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Football: Aaron Rodgers is NFL’s MVP again

Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press for the second in four seasons.

Rodgers completed 341-of-520 passes (65.6%) for 4,381 yards with 38 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2014 for a 112.2 quarterback rating that was second-best in the NFL and the second-best of his 10-year NFL career. He led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game.

Previously, Rodgers also was named first-team All-Pro and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.

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Basketball: Bucks call up Jorge Gutierrez

Former Pac-12 Player of the Year Jorge Gutierrez was called up from the NBA’s D-League by the Milwaukee Bucks and signed to a 10-day contract.

Once again, as happened with the Brooklyn Nets, Gutierrez got the nod from Cal legend and Bucks coach Jason Kidd.

Gutierrez could make his Bucks debut on Thursday against the Orlando Magic.

Gutierrez, 26, most recently played for the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League and in six games averaged 15.2 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds in 35.7 minutes per game.

He began the season with Brooklyn where he averaged 1.6 points in 10 games before being traded to Philadelphia on Dec. 11. He was waived by the 76ers on Dec. 12.

Undrafted out of Cal, Gutierrez began his professional career with Canton in 2012. He started 35 games for the Charge in 2013 before being signed by the Brooklyn Nets where he appeared in 15 games and averaged 4.1 points, 2.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds.

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Football: From free agent to Pro Bowl pick

Former Cal running back C.J. Anderson, a second-year, former free agent signee with the Denver Broncos, has been selected as a replacement for Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell in the Pro Bowl.

“It’s a chance to showcase my talent against the best and show I belong,” Anderson said.

Undrafted after his senior season at Cal in 2012, Anderson signed with the Broncos but hardly played in 2013. He got his chance this fall and responded by rushing for 849 yards and eight touchdown in barely half a season.

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Football: How C.J. Anderson beat the odds

The 2013 NFL draft had just ended, and the names of 23 running backs had been called. None of them was Cal’s C.J. Anderson.

But a few hours later, the Denver Broncos reached out, offering Anderson a free-agent contract, which he accepted.

The decision, however, made no sense to Anderson’s junior college coach.

“Why would you sign with Denver?” Laney’s John Beam recalled thinking. “You’re never going to get the ball. They’ve got Peyton Manning (at quarterback), and they’re going to throw the ball every time.”

Twenty months later, the Broncos and Anderson couldn’t be happier. Of those 23 running backs drafted in 2013, Anderson has rushed for more yards than all but Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers.

Click here to rest the rest of this story.

Click here to read about the philosophy teacher who helped alter Anderson’s academic path.

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Ex-Bears in Beast Mode

It’s been quite an NFL season for four ex-Cal running backs, who have combined for 4,862 yards rushing and receiving and 36 touchdowns:

• C.J. ANDERSON, Broncos: A surprise during the second half of the season after carrying the ball just 17 times in Denver’s first eight games, Anderson is 18th in the NFL with 762 rushing yards and five touchdowns and has caught 32 passes for 304 yards and two more TDs.

• JUSTIN FORSETT, Ravens: In his first year with Baltimore, Forsett is enjoying his best NFL season. The 29-year-old is sixth in the league with 1,147 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and has caught 42 passes for 246 yards more.

• MARSHAWN LYNCH, Seahawks: In his ninth NFL season, Lynch has topped 1,000 yards for the sixth time, including the past four seasons with the reigning Super Bowl champions. His 2014 numbers: Third in the NFL with 1,246 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 34 receptions for 334 yards and four TDs.

• SHANE VEREEN, Patriots: The 25-year-old is having his most productive season with New England. Vereen has rushed for 390 yards and two TDs and caught a career-best 49 passes for 433 yards and three scores.

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Football: C.J. Anderson ready for Raiders

Courtesy of Jerry McDonald, our Raiders beat writer, here is a transcript of a teleconference call today involving Broncos coach John Fox and former Cal running back C.J. Anderson in advance of Sunday’s NFL regular-season finale against the Raiders:

Broncos Coach John Fox

Q: What has C.J. Anderson brought to you guys since he has come in? Has he been a surprise to you at all?
Coach Fox: “When these guys sit in those seats in the first team meeting, they don’t get one of those seats without having some talent, and C.J. was no different. I think the fact that he came in as a college free agent, he has had to fight and earn everything he’s got. It says a lot about his football character, his personal character. He got the opportunity. He flashed a year ago and then this year, due to injuries, he got a better look and he’s taking full advantage of it.”

Broncos RB C.J. Anderson

Q: Were you a Raiders fan as a kid?
Anderson: “Yes, I was.”

Q: Who was your favorite player?
Anderson: “Tim Brown.”

Q: Did you want to be a receiver or were you always a running back growing up?
Anderson: “Tim Brown was who I really liked and if I had to choose a running back in their time that I got to see play, it would be Tyrone Wheatley and Charlie Garner. I thought that combination was really fun to watch when I was young.”

Q: With the Cal connection with Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch, do you guys talk a lot or compare notes at all?
Anderson: “No, not really. We talk. We give each other congratulations over the years and things of that nature. We just sit and chat, but we don’t share notes or exchange notes. We all are our style when it comes to our running style and we just all try to do the best we can when we’re out there.”

Q: How would you describe your style and their styles of running?
Anderson: “I think Marshawn is himself, ‘Beast Mode.’ He’s just hard to tackle and accelerates into contact and that’s what makes him break a lot of tackles. I thin Justin is very patient and is very quick. He is very fast. He is kind of small, so it’s kind of hard to see him behind them. He breaks a lot of tackles with his speed. I just think that I’m more in the slow, quick game. I’m not the fastest guy on the field, but I have some shiftiness to me and I just try to run nasty and just try to, I guess you can say, put two styles into one. Marshawn is super quick and he can get moving and he breaks a lot of tackles. Justin is fast and quick and that’s what helps him out and I think I have a combination of both.”

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Basketball: Ex-Cal star Christopher signs with Jazz

Patrick Christopher, a key player on the first Cal team in 50 years to win a conference championship, was signed as a free agent Wednesday by the Utah Jazz after a strong start to the season with the NBA D-League’s Iowa Energy.

Christopher, 26, averaged 12.7 points for his Cal career, including 15.6 as a senior in 2009-10 when the Bears went 24-11 and won their first conference title since 1960.

He was averaging 15.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists this season for the Energy. A 6-foot-5 wing, Christopher had had three 20-point games this season.

He also played for the Energy last season, averaging 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists, and earning second-team all-defensive team.

Previously, he spent the 2012-13 season playing professionally in Turkey and the 2011-12 campaign in France.

Christopher becomes the fourth former Cal player on an NBA roster this season, joining Ryan Anderson of the Pelicans, Jorge Gutierrez of the Nets and Allen Crabbe of the Trail Blazers.

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Basketball: Ryan Anderson Q&A

Here is more from my Wednesday night interview with former Cal star and New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson at Haas Pavilion:

What’s it like to be back at Haas?

“It’s the first time I’ve been to a game here. Man, just sitting with Omar Wilkes, we were just talking about how much we miss that community, being around so many great friends and being able to play the game, walk home together, grab a bite to eat, talk about the game. I miss that community a lot. It’s all business now.

“What’s hard is this is my seventh year gone. They’ve gone by so fast and so much has happened. It gives me that sentimental feeling walking through here, old memories. I get that sentimental feeling like, `Man, I wish I could just teleport and go back to college.’ ”

How are you playing right now?

“The important thing is just being consistent and confident. Consistent doesn’t always mean the ball is going in the hoop every night. I just want to play confidently.  I always feel like I can play better, but I think I’m finding my way.”

How big was the Pelicans’ win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night?

“Showed us the way we need to play. When we’ve won big games like that, it’s because we’ve played with that energy and moved the ball the way we have. We started the season off really well as a group, then had a shaky time. We’re still coming together as a new team. For me, I’m trying to feel my role out. I think everyone else is, too.”

How good can Anthony Davis become?

“I have no idea. How can he be much better than he is? He’s barely scratched the surface. It’s exciting watching him play every night. He’s incredible and he’s 21.He’s a humble guy and he works his butt off.”

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