Brock Lesnar will receive a whopping $500,000 per match under the terms of his new WWE contract, according to a report in Dirty Sheets.

Instead of renewing his previous deal, the reigning Universal Champion is said to have negotiated an image rights package similar to the one he has in place with UFC. This means the company will pay him on a per appearance basis, as well as for use of his likeness in merchandise.

The report states that Lesnar will receive $100,000 for every appearance on television, and some $500,000 when he competes on pay-per-view. This is in addition to a fixed amount of $500,000 per year for image rights, which is to be paid in four instalments of $125,000 each quarter.

To boot, the Beast Incarnate is expected to rake in somewhere between $5m and $10m if, as expected, he returns to the Octagon later this year for his first MMA bout since 2016. He is apparently keen on fighting the winner of Stipe Miocic versus Daniel Cormier in December.

All of that is to say that Paul Heyman’s client probably won’t be worrying about going into overdraft any time soon.

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More details have emerged about why the Philadelphia 76ers were so careful managing Joel Embiid‘s latest injury.

Embiid had multiple fractures in his orbital bone, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Given it was the second time he suffered damage to that part of his face – it happened when he played at Kansas in 2013-14 – the doctors determined he has a high risk of reinjury, so the 76ers spent 10 days developing a protective mask that would withstand the physicality of an NBA game.

“(The Sixers) did everything possible,” Embiid told Shelburne. “They were like throwing stuff at it to make sure it could withstand it.”

The big man’s agent, Leon Rose, even consulted with Richard Hamilton, the former NBA star most well known for playing with a mask, for tips on adapting to the facewear.

“(Hamilton) told us it’ll get better because you’ll feel more protected,” Embiid said.

The All-Star suffered an orbital fracture to the bone around his left eye and a concussion on March 28 when he collided with teammate Markelle Fultz. He missed the final eight games of the regular season and the first two games of the postseason, playing in Game 3 after expressing frustration over being “babied” in an Instagram post.

The 24-year-old Cameroonian posted 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in his playoff debut in Thursday’s Game 3. The Miami Heatdidn’t go easy on Embiid, sending him to the free-throw line 11 times and even trying to break his mask in Philadelphia’s 128-108 win, which gave the Sixers a 2-1 series lead.

Embiid averaged 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 blocks in 63 games as a sophomore in the healthiest year of his pro career. He was sidelined for two full years due to foot injuries after being drafted No. 3 in 2014, and was limited to 31 games in his rookie campaign.

 

One of the most instrumental figures in the history of the wrestling industry, Bruno Sammartino, has sadly passed away at the age of 82.

According to PWInsider, the legendary WWE champion died this morning in Pittsburgh, PA, after recently being hospitalised.

Triple H was amongst the first within the company to express their public condolences, lauding Sammartino as a “true icon”.

Devastated to hear the passing of a true icon, legend, great, honest and wonderful man…A true friend…and one of the toughest people I’ve ever met.My thoughts are with his entire family. #RIPBrunoSammartino#AmericanDream

— Triple H (@TripleH) 18 April 2018

Sammartino’s importance to the business simply cannot be understated. Vince McMahon Sr.’s budding WWWF was built around the Italian import, who held the company’s top title for an astonishing 2,803 days. The real-life superhero sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times during his eight-year stint, helping lay the foundations for the North East territory to become first a national, and then a global juggernaut.

Bruno was born 6 October 1935 in Abruzzo, Italy, and his childhood was enough to rival any pro-wrestling storyline. Throughout the ’40s, Sammartino’s family was forced to hide from the Nazis as the war came to a close, before he eventually migrated to Pittsburgh to join his father. The new emigre spoke not a word of English on his arrival, and his sickly disposition made him a frequent target of abuse in his first years in the States. These experiences moulded the man; he took up weightlifting to bolster his physique, achieving so much success that he inevitably caught the eye of a wrestling promoter.

As an ethnic strongmen during his nascent spell in the business, Sammartino was a hero to thousands of Italian migrants in the country. As Vince Sr.’s definitive babyface, he was a hero to millions. When he finally dropped the WWF strap to Ivan Koloff at MSG in 1971, members of the crowd broke down in tears of utter disbelief at the fall of their idol.

Sammartino continued to wrestle until 1988, but became a forgotten figure within WWE, as a long-standing feud with Vince McMahon kept his legacy quiet on their programming until differences were finally resolved in 2013. He received a long overdue induction into the company’s Hall of Fame, to go alongside the other four he’d previously been honoured by.

Brett Favre can’t estimate the number of concussions he suffered throughout his football career because the number is too high for him to grasp in the first place.

“When you have ringing of the ears, seeing stars, that is a concussion,” the Hall of Fame quarterback said Thursday, according to Richard Ryman of USA TODAY. “If that is a concussion, I’ve had hundreds, probably thousands, throughout my career, which is frightening.”

Favre, who played 20 seasons in the NFL, has spoken about the affects head trauma has had on him during retirement in the past. He noted Thursday his memory continues to decline, leaving him to ponder whether he has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a dreaded degenerative brain disease that can only be diagnosed after death.

“It has gotten a lot worse in regards to short-term (memory); simple words that would normally come out easy in a conversation, I will stammer,” he said. “And look, I am 48 years old … could it just be, as we all like to say, as we get a little bit older, I forgot my keys and they were in my hand. Or, ‘Where are my glasses?’ and they are on my head. I wonder if that is what it is, or do I have early stages of CTE – I don’t know.”

Additionally, with awareness on the rise over concussions and their potential long-term effects, Favre believes football should entail minimal contact for kids under the age of 16.

“The brain and just the skull itself, for (8-to-15-year-olds), and maybe even older, is not developed enough and they should not be playing tackle football,” he said. “We should protect them, especially when there is no treatment solution out there.”

Favre is one of four prominent retired athletes who’ve invested in a company working to develop a drug called Prevasol to treat concussions. Fellow Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner is also in the group.

Giancarlo Stanton has left any feelings of ill-will toward the Miami Marlins and their ownership back in South Beach.

The New York Yankees slugger will welcome his former team to the Bronx on Monday when the clubs open a brief two-game series. Stanton spent the first eight seasons of his career in Miami before new ownership headed by Derek Jeter opted to trade him and the bulk of his record-setting contract to the Yankees.

Stanton’s final days in Miami were certainly rocky. He rejected two trades that would have sent him to either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals. Both Jeter and Stanton admitted they never spoke to each other after the initial sale of the team, and Stanton said the organization was a “circus” at times in a farewell Instagram post. But despite everything that happened over the last six months, Stanton says there’s no animosity between him and Jeter.

“I mean, I don’t think there’s any crazy bad blood besides what (the media) stirred up,” Stanton told reporters, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. “I mean, we were very honest with each other in our meetings – and that’s the business side of it – but there’s no bad blood on this side.”

Despite the Marlins coming to town, Jeter has already stated that he won’t be accompanying them.

“It would be an awkward situation for me to actually go to Yankee Stadium,” Jeter said last week. “I knew it was going to be a story one way or the other, so I might as well get out in front of it and say I’m not going.”

Jeter was last at Yankee Stadium in May when the team retired his No. 2.

This week on Episode 43 of his Triple Threat Podcast, “The Franchise” Shane Douglas weighed in on the much discussed decision to have Braun Strowman’s mystery partner at WrestleMania be a child. In the following excerpt from the episode, Shane compares the decision for Braun and Nicholas winning to Vince Russo booking David Arquette’s WCW World Title victory in the year 2000. The full episode can be downloaded at this link.

Shane Douglas on Braun Strowman and Nicholas’ title win at WrestleMania:

“My understanding and from the guys in my entourage (that attended WrestleMania) were saying that the audience kind of died after that match and you could kind of felt the energy leave the room. But we’ve heard for eighteen years that Vince Russo is the worst thing ever to wrestling because he put the belt on David Arquette. As much as I disagree with that decision that was better than putting a belt on a ten year old kid. My thought as soon as I heard this was what about Cesaro and Sheamus? They’ve got to go out and do a job to one guy that has a ten year old kid as his sidekick. The only way that could have worked and this may sound terrible but if you think it through it is the only way that could have worked and that is if they had a kid that was a Make-A-Wish kid or a kid that had been sick or something and you bring him in and do something to pop the crowd. It would have still been up-roared by wrestling purists but you would have seen some kind of some light at the end of the tunnel with it.

“Vince Russo has been vilified for eighteen years over the David Arquette thing and now we have this. But to be fair and let’s throw some stuff in there from WrestleMania weekend. There was a show that shall go unnamed (but you can find it I’m sure if you looked) where they had The Invisible Man come out and win a battle royal. I go back to Bill Watts and I tell Bill Watts specifically about that and his mouth dropped open when I said it. To me, it reeks of and it seems that nobody has respect for the industry or their own work in the industry anymore.

“If everything is a spoof and everything is a Saturday Night Live skit where does it end? You mentioned in your lead in that Vince Russo has been vilified in this industry to this day and look at the feedback you guys got off of the interview you had with David Arquette. To me, that is so much more plausible as implausible and that was so much more plausible than having a ten year old kid come out of the audience and win the World Tag Team Titles. It speaks to all of what is wrong with our business today and this is what everybody hears me say in any interview and that this is the difference of sports entertainment to professional wrestling. There is a very stark difference. Nothing against the kid and I am happy that he lived a dream that he will have the rest of his life and remember forever but that is not what WrestleMania is supposed to be about and that is not what the product is supposed to be about.

“It just underscores to me just how far off the track our industry has gone. After eighteen years of vilification of Vince Russo of that (David Arquette) decision we now get this. In light of and at the same time we get The Invisible Man winning battle royals, we get freeze-frames, we get pretend hand grenades and all of this crazy stuff that has nothing to do with wrestling.”

Former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason has been endorsed for the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his advocacy in the battle against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known to some as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and has since worked tirelessly to promote awareness and help gain funding for research to find a cure for the condition.

The medal is the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress, and Gleason was nominated by Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy.

“Steve Gleason was a hero for Saints fans and now he is a hero for all Americans as he finds hope and meaning in overcoming disability and creating greater opportunity for others who are disabled,” Cassidy said to The Associated Press.

Gleason is perhaps most famous for blocking a punt during a September 2006 game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Saints’ first home game at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina.

Current and former cheerleaders for the NFL and other leagues provided accounts to the New York Times of incidents in which they’ve been subjected to sexual comments and unwanted advances from fans.

“When you have on a push-up bra and a fringed skirt, it can sometimes, unfortunately, feel like it comes with the territory,” former Tennessee Titans cheerleader Labriah Lee Holt told Juliet Macur and John Branch.

“I never experienced anything where someone on the professional staff or the team said something or made me feel that way. But you definitely experience that when you encounter people who have been drinking beer.”

Both teams and employees are cognizant of the occupational hazards, but the cheerleaders that came forward spoke of odd job requests. One such was an assignment that had six Redskins cheerleaders sent to a fan’s home for an afternoon where seven men in their 40s were drinking and watching football.

The request came at a charge of $1,200 per cheerleader, yet the cheerleaders were paid $100.

“It’s literally like you’re calling for an escort,” one of the cheerleaders said. “It’s not like somebody grabbed my boots, and nobody told me, ‘Have sex with me right now.’ It’s a lot more nuanced. It’s like every other abuse dynamic. You don’t feel like you have the liberty to say, ‘I’d prefer not to do this.'”

A Dallas Cowboys cheerleader recalled one game when she and others were walking by a throng of opposing fans.

“We were walking by, waving and smiling, and one guy caught my eye. He looked at me and said, “I hope you get raped!’ That’s the kind of stuff we’d have yelled at us,” she said.

Most cheerleaders opt against reporting such incidents to their superiors for fear of losing their jobs.

“We beat out hundreds of other girls for this position. It was very apparent, always there – there is always somebody else who can do this job,” the Cowboys cheerleader said. “We never talked about these things, never questioned them.”

The San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterback position is one of the most revered positions in sports thanks to Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.

But, asked Tuesday about the 49ers’ latest star under center, Jimmy Garoppolo, Montana wasn’t quite ready to name him San Francisco’s next superstar on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football.

“I think it’s still a little early for it, myself,” Montana said. “He’s obviously has a lot more success in the games he’s played in so far than the other quarterbacks that have been there recently.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement in the Bay Area about it.”

Garoppolo excelled for the 49ers in 2017 after a midseason trade from the New England Patriots, leading them to a 5-0 record to close the campaign and recording a 96.2 passer rating.

Despite the limited sample size, the 49ers were confident enough in Garoppolo to make him the NFL’s highest-paid player at the time – a crown he held for just a few weeks until Kirk Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

“This year will be a big tell on it,” Montana added. “They paid a lot of money for him. But I think there’s some belief there that he’ll be there for a while.”

Ronda Rousey spoke to ESPN about her impressive WWE debut at WrestleMania last night. Below are a couple of highlights:

Her two losses in the UFC:

“It was me versus the world in an individual sport. I thought I would never say this, but I’m so happy I lost those fights [to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes] because it led me here. This is so worth it.

“Everything really does happen for a reason. I’m just so grateful. I thought I never would be [grateful] for [the losses], but time is a great teacher. I’m just really, really glad I gave it time instead of giving up and feeling it was the end of the world. There’s so many people who encounter tragedies who feel like the world and time won’t heal it. But all I can say to those people is: Just give it time, even if you think time can’t heal it. You never know what will happen and where it will lead you. Every missed opportunity is a blessing in disguise. I really believe it now.”

Owing WWE fans an apology:

“I owe the WWE universe an apology, because I thought they were going to boo me out of the building from day one. They really accepted me from day one. Hopefully, I satisfied a lot of skeptics tonight. I underestimated how kind the WWE universe would be. I thought any outsiders would be shunned. I was expecting to get shunned and to have to battle to be accepted. I worked my ass off to pay respect to what’s so important to them, and hopefully they saw that tonight. I’m just so grateful, man. I’m trying my best to deserve it.”

Rousey also discussed still supporting UFC fighters, how she celebrated after WrestleMania, WWE feeling familiar to her and more. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

 

In 2010, former single-season king Mark McGwire, who hit 583 career home runs, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs, including during his incredible 70-homer season in 1998.

Some 20 years later, Big Mac thinks he could’ve done it all without the extra help.

In an interview with Jayson Stark of The Athletic, McGwire – now the San Diego Padres‘ bench coach – said he still would have broken Roger Maris’ record and hit 70 homers without using steroids.

“I just know myself. I just know,” he told Stark. “I was a born home-run hitter. I mean, unfortunately, I did (take PEDs). And I’ve regretted that. I’ve talked about that. I regretted it. I didn’t need to. That’s the thing. Didn’t need to.

“But I know. Deep down inside, I know me as a hitter. And I know what I did in that box. And I know how strong my mind is. And I know what kind of hitter I became. And yes. Yes. Definitely.”

McGwire was already one of the most feared home-run hitters in the game before 1998, when he and Sammy Sosa captivated the public with their home-run chase that many believe helped restore baseball’s place in American sports following the 1994 strike. It was McGwire who passed Maris first, blasting No. 62 on Sept. 8 of that year en route to 70. Sosa eventually lost pace but still slugged 66. McGwire would only spend three years as the home-run king before Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001.

Nine years after his retirement, McGwire finally admitted to using PEDs during his career and expressed regret about doing so. Despite the admission, he never received more than 23.7 percent of the vote in his 10 years on the Hall of Fame ballot.

The 53-year-old not only repeated to Stark his regrets about having doped, but added that he wishes MLB’s drug-testing program had been in place during his career to act as a deterrent.

“Unfortunately, there wasn’t any testing,” McGwire said. “There wasn’t anything going on (to keep the sport clean). The game has done a terrific job of doing what they’re doing now. I commend them for doing it. I think we all wish (testing) went on when we had played. But unfortunately, it didn’t.”

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On Saturday night, WWE inducted its 2018 class into the WWE Hall of Fame. Headlining a night that included The Dudley BoysIvoryKid Rock, and Jeff Jarrett, amongst others, was Bill Goldberg, who oddly talked mostly about how he really wanted to be a professional football player. The man who should have headlined the evening was Mark Henry, whose WWE career spanned two decades and whose love and respect for the pro wrestling business was evident not only in his heartfelt speech, but in his everyday actions.

At one point during his speech, Henry took a moment to advocate for another pro wrestling legend to enter the WWE Hall of Fame: Owen Hart. Since falling to his death while performing an entrance stunt at WWE Over the Edge in 1999, Hart’s widow, Martha Hart, has been on the outs with WWE, who she (perhaps rightfully) blames for her late husband’s death. As a result, despite a Hall of Fame worthy career, Owen Hart is not a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. During his speech last night, Henry pleaded with Martha Hart to allow that to happen.

“This is not from other wrestlers,” Henry, who also recalled some time spent with the Hart family in Canada after he threatened Shawn Michaels early in his career, said, after asking the camera to pan in as he spoke directly to Martha Hart. “This is from his other brother.”

“He needs to be here,” Henry said, losing his composure. “And I hate that I haven’t kept up like I should have.”

“I’d love to be able to look down one day and see [Hart’s son] Oje able to be among us,” Henry concluded. “It’s his birthright.”

Almost twenty years after Owen Hart’s tragic death, is it time to let bygones be bygones? Mark Henry seems to think so.

Damian Lillard has already built up a pretty impressive NBA resume through six seasons: A Rookie of the Year award, three All-Star berths, and two All-NBA selections, with a third almost certainly coming to him this year. He’s led the Portland Trail Blazers to the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

But Lillard’s Blazers teams have also had pretty firm ceilings in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, topping out in the second round. With the mighty Houston Rockets and defending champion Golden State Warriors looming, that looks like their likely cap again this spring.

Lillard, though, isn’t planning an exit strategy to a championship contender. Even in today’s rings-obsessed NBA culture, the 27-year-old point guard is more concerned with making his mark in Portland, and continuing to try and push the Blazers over the hump, than he is with hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy.

“I would like to win a championship as bad as anybody, but because of who I am, I’d get a lot more satisfaction if I got it the hard way,” Lillard told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins.

“If I can’t figure it out here and I never win one, I can live with the effort I put into it. I can live with it maybe not happening for me. I’m going to roll with this team regardless of what people may feel about our chances. I’m going to live and die with this.”

The Blazers are currently 48-30, and virtually assured of opening the playoffs at home for the first time since 2009. Lillard is under contract with the team through the 2020-21 season.

WWE made a colossal misstep in initially naming the upcoming WrestleMania 34 Women’s Battle Royal after The Fabulous Moolah, whose legacy is tainted with vile accusations of sexual exploitation and manipulation.

They eventually made the right call in switching to a significantly less problematic title, but not before an almighty backlash from fans and sponsors, with Mars Wrigley Confectionery publicly blasting the company.

WWE wouldn’t have been short of options had they decided to re-christen the bout after a less repugnant women’s wrestling pioneer than Moolah. ‘Sensational’ Sherri Martel may have been a leading candidate, and according to Chris Jericho on his latest podcast, ‘Y2J’ texted Vince McMahon to suggest he call it “The Sensational Invitational.”

The Chairman’s response? “Thx.”

Yes, “thx.” How very Vince.

Jericho then went on to translate this as “in other words, shut your mouth you f****** idiot and let me handle the hard work,” which sounds about right for the Chairman.

Given how out of touch McMahon seems to be with his audience, the fact that he’s a 72-year-old grandfather, and the myriad of wacky backstage stories surrounding the guy, it’s easy to believe him being unable to send a text longer than three characters. Still, big “LOLs” from Vince here.

Roman Reigns appeared on CBS Sports’ In This Corner podcast this week to promote WrestleMania. During the interview, he discussed his match with The Undertaker at last year’s WrestleMania. Below are some highlights:

If his match with The Undertaker lived up to his personal expectations:

“I don’t think it ever could, really. It’s a hard spot for The Undertaker to have such a storied career, to have such a huge list of ridiculously good matches, and to have that respect, and to have that mystique, and to have that reputation as the godfather of the professional wrestling and sports entertainment business. So, everyone’s thought about what it would be like to be in a match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania to where you hype it up so much that it’s almost unfair to him.”

Why the match with Taker was hard for him:

“For me, what made it so hard was how heavy it was. You know, if I wrestled The Undertaker 20 years ago at the beginning or the middle of his career, probably not. But the positioning I found myself in, it just felt really heavy and so much more emotional than I was ready for it to be, so I think that was the hardest thing … but, you know, the coolest thing because I think that just shows the gravity of the situation, the responsibility of the placement [on the card] and just who I was sharing the ring with. And that’s just how special he is.

“I just feel like maybe I wasn’t good enough or maybe it could have been better on my behalf, but I always hold The Undertaker in so high in that regard that I just feel like maybe I could have done better. But I enjoyed it. I really learned a huge amount in the ring with him; you know, to being in the ring with him for one singles match and to have it be at that level, to be able to pick something up in just 30-40 minutes from another performer — it just goes to show how good he is.”

You can subscribe to the In This Corner podcast by clicking here.

Legendary wrestler and most lucrative star in all of Hollywood, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, has this weekend opened up about his past battles with depression, leading to an overwhelming outpouring of support from his fans across the world.

Speaking with The Express, the former WWE champion disclosed that he struggled with mental illness after failing to make the cut in the Canadian Football League and subsequently breaking up with his girlfriend. “That was my absolute worst time,” the global icon revealed.

Johnson spoke candidly about witnessing a suicide attempt by his mother when he was just 15, admitting that he could have fallen into the same crisis had he not found the strength to persist during his darkest days.

“We both healed, but we’ve always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain,” he said.

Since the revelations were made public, swathes of fans have reached out in support of the A-lister. Johnson was quick to show his gratitude on Twitter earlier this Monday: “Got tonnes of responses to this. Thank you.

“Took me a long time to realise it but the key is not to be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.”

This is the first time The Rock has spoke directly about his troubles with depression, though he has alluded to them in the past. Recently, when a fan confided in Johnson about his own mental health problems, the Samoan responded: “I hear you. I’ve battled that beast more than once.”

Vancouver Canucks forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin confirmed Monday that the 2017-18 campaign will be their final NHL season.

The Sedins penned a letter to fans through the team website:

“We started the year with the mindset that a decision would be made in the postseason. But it became clear, after discussions with our families throughout the year, that this will be our last season. This feels right for all of us.

“Being part of the Canucks family for 18 seasons has been the best period of our lives. But it’s time to focus on our families and life after hockey. It’s time to help with homework every night. It’s time to be at every birthday party and to stand in the cold at every hockey rink, soccer game and riding lesson on weekends. It’s time to be at home for dinner every night.”

The 37-year-olds were selected by the Canucks at the 1999 draft. They’ve spent their entire 17-year careers in Vancouver and rank first in all of the franchise’s major categories:

CATEGORY RANK PLAYER TOTAL
Games 1 Henrik Sedin 1327
Goals 1 Daniel Sedin 391
Assists 1 Henrik Sedin 828
Points 1 Henrik Sedin 1068

With three games remaining in the season, including two home dates, fans will have the opportunity to pay tribute to the Sedins. The two games at Rogers Arena include Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights and Thursday versus the Arizona Coyotes.

WWE’s chairman and chief executive Vince McMahon already has an opponent in drawing away NFL’s football fans, and it comes from a surprising name: Charlie Ebersol. Not only did Charlie’s father, and longtime NBC executive, Dick help Vince launch the original XFL 17 years ago, but the younger Ebersol directed the recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on the original failed launch of the XFL. Today, Ebersol announced the formation of the Alliance of American Football.

After political protests by NFL players and concussion injuries gained recent attention, ratings for the league fell by 17 percent. Perhaps seizing on this environment, McMahon announced this past January that he’d revive the XFL (backed by $100 million in stock he sold). He emphasized a more family-friendly stance than the previous XFL, downplaying the sexy cheerleaders and violence of the original league and adhering more to the current PG-era of the WWE. He also stressed nonpolitical actions during games and employing players without criminal backgrounds.

Ebersol’s announcement of his Alliance for American Football league also might mean McMahon’s plan will come too late. Whereas Vince wants to revamp the XFL in in early 2020, his rival scheduled his launch for February 9, 2019 on CBS, soon after the next Super Bowl.

Ebersol’s father and Vince’s former partner Dick will serve on a board of directors that will also feature former NFL stars Hines Ward, Justin Tuck, and Jared Allen. The stated goals are similar to McMahon’s reboot of the XFL, such as shorter games and utilizing top-level talent from college football who don’t make it into the NFL. In addition, Ebersol wants games to be affordable, with good seats available at $35.

“I wanted to build a team of people who were significantly more accomplished and smarter than I was and let them build what they thought the future of the sport was going to be,” Ebersol said in press announcement.

Ebersol emphasized the AAF is in it for the long haul.

“We’re not looking for out-of-box, rocket-ship success,” he said. “The XFL, USFL as a live event were successful businesses, but expectations were so high. We want to manage expectations, because we’re built for a long-term model.”

Tom Brady has accomplished it all in the NFL. He’s a five-time Super Bowl champion and a three-time league MVP. He just completed his age-40 season and doesn’t appear ready to hang up his cleats.

And his wife, Gisele Bundchen, won’t force him to.

Bundchen shared with Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal that she will not push her husband to retire.

“It’s not my decision to make,” Bundchen said in an interview conducted before Super Bowl LII in February, according to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston. “It’s his decision, and he knows it. It wouldn’t be fair any other way.”

Brady has said previously that his wife “would have me retire today” if it were up to her.

“I would never in my life ever (attempt to convince him to retire),” Bundchen said. “I want him to be happy. Believe me, I’ve been with him when he’s losing. Try to be with him after you have lost (Super Bowls). I mean, I had my fair share, OK? As long as he’s happy, he’s going to be a better father, he’s going to be a better husband, and I just want him to be happy. I do have my concerns, like anyone would.”

Brady will enter the 2018 season as the defending league MVP with revenge on his mind after losing the Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators have been playing with heavy hearts following the loss of the captain’s unborn son on March 19.

Karlsson opened up about the devastating tragedy, saying things haven’t been easy, but he appreciates all the support he’s received.

“I’m doing okay,” Karlsson told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch following Thursday’s overtime win over the Florida Panthers. “It’s been an extremely tough time and a situation I never expected to be in.

“I just want to thank my teammates, this organization, this community, people around the league and people we don’t even know for giving us their support and our time to be ourselves and grieve. Looking back it meant a lot to us for all the people that reached out – people that we know and people that we don’t know. It helped us get through this a little bit.”

Karlsson doesn’t anticipate things getting any easier, but he and his wife Melinda Currey have remained strong.

“It’s going to take us a very long time to get back to normal, but we’re going to do everything we can to stay as positive as possible,” he said. “I think my wife has handled the situation better than I could have ever imagined and it’s not something that you can prepare yourself for.”

Thursday’s win was Karlsson’s third contest since his son’s death, but claims it’s been hard to get himself up for games, even though it’s helped take his mind off things.

“It’s been hard … It’s been hard to kind of get the motivation,” he said. “At the same time, it’s been kind of a comfort zone to get back into routine and think about something else for awhile.

“At the end of the day, these guys mean a lot to me and when we go through something like this everybody gets together and they really embraced me and given me everything that I need in this time. For me to just get back to normal and see everybody else behave normal has helped me a lot.”

Karlsson’s status for the team’s final road trip remains unclear, but he’s hoping he “can play the remainder of the season out.”

 

A former New Orleans Saints cheerleader says the team discriminated against her when it fired her for breaking workplace rules.

Bailey Davis told Ken Belson of the New York Times she was fired for team violations that she disputes. She was accused of breaking a social media policy that prohibits cheerleaders from posting photos of themselves in the nude or semi-nude, or in lingerie. She was also accused of attending a party with Saints players.

As a result, Davis has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the team have having separate rules for its male players and female cheerleaders.

The Times reviewed team literature, including the Saints’ handbook for cheerleaders, and determined the team has a policy that requires its cheerleaders to avoid any form of communication with players, both in person and online. However, the players are not punished for doing the same.

Cheerleaders are instructed to block players from following their social media accounts and are prohibited from dining at the same restaurant as a player. Players are not given the same instructions.

“If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,” Davis’ lawyer, Sara Blackwell, said. “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”

The Saints responded to The Times via email, stating that the organization strives to treat all employees fairly.

“At the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, the Saints will defend the organization’s policies and workplace rules,” said Leslie A. Lanusse, lawyer for the Saints. “For now, it is sufficient to say that Ms. Davis was not subjected to discrimination because of her gender.”

Nevest Coleman, a Chicago man who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, recently received his freedom. Now, he’s also got his old job back.

Coleman, who was a longtime groundskeeper for the Chicago White Sox at what’s now known as Guaranteed Rate Field before he was wrongfully convicted of a 1994 rape and murder, was rehired by the team Monday – less than a month after being officially proclaimed innocent.

“We’re grateful that after more than two decades, justice has been carried out for Nevest,” the White Sox said in a statement Monday, according to Gregory Pratt of the Chicago Tribune. “It has been a long time, but we’re thrilled that we have the opportunity to welcome him back to the White Sox family. We’re looking forward to having Nevest back on Opening Day at home in our ballpark.”

The White Sox aren’t wasting any time putting Coleman back to work. He arrived at the ballpark to start his new (old) job on Monday, power washing parts of the stadium and also greeting many familiar faces. He’ll also be in the stadium for their home opener on April 5.

“He was a good, excellent worker. We’re glad to have him back,” Jerry Powe, a White Sox grounds crew member who worked with Coleman before he was arrested and will now be his supervisor, told ABC 7’s Megan Hickey.

Coleman, now 49, served on the White Sox grounds crew for several years before being wrongfully convicted. He maintained his innocence throughout his prison stint, and DNA evidence unearthed last year served to exonerate him. He was released in November and received an official certificate of innocence earlier this month. In February, Coleman filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit against several parties, including the city of Chicago and the police officers who interrogated him.

He told Pratt he loved working for the White Sox because “everybody treated each other like family,” and claimed that after gaining his freedom, all he wanted was to “sit back for a while, get to know my family, and when the time comes around, go back to Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field).”

Multiple calls to the White Sox from family and friends, including a retired priest he was close with, helped land Coleman an interview with the team. Shortly afterward, his dream came true and they rehired him.

“His first wish (after being released), before he wished for a hamburger, was to work for the White Sox,” Coleman’s cousin Richard said. “That’s exactly what I told them.”

If Seattle is granted the next NHL franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t expected to lose a player or receive a cut of the expansion fee.

There’s no reason to expect Vegas would be put in a position to lose a player, as they won’t be getting a share of the $650-million fee Oak View Group would pay if their application is accepted, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

That was part of the agreement between the NHL and Golden Knights owner Bill Foley when he was awarded the 31st club, per the report. The other 30 teams would get $21.67 million each from Seattle after receiving $16.67 million when Vegas entered the league.

Commissioner Gary Bettman told GMs last month that any potential future Seattle expansion draft would operate under the same conditions as the one Vegas completed last June.

An expansion draft is unlikely to take place before June 2020.

OVG has already filed its expansion application. It received 10,000 season-ticket deposits within 12 minutes of opening its season-ticket drive on March 1.

Sasha Banks spoke with Al Arabiya English on working with Vince McMahon and wanting it to be a normal thing when women main event WWE live events. Here are some of the highlights:

Women being the main event for live events:

“The women have never main-evented a live event yet. Closing out those, and showing the guys that we can do it just like them. I watch guys like Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman have these crazy street fights every night at house shows. I ask them, how do you go through a table every single night? That’s what I want! I want to do it just like them, I want to perform just like them, and I want it to be a place where.

I want it to become normal. I don’t want it to be, ‘That was a great women’s match!’ I just want it to be a great match, period. I don’t want people to say, ‘The women are great!’ No, we’re Superstars, we’re just like the guys, you don’t need to put the women in front of it. I want to keep having those opportunities to be at the forefront and the WWE and the face of the WWE. That’s the goal for me, number one, I want to be the face of the WWE.”

Getting more comfortable working with Vince McMahon

“It is [different]. It comes with growing up, becoming more mature and becoming a woman. You have this more comfortable feeling of, ‘Okay, you work for the boss, you work for the man, a legend, Vince McMahon, but hey, you’re the Legit Boss, so you better go through that door, tell him what you’d like to do and what you’d like to have.’ Honestly, that’s the biggest thing—not being afraid to stand up for yourself. If you’re very passionate about something, he’s the man to talk to.

I’ve learned that it’s actually very easy to talk to him, and it’s so much better for me to talk to him than to talk to writers, because you get the right answer, and you get the answer right away. You kind of understand what he wants from you as a performer. It’s been so much easier talking to him, and I feel less intimidated. A lot of times, when it comes to whether we’re handed a promo that I’m not really feeling, or trying to figure out what the story—if we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s hard to perform. Recently we asked him, ‘Hey, where are we going with this storyline? Can you tell me what direction you’d like to see me go?’ Getting the answer right from him straight up makes it so much easier.”

Banks also discussed wanting to be the best and Bayley. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.

Aaron Boone doesn’t go to sleep without Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross by his side.

The New York Yankees skipper revealed Thursday that he falls asleep every night watching “Friends” on his iPad.

“Every single night I lay my iPad in my bed and I fall asleep to ‘Friends’ episodes,” Boone told WFAN. “I watched seasons one through 10 and then I start back from the beginning. I’ve watched a million episodes. How bout that? I’m in the middle of season nine. Last night I fell asleep to the mugging episode.

“That’s how I turn my mind off at the end of the day. It’s like taking a sleeping pill, I fall asleep in usually half an episode.”

Despite having watched every episode numerous times, Boone couldn’t pick a favorite.

“I don’t know. I love so many of them.”

Former NFL running back Ricky Williams is staying on brand.

The 40-year-old – who initially retired from the NFL in 2004 after he was rumored to have tested positive for marijuana for a third time in under a year – has started his own brand of cannabis called “Real Wellness” (“Ricky’s Stickies” must have been taken).

The line of marijuana products include salves, vape cartridges, and tonics that will be sold in dispensaries in San Diego, the Orange County area, and Los Angeles with Williams hoping to expand to other states.

Williams has been educating himself as a health care practitioner since retiring from football for the last time in 2012 and is very vocal about the benefits of cannabis use among players. However, athletes haven’t been his target market.

“Surprisingly enough, our research found that the main demographic coming into the (cannabis) market are women ages 35 to 60,” Williams told Johnny Diaz of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Cannabis coming on the scene is a re-emerging of herbalism back into our culture.”

WWE doctors have given the green light for Daniel Bryan to return to in-ring competition.

As per a WWE.com news bulletin posted today, the SmackDown general manager has been cleared to compete following a “a full review of his medical history”, together with “comprehensive neurological and physical evaluations independent of WWE”. The decision has also been approved by the company’s Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon.

The U-turn comes more than two years after Bryan, following a series of concussions, announced his decision to hang up his boots on the advice of experts. To date, his last official match came in April of 2015, a tag team bout alongside John Cena against the pair of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.

In the time since, the four-time world champion has remained on television in the role of an on-screen authority figure, but rumours that he was growing fed up of sitting on the sidelines have persisted. With his contract reportedly set to expire later this year, it had been suggested that he could sign for a less strict rival promotion in a bid to get back in the ring.

After this announcement, however, all bets are now off. WWE is even teasing the possibility of Bryan getting back in his wrestling gear as early as WrestleMania, which takes place from New Orleans in under three weeks. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown just got a whole lot more interesting.

Mick Foley was recently a guest on Busted Open Radio with Dave LaGreca and Tommy Dreamer to promote his “20 Years Of Hell” tour. This tour will have Foley partake in Q&A sessions, as well as relive the infamous Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998. During the interview, Foley discussed two people who he feels should be in the WWE Hall of Fame.

The first person Foley discussed in Vader. After dominating the scene in Japan, Vader made his presence known in WCW when he made his debut in 1990 when he destroyed Tom Zenk in very quick fashion at the Great American Bash. Two years later, Vader defeated Sting at the Great American Bash to commence his first of three WCW World Heavyweight Championship reigns.

Vader also won the United States Championship, before departing WCW for WWE in 1996. Although his career in WWE was not as successful as WCW, he was involved in major feuds with names such as The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Kane, and Bret Hart.

Foley, who feuded with Vader in both WCW and WWE, commented on him being in the Hall of Fame, as seen in the video above.

“[Vader] was so dominant not just in WCW, I mean he’ll be the first to tell you, if he came in during the Attitude Era in WWE he would have been amazing,” said Foley. “They had him from the get-go running away from people. I remember driving with him and he would be like ‘I’m Vader and running away from people!’. Whereas I was given open reign to do whatever I wanted with my character, he just seemed to have so many people in his ear to tell him how to be Vader, when he’s done it successfully all over the world…. I think [he should be in] when you take into account everything he’s accomplished in WCW, NJPW, Mexico and in Germany and Europe.”

The other person Foley is vouching to be in the WWE Hall of Fame is Chyna. Making her WWE start as a bodyguard for D-Generation X, Chyna began to spend more time perfecting her craft in the ring. The “Ninth Wonder of The World” underwent an appearance change, causing Eddie Guerrero to become infatuated with her on television. Chyna is the first and only women to win the Intercontinental Championship, as she was champion on two occasions. Chyna also defeated this year’s WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Ivory, at WrestleMania 17 to become WWE Women’s Champion.

Although Triple H, Chyna’s former boyfriend said on the Steve Austin podcast in 2015 that child Googling Chyna is a primary deterrent to her not being in the Hall of Fame, he has since spoke of Chyna in a more positive light, as well as his wife Stephanie McMahon.

Foley also commented on Chyna in the WWE Hall of Fame.

“I also really like just the fact that Chyna is being mentioned and she’s being shown in clips,” said Foley. “I would love to see her in. I know how much it would mean to her mom. I tell people you can’t let that one decision dictate if your career was a success. I didn’t wander around wondering if my career had meant anything because I wasn’t in the hall of fame, but it is a big deal.”

Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, died Thursday afternoon at the age of 90 after being hospitalized at the Ochsner Medical Center with the flu since Feb. 16, the Saints announced.

Benson bought the Saints in 1985 and took over the New Orleans Hornets in 2012, renaming the team as the Pelicans. He remained the controlling owner of both clubs until his death.

He was born and raised in New Orleans and spent time in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War before working his way up the chain at Chevrolet, eventually establishing a multi-dealership organization throughout Louisiana and South Texas. On the back of his success with Chevrolet, Benson joined the banking business in 1972 and built the Benson Financial World, which allowed him to buy the Saints and, later on, the Pelicans.

Benson enjoyed 11 playoff berths and a Super Bowl championship with the Saints as well as helping to host five Super Bowls in the Big Easy. In his short time as owner of the Pelicans, the team made the playoffs once.

The New Orleans native has been credited by some for saving professional sports in his hometown as the Saints were on the verge of being sold to parties hoping to move the club to Jacksonville. The then-Hornets had also been rumored for relocation prior to Benson stepping up in 2012. Benson also played a strong role in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Benson’s wife, Gayle, was at her husband’s side at the time of his death and is the sole heir to both the Saints and Pelicans.

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is of the mindset that hiring more police officers will make a world of difference in lowering the number of school shootings in the United States, and maybe even prevent them altogether.

“The government should give law enforcement more money,” O’Neal said Wednesday on WABC Radio’s “Curtis and Cosby,” according to ESPN. “Give more money, you recruit more people, and the guys that are not ready to go on the streets, you put them in front of the schools.

“You put ’em in front of the schools, you put ’em behind the schools, you put ’em inside the schools, and we need to pass information. … I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools.”

A Feb. 14 attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. left 17 dead. Stemming from the massacre, thousands of students across the U.S. began protesting in an effort to ban assault weapons and institute stricter gun laws. This included Wednesday’s National School Walkout to honor the lives lost in Parkland.

O’Neal supports the kids marching to have their voices heard, but he doesn’t believe banning gun is the solution, as there will always be ways for those seeking them out to get their hands on them.

“There’s a lot of those weapons already on the streets,” O’Neal said. “So it’s not like, if you say, ‘OK, these weapons are banned,’ people are gonna go, ‘Oh man, let me turn it in.’ That’s definitely not going to happen.

“Cause once you ban ’em, now they’re going to become a collector’s item and you’re going to have people underground, and they were $2,000. … I’ll give you $9,000 for that gun. So, you know, we just need to keep our eyes open.”

O’Neal revealed last summer that he intends to run for sheriff in Henry County, Ga. in 2020, adding that he’d completed a police academy to get prepared.

Former WWE writer Vince Russo recently went to his podcast to comment on a statement made from Triple H claiming that Russo does not know how to end storylines, and cited an example being the Rebellion pay-per-view in 1999. Russo also posted on Twitter his dissatisfaction with Triple H’s comments, urging him to “get his facts straight.”

Apparently, there was an “amnesia” angle that Stephanie was a part of at the event after the British Bulldog threw a garbage can and it accidentally hit her, but was never followed through. According to Russo, Triple H added that this angle was written because he and Ed Ferrara did not know where they were ultimately going with the Stephanie-Test angle. Russo stated that he did not know anything about this angle, and the dates given when the angle was supposed to transpire did not line up with the time he was there.

Russo also stated that the culmination of the Stephanie McMahon and Test marriage angle was always set in stone.

“Ed [Ferrara] and I knew all along where we were going with the Stephanie-Test storyline,” said Russo. “It was never in question. Our plan all along was for Test to stand her up at the altar. That was the plan, and we were going to make Test a heel. And Test was gonna have an issue with Shane, and the whole family. That’s where we were going. We never wrote a story [that] we didn’t know where the thing was going.”

Russo stated that he was in Atlanta with Ferrara making a deal with WCW, and he did not write for the Rebellion UK event which aired on October 2. In fact, he would later recall that he left WWE for WCW in September, a couple weeks before Rebellion. He added that Patt Patterson, Jim Ross, and Bruce Prichard would book house shows, and there could have been a segment where an amnesia angle was created after “they did the gimmick thing with the [British] Bulldog and what it looks like is like it kinda ricocheted off of something and hit Stephanie. That was probably an accident, and [WWE] probably used that as some kind of amnesia angle once Ed and I left, [until] they figured out what they wanted to do.”

To fans, the conclusion of the angle was Triple H marrying Stephanie McMahon while she was passed out days before her wedding with Test, which enraged Stephanie. Stephanie would turn heel just a couple of weeks later during the main event of Armaggedon and betray her father Vince, which commenced the McMahon-Helmsley Regime.

The Great One believes the Great Eight deserves a ring.

After Alex Ovechkin notched the 600th goal of his remarkable career Monday night, Wayne Gretzky – one of three players in the history of the game to reach the mark faster than the Russian sniper – said he wants to see Ovi add the one thing that’s missing from his resume.

“If there’s one guy that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup that I think deserves it, I think it’s him,” Gretzky said, according to Derek Van Diest of NHL.com. “He’s worked his rear end off for the game of hockey and the Washington Capitals, and for his country.”

Although the Capitals have qualified for the postseason in eight of the last nine seasons, the organization – and particularly Ovechkin – have faced tremendous criticism for never advancing past the second round, all in spite of the captain recording 90 points in 97 career playoff contests.

“I’d love to see him lift the Stanley Cup one day, because I think he’s truly put his heart and soul into being a better player and trying to become a champion,” Gretzky said.

Ovechkin and the Capitals currently lead the Metropolitan Division, and should have a few more cracks at a championship with him in the fold. Even if they continue to fall short of hockey’s ultimate prize, No. 8 can rest on the laurels of 11 All-Star nominations, three MVPs, six Rocket Richards (for now), and one Calder Trophy.

It feels like ages ago when a 20-year-old Alex Ovechkin took the league by storm in his rookie season, scoring 52 goals to capture the Calder Trophy over Sidney Crosby, but 12 years later, “The Great Eight” still sees himself as a spring chicken.

Prior to a marquee matchup between the league’s two top goal-scorers – he and Winnipeg Jets phenom Patrik Laine – Ovechkin was asked if he sees “young Ovi” in Laine, to which he replied: “I’m still young,” according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.

Despite the response, Ovechkin did indeed have high praise for the 19-year-old.

“He’s a great talent and still young and still can produce lots of dangerous (chances against) different teams,” he told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “Obviously his shot is pretty amazing. Tonight, we have to stay close to him and don’t give him any chance.”

Laine was quite humbled by Ovechkin’s comments.

“It sounds pretty good to me that’s saying nice things about me,” Laine told Gulitti. “He’s been my biggest idol when I was growing up, so it’s pretty unreal to hear something like that, him talking about me. It’s pretty cool.”

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two players. Both are right-handed shots, play left wing, are big, have deadly one-timers, and neither shies away from physical play.

Viewers can only hope the two snipers put on a show when they meet Monday night in Washington.

DeMar DeRozan could’ve kept his demons to himself, but that wouldn’t have helped anybody.

After revealing he suffers from depression, the Toronto Raptors shooting guard explained what prompted him to finally open up about his battle.

“We all go through stuff. You can’t name nobody that don’t go through something,” he told TMZ Sports on Thursday in D.C.

The four-time All-Star suggested that although it may not have been easy, it was important for him to share his story so other people who are struggling with the mental health issue understand they’re not alone.

“Just because we’re successful or on TV don’t mean we don’t all go through something or got problems. You know, it’s life,” he added.

DeRozan, 28, previously stressed that no matter how “indestructible” professional athletes like him may look, they’re all humans with feelings that may sometimes overwhelm them, just like everybody else.

Even before one of its most high-profile stars spoke out on the matter, the NBA and NBPA had committed to supporting the players with a new mental wellness program.

DeRozan also left the door open for other steps he could take to spread awareness:

“We gon’ see.”

The Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt ‘Ultimate Deletion’ match is coming to WWE, with the company filming the action at the Hardy Compound in Cameron, North Carolina yesterday afternoon (as per PWInsider).

According to the write-up, referee Shawn Bennett was sent to officiate the mayhem. Jeremy Borash, who was instrumental in producing much of Hardy’s ‘Broken’ content in TNA, was on site to work on the shoot, though there’s no word on whether or not WWE brought any other talents along.

The company are yet to announce when the Ultimate Deletion will air, but this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter suggests an episode of Raw, rather than at WrestleMania 34.

Hardy has been teasing the contest for weeks. He has struggled since adopting the Woken character, and his Elimination Chamber bout with Wyatt drew little acclaim, but after becoming a viral sensation with 2016’s Final Deletion, this could be the tonic required to revived the gimmick.

With Jeff Hardy recently cleared to return from injury, there’s a chance we could see Brother Nero feature in the match. There’s currently no word on Vanguard 1, Queen Rebecca, or other Broken Universe characters, but several featured in a vignette on this week’s Raw.

The Miami Dolphins have reportedly traded wide receiver Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Miami will receive two draft picks – one in 2018 and one in 2019 – in return, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, though Schefter reports neither of the picks are in the first or second rounds.

Long the subject of trade rumors, it took just one day for the Dolphins to move Landry after he signed his franchise tag with the team.

Schefter also reported that the Browns are working on a new contract for their pass-catcher, with a deal expected to be agreed upon. The trade cannot be made official until March 14.

The former second-round pick caught an NFL-high 112 passes in 2017 for a career-high nine touchdowns. However, he also averaged a career-low 8.8 yards per reception.

The owner of 400 career receptions in just four seasons (an NFL record), Landry joinsJosh Gordon and Corey Coleman atop Cleveland’s receiving corps. He will provide a reliable pass-catching option to whoever winds up at quarterback for the Browns in 2018.

Despite moving to a franchise that owns a 1-31 record over the last two seasons, Landry appeared excited to join his new team.

Former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal was recently interviewed by The Independent to share his thoughts on who should be in the Hall of Fame. Without hesitation, Mahal’s pick was the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith.

“[British Bulldog] had a great, storied career. From tagging with The Dynamite Kid to breaking out on his own, his career had a great evolution,” said Mahal. “He started in Stampede Wrestling in Calgary for Stu Hart and before that had been training in England before being brought in with Dynamite, and of course that classic, classic match against Bret Hart at Summerslam – that’s one of my all-time favorite matches. He’s just a great, great superstar in the history of WWE, so I don’t think it is a matter of if he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but when he’ll become a member.”

Mahal had a rather somber moment in Smith’s home country of the United Kingdom. He was the first-ever WWE Champion to lose the title there, losing to AJ Styles shortly before the 2017 Survivor Series. In contrast, British Bulldog experienced perhaps the biggest moment of his career, as he was able to defeat Bret Hart at Wembley Stadium in London at SummerSlam ’92 to win the Intercontinental Championship.

Despite losing the title in Manchester, Mahal gave much respect to Styles for dethroning him.

“It was the very first time in the history of WWE that the title had changed hands overseas. History was made that night and the match was probably one of the best I’ve ever had,” said Mahal. “I’ve said this before, but I feel that although I lost, I really won that night. The energy in the arena that night was amazing and AJ Styles really is phenomenal – the fans just love him. I think he might be the number one, top star in WWE in terms of fan reaction because everybody loves him.

“Everyone that night was genuinely so happy for him, so it was a little bit bittersweet for me. I was lay on my back on the mat with my eyes closed, listening to the reaction of the crowd and a couple of tears fell in the ring, of happiness as everyone was so pleased for him. It was a very cool moment and it was a moment I’ll never forget.”

Currently, Mahal is without a spot on the upcoming WWE Fastlane event, although he has set his sights on taking the United States Championship from Bobby Roode. Mahal also shared how grateful he is to be in the position he is now compared to when he was released.

“We are so blessed to be WWE superstars and sometimes I think that’s taken for granted; what we do, many, many people around the world wish they could do,” said Mahal. “I was even released by WWE but, fortunately, I was given a second opportunity and, after that, I was never going to take anything for granted. Every day is a blessing and an opportunity and it is up to you to take advantage of that.”

Source: The Independent

There are a number of issues that Stephen Curry would like to see addressed in the United States, including gun control, race relations, and gender equality.

Of those, the Golden State Warriors point guard believes the nation is closest to changing gun laws.

“I think gun control is the most realistic because I don’t know what other examples we need about having to create a safe environment for kids going to school,” Curry told The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “We obviously know what happened in Florida, what’s happened historically with all the school shootings.”

Curry was referring to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 that claimed 17 lives. The father of two (with a third on the way) emphasized the importance of fortifying federal gun control laws for the sake of the nation’s future.

“That’s just a simple policy change that can help,” he said. “Simple as in it seems pretty commonsense. I know there are people on both sides, but it’s pretty clear if we’re really trying to protect the next generation, that’s a must. The conversation has already been started and I think there’s enough momentum to get over the hump.”

The two-time MVP said he was encouraged by seeing several Stoneman Douglas survivors come forward publicly to demand change.

“You saw what happened on TV at the town hall where kids are face to face with politicians asking some tough questions, trying to get answers about why can’t things change,” Curry said.

Similar to Curry, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his “first choice” of problems to fix would be “eliminating semi-automatic weapons from our society.”

There has been some momentum in that direction. Delta Air Lines and United recently joined a growing list of powerful companies that cut ties with the National Rifle Association, and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Wednesday that it will no longer sell assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines. In addition, a new CNN poll suggests 70 percent of U.S. citizens are in favor of tighter gun laws, while President Donald Trump promised Monday to “turn our grief into action.”

Todd McLellan is sticking up for Connor McDavid and questioning the actions of some unruly individuals who heckled the Edmonton Oilers captain.

Here’s how the head coach responded when asked about a viral video originally posted to Reddit and later shared by TSN’s BarDown, which showed several fans giving McDavid a hard time outside a restaurant while he was with his family.

“I haven’t seen it, but he would be the last one I would heckle if I (were) a fan,” McLellan told reporters Monday, via CTV Edmonton’s Adam Cook. “He gives the community everything he has, and I’m not just talking about on-ice (contributions).”

McLellan cited McDavid’s frequent charity work and said the hecklers should consider how their own actions make them look.

“I often sit in the lunchroom and I ask him, ‘What are you guys doing today?’, and about every second day, Connor says, ‘I’m going to a hospital, I’ve got to go see these kids, I’m going to go do that, so the individuals that choose to heckle him (need to) look in the mirror.”

McDavid declined to comment on the matter Monday.

“Honestly, it’s so not a big deal, I’m not even going to say anything on it,” the Oilers superstar told reporters, via TSN. “This weekend I had my parents in town, so it was nice to have them around and show them around Edmonton. They’ve been here a few times now, but I haven’t seen them in a while … so I definitely was missing them and (was) happy to have them in town for a bit.”

 
 

A bombshell interview in which former NFL running back O.J. Simpson hypothetically describes the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman is finally coming to television.

Hosted by Soledad O’Brien, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?” will air March 11 at 8 p.m. ET. There will be limited commercial interruptions during the broadcast in favor of public service announcements on domestic violence awareness.

The two-hour special contains footage from Simpson’s shelved 2006 sit-down with publisher Judith Regan, who was fired by HarperCollins over the accompanying book, “If I Did It.” The Goldman family later obtained the rights to the book, publishing it under the altered title “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.”

The Brown and Goldman families have given their approval of the interview’s release, according to Michael O’Connell of the Hollywood Reporter.

“For over a decade, the tapes of that infamous interview were lost – until now,” FOX wrote in a press release. “Simpson’s explosive words finally will be heard, as he answers the questions that gripped a nation during the notorious ‘Trial of the Century.'”

The Los Angeles Lakers paid Kobe Bryant just shy of $330 million during his 17-year career, but he wants to prove his worth off the court too.

The future Hall of Famer took his post-NBA career in a new direction as the animated short film he collaborated on, “Dear Basketball,” was nominated for an Oscar in that category. Though Bryant was focused strictly on the game while he was in the league, he’s found new passions since retiring.

“I’ve always been told that as basketball players, the expectation is that you play,” Bryant told Kelley Carter of the Undefeated. “This is all you know. This is all you do. Don’t think about handling finances. Don’t think about going into business. Don’t think that you want to be a writer – that’s cute. I got that a lot. What do you want to do when you retire? ‘Well, I want to be a storyteller.’ That’s cute. This is … a form of validation for people to look and say, ‘OK, he really can do something other than dribble and shoot.'”

The future projects he’s interested in have something in common.

“They all center around sports,” Bryant said. “How do we take sports and tell beautiful tales, beautiful stories that connect to human nature? If you look at sports as a whole, it connects people worldwide, on a global scale. Much like music does. But what separates music from sports is that sports is … something people do together.”

The Academy Awards will be presented Sunday in Los Angeles.

Gary Bettman made it clear he wasn’t trying to directly threaten the Calgary Flames on Friday, but he continued to insist the club’s apparent financial woes are only getting worse.

The NHL commissioner once again said during a visit to Calgary that he believes the Flames require a new arena above all else, even though neither the team nor the city has shown a desire to resume negotiations.

“I’m not here to issue any threats,” Bettman said, via TSN. “It’s clear that this is the oldest building in the league. It’s clear that the team needs a new building. Calgary’s a great market, (there are) great fans here, but the building is as important a factor as anything else.”

The Flames will remain at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which is indeed the NHL’s oldest unrenovated building, for the foreseeable future after the team decided to stop pursuing a new arena last September.

Nothing has apparently changed on that front.

“We completely concur with the position that the Flames have assumed because I don’t see any point either in there being any talks,” Bettman said.

The commissioner also reiterated a familiar refrain that Calgary was once a team with a surplus of revenue but is now a revenue-sharing recipient.

“(It) used to write a cheque for revenue sharing, but for the last couple of years, they have been receiving cheques,” he said. “The cheques are getting bigger, which means the situation financially continues to deteriorate, and that will affect ultimately the competitiveness of the organization, but they have said they’re going to do the best they can for as long as they can.”

Both the club and the city traded barbs last year over the various proposals made during the discussions, which ended after months of negotiating both privately and through the media.

In September, Bettman said, “At some point, I envision without a new building there will be consequences that everybody is going to have to deal with.”

Brock Lesnar’s name has been all over the internet since missing a pre-advertised Raw appearance on Monday night, and today’s Wrestling Observe Newsletter includes a big update on his future.

According to Dave Meltzer, sources close to the Universal Champion believe that he is UFC bound, and that his WrestleMania 34 main event against Roman Reigns could be his final WWE match.

The report also clarifies the circumstances surrounding the Raw situation. As per the write-up, Lesnar was set to travel to Anaheim for the show, but creative changed their minds at the 11th hour, meaning they had to rewrite a planned in-ring confrontation between him and Reigns.

To add further fuel to the fire, SI.com are reporting that Brock has already fulfilled his contractually obliged WWE dates, and is more interested in negotiating his next career move than “being a team player on his prior deal.”

Lesnar will be 41 this summer, and is still suspended by USADA after failing a drug test in June 2016, and dropping out of the testing pool soon after. This’ll leave him on the shelf for a few months if he does leave WWE, but it’s now or never for his MMA career.

Hall of Fame quarterback and Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly released a personal statement Thursday, announcing the oral cancer he was first diagnosed with in 2013 has returned.

As our family has faced many trials and triumphs throughout the years, you have blessed us with your prayers. We are asking for those prayers once again. The oral cancer we hoped would be gone forever has returned. Although I was shocked and deeply saddened to receive this news, I know that God is with me. I continuously talk about the four F’s. Faith, Family, Friends and Fans. With all of you by my side, we will fight and win this battle together. Staying “Kelly Tough” and trusting God, will carry us through this difficult time.

Kelly was originally diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his jaw in 2013, which ultimately led to surgery. The 58-year-old then learned his cancer had returned in March 2014 and subsequently underwent radiation and chemotherapy, with his final rounds concluding a couple of months later.

Kevin Durant is calling for more open discussion about mental health issues and increased support to help people cope, especially youth.

“It’s something that needs to be discussed and talked about more,” the Golden State Warriors forward told The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “I know it’s difficult because it’s hard to figure out exactly what somebody’s thinking and you have to dive deep into somebody’s mind and, I guess, background to help somebody out.

“But I think we can definitely be better at helping, especially at a younger age with these kids who may be going through a lot. We need more mentors, more older folks to guide the younger kids through this life. … Mental health is just something we need to talk about at schools and in the workplace. So many people go through so much inside.”

Durant, 29, believes ending the stigma around mental health and providing support to young people will go a long way toward solving a lot of the nation’s problems.

“It just feels like we need more mentors and that younger generation needs more love and care. That’s a broad statement, but I just feel like that’s the root of the problems,” he said. “Sometimes, these young boys, young girls just need somebody to talk to. That’s going back to our communities and not just giving back money, but giving back time, sharing our experiences.”

The 2014 MVP has shown a commitment to giving back and empowering youth. He spent Tuesday’s day off in D.C. touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture with his teammates and 40 students from his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Md. He recently committed $10 million to College Track to help students from under-served neighborhoods reach and graduate from college, and gifted $3 million to his alma mater Texas to support both the basketball program and the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation.

Mental health is becoming a hot topic in the NBA, with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts announcing last week the players’ association and the NBA are creating a mental wellness program for the players.

A recent and high-profile example shows why it’s a smart move, as Toronto Raptors star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his battle with depression. Meanwhile, earlier this season, Boston Celtics small forward Gordon Hayward said he was experiencing depression during rehab from his horrific leg injury, while Los Angeles Lakers big man Channing Frye revealed he was engulfed in a deep depression in 2016 after he lost both his parents.

Subscribers to New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s online streaming service increased by some 40% in the run-up to Wrestle Kingdom 12 (via Yahoo Japan).

The most impressive part of the announcement, made today by broadcaster TV Asahi, is the unprecedented gains made in the international market. In addition to a strong domestic performance, the promotion has presided over an 80% rise in overseas membership.

Business has been particularly strong in the United States, where subscriber numbers have shot up by 60%. This is despite WWE’s ongoing stranglehold over the wrestling market in the English-speaking world.

For the most part, the spike has been attributed to the drawing power of Chris Jericho, a household name in North America. The ex-WCW star made his debut at WK 12 last month, fighting Kenny Omega in one of the most widely-anticipated wrestling matches in recent memory.

But NJPW has also talked up the importance of recruiting new fans directly. The company says it experienced a 15% increase in membership off the back of holding shows in Los Angeles last year, something it intends to do again in 2018 with Strong Style Evolved.

Tiger Woods made the most positive step in his comeback to date this week at The Honda Classic, as the 14-time major winner finished the tournament in 12th-place at even-par.

Woods finished the week leading the field in proximity to the hole while sitting third in driving distance. He admitted afterward that his improved ball-striking has caused him to raise his expectations.

“My expectations have gone up. I’m hitting the ball better. I knew I could putt it, I knew I could chip it, but I didn’t know how well I was going to hit it,” Woods said on Golf Channel after the round. “I’ve had to get used to certain things. I can’t do what I used to do. I can’t hit the same shots from the same body positions, they’re different. I’m getting used to it, more accustomed to it, I’m very pleased with it, especially this week.”

Through the opening eight holes on Sunday, Woods gave fans a vintage final-round performance, posting three birdies while wearing his traditional red shirt. While he would fade with a two-over 37 on the back-9, the 42-year-old gave fans a reminder of what he’s capable of at the highest level.

“I know it’s been a long time, but I remember how to do this,” Woods said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t shoot 3-under coming in to sneak into a playoff, but I gave myself a chance.”

While he didn’t qualify for next week’s World Golf Championship event in Mexico City, Woods said he will get back in the gym and work at getting stronger to peak during the first week of April for The Masters.

If he can head to Augusta with some of the form he showed at PGA National, don’t be shocked to see him in contention on a track he’s dominated in the past.

It has already been reported that Seth Rollins is likely to be the first challenger for soon-to-be-crowned Universal Champ Roman Reigns post-WrestleMania 34.

Now, the Wrestling Observer are claiming that Rollins will take a spot originally intended for Dean Ambrose. Before Ambrose went down with a serious triceps injury in December 2017, he was supposed to be the Shield member who ruined a happy reunion to gun for the title.

As Dean will be benched until the late-Summer, it’s Seth who looks set to turn heel once again and go after Reigns. This doesn’t make much sense when considering the heroic response Rollins received for his efforts in the recent Gauntlet match on Raw, or the fact fans refuse to accept Reigns as a babyface.

Are WWE totally blind to Roman’s failure as a top face? It appears so, and it feels like a mistake to trade Seth’s popularity for another crack at forcing Reigns on an apathetic crowd.

Ambrose, complete with his “Lunatic Fringe” character, might have worked better at drawing heat, but it’s hard to see Seth successfully creating sympathy for Roman regardless of how hard WWE try.

Joaquin Oliver, 17, was excited about Dwyane Wade‘s return to the Miami Heat.

The veteran guard was traded back to South Beach, where he spent the first 13 years of his career, from the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline.

But Oliver didn’t get a chance to enjoy the return of one of his favorite players, as the student-athlete at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was among the 17 killed in the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. about a week later.

Oliver’s parents revealed he was buried Feb. 17 in his Wade jersey, which prompted an emotional tweet from the future Hall of Famer:

Wade tried to elaborate on his feelings Monday.

“You really can’t put that in words. You hurt for the family,” Wade told reporters, according to Jordan McPherson and Barry Jackson from The Miami Herald. “If you ever get the opportunity to speak to them, you just try to hope the time where he was alive that you were able to bring some type of joy to his life and something memorable. A story that his family and you guys can talk about.

“… It’s emotional even thinking about that, that his parents felt that burying him in my jersey is something that he wanted. I take a lot of pride in what I’ve done in this state and what I’ve meant for the youth, so I appreciate that.”

Former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal was a recent guest on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast to discuss a variety of topics. One of the topics discussed was how he was booted from the champion vs. champion match against Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.

Mahal was the first person to call out Lesnar for the match, and it was accepted by Paul Heyman. However, AJ Styles would step in and earn a No. 1 contender spot for the WWE Championship, and the two clashed on an episode of SmackDown Live prior to The Survivor Series. On November 7, 2017, in Manchester, England, Styles defeated Mahal to win his second WWE Champion and faced Lesnar later in the month in the champion vs. champion match instead.

When asked about losing this marquee spot to face Lesnar at Survivor Series, Mahal explained how he reacted to whether he lost his spot as one of the top heels in WWE.

“I wasn’t worried at all,” said Mahal. “A lot of people say, ‘It’s disappointing you got the push.’ No, I didn’t get the push, I made the push. I believe that every WWE superstar is in charge 100 percent of his own destiny. It’s up to me. You know, you drop the title, you win the title, but that’s part of the storyline. That match I had with AJ [Styles], even though I lost the title, it’s like I lost the match, I really did win. I had an awesome outing, awesome match, came back and got a big hug from Vince.”

Mahal added that he told Vince McMahon that he is going to be the WWE Champion long before he won it, and told Vince that he will be WWE Champion again when he lost it, and “he likes to hear stuff like that.”

“I was wrestling, like, wrestling Darren Young on Superstars every week, but I was telling Vince like, ‘Man, Vince. I wasn’t even on Raw or SmackDown every week.'”

Regarding being in the United States Championship picture, Mahal addressed if this was a demotion from where he was at the middle of last year.

“No, it’s not. It’s the United States Championship,” said Mahal. “I’m still on SmackDown, on the live events I’m still in a main, main spot, and that’s up to me to maintain that level. You know, maintain that level of performance, and that’s 100 percent up to me. If you see me fall down the card, it’s my own fault. If I’m staying at this level, it’s because of the hard work that I’m doing and I ultimately will become WWE Champion again. I 100 percent believe that.”

Mahal also addressed fans stating that he won the WWE Championship due to WWE pushing the India market.

“India was still there when I got released,” said Mahal. “India was there when I first debuted. India’s been there the entire time. You know, WWE went to India while I was released also, too, but they didn’t bring me back. So, everybody says that, that’s okay, they can say that, they can say whatever they want. I wasn’t even WWE Champion when they went to India! Yeah, so, it’s fine. It [doesn’t] bother me. Yeah, yeah, I understand it’s a business, they do whatever makes money. India is their largest market.”

Mahal also revealed that he was the one who linked Mahabali Shera to WWE when he was No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship, and he allowed Shera to stay with him for a couple of weeks.

You can hear the full interview here.

The Arizona Cardinals are making “a lot of noise” in trade discussions to move up in Thursday’s NFL draft, potentially to select a quarterback, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The Cardinals are currently slated to pick 15th overall.

Rapoport added that No. 5 (Denver) and No. 6 (Indianapolis) could be draft slots to target in search of a quarterback.

With only one pick in the first round and one pick in the second, it could prove challenging for general manager Steve Keim to get into the top five, but a move into the top 10 could be more realistic.

Arizona was known to be targeting Patrick Mahomes in the draft last year, but the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to snag the quarterback before the Cardinals went on the clock.

The Cards signed veteran quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon to short-term deals in free agency this offseason.

As owners of the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in the upcoming draft, the Cleveland Browns have considered all of their options – including selecting two quarterbacks high in the draft, reports Kevin Clark of The Ringer.

Clark directly asked multiple members of the Browns organization whether they’d considered the strategy.

“The answer is yes,” Clark wrote. “The people I asked have thought about it, discussed it, and investigated it. This is not to say it will happen.”

The Browns have gone through quarterbacks at a frightening pace since the early 1990s, and are finally in a position to end that era under new general manager John Dorsey. It only makes sense for the team to go over all possible scenarios before Cleveland’s on the clock April 26.

Dorsey hasn’t ruled out trading the No. 1 or No. 4 pick either. The Browns also have three selections in the second round.

“I’m going to consider all options … I’m going to do what’s best for this organization … I still have seven days … my phone, the power is still on,” Dorsey said Thursday, according to Daryl Ruiter of 92.3TheFan in Cleveland.

There is precedent for selecting two quarterbacks in one draft class. In one of the most high-profile examples, the Washington Redskins traded up to select Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in 2012 and then drafted his backup, Kirk Cousins, in the fourth round.

The move ultimately blew up in their faces. Griffin won Rookie of the Year, but struggled with Cousins looming over his shoulder. Griffin was eventually shipped out and Washington installed Cousins as the starter – until he was deemed too expensive to keep and allowed to sign the richest contract in NFL history with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason.

Speaking at his pre-draft press conference Thursday, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman appeared to offer some insight into his team’s draft-day decision process.

Despite links to multiple quarterbacks atop next week’s draft, Gettleman was quick to point out the risk of selecting a signal-caller.

“When you’re picking this high, if you make a mistake… (and) you miss on a quarterback… you probably hurt the franchise for five years,” Gettleman said, via NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano. “It’s a five-year mistake.”

The Giants currently own the second overall pick and will have plenty of high-quality options whether they take a quarterback or not.

Gettleman added he has not made up his mind on which prospect to select, saying: “With the second pick, I’m sitting at Ben and Jerry’s and I have a lot of different flavors to look at.”

One player linked to New York is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, a consensus top-five prospect. Gettleman appeared enamored with the athletic ball-carrier.

“He’s a tremendous talent, I’m not going to lie,” he said, via NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones. “He’s one of those guys my mother could have scouted.”

Adding to speculation the Giants could pass on a first-round quarterback next week, Gettleman continued to support current starter Eli Manning, saying he still has “plenty of arm” and is taking great care of himself heading into 2018.

Saquon Barkley and his army of supporters believe the star running back has the potential to become the next face of the NFL, but the Penn State product’s handlers are reportedly concerned he might not accomplish that goal if the Cleveland Browns draft him.

Six weeks ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley spent time with Sports Illustrated’s Ben Baskin and discussed the transcendent talent’s lofty hopes – among them being the No. 1 overall pick on April 26. The Browns own both the first and fourth pick in the draft. That’s a problem, according to Barkley’s agency, Roc Nation.

“His Roc Nation handlers … don’t want him to be taken No. 1. They don’t want him in Cleveland,” Baskin reports. “They want him to go second to the Giants and play in the media capital of the world. That’s where you can become the face of the league.”

Barkley himself has stated no such thing. He’s reportedly been telling close friends that if he’s selected by the Browns and brings a championship to Cleveland, as LeBron James did with the NBA’s Cavaliers, he’d be exalted as a hero.

According to Baskin, Barkley’s manager “implored” the prospect to do as Eli Manning once did and demand that the team with the first pick doesn’t draft him so he can wind up in New York.

Roc Nation subsequently denied that its representatives ever gave Barkley such advice.

“I can say on behalf of our entire team that we would be thrilled for Saquon to go to whichever team drafts him,” agent Kim Miale told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com on Wednesday.

Roc Nation built a 15-person team around Barkley with the intent of carving out a niche for him in football’s marketing machine.

“The thing I want to do is build an image around myself. And do that safely and smartly,” said the superstar of March’s combine.

As exciting as the prospect of WWE’s utterly ludicrous Greatest Royal Rumble set for this Friday is, it is somewhat weighed down by the Greatest Elephant in the Room – chiefly, the absolute omission of women from the card.

During a time when a WrestleMania main event headlined by female talent looks more probable than ever, it’s somewhat mystifying that the company would choose to completely undermine their so-called ‘evolution’ by hosting a major event in a country where the women’s roster are not even permitted to compete.

But money talks, and a government-funded project of global soft-diplomacy is apparently worth more to WWE than what is, it seems, a quite transparent PR exercise designed to capitalise on a social movement.

Call us cynics.

To his credit, Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque has at least stepped forth to address the understandable concern surrounding the gender discrimination inherent in hosting such a show. Speaking with The Independent, Trips acknowledged complaints, but noted that “every culture is different and just because you don’t agree with a certain aspect of it, doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.”

WWE’s Executive VP went on: “You can’t dictate to a country or a religion about how they handle things, but, having said that, WWE is at the forefront of a women’s evolution in the world and what you can’t do is affect change anywhere by staying away from it.

“While right now, women are not competing at the event, we have had discussions about that and we believe and hope that, in the next few years they will be. That is a significant cultural shift in Saudi Arabia.”

It’s very difficult to argue with anything The Game says, and he is absolutely right: it’s not necessarily our place to judge the relative merits of other cultures from without. However, it’s still not entirely clear why Vince and co. did not wait for the ‘cultural shift’ to transpire before getting into bed with their Saudi partners (incidentally, something else outlawed in the Kingdom). What’s that? How many million dollars? Oh.

The New York Rangers shipped out veterans Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nashduring a fire sale prior to the 2018 trade deadline, but that list could’ve also included franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

“We told Hank that if he didn’t want to ride it out through this process, we’d find a good landing place for him,” James Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, told the New York Post’s Larry Brooks. “But he said he wanted to stay and see it through.

“I’m very happy thats the way he feels. I think with him at the top of his game, that gives us our best chance of competing for a playoff spot next year.”

Even prior to the Rangers announcing their rebuilding plans in February, Lundqvist remained committed to the team, stating, “I want to be here and battle through the ups and downs.”

The goaltender is signed through the 2020-21 season with an $8.5-million annual cap hit and a full no-movement clause, per Cap Friendly.

Despite turning 36 on March 2 and having a poor defensive team in front of him, Lundqvist still managed to post a .915 save percentage this past season.

Two of the Chicago Bears‘ most iconic players of the 2000s – running back Matt Forte and kick returner Devin Hester – will sign one-day contracts Monday to officially finish their careers at Halas Hall, the team announced.

Both players were selected in the second round of the draft – Hester in 2006 and Forte in 2008 – and went on to spend the first eight years of their respective careers in Chicago.

Hester built a reputation as one of the all-time great kick returners with the Bears, eventually becoming the career leader in total return touchdowns with 20 as well as punt-return touchdowns with 14. He went on to play for the Atlanta FalconsBaltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2000s.

Forte was a force for the Bears throughout his career, breaking out with a team rookie record of 1,715 scrimmage yards in his first season and finishing his time in Chicago with the second-most career rushing yards in franchise history. He was selected to two Pro Bowls as a member of the Bears and recorded over 1,200 scrimmage yards in all eight seasons before spending his last two years with the New York Jets.


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