and undermines the public’s confidence in it.

The Hornets suspended Taylor indefinitely the day after his arrest and said they would decide on his possible reinstatement after the NBA concluded its own investigation.

Because Taylor has already missed the first 11 games of the season, he must sit out 13 games to satisfy the terms of the NBA’s suspension. Taylor will be eligible to return for the Hornets’ Dec. 17 game against the Phoenix Suns.

Taylor’s arrest was the NBA’s first domestic violence incident after the issue became a national topic in the wake of the Ray Rice controversy in the NFL. In the NHL, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the league after his October domestic violence arrest.

Taylor was sentenced to 18 months’ probation after his guilty plea. The domestic assault misdemeanor carries up to 93 days in jail, but the prosecutor in the case said at the time Taylor entered his plea that it wouldn’t object to the judge ordering Taylor to be placed in a probation diversion program.

A second-round pick of Charlotte in the 2012 NBA draft, Taylor has averaged 6.6 points in 103 career games.

This article originally appeared on SI.com


The Buffalo Snowstorm Is Really Causing Problems for the Bills

Wintry Weather New York
A band of storm clouds moves across Lake Erie and into Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 18, 2014 Gary Wiepert—AP

Fans who help shovel snow will be paid $10 per hour and receive game tickets

Snow accumulation in the Buffalo area is approaching apocalyptic amounts. Some places are expected to receive up to six feet. This is obviously posing massive problems for Western New York residents, including the Buffalo Bills.

The hardest-hit area is south of Buffalo, which includes the town of Orchard Park, where the Bills’ stadium is. Orchard Park reported more than four feet of snow, leaving Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Bills are supposed to play the Jets on Sunday, completely buried.

As you can see, the snow has let up for the time being, but more is expected overnight. The stadium will have to be cleared out, even as snow continues to fall. The team estimates there are 220,000 tons of snow in the stadium, enough to fill the practice facility eight times over. It’s a monumental task that will require massive amounts of manpower, so the Bills are enlisted their fans to help.

Fans who help shovel snow will be paid $10 per hour and receive game tickets. They hope to have people working 24 hours a day in order to get the stadium ready by Sunday.

The coaches are planning to sleep at the team facility. They’re also distributing the gameplan digitally because they can’t hold team meetings.

As for the players, they can’t practice because roads in most of the area are completely closed. How often do pro athletes get snow days?

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME celebrities

Katie Nolan on Bartending, Regis and ‘Tweeter’ and One-upping Bumgarner

21st Century Fox, Inc And FOX Sports 1 Rings The NASDAQ Stock Market Opening Bell
Katie Nolan of Fox Sports poses for a picture after ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ MarketSite on August 16, 2013 in New York City. Andrew Toth—FilmMagic/Getty Images

"I hate saying I’m a comedian, because then people stick their finger in your face and demand you tell a joke"

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A twentysomething Boston-based bartender of Italian and Irish heritage develops a cult following while riffing on sports and pop culture from some little-known corner of the Internet, then gets snapped up by a major sports media conglomerate for an unusual role. But this isn’t 2001, and Katie Nolan’s voice is an octave or two higher than Bill Simmons’s. In No Filter, her daily video series for foxsports.com, she’s saltier and saucier than cable sports’ usual fare. And the show’s D.I.Y. aesthetic — she works from a small studio, with two producers — would hardly fly on TV either. On a recent Wednesday we caught up with the 27-year-old Framingham, Mass., native at a bar near New York City’s Union Square.

Dickey: What do you usually tell people you do?

Nolan: I don’t know. I make funny videos. I hate saying I’m a comedian, because then people stick their finger in your face and demand you tell a joke. But the other thing people call me is “a YouTube sensation,” which is even worse.

Dickey:How’d you get started?

Nolan: I was bartending in Boston five, six nights a week, living in my grandmother’s condo. By the way, I’m a really good bartender — that’s the only skill I can confidently say I have. At the time I was really into Barstool [an aggressively impolitic Boston-centric sports and lifestyle site], and I thought I was good enough to write for it. So I started my own blog, called Bitches Can’t Hang, with my takes on pop culture and the news. It was so stupid. Have I mentioned it was so stupid? But somehow the blog Guyism found me and wanted to publish my posts.

Dickey: And how’d you get into video?

Nolan: Guyism wanted a daily video series. They told me they were planning on hiring a girl, and then hiring someone to write all her jokes. Then they figured it would be easier just to get me, so they offered me $750 a month to do it, which turned into an offer to move to New York and do it full-time for $30,000 a year. So I moved to Hoboken [N.J.] with two girls I found on Craigslist. Two or three months into that, one of my bosses came to me and said Fox wanted me for their new 24‑hour sports channel, and that if I went, the company that owned Guyism would get money. It was like a dowry. Oh, you’ll give us a cow, and we’ll give you Katie.

Dickey: Do you know how Fox found out about you?

Nolan: I have no idea. My YouTube videos weren’t even getting that many views. Maybe they thought, Oh, she’ll be cheap! Four different people at Fox have come up to me and said, You know, I’m the one who found you. And I think, Uh-huh, yeah, I’ve heard that. But you have to just smile and scream, “Oh, thank you! I owe you my life!”

Dickey: How’d your start go at Fox?

Nolan: They flew me out to L.A. for an audition, which I bombed. I had never read off a teleprompter, and I didn’t know I needed glasses. They told me I bombed it too. But they still wanted me. I had another screen test that went a little better. And then they told me they wanted to put me on a show with Regis Philbin. [Crowd Goes Wild, which ran from August 2013 until it was canceled last May.] I was like, What the f—? He’s still doing TV? I Googled him and found out he was 82. My grandmother is 82, and some days she doesn’t even put her teeth in.

Dickey: What’s Regis like?

Nolan: He’s exactly the person you see on TV. He came into my dressing room and said, “This tweeter you’re always talking about, what is it?” I told him it was on the Internet. He said, “Oh, they have it on there? How long would it take to teach me?” I said I could teach him, but it would take an hour a day for two weeks. He said, “Forget it, no thanks.”

Dickey: Any memorable interactions with athletes while doing the show?

Nolan: [Knicks guard] J.R. Smith was so nice. I’m a Patriots fan, so I wanted to hate [safety] Bernard Pollard and tell him he ruined my life. [Pollard’s hit in 2008 ended Tom Brady’s season.] But he was such a nice guy. The only guy who was really, really awful was [former NHL winger] Sean Avery. The most surprising thing was that I really never got hit on.

Dickey: What was it like when the show got canceled?

Nolan: The show had always been chaotic. On Mondays it felt like we were doomed. Tuesdays we felt we were getting the hang of it. By Wednesday we thought we had a hit. On Thursday someone was threatening to quit. And by each Friday, I was like, I don’t want to do this anymore. The day we got canceled, I got three calls from Fox — they all went to voice mail — saying, “We’re picking up your option. We just want you to know we see a bright future for you.” I didn’t even know they had an option! I was flattered.

Dickey: Now you’re doing No Filter for foxsports.com, and you’ve had some hits, like the video you did about Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. How did you chug six beers?

Nolan: I saw some people write that the video was good up until I faked being drunk at the end. Boy, I wish. It happened so fast. We got the idea, and my boyfriend, Dan, brought the beers over, and in the 40 minutes it took me to drink them, I just kept looking at him off-camera, saying, “You’re so handsome, you’re so supportive. Am I slurring my words?” We were supposed to go on a date night. Instead he got me four pieces of pizza and put me in bed.

Dickey: You got a lot of pickup, too, for the serious piece you did about Ray Rice. Do you want to do more serious commentary?

Nolan: I make silly videos, that’s what I do. I don’t want people to get confused. But with the Rice thing, it had been on my mind. And I thought, as a woman in sports, I had to say something. I’m happy I got my point out there, that women should be represented more in sports media. They really should be. But some people thought I was saying I should be an analyst. And I can’t do that.

Dickey: So what do you want to do?

Nolan: I want to do something like what Jon Stewart does, for sports, something for college students to watch when they get home from the bars. They have shows like that in New Zealand and in England. But it’s never worked here — people take their sports too seriously. So we’re stuck with ESPN reacting to the news in the same five ways, all day, morning till night. But really, I’d just be happy writing jokes about sports and beer for other people.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

Correction: The original version of this story used an image of a different Katie Nolan. It has since been updated.

TIME Basketball

Jason Collins Announces NBA Retirement

Brooklyn Nets v Denver Nuggets
Jason Collins #98 of the Brooklyn Nets speaks with the media prior to a game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Feb. 27, 2014 in Denver. Justin Edmonds—Getty Images

Nine months after signing with the Nets

It has been 18 exhilarating months since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay man in one of the four major professional team sports. And it has been nine months since I signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a game in one of those leagues. It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and history.

On Wednesday at the Barclays Center, I plan to announce my retirement as an NBA player. The day will be especially meaningful for me because the Nets will be playing the Bucks, who are coached by Jason Kidd, my former teammate and my coach in Brooklyn. It was Jason who cheered my decision to come out by posting on Twitter: “Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate.”

Considering all the speculation about problems I might face within the locker room, Jason’s support was significant. It had been argued that no team would want to take on a player who was likely to attract a media circus from the outset and whose sexuality would be a distraction. I’m happy to have helped put those canards to rest. The much-ballyhooed media blitz to cover me unscrambled so quickly that a flack jokingly nicknamed me Mr. Irrelevant.

Among the memories I will cherish most are the warm applause I received in Los Angeles when I took the court in my Nets debut, and the standing ovation I got at my first home game in Brooklyn. It shows how far we’ve come. The most poignant moment came at my third game, in Denver, where I met the family of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student beaten to death in a 1998 hate crime on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo. For the past two years I have worn number 98 on my jersey to honor his memory. I was humbled to learn that number 98 jerseys became the top seller at NBAStore.com. Proceeds from sales, and from auctioned jerseys I wore in games, were donated to two gay-rights charities.

There are still no publicly gay players in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. Believe me: They exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally. When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But we’re not there yet.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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