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Eva Marie hasn’t appeared on WWE television since August 2016, when she incurred a 30-day suspension for violating the company’s Wellness Policy. She has stayed busy away from the ring by preparing for Inconceivable, her film debut, and launching her own fashion line, NEM Fashion, but with her suspension long since expired, it doesn’t sound like she’ll be returning to SmackDown anytime soon.

According to a new report from WrestlingInc.com, WWE won’t be renewing Eva’s contract ahead its forthcoming expiry date. It’ll end Eva’s four-year tenure with the company, and while neither party has made an announcement, she isn’t expected to appear for WWE again.

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise: Eva has seemingly abandoned her “All Red Everything” gimmick by dying her hair black since the suspension, and has stopped mentioning wrestling on social. Instead, she has focused on posting about her movies and fashion line, and removed all mention of WWE from her Twitter account.

Always a divisive figure among WWE fans, Eva Marie’s presence all but guaranteed nuclear heel heat whenever she stepped into the arena. There was talk of her returning for WrestleMania 33’s multi-person SmackDown Women’s Championship match, but this now looks to be off the table.

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Source: RTE

Charlotte Flair spoke to RTE on both wrestlers and fans rising above body shamming comments. Here are some of the highlights:

Body image issues:

“Negative comments in terms of body image are the hardest thing the women probably struggle with. But I think the best thing that we can do as WWE superstars is taking that negativity and using it in a positive way, because there are so many young kids on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to not send the message of hate on to. [We need to] ignore if someone is saying something bad, and not add fuel to the fire.”

Dealing with the negativity, partly due to her role:

“No one ever has a chance to get to know the real me because I do play a bad guy, and sometimes it’s hard to soak in the comments or the negativity because that’s the response you want to illicit. I am a normal person, but that’s part of the job. I’m playing a character and that’s my role.”

Charlotte Flair also discussed wanting to be a positive role model for fans. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

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A Dallas Cowboys legend that is no stranger to the spotlight is offering up some words of wisdom for Ezekiel Elliott.

Among the many Cowboys-related issues discussed in a recent appearance on KRLD-FM 105.3, Michael Irvin weighed in on the controversial actions of the team’s young running back.

Irvin says Elliott needs to better understand the situation he’s in as a star player in Dallas.

“Not to ever make an excuse for anybody, but he’s a young guy,” Irvin said, according to SportsDay. “And I don’t mind a guy having fun and all of that. But I need him to understand the enormity of everything surrounding him. I know Ohio State is huge, but the Dallas Cowboys are something different.

“Everything you do, anything you do … that’s going to get out, that’s going to be a story. And you have to try to stay away from that. As I was watching it, I remember when I first saw it … I checked my calendar. Is this Mardi Gras? When you watch it, you can see the wheels turning in his head … don’t do it; don’t do it. But he does it. He just has to be careful, man. I’m glad that nothing has come of it as of yet.”

The incident Irvin referenced involved Elliott being captured on camera pulling down the shirt of a woman at a St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Elliott wasted no time emerging as one of the NFL’s brightest young stars as a rookie, posting a league-high 1,631 rushing yards in helping Dallas secure the NFC’s top playoff seed.

Along with the league’s still-ongoing investigation into domestic violence allegations brought against him by his ex-girlfriend, though, concern about his conduct away from the field is growing.

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As has become an annual tradition during WrestleMania season, speculation is mounting that The Undertaker could announce his WWE retirement after wrestling Roman Reigns on April 2nd.

The rumour stems from a PW Insider Elite report stating that The Undertaker was walking around in a lot of pain ahead of his appearance on last week’s Monday Night Raw. The Undertaker was also noticeably cumbersome and off the pace during the Royal Rumble, and having recently celebrated his 52nd birthday, his post-WrestleMania 33 status is now questionable.

It’s easy to dismiss Undertaker retirement stories, as the Phenom has defied them every year since losing his Streak to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. Given his recent health issues, however, there might actually be something behind this story.

The Undertaker has been battling hip issues since last year, and underwent career-prolonging surgery in September (after which he was photographed using crutches in public). He reportedly needs to a full hip replacement to relieve all the pain in his body, but has been putting this off as it will end his career.

These are just rumours at the moment, however, and another age-defying WrestleMania performance could still be on the cards. Regardless, few would begurdge Taker’s decision should he retire after Mania 33.

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The Raiders are heading to Sin City.

NFL owners officially approved the Raiders‘ proposed bid for relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas with an “overwhelming” vote Monday, commissioner Roger Goodell announced.

The final tally among the league’s 32 teams was 31-1, with the only opposition being from the Miami Dolphins, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Owner Mark Davis announced in a statement shortly after the vote that the team is planning to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum for the next two seasons and will hope to stay until a stadium in Las Vegas is built.

In Las Vegas, the Raiders will move forward with plans for a $1.9-billion stadium. Funding for which includes an unprecedented $750 million in public money, as well as a $650-million loan from Bank of America.

The lack of a viable long-term solution in Oakland saw momentum toward a Las Vegas move build rapidly once the significant funding was secured by the team.

One owner told NFL.com’s Judy Battista that, following presentations from the league and the Raiders, there were no questions raised before the vote took place.

Joining the Rams and Chargers, who left their respective cities for Los Angeles, the Raiders become the third NFL team in just 14 months to receive approval for relocation.

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Now that his playing days are over, Alex Rodriguez has had a lot of time to reflect on his controversial baseball career.

Rodriguez, once the highest-paid player in baseball history, has already started spreading some of the wisdom he picked up in baseball to the next generation. On Thursday, according to Jim Berry of CBS Miami, the former New York Yankees superstar sat down with a group of college students at the University of Miami and candidly discussed all aspects of his scandal-laden 22-year career on and off the field.

“I made mistakes and then I doubled down and became a bigger jerk and then went on sports radio and made an ass of myself,” Rodriguez told the students, referring in part to the steroid scandal that continues to cloud his on-field accomplishments.

“I was just a really big jerk.”

In his short post-baseball life, Rodriguez has already made a name for himself as a rising star in television through his work as an analyst on FOX’s MLB coverage; he’s also working in the Yankees organization and has several private business ventures. But he told Berry that telling his story to students and owning up to his errors is giving him the most satisfaction right now.

“I’ve had some big hiccups along the way and I think that’s created a big platform for me to come back into the community,” Rodriguez said, according to Berry. “Hopefully I can share stories of mistakes that I’ve made that hopefully the next generation doesn’t make.”

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Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is used to battling Washington on the football field, but now he’s taking his fight to Capitol Hill.

Fed up with the trends of American politics, Lurie stated his case against the country’s leaders in an open letter for Time that was published Friday.

He used his own life experiences to make the point that a united front is much more successful than a divided one.

What I have learned from football can be applied to society at large. Just as we intensely game-plan against an opponent in sports, we need to game plan for the reality and consequences of polarization. Extreme polarization is the opponent – not each other. A football team is made up of players from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and political viewpoints. What unites them is grit, determination, and the desire to win. They join in a common goal and do what is necessary to transcend their differences for the greater good of their team.

What unites Americans is far more negative. We are now in an age where communicating verifiable information becomes secondary to the goal of creating a common enemy that unifies people in fear, negativity and opposition. This masks our inability to solve serious domestic problems (poverty, violence, and institutional racism, to name three current examples) and diverts our attention from obvious suffering.

Lurie said his country has accomplished many great things and contains many great minds, but, if the divide continues, it will be difficult to make progress.

All we are lacking is leadership. Imagine if Republicans and Democrats put down their swords just for a day to create a comprehensive multi-disciplinary, multi-occupational effort to solve the mysteries of autism and uncover groundbreaking treatments. Imagine how we would benefit from understanding aspects of the autistic brain that can include rare mathematical, creative, and other cognitive abilities that may well enhance our own brain power and human potential. We might even excite our global rivals to join this united effort.

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Draymond Green doesn’t care much for Nicki Minaj’s infatuation with LeBron James.

While discussing Minaj’s feud with fellow rapper Remy Ma on the latest episode of his podcast, the Golden State Warriors forward called her out for name-dropping James – most recently on “No Frauds.” The track, which takes aim at Ma, includes the line, “They say numbers don’t matter but when they discussin’ the kings, they turn around and say LeBron ain’t got six rings.”

“Is Nicki Minaj gon’ mention ‘Bron in every song?” Green wondered aloud, according to Bansky Gonzalez from Uproxx. “Like, every song she has released since June 2016, there’s something about LeBron in it. I mean dang, like yeah, LeBron is great but Jesus Christ. At some point it just becomes too repetitive. Jesus Christ, you can’t mention ‘Bron in every song you do.”

Green was exaggerating, but Minaj has referenced James in several of her rhymes.

On DJ Mustard’s “Don’t Hurt Me,” she raps: “Even if you was Curry, bitch, there’s still a LeBron / But let’s face it, I’m Curry, with rings like LeBron / Added my rings up, that’s Mike Jordan.” She also mentions James on DJ Khaled’s “Do You Mind” and her 2010 track “Blazin.”

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats‘ negotiation list got some major star power on Monday as TSN reports the club has added NFL free-agent quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.

Kaepernick spent his entire six-year career with the San Francisco 49ers and became a free agent when he opted out of his contract earlier in the month. He became a household name under Jim Harbaugh’s coaching in the Bay area, leading the team to the 2012 NFC title. He threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and just four interceptions last season.

He made headlines last season for his decision not to stand during the national anthem in protest to social injustice.

Griffin was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and promptly won Rookie of the Year for the Washington Redskins. He has battled injuries throughout his career and spent last season with the Cleveland Browns. He suffered a shoulder injury in the season opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and only saw time in four other contests.

While the addition of their names to the negotiation list will certainly cause a stir, it would be shocking not to see Zach Collaros under center for the club next season.

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Build it and they may come.

Amidst his Western Canada media tour, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Vancouver on Thursday and spoke about the possibility of an NHL future in bordering Seattle.

“There’s been a lot of talk for a long period of time about a building or not, and frankly if the city ever gets it act together on a building, then maybe there will be a reason for us to focus on it,” Bettman told reporters. “I’m not saying it will happen if there is a reason, but there’s no reason to focus on it in the absence of a building.”

Local businessman Chris Hansen has been connected with building a new arena in the city, but with a focus on returning the NBA to Seattle. The SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Seattle has often been mentioned as a new market for the NHL, and an addition in the Pacific Northwest would create a natural rival for the Canucks.

The city has a rich history of hockey. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup. Forty-five years later, KeyArena opened and played host to the WHL’s Thunderbirds from 1985 to 2008, when the team left for nearby Kent.

In the meantime, a local Seattle group, led by Tim Leiweke, who has previously been part of both the NHL and NBA, wants to renovate KeyArena in order to accelerate the city’s efforts in attracting a pro team.

Leiweke told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he believes KeyArena can be brought up to par in three to four years. It’s a similar time frame to the construction of the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which broke ground in 2014 and will open to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights next season.

Still, Leiweke was quick to add Seattle will need to build its team through expansion, noting neither the NHL or NBA sees a franchise relocation on the horizon.

“We believe that there is no franchise today in the NHL or in the NBA that is in danger of being lost as an opportunity over the next few years,” Lieweke told Baker. “And we believe that should Gary Bettman make a decision to expand, that if you look at the last process they just went through, it was a three- to four-year process to get that building built and to get that (Las Vegas) team up and running this next season.”

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The ongoing drama surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers and their ownership doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon.

Janie Buss, the younger sister of controlling owner Jeanie Buss, says both of her older brothers, Jim and Johnny, are working to break the family trust in order to sell their minority ownership in the franchise.

“This is something huge and it’s not going to go away. They’re trying to bust the trust so they can sell their (interests),” Janie told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “And if they sell, that’ll leave the rest of us in a minority.”

Last week, both brothers reportedly attempted to dethrone Jeanie as the Lakers president and controlling owner. Jeanie ultimately requested a restraining order after Jim and Johnny tried to hold a meeting to elect a new board that excluded her.

“Growing up, Johnny was the kid who brought the ball to the park and when things didn’t go his way, he took the ball and ran,” Janie said. “I don’t want to call him a poor sport, because a poor sport would be someone who lost a game and kicked the referee. No, Johnny took the ball away so nobody could play.

“Jimmy will bring the ball, but he’ll be like, ‘Everyone gets to play, but you have to put a dollar in to play. He tries to figure out things mathematically, how to get the best advantage.”

Reports last week indicated that a probate court trial would be held in May to settle the dispute.

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Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers is struggling with dementia after being diagnosed with the brain disease four years ago, according to Vahe Gregorian of The Kansas City Star.

Gregorian spent time with Sayers and his wife, Ardie, recently and describes a former star rusher whose comprehension of the things happening around him is becoming less clear.

Sayers was diagnosed with dementia four years ago, but his wife only recently decided to share the news publicly.

“Other people start making up stories, and people are asking about him more and more,” she told Gregorian. “People must know.”

Now 73 years old, Sayers became the youngest person inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was added in 1977 at age 34.

Despite the brevity of Sayers’ seven-year NFL career – knee injuries limited him to a mere 68 games played and forced him into retirement before age 30 – he is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in NFL history.

In what could be considered a sickeningly ironic turn of events, Ardie said her husband is now physically healthy “as a horse” and working out several days a week as his brain fails him.

In addition to knee injuries, Sayers has claimed he suffered multiple head injuries that were mishandled by the NFL. He filed a lawsuit against the league in 2013.

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WWE star Paige has become the latest victim of hackers invading her privacy when explicit content of her, including multiple pictures and videos, was posted to the internet without her consent. The material began to leak Friday and was passed around various forums, where thankfully most site moderators acted quickly to remove them as soon they were posted.

It’s important to note that Paige, along with former WWE talent Brad Maddox and another man that is speculated to be Xavier Woods are victims here who should be treated with respect while dealing with this unfortunate situation.

The former WWE women’s champion tweeted the following statement addressing the incident:

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The past eight months have been challenging for the popular young star – absent from WWE television since late July of 2016 when she was hit with consecutive wellness policy violations shortly before undergoing successful neck surgery. The injury has kept her on the shelf and there’s been no word on when she would be returning to active duty.

As of now, WWE has yet to address the matter but we will keep you updated if any news breaks on that front.

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Auston Matthews may be mired in a scoring drought, but the young Toronto Maple Leafs pivot’s overall body of work is still worth plenty of praise. Just ask Jonathan Toews.

Ahead of the Saturday-night tilt that will see the two pivots line up across from each other at center ice, Toews dished on what he’s seen from the 2016 No.1 pick’s rookie effort.

Count the Chicago Blackhawks captain a fan.

“You compare (Matthews) to guys like Malkin and even Kane, the way he handles the puck with his feet moving,” Toews told TSN. “For a guy that size, it’s not that easy.”

High praise, to say the least, given the fact that Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane have combined for five Stanley Cups, two Hart trophies, and three scoring titles thus far, among a slew of other awards.

Matthews has a long way to go before he’s truly in the same conversation as those two stars, but Toews believes the potential is clearly there.

“You knew he had the talent but sometimes it’s a matter of time before it translates to the NHL, and he’s wasted no time,” Toews said.

“You wonder, if that’s how he comes out of the gate, what’s he going to be like in a couple years from now?”

Matthews has racked up 31 goals and 55 points through 69 games this season, both marks ranking second among all rookies behind 2016 No. 2 pick Patrik Laine.

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Source: Vegas Seven

Dean Ambrose and Renee Young spoke to Vegas Seven about life in and outside of the ring. Here are some of the highlights:

Why Ambrose wrestles in a shirt:

“I said, ‘What I’m going to do is dress as plain as humanly possible.’ I’m not going to wear anything fancy, I’m not going to have fancy music, I’m not going to have fancy pyro—I’m literally just going to be a dude walking into the ring. I’m going to look like I just got off work from a construction site and I am now punching you in the face. That was my goal­—be as simple as humanly possible. I pretty much stick to Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. You can wear large, you know, but you like to make it a little snug sometimes, shape the contours. It’s best to leave a little bit to the imagination, then at a certain point in the evening, in the match when the intensity is high, you get to rip off the shirt. You get a big pop for that. And then you can throw the shirt to somebody. It gives you another prop to work with. You can get your shirt ripped off or halfway ripped off, and then you look like you’ve been beaten up a lot more than you really have.”

Fans that go too far:

Ambrose: “I have a particular demographic. I think I appeal to a lot of people who might have problems of their own [and] they relate to me. It’s cool when you can help and inspire people and stuff, but sometimes people just attach to you for strange reasons, [and] their behavior is not the best. I’ve been stalked, I’ve been—”

Young: “I get many a death threat. Well, I mean, there’s a lot of anti–Renee Young pages out there.”

Ambrose: “It’s actually good to make this point. But without going into too much detail, I’ve been stalked on the phone and my home and hotels, to the point where it’s a little Single White Female scary, though I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna get beaten up and kidnapped by a 15-year-old girl.”

Young: “I don’t know…there are a lot of steroids in foods now.”

Ambrose: “I’ve been stalked fairly regularly for the last two years. I have to go to great lengths to keep that s— at bay.”

Doing things on-screen Ambrose doesn’t believe in:

“I’ve gotten asked to do things that, sometimes, I think, ‘That’s stupid.’ If you do anything a hundred percent, if you commit to it, even if sucks, it’ll at least suck a hundred percent. One my favorites was when Vince [McMahon, the driving force behind WWE] wanted me to carry this little red wagon full of weapons around the ring in Brooklyn, the hardest audience that we have. And I’m getting ready for a fight with Brock Lesnar. So I’m like, ‘I’m about to go into a match that will be a fight to the death with the beast incarnate, who’s going to probably kill me—this is not a time for laughs. If I come out there with a little red wagon, they’re gonna laugh at me.’ But he’s like, ‘No, you’re not even gonna look at Brock. You’re just gonna pull that wagon, put your weapons in it, walk around, go to the back.’ He said, ‘Because it’s not a joke to you. This wagon is serious’—and in Vince’s mind, he saw it a certain way, and I went, ‘All right, fine, OK. I’ll drag the little red wagon, and I’m gonna drag the s— out of that little red wagon.’ And I went out there, was mean-muggin’ with this little red wagon, and it was so ridiculous, but I took it seriously. They loved it, and I was like, ‘I cannot believe that worked.'”

Both also discussed being on reality TV, people who say “Wrestling is fake,” and life without pro wrestling. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

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If one word could describe the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament, it would be: chalk. Upsets have been few and far between, and a few of the lower-seeded teams that did win (Middle Tennessee, Wichita State, Rhode Island) were actually Vegas favorites to begin with.

As a result, no team seeded worse than 12 advanced past the first round for the first time since 2007, with the Blue Raiders serving as the only 12-seed to move on to the tournament’s first weekend.

In comparison, three teams seeded 13 or lower made their way to the second round last season, including Middle Tennessee, which became only the eighth 15-seed to beat a No. 2 in tournament history.

The one saving grace for double-digit seeds this year was the play of the 11-seeds, as Rhode Island, Wichita State, and Xavier all managed to beat the 6-seeds in their regions. The lack of upsets may have limited the drama during the opening round, but on the bright side, with all this talent moving on, the second round provides a bevy of highly anticipated matchups.

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Dana White has made it clear he isn’t a fan of the potential boxing match between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, but apparently the UFC president doesn’t intend to stop his most bankable star from earning the biggest payday of his career.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for my business, but I would never keep Conor from making that kind of money,” White told TMZ, according to Damon Martin of FOX Sports.

“He obviously has a lot of opportunities right now. Tony Ferguson is out there, the Floyd Mayweather thing is out there, we’ll see how this thing plays out.”

The fight between McGregor and Mayweather appears closer than ever – though nothing has been confirmed – with a report that T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas has been reserved in June for the bout.

McGregor is currently sidelined as he awaits the birth of his first child in late April or early May, but Mayweather has continued to push for the fight to happen sooner rather than later, saying he’s “officially out of retirement” for the Irishman.

“Today, I’m officially out of retirement for Conor McGregor,” Mayweather said recently. We don’t need to waste no time. We need to make this sh-t happen quickly. Let’s get it on in June.”

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Source: ESPN UK

WWE SmackDown announcer JBL recently spoke with ESPN UK. The full interview is at this link and below are highlights:

Living in Bermuda and his Beyond Rugby program that helps at-risk youth:

“When people look at Bermuda they see the beautiful beaches, the golf courses, the fishing, and that’s what they should see. That’s Bermuda. What they don’t see is the almost predominant black-on-black violence that is unfortunately pervasive throughout the local neighborhoods.”

“I don’t know what I’ve done in the previous 50 years of my life, but nothing compares to what I’m doing right now. At least as far as personal fulfillment with these young men and getting an opportunity to work with some great coaches and volunteers in Bermuda who simply want to do the right thing for young people who, for no fault of their own, are born into circumstances that are not conducive to success.”

The run that led to him becoming the longest-reigning WWE Champion on SmackDown:

“It just happened that I was in the right place at the right time. It was late in my career, and I thought my career was over. I tore my biceps and had two hernia surgeries. I didn’t know if I would do much of anything again, and all of a sudden you have people get hurt.”

“Kurt Angle got hurt, Brock Lesnar had left the company, and [WWE] needed somebody against Eddie Guerrero right away. That’s when the JBL character was created.”

Feuding with WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero:

“We did the storyline where we gave Eddie’s mother a heart attack in El Paso, which almost got me killed. I literally had a police escort out of El Paso and all the way to Odessa. The police told me not to come back, that they thought I would get killed. It was that great. We set an attendance record at Staples Center [in Los Angeles] a few weeks later, and because of Eddie Guerrero, he molded my character. Eddie wanted my character to work.

“If it had been anybody but Eddie Guerrero, you would have never heard of JBL. But because of Eddie, I had that incredible run, and it was just the right time. I had the perfect foil in this incredible Latino star, who was one of my best friends.”

Check out the full interview with JBL at this link.

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It’s a story of two people who know a thing or two about going into battle coming together.

Ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins game Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, captain Sidney Crosby took the time to meet one of his most adoring fans, 5-year-old Memphis Savage.

The Vancouver Island native – who had brain tumors removed shortly after his first birthday – received the news in January that, after years of no problems, two new non-cancerous tumors had developed.

Shortly after, Memphis’ father, Cole, penned a letter to the Penguins asking if there was a chance Memphis could meet his favorite player – Crosby.

The opportunity presented itself Saturday.

“I was hoping and praying but I had no idea it was going to happen,” Cole said, according to Cheryl Chan of The Province. “I can’t stress how good (Crosby’s) heart was, and how nice he was to do this for us.”

Crosby spent nearly 45 minutes signing autographs and chatting with the family and urging Memphis to continue fighting in a chat that was instigated by Memphis.

“My name is Memphis. Nice to meet you, sir,” a well-dressed Memphis said, breaking the ice with his idol.

Memphis would get to watch Crosby skate in a 3-0 win over his favorite team, the Canucks, capping off what, to dad, was a perfect afternoon.

“I was almost crying,” said Cole. “He’s a 100 percent class act. We met a real champion. A heart of gold that guy has.”

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Phoenix Coyotes

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is asking the Arizona Legislature to pass a bill – Senate Bill 1149 – that would provide public funds for a new arena for the Coyotes.

In a letter submitted Tuesday, Bettman maintained the Greater Phoenix region represents a “strong hockey market which we are proud to have included in the NHL.” At the same time, however, the current home arena situation is untenable at best.

Bettman wrote:

The Coyotes current location in Glendale at Gila River Arena is not economically capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise. For the past 15 years a succession of ownership groups have have tried everything imaginable to make the Glendale location financial sustainable. Our combined efforts have all yielded the same result – a consistent economic loss.

The simple truth: The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.

On Feb. 3, Arizona State University pulled the plug on a proposed new home for the Coyotes in Tempe.

The passing of Bill SB 1149 would open up $225 million in public funds for a $395-million arena project in the East Valley area of Phoenix.

In the meantime, the Coyotes remain on a year-to-year lease at Gila River Arena.

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Free-agent running back Adrian Peterson views the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks as desirable teams to sign with, a source told NFL Network’s Stacey Dales.

While Peterson reportedly hasn’t drawn much interest from teams, he is also open to joining the New England Patriots at a discount if they want him back.

The Minnesota Vikings declined Peterson’s contract option last week after 10 seasons with the team. He missed 13 games in 2016 with a meniscus injury. The Vikings have said they are open to re-signing Peterson, but did not want him on the roster carrying the $18-million cap hit that his previous contract included.

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Currently on a tour of the United Kingdom, Floyd Mayweather had a short, succinct message for Conor McGregor.

“Sign the paper,” Mayweather said, according to ESPN’s Ben Dirs. “Sign the paper. You said you were boss, so just sign the paper and let’s make it happen.”

Mayweather is referring to the ongoing negotiations between himself and the UFC lightweight champion for a potential boxing match that has been the subject of rampant speculation. Both men have made varying degrees of commitment to the superfight, with disputes over pay and how much autonomy McGregor has as an employee of the UFC.

McGregor has boasted that he calls the shots in his career, much to the chagrin of UFC president Dana White. The 28-year-old Irishman has been on hiatus since knocking out Eddie Alvarez last November to capture the 155-pound strap and has prioritized a meeting with Mayweather over any future Octagon adversaries.

The magnitude of the crossover fight is one thing the two superstars agree on, with Mayweather going as far as to say it was the most important fight in the sport. Mayweather recently turned 40 and has not fought since defeating Andre Berto in a supposed retirement bout in September 2015 which improved his record to a spotless 49-0.

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What’s old is new again.

The Ottawa Senators are contemplating a full-time switch to their iconic throwback logo, replacing the Roman-style emblem the club has used since 1992.

The original Senators used a variation of the ‘O’ logo during Ottawa’s initial stint in the NHL (1917-34), and the franchise reintroduced it in 2011.

“That jersey has inspired lot of people,” Tom Anselmi, president and CEO of the Senators, told Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen. “It’s a great looking jersey and the players like it. But we’re not going to do anything knee-jerk.”

Anselmi joined the Senators in January after a 17-year career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The longtime executive believes the timing is perfect for the Senators to bring in the new look, considering several historic milestones both the franchise and its city have on the horizon:

  • 25 years since the Senators rejoined the NHL
  • 100th anniversary of the NHL
  • 150th anniversary of the City of Ottawa
  • 150th anniversary of Canada

“There has been a lot of jerseys, a lot of logos, lots of patches,” Anselmi added. “Whatever we end up with at the end of day, we want to stick with it. We want something that will stand the test of time.”

The Senators plan to wear the throwback jerseys at a proposed outdoor game to be held in December in Ottawa versus the Montreal Canadiens.

According to Anselmi, the Senators need to be more like sports organizations that have “a clear understanding of what their brand is.” Original Six franchises like the Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings have made few tweaks to their look throughout history.

“The logo is just a visual representation of the brand. Where we go next is a clear priority,” Anselmi said. “We’re aware of what the fans here are saying and we’re hearing a lot.”

Any changes by the Senators will be permanent, as reports indicate that the league’s jersey manufacturer will eliminate third jerseys in 2017-18.

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Noah Syndergaard has never shied away from making his opinions known, as was most notably documented when the hulking New York Mets pitcher famously asked the Kansas City Royals to meet him “60 feet, 6 inches away” after knocking down Alcides Escobar with a pitch during the 2015 World Series.

On Tuesday, the 24-year-old Syndergaard offered his thoughts on Jose Bautista‘s epic bat flip during Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series, which immediately became a topic of controversy, with some believing the Toronto Blue Jays slugger disrespected the game with his emotional outburst

“And in terms of (Bryce) Harper saying he wants to make baseball more fun again, in terms of more emotion, the Bautista moment, I’m pretty sure the guy – when that happened – had probably blacked out at the moment,” Syndergaard explained to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “Just sheer enjoyment and excitement and just being in the moment. The bat flip, I have no problem with it. I can’t imagine how much emotion is going through him that he probably might not have even realized what he was doing. My big thing is having respect for the game.”

Despite any of the flack Bautista received for the incident, which eventually came back to bite him in 2016 courtesy of a punch to the face from Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, Syndergaard had no issue with Bautista expressing himself and felt like he was just having a little fun.

“I wouldn’t say he was disrespecting the game at all,” Syndergaard said. “I see it as he was having fun out there. He was trying as hard as he possibly can to do what he wants for the team. I don’t see that as disrespect at all. I see that as pure emotion.”

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New York City FC striker David Villa has come to the defense of Major League Soccer.

A relatively young league founded in compliance with the United States’ 1994 World Cup bid, MLS has attracted criticism since its birth from American fans of traditional continental sports and worldwide observers who disparage the league’s level of play.

Villa doesn’t think that condemnation is warranted, and few would know better than the Spanish World Cup winner. He spent 15 years in arguably the world’s best league in Spain with clubs such as Valencia and Barcelona before he moved to the North American top flight in 2014.

“I don’t think there is anyone that can come to the MLS for one, two, three months and talk badly about the league,” Villa told CNN’s Matias Grez.

While Villa has enjoyed success in MLS – pairing 63 appearances with 41 goals for the team that plies its trade at Yankees Stadium – others with similar backgrounds haven’t been as fortunate.

Since David Beckham started the trend of Designated Players who have capped off European careers with MLS tenures, for every Villa there’s been a name like Mista, Rafa Marquez, or ex-NYCFC mate Frank Lampard that hasn’t found the league as straightforward as perhaps expected.

As MLS moves past its characterisation as a retirement home for players beyond their best, the quality of play improves, and with it, the pedigree of the league’s stars.

A generation of past-their-prime Designated Players including Claudio Reyna and Denilson is being crowded out by emerging stars like Atlanta United‘s Miguel Almiron and Sporting Kansas City‘s Gerso Fernandes.

Throw in names like Toronto FC goal machine Sebastian Giovinco and LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos, and MLS is rife with talents spending their best years in the North American top tier.

“All these comments from people that talk badly about it, without a doubt it’s because they haven’t analyzed the league,” Villa said.

The reigning MVP and two-time All-Star may be nearing the twilight of a decorated career, but while he’s in the MLS, Villa reckons the league merits some plaudits.

“I’ve been here, I’ve seen the league for a long time, and it deserves respect from everybody for how good it is.”

 

One of MMA’s most sought after dream matches could still become a reality someday.

Appearing on the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast, UFC legend Georges St-Pierre teased that a meeting with fellow future Hall of Famer Anderson Silva is something that’s on his mind. GSP is set to end a three-year retirement when he fights middleweight champion Michael Bisping later this year.

During St-Pierre and Silva’s respective reigns over the 170- and 185-pound divisions, fans often speculated how a fight between the two would unfold, and now that St-Pierre is moving up in weight it seems closer than ever despite them being past their primes.

“It is possible,” St-Pierre said, according to Mike Bohn of MMAjunkie. “The truth is this: The only time I’ve been offered to fight Anderson Silva, formally – like formally – like a real offer, was after my fight with Johny Hendricks (at UFC 167) when I retired.

“It’s not (that I turned it down) because it was Anderson Silva. I would not have fought nobody. You could have put a midget of 3-foot tall, (and) I would not have even fought him. I wouldn’t want to fight. I was tired. I wanted to take time off.”

After narrowly outpointing Hendricks to record his ninth consecutive title defense, St-Pierre stepped away from MMA, citing burnout as one of the reasons for his withdrawal. He never committed to retirement and rumors of a comeback reached a fever pitch last year before he formally signed a new deal with the UFC in February.

While Bisping was not the middleweight opponent fans had been clamoring for, it does offer St-Pierre the opportunity to become the fourth fighter in UFC history to win titles in two divisions. After that, the timing could be right to settle his business with Silva, something that was difficult to arrange in the past due to St-Pierre’s responsibilities as welterweight champion.

“We talked about Anderson Silva many times with (former UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) and (UFC President) Dana (White),” St-Pierre said. “What I wanted to do at the time – there was a big lineup of contenders in my division and what I wanted to do, if I would have fought him at the time because I would have had to defend my title too, I would have done it at a catchweight (of) 177 (pounds) with (World Anti-Doping Agency testing). Because USADA was not in place back then, and I wanted to do the WADA testing for performance-enhancing drugs.

“I think the UFC didn’t really like the idea at the time. But then after I had to fight other guys, after I blew out my ACL then a lot of guys were waiting for me to come back. I didn’t have a time to stop or the opportunity to (fight Silva).”

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LeBron James‘ quest for greatness can sometimes get in the way of the more important things in his life.

After noticing that his quest to be the best was taking away from his family life, the four-time MVP apologized to his wife Savannah for being too focused on his own journey.

“I am addicted to the process. I’m addicted to the process,” James said on Monday’s Road Trippin’ Podcast. “It’s so funny. I just told my wife the other day, I apologized to her. She was like ‘What are you apologizing for?’ I said ‘Because the journey that I’m on to want to be the greatest to ever play this game or to the point where no one ever forgets what I accomplished, I’ve at times lost the fact of how important you are to this whole thing. … I want you to understand that along this journey while I’m playing this game there will be times that I lose the fact of how important you and my three kids are – my babies are.'”

LeBron and Savannah have been together since their high school days, and have been married for more than three years.

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There was a great deal of risk that came with trading one of the Association’s premier big men in DeMarcus Cousins, and considering the lackluster haul the Sacramento Kings received in their dealings with the New Orleans Pelicans, it’s easy to see why there are so many question marks surrounding the direction the franchise is currently heading in.

Through all of the negativity and uncertainty, though, general manager Vlade Divac remains confident in his decision to ship Boogie off, and if that ends up leading to his demise in his current role somewhere down the road, then so be it.

“That’s my job, and I take responsibility. And I totally understand why some fans would be upset. They supported DeMarcus, and I like DeMarcus a lot. But I believe we are going to be in a better position in two years,” Divac told the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin. “I want to hear again from these same people in two years.

“If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, I’ll step down. But if I go down, I’m going down my way.”

The move to the Big Easy came as a total surprise to Cousins, as he had been told by Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive that he wasn’t going anywhere, with the two even consulting him over potential personnel moves to improve the roster ahead of time.

Ultimately, management felt that a fresh start was long overdue for both parties, despite seemingly telling Cousins and his agents that wasn’t the case.

“It was a lot of things, but basically, I thought it was time to start over,” Divac added. “There was a lot of bad stuff happening here the last five years, a lot of bad habits. There were always issues, many you don’t even know about. Now I believe strongly this was the right thing to do for our future. Now I have a clear vision. This city deserves better, and I want to create that. With DeMarcus’ situation, I basically was stuck.

“Maybe we’re going to win a few more games than last year but probably not make the playoffs. Then where are we? Same old place. And we have that contract to deal with. If we keep DeMarcus this summer, we have to extend him, or otherwise he would be on an expiring contract that everyone would be afraid of. Teams don’t trade a lot for a player they aren’t sure will re-sign with you. And if he extended, we couldn’t sign him for an entire year anyway.”

In Cousins’ stead is a 24-year-old scoring guard in Buddy Hield, the expiring contract of once-former King and Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, a backup in Langston Galloway, and two draft picks. Sacramento emerged victorious in its first outing following the blockbuster trade on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, but fell short on Saturday in a 14-point loss to the visiting Charlotte Hornets.

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Source: Miami Herald

Billie Kay spoke with the Miami Herald on a wide range of topics. Here are some of the highlights:

Originally not getting along with Peyton Royce:

“We went to the same high school. I was three years ahead of her. Westfields Sports High, I was there for basketball, and she was there for dancing. We actually didn’t get along at first. We would see each other in line for all the shows WWE would do in Australia, all the signings they would do. One time Mickie James was signing near our hometown, and I remember Peyton being like four or five people in front of me in line, and I had been there about five hours at this point. So we used to have a little silent competition as to who was the biggest WWE fan.”

Wrestling at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio:

“It was overwhelming to say the least. I had actually written out my 2017 goals a couple of weeks before that, and the first one was to wrestle for the NXT women’s championship on a TakeOver…and I was able to check that one off on the [bucket] list the first month of the year. And the fact that I was able to do it with Peyton Royce just made it a little more special. Going out there in front of almost 20,000 people is a feeling I want to continue to have over my career.”

WrestleMania 33 in Orlando:

“I think it’s going to be probably the biggest WrestleMania ever. It’s in Orlando where NXT is based. There are going to be so many exciting events and activities happening around that whole week…So I will be grateful if I can be included in anything. During WrestleMania Week, NXT TakeOver: Orlando is Saturday, April 1 at the Amway Center, home of the NBA Orlando Magic. Obviously I would love to wrestle at TakeOver in Orlando because I think it’s going to be really special and an amazing event to be part of.”

Billie Kay also discussed playing basketball and leaving her home to join the WWE. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

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Having spent more than two decades with the Miami Heat, team president Pat Riley is more than familiar with the history of the franchise.
 

While there have been a number of significant moments since Riley joined the team in 1995, the Heat president says that nothing has been more surprising than LeBron James‘ sudden departure in 2014.

“Since I came here, we’ve had the same owner, same president, two coaches, same support staff,” Riley told The Vertical’s Harvey Araton. “We’ve got a bunch of guys working for us who played for us. Players come and go, great players. When LeBron left, that was the most shocking thing to me – not to say he was right or wrong – and the most shocking thing to the franchise.”

James was nothing but spectacular during his four years in South Beach, capturing two MVPs, two Finals MVPs, four All-Star appearances, and two championships with the Heat.

Although losing James was a massive blow to the franchise, Riley believes the Heat have been successful in maintaining their identity without him.

“Our culture is the same,” Riley said. “You have your up years and your down years, but what can’t change is the way you do things.”

While Miami has seen more wins than losses since James rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers, it has yet to come close to recapturing its success, reaching the postseason just once since 2014.

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WWE announced the following today:

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat to induct “Ravishing” Rick Rude into WWE Hall of Fame“Ravishing” Rick Rude will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by one of his greatest rivals, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. The news was broken by Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview with the 2009 inductee.

The two locked horns several times in WWE in the late 1980s, including a memorable bout that kicked off the first-ever Royal Rumble event in 1988. However, their rivalry reached its boiling point in the early 1990s in WCW. With Rude as the centerpiece of Paul Heyman’s nefarious Dangerous Alliance, “The Dragon,” one of the most heroic competitors ever, was one of the first to stand up to the villainous faction.

Steamboat zeroed in on Rude, the reigning United States Champion, in a series of matches that thrilled WCW fans. Their rivalry came to a head at Beach Blast 1992 in a grueling 30-Minute WCW Iron Man Match, where Steamboat eked out a narrow 4-3 victory in the waning moments of the battle.

Now, “The Dragon” will have the chance to reflect on the impact “Ravishing” Rick Rude had on sports-entertainment as he inducts his late rival into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017. What will Steamboat have to say? Tune into the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, live on Friday, March 31, at 8 ET/5 PT, exclusively on WWE Network!

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Source: The Big Podcast With Shaq

As noted, the scheduled Big Show vs. Shaquille O’Neal match at WrestleMania 33appeared to be in danger of falling through. Shaq noted on his podcast that dropped today that he spoke with a WWE official on the phone yesterday and discussions for the match are back on.

“I talked to somebody high up in the organization, and we’re back talking again,” Shaq said.

Talk of the match possibly being scrapped started in late February when The Big Show told WWE.com that Shaq was trying to back out of the match. Shaq reiterated that the hiccups in negotiations are not his fault.

“I just want people to know that it had nothing to do with me, despite what you hear,” Shaq said.

When asked about Big Show’s recent comments suggesting that Shaq was scared, Shaq played the track Never Scared by Bone Crusher and assured Big Show that it was not the case.

“Big Show, I ain’t never scared, you can cancel that, it’s not in my vocabulary brother,” Shaq stated. “I’m gonna see ya, don’t worry about it Big Show, I’m gonna see ya. The world ain’t that big for me not to see ya.

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PWInsider is reporting that The Undertaker is scheduled for WWE Raw this week, and is expected to appear on the broadcast in order to start the build for his WrestleMania program.

At this point, the company can still choose to go anywhere with The Undertaker at the show of shows, but company plans (and the Royal Rumble) point to “The Phenom” facing off with Roman Reigns in Orlando. At the Rumble, Undertaker was part of the 30-man battle royal, but Reigns – who wasn’t announced for the match prior to the show – eliminated the legend. After being tossed out of the ring, The Undertaker stared Reigns down from the floor.

It should also be mentioned that just because The Undertaker is scheduled for Raw on Monday doesn’t mean that he can’t also play a role at Fastlane. At the last Pay-Per-View event prior to WrestleMania, Roman Reigns will be taking on the undefeated Braun Strowman, and many expect Undertaker to cost Reigns the match.

Even if “The Phenom” isn’t there in person, a cleverly timed use of theme music or special effects can implicate Undertaker in Reigns’s loss.

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International expansion may not be in the NBA’s immediate plans, but it’s not unrealistic to believe that a franchise could end up in Mexico City down the road.

While commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that a move wouldn’t happen in the next few years, he did say the league is looking into adding a team further south.

“Mexico City, in terms of international markets, is one we’re looking more closely at,” Silver said Friday at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, according to Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The NBA has hosted five regular-season contests in Mexico City since the 1997-98 season, with the Phoenix Suns playing back-to-back games there earlier this year.

Silver also previously stated that he’s entertained the idea of organizing a midseason tournament in Mexico City, in hopes of increasing the NBA’s popularity in North America’s most populous city.

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Source: Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Sentinel has an interview with Shawn Michaels, who was promoting his upcoming WrestleCon appearance during WrestleMania weekend. Below are a few highlights:

The Undertaker’s longevity:

“When Undertaker came in, it was the greatest gimmick ever, but how long could it last? That’s where he’s been such a genius. His success is so different from anybody else’s — he’s just tweaked little things here and there, sometimes big things, but he’s always made it into something new and he’s made a 25-year-plus career out of it. Careers are a lot shorter these days, with guys getting beaten up, but he’s still here.”

His favorites in NXT:

“I love the Revival, Roderick Strong, Tye Dillinger. I love Elias Samson – I can’t help it, I like the Drifter thing, it stands out to me. I see something in a young guy like Patrick Clark. I think Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano are super-talented from a style standpoint.”

Bobby Roode on the main roster:

“They’re doing something really good and special with him, with the whole entrance and presentation and the ‘Glorious’ thing. He’s getting over at a level he’s not used to, but once they get behind you like that, when he comes in (to Raw or Smackdown), he could be around for a long time.”

Michaels also discussed teaching at the WWE Performance Center, promo advice that he gives, where he got the “Mr. WrestleMania” monicker, if he stays in touch with the Kliq and more. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

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Nothing lasts forever, and in NBA title-contender parlance, windows aren’t open for long. There was a time when the Oklahoma City Thunder had a “Big 3” – and some would even stretch it into a “Big 4” if Serge Ibaka was included.

Yet the high-water mark for the franchise led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden was a five-game loss in the 2012 Finals, and now only Westbrook remains.

“This is basketball, it’s business,” Ibaka, now with the Toronto Raptors, told The Vertical podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski about the breakup of the Thunder dynasty that never really was.

“At some point, somebody had to leave. But I didn’t expect that to happen so quick and so soon,” he said. “At some point you knew somebody had to leave.”

Ibaka’s trade from the Thunder to the Orlando Magic on draft night last summer was seen as a roster upgrade in Oklahoma City’s efforts to retain Durant.

Eleven days later, Durant decamped for the Golden State Warriors. Ibaka said his former teammate did what made him happy, and that’s all that matters.

“I know its tough for OKC fans to understand that, but hey man, this game, when we start getting 36, 37, 38, it’s going to be over.”

Ibaka also added that the bellyaching that still exists almost five years after Harden’s trade to the Houston Rockets is silly, given that Harden wouldn’t be the MVP candidate he is now had he stayed with the Thunder.

“If James stayed with OKC … he would not be the James he is right now,” Ibaka said. “He was coming from the bench, and you’ve got a player like Russell and Kevin on the same team. He would still be a good player, but not what he is right now.”

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It may have been more than a disagreement with an official that had Jim Harbaugh in such a foul mood through his four-year tenure as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Now that Harbaugh has found more success and happiness as Michigan’s head coach, he’s opening up about his time with the 49ers, which he did Thursday during Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami‘s podcast. Harbaugh was humble about his 44-19-1 record with the 49ers, but hinted the current ownership team, led by Jed York, made things more difficult than necessary.

“I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership,” Harbaugh said, according to KNBR. “I take pride in that. Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Since York took over as team president in 2008, the 49ers have seen five head coaches, with only two lasting more than one season.

Harbaugh admitted he hasn’t spoke to York since leaving the 49ers and declined to make any further comments about the CEO’s failures.

“I’m not in the mood to pile on,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh also praised new 49ers general manager John Lynch despite the former safety’s total lack of front-office experience.

“I would love to work for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “When they were going through the process of the hiring, he didn’t want his name mentioned. I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that but I think that’s a profound thing. That speaks volumes for who he is as a person.”

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Georges St-Pierre is back.

On Wednesday, UFC president Dana White told ESPN the former welterweight champion will meet Michael Bisping for the middleweight title in his return bout before the year is out. A date and venue have yet to be decided, although White has since told TSN Sports the bout will take place in Las Vegas and not in St-Pierre’s native Canada.

GSP returned to the promotion on a new deal earlier this month, and will officially end a layoff dating back to November 2013 with his middleweight debut. The Quebec native’s trainer Firas Zahabi had previously revealed he’d been eyeing intriguing matchups as opposed to a chance to regain the title he’d vacated after beating Johny Hendricks in a razor-close split decision at UFC 167, and he gets his wish in the middleweight king.

Bisping began a campaign for the megafight shortly after defending the 185-pound strap in a rematch with Dan Henderson this past October, with St-Pierre and Zahabi reciprocating the interest. “The Count” recently announced he planned to take on GSP first, then face top contender Yoel Romero – who White maintains will challenge for the strap next – in a quick turnaround should he emerge victorious. He’ll now get to bring the first phase of his plan to fruition.

According to White, the UFC brass had not entertained a matchup between St-Pierre and lightweight champion Conor McGregor, whose name had also been posited among the litany of potential dance partners. for the legend’s comeback bout.

The promotion will hold a press conference with GSP and Bisping on Friday in Las Vegas.

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In the words of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, haters gonna hate.

Still feeling the high brought on by his team’s triumph in Super Bowl LI, Kraft shared his thoughts on the perception of the Patriots around the league on HBO’s “Real Sports” on Tuesday.

“When anyone wins at anything too often then you start to bring out feelings that aren’t maybe the most collegial in other people,” Kraft said, according to Conor Orr of NFL.com.

“Envy and jealousy are incurable diseases. The haters still hate. And I understand it and we’ll do our best to keep them in that position.”

From Kraft’s perspective, he likely feels his opposition is resorting to dirty tactics such as Deflategate to try and bring the Patriots down. The Patriots aren’t the most likable franchise, but it is currently the league’s most successful.

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Baseball’s Hall of Fame will honor The Simpsons on May 27 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show’s “Homer at the Bat” episode.

First televised on Feb. 20, 1992, “Homer at the Bat” featured future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ozzie Smith among the ringers on Homer Simpson’s Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team. Voices of actual players were used in the episode, which also included Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Mike Scioscia, and Darryl Strawberry.

Boggs and Smith are scheduled to appear at a round-table discussion at the Hall on May 27 that also includes episode executive producers Al Jean and Mike Reiss, director Jim Reardon, executive story editor Jeff Martin, and casting director Bonnie Pietila.

The Hall’s legends game is slated for that afternoon at Doubleday Field.

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All eyes are on the Philadelphia Eagles as DeSean Jackson approaches unrestricted free agency.

The veteran receiver, hitting the open market after three seasons with the division-rival Washington Redskins, is clearly a fit for an Eagles offense in desperate need of a big-play threat.

Adding further intrigue, of course, is the fact that he played the first six years of his career in Philadelphia. Making an appearance on Adam Schefter’s podcast, Jackson acknowledged the allure of such a story line.

“It definitely is a great story or ending, I guess you could say,” Jackson said, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. “Starting your career somewhere then going to a division rival team (and) having the possibility of maybe going back. You just kind of think about all of that when you start somewhere maybe you could finish it. There is just a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It all sounds good, but you really never know until the final decision is made. I’m just a firm believer that if you work hard, you put in the work, continuously go out there and show everybody what you’re capable of (then) the sky’s the limit.”

Reports surfacing as the 2016 season came to a close indicated that there was mutual interest between Jackson and the Eagles looking ahead to March.

While the 30-year-old will almost certainly be fielding offers from a number of different teams, that factor could conceivably give Philadelphia a sizable advantage over other potential suitors.

Jackson, who pulled down 56 receptions for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns this past season, would instantly step in as a top target for 2016 No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz.

After parting ways with Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in 2014 and 2015, respectively, the Eagles have now gone two consecutive years without producing a 1,000-yard receiver.

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Despite having never swung a bat in a big-league baseball game, Tim Tebow still manages to draw a crowd whenever he shows up at the ballpark. Before a room full of reporters Monday morning, Tebow took questions about his intentions and the difficulties he’s faced attempting to rise up through the New York Mets‘ minor-league system.

Tebow, however, denies the notion that he may have gotten in over his head.

“I don’t think it’s a bigger challenge than I thought,” Tebow said, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “Obviously I knew that it was a big challenge – imagine picking up the sport after 12 years of not playing. So I understood it. And I think part of the challenge in it being so hard is part of why it’s so fun, and why it’s something I’m enjoying and loving, because it’s a hard game. It’s not an easy thing to do. Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things in sports, but I enjoy the process very much.”

Tebow told the press gallery that he tries to avoid paying too much attention to the criticism surrounding his presence, and that he’s focused solely on the things he can control.

“I just want to be able to continue the process, enjoy the process, enjoy every day, get to know my teammates, and have fun out there,” he said.

In 19 minor-league games, Tebow hit .194/.296/.242 with no home runs and two RBIs while striking out 20 times in 2016.

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The writing was on the wall when Andrei Vasilevskiy was signed to a three-year contract extension last summer.

That decision was made with the knowledge that Ben Bishop was set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017, and that the Tampa Bay Lightning would likely be unable to re-sign the goalie who’s been key to their success in recent years.

Thus, Bishop was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, with veteran Peter Budaj coming back in return as a cheaper but still very effective option in net.

“(Bishop’s) been a major part of the success we’ve had in the last three years and helping us go on long playoff runs, as important to our team as any other player,” Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said, according to the team’s website.

“In the business now in hockey, you have to make some decisions based on the salary cap.”

Budaj posted a record of 27-20-3 with a .917 save percentage while filling in for Jonathan Quick this season. The 34-year-old is playing on a one-year deal, but could be retained on the cheap if all goes well.

“In moving Ben, we needed a good backup – somebody to help out Vasilevskiy. (Budaj’s) done a great job filling in for Quick,” Yzerman said. “We want somebody experienced playing with Vasilevskiy, but we also wanted to bring in somebody that can help us win games and get us into the playoffs.”

Tampa Bay was also able to add defensive prospect Erik Cernak in the deal, as well as a seventh-round pick and a conditional pick (both in the 2017 draft).

Altogether, not a bad haul for a player who would have left via free agency or the expansion draft at season’s end.

Yzerman can now focus on helping the team get back to the playoffs while also having to contend with soon-to-be restricted free-agent forwards Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat.

Bishop, meanwhile, will try to keep his stock high while splitting time with Quick, keeping a view on winning a Stanley Cup in Los Angeles and signing a lucrative contract in the offseason.

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Denver Broncos general manager John Elway channeled the most harrowing loss of his executive career into a net positive for his franchise.

The Broncos scored an NFL-record 606 points in 2013 and cruised into Super Bowl XLVIII. However, the Broncos were annihilated in a 43-8 rout by the Seattle Seahawks, who emerged victorious on the strength of a legendary defense.

Elway and his staff rebounded from the loss and built a defense that ranks among the best units in the league. In 2015, the Broncos captured Super Bowl 50 in large part due to a defense that will be ranked among the best units of all time.

With free agency on the horizon, Elway credited the loss to the Seahawks for inspiring him to build a great defense.

“It was at that point in time I think that we watched the model that the Seahawks and John (Schneider, Seahawks GM) and Coach Carroll had put together of being great on defense,” Elway said in a radio appearance Saturday with ESPN Seattle. “I think what we were able to do is we added some key components that offseason via free agency and plus my first five years that I was here we worked on the defense. … It all came together at the right time. Having seen the focus that on the defensive side, no matter what, if you had a great defense you’re going to be able to stay in football games.”

Upon being promoted to general manager in 2012, Elway said he put particular emphasis on fixing the defense, making a number of key acquisitions through free agency.

“My first five years that I was here we worked on the defense, and so our first five picks were defensive guys,” he said. “Those five guys really matured, came along, played great defense, and we were able to add Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward, some key pieces there. And then Wade Phillips came in with (then-head coach) Gary Kubiak as defensive coordinator, so really kinda everything aligned. I think the key thing is the young guys matured and really played well so that’s really what happened, and you’re right, we rode their backs last year to Super Bowl 50.”

Elway will likely be haunted by the 2013 Super Bowl loss forever, but he responded by building a defense that perennially ranks among the NFL’s best.

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Old Georges St-Pierre says you shouldn’t be worried about the old Georges St-Pierre.

By the time GSP makes his expected return to competition later this year, he’ll be 36, the age at which most athletes are getting ready to walk away from their sport. The former welterweight champion hasn’t said who he plans to fight next or even what division he’ll be competing in, but what he does know is that he’ll be the best version of himself when the time comes.

“I think for me it’s a good time to come back now because I’m 35 years old,” said St-Pierre in a video posted by his sponsor Hayabusa on Wednesday. “I just finished a training camp that I did to see if I can come back to the world-class level and I feel I’m at the best shape of my life. I feel better than I’ve ever been.

“Georges St-Pierre now would beat the Georges St-Pierre that was the greatest of the time that he used to compete. So I can’t wait to go back in there and show people, including myself, to test my skill, and see how everything goes.”

That’s a lofty claim considering that St-Pierre’s first run in MMA ended with 12 straight victories and a 25-2 record overall. If he has anything to say about it, the second chapter of his career will be even more memorable.

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SEATTLE – Investor Chris Hansen stressed patience and optimism Thursday in his ongoing effort to build an arena to house a possible NBA or NHL franchise in Seattle’s stadium district.

Hansen’s interview with The Associated Press represented his first public comments in nearly two years about the efforts. Hansen acknowledged his investment group was surprised by the City Council’s decision last May to deny a proposed street closure that would have moved the project forward with some public investment.

Hansen said his group re-evaluated the situation after the vote and decided to turn the project into a privately financed facility. Hansen said there would be other investors in addition to the five made public so far – including Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

The new proposal still requires the same street closure that was denied a year ago.

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The takes are getting hotter by the day.

As debate surrounding Terrell Owens’ Hall of Fame candidacy continues, the discussion has slowly begun to involve another of the most talented receivers in NFL history.

If voters can cite the “teammate” dynamic in keeping Owens out of Canton for a second straight year, surely they’d be forced to do the same when Randy Moss is first eligible next year, right?

Recently asked for his opinion on the two former superstars, Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian gave an answer that may surprise you.

“I take neither,” Polian said, according to Clark Judge of The Talk of Fame Sports Network. “First of all, here’s my position: (I want players who) contribute both individually and to the team. T.O.’s situation, T.O.’s temperament, his ability to contribute to the team was well known up front. He was going to be a problem. We did not want to deal with problem children. Others may. We didn’t.

“That’s number one. Number two, every year in Indianapolis we said the following: ‘The price of admission is 100 percent effort all the time in everything we do.’ Well, how can we take Randy Moss when we make that statement? It’s that simple.”

Polian went on to concede that although the two could be held out initially, it’s likely only a matter of time before they get the nod. Not without characterizing such a reality as unfortunate, though.

“I think they will, unfortunately in my view, because whether you like it or not. these ‘electoral campaigns’ have a way of swinging people,” Polian said. “In my view, and I said this publicly last year, I think the Hall of Fames are for people who make their teams better, not who detract from them.

“Now, T.O. was a bigger detractor over his career than Moss, but you certainly wouldn’t call (Moss’ attitude) any harbinger or example of what you want in a football player other than when he decided to play. ‘I play when I play.’ I don’t buy it.”

Few will deny that Owens and Moss were unique personalities, and perhaps far more difficult to deal with than teams would prefer. But the argument for their place in football history, founded upon clear talent and the historic production to match, seems fairly rock solid.

Owens ranks eighth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934), and third in touchdowns. Moss ranks 15th in catches (982), third in yards (15,292), and second in touchdowns (156).

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MIAMI – Pat Riley has never doubted Magic Johnson, and isn’t about to start now.

Riley believes Johnson will succeed in what looks like a daunting task of getting the Los Angeles Lakers back to prominence. After the Lakers cleaned house this past week, Johnson and Riley are contemporaries – Riley as president of the Miami Heat, Johnson in the same role out in L.A., where they won four titles together in the 1980s.

Trade talks, he cautioned, will be dangerous for both sides.

”He’s going to try to rifle my pockets and I’m going to try to rifle his,” Riley said. ”But I’m happy for him, and I’m also happy for the Lakers.”

The news took Riley back to 1991, when Johnson delivered the shocking word that he was HIV-positive and had to retire from basketball. Riley was gone from Los Angeles by that point, and was then coach of the New York Knicks. But it resonated deeply within Riley, who has maintained a very close relationship with Johnson.

Hearing Johnson speak about taking over the Lakers this past week moved Riley as well, albeit in an obviously different fashion.

”Back then, all of us and I think everybody in the country not knowing exactly what HIV was all about, we all sort of looked at that as a very difficult time and possibly a death sentence for the kid,” Riley said. ”Now 25 years later, he stands at the press conference saying that he’s president of the team. Deja vu, you know?”

Riley said Johnson didn’t seek his counsel on what life is like as a team president before taking the Lakers job. Riley said Johnson already knew the answer to anything he would ask, simply from being around his former coach so many times in recent years.

The news wasn’t entirely easy for Riley to digest, since he also holds now-former general manager Mitch Kupchak in high regard. Kupchak, who played for Riley, was let go as part of the front-office sweepout by the Lakers this past week.

But he sounded completely confident in what Johnson will accomplish.

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AJ Lee has had a busy few months preparing for the release of her first book. Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed By Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking The Rules isn’t out until April 4th, but the book has already been reviewed on Amazon.

One review highlights a particularly problematic chapter in which AJ recounts an interaction with a member of WWE brass shortly after making her NXT debut:-

“The important thing is that she never gave up, was determined to become a pro wrestler and over came her size, massive amounts of sexism and misogyny from within the business and the fact a certain Director of Talent Relations (who is never named in the book but I have named their brother in this review.) directly told her that she was considered unf**kable by the fans and higher-ups. Ouch”

The executive in-question isn’t named, but the phrasing (and job title) make it relatively easy to figure-out who AJ is referring too.

A three-time Divas Champion, Lee was immensely popular throughout her WWE run. High-profile storylines with the likes of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and John Cena shot her to prominence, but her rise came at a time when WWE was still struggling to promote women’s wrestling as a serious endeavour. She was immensely critical of the company’s attitude towards their females in February 2015, and it played a decisive role in her retirement the following month.

A worrying quote, but not particularly surprising. This is only AJ’s side of the story and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt, but if this review is anything to go by, Crazy Is My Superpower will be a revealing read.

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The Minnesota Vikings have yet to determine what they will do with their all-time leading rusher, Adrian Peterson. But if they ask Peterson’s father, the choice is clear.

Peterson played in just three games in 2016 and is signed on for one more season in Minnesota at a cost of $11.75 million and an $18-million hit against the salary cap. The Vikings could cut ties with the running back, but Peterson’s father wants to see him end his career in the only home he’s ever known as a professional.

“Finishing your career in one place (has value),” Nelson Peterson said, according to ESPN. “I look at how Arizona treated Larry (Fitzgerald), how they are taking care of guys who have been there.”

Fitzgerald has spent his entire 13-year career in Arizona. He restructured his contract in 2014, however. He made $11 million in 2016 and will make the same figure this year.

Peterson has had two of his last three seasons cut short by significant injuries, causing concern in Minnesota that he’ll be able to return to his former MVP form.

The two sides could agree to a restructured contract, or Peterson could find himself on the open market.

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Sergei Bobrovsky hit a benchmark Saturday that few of his countrymen have reached.

With a 1-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Columbus Blue Jackets netminder became just the fourth Russian goalie in NHL history to post a 40-win season.

Evgeni Nabokov, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Semyon Varlamov are the only others to achieve the feat, with Nabokov having done so three times.

The most wins by a Russian goalie in a single season is 46, by Nabokov, which he accomplished during the 2007-08 season as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

The Blue Jackets have eight games remaining, meaning it might be tough for Bobrovsky to hit Nabokov’s record, but, nevertheless, the 28-year-old has certainly had one heck of a campaign.

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All signs continue to point toward Ben Roethlisberger putting off retirement and playing at least one more season in Pittsburgh.

After initially hinting that he could call it a career after the Steelers lost in the AFC Championship Game this past season, the star quarterback eased any such concerns when he revealed earlier this month that he was “leaning toward” coming back.

But the fact that he’s even considering walking away can be taken as a clear sign that the Steelers will at some point have to plan for a new direction at the most important position on the field.

Head coach Mike Tomlin says the organization is already in the process of doing so.

“I think we’ve been in that mindset for the last several years, that’s what this business tells us to be in,” Tomlin told Judy Battista of NFL.com. We better start sharpening our sword in terms of evaluation of quarterbacks and what’s available to us or potentially available to us, that’s just due diligence. So yes, we have.”

Pittsburgh has enjoyed as much continuity as any other team since landing Roethlisberger in the first round of the 2004 draft.

After stepping into the lineup and leading the Steelers to 13 wins as a rookie, the Miami (OH) product went on to develop a reputation for overcoming injuries en route to making 183 starts over 13 seasons.

“I think because of (Roethlisberger’s) durability and how he plays, I don’t know that we have that level of urgency, but we are talking ourselves mentally through the process. Not an easy one, obviously, but it is what it is. It’s an element of the business. Guys can’t play forever and he acknowledges that and we acknowledge that.”

It remains to be seen whether the Steelers are willing to use a premium draft pick on the quarterback position this year, but that will likely be a matter of a player they like being available when they’re on the clock.

With Roethlisberger seemingly entertaining the idea of retirement sooner rather than later, grooming a young signal-caller during the final stages of his career could go a long way toward easing the eventual transition.

The 35-year-old, who is far and away the Steelers’ all-time leader in every major passing category, will enter the 2017 season looking to add a third Super Bowl ring to what could very well be a Hall of Fame resume.

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It doesn’t matter how high the Clippers are flying, the city of Los Angeles will never truly claim a basketball team other than the Lakers.

The same principle applies to dominion over Staples Center. Although the Clippers have tried to claim their own space by covering up the Lakers’ banners during home games in recent seasons, Shaquille O’Neal isn’t having any of it.

“Speaking of Clippers, I don’t like the fact that when you guys have your home games, you cover up the jerseys,” O’Neal told Spectrum Sportsnet, as relayed by Cory Hansford of Lakers Nation.

“Until you win 16 championships, then you can start changing the rule. Don’t cover up my jersey. This is (Lakers) building. Don’t forget that s—. Y’all just leasing it. That’s our building.”

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers made the controversial decision to give the Staples Center a makeover when he arrived in 2013. But as O’Neal illustrates, the building does belong to the Lakers.

That’s perhaps why the Clippers are reportedly exploring a new arena of their own – they need their own space, away from the big brother Lakers. However, their lease with Staples Center runs through 2024, so the feud will continue for at least another seven years.

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With Cam Newton‘s shoulder surgery set for Thursday, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera allayed any remaining fears the former NFL MVP is in danger of missing the start of the 2017 season, expressing his confidence that he’ll suit up for the majority of the offseason program.

“Without a doubt,” Rivera said, according to Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com. “There is no concern, at least in talking with the trainers and doctors. I’m very confident that things are going to go along very well. They have a timeframe that they’ve mapped out for the most part. He’ll be working with the trainers and he’ll be working with us for the most part during the OTAs and minicamps.”

The Panthers said Newton is expected back by training camp when his surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff suffered late last season was announced, but with the team saying the quarterback wouldn’t require a procedure at the combine, there was some concern his injury might be worse than originally thought.

Rivera attempted to explain why the decision on Newton’s surgery changed within one month.

“Well, I think what happened is the doctor is looking at the MRI and their decision (was) to see if it would heal on its own,” Rivera explained. “You don’t really want to go in on a quarterback and do the surgery, at least that’s what I think the understanding was. He had been having such a good offseason, and then it just kind of plateaued I guess.

“There was a little bit of thought that ‘You know what, now’s a good time if any if we’re going to do it,’ so that’s what they decided. It’s not like it’s a major surgery thing that has to be done from my understanding. It should be one of those things that should really be done and it should heal up quickly.”

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Barely a day goes by without gripes about Roman Reigns, his failed babyface push or WWE’s reluctance to accept their own fate and turn him heel.

It’s hard to call him polarizing in the same sense as John Cena, because the negative responses toward Cena took years to develop, and still remain split much more evenly than his detractors care to admit. Factor in the absurd amount of merchandise that the 16-time champion moves and one can understand – even if only begrudgingly – WWE’s unwillingness to give him the villain treatment.

Reigns, on the other hand, didn’t take long to draw the ire of the fanbase. Once it became obvious he was the company’s chosen one, they viciously rebelled against him in an act of defiance not seen since WCW crowds rejected Hulk Hogan. That in itself is worth noting since it prompted a heel turn that sparked the biggest angle in the history of wrestling, but then again “those who choose to ignore history…”

Sadly for anyone still holding out hope, Triple H has been talking about turning Reigns in an interview with Sports Illustrated, and his response to the question won’t win him many fans:

“People can look at Roman Reigns and say, ‘The failed attempt that is Roman Reigns,’ but Roman Reigns sells tickets. Roman Reigns gets one of the loudest reactions every night, whether that reaction is a boo or whether that reaction is a cheer. The fans who say, ‘I don’t understand why they don’t turn Roman Reigns heel!’ Isn’t he already?

“If you believe what you believe, and you’re saying, ‘How can they not turn him heel? There is 70 percent of the crowd booing him out of the building!’ If that’s your belief, then isn’t he already the biggest heel we have? If 70 percent of that crowd is booing him, then he’s a heel. We’re just presenting him to you in a different way that makes you hate him.

Honestly this answer comes across as a bit of a cop out, albeit one from someone who is at least fully in-touch with the audience’s feelings on the matter. It’s hard to imagine that a savvy worker with the vast amount of knowledge and experience of Triple H would believe that not turning Reigns makes the most business sense. This entire “We’re changing the way heels and faces are written” doesn’t fly.

WWE would love nothing more than for Reigns to get Austin/Rock/Hogan-type pops, but it’s not happening, so instead they’re stubbornly forging ahead hoping fans will eventually catch on or just collapse from fatigue and join the Roman Empire.

For those of you who were hoping that Triple H could be the voice of reason in Vince McMahon’s ear regarding Roman Reigns as “the guy”, you can put an end to that pipe dream.

Eli Manning

It’s only a matter of time before a quarterback other than Eli Manning will be leading the way in New York.

Very much aware of the need to prepare for that day, which likely isn’t far off as Manning now heads into his age 36 season, the Giants seem open to adding a young signal-caller sooner rather than later.

Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch hinted at the league meetings this week that taking a quarterback in April’s draft is a realistic possibility.

“No, you can’t beat age. I think it’s certainly at the back of everybody’s mind – including Eli’s,” Tisch said, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “There’s no urgency. There’s no panic. But I think if you’re a responsible owner, responsible GM, you’ve got to start thinking about it.”

Mara went as far as to say that, if a quarterback is the best player available when the Giants are on the clock, such a pick should be made at some point in the not-too-distant future.

“I think we have to start thinking about it,” Mara added. “I think you always have to look at drafting a quarterback where you can. Our philosophy going into the draft – at least mine – is just take the best player. It doesn’t matter what position he is. I think if there’s a chance to take a quarterback – it doesn’t have to be this year – then you should take him.”

Whether value ends up aligning with the eventual need at the position in April’s draft remains to be seen. Should one of this year’s top signal-callers fall to the No. 23 overall pick, though, perhaps the opportunity to land and groom Manning’s successor will be too tempting for New York to pass up.

The top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, all with a realistic chance to hear their names called in the opening round, include Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitchell Trubisky, and Patrick Mahomes.