Early Bird Report: Falcons rookie Ito Smith has a long-distance fan with an interesting connection

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes a long-distance fan of Falcons rookie Ito Smith as well as Julian Edelman's appeal of his four-game suspension being denied.

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ESPN: Falcons Ito Smith has long-distance fan in namesake Judge Ito

Shortly after the Falcons selected running back Ito Smith in the fourth round of April's NFL Draft, fans learned that the rookie's unusual first name was actually linked to another public Ito they may remember: Lance Ito, the judge from the highly publicized O.J. Simpson murder trial.

In recent piece for ESPN, Vaughn McClure learned that the Falcons newest running back has a fan in his namesake. Although Judge Ito grew up as a Los Angeles Rams fan, he has no problem rooting for Smith.

"No, I was unaware of the existence of a pro football prospect by the name of 'Ito' Smith," Judge Ito told ESPN. "Having looked him up and discovering he is a handsome and talented fellow, certainly not a bad thing. Pro football is a tough business, and I wish him a long and healthy career."

To read the rest of McClure's piece, click here.

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NFL.com: Julian Edelman's appeal of 4-game suspension denied

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the NFL has denied Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman's appeal of his four-game suspension stemming from a violation of the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.

Edelman and his representatives argued that there were mistakes made during the testing and other various processes that led to his suspension, but the evidence was not enough to overturn the suspension.

An NFL spokesperson later confirmed the report.  

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