VIKINGS RB SUSPENDED 3 GAMES
EAGAN — Minnesota Vikings running back Roc Thomas has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
This decision stems from a January arrest in which Dakota County police officers executed a search warrant of his Mendota Heights apartment and found about 5 ounces of marijuana.
In Minnesota, possession of more than 42.5 grams of marijuana is considered a felony, and while Thomas originally was charged with fifth-degree drug possession after admitting to the offense, the charge will stay off his record if he completes probation.
An undrafted free agent out of Jacksonville State, the 23-year-old Thomas spent last season with the Vikings, bouncing back and forth between the active roster and practice squad. He is eligible to participate the rest of the offseason program, as well as preseason practices and games, and will be eligible to return to the active roster following the team’s Week 3 game against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 22.
— ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS
NUNEZ OUT WITH RED SOX
BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox designated veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez for assignment.
The 32-year-old Nunez is batting just .228 with two homers and 20 RBIs in 60 games this season. Nunez was a World Series hero last fall when he hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer to help Boston beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1. The Red Sox won the series in five games.
Nunez has a .276 career average with 58 homers and 309 RBIs in 856 games over 10 seasons with the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants and Red Sox. Boston also optioned Hector Velazquez to Pawtucket and recalled fellow right-hander Ryan Weber and first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis from the same Triple-A affiliate.
CONNER SAYS HE NEARLY DIED
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner revealed he was told he was close to death when diagnosed with cancer as a student at Pitt in 2015.
Speaking recently on the "Ya Neva Know: you know what I mean?" podcast hosted by former Duke pitcher Mike Seander — better known as hip-hop artist Mike Stud — Conner said he sought medical attention when he was having trouble sleeping as he recovered from a torn MCL in his junior season.
"I'm rehabbing for that, trying to make a comeback before the season ends," Conner, 24, said. "And then I'm rehabbing and [stuff and I get] night sweats, bro. I'm getting like 15 minutes of sleep at night, going through it. Sleep, who (doesn't) love sleep? That's the worst in the world ... And so I get some tests done, and I got tumors surrounding my heart ... I got tumors growing all around it, and it's pressing."
Doctors diagnosed Conner with stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma and found tumors in his neck and chest.
"The doctor told me I had a week left," Conner said. "He said, 'You got about a week. If you (don't) get this treated, you about a week at the rate it's growing.' "
After sending cancer into remission and rehabbing his knee, Conner returned to the Panthers in 2016, gaining 1,394 all-purpose yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.
The Steelers selected Conner in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After carrying the ball just 32 times as a rookie, he enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, taking over for holdout Le'Veon Bell.
In 2018, Conner had 973 rushing yards and added 497 receiving yards and 13 scores. He was selected to the Pro Bowl.
NFLPA STEPPING UP FOR CLOWNEY
HOUSTON — Jadeveon Clowney is a defensive end based on snap counts from the 2018 season, but the Houston Texans used the franchise tag designation for an outside linebacker — a savings to the team of about $1.7 million in 2019 salary.
That's why the NFLPA plans to file a grievance on Clowney's behalf, according to multiple reports.
Clowney, 26, was given the franchise tag to keep him from free agency before the March deadline. The team entered an outside linebacker designation, which carries a one-year tender value of $15.43 million. Clowney will play at a rate of $15.9 million for next season based on the required increase over his 2018 salary.
A franchised defensive end carries a $17.128 million tag.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Clowney played 729 snaps at defensive end in 2018. He played more at defensive tackle (101) than outside linebacker (33).
The Baltimore Ravens and Terrell Suggs, listed as a defensive end and outside linebacker, encountered a similar situation in 2008 over a difference of about $800,000.
WNBA PLAYER SUSPENDED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams has been suspended 10 games without pay because of a domestic violence incident, the WNBA announced Tuesday.
Williams was arrested on April 29 on two felony charges, including an assault of her former girlfriend on Dec. 6 in Pahokee, Fla. Sports Illustrated reported via the police report that Williams struck her ex-girlfriend several times in the head with a closed fist and pulled out her hair.
Williams, 29, also was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, later retrieving a gun from her car after the fight was broken up by a man who was at the residence.
She pleaded not guilty to both charges, and the case is ongoing.
The WNBA conducted an internal investigation, including interviews with Williams and several witnesses, according to a press release. The league said it also consulted with a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence before determining its 10-game suspension.
The WNBA will require Williams to participate in counseling.
The league plays 34 regular-season games, so the suspension amounts to 29.4 percent of the season, the equivalent of about five regular-season games in the NFL, 48 games in MLB and 24 games for the NBA and NHL.
Williams is averaging 11.5 points in 15 games (six starts) for the Sparks. She spent four seasons with the Tulsa Shock (2012-15) and has been with Los Angeles since 2017.
Her suspension will begin with Thursday's game against the Dallas Wings.
— FIELD LEVEL MEDIA