b20a5780-3126-49a4-bddc-66124721aa4b

Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick will be making a ninth Super Bowl appearance as a tandem at the helm of the New England Patriots after sneaking past the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

The two future Hall of Famers shared a familiar emotional embrace on the field after the win. Brady says the moment was indicative of their relationship.

“We’ve always gotten along great,” Brady said in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Mut and Callahan Show” on Monday, as reported by ESPN. “We’ve worked together for 19 years. So we’ve had the same goals in mind for 19 years. He’s been just a great, great mentor in my life, a great coach. He’s taught me more than anyone ever could about the game of football.

“I’ve always just loved playing here and playing for him. He’s the greatest coach of all time and we’ve just had some incredible moments together.”

The two will be trying to win a sixth championship together when they face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in Atlanta.

It’s the Patriots’ third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl and fourth in five years.

They finished the 2018 regular season atop the AFC East yet again with an 11-5 record, earning their ninth straight first-round bye and a 10th consecutive postseason appearance.

Belichick has been named Coach of the Year three times during the dynastic run while Brady has won three regular-season MVPs and four Super Bowl MVPs.

Advertisements

209f5501-ebd2-477b-a064-7857b4ef10db

As previously noted, Finn Balor was in London, visiting WWE’s new UK Performance Center, and while he was there, he took the time for an interview with Inside The Ropes. Among the topics discussed, Balor went into detail about his LGBTQ-inclusive entrance at WrestleMania 34, and explained how difficult it had been getting his idea approved. Balor later mentions how he’s grateful the entrance was delayed because it ended up being prolonged until WrestleMania season.

As you can see in the tweet below, Balor’s entrance at WrestleMania was plentiful with rainbows, an adopted symbol of the LGBTQ community. Balor entered the arena from the stage as numerous member of the LGBTQ community cheered alongside him. Balor explained that this representation was something he had wanted to do for a long time, however, getting it approved from WWEmanagement was a drawn-out process that hadn’t gained any traction until Stephanie McMahon heard about the idea.

“That was something I honestly believed in for a very long time,” Balor began, “and I had pitched, and pitched, and pitched to a lot of different departments in WWE and it had been shot down, and shot down, and shot down, and it wasn’t until Stephanie [McMahon] got wind of the idea that it all started to fall in to place. It’s easier for a message to come down the line of command than it is to go up the line of command.”

Balor believes that things ultimately worked out for the better, because instead of the entrance premiering somewhere like RAW or a house show, he was able to present it on the grandest platform WWE has to offer – WrestleMania.

“That was something I’ve believed in for a very long time,” Balor explained. “And obviously, the way it worked out, it was perfect timing that it just happened to be the biggest match of my career that I got to launch it. I think it was meant to be, I’m a big believer in the universe and everything kinda working out exactly the way the way it was supposed to be. I’m sure if I had that idea like a year before, it would have been on RAW or a house show, or something, and me doing it at WrestleMania is even cooler.”

 

Arizona Diamondbacks' starting pitcher Curt Schill

Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame bid received backing from the President of the United States on Sunday.

Two days before the Class of 2019 is to be announced, President Donald Trump tweeted his support for Schilling’s candidacy.

Schilling’s Hall of Fame claim has been a story of his career numbers versus his off-field actions since retirement.

The 52-year-old was suspended by ESPN in 2015 after tweeting an image that compared Muslims to Nazis.

In 2016, he was fired as an analyst from ESPN when he shared a Facebook post that many viewed as transphobic.

As of Monday morning, Schilling has appeared on 71.6 percent of ballots, according to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker.

395af349-fc9a-4054-b702-3d4845149c57

Sports Illustrated spoke to Marty Jannetty to discuss the 27th anniversary of The Rockers breaking up on Jan. 12, 1992. The shocking WWE moment happened when his former partner Shawn Michaels delivered the Sweet Chin Music during a segment on Brutus Beefcake’s “Barber Shop.” After that, Michaels threw him through the barbershop window and tore a magazine with a photo of The Rockers in half. Below are highlights from what Jannetty had to say about the moment, the WWE Hall of Fame, and wanting to be an agent.

Reaction that people still remember Shawn Michaels throwing him through the window:

“I was hoping that moment would last six months, let alone 27 years. [Laughs] I can’t believe it’s been so long. I think one of the main reasons that the Barber Shop window moment has lasted 27 years is that it looked real enough to believe it was real. I wouldn’t want to change that.”

87812BF0-93EA-48E8-A4F5-0318241F105A.gif

Watching the fans’ reaction to the segment with Michaels:

“Seeing the look on somebody’s face when they get it, especially when the kids really get the psychology part, is really special. Anybody can do the moves, but it’s a lot harder to understand the psychology behind it. That’s a thrill for me.”

If he’s interested in being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame:

“I would be grateful for that opportunity. I would be honored. That makes a big difference in the wrestling world. I would also love to do some work as an agent. The young guys, they’re already great as it is, but you can never get too much experience or wisdom, especially on the psychology end.”

You can read more about the moment and Jannetty’s thoughts here.

a43b6040-588b-43e4-bbfc-dd40153e606a

New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist made history on Saturday night when he recorded his 446th career win in a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, passing Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk on the NHL’s all-time wins list.

Lundqvist now ranks sixth all-time.

Lundqvist achieved the feat in his 840th start, and he can move ahead of Curtis Joseph and into the top five with 10 more victories.

427f8b8f-1997-46be-ac59-854f51f13319

Vince McMahon announced the XFL’s unexpected return to widespread shock and disbelief in 2018, and while the controversial football league isn’t set to restart until February 2020, new details have emerged on how much the WWE Chairman intends on paying his top stars.

Per Dave Meltzer in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the XFL will fork out up to $300,000 per annum for the league’s quarterbacks.

The organisation will look to attract “eight high-profile QBs” (one for each of the announced host cities) before long, and hope to have them, along with every head coach, signed by March’s end. The idea is that this will give the XFL 10 full months to advertise and get ready for the upcoming season.

As expected, this number is but a fraction of what a top NFL QB can earn, with Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers pocketing a salary of $66.9 million in 2018. Therefore, it remains to be seen how McMahon’s group will compete with the world’s top American football league.

The XFL’s previous run was an unmitigated disaster. Whether the revival succeeds where it failed remains to be seen, but at least McMahon has a plan in place.

814e73a5-1748-4e2b-b7b3-ee269959fdca

The 2018 World Series champions’ trip to the White House could become the next casualty of the United States government shutdown.

The Boston Red Sox are scheduled to celebrate their title by visiting president Donald Trump on Feb. 15, but the continued shutdown has left those plans up in the air, members of the team’s ownership said Friday.

“It’s something we’ll be watching,” principal owner John Henry said of the shutdown, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. “It would be tough.”

Added chairman Tom Werner: “It’s our intention to go … But, as John said, it’s awkward if there’s a shutdown.”

Word of the Red Sox potentially reconsidering their trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue comes just a few days after manager Alex Cora hinted he’s considering skipping the visit. Cora, a native of Puerto Rico, has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s response to the hurricanes that have devastated his homeland since 2017.

“We’ll see what happens,” Cora said Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “If I go, I’ll represent Puerto Rico the right way.”

Both Henry and Kennedy said the Red Sox will allow individuals to decide whether or not they’ll attend the White House ceremony, in the event it happens. Although several players have publicly stated they’ll take part, a few unidentified members of the team are planning to skip the ceremony, Abraham reports.

Despite the ongoing shutdown, Trump hosted the NCAA football champion Clemson Tigers at the White House this week.

852c6082-bafc-41e3-827b-716ccdcc8ae8

Bill Belichick may be one of the most revered and accomplished NFL coaches of all-time, but he still gets anxious before games.

Belichick admitted as much Friday, as the New England Patriots prepare to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

“Just let me know the ones that don’t matter, I’ll make sure I don’t get excited for those,” Belichick said, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Nervous? Sure. You want to go out there and do well. There’s an anxiety.

“We all have things in the game that we have to do. You want to perform them well, not let your team down, because everyone is counting on you to do your job, and you’re counting on everybody else to do theirs.”

The Patriots are entering their eighth consecutive AFC title game, an unparalleled feat, with Belichick and Tom Brady squaring off against Andy Reid and second-year standout quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the likely NFL MVP.

Although Belichick has accomplished everything you could dream of, and then some, it’s compelling to see that he’s still human like the rest of us.

11345a4f-bf06-42d4-a8c8-9dda21a78ab0

UFC flyweight Rachael Ostovich had just finished an interview for her fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1 when she ran into Greg Hardy.

So much had been written and said about them up to that moment Wednesday. But even before then, Ostovich had already resolved to meet Hardy in person.

“Ever since the article started blowing up, I knew, ‘I have to meet him,’” Ostovich on Thursday told TSN.com. “I have to go and just squash it and get it out of the way.”

Critics have slammed the UFC’s decision to place Ostovich (4-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC), a victim in a recent alleged domestic violence incident, on the same card as Hardy (3-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who carries a conviction for domestic violence, for the promotion’s ESPN debut on Saturday night at Barclays Center. The network repeatedly has declined comment on the situation, while UFC President Dana White has taken an aggressive stance, saying Ostovich’s approval is the only thing that matters.

Ostovich, who faces Paige VanZant (7-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) on the ESPN+1 main card, understands why people are alarmed at the situation. But she won’t let anything get between her fight, and she’s determined not to let headlines define her experience with former NFL standout Hardy, who meets Allen Crowder (9-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in his UFC debut.

“This is a fight,” Ostovich said. “We’re going into a fight Saturday, and we need to make sure we’re not emotionally drained. I just want to make sure my boxes are X’d out, and I’m good to go on Saturday night.

“Speaking with him, I told him, ‘There’s no negative with me and toward you. I know the media can blow things out of proportion, but just to let you know, that’s not my character. I don’t care. I’m actually happy you’re here, and I’m happy you’re making a comeback, and I hope that me and you can work together on different sides and use it for good.’ Show people that, no matter what, you can turn a bad situation into a good one.”

Ostovich previously told MMAjunkie that even while she lay in a hospital bed after her alleged attack, she was determined to remain on the card. Despite suffering a fractured orbital in the alleged attack by her husband, she convinced White to let her face VanZant in what will be her third octagon bout.

“I feel like it’s not only a challenge to myself – fighting in general is one of the most difficult sports not just physically, but mentally all around,” Ostovich told MMAjunkie. “Then I add all of this on me, this extra stuff, it’s really defining. I’m really figuring out and finding out who I am as a person. Hopefully through my life people can get motivated and inspired through it.”

6cba18b1-ca77-4523-9fa5-f46fe5569ddd

Though switching Royal Rumble 2019’s Universal Title match from champion Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman to ‘The Beast Incarnate’ defending against Finn Balor caught many WWE fans by surprise, the move had reportedly been in the works for at least a month, with Vince McMahon concerned about having Strowman lose another big match to Brock.

But this wasn’t the only reason Balor was substituted in. Per Dave Meltzer in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Lesnar handpicked Finn as his own replacement opponent, having had the opportunity to face him at Royal Rumble 2018 pulled away when Vince decided ‘The Demon King’ wasn’t over enough.

It’s expected that Lesnar will carry the Universal Championship into WrestleMania, where he’ll likely defend against Rumble favourite Seth Rollins. This means Balor is almost certainly losing on 27 January, but nonetheless, this is his biggest spotlight since winning the Universal strap at SummerSlam 2016, and that Brock actually wants to wrestle him all but guarantees a great match.

Meltzer also writes that McMahon wants to protect Balor’s ‘Demon’ alter ego, so don’t expect to see the Irishman don his trademark bodypaint for the bout. A shame, but logical.

d6ed2784-197d-4916-8a51-ad1d81ca7fcb

Award-winning songstress and Atlanta native Gladys Knight is defending her upcoming appearance at Super Bowl LIII, releasing a statement in response to Variety on Friday.

Knight’s been tabbed as the national anthem singer for the game and faced criticism for participating despite former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests of racial injustice during the national anthem in 2016. Variety asked Knight to comment on the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice. It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone,” Knight said Friday.

“I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good – I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”

Multiple recording artists reportedly declined invitations to participate in the Super Bowl halftime show as a show of support to Kaepernick.

“No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” the 74-year-old Knight said. “I pray that this national anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us.”

d2076e20-453b-4992-9e20-ff9ef936a770

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft didn’t hold back when reflecting on the talent of his starting quarterback Tom Brady, who’s brought the franchise five Super Bowls over a wildly successful 19-year career.

“Definitely the greatest player of all time – not just quarterback in my opinion,” Kraft said of Brady in an interview with ESPN. “Because he’s such a leader in the locker room. For someone double the age of some of the players to be able to lead like that, and connect like that, and have the work ethic that he has, and at the same time so pleasant to be around – I’m really the luckiest guy in the world.”

The Patriots drafted Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Since then, Brady has made eight Super Bowl appearances, holds the record for most games won by a quarterback (207), ranks fourth all time in passing yards (70,514), and sits third all time in passing touchdowns (517).

The quarterback made an impression on Kraft immediately.

“I think of him as that skinny young man coming down the steps of the old stadium with the pizza box and introducing himself to me,” Kraft noted. “I said, ‘I know who you are, you’re Tom Brady from Michigan, our sixth-round draft choice. And he said, ‘And I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.’

“Of course, he was fourth on the depth chart. But I think he sure was right. But the greatest thing about him is he’s the same guy he was then. He’s a genuine person. He’s kind. He’s polite to everyone. He’s a very caring person.”

Should the underdog Patriots defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Brady will have the chance to add to his Super Bowl records of most touchdown passes (18) and passing yards (2,576).

Kraft also showed some love to head coach Bill Belichick, who boasts a 261-123 career head coaching record.

“(Bill) is the GOAT of coaches, just like our quarterback is the GOAT of quarterbacks. And no one can dispute it.”

02cc5cee-3f15-479a-9feb-bbff2511eb14

Sasha Banks spoke with The Independent to promote WWE Royal Rumble and commented on how WWE is taking over the wrestling world right now. Banks was defiant in her belief that the best in-ring talents will always levitate to WWE sooner rather than later.

“It feels like they’re taking over the world of wrestling and it’s a crazy world right now,” Banks said. “I feel like we have everybody, we have all the best people. So it is kind of hard to have competition outside of WWE when we find every top star in the independent [wrestling scene] that you could possibly sign.”

Banks also said she wants to see more main roster Superstars mix it up with the WWE NXT UK Superstars, noting that she was jealous of Finn Balor getting to face Jordan Devlin at NXT UK “Takeover: Blackpool” last weekend.

“Overall as a company and a product, we want to put on the best show possible,” she said. “I was jealous of Finn Balor that he got to wrestle in front of such an amazing crowd… I heard many great things about it. For Raw and Smackdown talent, it would be cool if we got to be involved with NXT UKmore, or involved with NXT so we actually got to go over there. I know for a fact [Raw star] Bayley and I would love to go to NXT UK and scout the talent over there, and get ready for the women’s tag team titles coming up. It would be good to see different opponents, what these athletes can do and what they bring to the table. So it would be cool to intersperse more with NXT, NXT UK and whatever else they want to bring. Maybe NXT China – who knows what else they’re going to do.”

Regarding her Royal Rumble title shot from RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, Banks said she will be the first WWE Superstar to defeat Rousey because she is the best Superstar in the WWE women’s division, adding that she also believes she’s better than almost half of the men’s division, and possibly the greatest Superstar WWE has ever seen.

“I’m The Legit Boss,” Banks said to The Express. “There’s a reason why she called me out and it wasn’t the other way around. There’s a reason that she chose me and I didn’t choose her. I think that should tell you something right there. I’m not scared of Ronda Rousey, that’s the big difference between other opponents and me. I’m not scared. There’s a big reason why I’m not scared, because I didn’t call her out. She called me out. She’s not gonna beat me because I know that in my heart I am better than her. I’m better than every woman in this company, I’m better than almost half the guys in the company as well. I might even be the greatest superstar this company has ever seen. There’s a reason that she called me out and it’s not the other way around.”

cea705ed-1da5-4f5c-a824-a9eb212024d9

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has a Hall of Fame resume after 22 successful seasons with the organization.

The 69-year-old bench boss has led the Spurs to five NBA championships and 19 50-plus win seasons, but could be close to calling it quits.

“I don’t know the answer,” Popovich said when asked about his decision to return next season, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein.

Popovich is still flourishing in his role despite losing Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Kawhi Leonard this past summer. He has surrounded LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan with a group of young shooters and aging veterans, winning 15 of the Spurs’ last 21 games.

If this is Popovich’s last season in the NBA, the legendary bench boss will still be on the sidelines for USA Basketball after committing to coach during the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China and 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He was named as Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement in 2015.

e5dab618-9a8c-41f2-9ce8-1b057ffbbbcc

The Revival’s WWE future is up in the air once more, with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp reporting that company officials fear that Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are on the verge of finishing up with the company.

While there’s no indication that the duo have actually asked for their release (despite intense speculation yesterday), Sapp writes that he was informed WWE sources “have reason to be very fearful that The Revival are done,” and it may relate to undisclosed situation that went down behind the scenes on this week’s WWE Raw.

This is no great surprise. Greatly misused on WWE’s main roster, Dash and Dawson have made little attempt to hide their frustrations on social media, and recently wore tights adorned with “#FTR” (IE: “F*ck The Revival”) on Raw. Regardless, if they do ask to be let go, Vince McMahon is under no obligation to turn them loose, and may choose to retain a tag team that would undoubtedly be a major asset to All Elite Wrestling.

Dash and Dawson defeated the Lucha House Party on this week’s Raw, though the main roster has never presented them as the ‘Top Guys’ they purport to be. Reaching that level in the world’s biggest promotion may be now an impossibility.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving has apparently learned some lessons about leadership over the past week, and as a result, he called an old teammate to make amends.

Irving said that he called LeBron James after last Saturday’s loss to the Orlando Magic and apologized for once being a young player who didn’t properly comprehend the role of a veteran leader, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

“It’s good to reach out for help,” he told the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy.

Irving publicly criticized his younger teammates after the Orlando loss, saying many of them “don’t know what it takes to be a championship-level team.”

“I should have kept it in house,” he said, according to Goodman.

Irving and James had one of the NBA’s more public player divorces in 2017. However, both have said they hold no ill will towards each other.

Irving got the Celtics back on track Wednesday, leading them with 27 points in a 117-108 win over the Toronto Raptors.

ADFE10D2-DFC2-4379-B899-8F3AB2E178C2.jpeg

The Calgary Flames will announce Thursday their plans to retire former captain Jarome Iginla’s No. 12, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

After not suiting up for the 2017-18 campaign, Iginla returned to Calgary last summer to officially announce his retirement following 20 seasons in the NHL.

A first-round pick of the Dallas Stars in 1995, he was traded to the Flames before ever playing an NHL game and was the heart and soul of the franchise for 16 years. He is the club’s all-time leader in games played (1,219), goals (525) and points (1,095).

During his run in Calgary, the winger was a three-time First-Team All-Star, winning two Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies, an Art Ross, and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the players’ association in 2001-02. He led the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 but ultimately lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Iginla also had stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, and Colorado Avalanche to close out his career.

He’ll be the third player to have his number retired by the Flames, joining Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon.

ae26fbaa-61d1-433e-baac-8eace9f06d3e

Jerry Lawler announced on the latest episode of his podcast, ‘Dinner with the King‘, that not only has he signed a fresh two year contract with WWE, but that he’ll be making a surprise comeback with the headset beneath his crown, taking on commentary duties for the Royal Rumble.

Lawler won’t be calling the entire show, but will be offering insight on the eponymous men’s match alongside regular Michael Cole and, for some reason, a returning JBL.

From this, we can only presume the women’s match will have an all-female line-up behind the announce desk, most likely helmed by usual Raw commentator Renee Young.

This past Monday’s episode of Raw, emanating from Lawler’s hometown of Memphis, featured a brief cameo from ‘The King’, when he was spotted backstage emerging from a meeting with Vince McMahon – perhaps a sneaky nod to his newly penned deal.

The new contract, which Lawler revealed comes up for renewal on 10 January every year, was probably a mere formality; the Memphis legend is one of the company’s most tenured employees. He has been with the company since 1992, save for a year’s sabbatical in 2001 when he walked out over the firing of his then-wife Stacy Carter.

8b7b987b-9a0e-4057-ae97-3406a9149494

All Elite Wrestling Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes has suggested that win/loss rankings may be used as part of AEW’s booking philosophy as just one of the way’s the group will attempt to distinguish themselves from WWE’s current output.

Speaking to SEScoops.com, he said, “This is preliminary, but I can tell you that we have talked about rankings and we have talked about records. As a kid, we probably all read Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the different mags where they’d have the rankings. Everything we’d like to do is an effort to engage the audience. Not in a way that insults their intelligence. It is something that’s been discussed. I can’t confirm that we’ll do records, or we’ll do an analytical take on it, but I’ve seen some mock ups for some pretty cool stuff.”

In a detailed discussion on the planning and execution of All Elite, he commented on what he felt separated WWE’s brand of Sports Entertainment from the type he’d like to produce…”When I say sports entertainment, I have a love for the side of the business that skews more towards sports. You find that a lot in New Japan Pro Wrestling, you find that a lot in early 90’s WCW that I am always notoriously raving about, I find it a lot in my father’s product, the same with Bill Watts – it’s more of the sports side of it. Pro wrestling is absolutely sports entertainment but it’s also pro wrestling. I think that’s the direction that we’d like to lean.”

Speaking on the company’s (current) biggest star Chris Jericho, and how to apply his aura to a realistic product. He said, “If you really think about it, somebody like Chris Jericho who just signed with All Elite Wrestling, that’s a really cool record to take a look at. Analytically, it’s a really unique outlook on his career, it’s incredibly impressive. New Japan does it in their own unique way, with Tag League and with G1 and you notice the fans get really into that. They want something they can sink their teeth into. I can’t confirm but we’re definitely looking at records and standings, it’s a very strong possibility.”

“Wrestling to me is very real. There is a side of this world that is artificial that we’re all well aware of that. But it’s a much fairer business (it can be) than people realize. And when I say that, the people that the crowd likes the most. Those are the people that you should invest in. You should never sleep on a moment, you’ve seen it before, a moment that the crowd gets behind somebody. That’s a thing to take note of.”

4a09d6b6-cc50-4c74-a8ef-e4eab39fc459

After being repeatedly referenced on WWE shows for the past few weeks, a brand spanking new set of Women’s Tag Team Championship belts were unveiled on last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw.

Alexa Bliss revealed the shiny new straps during her ‘A Moment of Bliss’ talk show, before declaring that their inaugural champion would be determined within the evil eponymous structure at Elimination Chamber on 17 February.

We don’t yet know which teams will contest for the titles, though do know the battle for the belts will feature three teams from Raw and three teams from SmackDown. Whether the championship will then become solely branded or float between the two shows after this point, is also as yet unknown.

WWE’s last set of Women’s Tag Team Titles were mothballed on 14 February 1989 – almost precisely 30 years to the day the new ones will be up for grabs. The Glamour Girls – Leilani Kai and Judy Martin – were the final holders of the belts, claiming them from the spectacular Jumping Bomb Angels during a show in Saitama, Japan – by countout, oddly enough. The 2019 version of the championship will not continue the lineage of the deactivated ones.

7b0bc928-290a-4d82-b3d9-2f6c49704a8e

We may get the second coming of the Ice Bowl this weekend, 51 years after the original took place.

The National Weather Service projects an arctic blast will hit Kansas City during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots, according to The Associated Press. The temperature is expected to be between 10 degrees Fahrenheit and below zero at kickoff.

The 1967 NFL Championship Game, the original Ice Bowl, pitted the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys, and it was played at 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Sunday’s contest could be the coldest in NFL history, and a Super Bowl berth is on the line.

04da3da3-b660-4f25-886c-dc443fe3a221

Little by little, the Manny Machado sweepstakes are inching toward a conclusion.

The Chicago White Sox have extended an eight-year contract offer to the free-agent infielder, sources told Jeff Passan of ESPN.

The proposed deal is worth $250 million, according to Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital‘s sources.

A longer deal isn’t out of the question, either. The team could offer Machado a 10-year contract if his market remains competitive.

The Philadelphia Phillies reportedly remain engaged with the 26-year-old slugger, and a mystery team is also involved.

The White Sox have been one of the most aggressive suitors for Machado’s services this winter. And while the team has denied any connection, they’ve added Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay, both of whom are close to Machado off the field.

With the New York Yankees presumably out of the running after recently signing Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu, the Phillies have been Chicago’s only public rival on the market since the calendar flipped to 2019.

Both Machado and fellow free agent Bryce Harper are expected to land massive, long-term contracts. Machado is a four-time All-Star and has a career slash line of .282/.335/.487 with 175 home runs, 211 doubles, and 53 stolen bases in 926 games.

b243fb6b-4e60-4bcf-a8b6-655e5ccaa72a

Two-sport collegiate star Kyler Murray announced Monday that he’s declared for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Murray, an outfielder in baseball, was selected ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics in last June’s MLB draft. He signed a contract with Oakland that allowed him to play one final season of college football at Oklahoma before switching to baseball full time.

However, after winning the 2018 Heisman Trophy as a quarterback while leading Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff, Murray informed the A’s that he’ll enter April’s NFL draft and intends to play football, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Murray’s currently projected to be anywhere between a first- and third-round pick in a shallow class for draft-eligible quarterbacks.

The A’s reportedly made a last-ditch effort to convince Murray to choose baseball by offering up more guaranteed money. Team representatives reportedly met with Murray on Sunday.

As part of his contract with the Athletics, Murray received a $4.66-million signing bonus.

be3accf1-7c90-4f4e-97d3-4f5ca00eecf1

We’re getting closer and closer to WrestleMania season which also means we’re getting closer to Hall of Fame season. Every year at this time many fans speculate as to who will be the latest former Superstars to be enshrined into the WWE Hall of Fame.

One name that has constantly popped up in recent years is Chyna, and that was even before she passed away in 2016. The Ninth Wonder of the World was a founding member of Degeneration-X and remains the only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship. Many others, including Chyna’s mother, have vouched for her to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Natalya also joined that chorus during an interview with Kevin Cerrito on Sports 56/87.7 in Memphis.

“I think that one day it will definitely happen,” Natalya said of Chyna going into the Hall of Fame. “She really paved an incredible road for the women of the WWE and she was so unique. If you look back at those great memories of her, she really defined coloring outside the lines and being bold and bright and beautiful.”

The Women’s Evolution had not occurred yet when Chyna was around during the Attitude Era, but she was a revolution in her own right. She was the first female to participate in the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring, and she frequently wrestled, and defeated, men inside the squared circle.

“She was a pioneer for the women’s movement in general,” stated Natalya. “So, I think definitely one day we’ll see it. A lot of people have said, ‘We should have this person in the Hall of Fame. And we should have this person in. And that tag team should be in.’ The thing is that WWE is not going anywhere. WWE is going to be around for a long, long time so everybody, I believe, is going to get their due and I believe Chyna will be one of them.”

It was January of 2018 that WWE first started announcing the newest class for that year’s Hall of Fame ceremony. So, the announcements for this year’s class at WrestleMania 35 should begin shortly. But whether or not Chyna is apart of this year’s class remains to be seen.

7fa7d092-bf99-4374-b73c-eedfc5dc559b

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ chances of retaining their Super Bowl title slipped through their fingers – literally – in Sunday’s divisional-round loss to the New Orleans Saints.

With the Eagles down six points just before the two-minute warning, Nick Foles fired a pass to Alshon Jeffery – only to see it go straight through the receiver’s hands and into the waiting arms of Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore for a game-sealing interception.

“I let my teammates down. I let the city of Philadelphia down. That’s on me. We’ll be back next year for sure,” Jeffery said postgame, according to Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “One play don’t define me. I mean, all of the greats, they have missed game-winning shots. … So it happens. It’s part of football. I just hated the way it happened in the playoffs and it was the final moment.”

Jeffery made several key plays to keep the Eagles in the game, finishing with 82 yards on six catches; Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson lauded the wideout’s impact after the loss.

“It’s hard. I mean, it’s really hard because he’s so down,” Pederson said. “But for me, it’s about staying positive. Listen, he’s made many, many big catches for us this season and he will continue to do that.”

Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson gave a possible explanation for Jeffery’s error, revealing after the game that his teammate played through broken ribs, according to Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal.

73d79b95-6949-4b3b-8ae2-7a1410494d12

The NFL officially announced that Maroon 5 will be the headlining act for the Super Bowl LIII halftime show, and will be joined by hip-hop artists Travis Scott and Big Boi.

Maroon 5 was recently named the biggest musical act of 2018 based on U.S. radio plays, according to Nielsen Music, via Billboard.

The pop-rock act was reportedly having trouble finding co-performers for the halftime show because many fellow artists did not want to associate with the NFL based on its response to Colin Kaepernick’s protests against police brutality.

Super Bowl LIII will be played on Feb. 3 in Atlanta, which is home to a hotbed of hip-hop artists.

0feb91cb-5bb0-445d-9d47-f299e27be6ca

Over the weekend, WWE RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey shared a video on her YouTube page about Sasha Banks being revealed as her Royal Rumble opponent. She also commented about her first match at WrestleMania 34.So below are some highlights:

Sasha Banks being her dream match:

“Everyone always asked me what is my dream match and I always say, Sasha Banks. I think a lot of women have had their best match with Sasha. More people in the women’s division have had their best matches with Sasha, I think more than anyone else in my opinion. I’ve always been really excited about the potential she could really bring out of me. Up until this point, I didn’t think I was ready at the level where I could fully take advantage of the opportunity of being told to have a match with her.”

Her tag match with Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania 34:

“I can’t believe that I had my first match ever, I had no clue what the hell I was doing. I had to perfectly memorize and to walk through every single moment of the match, which was at WrestleMania. I feel like that was a whole person almost you know it’s so crazy. I’ve been completely immersed in this culture and it was like going to a different country and learning a new language. It’s like if you just move to Spain and you don’t speak any Spanish and then eight years later you better know how to speak Spanish.”

Thoughts on her 2019 Royal Rumble match with Sasha Banks, also talks Four Horsewomen:

“I’m super excited! I’m really super excited! When I found out, Oh, I marked out super hard, I did. I was being like, ‘Don’t be a mark on Sasha,’ which I’m totally like a mark on her sometimes. It’s gonna be awesome. … This is my dream match and I’m so excited. One reason why I’m really excited to have a match with Sasha is just there’s so many things that only me and her can be able to do. Very, very small and very, very durable is not a very common combination. There’s certain things with Nia that I can only do with Nia because she’s so much bigger and stronger than me. There’s so many things with Sasha that I will be able to do with her because of how athletic and just knowledgeable of wrestling she is.

“I’m really excited because I’m going to learn so much. I’m just gonna be so much better in the ring for having absorbed everything that I can from her. We’re both faces, you don’t really get to work with each other. I’ve been able to watch her a lot and be in some tag-team matches with her and try to absorb things that way, but it’s different. You learn things different, moving around with somebody.

“I’m excited to see what the promotion for this match is gonna be like. I would really like to bring the Four Horsewomen into the discussion because it needs to be addressed and it hasn’t been, so far. I think it’s a point of contention for all of us and everyone involved is just bursting with things to say. And I think this is finally the time to get some of it out.”

63f0c3b0-c4ba-4889-b2df-846a3c099598

The deadline for Kyler Murray to declare for the NFL draft is fast approaching, and the Oakland Athletics are reportedly attempting to convince their first-round pick to choose baseball, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane is leading the contingent of A’s front office executives trying to persuade Murray not to declare for the NFL draft ahead of the Monday, Jan. 14 deadline.

According to a report earlier this week, the Athletics expect Murray to enter the NFL draft, which is set to take place April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.

After being taken ninth overall by the Athletics in the 2018 MLB Draft, Murray signed a $4.66-million bonus on the condition that the outfield prospect could finish his junior year at Oklahoma. The 21-year-old went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

Under MLB’s previous collective bargaining agreement, which expired following the 2016 season, the A’s would’ve been able to jointly void Murray’s contract and work out a larger deal to dissuade their top selection from leaving. The Chicago Cubs had previously done this with both Jeff Samardzija and Matt Szczur, Baseball America’s JJ Cooper recently explained. Both Samardzija and Szczur were wide receivers for their respective colleges. However, under the new CBA, MLB teams are no longer permitted to circumvent bonus rules.

As a fifth-round pick, Samardzija signed a five-year deal worth up to $16.5 million, far exceeding the typical guaranteed salary for any draft selection. Luke Hochevar, who went first overall that year, earned a $3.5-million signing bonus. A typical fifth-round selection that year was due to receive a signing bonus of less than $200,000.

Murray’s agent, Scott Boras, has continually asserted that his client will attend spring training with the Athletics, which opens in mid-February. The NFL combine, which will be held from Feb. 26 to Mar. 4 in Indianapolis, will conflict with MLB spring training.

e6571949-ecb4-47e5-8786-d772ab02330c

With Saturday marking their first home playoff win in 25 years, the Kansas City Chiefs  are in a position to do something they never have before: win the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

The trophy is named after the late owner of the Chiefs and is awarded annually to the winner of the AFC. Kansas City can bring it home with a win in next Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s something we feel as an organization we should have accomplished in recent history,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, son of Lamar, said after Saturday’s divisional round win over the Indianapolis Colts, according to ESPN’s Adam Teicher.

“Since (head coach Andy Reid) came here, we’ve had a lot of shots. But finally we get a chance to win that AFC championship and to get to do it at home is so special for us.”

Lamar Hunt founded the American Football League in 1960 and moved his Dallas Texans franchise to Kansas City in 1963 to become the Chiefs. He spearheaded the AFL-NFL merger and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. Hunt died in 2006 after battling prostate cancer.

The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship Game for the first time against the New England Patriots.

9384efd1-3ad9-480e-a79c-617d683be752

Becky Lynch appeared on State of Combat to discuss some of WWE’s strange booking, becoming “The Man,” why she hugged Charlotte before Survivor Series, and social media. Here are some of the highlights:

Being told that she should cut a promo against the fans that lifted her to the top as WWE attempted to turn her heel:

“There was a lot going through my head on that day because I come off such a high from the reaction of the night before, from finally saying that I’m doing with this, that I deserve more. And that’s a very freeing feeling because you almost were shackled by friendship for so long. So you say, ‘OK, I’m taking off these chains because the only person bounding me down right now is you—and me by allowing it. And I’m taking it off.’ And then I think everybody thought that I was going to be the bad guy because of that.

“But I don’t think that I was because I think anybody can relate to that person that always wants you to do good but they don’t want you to do better than them ever. And they don’t really want you to succeed—maybe to a level to where you’re content but never where you’re truly happy, never to where you’re truly soaring. And I think everybody has that person who everything comes easy to them, everything is handed to them and there’s no struggle. Unfortunately, that’s not most people. That’s not most people.

“And I went out there and I was going through a lot of stuff, I was questioning a lot of things, and the one thing I did question was—and I could feel it from the fans, too. Because when I said it, I said, ‘Well, when Charlotte [Flair] stole the win from me, you got up and you cheered the new champion. You weren’t that upset, were you?’ And I think people agreed with me. They did stand up and cheer a new champion because she weaseled her way in like a Flair does into a match where she didn’t belong and she did what she does. She’s an opportunist and she stole that opportunity from me.”

Her “enough is enough” moment at SummerSlam:

“I think it’s been progressive. I don’t know that there’s a defining moment. The physical moment was the moment the world saw at SummerSlam, but I think it’s been building for such a long time, it really has. If you go back and you look at any of my interviews backstage or whatever, I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time. I keep getting overlooked. I keep getting taken advantage of and I need to change. I kept saying, ‘I need to change; I need to do something different.’ But I think I didn’t—for lack of a better term—I didn’t have the balls to do it really. I was still stuck in that mindset of, ‘No, let me get along with everybody. Let me do the right thing. Let me not ruffle too many feathers. Let me ruffle a few, but not every one – certainly not my best friend.’

“And then when I realized that was what was holding me down, keeping me back, casting a shadow on me, I was like, ‘Ha-ha, no way. You asked me for advice. You rely on me. And you’re the one [getting a push]? Well that doesn’t sound right. Surely I should be the one since I have the knowledge, I have the ability, I have paid my dues in so many different ways.’ She works hard, but nobody works harder than I do or for as long.”

Becoming “The Man” and exorcising some demons:

“‘The Man’ is a state of mind. What I’m going out there and doing is I’m just telling the truth. I think that’s what people are reacting to, that’s what people are responding to. It’s just the truth that I’m saying; there’s no words of a lie coming out of my mouth whenever I say anything. I’m just stating fact. And unfortunately, they’re not said often enough, and they’re not said loud enough to a large enough arena of people. Now I’m doing it on every single platform that I have. Whether it’s on Twitter, whether it’s on Instagram, whether it’s on a WWE show on RAW or SmackDown, at a pay-per-view, in a backstage interview, whenever I get the chance to come on your show and talk like this, I will stand out there and I will state the facts.”

Whether it’s true that some backstage said her accent was holding her back:

“No. Nobody ever said that … to my face. Ha-ha. Nobody ever said that to my face, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some snake was saying it behind my back. I’ll prove them wrong. I love proving people wrong. It’s one thing to prove people right, and I love doing that, but it’s a whole other [thing] to go out there and prove people wrong.”

Why she hugged Charlotte before Survivor Series:

“… and then I have to watch Charlotte Flair step into my role. And clearly you hug people you don’t like when you’re concussed because I don’t know what I was doing; wouldn’t have ever hugged her in a million years in a sober state. I have to watch her try to be bootleg Becky at Survivor Seriesacting like she’s me, thinking she’s tough, thinking she’s edgy. That woman couldn’t have any edge if she turned into a Rubik’s cube.”

Talking trash on social media:

“That’s where the fun is. That’s where the fun is. You know, the thing is, if you’re going to say anything about me, just prepare that I’m going to come back at you. And if you’re not prepared for that, well then I would advise getting my name out of your mouth.”

Lynch also discussed Vince McMahon’s reaction to her. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.

06519130-77c7-46e0-971d-a4309e253b29

WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a recent guest on the Grind City Wrestling podcast to discuss his “Dirty Details” comedy tour. Roberts discussed his ring psychology, helping the career of DDP, and more. Roberts stated that one of the most important parts of wrestling is paying attention to your audience to see what is working and what is not. He also stressed how important is it to have a story behind a match.

“A match is a wonderful thing if you take care of it and have fun with it, and tell it like a story instead of going out and emptying your gun in all different places and not aiming at anything,” said Roberts. “What are you doing, man? You’re just scatter-shooting. You’re just taking a handful of crap and throwing it up against the wall and seeing what sticks. That doesn’t work for me. I wanna go out there and take those people for a ride. And, the biggest, the hardest thing about doing that is learning to read your audience.

“You gotta go out and read the audience, because they may not be ready to do what you want to do, so you may have to adjust. You may have to change it and go a different direction. But if you don’t go out and read the audience and see what they’re asking for, then you’re just gonna be taken off on a road that nobody’s even watching. So, reading the audience is probably the most important thing.”

In 1996, Roberts was involved in a feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler that incorporated his real-life problems with alcohol abuse. In one segment, Lawler even poured liquid down his throat to further mock Roberts’ alcohol problems. In an August 2017 episode of Dinner with the King, Lawler stated that Roberts allowed WWE to “talk about his personal demons,” but he “didn’t pour real alcohol down Jake’s throat.” Still Roberts felt that, in retrospect, this was one of the worst moments of his career.

“It was ridiculous,” said Roberts. “That was one of the things I’d wish I had never done. The whole idea behind that was really cheap, I thought. I thought it was disgusting, actually. After everything that I’ve been through, then you’re gonna go out there and bring it up in the front, and that’s gonna be your idea? That’s the best the writers can come up with? Come on, give me a break. It was ridiculous, man. Not many times in my career I said no, but that’s one time I should have said no.”

Roberts was also very disapproving of WWE bringing up Jeff Hardy’s alcohol problems during his feud with Samoa Joe, as well as using a recently-deceased Jim Neidhart during Natalya’s feud with Ruby Riott. “How ridiculous is that,” said Roberts.

829f0da1-63ce-4a62-9343-ad8016cc41a9

The Rock took to Twitter this evening and denied the comments on “snowflakes” that the UK’s Daily Star claimed he made, saying the interview was completely fabricated.

Responding to a film critic, Rock wrote, “Hiiii Yolanda, the interview never took place. Completely fabricated. Kindly check out my last response I just posted re the false interview.”

He also wrote the following on Instagram with a video, seen below, explaining how he did not make the comments.

“Settin’ the record straight,” The Rock said. “The interview never happened. Never said those words. 100% false. If I ever had an issue with someone, a group, community or a generation — I’d seek them out, create dialogue and do my best to understand them. Criticizing ain’t my style. I don’t cast stones and we all get to be who we are. #millies #plurals #boomers #TequilaGeneration”

It’s worth noting that The Daily Star’s article, billed as an exclusive, is still live on their website. They falsely claimed that Rock said, “this generation are looking for a reason to be offended… generation snowflake or, whatever you want to call them, are actually putting us backwards.”

Below is Rock’s tweet and full Instagram post denying the comments.

“Earlier today online an interview dropped that apparently was with me where I was insulting and criticizing millennials,” Rock said. “The interview never took place, it never happened. I never said any of those words, [it’s] completely untrue. 100% fabricated! I was quite baffled when I woke up this morning.

“I’ve gained such a great trust and equity with all you guys all around the world over the years, and you know it’s not a real DJ interview if I’m ever insulting a group or a generation or anyone because that’s not me and that’s not who I am and it’s not what we do. So to the millennials, the interview never happened. To the plurals, the baby boomers, the ‘snowflake generation’ – I don’t even know where that term came from… I always encourage empathy, I always encourage growth, but most importantly I encourage everyone to be exactly who they want to be.”

70248645-93bf-49f7-bbe2-5afc03c17397

WrestleMania 35 is still three months away, but it looks like WWE are on the verge of ‘making history’ by having three women face off in the night’s main event for the first time ever.

Per Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, WWE plan on booking Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch as the headliner, presumably for one of the company’s Women’s Championships.

While far from a done deal, Meltzer notes that this is WWE’s “working idea” at the moment. It’s also why the planned Rousey vs. Flair Royal Rumble match was scrapped in favour of Rousey vs. Sasha Banks.

Vince McMahon’s propensity to change his mind means the bout is far from set in stone, and it’s likely that he won’t make a definitive decision on which match goes last until a few days before ‘Mania itself, but with WWE’s women’s division the most exciting thing in the company and Ronda now a bigger draw than Brock Lesnar (per Meltzer), the Triple Threat makes sense as a headliner.

Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins is still expected to be the big men’s match, with ‘The Kingslayer’ pencilled in as this year’s Rumble winner.

f0694c1a-f901-45a2-9667-ada18e0473fe

The Rock spoke out about “snowflakes” in a new interview with The Daily Star.

The former WWE Champion said he applauds how people can “be who they want to be” these days, but he does not approve of the outrage culture and the people who are constantly finding something to be offended by.

“I don’t have to agree with what somebody thinks, who they vote for, what they voted for, what they think, but I will back their right to say or believe it,” Rock said. “That’s democracy. So many good people fought for freedom and equality – but this generation are looking for a reason to be offended. If you are not agreeing with them then they are offended – and that is not what so many great men and women fought for.”

Rock acknowledged that the world has become more tolerant, but he said “Generation Snowflake” is taking us backwards.

“We thankfully now live in a world that has progressed over the last 30 or 40 years,” Rock said. “People can be who they want, be with who they want, and live how they want. That can only be a good thing – but generation snowflake or, whatever you want to call them, are actually putting us backwards.”

5ef05b79-fc1d-4461-be72-79fd12c5ec7f

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s vision for the future of the Canadian Football League is clear.

He wants to make the league international. He wants players from around the globe in CFL uniforms. He wants to sell broadcast rights back to their home countries. He wants Canadian players to participate in overseas leagues for development that might one day lead them back to the CFL.

Yes, all signs point to a very different vision for the future of the CFL, even if not everyone understands exactly how this is going to happen. There remain skeptics, especially among some franchises’ football personnel.

That’s understandable given that coaches and general managers are concerned about winning this coming season, not about some outside-the-box vision to drive the league’s future revenues.

Team owners and presidents were briefed on the international strategy this fall, but for the most part the football personnel remained focused on the 2018 season and largely in the dark about exactly what the league is up to.

That’s why one of the goals of this week’s league meetings in Mont-Tremblant, Que., was to bring the league’s coaches and general managers up to speed on where the league is heading.

That included a presentation on the state of international football, which detailed the extent of growth of the game globally, including where the best players beyond Canada and the U.S. are coming from – places like Brazil, Germany, Japan and Mexico.

CFL teams will begin putting their toes into international waters this weekend with a CFL combine in Mexico City, followed by a draft of players’ rights.

However, the fact that a good number of the league’s general managers and head coaches are taking a pass on this weekend’s venture shows there is still lukewarm enthusiasm for what this all means in the short term, especially since so many questions remain about how this will all be put together.

For instance, it’s unclear exactly how international players will become part of a CFL roster, rosters which right now are constructed of 21 Canadian players, 20 Americans and three quarterbacks (with no designation).

No one is ready to address that question, since anything to do with the ratio falls under collective bargaining with the players’ association, which is expected to begin in February.

But if international players are going to be a significant part of the future of the CFL, then presumably we’re talking about more than just a player or two on a practice roster.

That would likely mean adding roster spots to every team since it is unlikely the players’ association would come on board with a plan that means fewer jobs for Canadians.

But Mexico is just the start.

Later this winter, Ambrosie will host German football officials. The commissioner is also planning a European trip that will include visits to France, Italy and Scandinavia.

Why is all this happening? Well, the driving force behind it all is the same impetus that sent the league down the course of U.S. expansion more than a quarter century ago.

Back then, the CFL’s revenues were flat and there seemed to be limited prospects from revenue sources within Canada to increase them. So the league went in pursuit of American dollars, hoping that establishing a presence with U.S. expansion teams would lead to the pot of gold from U.S. television. Unfortunately, that experiment collapsed before that idea could be realized, although expansion fees did provide the league with a desperately needed short-term cash infusion.

Things aren’t so desperate these days. But there remains the challenge of where the next wave of new dollars will come from.

That’s where Ambrosie’s international strategy comes into play, an idea just as ambitious as U.S. expansion was but substantially less risky, it appears.

Could the CFL turn itself into a league with multiple international broadcast contracts around the world, where fans in other countries follow their countrymen playing the three-down game?

Could the league open itself up to international sponsors and investment?

It all sounds very ambitious and perhaps far-fetched to those who’ve seen the league stub its toe on far less ambitious endeavours.

But this is the path Ambrosie is taking the league down. It’s happening as we speak – even if others can’t see the end result as clearly as he can.

82d71510-7cd6-49bf-83d6-96e99d234539

The Philadelphia 76ers will honor late Hall of Fame big man Moses Malone during their matchup against the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 8, the team announced Friday.

Malone, who powered the team to its most recent title in his first season with the organization, will also have a statue unveiled on the “76ers Legends Walk.”

“He was such a pivotal force in the 76ers’ championship run in 1983, where he earned both NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP honors,” said 76ers president of business operations Chris Heck. “He is an NBA icon, a 76ers all-time great and we’re thrilled to be able to celebrate his accomplishments by retiring his number and unveiling his sculpture on ’76ers Legends Walk’ in February. Our fans deserve to have this special moment to honor and recognize a player who paved the way for so many future 76ers.”

The all-timer, dubbed, “Chairman of the Boards,” first played with the team from 1982-86, averaging 23.9 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and a steal per game, earning All-Star honors each year. Malone later returned to the organization at age 38 for his penultimate season in 1993-94.

In 1998, the Houston Rockets retired his No. 24 jersey that he wore with the team from 1976-82. He was enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

He passed away in 2015 at age 60 due to cardiovascular disease.

50104229-db00-4690-a1f5-30022f80031e

AEW Executive Vice Presidents Cody and The Young Bucks had unheard-of WWE opportunities presented to them just months before forging ahead with All Elite Wrestling’s January launch.

As reported in a typically loaded Wrestling Observer by Dave Meltzer, the trio and fellow Elite member Hangman Page had the red carpet rolled out by WWE but rejected incomparable terms to go it alone with their new venture. Meltzer suggested that the ALL IN stars were offered creative dominance on NXT and the main roster, as well as a WWE Network home for the group’s popular Being The Elite vehicle. He said;

“The problem was the success of All In changed the value structure. Paul Levesque worked hard at getting all four into WWE. Page was offered main roster money to work NXT, where he’d have been pushed as one of its top stars. The Bucks & Cody were offered strong deals. The Bucks deal was for money roughly the same as WWE champion A.J. Styles, which would have also included BTE being made a regular weekly show on the WWE Network, as well as something I’ve never heard WWE concede on, which was a six-month window where they could have left their three-year contract if they wanted and weren’t happy with their push.”

Resisting all those dangled carrots, The Elite steered into public knowledge of said discussions with their BTE storyline centred around a mysterious ‘H’ pursuing their signatures. The payoff saw Matt and Nick Jackson superkick the sledgehammer-wielding figure to all but confirm AEW’s formation. Intriguingly, the storyline didn’t damage their perception within WWE, with Meltzer noting that great relations between the crew and ‘The Game’ during negotiations. He noted that;

“Those who work in WWE with knowledge of the deal were certain they wouldn’t turn it down, and outright told me that they would be debuting at the Rumble, and had a Rumble-to-Mania significant storyline. But they had roughly 12 hours of talks with Levesque – who they heavily praised in how he handled everything – in particular seeing the comedy aspect in the skit they did where they superkicked Kazarian dressed up as him over-and-over in what was the public turning down of the offer on BTE.”

All the usual cliches apply here – nothing is forever and never say never in Wrestling, but these offers may be the best The Elite will ever receive. Turning down such favourable terms reflects both the performers’ powerful faith in the eventual success of AEW, and WWE’s own mindfulness of what kind of threat it potentially presents.

241db2bd-103e-4dc1-b4a1-fda53f8bb882

Yesterday brought news that the emergence of All Elite Wrestling has turned many a disenfranchised WWE talent’s head, with several considering talking to the upstart promotion towards the end of their current contracts. Now, it looks like AEW are targeting one of the biggest names in the game.

It is anticipated that Cody and The Young Bucks will actively pursue former WWE Champion AJ Styles when his deal expires latest this year, with the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer claiming they’ll offer ‘The Phenomenal One’ similar terms to those that Daniel Bryan enjoys in WWE.

November 2018 brought news that Styles was negotiating a new WWE contract with fewer dates. He’s yet to re-sign with the company, and Meltzer notes that he may be tempted by the reduced AEW schedule, even though it’s yet to be determined.

As one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, AJ would obviously be a huge get for All Elite. He has history working with the Bucks as part of Bullet Club, and would give their company their second major star after Chris Jericho’s signing, though it’d still be a huge surprise to see Styles walk away from the biggest stage in the world.

Mark this one down as speculation for now, but keep an eye on it. Anything is possible in this chaotic labour market.

b608cbd3-2816-4dc9-9c0e-a86361d0bd65

He’s yet to coach a game for the B.C. Lions, but DeVone Claybrooks isn’t worried about having to fill the shoes of legendary head coach Wally Buono.

Buono retired at season’s end, culminating an illustrious 46-year tenure as a CFL player, coach and executive. Buono, 68, won seven Grey Cups (two as a player, record-tying five as a head coach), four coach-of-the-year honours, 13 West Division titles and the most games (282) in league history.

Enter Claybrooks, a six-foot-three, 300-pound former defensive lineman who earned a Super Bowl ring as a player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in ’02 and two Grey Cups (2014, ’18) as a coach with the Calgary Stampeders.

“It (replacing Buono) has got to be in my head considering I get asked about it every five minutes,” Claybrooks said with a chuckle from Mont. Tremblant, Que., where CFL GMs, presidents and coaches are meeting this week. “The funny thing is everyone asks me, ‘How are you going to fill Wally’s shoes?’

“I’m like, ‘I’m not. Wally wears a 10 1/2 or 11 and I wear a 14.’ At the end of the day he had his journey and steered his car the way he wanted to. I’m driving this car now. I just got an oil change and tuneup and he gave me the keys. I’m going to drive it in the direction I see fit.”

That’s not to say Claybrooks won’t have Buono’s number on speed dial.

“The best part about it is I do have him to lean on if I have questions,” Claybrooks said. “He’s a great man, a great counsellor, a great mentor.

“He’s been very helpful and open. I can’t ask for more.”

Claybrooks, 41, didn’t really celebrate Calgary’s 27-16 Grey Cup win over Ottawa on Nov. 25 in Edmonton. Shortly afterwards, the Stampeders’ defensive co-ordinator interviewed with both Toronto and B.C. before being named Lions head coach Dec. 11.

“My mom was like, ‘Baby, you’ve got to enjoy this for a day or two,'” Claybrooks said. “We had a few drinks and went out for a nice dinner but I think if you get caught looking at the last one you’re not going to win the next one.”

Claybrooks spent seven seasons in Calgary, the last three as defensive co-ordinator. The Stampeders (CFL-best 13-5 record in 2018) have boasted the league’s top defence during Claybrooks’ tenure, last year finishing first in 10 of the league’s 20 defensive categories.

B.C. (9-9) finished fourth in the West Division before losing 48-8 to Hamilton in the East Division semifinal. The Lions’ defence finished tied for the CFL lead in interceptions (21) and sacks (45) and was ranked second against the pass (247.2 yards per game) but was seventh in points (26.3) and rushing yards (113.8) allowed.

Hamilton accumulated 450 offensive yards in its playoff win and registered four sacks, three more than B.C.

“I’ve always believed you start with building a defence,” Lions GM Ed Hervey said. “When you look at teams in the West Division, you have explosive offences in Edmonton and Calgary and you’ve got to be able to stop them before you have an opportunity to play with them.

“It starts there.”

Hervey knew early in his search that Claybrooks was the Lions’ best head-coaching candidate.

“Watching him over the last several years and the success he’s had co-ordinating his defence, that’s the first thing that gets you noticed,” Hervey said. “But it’s also how he handles players, his ability to interact and communicate with them.

“That’s extremely important and sometimes understated in our business. The communication a coach must have with players isn’t primarily Xs and Os but being able to relate on issues outside of football and keep the focus of the room and players.”

Claybrooks had other coaching options — most notably an offer to coach the defensive line of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys — but felt the Lions presented him the best fit.

“What I’ve learned through this journey and in the coaching profession, fit is 99.99 per cent of it,” he said. “I see things the same way Ed and Rick (Lions president Rick LeLacheur) do.

“We understand this is how we want to build our team and put this product on the field. We all see it the same way.”

Claybrooks said being a former player has helped him as a coach.

“When a player tells me on the second day of training camp he might need a vet day, I can be like, ‘Well, I’m 300 pounds and it took me seven days to get a vet day so therefore I know you’re over here trying to play this game with me.'” he said. “I’ve still got grass on my cleats. It might be brown and a little dead but it’s still grass.

“Players don’t do grey, they do black and white. If they ask you something, they might not like the answer but they’ll respect you more when you’re honest with them. And their buy-in will be even more and you’ve got to understand that as a coach.”

Make no mistake, Claybrooks is honest — sometimes brutally — with players.

“Don’t ask me a question if you don’t want to know the true answer,” he said. “Don’t ask me, ‘How am I playing?’ because you wouldn’t do that if you were playing great, right?

“So when I say, ‘You’re playing badly and need to pick it up,’ you can look at me and know, ‘At least he’s being honest because I know I was playing bad.'”

Claybrooks won’t have to wait long to face Calgary. The Lions visit McMahon Stadium on June 19.

“It won’t be tough or awkward at all because they (president/GM John Hufnagel, head coach Dave Dickenson) are like my mentors and best friends,” Claybrooks said. “It wasn’t like I snuck out or left on bad terms.

“I had Huf’s blessing, I had Dave’s blessing, they were very helpful throughout the process. It’s actually going to be exciting to match wits with guys you’ve co-ordinated and gameplanned with over the years while testing and understanding yourself as well.”

80dc5d29-1763-400e-9abc-bd79de68e0b5

Tim Tebow is officially off the market.

The quarterback-turned-professional baseball player announced his engagement to Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, winner of the 2017 Miss Universe pageant, Thursday on Instagram.

People Magazine shared more details about the engagement, which took place at the Tebow family’s farm outside Jacksonville.

The couple strolled along the property, and stopped next to a small lake, where Tebow had installed an arbor and a specially made bench that was engraved with the date the couple first met.

For about five minutes, Tebow and Nel-Peters talked about their relationship and its future in hushed tones before Tebow, 31, dropped to one knee. “Demi Leigh Nel-Peters, I love you,” he said. “Demi Leigh Nel-Peters, will you marry me?”

As Nel-Peters said yes, Tebow slipped a 7.25-carat solitaire ring on her finger. “This ring is internally flawless,” he said. “Just like you.”

The couple confirmed their relationship in July.

7f06e1c5-f386-48bd-9977-2da2cb7a03d1

As noted, All Elite Wrestling’s Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes spoke about the AEW women’s division at Tuesday’s Double Or Nothing rally and said there would be equal pay for the male and female talents.

Brandi added that there will be no sliding scale in AEW as they care about their female wrestlers, adding that Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes agrees with her. She took to Twitter today and clarified those comments on equal pay, noting that not everyone will be paid the exact same salary, regardless of their position.

Rhodes wrote, “Equal pay means equal opportunity regardless of sex. It does not mean that everyone will be paid the exact same salary regardless of their position. It means the gender pay gap does not apply. An entry level woman won’t make less than an entry level man because of her gender.”

b0493ddb-27b6-4278-a58f-44bf0be61c4e

The NHL’s newest franchise will apparently host the league’s midseason showcase in the first decade of its existence.

Seattle’s new team has been promised an All-Star Game within seven years, commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters, including NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika, on Wednesday.

Bettman added that the draft is likely coming sooner than the All-Star Game, and that the team name should be revealed in 2019.

He also said the NHL will have to study the feasibility of an outdoor game there.

Seattle will begin play in 2021-22, one season later than the franchise was originally hoping to enter the league.

9f86e049-174d-4374-9f47-488b494566fd

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling on artists to boycott the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in support of Colin Kaepernick.

Gerald Griggs, vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, told Edward Helmore of The Observer that the group has reached out to the performers who have signed on for the show, asking them to rethink their participation.

“The majority of artists we’ve reached out to are standing in solidarity against the NFL,” Griggs said. “They do not want to be associated because of the protest that was started by Mr. Kaepernick against racial injustice and police brutality.”

Rihanna and Cardi B both reportedly passed on opportunities to perform at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in solidarity with Kaepernick.

Maroon 5 has long been rumored as the headlining act, with Travis Scott as one of their guests, though neither has confirmed their participation. Variety’s Jem Aswad and Shirley Halperin reported in December that Jay-Z is trying to talk Scott out of performing.

“We would implore them to rethink their participation,” Griggs said. “The protest Mr. Kaepernick is making over the number of people killed by law enforcement has not been resolved. We would hope they would use their celebrity status to send that message to an even broader audience by pulling out.”

53e88eed-abfd-433a-8f36-12da0e44d03c

Few details have been released about “Space Jam 2,” but the film’s director, Terence Nance, expects it to make a big impact when it hits theaters.

“Pretty sure (it’s) going to disrupt everything,” Nance told Taylor Hosking of Vice. “I’m excited about what … that movie can be.”

Nance, whose work includes the HBO series “Random Acts of Flyness,” said he’d been spreading the word that he was interested in directing “Space Jam 2” long before producer Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”) contacted him about it. “The Fast and the Furious” director Justin Lin was initially in talks to helm the film.

“‘Space Jam’ is a very unique opportunity because LeBron James is the best basketball player on Earth and a once in a generation performer,” Nance explained. “Whoever the greatest basketball player of the next generation is going to be, they are probably not going to also be a great actor.”

He added, “Growing up being an animator, someone who loves to draw, I’m just super enthused to work in the cannon, learning in a more deep way about it, bringing what I bring from a media innovation standpoint.”

Filming on “Space Jam 2” is slated to begin during the NBA offseason.

8a33373b-06d7-4157-96e5-1d8daac8a8cf

Chris Jericho’s decision to sign with All Elite Wrestling looks to be a recent one as he had talks with WWE just in the last few weeks, according to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio.

As we’ve noted, Jericho revealed his affiliation with AEW at today’s big Double Or Nothing rally in Jacksonville, FL. He later stated in a video that he was with AEW for the “long haul” and that he was looking forward to “changing the universe” with the new promotion. Jericho stated at the rally that he was not doing this for the money, because he already has that, but he was doing it because he believes in trying new things and trying different things, as AEW is doing.

WWE responded to the Jericho’s AEW signing by moving him to their Alumni roster this evening.

It sounds like Jericho’s deal with AEW is not an exclusive contract as he’s still interested in working with New Japan Pro Wrestling. It’s believed that most of the AEW wrestlers are signing exclusive deals, but Jericho’s could be different. Jericho still wants to work for NJPW, if a deal can be worked out, and NJPW officials are said to be very interested in using Jericho for their big events in the future.

Jericho’s AEW debut will come at their first big event, Double Or Nothing, in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

8d892263-94ac-4812-8e2b-7e0951ffffec

Nikita Kucherov is a man among boys this season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning superstar racked up his 70th point of the season on a first-period assist Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In doing so, Kucherov became the fastest player (43 games) to reach 70 points since Jaromir Jagr did so in the first 38 games of the 1999-00 season, according to NHL Public Relations.

Injuries would limit Jagr to just 63 games that season, but he still won the Art Ross Trophy with 96 points.

Averaging 1.65 points per game thanks to a third-period tally, Kucherov is currently playing at a 135-point pace if he can stay healthy for all 82 games. The last time a player reached the 130-point plateau was the 1995-96 season, when both Jagr (149) and Mario Lemieux (161) surpassed the mark with ease.

Aiding Kucherov along the way during his historic start has been the league-wide scoring spike. Aside from the power-play filled, post-lockout 2005-06 outlier campaign, the NHL’s 6.1 goals per game entering Tuesday is the highest since the 1995-96 season.

Kucherov got off to a relatively slow start to the season, picking up 18 points in his first 18 games. Since then, he’s averaged over two points per game, racking up 53 points in 25 contests.

cd055283-c96a-4bfb-b14e-56cc09ac07d0

Where Manny Machado signs could ultimately come down to his wife.

Yainee Machado has a strong influence on her husband’s decision and is enamored with New York City, according to a source of Wallace Matthews of New York Daily News.

The Yankees recently signed shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and have third baseman Miguel Andujar on the roster but are still in pursuit of Machado. It’s possible, though, that his reported price tag of $220 million to $270 million could keep New York out of the race if it ends up in the upper half of that range, Matthews adds.

Machado appears to be deciding between the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago White Sox after meeting with each of the three teams in December.

The 26-year-old reportedly prefers to play for New York, but the White Sox seem to have made him an offer and recently traded for Yainee’s brother, Yonder Alonso. They also reportedly signed Machado’s close friend Jon Jay on Monday.

In the end, money could wind up being the deciding factor in where Machado signs, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. This bodes well for the Phillies, who are prepared to spend and have already committed $73 million to Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson during the offseason.

Machado is coming off an All-Star campaign where he hit .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs in 162 games.

4573edf8-81df-4dbe-87ac-c61e99d6c00e

One of the best seasons of Philip Rivers‘ career has led the Los Angeles Chargers to a shot at redemption against the New England Patriots in next weekend’s divisional round, 11 years after a 21-12 loss in the 2008 AFC Championship.

The eight-time Pro Bowler is looking forward to the opportunity to avenge a 19-for-37 performance with just 211 passing yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions, after beating the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday’s wild-card game.

“Is it special to just go to New England against a Hall of Fame coach (Bill Belichick) and arguably the best quarterback ever to play (Tom Brady) and get another shot at them? Heck yeah. Heck yeah it is. It is special,” Rivers said after the win, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

“I’m not playing those guys, but I have a great deal of respect, fan of those guys. So to get an opportunity to go against them 11 years after we had that opportunity in that 2007 season, yeah, it’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it.”

The 37-year-old Rivers had one of his more lackluster performances of the season on Sunday, completing 22 of 32 attempts for just 160 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions against the Ravens’ stellar defense.

He had a completion percentage of 68.3 with 4,308 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions while leading the Chargers to a 12-4 record in the regular season. His 105.5 quarterback rating matched a career high he’d hit twice before.

The former fourth overall pick of the New York Giants has never beaten Tom Brady in his career and is just 1-7 against the Patriots – including a 0-2 postseason record – with his lone victory coming against Matt Cassel.

Chris Benoit and Nancy Benoit - File Photos

To the dismay of the worldwide wrestling community, WWEannounced this week that “Mean” Gene Okerlund died at the age of 76. Okerlund has an extensive legacy of interviews and backstage segments that span the course of nearly 50 years and he is included in the WWE and Professional Wrestling Hall of Fames.

Earlier this week, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair was a guest on Busted Open Radio and spent the majority of his interview going in-depth on his relationship with Okerlund. Flair would later explain that no announcer has since replicated Okerlund’s success because the current WWE announcers aren’t being given the same time and opportunities that previous announcers had.

Multiple of Okerlund’s most well-known interviews were with Flair. The two men had a chemistry that played off one another and it helped elevate both of their characters, giving the WWE Universe moments that are often still replayed and talked about. Flair reflected on his history with Okerlund, calling him a great guy and remembering how they would seek out one another’s company no matter the event they were attending.

“I’ve been reluctant to talk to a lot of people because I’m not sure if that’s appropriate yet—for me to start talking about all the fun we’ve had,” Flair said. “Bubba’s known me forever, he knows that whatever I have done in my life, I’ve had fun. Let’s just say I’ve had more fun on strictly a social level. We contributed to each other’s health issues, let’s put it like that. But we had — God — so much fun. And not just fun, but quality time. And even when I wasn’t with Gene, if he was at a Comic Con or a signing, or whatever, we just always got together. WrestleMania, the most important thing for me, aside from the stuff with my daughter as of recent, was Wendy and I finding Gene and enjoying each other socially. Tremendous relationship, great guy.”

Flair went on to explain exactly why he thinks Okerlund is the best in-ring announcer in the history of professional wrestling. Flair believes that an interview between him and Okerlund would steal the show just as often as if Flair were to wrestle at an event.

“It’s not even arguable as to whether or not he’s the best in-ring announcer,” Flair said. “I don’t mean like Jim Ross at calling the matches, but if a guy didn’t have ‘it,’ or if a guy got lost, or if the crowd wasn’t reacting, Gene could save a promo. He could bring wit and humor to it, he could articulate, he was extremely intelligent and loved. If I knew I had a two minute or three minute interview, which back in the old days, we got that kind of time, I knew the show was mine. I didn’t have to wrestle if I had three minutes in the ring with Gene Okerlund to have fun with the crowd or entertain them. I just can’t say enough about him.”

Flair also mentioned why he thinks no one has been able to replicate the character and success that Okerlund has, saying that current WWE announcers aren’t given the same lengthy interviews or opportunities that interviewers had in Okerlund’s prime.

“It’s not a rap on anybody today, but you’re just not going to find someone like him,” Flair said. “I just haven’t seen anybody, even if we don’t talk about the announcing or the roles people like that play enough. We used to focus on people like Gordon Solie, and Gene, and Jim Ross, and now it’s because the role doesn’t seem to be as important; And it’s not because the guys aren’t good, it’s just that they aren’t featured. Gene was a featured part of every show in my opinion.”

Flair once again reiterated how unparalleled the career of Okerlund was.

“He’ll always be remembered, to me, as the most entertaining guy outside of the wrestlers themselves. Ever,” Flair emphasized. “In the history of the business, nobody even close.”

68d2e2ba-d0ad-44de-89a4-b7882690ea76

It was a surreal moment for Bradley Beal Friday night at American Airlines Arena when the Washington Wizards guard exchanged his jersey with that of Dwyane Wade, who will be calling it a career at the end of his 16th season.

Beal grew up admiring the Miami Heat All-Star, so when the opportunity presented itself, the 25-year-old revealed to Wade that the No. 3 he dons is actually a tribute to his idol.

“I tried not to lose my mind when he first gave it to me because that’s unbelievable,” Beal said of the swap following Washington’s 115-109 road loss, according to the Associated Press. “I’m trying not to be a fan, but I am a fan, and I am a huge fan of his game. I try to predicate a little bit of my game off of his. This is probably the first time I’m actually saying that, but he’s a legend forever.”

Beal led all scorers with 33 points on 25 shots, adding nine rebounds and seven assists in 40 minutes of action. Wade, meanwhile, came off the bench for Miami to drop 14 points and six dimes as the Heat improved to 19-18.

“He’s one of the best to ever do it, and he’s not cocky with it,” Beal added of Wade. “He does it in a humble way, and he’s still able to do what he does at this age, and it’s amazing. Everything he’s been through, people talk about him, but he’s still here. He’s still competing with the best of us, and I have nothing but respect for him, his game, his legacy that he left.”

The Wizards will have to wait to get another crack at Miami when the Heat visit Capital One Arena on March 23.

a0807e1c-d536-4f18-b585-ac9cbd09ad95

Oakland Raiders fans may not have seen the last of running back Marshawn Lynch in silver and black.

“We’d love to have him back,” head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Gruden added he’s unsure if Lynch plans to continue playing.

Lynch, a native of Oakland, spent the last two seasons with the Raiders after returning from his one-year retirement. However, his 2018 campaign was limited to just six games due to a groin injury.

Turning 33 years old before the 2019 season, Lynch has rushed for 1,267 yards and 10 touchdowns, with another 235 yards receiving over 21 games with his hometown team.

a9c79797-0094-4302-a3d7-44c7c4cec989

Alexa Bliss will compete inside a WWE ring for the first time since October 2018 this weekend (27 January), having announced her official participation in the second women’s Royal Rumble during last night’s Raw.

The former Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champion broke the news during her new Moment Of Bliss segment. A big brawl featuring some of the match’s other participants broke out before dissipating, and with Alexa left alone on the ramp, she announced she’d be competing.

Lacey Evans would then interrupt and run down the women’s division, though Bliss’ imminent return is the bigger story here.

While Alexa technically took part in a couple of house show matches last October, she took no bumps. This means that her last true match was versus Ronda Rousey at September 2018’s Hell In A Cell pay-per-view.

Bliss has been slotted into a variety of different non-wrestling roles since then, as her concussion issues refused to clear. Recent weeks brought talk that she’d resumed training at the Performance Center, however, and she has now been cleared to resume her true career.

A welcome addition to the women’s Royal Rumble, and it’ll be great to see Bliss competing again.

793fb0a9-bc42-46d2-a061-bbf2d846d5cc

Tony Romo broke the bank as an NFL quarterback, and he may be on the verge of doing the same in the booth.

CBS is prepared to give Romo a substantial raise before his contract expires following next season, sources told Andy Marchand of The New York Post.

Marchand adds that it’s difficult to see how the former quarterback doesn’t become the highest-paid NFL TV analyst.

Romo stole the show during the AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots, correctly predicting the results of key plays.

His salary currently sits in the $4-million range, and he would be a sought-after free-agent analyst should his contract expire. In the event it does, CBS would have the right to match any offer from another network.

John Madden was the highest-paid NFL analyst in history, earning between $7.5 million-$8 million annually after receiving $8 million from FOX in 1993, according to The Ringer.

7c058281-45f8-4509-ad95-b46d1118df26

The Toronto Maple Leafs are inching closer to signing Auston Matthews to a contract extension.

On Tuesday, general manager Kyle Dubas said that the two sides have made progress on a new deal, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Dubas added that he’d like to get an extension done as soon as possible for long-term clarity before the Feb. 25 trade deadline.

Contract talks between Matthews and the Leafs began last July.

The 21-year-old is a pending restricted free agent in the final year of his entry-level pact. He ranks second on the club in goals (20) and fourth in points (42) despite being limited to 34 games this season due to injury.

Fellow Leafs forward Mitch Marner is also a pending RFA, but Dubas said the club isn’t negotiating with Marner at the request of the winger’s agent, Darren Ferris, who told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun earlier this month that his client “100 percent” doesn’t want to engage in contract talks until season’s end.

Dubas insisted Tuesday that he isn’t pressuring Matthews or Marner to sign quickly, but said that’s his preference.

“Yes, it would be selfishly for me beneficial,” the GM told reporters, according to Johnston. “But for the players, I think they have to make sure they’re fully comfortable in going into any arrangement.”

7fa3c912-5531-434c-9cb7-1668987f69bb

Christian spoke with TV Insider about All Elite Wrestling, his show with Edge on the WWE Network, and the finals months of his WWE in-ring career. Below are highlights from the interview:

Thoughts on All Elite Wrestling:

“I think that they need to focus on themselves. I think the knock TNA had is they seemed to worry too much about what WWE was doing instead of focusing on their own. That would be the way to go, in my opinion. As far as new signing Chris Jericho goes, he is obviously one of the biggest names in the history of the industry. So that is a major feather in their cap right off the bat that they are legit and going to try to make it work. Otherwise, Chris is a professional. He wouldn’t have attached himself to it if he didn’t think AEW had a bright future.”

The Edge & Christian Show on the WWE Network:

“I’m excited to work with all the talent, because many are playing against type of what you’re seeing them portray on television on a weekly basis. We try to have a fun environment when there’s not the pressure of live television. It’s just a very easygoing atmosphere with tons of room to ad-lib and make things your own. We definitely had certain people in mind for different skits. Bray Wyatt, for me, from the first season and second with the midwife skit, which was to me, so funny. Then there was Samoa Joe with the Girl Scout cookies. Even doing throwbacks with the superstars of the past. I think everyone really has delivered, and I’m just really happy with how the season has gone.”

Looking back at the end of his in-ring career with WWE:

“For me, I’ve never been the guy to go out there and say, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ Honestly, I think what happened is when I got hurt, nobody knew this was going to be the end. It was a bit of a process. It was four or five months down the line when we realized I wasn’t coming back from it. So, it’s kind of hard to go back after and say, ‘Remember five months ago when I was off TV? Well, guess what?’ It got to a certain point when it was too hard to go back and do anything. I’m completely fine with my career. I feel like I accomplished everything I ever set out to accomplish. On to the next chapter.”

Christian also discussed his new show, Knight Fight on the History Channel. You can read the whole interview here.

0eb808d8-0dda-4050-b08a-dfa0b5385216

The WWE women’s division had a momentous 2018, with such feats as the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match last January, four different matches at WrestleMania where women were featured performers, and their grandest feat yet – the first-ever, all-women’s PPV, WWE Evolution this past October. Stephanie McMahon has been an outspoken proponent of the progressing women’s division and believes they’re receiving appropriate recognition for their success.

Stephanie recently sat down with Variety for an interview and among the topics discussed, Stephanie would acknowledge Ronda Rousey’s impact on WWE’s ever-changing women’s division before turning the attention to events that happened prior to Rousey ever signing. Stephanie recounted WWE’s tour of Abu Dhabi in late 2017, where Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss would become the first two women to compete in a match in Abu Dhabi.

“Ronda wanted to be a part of this change, and it happened actually before she came on board,” Stephanie said. “Which was something that disappointed her to a certain level, and on the other level, she was excited to come be a part of it, and she certainly helped raise the bar. But there’s a really important story that I think needs to be told, and that is just the power of this movement and what it really means, and the power of digital and social media, and the power of your voices; The power of all our voices.

“So, just over a year ago, in Abu Dhabi, our women were allowed to perform for the first time,” Stephanie continued. “And they had to be completely covered except for their heads and their hands. And during the match, a chant broke out, both men and women, chanting this is hope. This is hope in Abu Dhabi during a WWE women’s championship match. And our performers in the ring said they saw tears in the eyes of little girls in the front row. And that’s what this movement is really about. It’s about giving that share of voice and making change.”

With Rousey’s unparalleled popularity, the legitimacy added with her Ultimate Fighting background, the growing women’s division that continues blossoming new opportunities, including the upcoming WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship belts, and even reports from The Observer that women may potentially headline WrestleMania this year, the future seems bright for the women of WWE. Stephanie explained to Variety just how much of a wave WWE has made, mentioning that Evoltuionhad trended #1 over the final game of the World Series and Sunday Night NFL Football.

“We did sign Ronda Rousey and then we, also, in October, had our first-ever all-women’s PPV live streaming event called, Evolution,” Stephanie said. “Just to give you some perspective, it was available on WWE Network, which as of Q3 had over 1.6 million, and it trended #1 world-wide for over 2 hours during the last game of the World Series and NFL Sunday Night Football, and that’s because of our fan base and our women that kill it, by the way! And it’s not giving them this opportunity because they’re women, it’s giving them this opportunity because they’re the best and they deserve this spot.”