New Eagles linebacker was Abercrombie model, kicked out of school for mushrooms

New Eagles linebacker was Abercrombie model, kicked out of school for mushrooms

The Philadelphia Eagles continued going about their understated free agency plans by bolstering their special teams on Wednesday. The team signed safety Chris Maragos and linebacker Bryan Braman, two little-known players who are expected to upgrade the kick coverage units and compete for playing time on defense.

Braman is of particular interest. The 26-year-old tends to stand out at 6’5”, 241 pounds. Signed to a two-year deal worth $3.15 million ($1M guaranteed), the former Houston Texan is mostly here to contribute on special teams, but could compete for a role as a situational pass-rusher.

That’s not all though. Some of Braman’s shall we say hobbies away from the field might make folks take notice as well. Sheil Kapadia for Birds 24/7 unearthed this Houston Chronicle story by Texans beat John McClain from 2011 that makes mention of some interesting activities away from the football field. Presented without comment:

Before general manager Rick Smith offered him a contract, Braman, 24, worked for Abercrombie & Fitch in Los Angeles, modeled, attended some casting calls, got kicked out of West Texas A&M for manufacturing psilocybin (a hallucinogen) and worked as a bouncer in Amarillo and College Station.

Braman, who said he gets his size from a 7-4, 460-pound grandfather and disclosed that he keeps his dreadlocks that were cut by teammates at West Texas in a plastic bag, was fortunate that two people believed in him.

Braman worked as a bouncer during the NFL lockout and hoped a team would call. In June, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of psilocybe mushrooms. He paid a $2,000 fine. Thirty days later, the prosecutor terminated the one-year probation, and his case was dismissed.

I’m sorry to say that Mr. Maragos is far less interesting. Signed to a three-year deal worth up to $5.2 million ($1M guaranteed), all this 27-year-old did was help the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl this past season with his contributions on special teams. Boring.

Neither Maragos nor Braman has ever started a game in the NFL despite a combined seven years of service.

Along with the decision to re-up punter Donnie Jones for three years on Tuesday, the Eagles’ moves continue to show the tremendous value being placed on quality special teams. It’s not Jairus Byrd, but it’s not inconsequential, either.

>> Braman survives rough road to Texans [Houston Chronicle]

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

Twenty-five of the Union’s 34 games in 2017 will be featured on CSN and TCN, as Jim Curtin’s club vies for a second straight playoff berth.

Twenty matches will air on TCN, while five can be seen on CSN. The nine others will be appear across 6ABC, ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

The Union’s season opener on March 5 at the Vancouver Whitecaps will broadcast on TCN and the team’s home opener on March 11 against Toronto FC will air on CSN. The next three games — March 18 at Orlando City SC, April 1 at D.C. United and April 8 vs. the Portland Timbers — will be shown on TCN.

The Union are coming off an 11-14-9 season and their second-ever trip to the MLS playoffs in which they suffered a first-round exit to Toronto FC.

For the Union’s full 2017 schedule, click here.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).