The 2018 NFL preseason officially starts Thursday, August 2 with the Hall of Fame game between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears.
The Hall of Fame game will be broadcast on NBC at 8 p.m. at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
Oddsmakers are projecting a low-score, but tight game, Forbes reported.
The Ravens are a 2.5-point favorite to win the first preseason game.
The 2018 Hall of Fame class will officially be inducted Thursday, WJZ reported. The class includes legends Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Randy Moss, among others.
Apparently not everyone is happy that LeBron James is joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Fans of King James put up a King of LA mural, but a fan of the team offered $300 to someone who would destroy it, Sports Illustrated reported.
An unidentified person took the person who put up the bounty, only identified as Lakers Fanbase, up on the offer, according to SI.
Photos of the graffiti-covered mural hit social media, saying “a LeBron-hating Laker fanatic put out a contract to get this mural of #LeBronJames vandalized today in California. Dude need to get extra security around town. The hate is real,” according to Bleacher Report.
The graffiti included “we don’t want you” and 3-6 referring to James’ record in the NBA finals, according to Bleacher Report.
The mural was fixed shortly after the vandalism, CBS Sports reported.
A mysterious man was sitting in the Seattle Mariners’ dugout Thursday night, sporting a bushy mustache and wearing a hoodie.
And shades -- shades reminiscent of Bobby Valentine’s failed disguise in 1999 when he was ejected from a game and tried to sneak back into the dugout.
The mystery man was no stranger to Mariners fans -- Ichiro Suzuki, now an executive in the Seattle front office.
Suzuki sneaked into the Seattle dugout Thursday to watch the first inning of the Mariners’ game at Yankee Stadium against the New York Yankees, The New York Post reported.
"He was perfect. I never would have known it was him,'' Valentine texted to the The Associated Press.
Officially, Suzuki, 44, is not allowed to be in the dugout during games, ESPN reported. He was removed from the Mariners’ roster in May and moved into the front office as a special assistant to the team chairman, the AP reported.
AP photographer Bill Kostroun spotted Suzuki hiding in the dugout during the first inning. He had exited the dugout by the second inning as the Mariners lost 4-3 to the Yankees.Perhaps Suzuki had dropped a hint when he moved into his new position.
"During the game I will be doing the same preparations I've been doing the entire time. Nothing is going to change for me that I did as a player," Suzuki said. "But I can't say for certain that maybe I won't put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout."
Valentine, who was managing the New York Mets in 1999, was ejected from a game in the 12th inning. He later put on a fake mustache and sunglasses and attempted to sit in the dugout.
Valentine was caught and was suspended for two games. He also was fined $5,000.
An investigation commissioned by Georgia Tech has found “no credible evidence” to support allegations that its head men’s basketball coach sexually assaulted a fan.
A lawyer hired by Tech issued a lengthy report that the school says exonerated coach Josh Pastner. The coach had been accused by the girlfriend of a former friend of groping and inappropriately touching her numerous times between 2016 and 2017.
Pastner had been coach at the University of Memphis from 2009 before going to Georgia Tech.
Update 4:52 p.m. ET: U.S. vice president Mike Pence has responded to the NFL decision on Twitter, using the hashtag #winning.
Update 1:21 p.m. ET: The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) issued a statement on the new NFL policy:
“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
“The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principals, values and patriotism of our League.
Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
Original story: NFL owners approved a new policy Wednesday regarding players who wish to kneel during the national anthem, according to a statement by the National Football League.
According to the NFL, individual teams will have the ability to fine players and other personnel who do not stand and, “show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
The change will go into effect for the upcoming season, according to the Washington Post.
Players who choose not to stand during the national anthem may stay in the locker room or off-field while it is being played.
The official statement from the National Football League states:
“The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.
The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.
It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.
This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.
We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it.”
There’s a new Earnhardt on the racing scene.
Amy Earnhardt announced the birth of Isla Rose Earnhardt on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“She’s finally here!” the wife of former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted. “It feels like a dream. The best dream ever.”
It is the first child for the couple.
Dale Jr. has been busy since retiring from active racing, working as an analyst for NBC Sports Network’s “NASCAR America.” Before that, he covered the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics for NBC.
The baby was due May 2, but arrived a day early. Had she been born on April 29, she would have shared a birthday with her grandfather, the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 43, and the former Amy Riemann, 36, were married on Dec. 31, 2016.
During the 2017 ESPY Awards Wednesday night, comedian and television host Jon Stewart presented U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro with the Pat Tillman Award for service.
Del Toro was severely injured while on tour in Afghanistan in 2005 when his military truck drove over a bomb. Del Toro lost most of his fingers and more than 80 percent of his body was severely burned. He went into a coma for three months and was given a 15 percent chance of survival. When he awoke from the coma, he was told he likely wouldn’t be able to breathe or walk again on his own.
Del Toro not only did both, he also used sports as rehabilitation, later competing in the Invictus Games, a sports competition for wounded service members. In 2014, he won a silver medal in powerlifting, and in 2016, he won gold in the shot put.
He was awarded Wednesday for his perseverance, military service and athletic pursuits, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“He found a way not just to survive against the odds, but to thrive. He is a study in strength, tenacity, bravery and service,” Stewart said, calling Del Toro “a soldier who has gone through pain and struggling you would not believe just to survive and be here tonight.”
Del Toro said he was honored and humbled to receive the award.
“Receiving this award is still strange for me. I don’t see myself as someone special,” he said at the awards show. “Thank you for letting this guy who just had a bad day at work feel like someone special tonight.”
Del Toro talked about what it felt like to be tapped for the award last month.
“I’m humbled for even being considered for this prestigious award named after Pat Tillman, a man I admire, but to actually receive this honor is unbelievable,” Del Toro said in a statement. “When I heard that Pat Tillman gave up a career in the NFL to serve his country after the 911 attacks, it gave me so much pride to call him a brother in arms. He truly is a shining example of Service Before Self. To Mrs. Tillman and the Pat Tillman Foundation, I give you my pledge that I’ll always try to live up to the true meaning of the Pat Tillman Award for Service in everything I do, and to represent his spirit to the best of my ability.”
Del Toro still serves in the military as an Air Force technician.
Pat Tillman, a former NFL player, left the league in 2002 to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.
Harry Potter fans, rejoice! The U.S. Quidditch Cup is headed to the Sports Capital of Texas next year.
The organization announced the news earlier this week, revealing that the event will be held April 14-15 at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.
“We are honored to host the players, families and fans in Round Rock for the U.S. Quidditch Cup in April 2018,” Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Yawn said in a release. “How exciting that the year of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, the Sports Capital of Texas gets to announce that the magical, competitive Quidditch national championships will be held here!”
U.S. Quidditch announced finalists for the location of the cup in May, which included Lubbock, Round Rock and Wichita Falls. The finalists were selected based on bids, which were evaluated on location of the bid, the quality of facilities, the amount of financial support and the level of community support, according to the release. Round Rock beat out the others mainly because of the ample room of its facility, it says.
Though Round Rock has yet to start its own official team, the Austin area is home to two national championship winning teams: Texas Quidditch and Texas Cavalry. In the 2016-17 season, Texas had more teams registered with USQ than any other single state in the league, according to U.S. Quidditch.
The Quidditch tournament, which first came to life in 2005, is a real-world adaptation of the game Harry Potter and his friends played in the popular book series. The magical sport involves two teams who “fly on brooms,” competing to score the most goals. It can be described as a cross between rugby, basketball and dodge ball.
Want to learn more about the competition? Find out about tickets and teams here.
Pro wrestling fans and writers had questioned World Wrestling Entertainment for several weeks after the disappearance of one of its lead announcers from television, Mauro Ranallo, who was suffering from depression.
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer said Ranallo may have been the victim of WWE’s bullying culture, particularly John Layfield, his color commentator who made disparaging remarks about Ranallo following his absence on TV and during an out-of-character segment on the company’s streaming network.
The allegations became more rampant after the release of “Best Seat in The House,” a book by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts. Roberts alleged Layfield bullied him and others regularly, particularly announcers. This behavior and culture was not only tolerated but encouraged by WWE owner Vince McMahon.
ESPN started covering WWE regularly last year, launching its own pro wrestling section on its website, and with a weekly SportsCenter segment by ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman, a former WWE announcer himself.
ESPN has been questioned for its involvement with WWE, especially its reluctance to cover negative news about the company, almost to the point of sticking to storyline-esque interviews on its programming. The questioning began heating up over the weekend when the story bullying story began to go viral. When asked in a tweet if ESPN would cover the controversy, wrestling journalist Meltzer replied expressing doubt in strong language.
Coachman wasn’t involved in the discussion, but entered the fray anyway with a shot at Meltzer.
In the middle of his argument, Coachman announced he was dropping the weekly WWE segment from SportsCenter. He deleted the Tweet later, then said he had been planning on dropping it for several weeks because of other projects, but his timing seemed suspect. He pointed fans toward ESPN’s vertical for pro wrestling and WWE coverage.
ESPN has drawn ire for its news coverage, often for its abundance of debate shows during the morning hours and conflict of interest of having TV deals with the companies it covers. The network dropped a planned fictional show based on a pro football team after criticism from the NFL, then later dropped support of a PBS Frontline documentary on accusations the NFL had covered up concussion issues.
WrestleMania 33 is Sunday night, and fans will pack the Amway Arena in Orlando or watch the matches live on the WWE Network. John Cena will be one of the headliners in pro wrestling’s biggest showcase.
Fans all have their favorites, and John Cena certainly ranks high among WWE fans. Recently, Cena made a 12-year-old fan’s dream come true.
At a WWE card in Johnson City, Tennessee, Cena spotted Payton Marion, who has cerebral palsy, and tossed him a T-shirt and wristband, WVLT reported. After the matches, Cena met with Payton and his father, Justin Marion.
“Payton is super excited about all that, all his friends have been aggravating him, calling him a superstar,” Justin Marion told WVLT. “The fact that my son was able to meet one of his heroes, my heart melts, and it was just crazy.”
Justin Marion explained on Reddit that WWE wrestler AJ Styles set up the meeting between Cena and his son.
“He saw us standing around, and asked if we wanted a picture,” Jason Marion said. “Of course we said ‘yes.’ Then he asked if we got to see everyone.”
When Justin Marion said Payton saw everyone but Cena — his favorite wrestler — Styles invited father and son backstage to the locker room.
Cena arrived and chatted with Payton, capping an exciting night for the boy.
Payton Marion said he uses Cena as motivation during his physical therapy.
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