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The presence of Ben Roethlisberger on the Pittsburgh Steelers contributed to Le’Veon Bell‘s desire to leave when the opportunity presented itself.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas, the New York Jets‘ new running back admitted “it was a factor.” He added he wished he shared a “more open, more genuine, more real” partnership with his former quarterback.

“The organization wants to win. (Coach Mike) Tomlin wants to win,” he said. “Ben wants to win – but Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with. Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he’s at this stage where he tries to control everything, and (the team) let him get there. So if I’m mad at a player and I’m not throwing him the ball – if I’m not throwing (Antonio Brown) the ball and I’m giving JuJu (Smith-Schuster) all the shine or Jesse (James) or Vance (McDonald) or whoever it is, and you know consciously you’re making your other receiver mad but you don’t care – it’s hard to win that way.”

Bell sat out the entire 2018 season amid an extended contract dispute. The 27-year-old watched from home as the relationship between Roethlisberger and Brown, one of the top quarterback-receiver tandems in the league, deteriorated.

Brown threw a football at Roethlisberger during practice in Week 17 as their simmering feud reached a boil. The star wideout later accused Roethlisberger of carrying himself with an “owner’s mentality” and lacking accountability.

“When I was there, there were no major problems like that, maybe little things like being on Facebook (in the locker room), being uncomfortable,” Bell said. “I know Ben and AB personally. I know how personalities can get. I can see where things went wrong. A lot of things AB said, it had a lot of truth to it. I’ve had some of those interactions. I don’t react like AB does. AB isn’t the only bad guy in the situation. Ben isn’t the only bad guy, either. It’s not just one person. It ain’t just me. It’s everybody.”

The trio of Bell, Brown, and Ben were known as the “Killer B’s” in Pittsburgh. Despite each player’s individual success with the Steelers, the group never got to a Super Bowl together.

Bell signed a four-year, $52.5-million deal with the Jets in free agency after five seasons with the Steelers.

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If Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to become the NBA’s prime representative, it’ll be on his terms.

Now in his sixth season, the Greek superstar has blossomed into one of the most dominant players in basketball, guiding the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record at 52-18. His 27.5 points per game are also tied for fourth-best this season with LeBron James.

Antetokounmpo’s rapid ascent, combined with the fact James is now well into his mid-30s, has led to suggestions that the 24-year-old will eventually usurp the Los Angeles Lakers star as the undisputed face of the NBA. However, the Greek Freak has some cultural reservations about what that might entail.

“A lot of people say that I can be the face of the league,” Antetokounmpo told Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Lately, people have told me … the closest people, you know, my family, my girlfriend, my mom, my brothers, people say that I cannot be the face of the league because I’m not American, I don’t have the American culture in me.

“I sat back and thought about that. Should I have a little bit more American swag, should I come with a suit to the game, should I be more Americanized? But, man, if I can’t be the face of the league being me, I don’t want to be the face of the league. That’s pretty much it.”

Antetokounmpo was born in Athens to Nigerian parents. Though he announced in February he will play for Greece at this summer’s FIBA Basketball World Cup, he told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears earlier this month he hopes to eventually travel to Nigeria in order to trace his African roots.

“I want to see where my family comes from, where my mom was raised, see my family, see where my dad was raised,” he said. “That is very important. I hope my kids can do the same thing for me.

“Obviously, I am going to have kids that are going to grow up in the U.S., but one day I hope they can go back (to Greece) and visit and see where I grew up, the playground I was playing.”

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Mike Trout is set to own the largest contract in professional sports history.

The Los Angeles Angels and the 27-year-old outfielder are finalizing a record-breaking, 12-year contract worth more than $430 million, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Trout’s new agreement includes a full no-trade clause and no opt-out provisions, sources told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, who reported that because the superstar is still under contract for two more seasons at $33.25 million per year, the arrangement is technically a $363.5-million extension that begins in 2021.

The Angels have been negotiating a new deal with Trout for months, but the parameters were not agreed upon until about 2 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Nightengale added.

Trout’s expected average annual salary in the new deal will best the previous record held by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke ($34.4 million) and his overall contract will top the $330-million deal that Bryce Harper signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on Feb. 28 as the most lucrative in MLB.

Trout, a two-time American League MVP and a seven-time All-Star, owns a career slash line of .307/.416/.573 with 240 home runs and 648 RBIs through 1,065 games.

Since debuting in 2011, he’s accumulated 64.9 WAR, according to FanGraphs, which is tops among all active players and ranks 89th all time.

However, the Angels haven’t taken advantage of Trout’s elite production. They’ve only reached the playoffs once since he joined the team, losing all three games of the 2014 American League Division Series to the Kansas City Royals.

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Florida prosecutors are offering to drop charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others charged with soliciting prostitution in February, as first reported by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal. The Palm Beach state attorney confirmed the news later Tuesday, according to ESPN.

However, the proposed agreement would require Kraft to admit he would have been proven guilty during a trial. He’d also need to complete a course about prostitution, put in 100 hours of community service, be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, and pay $5,000 for each of the two counts of solicitation against him.

Legal experts deem the proposed deal to be unusual, Beaton noted, and have questions regarding how Florida police originally obtained search warrants that resulted in the charges.

Kraft is one of 25 men being charged with solicitation, and police say they have video evidence concerning the men involved. According to court documents, the Patriots owner initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied participating in any illegal activities.

The 77-year-old Kraft’s arraignment is set for March 28. It remains to be seen whether or not he’ll accept the deal, and he could still face punishment from the NFL regardless.

If he does accept the deal, however, the video evidence would likely be sealed under state law.

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All Elite Wrestling Executive Vice Presidents, “The Young Bucks” Matt & Nick Jackson, became the new AAA Tag Team champions after Saturday’s Rey de Reyes (“King of Kings” in English) show in Puebla.

The Lucha Bros, Pentagon and Fenix Jr., successfully defeated Rey Escorpion and El Texano Jr. to win the AAA Tag Team Championships in the main event match, prompting Konnan to come down to the ring and confront the new champions. Suddenly, the lights fade to black and when they’re restored, The Young Bucks were standing in the ring to being an unscheduled match for the AAA Tag Team Titles.

Ultimately, Fenix would be disposed of on the outside of the ring and Penta would be incapacitated with a Meltzer Driver for the three count. The show ended with The Bucks celebrating their new titles with Konnan.

As previously noted, fellow AEW Executive VP, Cody Rhodes, was also present at last night’s AAA Rey de Reyesevent. During his interview segment, Rhodes explained to the AAA audience that it is one of his goals of the ongoing partnership between AEW and AAA to bring performers like Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho to the fans in Mexico.

The Young Bucks and Lucha Bros will collide once again at AEW’s next PPV event, Double Or Nothing, taking place on May 25th from the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. AEW will then hold a charity event for victims of gun violence called, Fight for the Fallen, which takes place on July 13 from Daily’s Place Amphitheater.

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Brock Lesnar could be moving to SmackDown Live to boost ratings for their new Fox TV deal, according to Ringside News.

The current Universal Champion, who makes rare appearances on Monday Night Raw at the moment, is being advertised promoting SmackDown Live. The show is set to start on Fox this October.

This has led to speculation over whether The Beast Incarnate will not only be sticking around in WWE following WrestleMania 35, but transferring to the blue brand and making regular appearances.

Lesnar hasn’t even featured in promotional material for August’s SummerSlam, with some assuming he may be making a return to UFC instead. This development means he could be one of the flagship names used to attract ratings to WWE’s new Friday night SmackDown show which launches in October.

Brock last made an appearance on SmackDown in August 2016, when he attacked Randy Orton prior to their match at SummerSlam.

Nevertheless, with WWE needing a boost in audience to justify their high-profile Fox TV deal, many major stars could be swapping brands in the coming months.

Furthermore, if this rumour is true, Lesnar would presumably no longer be Universal Champion. Seth Rollins is challenging for the belt at WrestleMania 35.

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Russell Wilson is the next superstar quarterback in line for a massive payday as he’s set to enter a contract year, and the Seattle Seahawks might have to make history to keep him in the building.

Asked by Jimmy Fallon if his deal could exceed Aaron Rodgers‘ league-leading $33.5 million per year contract, Wilson said, “There’s a great potential in that. We’ll see what happens … It’s not like it’s gonna make me feel bad.”

Wilson inked a four-year extension worth $21.9 million annually in 2015, but the quarterback market has exploded since then. Eleven passers now average more money per season than the former third-round pick, per Spotrac.

Wilson has been one of the league’s most productive signal-callers since signing his first extension. His passer rating of 101.5 ranks fifth since 2015 and his 124 touchdown passes trails only Tom Brady. He also has 11 game-winning drives and 11 fourth-quarter comebacks over that period.

While the Seahawks are widely expected to give Wilson the contract he desires, there’s been rumblings about a potential trade to the New York Giants. However, the quarterback laughed off the possibility of leaving Seattle.

“I’m not sure the Seahawks are going to let me get away,” Wilson said. “I love Seattle. Seattle’s a special place. I’ve won a Super Bowl there, been to two Super Bowls, multiple playoff games and everyone else.”

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The Calgary Flames were idle on Sunday, but that didn’t stop the team from earning a spot in the postseason.

When the New York Islanders beat the Minnesota Wild, Calgary clinched a playoff berth.

The Flames became the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot.

Calgary boasts the second-best record in the NHL at 44-21-7, and the Flames have posted 95 points through 72 games.

The league-best Tampa Bay Lightning became the first team to clinch on March 9.

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The Cleveland Browns are now the AFC North favorites following the trade for Odell Beckham Jr., an unfamiliar position for a team only one year removed from going 0-16.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has the Browns as +140 favorites to win their division next season, according to ESPN’s Ben Fawkes. The Pittsburgh Steelers trail at +160, and the defending division champion Baltimore Ravens sit at +250.

The Browns last won the AFC North way back in 1989.

“They have the most talented roster in the division and they are the team the public will be looking to bet,” SuperBook director John Murray told Fawkes.

“Multiple big-name stars means public fascination and I think they would’ve won the division last season had they gone with the Kitchens/Mayfield duo from Week 1.”

The Browns are even being mentioned in Super Bowl conversations, and they currently hold 14-1 odds to win Super Bowl LIV.

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Fénix has seen success in numerous promotions around the world, including being one-half of the current ImpactWrestling Tag Team Champions and a former MLW Tag Team Champion. Apart from the past accolades, Fénix will also be teaming with Pentagon Jr. to face The Young Bucks at All Elite Wrestling’s Double Or Nothing event on May 25th from the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

Fénix recently spoke with Wrestling Inc.’s own Nick Hausman as part of our WINCLY Podcast, and there, Fénix talked about the future goals of the Lucha Bros. Fénix believes that exposure online and through various wrestling promotions are key factors in a tag team becoming the face of a company for the first time.

“You’re talking about one important thing – with the buzz and The Lucha Bros, we want to work online. We want to be the Tag Team Champions of the world because nobody, no company, or wrestling show has a tag team as big stars,” Fénix explained. “Just always as singles, always the heavyweight champion is the face of the company. We are working online, we want to change the game. We have started with different styles but we want, at some point, for the face of some company to be a tag team.”

Fénix continues looking toward the future, and he is excited for the ongoing rivalry the Lucha Bros have with The Young Bucks inside of AEW. As skilled as they may be, Fénix made sure to establish that The Bucks aren’t better than the Lucha Bros.

“That’s what we are working on now, and we want to do more big [matches], and the rivalry with The Young Bucks is amazing,” Fénix continued. “Two incredible wrestlers, but not better than us. So, we can show Young Bucks at AEWwhatever these guys want to wrestle with us. We always put 100% of the Lucha Bros in the ring.”

Fénix is also happy to be a part of MLW’s roster, especially after witnessing that numerous lucha libre performers that are included on MLW’s event cards. He thinks that this representation from MLW is proof that the promotion has the utmost faith in the lucha libre style they offer.

“The first time when I was here in MLW, it made me feel incredible. It’s the first company that does a style that mixes the lucha libre and wrestling completely,” Fénix explained. “I think it’s the #1 company with more luchadores with masks. That is the big thing I love about MLW, is the better position of the luchadores. Some people don’t like luchadores, they think that since we come from Mexico, we can do nothing, but MLW believes in us. MLW puts luchadores in good matches and [a] good position, and that’s why MLW is in that position.”

Fénix finds some relief knowing that in a time when stories of deportation and insensitive political comments are so prevalent in our everyday consumption of media, people in pro wrestling continue treating the Lucha Bros well.

“We feel so proud, we feel so happy because every arena, every building, every city, every state we go, I don’t know from where, but Latino people come to watch us,” Fénix said with a chuckle. “And even more incredible is that American people look at us, like, I don’t know. I feel so happy because we are Mexican and the way we have us some racist times…generally, not wrestling, just generally. Because you are Mexican, people look at you different. But in wrestling, it’s so different and now, we have changed all the big things. Because if you’re talking about lucha libre in America, or wrestling, two big Mexicans are in the fu—ng lane, and that makes me so proud.”

Fénix wanted to show his gratitude by thanking every last person that contributes to pro wrestling, even the social media users and the people that set up the chairs before the wrestling matches. Fénix remembers a time when he was the aspiring performer, setting up chair before events.

“I want to say thank you to you, to all the social media, all the fans, all the companies, because it’s just not us wrestlers,” Fénix said. “The business is you, the social media, the crowd, all the fans, the people putting in, the people putting chairs because that’s what I do before. That is all I do before. For that reason, I understand where the start of the business is and where is the end. Because before being a wrestler, before I was Rey Fénix the Mexican, I put chairs in all the shows in Mexico, I put up the ring, I know how to tie ropes. So, I know I need to say thank you to all the people in the business, so, ‘thank you guys.'”

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San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane says he’s received countless well wishes after revealing the death of his unborn daughter, Eva, on Thursday.

“It’s actually been pretty surprising, to be honest. The amount of support and where it’s come from,” Kane told The Mercury News’ Paul Gackle.

“It’s been really nice,” he added. “It’s definitely been helpful. Lots of different players around the league and management have reached out that I don’t even know. It really makes you appreciate how special the hockey community is. It was pretty humbling to have so many people reach out.”

Kane received an outpouring of support from the hockey world and beyond after announcing the tragedy on Twitter, including condolences from Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.

Kane’s teammate Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda had a stillborn son in March 2018. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer and his wife, Susan, lost a child a week before birth in 2002, according to Gackle.

Eva died at 26 weeks.

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Seth Rollins recently spoke to Justin LaBar and opened up on his love for the business of professional wrestling, what he feels Brock Lesnar is notorious for and how those elements will make the match for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania a very intriguing matchup.

It is no secret how much love and respect Rollins shares for the business, and he believes that it is a slap to his face when someone gets into the industry and has no love for it.

“I just have a lot of passion for it and a lot of love for the industry and all that stuff,” Rollins said. “I feel like when people come in and disrespect our industry, it’s like a little bit of a slap in the face to me. I know it’s not that intentional, but it comes off that way. People need to understand this is not something you walk in [to] and you can do it, you’re great at it. It takes years of hard work and sacrifice.”

Rollins’ time and sacrifice will be paying off soon enough. By winning the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble Match earlier this year, he has secured a spot in the main event of WrestleMania in a singles match against the WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, with the red brand’s top prize on the line, which is something that Rollins is prepared to do.

“I’m looking forward to getting in there and, sort of, juxtaposing Lesnar, who’s notoriously in it for himself and in it for the money,” Rollins said. “That’s never been my gig. I’ve never been in it for myself or for the cash.”

This will be the second time that Lesnar and Rollins clash for a world championship in a singles match, with the first time taking place back in July of 2015 at WWE Battleground. Rollins’ reasons for being in the business will be one factor that, he believes, will make this a clash of multiple styles come WrestleMania.

“I’ve just been in it for the love of the industry, and to inspire other people to feel like I did when I was a young kid,” Rollins said. “It will be an interesting clash of styles in more ways than one.”

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Le’Veon Bell has finally put pen to paper on a contract that will allow the two-time All-Pro running back to return to football with the New York Jets.

Speaking on a conference call with Jets media on Thursday night, Bell insisted he has no regrets about his oft-criticized decision to sit out the entire 2018 season rather than sign a second consecutive one-year franchise tag with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I think the decision I made was (one) I’d do all over again. I don’t regret anything that happened. Who can say what would happen? If I go out and play on a one-year franchise tag, if I get hurt would I be in this position today?” Bell said, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.

“The fact that I took last year off, it sucked having to watch football, but at the same time in December and January, it was the best my body felt in my entire life,” he added.

With the freedom to sign with the team of his choosing, Bell said everything seemed to line up for a move to New York.

“When the season ended, the stars kind of aligned for the Jets. It was my favorite team growing up. They needed an RB. Everyone was talking about it. In my head, that’s where I wanted to go,” he said.

Hoping to allay concerns about his playing shape, the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder said he’s been working out five days a week since December and expects to be in football shape for OTAs.

The addition of Bell should bolster a Jets running game that finished 26th in 2018, and it’s expected to do wonders for franchise quarterback Sam Darnold.

“I’m looking forward to being … his security blanket,” Bell said, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

Fall Out Boy takes the stage at American Express All-Star Live at Hammerstein Ballroom broadcast live on TNT to tip-off NBA All-Star 2015

If stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are plotting to join forces in the Big Apple, Charles Barkley is urging them to reconsider.

The Boston Celtics point guard and the Golden State Warriors forward are both likely to turn down their player options for the 2019-20 season and have been incessantly linked with summer moves to the New York Knicks, who will have the cap space to sign two max free agents.

But Barkley, who serves as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” program, told Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina on Tuesday he’d advise both players to stay away.

“You ain’t tough enough to play in New York,” Barkley said of Durant. “I don’t think him or Kyrie are tough enough to play in New York.”

“Kyrie’s a very good player, Kevin’s a great, great player, but I’m not sure they have the mental makeup to play in New York,” Barkey added. “There’s a lot that comes with playing in New York. And those guys are complaining about media asking questions and things like that, maybe New York isn’t for them.”

As Barkley referenced, both players have clashed with the media in the past. In early February, Durant berated reporters after a loss to the San Antonio Spurs after receiving questions about his impending free agency. And in December, he blamed the media for players not wanting to team up with LeBron James due to a “toxic” environment.

Irving’s had his own run-ins with the media this season, including in February when he criticized speculation over a recorded hallway conversation with Durant during All-Star Weekend. The 26-year-old later apologized for his relationship with the media, but Barkley still doesn’t think he or Durant are suited for Gotham.

“New York is a different animal,” he added. “There are certain places everybody can’t play.”

Barkley was an 11-time All-Star as a player who suited up for 16 combined NBA seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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It has been a whirlwind last few months for WWE RAW superstar Roman Reigns. From announcing he had leukemia in October of 2018 to his in-ring return last Sunday at WWE Fastlane, Reigns only had one thing in mind throughout his recovery: His family. Reigns recently spoke to the Los Angeles Times to discuss him being concerned for his daughter throughout his recovery, as well as naysayers believing this diagnosis was not real.

The biggest thing for Reigns was hearing the news directly from him, saying she’s at an age where it’s easy to understand misguided reports online and from fans, as well as what role his wife played.

“I’ve been with my wife since college, so she has been through this whole process with me,” Reigns said. “My big concern was my daughter, who is 11. So she’s right at that age where she’s hearing all those misguided opinions and hearing different things from different people. I thought that as long as she hears it from me, ‘This is what is going on with Dad, and I don’t want you to worry,’ that she would be OK. And she’s been great.”

While Reigns has accomplished pretty much everything there is to do in WWE, including multiple WWE World Heavyweight and Universal Championships combined, the biggest thing for him is protecting his family, but he talked about learning to put himself and his health before other people being okay, especially when it comes to his health.

“It’s hard, because as fathers and providers we want to protect,” Reigns stated. “I’m so used to putting them in front of me and putting everyone first and making sure everything is OK. I learned it’s OK to sometimes put ourselves first when it comes to our health because then we can get healthy and take care of everyone else again.”

Reigns is coming off a victory this past Sunday at WWE Fastlane in a six-man tag team match, reuniting with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose against Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre. It will be interesting to see what Reigns does for WrestleMania, which takes place on Sunday, April 7th.

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Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin reached the 1,000-point mark on Tuesday night, and he couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

“It’s 1,000 points. A crazy number,” Malkin said postgame. “I played in a small city. I never believed that I would play in the NHL and score 1,000 points.

“It’s an amazing night for me. One of the best nights of my life. It’s a special day for my family, my friends. I played hockey all my life. It’s amazing to be here and win against Washington. It’s a special day.”

Malkin’s two assists helped the propel the Penguins to a 5-3 victory over the rival Washington Capitals. Fittingly, the milestone-reaching point came on linemate Phil Kessel‘s third-period goal.

“(Kessel) wanted that,” Malkin said with a huge grin. “We talked before. He said, ‘I hope I score your 1,000th point.’ He’s unbelievable. It’s special for him, too. We’ve played a long time together. It’s a huge goal for him and a huge point for me.”

Despite going just one game without a point entering Tuesday, Malkin was feeling the pressure of reaching the mark.

“The last few weeks I was a little bit nervous,” he said. “It was (coming slowly). Finally, it’s 1,000 and I can breathe normally.”

Head coach Mike Sullivan noticed the tension as well.

“He’s been anxious to reach the milestone, so when he was finally able to get it everybody was excited and thrilled for him,” Sullivan said, according to NBC’s Adam Gretz. “You could see the raw emotion from the players on the ice and on the bench. It’s cool to be a part of that.”

Malkin became the 88th player ever – just the fifth Russian – to reach 1,000 points, all before his 33rd birthday. Not bad for someone who wasn’t considered one of the 100 greatest players of all time.

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The Cleveland Browns are going all-in.

Cleveland traded for New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Tuesday, sources told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

In return, the Giants will receive the Browns’ 2019 first-round pick – No. 17 overall – as well as Cleveland’s second third-round pick in this year’s draft and safety Jabrill Peppers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Beckham’s name has been involved in trade rumors for the better part of two years. That speculation died down after the Giants signed the mercurial receiver to a rich five-year, $90-million extension in August, but reports began anew during this year’s scouting combine.

The Browns have been busy after recording their best season in four years. Since finishing the 2018 campaign at 7-8-1, Cleveland has signed former rushing-title winner Kareem Hunt, agreed to trade guard Kevin Zeitler to the Giants for pass-rusher Olivier Vernon, and reportedly agreed to terms with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson on Tuesday during the free-agent negotiating period.

In trading for Beckham, the Browns are reuniting him with his best friend and former college teammate Jarvis Landry, whom Cleveland traded for almost exactly a year ago.

Beckham became an NFL superstar almost instantly. He won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2014 after a 1,305-yard, 12-touchdown debut season and made international headlines that same year for his spectacular one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys in a nationally televised game.

Beckham became the fastest wideout to eclipse 5,000 career receiving yards since the 1970 merger and eclipsed 1,000 yards in every season except for his injury-shortened 2017.

Trades can’t be made official until the beginning of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Once the transaction goes through, Beckham will join a young offense led by new coach Freddie Kitchens and anchored by quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb.

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Two weeks ago, Batista returned to WWE TV by attacking Ric Flair before his 70th birthday celebration, simply to get the attention of Triple H. On last night’s RAW, Batista returned to have a face-to-face with Triple H about wanting a match at WrestleMania. Triple H would accept, but then let Batista know it would be a No Holds Barred Match.

Over the past year or so, Batista has made it no secret he wanted a return match with WWE, and up until now, wasn’t able to make it happen. Turning 50 this year, he said this would be the last year he’d jump back in the ring, so WWE finally pulled the trigger on a story between himself and his former stablemate.

After the match was made official, actor and star of Arrow, Stephen Amell, posted a tongue-in-cheek tweet about the prospects of a “celebrity angle” taking away from the upcoming WrestleMania card. Amell, who faced similar criticism when he wrestled in the past, wrote, “Just landed and found out about Batista and Triple H — Really pumped for the match but also don’t want to see a celebrity angle detract from an awesome wrestling card.”

Batista didn’t take long to write back, “Considering that celebrity could actually f— someone up, and that celebrity is a former 6x heavyweight champ, and that celebrity is there because he loves it, maybe it just adds to the card. Maybe.”

Amell has had matches in WWE, ROH, and wrestled in a losing effort against Christopher Daniels at last year’s “All In.”

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Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Toronto Maple Leafs star John Tavares chimed in on Monday regarding one of the hottest topics among NHL fans and media – the league’s playoff format.

When asked about the structure, Stamkos used the Lightning’s Atlantic Division rivals as a prime example of the division-based format hurting some of the league’s top teams.

“I don’t think it’s an advantage to Toronto or Boston (who will likely meet in the first round),” Stamkos said, according to the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran. ”What could be the top three teams in the whole league from one division, and have to play that team in the first round – I don’t think that’s right.”

The format doesn’t bode well for Tampa Bay, either, as the team will face the winner of the probable Toronto-Boston series if it advances to the second round. Last season, the Lightning finished atop the Eastern Conference with 113 points and were forced to meet the second-place Bruins in the second round.

“I understand where (the league) is coming from, (from) a marketing perspective, wanting to get some rivalries early on,” Stamkos added, “(but) from a (team) perspective of what you’re grinding 82 games for during a season is to finish as high as you can so you can have an advantage come playoffs.”

Stamkos’ good friend and a Canadian Olympic teammate in Tavares took his usual diplomatic approach on the issue, but did point out that the format impacts one advantage that teams work hard to acquire.

“Mostly, it affects home ice,” Tavares said of potentially starting on the road despite finishing third in the conference. “It’s odd. It’s unusual. At the same time, if you want to get to the ultimate prize, you’ve got to beat some really good teams – the best teams in the league, the best players in the world. Whether that comes early or later on, you’ve got to find a way to do it.”

The Maple Leafs opened last year’s postseason on the road in Boston despite finishing tied with the third-best point total in the Eastern Conference.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are trading star wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick and fifth-round pick, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Brown confirmed he would be heading to Oakland on Twitter.

The 30-year-old will receive a new three-year contract worth $50.125 million, plus $4 million in incentives, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Brown gets $30.125 million of guaranteed money after previously having none.

The acquisition of Brown marks the first major splash made by new Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. Brown will immediately fill a void as Oakland’s No. 1 wideout after the club traded Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys last season for a first-round pick in 2019.

Brown was reportedly on the verge of being traded to the Buffalo Bills earlier this week before he nixed a move to Western New York.

The Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins were among a list of teams who were believed to be interested in Brown’s services at one point this offseason.

Brown has widely been considered the best pass-catcher in football over the past six years, averaging 114 receptions and 1,524 receiving yards per season over that span. He was made available via trade after a well-documented falling out in Pittsburgh, where his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a turn for the worse.

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Manny Machado has earned a reputation he can’t seem to escape.

Following a successful, and controversial, half-season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018, the San Diego Padres‘ new third baseman recently admitted he’s still considered an antihero. And it doesn’t bug him one bit.

“I always will be the villain, no matter what,” Machado told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “I don’t know why. That is just stuff I have to deal with and I have been okay dealing with that situation. That doesn’t bother me.”

Machado garnered criticism during his short stint with the Dodgers after his occasionally reckless and dirty play generated friction with opponents and fans.

The 26-year-old didn’t do himself any favors in October when he made troubling admissions about his hustle, which had the potential to hurt him during free agency.

His comments and antics didn’t stop the Padres from handing him a 10-year, $300-million contract. At the time of the signing, it was the richest free-agent contract ever given to a player.

Machado admitted to Sherman that San Diego wasn’t his first choice, but explained he was pleased with where he ended up. The four-time All-Star also said that despite what people may think of him, he’s not going to change his approach to life or the game of baseball.

“I’m going to play my game and I am going to go down as the player I am,” Machado said. “I can’t control what people think of me. I can’t control any of that. I can only control what I do on the field. I can control how good of a teammate I am. How good of a baseball player I am. I am not going to say that I don’t regret some of the things I have done.

“I have done some pretty dumb things. I am not going to lie. I see the things I have done. And I have done some dumb things. At the same time, I have done things that get blown out of the water and suddenly I am that guy. At the end of the day, I play baseball and I don’t let anything else get in my head.”

 

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Ronda Rousey is mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore.

In latest episode of Rousey’s video blog road diary, Ronda on the Road, the Raw women’s champion’s went on an expletive-ridden rant about going off script this past Monday. Rousey claims to not only go off script, but also doubles down on breaking kayfabe in her promo.

“It wasn’t a promo. [WWE] gave me other things to say I didn’t f***ing say it,” Rousey said. “It’s not a promo. It’s not an act. I’m not going out there and doing their f***ing act anymore, I’m going out there and doing whatever the hell I want. And they can explain it however they want, but f***em. Everybody. WWE Universe included. I meant that I’m going to disrespect the sport that they all love so much. ‘Ohhhh don’t break kayfabe Ronda!’ Wrestling is scripted. It’s made up. It’s not real. None of those b****** can f***ing touch me. The end.”

The origins of this video date back to last week, when Rousey and Lynch went to war on Twitter. During that particular exchange, Rousey brought up the word ‘fake’ and it did not sit well with Lynch.

Not only did Rousey go off on wrestling fans and WWE, earlier in the video she admitted she hasn’t lost sight of Becky Lynch. Rousey brought up Lynch’s real name and then explained why she attacked her on Monday night.

“Becky pissed me off the most recently,” Rousey said. “You know what? I’m not going to even call her Becky. Rebecca Quinn talked s*** about my husband, and I told her I’d beat the f*** out of her next time I saw her. And guess what I beat the f*** out of her, didn’t I? It’s been building up in me since Survivor Series, 100%”

Becky Lynch takes on Charlotte Flair this Sunday at Fastlane. Rousey is advertised to appear at the event.

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The social media feud between RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch has been the talk of much of the wrestling world for several days. One person who chimed in on the feud is former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and Rousey-rival, Miesha Tate. She recently spoke to SiriusXM Busted Open Radio to share her thoughts on the feud.

One of the tweets that stuck out the most was one regarding Lynch’s Disarm-her from the RAW before Survivor Series, which Tate found hilarious.

“This is the funny part where Ronda’s saying to Becky that ‘Hey, your armbar looks like the d–k you wish you had,” Tate said. “Then, Becky hilariously takes Travis Browne’s face and pastes it on to the fist of the arm and says ‘Huh, now that you mention it, it does look like a d–k.”

A former opponent of Rousey at UFC 168 and opposing coach of season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, Tate knows how Rousey must have felt after Lynch sent out the tweet, saying it must have gotten under her skin.

“I know for a fact that burned Ronda’s cookies,” Tate said. “It really, I mean, it got under her skin cause, I know about this, you don’t talk about her family, you don’t talk about this, like even if you’re just joking.”

Tate also discussed how Rousey’s sense of humor regarding that topic is nonexistent.

“She does not have a sense of humor, and therefore, s–t got real. When Ronda called her out by her real name, no Ronda’s pissed and Ronda’s not joking. She’s not playing games, she’s not used to having to play by rules. She never had to before, why is she going to now? She’s already broken the rule with the ‘f’ word, saying some things are fake. She’s not a company woman and she never has been.”

Rousey will find out the status of her RAW Women’s Championship defense at WrestleMania 35, as CharlotteFlair and Becky Lynch will go one-on-one this Sunday at Fastlane. If Lynch wins, she gets added to the current Rousey vs. Flair matchup for the championship at WrestleMania 35.

 

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Legendary Japanese junior heavyweight Jushin Thunder Liger has announced his professional wrestling retirement.

The 54-year-old broke the news during a press conference earlier today, stating that while he plans to keep wrestling all around the world until the day he steps away, he’ll be calling it a day after next year’s New Japan Tokyo Dome shows on 4 and 5 January.

Liger wrestled IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori on yesterday’s NJPW 47th Anniversary card, rolling back the years with an ageless performance that ended in a spirited defeat. He will go down as one of the most influential wrestlers of all time, with his matches against the likes of The Great Sasuke, Shinjiro Otani, and Pegasus kid in the ’90s rightly considered classics.

Debuting in 1984, Liger is a trend-setting junior heavyweight. His first IWGP reign came in 1989, and he has held the belt a further 10 times since then, with his most recent reign ending 19 years ago. American fans may know him for his sporadic WCW appearances in the ’90s, or even the NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn bout he worked with Tyler Breeze in August 2015, though his legacy is such that even those unfamiliar with Japanese wrestling should at least understand his importance.

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PVZ is going to be in SI.

Paige VanZant, the popular UFC fighter, will be featured in Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit Issue, it was announced Thursday by SI on Instagram. Sports Illustrated posted a video of VanZant doing a swimsuit shoot in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. VanZant will be featured under the athletes category of the magazine, which will publish in May.

VanZant, 24, joins Ronda Rousey as the only UFC fighters to be featured in the annual Swimsuit Issue. “12 Gauge” is no stranger to making headlines outside the Octagon. She was on “Dancing With The Stars” two years ago and published an autobiography, “Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life,” last year.

Last week, VanZant announce she had re-fractured her arm after coming back from that same injury earlier this year. She posted Wednesday on Instagram that she’s likely to be out of contact training for a month.

VanZant (8-4) returned from that initial broken arm to beat Rachael Ostovich at UFC Brooklyn back in January. It was the UFC’s first-ever card on ESPN and ESPN+. The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak and got VanZant her first UFC victory in the flyweight division.

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Bryce Harper is wasting no time recruiting a new face to Philadelphia.

The Phillies star let it be known he’s planning to push for Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout to join him in the City of Brotherly Love when (and if) Trout reaches free agency next year.

“If you don’t think I’m going to be calling Mike Trout in 2020 to have him come to Philly, you are crazy,” Harper said during an interview with John Marks and Ike Reese of SportsRadio 94WIP on Tuesday.

Harper went on to explain that his ironclad 13-year deal with the Phillies allows him “to help recruit guys to the organization.”

“For me, I can be able to talk to Trout, or whoever it is, big-name free agent or whoever wants to come to Philly or is thinking about coming to Philly, I can say ‘Hey, this is the place to be. This is where the fans are great, ownership understands it, our manager is awesome.'”

Harper appeared to allude to Trout’s future free agency during his introductory press conference, and on Saturday revealed he even consulted with the Angels star and Philadelphia-area native about life in the city. However, his much more direct comments on Tuesday could be construed as violating MLB’s tampering rules, as Trout’s under contract with Los Angeles through 2020.

MLB has dealt with tampering issues in the past. Last March, a brief controversy erupted after New York Yankees star Aaron Judge told then-Baltimore Orioles infielder Manny Machado he’d “look good in pinstripes.” In 2016, the league warned former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz after he openly pushed for several players still under contract to join Boston.

Trout – a native of Millville, N.J., and a noted fan of the NFL’s Eagles – has been linked to the Phillies throughout his career. He’s refused to discuss his future plans this spring.

The Angels have reportedly considered offering him a 10-year, $350-million contract extension.

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The Vegas Golden Knights won’t participate in Seattle’s expansion draft, raising concerns that other teams could make deals with Vegas in order to work around the protection-list process.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t expect that to occur, but he warned that the league will scrutinize any transactions that might be related.

“I don’t see that happening, they’re just not part of this expansion,” Daly said at Wednesday’s GM meetings, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. “Obviously, we’ll make sure that Vegas isn’t used in the process by other clubs to circumvent the purpose of intent of the expansion draft rules.”

A team could theoretically trade a player to the Golden Knights and recoup some value instead of losing that player to Seattle for nothing or, in a more drastic move, come to an agreement in which Vegas would trade a player back after the expansion draft.

Daly noted that every transaction must be approved by the NHL.

“You can’t park players on Vegas,” Daly said. He added, “There are other things they could do that we might not approve. But I’m not going to create my own hypotheticals. I’ll know it when I see it.”

The Golden Knights are exempt from the Seattle expansion draft, although several general managers told LeBrun that they aren’t happy with that arrangement. Vegas won’t receive a cut of the expansion fee either.

Every other team will have to submit a list of protected players. Depending on its composition, the list can include 11 players (seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie) or nine players (eight skaters, regardless of position, and one goaltender). Seattle’s expansion draft is set for June 2021.

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Three

A kinder, gentler Ryan Kesler graced Vancouver airways this morning.

The day after playing his 1,000th NHL game, the former Canucks centre joined Sportsnet 650’s Satiar Shah and Jawn Jang for a revealing 11-minute interview on Wednesday.

Sounding more mature and retrospective than we’ve ever heard him, the 34-year-old gave a number of heartfelt answers to questions about his time in Vancouver.

And yes, like a number of Canucks fans, 2011 still bothers him.

“[A chance to win the Stanley Cup was] the only thing I wanted,” Kesler said, explaining why he demanded a trade in 2014. “When I left Vancouver, it wasn’t about not liking it there or not liking my teammates.

“After that 2011 year, it affects you mentally, it affects you personally. I remember coming to the rink the next year and walking into [Rogers Arena] and all the memories just come back to you. It was hard walking into that arena because every time you stepped in, I always get that Game 7 loss back into my head.”

“I took it really hard. It was something I’ll never forget.”

Once a fan favourite, Kesler has been one of the most hated NHL players in Vancouver since he forced a trade out of town. Armed with a no-trade clause, he reportedly strong-armed the Canucks, giving GM Jim Benning just two teams that he would be willing to go to.

Fans were pissed, and have let him know it ever since.

“I get why fans were mad at me – or are mad at me,” he said, correcting himself. “Trust me, I hear the boos.”

Kesler has been criticized for a lot in his career, and the way he left the Canucks left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths. But something nobody could ever question was his will to win. Kesler gave his all for the Canucks on the ice, and the former Selke Trophy winner says it was his desire to win that drove him to leave.

He just couldn’t get 2011 out of his head.

“It’s tough. I get it as a fan when one of your players leaves the organization, but I knew which way the Canucks were going.

“I got a taste in 2011. I needed another chance. My career probably would have been unfulfilled if I didn’t give myself at least another crack. We had two cracks at the Western Conference Finals and we fell short both times.”

The Ducks blew a 3-2 series lead to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Western Conference Final, going on to lose Game 6 and 7 during Kesler’s first season in Anaheim. Two years later, the Ducks came close again, losing in the Conference Final to the Nashville Predators in six games.

“I really cherish the time I had in Vancouver. Looking back at the teammates and the fans and the time that I had there, it was an unbelievable ride and I was thankful to have the chance to play in a Canadian market with passionate fans.”

After 15 NHL seasons, Kesler is now a shadow of his former self. Injuries and mileage have taken their toll, to the point where Kesler has just 13 goals and 22 points in 103 games spread over the past two seasons.

Poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2012, the Ducks are past their prime as well.

As close as the Ducks came in 2015 and 2017, Kesler never got as close to glory as he did in Vancouver with the Canucks in 2011 – just one win away from lifting the Stanley Cup.

After a thousand games and in the twilight of his career, Kesler appears ready to look back at his time in Vancouver more fondly. He even mentioned the Canucks on Twitter for the first time in over seven years.

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“You can look back now at the (2010-11) season and just reminisce about how good our team was… The fact that we didn’t win is crazy to me.

“It still sticks with me to this point.”

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MLS commissioner Don Garber on Sunday refuted reports of the presence of white nationalists and far-right extremists at New York City FC matches.

Garber answered questions during halftime of D.C. United’s tilt against Atlanta United about a report by freelancer Robert Silverman in the Huffington Post alleging the routine attendance of fans affiliated with far-right groups at NYCFC home matches.

“We have strong relationships through our clubs with our supporters, and the issue that I read about in the Huffington Post is not behavior that’s taking place in our stadiums,” Garber told Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s the view that some fans have about other fans. And our job is not to judge and profile any fan. It is to manage how our fans are both interacting with each other, and how they’re behaving at our stadiums.

“So, at this point, that’s how we’re going to address the situation. The last thing this league is going to do is start getting into profiling who people are and what their backgrounds are. That is a slippery slope that is not something that we’re going to engage in,” Garber added.

The Huffington Post reported earlier this week that several NYCFC fans have reached out to members of the club’s front office expressing concern about the presence of white nationalist supporters at home matches. According to emails obtained by the Huffington Post, the team admitted in 2015 it was aware of the issue.

According to the report, NYCFC supporter Irvin “Irv” Antillon is among a group of fans connected to far-right and white nationalist organizations. Antillion was present in Charlottesville, Va., for the Unite the Right rally and was a member of the militant wing of chauvinist group Proud Boys.

Antillon was charged with four counts of assault and riot in the second degree following an Oct. 12 melee, during which Proud Boys members attacked protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City.

“I can assure you that if anybody is misbehaving, regardless of what their backgrounds are, and regardless of what their political affiliations are, there will be a zero tolerance policy that we will continue to enforce,” Garber added.

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Luke Perry, the father of AEW’s Jungle Boy (Jack Perry) and star of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Riverdale, has passed away at 52, according to TMZ.

Earlier this week, Perry suffered a massive stroke from which he was unable to recover from. Perry was surrounded by his family when he passed this morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California.

AEW has already commented on his passing, writing, “We are saddened to learn that Luke Perry, father of AEW’s Jungle Boy has passed away at the age of 52, and our thoughts are with the Perry family.”

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Detroit Red Wings legend and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Ted Lindsay has died at age 93.

Lindsay spent all but three seasons of his 17-year career donning the red and white. In 1,068 career regular-season games he recorded 851 points.

He added 96 more points in 133 postseason games while winning four Stanley Cups. In 1950 he began the tradition of skating around the ice with the cup after winning.

“Terrible Ted” was a nine-time All Star and took home the Art Ross Trophy in 1949-50. He was named to the “100 Greatest NHL Players” list in 2017.

His legacy lives on through the Ted Lindsay Award, which is handed out annually to the most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players’ Association. In what is perhaps his most lasting impact, Lindsay was integral in helping form the NHLPA in the late 1950s.

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The NHL Alumni Association has signed an agreement with Canadian cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation, alumni executive director Glenn Healy announced Saturday, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Canopy Growth will finance a blind randomized study involving 100 retired players in the Toronto area, which will attempt to determine whether cannabinoids can help former players quit opioids, a source told TSN’s Rick Westhead. If the results are encouraging, Canopy Growth will fund a subsequent study with more subjects.

“This is a crystallizing moment,” neurosurgeon Dr. Amin Kassam told Westhead. “We’re going to be using high-resolution imaging, biomarkers, ocular, vestibular testing. We have a big need, the right agenda and the right people.

“The NHL alumni are willing to commit their privacy and their souls to help others in the community and I think Canopy is the real deal when it comes to the medical science. They have the science. Their facility at Smiths Falls is best in class. It’s as good a bio laboratory as you’ll find in the world. They are not growing weed in the backyard.”

Healy will provide Dr. Kassam with the names and contact information of retired NHLers residing in Toronto in the coming weeks. From there, Dr. Kassam and his research team will determine which interested former players are appropriate candidates for the study.

“We hear plenty of anecdotes from athletes about how cannabinoids are helping them, but we don’t have any good robust data to prove that and we’re addressing this with a credible partner,” Canopy Growth chief medical officer Dr. Mark Ware said.

Of the expected 100 participants, 80 would be given CBD pills while 20 receive a placebo. Neither the doctors nor the subjects will know which participants receive which pills until after the study.

CBD comes from the cannabis plant but doesn’t possess THC, the ingredient that gets users “high.” It has been used to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and inflammation.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown isn’t done talking about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

During an appearance on HBO’s “The Shop” on Friday, the receiver reiterated that Big Ben has an “owner mentality,” and said the quarterback’s enlarged ego was the final straw during his tenure in Pittsburgh.

“All year dude called me out,” said Brown. “We’d lose a game and he’d be like, ‘AB should have ran a better route.’ That’s the type of guy he is. He feels like he’s the owner. Bro, you threw that s— to the D-line, how the f— am I running a bad route? You need to give me a better ball.”

Brown says he was directed to keep quiet about his issues with Roethlisberger.

“But it’s like in the league, you’re going to have a guy from the team that’ll be like, ‘Boy, you can’t say nothing. I need you to get there like … ‘ But it’s like why I got to be acting?”

The 30-year-old added that there was a disconnect between himself and Roethlisberger.

“I don’t have an ego,” he said. “I’m just trying to win.”

Brown also discussed his absences during practices leading up to a crucial Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which he was benched.

“I’m a little banged up,” Brown said. “So I meet with coach Tomlin and I’m telling him, ‘Hey man I’m banged up so I’m gonna need a little time to get right,’ and he was like, ‘If you’re banged up, you can just go home,’ like you ain’t even gotta be here, so I’m like ‘Damn, that’s where we’re at?’

“I’m going to war for these guys, putting my life on the line but it’s an unknown when it comes to me just like right now with the write-ups. They control the narrative. We ain’t standing on good foundation, and they can just paint you any kind of way. That’s the thing people don’t know, it’s kind of a controlled environment to where they can kind of determine if they want to let me eat or not.”

The seven-time Pro Bowler is on the trading block, and the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins are reportedly expressing the most interest.

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As fans saw on Tuesday night, the WWE Championship match at the upcoming Fastlane pay-per-view in Cleveland, Ohio saw a change in opponent for Daniel Bryan. Vince McMahon announced that Kofi Kingston will be replaced by the returning Kevin Owens during the contract signing during SmackDown LIVE.

Kingston took to Twitter today and share his thoughts on the change in plans for him, saying that he needed to take a few days to process what had happened. The tweet reads:

“I needed to take a couple days to process what had actually happened. Shock, sadness, emptiness, frustration, anger, confusion are but a few feelings on a roller coaster of emotions.

“My entire career, has been a series of ups and downs, starts and stops. I really shouldn’t be surprised, but this one hurt. We came so close. And I say ‘we’ because this journey has been bigger than just me. It’s Woods’ journey, it’s E’s journey, it’s every one of you who has followed and supported my career for the past 11 years.

“To have it all stripped away so suddenly is painful, to put it mildly. I appreciate you all more than you know and I thank you all for your love and support. Mark my words: We will be back. The journey will not end here.”

As noted earlier, the planned WWE Championship match between Kingston and Bryan will now see Kevin Owens challenging WWE Champion Daniel Bryan for the title. The pay-per-view takes place on March 10 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on the WWE Network.

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On this week’s RAW, Ronda Rousey demanded to speak with Vince McMahon about pulling Becky Lynch out of her WrestleMania match and replacing her with Charlotte.

Stephanie McMahon would come to the ring to talk Rousey down, Rousey would eventually tell Stephanie that Vince needs to make “the right decision” and left the WWE RAW Women’s Championship in the ring.

In her latest Ronda on the Road, Rousey was asked about what she would do next after leaving the title behind. She said ultimately if she’s not happy, leaving WWE is not a problem for her.

“The thing is, I love this job,” Rousey said. “I really love this job. But I don’t need it at all. Not in the least little bit. So, the second I’m not happy, I reserve the right to walk out the door and live happily ever after with the love of my life. And, The Authority—so they are called in this company—are just used to bullying everyone around. And like I said, they give them just enough for them to live a lavish lifestyle, but still have to come back. I don’t.”

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Unlike Don Cherry and Brian Burke, Gary Bettman doesn’t have a problem with the Carolina Hurricanes‘ post-win “storm surge” performances.

“I happened to talk to some of the players this morning about it, and we had a fun conversation,” the NHL commissioner said Tuesday prior to the Hurricanes’ win over the Los Angeles Kings, according to the club’s senior web producer, Michael Smith.

“The players enjoy doing it,” Bettman continued. “That’s important. The fans enjoy seeing it. To me, that’s the most important element as to what goes on after a game when there’s a win.”

The commissioner then specifically mentioned Cherry, the “Hockey Night in Canada” pundit who called the players “a bunch of jerks” earlier this month.

“I consider Don Cherry a friend, and I respect him, but we can agree to disagree on certain things,” Bettman said. “The fact is, how fanbases connect with our game evolves over time. What might work in an Original Six city might not work in a city or market that’s newer to the game.

“Think back to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on opening night and (mascot) Wild Wing propelling from the rafters. People said, ‘Oh, my. How could you do that?’ Think about Nashville with the chants and rituals they have and involving country music. That’s different. Think about what goes on now in Las Vegas. What each team does to connect with its fans is going to be tailored for their fans and their market. As long as the people involved are feeling good about (it), then who’s to complain?”

The Hurricanes have performed many unique victory celebrations this season, including a mimed walk-off home run, a limbo contest, bowling, and a game of duck, duck, goose. They projected “bunch of jerks” onto the ice following Tuesday night’s win over the Kings.

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AEW founder and creator Tony Khan was recently a guest on Talk Is Jericho. Among many other things, Khan talked about how AEW is good for the professional wrestling industry as a whole and how he wants to usher in an era in professional wrestling that is exciting akin to The Attitude Era. Additionally, Khan talked about whether AEW will be direct competition for WWE and Khan’s admiration for WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Finally, Khan talked about wanting AEW to offer high production values.

According to Khan, the existence of AEW is good for the professional wrestling business as a whole, including fans, performers, and other promotions.

“It’s just going to be better for everybody! It’ll be better for the wrestlers, it’ll be much better for the wrestling fans, and it’ll be better for the companies,” Khan predicted. “I think it’s going to be great for us getting started, but I think it’s just going to be good for everybody because it’s just going to be a much more interesting time to be a fan of wrestling.”

Khan divulged that there is such nostalgia for The Attitude Era and the young billionaire wants pro wrestling fans to feel the same way again. Khan professed that there is more pro wrestling to consume nowadays, but there was more high quality, well-produced pro wrestling 20 years ago.

“Today there are still numerous podcasts and articles written about this era that [has] been gone for 18 years now and we relive it week-by-week all the time. And there’s just something about it. I’m not saying this is going to be that, or we’re trying to do that, or copy that. I just want people to feel that way again. And it doesn’t have to be exactly the same, and it doesn’t have to be because shows are on at the same time of the night. If anything, put more shows on more nights of the week, so there’s more wrestling for people to watch. And that’s the great thing about now. I mean, there is a lot of wrestling to watch now, but no, there’s not as much well-well-produced, high quality wrestling now as there was 20 years ago. That’s a problem and that’s something we’re going to do something about.” Khan added, “so yeah, I think there’s going to be a return of exciting wrestling with top stars and great production.”

During the podcast, Khan shared that AEW is not trying to be direct competition to WWE, nor is it AEW’s intention to enter all of WWE’s existing revenue streams.

“Am I saying our goal is to have all of those revenue streams in place where it’s a true, legitimate competition? No! I think what I’m saying is that when you’re trying to produce the best possible show you can, when you’re trying to get a production team together, when you’re trying to get top networks interested in your product, yeah, having stars like Chris Jericho and having the top up-and-coming stars like The Elite, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Cody, it gets people really, really excited.” Khan continued, “it gets people fired up.”

Khan admitted that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon is one of his idols in business and that Khan has been a lifelong fan of WWE. Moreover, Khan noted that AEW is not at war with WWE.

“Vince McMahon is one of my all time idols in terms of building a brand and sustaining a great company,” Khan acknowledged. “And some of the greatest matches and stories have been in the World Wrestling Federation and Worldwide Wrestling Federation. So yeah, I’m a lifelong fan of their product, so it’s crazy to think that [Khan is the Vince McMahon of AEW]. I don’t think that is the case [that AEW and WWE are at war].”

Interestingly, Khan indicated that AEW’s television program will be the best pro wrestling show ever for fans who are interested in high production values with an emphasis on in-ring work and a competitive presentation.

“Yeah, there are a couple of wrestling shows out there with very, very good production values in RAW and SmackDown, but I think we’re going to offer something completely different from what they offer, a very, very different kind of product that visually is going to look as good or better in a lot of ways.” Khan said, “but for the kind of wrestling fan that we’re trying to attract, the kind of person that cares about the competition, the quality of the work, and the winner and the loser, then yeah, I believe this will be the best wrestling television show ever.”

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After leaving the New York Islanders for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs this past summer, John Tavares will finally return to Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.

“I grew a lot in my time there and really thankful for the impact a lot of people had on me,” Tavares said on Tuesday, according to TSN’s Mark Masters. “I’m not trying to overthink it. I just try and go out there and be myself and play and help the Maple Leafs.”

Tavares gave the Islanders new life, and his decision to leave cuts deep among fans of a team that hasn’t experienced much success in several decades. The 28-year-old is well aware that he could face an unpleasant greeting.

“Yeah, I mean, you have a sense for what it might be like so whatever it is, it will be, I’ll just try and go out there and try to play,” he said.

Tavares carved out his legacy on Long Island, scoring 272 goals and recording 621 points to rank seventh and fifth, respectively, in franchise history. In 2016, the five-time All-Star led the Islanders to their first playoff-series victory since 1993.

“I really embraced being an Islander,” he said. “I loved it. It was a great place to play. I never didn’t enjoy my time there even when times weren’t going well.

“I did everything I could to just help the team hopefully win a Stanley Cup and unfortunately we weren’t able to do that and I take responsibility, especially being the captain, not doing a good enough job consistently.”

The Mississauga, Ontario native is on pace for career highs in goals and points during his first season with the Maple Leafs.

The Islanders blanked Toronto 4-0 in the first and only meeting between the teams this season, with Tavares recording five shots on goal.

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UFC Hall-of-Famer Matt Hughes is currently embroiled in some controversy. On Tuesday, a TMZ report claimed that the former long-time UFC welterweight champion was issued a restraining order after his wife claimed to have been physically abused since 2017.

Court documents were brought to light, stating that the alleged abuse had been going on while Hughes was recovering from brain injuries resulting from his train collision in June of the aforementioned year.

On Wednesday, Hughes immediately released an official statement via Instagram, denying these claims.

Matt Hughes’ Instagram Statement:

“Since my train accident in June of 2017, my life has been changed forever. Some days have been absolute hell. The challenges and battles that I have faced have been far greater than anything I ever took on in a cage. I am not the same person since my accident, even though, everyday I continue to try to be as normal as someone with a brain injury can be.

I understand that it is not fun to teach a grown man to learn to do everything all over again. I understand that I am a burden to those around me. I understand that I am an inconvenience to my family.

Unfortunately, my marriage was not perfect long before the accident, but NEVER, NEVER, NEVER would I, or have I, physically hurt those who I care about most.

I do not resent those who are trying to hurt me and paint me out to be a monster through these false accusations. I understand now that they are just doing what they need to do in order to rid me of their lives forever so theirs can return to normalcy. I feel awful that my accident turned their world upside-down also.

To those of you who have helped me, supported me, cared for me, and prayed for me- I truly cannot thank you enough. To my supporters who defended me and never believed these untrue, disgraceful reports for a second- thank you.

If there is one silver lining that this accident has revealed, it is the ability to see who my true friends are. To know who are faithful and have never given up on me even when I am at my lowest. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I do not know where I would be without you. Please keep the prayers coming. God knows I need them.”

Hughes was inducted into the UFC Hall-of-Fame in 2010, and subsequently retired three years later. He was once again honored during the UFC St. Louis broadcast in January 2018 after recovering from the accident.

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Mark Giordano may as well be guzzling from the fountain of youth.

The Calgary Flames‘ captain scored the game-winning goal in his team’s Wednesday night win over the New Jersey Devils, earning his 60th point of the season in the process.

With the tally, Giordano became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to record at least 60 points in a season at age 35 or older, reports Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960, citing NHL Public Relations.

Giordano joins Nicklas Lidstrom, Al MacInnis, and Sergei Zubov as the only blue-liners to reach the milestone. Lidstrom and MacInnis – who accomplished the feat four times and two times, respectively – are both enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Giordano’s game-winner propelled the Flames to a season-best seventh straight victory. He has 14 goals and 46 assists on the year.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Minnesota Wild

Monday was a whirlwind day for Mikael Granlund.

The former Minnesota Wild forward was with his fiancee, who was about to give birth to their first child, when he got the call that he had been traded to the Nashville Predators.

“I did talk to him as a father and now a grandfather,” Predators general manager David Poile said, according to Paul Skrbina of the Tennessean. “I didn’t even say anything to him about the trade for five minutes. I told him how important it was for him to take care of his wife and the baby and what a great day this is for he and his family.

“We’ll have more of a hockey conversation with him after the baby born.”

Wild general manager Paul Fenton told reporters he felt bad about the timing of the trade.

The 26-year-old Granlund has 49 points in 63 games this season.

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Source: WrestlingInc.com

Roman Reigns returned to WWE on Monday’s RAW in Atlanta and announced that his leukemia is now in remission. It was his first appearance since announcing his second battle with leukemia and vacating the WWE Universal Championship last October.

While the response to Reigns’ announcement has been overwhelmingly positive, there is a small section of fans that believe the cancer diagnosis was a work.

Kris Griffin, who is a Leukaemia patient and a trustee for Leukaemia Care, wrote about having a similar type of blood cancer as Reigns.

“Roman’s remission appears to be too good to be true. Looking great with all of his hair, five months after diagnosis doesn’t fit in with the traditional narrative of a blood cancer patient. Cancer doesn’t work like that, does it? Actually, yes, some blood cancers do,” Griffin wrote. “I’ve had a similar type of blood cancer to Roman called chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) for 11 years now. I take a small white tablet every morning called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and it puts my leukaemia back in its box on a molecular level. I’ve had bad days where I’ve felt tired or a bit sick but I’ve carried on. I work full time in education and haven’t taken a day off sick through anything related to the leukaemia. It took me about 9 months to reach a haematological level of remission, in that my blood looked OK. It took 6 years to get to a molecular level of remission and now my leukaemia is pretty much undetectable. I’ve never lost my hair and I’ve never had traditional chemotherapy.

“You see where I’m going with this? Roman is an elite athlete and it might surprise you that I’m not. We’ve both fought our leukaemia in our own way and in our own timeframe. But there is one thing that I guarantee will annoy any leukaemia patient who is in remission, that’s someone saying, ‘well, you don’t look sick!’ Right now, that’s happening online. Can’t we celebrate Roman looking great and happy or would we prefer him hooked up to a drip, pushed out in a wheelchair? That’s our traditional view and if our traditional view has been upended, it isn’t a lie.

“The treatment that has given Roman and me our lives back was hailed in 2001 by Time Magazine as the magic bullet for cancer. Times are changing, we’re the trailblazers and millions of people are now living because of that little white tablet. They aren’t having devastating does of chemotherapy and in most cases, after taking the tablet they are able to go to work or smash someone around in a wrestling ring. It’s still not perfect, some people get side effects from the drugs but as the treatment improves, so will the quality of life.”

Griffin also noted that while Reigns’ leukemia is in remission, it can return.

“But, let’s not forget, and Roman knows this all too well, leukaemia can relapse,” Griffin noted. “We’re all living on a knife edge from appointment to appointment. My appointments are six months apart and I still get nervous, I’m sure that I always will. It’s a strange way to live…but it’s better than the alternative.”

Leukaemia Care, a national blood cancer support charity in the U.K. took to Twitter and created a thread to address some of the questions and skepticism. They wrote:

Firstly, incredible news about Roman Reigns. Relapse is a scary reality for all leukaemia patients. Either fear of your cancer returning or having to face treatment for relapse. It’s great to hear some positive news from a leukaemia patient.The tweets we are seeing mainly centre around the idea of what a cancer patient should look like.

“How can he have hair?”
“How can he have not lost weight?”
“Why doesn’t he look like a cancer patient?”

Back to basics. Leukaemia is a cancer. It affects people of all ages. There are four main types of cancer: ALL, AML, CLL and CML. However, there are other types and subtypes. LEUKAEMIA IS COMPLICATED!

The different types are key. Acute leukaemias are aggressive and need aggressive treatment to save a patient. Chronic leukaemias are incurable but treatable.

DON’T FORGET – We do not KNOW what type of leukaemia he has. Therefore, NONE of us are in a position to question his treatment, how he should look etc.

Leukaemia can make you lose weight. Leukaemia can also make you gain weight. There is no one way that leukaemia SHOULD look.

A key example of this is huge @WWE fan and patient advocate @KrisTheScript who has lived with a chronic leukaemia for the past decade. Does he look like a leukaemia patient to you?

A final few thoughts on the psychological impact of leukaemia. Living with or beyond a leukaemia diagnosis is scary. The fear of relapse is always there. Think before you tweet.

We’re more than happy to answer any questions you have about leukaemia/leukemia or point you in the right direction of other information. Don’t be shy, there is no such thing as a silly question

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If Khabib Nurmagomedov’s manager is to be believed, it’s unlikely there will be a rematch between the Russian and Conor McGregor any time soon.

Ali Abdelaziz told TMZ Sports that McGregor is too afraid to step into the Octagon with Nurmagomedov again following his loss at UFC 229.

“Conor McGregor did not ask for the rematch. He don’t want to have nothing to do with the rematch,” Abdelaziz said. “His father don’t want nothing to do with rematch. His mother don’t want nothing to do with rematch. His kids. His wife. The whole country of Ireland. They don’t want to spell the word rematch. They are fear. It’s fear going around Ireland. It’s fear going around the north side of Europe.

“They don’t want to see anything that starts with K. Not the KKK, not Khabib, none of the stuff. Nothing with a K.”

UFC president Dana White believes otherwise, though, telling TMZ Sports in January that he’s confident a rematch will happen at some point in 2019.

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The Oakland Raiders reached an agreement to play the 2019 season at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, pending approval of the board that oversees the stadium, sources told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The deal includes a team option that will allow the Raiders to stay in Oakland for the 2020 season if their stadium in Las Vegas isn’t ready, sources told Rapoport. It also increases the likelihood that free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch returns to play another season for his hometown club, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports.

The Raiders spent days negotiating a new lease with the venue’s officials. The previous one expired 10 days ago, briefly leaving the franchise homeless. The Raiders looked into the possibility of playing in San Francisco or Santa Clara in the event they were unable to strike a deal with the coliseum.

The new lease could be finalized by Wednesday and presented to the board for a vote as early as Friday, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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Arn Anderson’s 18-year WWE affiliation came to an end on Friday, as Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin broke the news that the legendary Four Horseman member had left the company.

A surprising move, given how well liked and respected Anderson is in the wrestling business, and it sounds like the move was far from amicable.

Per Dave Meltzer on a recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Anderson was let go to do “an incident that everyone is pretty much keeping quiet what it was.” It took place at a house show, involved Vince McMahon, “wasn’t handled well,” and Arn took the blame, hence why he is no longer with the company.

Meltzer went on to say that while Anderson had a number of big supporters in WWE management, him and Vince had clashed several times over the years.

WWE have undergone a significant backstage reshuffle in recent weeks, with Anderson departing in tandem with Jeff Jarrett, Chris ‘Abyss’ Parks, Sonjay Dutt, and Bruce Prichard all assuming new roles. Arn had operated as a producer and road agent since WWE’s purchase of WCW in 2001, and shouldn’t be short of suitors if he chooses to remain in the business.

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As one of Vince McMahon’s most trusted and tenured employees and the most complained-about commentator in the wrestling business, few WWE performers are as divisive as lead announcer Michael Cole, who is two years into his third decade as a WWE broadcaster.

Now, there’s an outside chance that Cole is reaching the end of his run as the voice of WWE programming.

Dave Meltzer spoke about this on a recent episode of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, noting that Cole, like Jim Ross before him, is likely nearing the point where Vince McMahon will consider him “too old” for his role, and may not be long before WWE move their go-to play-by-play announcer into a different position.

Tom Phillips was mentioned as a potential successor, but Meltzer’s words shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. There’s no indication that Cole’s announce booth departure is imminent. McMahon loves him, he’s a consummate professional, and he’ll probably remain on WWE screens for years to come.

While Cole moving backstage would be celebrated by some, it’s unlikely to change anything. Overproduction is the problem, not the announcers themselves, and Meltzer rightly noted that Phillips would soon find himself in a similar position should he succeed Cole.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors

As the Pittsburgh Steelers field offers for Antonio Brown, former receiver Hines Ward is chiming in on the team’s dramatic offseason and Ben Roethlisberger‘s role as a veteran.

“Ben is the leader of that team. He’s been there, he’s done that,” Ward said Friday on NFL Total Access, according to Grant Gordon of NFL.com. “I just think he has to take the initiative to kinda do more as a leader. Not just being able to call guys out on his radio show. Take them behind – treat them like, you know we always say we’re a band of brothers – like, pull me to the side, let me know what I can do to get better.

“You don’t have to air it out to the public where everyone can hear. So I just think he needs to do a better job of that.”

It was Roethlisberger’s comments that reportedly caused a rift between him and Brown this past season, leading the receiver to miss Pittsburgh’s Week 17 contest.

General manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this week he has “no problem” with Roethlisberger criticizing his teammates.

Pittsburgh ended its 2018 season with a 9-6-1 record, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Ward, who played eight seasons with Roethlisberger and won two Super Bowls, hopes the franchise can return to its winning ways.

“For the Steelers, just get back to playing football,” he said. “That’s always been our motto, just lining up and kicking tail and that’s what I think, for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they gotta get back to just doing that.”

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Roman Reigns will be appearing on Monday’s WWE RAW from Atlanta to address his battle with leukemia.

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon took to Twitter today to announce the appearance. WWE sent us a statement confirming that Reigns will be live at the State Farm Arena for the appearance.

Vince wrote, “@WWERomanReigns (aka Joe Anoa’i) will address the status of his fight with leukemia this Monday on Raw. #fighter #proud #classy”

Reigns has been off WWE TV since late October 2018 after announcing his second battle with leukemia and relinquishing the WWE Universal Title. Reigns recently filmed scenes for The Rock’s “Hobbs & Shaw” movie in the Fast & Furious franchise, and noted that the support from everyone has him pushing for a return to the ring.

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Vince McMahon has a new “chosen one” in WWE, and her name is Becky Lynch.

This is according to Dave Meltzer. Speaking on a recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, he claimed that ‘The Man,’ not Charlotte Flair, is the company favourite, in response to suggestions that ‘The Queen’ was receiving preferential treatment by being “shoehorned” into the WrestleMania 35 Raw Women’s Title programme.

As evidence, Meltzer cited recent TV booking patterns, with huge portions of Raw, SmackDown, and the Royal Rumble pay-per-view booked to highlight Lynch’s badass babyface character and new anti-authority bent. He added that Vince was “insistent, absolutely insistent” that ‘The Man’ should win the Rumble, and that it took a lot of convincing before he came round to the idea of the Triple Threat.

This is surprising, as Charlotte has always been the presumed company favourite, at least among WWE’s hardcore audience. To hear that Vince himself has taken a shine to Becky’s performances is encouraging. She consistently gets WWE’s strongest crowd reactions, and could well pick up the victory when WWE’s women headline WrestleMania for the first time, making this a rare example of the company’s POV aligning with that of their most dedicated fans.

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According to sources speaking to PW Insider, Kurt Angle is said to be somewhat underwhelmed with WWE’s choice of opponent for his WrestleMania 35 retirement match. The Olympic Hero ‘named’ deposed Raw General Manager Baron Corbin as his end-of-career boss on this past Monday’s episode of Raw, though murmurings emerging from the dressing room suggest he was hoping for someone more high-profile.

At this stage – and despite Kurt’s wife making a since-deleted ‘fourth-wall breaking’ social media post lamenting the choice – it’s understood that Corbin has not been named as misdirection leading into a better opponent, and that the match named is the one expected to go ahead come 7 April.

Further muddying the picture is that WWE have gave their scriptwriters permission to mention dissatisfaction amongst their audience with the pairing as part of their coverage. Obviously, we’re still two weeks out from WrestleMania and the card is always subject to change, but for now, it’s looking like the End of Days for Angle’s end of days.

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft won’t accept a plea deal being offered by Florida prosecutors, a source told CNN’s Kevin Conlon and Jason Carroll, as relayed by Jake Tapper.

The deal would require Kraft to admit he’d be proven guilty in court for soliciting prostitution at a day spa that’s tied to an international human trafficking ring.

The proposal would also require Kraft to do 100 hours of community service and complete a course about prostitution, among other things.

Kraft’s attorneys filed a joint protective order Wednesday along with the other 24 men being charged in an attempt to prevent the release of investigation evidence including video surveillance footage from inside the day spa.

The Patriots owner has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were revealed in late February.

The 77-year-old Kraft’s arraignment is currently set for March 28.

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Since falling to Ronda Rousey at WWE Evolution, Nikki Bella has taken some time off from the ring to work on a variety of other projects.

Nikki hit the red carpet recently where she spoke with Reel Talker about now being part of the entertainment industry and her reaction to Daniel Bryan’s heel turn and new title.

“I love it because there is so much truth to it,” Nikki said of the new Daniel Bryan. “When a character has the foundation of truth of who you are, there is just so much passion and you get invested in the passion and get connected to it. Everything Bryan is saying is how he truly feels. Him changing the title, like what a heel thing to do. It’s hilarious.”

The Bellas don’t always get the credit they deserve for their contributions to the women’s revolution. But Nikki says she still feels proud at the levels that women’s wrestlers have reached and that helps validate the work that she put in.

“It’s like being a proud mom,” Nikki said of the current state of the women’s revolution. “You just watch with such pride and that’s what it makes me feel. All my hard work there meant something and made a change, and continues to make a change.”

Much like her ex, John Cena, Nikki continues to transition over into Hollywood and just being on red carpets like the one she was on gives her a dignified feeling that isn’t always there in a wrestling ring.

“I grew up being in love with the Hollywood starlets. Crossing over more to this world and doing this glam stuff, it gives me this Marilyn Monroe feel. It kinda makes me a little soft and I like it, gives me this grace,” stated Nikki.

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Doc Rivers has put to bed any questions surrounding an offseason departure from the Los Angeles Clippers, telling reporters he and team owner Steve Ballmer have agreed to a contract extension.

“This is a great place to work,” Rivers said, via the L.A. Times’ Dan Woike.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Rivers and Ballmer agreed to a shorter extension last summer that included an opt-out after this season. However, Rivers said Tuesday that’s been replaced with a long-term deal.

“This coach has chosen to stay where he’s at and he’s very happy about that,” Rivers added, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.

Questions about Rivers’ future arose after a weekend report from veteran NBA journalist Peter Vecsey asserted Rivers had an “ardent ambition” to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. Current Lakers coach Luke Walton is widely rumored to be a candidate for termination after the season.

Rivers has coached the Clippers since 2013, compiling an 887-654 record going into Tuesday. He also served as president of basketball operations for three seasons before ceding those duties to Lawrence Frank in 2017.

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The Los Angeles Rams have signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews to a two-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday.

Matthews, who spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Packers, can make up to $16.75 million on his new deal, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports.

The 32-year-old celebrated the move on Twitter.

Matthews is a six-time Pro Bowler and was the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up. He leaves Green Bay ranking first in franchise history in sacks (83.5) and tackles for a loss (121), and second in forced fumbles (15). He recorded 10-plus sacks in four of his seasons with the Packers.

The USC product joins a Rams defense that’s lost safety Lamarcus Joyner and linebacker Mark Barron during free agency, with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also possibly set to depart. Matthews is the second major addition to the Rams’ defense this offseason after the team acquired safety Eric Weddle last week.

Matthews, a Los Angeles native, accumulated 43 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one forced fumble during the 2018 campaign.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar on Wednesday, becoming the first NFL team to employ two full-time female coaches.

Locust will be joining the team as an assistant defensive line coach while Javadifar will be the assistant strength and conditioning coach.

“I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to coach at the highest level of professional football,” said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians in a statement. “Sometimes, all you need is the right organization to offer up the opportunity. The Glazer family and our general manager, Jason Licht, were extremely supportive of my decision, and I know Maral and Lori will be great additions to my coaching staff.

“I have known Lori going back to my days at Temple University and I’ve seen firsthand just how knowledgeable and passionate she is about this game. I was equally impressed with Maral’s background in performance training and physical therapy and I know she will be a valuable asset to our strength and conditioning program.”

Locust most recently served as the defensive line coach for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football. Last year, she spent time with the Baltimore Ravens as a defensive coaching intern. She began her coaching career after playing for four years in a women’s semi-professional league.

Javadifar last worked as a physical therapist. She also played basketball at Pace University in New York.