Rodgers, Cuban & SI\’s AI Problem

November 30, 2023

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning 

Today, we shift from the nightly highlights to more sports-adjacent news stories — Aaron Rodgers, Mark Cuban, and Sports Illustrated in hot water (bottom of today\’s edition). The highly-respected, long-form sports mag got burned this week when a third-party ad service used AI-generated stories for product reviews on their site.

Please know The Sportsletter will always be written by a human. SumtiMes, thatt meens humAAn erRors. We’ll suffer through, and we hope you will, too.

Letter Rip!


Jet Fuel: A-Rod Back at Practice?

Photo: Michael Owens / Getty Images

Inside Jets QB Aaron Rodgers’ Miraculous 3-Month Achilles Recovery

Will it actually happen? Will the Jets be in playoff contention? Is it worth the risk? There are plenty of questions surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ potential return to the Jets this season. It might be the most miraculous Achilles recovery ever seen in professional sports. The Jets opened the 21-day practice window for Rodgers on Wednesday morning, less than three months after he tore his Achilles on Sept. 11. Rodgers was scooting around and letting it fly. But let’s pump the brakes on this instantly saving the Jets\’ season.

21-Day Practice Window: What It Means

“This isn’t so much getting ready to play as much as it is a progression in his rehab,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. If Rodgers is ready within the next 21 days, he can be activated from IR. That gives the Jets three more games to turn around a 4-7 record before Rodgers’ potential return. And if the Jets aren’t in playoff contention, count him out.

What’s a Typical Achilles Injury Recovery?

A normal Achilles tear can take up to six months for patients to return to normal activities, like walking or hiking. Pro athletes? It’s usually a nine-month recovery window to be game-ready. Famous superstars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant suffered some of the most famous Achilles tears. Their returns were not this quick. In basketball, ankle movement is everything on a hard court. In football, it’s not far-fetched to think Rodgers could drop back and be a gunslinger, but his mobility would be an issue. Regardless, a three-month return is nothing short of a miracle.

Will any of this result in New York making a playoff run in these last six games? That’s up to the active Jets. Looking at the schedule, it’s possible, but unlikely.

Next 3 Games: Falcons, Texans, Dolphins

Final 3 Games: Commanders, Browns, Patriots

Read More

SI: The Jets Need to Play Aaron Rodgers This Season—No Matter What

USA Today: Aaron Rodgers Cleared to Practice: What Does It Mean for His Return?

NY Post: Watch: Aaron Rodgers Back at Jets Practice — Less Than 3 Months After Catastrophic Injury



Cuban Sells the Mavs

Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban is Selling the Team & Leaving \”Shark Tank\”

It’s the end of the Cuban era in Dallas, but not exactly. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sold his majority stake in the team this week to casino billionaire Miriam Adelson — the largest shareholder of the Las Vegas Sands and the fifth-richest woman in the world. Cuban will maintain a minority stake and control of the team’s basketball operations, so Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic need not worry. You\’ll still see the Mavs\’ hype man riling up opponents on the sideline. Cuban purchased the team in 2000 for a mere $285 million. The Adelsons are purchasing into the team at a $3.5 billion valuation. Cuban also hopes the Mavs move to a new arena that doubles as a resort and casino, likely a key reason for the new partnership.

Cuban also announced Tuesday that he plans to leave the show “Shark Tank” after next season. It looks like a glorious, slow-roll retirement on the horizon for one of the sport’s most illustrious billionaire execs. Or is it something else?

Read More

CNBC: Mark Cuban Says ‘No Plans’ to Run for President in 2024

Dallas Morning News: Mark Cuban Has Been Face of Mavericks Franchise, Why Would He Get Out Now?


The 1st In-Season Tournament Bracket

Image via NBA Communications

The first NBA In-Season Tournament appears to be an overwhelming success, aside from those wild court designs. Tuesday night’s epic finales in the Group Stage provided a twist in clinching scenarios in the West with the Kings swiping a bid from the Warriors. Teams were definitely looking at the scoreboard and doing the math on point differentials. It felt a lot like the group stages of soccer tourneys where aggregate score lines become crucial. Nevertheless, we’ve found the eight teams vying for the first NBA In-Season Tournament Cup. The Knockouts begin next week.

Eastern Conference

#1 Bucks vs. #4 Knicks

#2 Pacers vs. #3 Celtics

Western Conference

#1 Lakers vs. #4 Suns

#2 Kings vs. #3 Pelicans

Knockout Stage Rules: Single Elimination

Quarterfinals: Monday-Tuesday (Dec. 4-5)

Semifinals: Thursday (Dec. 7)

Finals: Saturday (Dec. 9)

*Semifinals & Finals in Las Vegas

Read More

NBA: Final NBA In-Season Tournament Group Standings

SI: Point Differential Adds Drama to NBA’s In-Season Tournament



Gunner Stunner: Matchday 5

Photo: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Arsenal & Real Madrid Make Statement Wins to Advance to Knockouts, But Manchester United in Dire Straits

Matchday 5 is in the books and the UEFA Champions League Knockout bracket is starting to come into focus. Eleven teams have now clinched spots in the Round of 16, and 12 teams are still alive for those final five spots. Wednesday saw Real Madrid and Arsenal pummel opponents and solidify their place in the Knockouts, but Manchester United — suffering a 3-3 draw to Galatasaray — are nearing another Champions League catastrophe. Man-U needs a miracle in Matchday 6. Here’s yesterday’s highlights and a snapshot of the Group Stage standings.

Matchday 5 Highlights

Real Madrid def. Napoli (4-2)

Bayern draw Copenhagen (0-0)

Arsenal def. Lens (6-0)

PSV def. Sevilla (3-2)

Man. United draw Galatasaray (3-3)

Champions League Group Standings

  • Group A: *Bayern (13 pts), Copenhagen (5 pts), Galatasaray (5 pts), Man. United (4 pts)
  • Group B: *Arsenal (12 pts), PSV (8 pts), Lens (5 pts), Sevilla (2 pts)
  • Group C: *Real Madrid (15 pts), Napoli (7 pts), Braga (4 pts), Union Berlin (2 pts)
  • Group D: *Real Sociedad (11 pts), *Inter (11 pts), RB Salzburg (4 pts)Benfica (1 pt)
  • Group E: *Atletico Madrid (11 pts), *Lazio (10 pts), Feyenoord (6 pts)Celtic (1 pt)
  • Group F: *Dortmund (10 pts), PSG (7 pts), Newcastle (5 pts), Milan (5 pts)
  • Group G: *Man. City (15 pts), *RB Leipzig (9 pts), Young Boys (4 pts)Crvena Zvezda (1 pt)
  • Group H: *Barcelona (12 pts), FC Porto (9 pts), Shakhtar Donetsk (9 pts), Antwerp (0 pts)

*Advanced to Knockout Stage (11 of 16)

— Eliminated from Knockout Stage

Matchday 6: Tuesday-Wednesday (Dec. 12-13)




Lakers def. Pistons (133-107)

*D’Angelo Russell Goes for Season-High 35 Points

Magic def. Wizards (139-120)

*Orlando Wins 8th Straight Game

Pelicans def. 76ers (124-114)

*Zion Williamson (33-8-6) Shoots 92%

Nuggets def. Rockets (134-124)

*Nikola Jokic (32-10-15) Tallies 7th Triple-Double


Rangers def. Red Wings (3-2)

*New York Rallies With 2-Goal 3rd Period

Capitals def. Kings (2-1)

*Mantha & McMichael: 1G, 1A Each


Arkansas def. #7 Duke (80-75)

#17 N. Carolina def. #10 Tennessee (100-92)

Virginia def. #14 Texas A&M (59-47)


#18 Notre Dame def. #20 Tennessee (74-69)

#5 NC State def. Vanderbilt (70-62)

#22 Louisville def. #19 Ole Miss (64-58)





Today\’s Must-Watch List

 Thursday Night Football

Seahawks at Cowboys (8:15 pm ET, PRIME)


Pacers at Heat (7:30 pm ET, NBATV)
Lakers at Thunder (8:00 pm ET)

Clippers at Warriors (10:00 pm ET, NBATV)


Blackhawks at Red Wings (7:00 pm ET, ESPN+)

Avalanche at Coyotes (9:00 pm ET, ESPN+)

Golden Knights at Canucks (10:00 pm ET, ESPN+)

#1 South Carolina at #24 North Carolina (7:00 pm ET, ESPN)

#9 Virginia Tech at #7 LSU (9:00 pm ET, ESPN)

Download The Sportsletter\’s Must-Watch Calendar



SI\’s AI Reckoning

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Sports Illustrated in Hot Water After 3rd Party’s AI-Generated Content

I’ve had multiple conversations with peers over the years in regards to the future of journalism and the looming impact of Artificial Intelligence. Now, we’re seeing the first fruits of this bizarre new world. Legacy sports mag Sports Illustrated came under fire this week as the latest media company to get tagged for using AI-generated content on its website. The details are murky, and the wild world of the internet continues to serve as a masking agent for shady decision-making and deleted evidence.

What Happened?

SI reportedly used a third-party ad service, likely to help offset revenue challenges — a struggle understood by anyone in the journalism field. That third-party service, AdVon, used AI-generated content and fake writer profiles to publish product reviews under the SI name and brand. The AI-generated articles and writers were not used to produce front-page content about breaking sports news stories — and I think that’s a key differentiator.

Editor’s Note: Personally, I’ve always seen Sports Illustrated as the standard for high-quality sports journalism in an ever-changing landscape. This recent blunder, as ugly as it seems, appears to be a lack of oversight, maybe a “major” lack of oversight, by SI\’s management, Arena Group.

Journalism’s Next Reckoning

Still, the use of computer-written content is slowly making its way into the mainstream media. Gannett, the publishers of USA Today, were slammed in October when writers accused the media org of using AI-generated content in a similar situation — third-party product reviews. Other sites, like Buzzfeed, openly use robot-written stories, but they’re honest and upfront about the source of the content. Transparency is key. So far, it appears that digital marketing companies are the ones hacking the journalism market with “content” they’re not actually producing by real humans. And media companies, desperate for the best monetization options, are either not paying attention, or not caring. That’s a lose-lose for journalistic integrity.

The Sportsletter Is Human

Here at The Sportsletter, we’re pretty rigid about our journalistic approach. We may make mistakes, and we may not be world-renowned journalists (yet), but we’re big on integrity. Our newsletter will always be written by real people. I’ve received many promotional emails over the past year from software companies offering an AI newsletter service that would auto-generate sports stories for us to use. Not interested.

The robot revolution is here, and it’s not all bad. We\’ll make sure to maintain our storytelling integrity.

What do you think? Would you still read The Sportsletter if it was written by AI? (click to vote)



Read More

CBS News: Sports Illustrated Denies Using AI & Fake Writers to Produce Articles

FOS Sports: Sports Illustrated’s AI Controversy: What We Know, What’s Next