First Call: NFL villains abound; Ex-Pittsburgh players star in MLB, NHL, NBA |
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: NFL villains abound; Ex-Pittsburgh players star in MLB, NHL, NBA

Tim Benz
Edmonton Oilers left wing James Neal after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Uniondale, N.Y.
Edmonton Oilers left wing James Neal sets up for a shot in front of New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov as Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Uniondale, N.Y. Neal scored four goals in the Oilers’ 5-2 win.

Wednesday’s “First Call” has two themes. The first is NFL villains getting what they deserve. The second is former Pittsburgh athletes thriving in new places.



On Monday night, Richard Sherman made the claim that Baker Mayfield snubbed him in the handshake line before the coin toss.

Based on this video, it sure looks like the Cleveland Browns quarterback did shake the hand of the San Francisco 49ers cornerback.

Once the video surfaced, Sherman backpedaled like he was in coverage during a game.

Since Sherman was so hot on lecturing Mayfield on “etiquette,” does lying count as proper etiquette?

And who is the “they” Sherman is referencing there? Isn’t he the one who put the story out for consumption in the first place?

Ease up, Sherm. Baker is going to do plenty to make himself look like a punk in his career. In fact, he has already. He doesn’t need you making stuff up. He’s doing just fine on his own.

Speaking of punks

Actually, Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict is way worse than that.

With all of his headshots, Burfict is a borderline maniac. From 2012-18, he served two three-game suspensions for hitting former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman. He was also fined more than $165,000 last year for illegal hits.

Now he’s been suspended for the rest of this year for blasting Jack Doyle of the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago.

The Raiders are appealing. And Oakland coach Jon Gruden is asking this question: “Hasn’t poor Vontaze suffered enough?!”

Yeah. Exactly Chucky. He’s been punished. Now it’s time for him to start serving it. And frankly, I wish it was forever.

James is jammin’

Playing with Connor McDavid in Edmonton seems to be agreeing with former Penguin James Neal.

During a 5-2 Oilers win against the New York Islanders Tuesday, Neal scored four times. Here are the first three for a hat trick — his first since March 14, 2016.

And here is the cherry on the sundae.

The Oilers winger had eight shots on goal during the contest. Neal already has six goals this season. He only had seven in 63 games with the Calgary Flames overall last year.

McDavid assisted on two of Neal’s goals against the Islanders. Neal has eight points in three games so far, tying Mika Zibanejad for the league lead.

The Oilers have won all three of their games to start the year.

Meditate on this

The Tampa Bay Rays have forced a Game 5 in their ALDS matchup against the Houston Astros.

Tampa beat Justin Verlander and company Tuesday night 4-1.

A decisive Game 5 will be played Thursday in Houston. It’s an all former-Pirates matchup on the mound.

Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole will pitch against Tyler Glasnow. Cole had 15 strikeouts in Game 2 for a victory. Glasnow started and lost Game 1.

Another former Pirate, Charlie Morton, won Game 3 for the Rays to stave off elimination. Take a look at this nugget about Morton’s clutch playoff pitching.

Morton is one of the great big-game pitchers of all time. Let that sink in, Pirates fans.

Outside the arc

I wonder what Jamie Dixon would’ve thought of Steven Adams chucking up NBA threes during his time at Pitt.

The former Panther is stretching his range for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Adams has never hit a three-pointer in a regular season game. He’s only tried seven. But it may happen now.

The Oklahoma City center has made 1,874 shots in his career. None of them has been a three.


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Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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