John Cena And Make-A-Wish Celebrate His 500th Wish Granting Milestone

Saturday Night Live’s official Twitter account announced Friday that John Cena would be hosting the December 10 episode of the show, featuring musical guest Maren Morris. Cena later confirmed the news on his own Twitter account, describing himself as “honored” and “excited” to have the job.

Cena, who is currently on a hiatus from wrestling while filming season two of the Fox reality competition American Grit, has seen his star rise greatly over the past couple of years. After stealing the show in hit comedies in 2015, Cena was sidelined with a shoulder injury in 2016, but he still managed to continue to raise his mainstream profile.

During the year, he co-hosted several episodes of The Today Show, appeared in national ad campaigns for the Ad Council, Hefty, and Wonderful Pistachios, and took on hosting duties for the ESPY Awards on ABC. He has nevertheless promised to continue his wrestling career, and he is slated to return to the ring late this month.

As SNL host, John Cena follows in the footsteps of The Rock, who has hosted the show four times – in 2000, 2002, 2009, and 2015.

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If you weren’t already aware, Bill Belichick is cold blooded.

Back in 2013, when Tim Tebow was attempting to prove he could still play football with the New England Patriots, the head coach apparently advised his wannabe quarterback not to take a one-day, $1-million endorsement offer, according to Tebow.

A few weeks later, Belichick cut Tebow, sending him home without another team to turn to.

The former Heisman winner told the story of the missed financial opportunity in his soon-to-be-released biography “Shaken.”

I remembered when I had signed with the team in June. Then I’d had an offer on the table to make a one-day appearance endorsing a product for a million-dollar paycheck. I’m sure you’d agree that a million bucks is a lot to make in just 24 hours. But I wasn’t quick to say yes …

So when the offer for the one-day commercial turned up, I was sure to discuss the opportunity with him. “I want to know what you think, Coach,” I said. “I respect you and I want to fit in. I want to be one of the guys. Should I do it?”

He thought for a moment and then shook his head. “Timmy, I would really appreciate it if you didn’t.”

Highly respecting the man, I turned down the deal. I didn’t even think twice about it. I wanted the chance to impress Coach Belichick more than I wanted the money. I’ll say that if I were on any other team, I would have probably said yes to the offer. But the thoughts he offered in our initial conversation mattered to me – even more than a million dollars.

Back to the conference room.

“It’s not the right fit,” Coach Belichick said.

In a Monday interview with “Fox and Friends” Tebow said he asked Belichick about the endorsement because he “didn’t want to be a distraction on the team.”

The only issue with that is that you’ve got to make the team before you become a distraction – which he likely would have been anyways.

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It’s rare that multiple quarterbacks from the same first-round work out, but the opening selections of the 2004 draft class produced three top-notch pass throwers – maybe even Hall of Famers.

That’s what Ben Roethlisberger is hoping for as the eleventh overall pick from that class. Himself, first-overall pick Eli Manning, and fourth-overall Philip Rivershave produced elite-level resumes that the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback would like to see enshrined in Canton one day.

“I hope I am,” said Roethlisberger when asked whether all three will be future inductees, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “I assume (Manning is) going to make it with everything he’s accomplished.”

Roethlisberger and Manning – who will face off against each other Sunday – both have a pair of Super Bowl rings to help make their case, while Rivers will have to rely on his astounding regular-season stats to get himself enshrined.

“Philip has put up some tremendous numbers in this game,” said Roethlisberger. “We’ve all been fortunate to play for a long time and been able to do a lot of great things. That would be an awesome honor, but hopefully that’s a long way off.”

There was a fourth quarterback drafted in that round as well: Buffalo Bills‘ 22nd-overall pick J.P. Losman. But with a 33-34 touchdown to interception ratio through his eight-year career, he’s not making the Canton cut.

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In a move that should be surprising to no one, WWE desperately wants Ronday Rousey to make another appearance at WrestleMania, this time to actually step in the ring and work a match. Their opponent of choice? None other than Raw women’s champion Charlotte Flair.

Ronda Rousey is currently training for her UFC return where she will challenge for the women’s bantamweight championship, the title she once held a deathgrip on as she ran through every challenger she faced in vulgar displays of armbarring dominance. This time last year Holly Holm’s efficient counter-striking and a perfectly placed headkick brought that reign of terror to a close, and nearly ended Ronda’s career in the process.

After the loss, the formerly outspoken fighter went into hiding, eschewing all media appearances outside of telling Ellen DeGeneres the defeat had her contemplating suicide, retreating to Hollywood where she was trying to establish a movie career and leaving many observers convinced she was done with MMA for good.

With Conor McGregor blowing past her in drawing power and Hollywood’s interest in her quickly drying up – both her starring vehicles, Mile 22 and the remake of Road House have either been postponed or canceled – Rousey announced that she would be returning to the octagon on December 30th to challenge current titlist Amanda Nunes and attempt to reclaim her spot atop women’s MMA.

WWE, and in particular Stephanie McMahon have been very vocal in their desire to bring Ronda into the fold, and the fact that she’s a passionate wrestling fan makes this far more likely than the similar pipe dreams of bringing in McGregor for an appearance. Now word is going around that if WWE is somehow able to work a deal to bring her into the company for WrestleMania 33, it will be to face Charlotte Flair.

While this would obviously be a huge coup for WWE, one can’t help but wonder how adamantly the organization will pursue Rousey should she step in the cage and get starched by Nunes. All of Ronda’s appeal lies in her dominance, and if she’s unable to reestablish that aura will it be worth the money, effort and leverage WWE will have to expend to make it happen?

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Sidney Crosby‘s not just a shooter, after all.

Well, to be fair, he’s still filling the net at a ridiculous 73-goal pace over a full 82-game season – and through an absolute assortment of means. But Crosby’s oddly skewed early season stat line is now gradually reverting – even despite resolute goal scoring.

Crosby collected two assists in a second straight outing in Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars, giving him nine on the season after recording only five in his first 16 games.

Factoring in his league-leading 16 goals, Crosby’s 25 points has him in a tie for fourth in league scoring, and has him on pace to break the 100-point threshold for the first time in four seasons and second time in seven.

His three-point outing was the 113th of his career. Only Jaromir Jagr has more among active players.

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When MLS commissioner Don Garber first worked to expand the league into Canada, his vision was to capitalize on a market he says “really loved the game.”

That vision became reality in dramatic fashion Wednesday night as bitter foes Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact battled to determine which Canadian outfit would make history as the first from the nation to contest the MLS Cup.

It was, as Garber put it, “a really great night for our league and a great night for the sport here in Canada,” and his choice of words rang true for the home side as Toronto secured a 5-2 win (7-5 on aggregate) and will now host the Seattle Sounders on Dec. 10.

The rivalry’s important for the league as a whole, Garber said when the theScore asked at halftime what he thought of the high-stakes 401 Derby playing out in front of his eyes at BMO Field.

“Rivalries matter in all sports. They matter to us a lot,” Garber said. “This whole concept of ‘Rivalry Week’ is something that we’ve been building upon. We have that in Montreal and Toronto – and we knew that from the beginning – but the fact that they could actually play against each other in meaningful matches is important.

“I don’t know all of you know this – beyond the great television ratings we had for the games up here, we had one of our highest ratings on ESPN when Montreal and Toronto played. That’s two markets that we don’t get the benefit of capitalizing on a U.S. market to be able to feed that rating. So it’s attracted the attention of folks down in the United States as well.”

Garber has closely watched 10-year-old Toronto FC struggle to find its feet, especially in the first seven years of its existence.

While the support in the stand set the standard for soccer culture at the turn of the decade, on-field performances failed to match expectations.

Garber acknowledged Toronto’s had difficulties, but believes things truly have changed for the Reds.

“When I came up here for the first time and I saw the Red Patch Boys and I saw the European supporter culture here and celebrating the game in ways that I think is now reverberating throughout our country,” Garber said of the 36,000 in the stands on Wednesday night. “It’s something that we’re pleased to finally be able to deliver an experience like tonight for them.”

“When you see a club like Seattle that has been in the playoffs every year including their first years, you’ve got to really salute what they’ve been able to do. Here in Toronto, they’ve had their fits and starts but they’ve finally gotten it right.

“One thing that everybody should know is that it was never out of lack of interest.

“It all seems to be coming together at the right time; the expansion of the stadium, the fact that we have the additional stands … good weather at this time of the year, it feels pretty good. I’m happy for them.”

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Kate Upton doesn’t have a problem with Rick Porcello – it’s the Cy Young voting system she takes issue with.

The Boston Red Sox hurler was named the 2016 American League Cy Young winner, despite Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander garnering 18 first-place votes to Porcello’s eight.

After the award was handed out, Upton, Verlander’s fiancee, went off in an explicit Twitter rant, ripping voters who turned in their ballots early instead of waiting until the end of the season.

She responded to the backlash, saying she’s glad her comments drew attention.

“My comments have nothing to do with Rick personally. They had to do with what I see as a flawed voting system,” Upton told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. “I hope the attention my comments are generating motivates positive change in MLB, for instance, not allowing voters to send in their ballot a week before the season is finished.”

Verlander, who lost out on the award, was left off two ballots altogether, which ultimately cost him as Porcello edged him in the final count 137 to 132.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers will pay homage to one of baseball’s most storied legends at the beginning of the 2017 season.

The organization will unveil a finished statue of Jackie Robinson at Dodger Stadium on April 15, according to J.P. Hoornstra of The Orange County Register.

The ceremony, which is to be held on Jackie Robinson Day, will coincide with the 70th anniversary of Robinson’s major-league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, when he officially broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

The statue will be approximately 10 feet tall, though the exact place it will stand has yet to be announced.

All fans in attendance at that day’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks will receive a replica statue.

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A mounting case against regular Thursday night games appears to have the NFL weighing some substantial scheduling adjustments in the years to come.

The league’s current broadcast agreement with CBS and NBC for the additional primetime slot stretches through the 2017 campaign. Changes could thus be made as soon as the following season, when the possibility of either eliminating or significantly reducing the Thursday night package would be on the table, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

Several different factors are at the center of the discussion when it comes to teams being forced back into action on a short week of rest and preparation.

Having players suit up for a game just days after last taking the field, of course, poses concerns in regard to both player safety and the overall quality of the product.

At a time when the NFL’s seemingly invincible television ratings finally appear to be taking a hit, oversaturation of the game would also have to be a prime consideration.

The current scheduling format sees every team play at least one Thursday game.

A longstanding tradition of Thanksgiving Day games will presumably remain regardless of any changes. As Florio’s report outlines, though, a sensible middle ground option could be to have the slate of regular Thursday games not begin until that point in the season.

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Source: TopRopePress.com

During WWE’s recent tour of the United Kingdom, Kane was interviewed by TopRopePress.com. Kane talked about his longevity in the business, brand split, retirement and more. Below are some highlights from the interview.

On his longevity in the business:

“I think the key to the longevity is being able to reinvent yourself and to adopt and incorporate different things into your character. If you look at guys like Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Undertaker; the reason why they are around so long is because they keep things interesting and hopefully I have been able to do it as well. A lot of it is because of being open to change. I think sometimes we put blinders on and define our personas very narrowly and are afraid to step outside the comfort zone; something I’ve never been afraid to do. Especially if you see the Team Hell No stuff I did with Daniel Bryan, it’s a significant departure from when I first started. And now, I’m sort of back to where I’m now. ”

Liking the two hour format more than the three hour format:

“I think the great thing about the WWE universe is that they just love to see us perform. People has been very receptive to it. Especially, when you look at the SmackDown show now, before that it always made Raw the flagship show of the brand. I think what’s happening with the brand split has really helped SmackDown. I like the two hour format much better than the three hour format. I think it’s incredibly hard to produce that sort of content every week. I think Raw has a disadvantage being a three hour show as opposed to SmackDown. In that respect, SmackDown is going places where it was not able to go in the earlier years.”

His retirement:

“As long as I’m still performing at the top level, as long as I’m still having fun and as long as I feel that I’m giving the audience their money’s worth. That’s always been my benchmark for going on. It’s rewarding for me now with some of the other guys coming up and seeing what they are going to be capable of doing in the future. And seeing them mature and I’m happy to be part of this process. “

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A trade involving Evander Kane isn’t completely off the table in Buffalo.

Sabres general manager Tim Murray could flip the winger in a deal, but only in exchange for much-needed help on the blue line, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

From Tuesday’s “Insider Trading“:

The Buffalo Sabres are not close to trading Evander Kane, but they do appear to be at least open to the idea if they get the right defenseman in return.

The Vancouver Canucks shut down their talks with Buffalo on Evander Kane last week. The New York Islanders came in and started kicking tires on Evander Kane, but nothing came of that.

Nothing is imminent at this moment, but the Buffalo Sabres will consider it for the right defenseman.

Kane has appeared in 73 games for the Sabres since being acquired from Winnipeg in 2014, recording 20 goals and 17 assists.

The 25-year-old, drafted fourth overall in 2009, has been limited to eight games this season due to injury, and is still looking for his first goal.

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The Miami Heat announced plans to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32 on Dec. 22 when the Los Angeles Lakers visit American Airlines Arena.

The Hall of Fame center will become the 12th player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by multiple franchises. The No. 34 that O’Neal wore with the Lakers was retired in 2013.

O’Neal helped power the Heat to their first-ever championship in 2006, but he only spent parts of four seasons – spanning 205 games – during his uneven spell in South Beach.

Nevertheless, despite his short stay, Heat president and former coach Pat Riley explained in September that bringing on O’Neal – more than uniting the Big Three – was his biggest coup while controlling the Heat.

“I’ll say this, and I mean this,” Riley said, “Shaq’s acquisition was bigger than any acquisition that we ever made, including the Big Three.

“The seminal moment,” Riley says, “to really make us really, really legitimate. (O’Neal) turned our franchise around. He gave us real legitimacy.”

O’Neal averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks during his time with the Heat.

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The Ottawa RedBlacks are just three years into franchise existence, but have already claimed their first Grey Cup, a 39-33 overtime thriller Sunday in the 104th edition of the Canadian championship against the Calgary Stampeders.

Coming in as heavy underdogs against the 15-win Stampeders, the RedBlacks jumped out to a quick 20-7 lead at the half, led by Henry Burris‘ two touchdowns.

It almost didn’t happen, though, as the 41-year-old Burris tweaked his knee in warmups, sending him to the locker room and making his availability come into question.

However, minutes before kickoff and after the opening coin toss, Burris came running out of the tunnel and warmed up, ready in time for Ottawa’s first drive, which ended with a Burris quarterback sneak at the goal line for a touchdown.

After Burris’ second touchdown, 2016 Most Outstanding Player Bo Levi Mitchell was picked off on back-to-back possessions, part of three interceptions on the day.

In the second half, Ottawa added another touchdown to expand their lead to 20, but that’s when Mitchell and the Stampeders settled down, making this Grey Cup one for the ages.

Down 27-10 late in the third quarter, Mitchell completed a pass to Lemar Durant, who made a tumbling grab. However, no RedBlacks defender touched him, leading to the receiver jumping up and scampering to the end zone for the 33-yard touchdown.

To start the fourth quarter, Andrew Buckley became the first Canadian quarterback to score a touchdown in a Grey Cup in 48 years, with his quarterback sneak to put Calgary down 27-23.

Then, Burris added another rushing touchdown from a yard out to make it a two-score game.

Facing third down and in field-goal range, Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson elected to go for it needing two yards to keep the Stampeders Grey Cup hopes alive. Calgary got more than that, as receiver DaVaris Daniels scored a 19-yard rushing touchdown with 1:46 to go.

Calgary went for an onside kick, where the ball bounced off RedBlacks receiver Brad Sinopoli‘s hands and ended up in the possession of Glenn Love near midfield for Calgary.

Five plays later, Mitchell’s pass to Kamar Jorden went incomplete, but a pass interference penalty on Abdul Kanneh set the Stampeders up first-and-goal from the Ottawa eight-yard line.

Kanneh made up for his penalty, as Buckley again tried to run the ball in, but was tripped up by the fingertips of Kanneh on second down, stalling the drive and forcing overtime tied at 33 after a Rene Paredes field goal.

In the extra frame, Burris connected with Ernest Jackson, who bobbled the pass twice, before securing the ball and falling into the end zone to put Ottawa ahead by six.

On Calgary’s overtime possession, Mitchell threw three straight incompletions, giving the RedBlacks the first Grey Cup in franchise history and the city of Ottawa its first championship since 1976, when the Ottawa Rough Riders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 26-23 in the dying seconds in one of the greatest Grey Cups in history.

Burris, who finished with 461 passing yards and five total touchdowns, was named Grey Cup MVP for the second time in his career, while Sinopoli was named Most Valuable Canadian with six receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown.

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“The Genius” Lanny Poffo, brother of the legendary “Macho Man” Randy Savage, was the guest on Sean Waltman’s X-Pac 1,2,360 this week. They sent us these highlights:

Lanny and Sean talk about Brian Knobbs’ surprising reaction to Randy Savage’s death

Poffo: “I want to say something in front of all your fans, Sean. I know what you did in San Jose. Thank you for taking up for Randy.”

Waltman: “I didn’t even want to go there but I can’t believe I’m the only one that said something.”

Poffo: “I’m getting emotional. Sean, why don’t you tell them?”

Waltman: “We get there, everybody is just so sad, and this is the show Lanny ended up not coming to, going back with his mother [when Randy passed away.] It was like a convention and a wrestling show mixed in. So we’re all sad, in tears, and in comes [Brian] Knobbs and he’s like faking a heart attack, like Fred Sanford going, [imitating Randy Savage] oh yeah, oh yeah. I just…oh my God, I got so pissed. I wanted to beat his ass so bad, Lanny, you know? When I got back I was on [Colin] Cowherd’s show and I actually called him out about it. He was all backpedaling after that. I think he even called you and trying to apologize. But what the **** is so funny about that? I don’t get that, how you can make a joke.”

Poffo: “I’m going to tell you what. He did call me up. He gave me his version of an apology and a denial together. In other words if you’re gonna deny it, why apologize? If you’re gonna apologize, why deny it, right? I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally bankrupt, and I stayed that way for about six months, and then I had myself a little comeback. But there are stages of grief. I am exhausted. I don’t want to argue. I don’t want to fight. Brian Knobbs called me up. He apologized. I accepted it. I said thank you for the apology and whatever. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Randy reconciling with Hulk Hogan shortly before his death”

“About a month before Randy died. My brother took my mom to the cardiologist, and the nurse said, ‘Hulk Hogan is here.’ Randy said, well keep him there. So Randy goes in there and gives him a hug or something. Here’s your scoop in the midst of all this drivel. Randy had a ‘blank you’ list a mile long, right? It seemed like the last two months of his life he went around making amends to everybody that he ever had any problem with, including Hulk Hogan. Let me tell you what. Even at the worst it was a love/hate relationship. Even at the worst, because Hulk was the Babe Ruth of wrestling and anybody that was lucky enough to be in his shadow for a moment was instantly catapulted to success. That was Randy in 1985, and they just clicked personally, professionally, inside the ring, outside the ring. But you know things happen.”

Savage wanting to work with Shawn Michaels during his last WWE run:

“Randy had a very bad leaving with the WWE. It was right about the time Randy was on the announcing table, right? You were there, the 1-2-3 Kid, and doing fantastic for yourself. Well Randy started watching and getting the bug back, you see what I mean? He started getting that, maybe I’m not too old. Maybe I can have one more match. He was always known for his match with Ricky Steamboat. So he thought that he could possibly start a little something with Shawn Michaels, and then have a two year program, then have the showdown at WrestleMania. His intention was to have a Hair vs. Career match, where Shawn Michaels would shave his head or Randy would give up his career and go to the announcing booth. Randy would drop the match, go back to the announcing booth, but he wanted to end his career with a better match than he had with Steamboat.”

Lanny offers inside insight on two infamous matches:

“When Bruno Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers, that was a shoot. Bruno walked over, put him up on a bear hug, he said, give up or I’ll break your back. Yeah Buddy had heart problems. Or that’s what he said. You see what I mean? Listen, I got the story from Buddy and Bruno, and I know whose story had the hole in it, OK? Before that, you know what happens when a guy becomes a megastar, he doesn’t want to lose, right? So you got Argentina Rocca against Buddy Rogers and Vince McMahon, Sr. wanted Buddy to win. Rocca didn’t want to lose. So Buddy was a very charming guy…Well Buddy said, OK Daddy, here’s what we’re going to do, and he’s real charismatic when he spoke and he’s charming too, you know—makes you fall in love with him. He says, I’ll win the first fall, you win the second fall and the third fall, two out of three match. So he goes out there, wins the first fall and everybody goes home. The fans go home, the referee goes home, Buddy goes and leaves. He told him there was going to be a two out of three match…and it was just a one fall match.”

Hulk Hogan inducting Randy into the Hall of Fame:

“First of all, I didn’t choose Hulk Hogan. Secondly, if I were given a choice I would’ve picked Hulk Hogan. That would be the final olive branch. I personally love Hulk Hogan. I know Randy really did too. Some of the trouble was because of the [Miss] Elizabeth thing.”

Rumor that Randy locked Elizabeth in a locker room:

“They were on [the WWE Randy Savage DVD] saying Randy locked Elizabeth in the locker room. I happen to know this was false because I was there. See what I mean? First of all, Elizabeth didn’t want to be taking a shower with Brian Knobbs… Put yourself in her shoes. These wrestlers were not the Boy Scouts. They were using people’s suitcases for toilets.”

Lanny reveals that a Superstar Poffo for the next generation could be on the way:

“In March I’m going to have a nino. I’m a little pumped up. My first and only. I only have one daughter and she’s only going to have one boy. So this is it.”

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Dennis Rodman was charged Monday in connection with a hit-and-run crash.

The former Chicago Bulls star caused a collision after driving the wrong way on a California freeway on July 20, according to police.

The 55-year-old has been charged with four misdemeanor counts, including damaging property in a hit-and-run, driving a car across a dividing section, providing false information to cops, and driving without a valid license.

Rodman will be arraigned on Jan. 20, 2017, and could face a maximum jail sentence of two years if convicted.

He’s being accused of driving his Range Rover head-on toward a sedan, prompting the driver of the other vehicle to swerve away and crash.

Rodman’s also being accused of refusing to exchange information with the sedan driver, fleeing the scene before California Highway Patrol arrived, and lying to police about the incident.

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Ronda Rousey briefly looked like the “Rowdy” of old when she faced off with Amanda Nunes at Madison Square Garden prior to UFC 205, but her abrupt exit and reported backstage behavior have raised questions about her comeback trail.

The 29-year-old – who’s scheduled to challenge Nunes for the women’s bantamweight title at UFC 207 – had to be consoled after she’d wordlessly exited stage right, according to the Fight Network’s Robin Black.

Rousey’s behavior – also reported by MMAFighting’s Dave Meltzer – doesn’t help her chances at regaining her previous form, says Dr. David Klonsky, a professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. As far as Klonsky’s concerned, whether the former champ can resume her dominant ways ultimately depends on the company she keeps.

“There’s no guarantee that Ronda’s gonna be completely fine mentally,” Dr. Klonsky told Black, according to Bloody Elbow’s Milan Ordonez. “If she has a good team around her, and unfortunately it’s not completely clear that that’s the case, there are ways to deal with this.

“There could even be smart ways where someone says ‘yeah, it makes sense that this is hard for you, being in the spotlight again after a really difficult loss.'”

The prognosis comes after Rousey admitted to contemplating suicide after losing the title to Holly Holm by head kick KO at UFC 193 – the first of her career – then revealed her upcoming fight with Nunes would be one of her last.

“Rowdy” was seen smiling and waving at a fan as she was leaving the Madison Square Garden stage, and president Dana White later claimed a production snafu unjustly dramatized her exit, as Nunes was not supposed to be interviewed after their faceoff.

Rousey hasn’t fought since the November 2015 loss to Holm. She meets Nunes in the main event of UFC 207 on Dec. 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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Source: Channel Guide Magazine

WWE superstar Lana talked to Scott Fishman of Channel Guide Magazine as part of promoting Total Divas. Lana spoke about showing her American side on the show, being rejected for the second season and more. Below are some highlights.

Being rejected for the second season:

“A month later I debuted with Rusev at Royal Rumble, and it would have been way too soon for me to come out as the Russian American that I am. We had a great first year doing a lot of Russian patriotic, Vladimir Putin stuff on Raw. I think seeing my American family on Total Divas might have hurt the gimmick or confused the fans a bit. Then season four again they talked about it. I’ve always wanted to be on the show. I think it’s a great show. I think Total Divas has brought the women more mainstream and so many opportunities. However, I’ve always thought if I’m supposed to be on the show I’ll be on the show. It’s all about timing.”

Showing her American side on the show:

“On Total Divas you are going to see the American side of me, and my DNA is American. I grew up in Russia, so there is the discipline and that point-of-view. I appreciate America as the land of opportunity. It’s the land where you can see your dreams come true if you work hard. My parents are American. His parents are Bulgarian. So you are going to see this conflict a lot. When I had the Bulgarian wedding, I almost flew home and left just because there was some serious conflict. It was really hard. Those are the challenges that we have to work through. You will see when you tune into the show.”

Dusty Rhodes pairing her up with Rusev:

“I was notorious at NXT for having constant pitches and ideas. I was that girl who would come in every day to Dusty Rhodes with a 10-page pitch for characters and posters of character development. I had a lot of ideas. My third day and first promo class I started speaking Russian. He pulls me to the side and says, ‘Baby, I want you working with Rusenoff. I finally realized that was the Bulgarian I actually met the night before at a tanning salon. We started working together. I think I motivate him. He always jokes, ‘You are the brains of the gimmick. You have the promos and I take the bumps.’ I would have him come over every day basically coming up with different skits and things. It was a lot of fun. We’ve always had a lot of fun. That’s the most important thing.”

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The UFC will continue to do right by its Brazilian fanbase in the new year.

UFC Vice President of International Business Development Joe Carr announced the promotion will make three trips to the South American nation in 2017. The news came shortly after UFC Fight Night 100 wrapped up in Sao Paulo on Saturday.

The UFC had previously revealed it would be returning to the country on March 11, but the remaining two dates have yet to be confirmed.

Despite the recent departure of now-former UFC Brazil general manager Giovani Decker and heavy staff cuts in a number of international offices, Carr insisted the promotion’s business in the nation would remain a top priority.

“We’re committed to this market,” Carr said, according to MMAjunkie’s Steven Marrocco and John Morgan. “Brazil is still the most important country outside the U.S. for the UFC. The new ownership is focused on this market, as well.”

The newly announced trio of Brazilian cards matches the promotion’s 2016 total.

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If an NBA team comes to Seattle, Russell Wilson doesn’t just want to be involved – he wants a piece of the ownership.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback is part of an investment group hoping to build an arena for potential NBA and NHL teams. On Thursday, Wilson said he would like an ownership stake if a basketball team returned to the area.

“Yeah, I will. Yes, for sure,” Wilson said about being an owner, according to ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia. “It’s going to be an exciting thing.”

Wilson said he’s been considering the option for awhile and feels like, despite his young age of 27, he can contribute to the franchise.

“I met (investment group leader) Chris (Hansen) a few years ago, and we were having a great conversation,” said Wilson. “We were talking, and I’ve told you guys I’ve been really authentic about wanting to own a team one day and being a part of something really special and doing that.

“And even though I’m young, I definitely have a business mindset. And I want to be able to help people and give back and help change this community, continue to change this community for the better.”

Seattle has been without an NBA team since the SuperSonics left in 2008. Along with Hansen, a Seattle-area hedge fund manager, Wilson is excited about the idea to bring another franchise to the city that’s supported him so much.

“For a long time, I have wanted to own a team and be part of that and all that kind of stuff,” Wilson said. “Really for the past year I’d say, really kind of been really processing it and thinking about it and trying to understand, and trying to get information from the people of Seattle.”

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Conor McGregor’s MMA takeover has now been statistically confirmed.

A report by Bloody Elbow’s Iain Kidd estimates the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight champ drew a combined 6.85 million pay-per-view purchases in his last five main event contests spanning 15 months, single-handedly doubling the promotion’s entire 2014 total of 3-to-3.2 million.

“The Notorious” most recently set the UFC pay-per-view record in a rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 in August, as well as the promotion’s and Madison Square Garden’s live gate record of $17.7 million at UFC 205, where he earned the above mentioned distinction with a second-round knockout of now-former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.

The Irishman earned his status as a cash cow months before a banner 2016, which ironically began with a second-round submission loss to Diaz at UFC 196. Between July 2015 and the March defeat, the Irishman headlined a trio of cards that drew a total of 3.5 pay-per-view purchases, also north of the UFC’s 2014 tally.

Further solidifying the two-division king’s drawing power is his 1.35 million average per event, which easily surpasses the promotion’s greatest draws in Georges St-Pierre, Brock Lesnar, and Ronda Rousey.

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Roger Goodell, the 10-year NFL commissioner, believes it’s the league who cares more about player safety, while the fans just want to watch football.

In a recent Sports Illustrated interview, Goodell was asked how often he is questioned by fans about concussions and shared his rather insulting belief.

“The fans are more interested in football,” Goodell said. “We are the ones who make safety a priority. They support that because they want to see their players play. … (But) I’d be fooling you if I don’t say: I hear guys that say, ‘Just let them play.'”

SI also conducted a survey which counters Goodell’s belief, finding that 94 percent of fans believe concussions are a serious problem.

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There are probably fewer players who haven’t gotten along with Steve Smith during his career than ones that he’s seen eye to eye with.

After two and half years away from his former team, the wide receiver admits that one of those strained relationships was with the Carolina Panthers then-future star Cam Newton. In an interview set to air on the NFL Network this Friday, Smith detailed the shaky relationship between himself and a young Newton.

“We bumped heads for the obvious reason. He’s the first overall pick and he was a star where he was,” Smith said, according to Bill Voth of the Black and Blue Review. “I was 31-years-old. I had three kids. So we were two people in two different phases of their life.”

Former teammate and Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross says Smith had no time for Newton’s development, coming in as the number one overall pick.

“That was a tough dynamic. It frustrated Steve being with such a young quarterback who maybe didn’t get all the terminology down right away, who would mess up his reads on a hot route, things like that,” said Gross. “Steve had no patience for that.

“Honestly, I feel like that hurt Cam’s development a little bit because Steve was such an in-your-face character. He wanted to win now. Steve wasn’t a rookie. Steve was getting into double-digit seasons, and he didn’t want to wait to win for this young quarterback to develop.”

In a surprise move to pretty much everyone outside the Panthers’ front office, Smith moved on to the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, but reminded his former team they let a good one go in their first meeting. Smith put up 139 yards and two touchdowns as part of the 38-10 victory he dubbed the “blood and guts bowl.”

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich continued his public criticism of president-elect Donald Trump Wednesday, referring specifically to the controversial appointment of former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as future White House chief strategist.

“I think that’s very troublesome to many of us,” Popovich said, according to the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps. “It would be great if (Trump) made some statements to all of the groups he disparaged, to bring us all together, and to allay fears, because there are a lot of fearful people, and for good reason. But rather than doing that, he inflamed it even more with that appointment. It’s kind of ironic.”

Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News shifted its focus to a more “alt-right” approach, a philosophy that has traditionally been tolerant of racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic viewpoints.

Popovich – a former U.S. Air Force officer who once considered a career in the CIA – again lambasted Trump for using racially divisive politics during his bitter election campaign against Hillary Clinton.

“I wonder sometimes if he made all those statements, he certainly whipped up the fear mongering and emotion in that base … he’s pretty good at that,” Popovich said. “You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. It changes day to day, depending on the situation, and what he needs at the moment.”

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Last night’s over 50 minute Survivor Series men’s match was an entertaining and chaotic bout. One moment that stood out was Shane McMahon appearing to be injured late in the match. According to Wrestling Observer Radio, he wasn’t just selling, as he really was badly hurt.

The spot in question saw Shane go for his Coast-to Coast-move, but Roman reversed it into a spear. That was the planned finish for Shane, but when the ref saw that Shane was actually hurt, he stopped to attend to him.

That was a scary moment, and it could have gone a lot worse for both men. The timing for the move to work needed to be perfect, and they were just a touch off. Luckily Shane was telling people backstage later on that he was feeling fine.

Also of note is that after the injury went down, Orton broke character and informed Shane’s kids that his dad was okay. While that’s a sweet gesture…call me old fashioned, but couldn’t any personnel not in the match have done that? I guess I’ve never seen my dad botch a Coast to Coast (besides Thanksgiving last year), so I don’t know the right answer.

Well, hopefully this gives Shane a bit of pause before trying something crazy again. At 46 years old, his body obviously isn’t as athletic as it used to be. That likely won’t stop him from battling Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania…but now that Lesnar can be so easily defeated who knows what any of this means anymore!

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The Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks discussed Evander Kane, but a potential trade involving the controversial forward isn’t currently in the works, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports.

McKenzie said there was dialogue between general managers Tim Murray and Jim Benning, but the two sides are no longer pursuing talks.

Kane’s been relatively ineffective since arriving in Buffalo after a trade with the Winnipeg Jets two seasons ago while shelved with injury. He produced 20 goals and 35 points in 65 games last season, and has one assist in six games this year after breaking his ribs crashing into the boards in the club’s season opener.

His tumultuous tenure with the Sabres also includes incidents involving law enforcement. Kane was arrested in July after an altercation involving three women at a downtown Buffalo bar. He was also sued for allegedly injuring a woman in an attack in a hotel room last December.

Kane carries a $5.25-million cap hit through next season before reaching unrestricted free agency in 2018.

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Former Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson is not impressed with his team’s return to Hollywood thus far.

The opinionated Hall of Famer has watched his old team stumble its way to a 4-5 record with No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff waiting in the wings. Discussing Goff’s debut coming this Sunday, Dickerson told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he’s not expecting a whole lot of success in the early going considering the way the Rams have trended this season.

“Here is L.A., we have a defensive-minded coach, and we have an offense that is boring as hell,” said Dickerson. “They throw outs, they throw checkdowns, they spread the field every once in a while.”

Dickerson doesn’t expect Goff to struggle just because of the dull offense. He sees a problem with an inexperienced coaching staff that includes second-year quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke and offensive coordinator Rob Boras, who spent the last 12 seasons as a tight ends coach.

“Then we have a quarterbacks coach – no offense – a quarterbacks coach, Chris Weinke, that’s coaching our No. 1 pick, that we traded all these draft picks for,” Dickerson said. “Show me the proof, show me what you’ve done, show me your history. What history do you have working with quarterbacks (and) developing quarterbacks?

“Then I could believe, and I just believe that they don’t have the right coaches and that’s what it comes down to: the coaching of a quarterback. You can’t just throw a quarterback out there and expect him to play well.”

Goff officially takes over the Rams’ 31st-ranked offense for Case Keenum this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. While seven other rookie quarterbacks have thrown a pass already this season, 2016’s first overall selection hasn’t seen the field since struggling mightily in the preseason.

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Count Jabari Parker among the scores of NBA players and head coaches who were disappointed with Donald Trump being named as president-elect.

Parker shared his scathing account of how a Trump presidency would affect him and other minorities going forward in an interview with The Sporting News.

“I’m worried about my safety and that of a lot of people,” Parker began. “There are a lot of threats on athletes and regular citizens. We’ve already seen an increase in hate crimes and it’s barely been a week.

“His election made people feel like it’s cool to be openly and violently racist. I’ve gotten threats and so have others I know. I have to be more aware of my surroundings. I really feel bad for people who don’t have as many ways to protect themselves as I do.”

Parker has been vocal in his efforts to affect positive social change, and his team has followed suit. The Milwaukee Bucks are one of several teams that will avoid Trump’s hotels going forward.

“I’m proud to not stay in Trump hotels,” Parker said. “I don’t support someone who endorses hate on other people. He ran his campaign on hate. He’s attacked everything that I am and believe. I was named by a Muslim man. My mother didn’t get her citizenship until much later in life. She is basically an immigrant because she came from Tonga. She was paid less because she was a woman.

“I’m black, and he’s said some controversial stuff about black people. When it comes to me not supporting Donald Trump, it’s correlated to the things he has said. I have a gay uncle. All the things he said in his campaign are things I can’t associate myself with.”

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Aaron Rodgers‘ performance has come under fire this season as the Green Bay Packers have slumped to a 4-5 record. Now his personal life is coming under scrutiny, too.

Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne published a long feature about Rodgers on Friday that paints the Packers passer as a man who has isolated himself from some of his teammates and, more notably, his family.

According to Dunne, Rodgers hasn’t spoken to his immediate family in two years. We first heard about the schism when Rodgers’ brother, Jordan, was a contestant (and eventual winner) on “The Bachelorette.”

Dunne writes:

One source, who was close to Rodgers for years but is among the many who have since been cut off by Rodgers entirely, said the quarterback has not spoken to his family since December 2014. Don’t feel too bad, J-Mike. Immediate family members don’t even have his cellphone number. When Mom and Dad sent Christmas presents to the quarterback and his girlfriend that year, the source said, those gifts were mailed back in February. He was set to be the groomsman in the wedding of one of his closest friends, the source said, and texted the day before he couldn’t attend.

He didn’t attend his grandfather’s funeral – the same grandfather he once called before every game.

He fired a business manager he’s known since high school.

The family was told they were no longer welcome in Green Bay. If Dad wants to attend a game now, he buys tickets on StubHub or goes through another player’s family.

Nowhere in Dunne’s reporting is an explanation for why Rodgers has chosen this route. No one, outside Rodgers himself and perhaps his family, seems to know why this has happened.

Rodgers’ former teammate, tight end Jermichael Finley, criticized Rodgers as a locker-room leader, too.

“In my opinion, he’s a different guy,” Finley said. “I didn’t really know how he showed his leadership. He wasn’t a vocal guy. He really wasn’t a hands-on guy. To tell you the truth, it was all about his game and his stats in my opinion. … He was a guy that kept it all in. He kept grudges close to his chest. If you did something, he never really let it go. He always kept it close to his heart.

“I just don’t think he was a natural-born leader. He wasn’t put on Earth to lead.”

It’s unclear if Rodgers’ disposition and approach to relationships has changed since his NFL MVP seasons in 2011 and 2014, so it’s impossible to say whether it has affected his play on the field. The Packers certainly have more problems than just Rodgers – in fact, his level of play may not rank among the team’s 10 biggest issues.

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One of Hollywood’s biggest stars is eager to be in Conor McGregor’s corner.

Mark Wahlberg spoke to TMZ Sports on Friday and said that if the Irish superstar is looking for a piece of the UFC, he’s welcome to have some of Wahlberg’s share.

“Absolutely,” said Wahlberg. “As a matter of fact, I’ll give him a piece of mine because he is the face of the UFC right now. He deserves that but also in business you’ve got to cut the check.”

If the UFC decides not to invite McGregor to join the corporate side of the promotion, Wahlberg thinks that he and McGregor could still end up collaborating in the future.

“He’s a hustler like me so there’s probably a lot of other opportunities for us to go out there and make money and work together,” said Wahlberg.

Could fans soon see McGregor being involved in one of Wahlberg’s films? Fellow UFC star Ronda Rousey had a starring role in the Wahlberg-produced “Entourage” film and the entertainment mogul thinks it’s inevitable that McGregor tries his hand at acting.

“He’s a movie waiting to happen, why not?”

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Former Diva Search winner and terrible wrestler Ashley Massaro has thrown her hat into the ever expanding ring of former WWE employees taking legal action against the company for a range of alleged grievances. Massaro, 37, who left WWE in 2008 by her own volition in order to care for her sick daughter, joins in with the claims that the promotion failed to provide adequate care for concussions during her tenure.

The complaint is the chief issue in the lawsuit, which has now ballooned to over fifty plaintiffs following the addition of seven other ex-WWE talents this past week. The legion of litigants all make the allegation that the company withheld information about possible head trauma caused by concussions and repetitive head injuries. Apparently, the possibility never occurred to any of them.

Less frivolous is Massaro’s accusation that she was sexually assaulted during a 2006 tour of Kuwait. After discussing the incident with a company medic, Massaro claims WWE personnel apologised, and persuaded her that it’d be in her interest not to report it to authorities. Murky stuff indeed, and not wholly inconsistent with similar claims from past employees such as Sable and Nicole Bass. Bass lost her case, whereas Sable settled out of court.

At present, WWE’s legal eagle Jerry McDevitt has not responded directly to the claims, instead repeating the company’s motion for sanctions against lawyer Konstantine Kyros, who he criticises for making “false, salacious, and incendiary allegations designed more for media consumption than legal merit”. WWE are expected to file a notion to dismiss the case.

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Two of the biggest names in recent New York Yankees history have slightly differing opinions regarding new president-elect Donald Trump.

Joe Torre, the former Yankees skipper and current chief baseball officer for MLB, has associated with Trump a number of times over the years, but at a gala in New York for his Safe at Home Foundation – which aims to raise awareness about domestic violence – he revealed he wasn’t pleased with the controversial road taken by the next president of the United States.

“I know (Trump). I played golf with him,” Torre said Thursday, according to the New York Daily News’ Christian Red. “I’m not a fan of the process, I don’t mind saying that. I thought there was a lot of disrespect. I wasn’t a fan of it.

“Our children – it’s tough when you don’t want your children to watch a debate.”

Torre wasn’t the only name in baseball at the event to comment on Trump’s victory.

Iconic Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter also attended the event, and though he understands the country is split regarding the result, he hopes cooler heads can prevail.

“There’s been so much talk about the election, I think people are tired of hearing about the election,” Jeter said, according to Red. “You move on and you hope that everyone can unite. Do I know (Trump)? Yeah. I’ve known him. … He’s always treated me good, best way to put it.”

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Gary Bettman didn’t mince words when asked about the city of Seattle’s pursuit of a new multi-sport arena.

“We’re not paying a lot of attention to Seattle,” the NHL commissioner said Monday at the PrimeTime Sports & Entertainment Conference in Toronto, according to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen.

“If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one, we might pay attention. But it’s not something we’re monitoring. We’re not focusing on future expansion at this point and we’re not focusing on Seattle over anywhere else.”

Despite Bettman’s talk, deputy commissioner Bill Daly stressed that expansion to Seattle isn’t completely off the table.

“I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility of further expansion at some point in the future, but it’s certainly not on the radar screen today,” he said.

“Our primary focus on the expansion front is making sure Las Vegas gets in successfully and that everything we’ve put into place for them to enter the league progresses the way it was intended to progress.”

Las Vegas was the only city awarded an NHL expansion franchise in June. Quebec City’s bid was accepted but ultimately deferred, while Seattle’s did not make the final stage of the bidding process.

Last month, Chris Hansen and his group of investors offered to privately financetheir proposed arena project that would bring a new single-venue NHL and NBA facility to Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood.

Mayor Ed Murray told local TV station King 5 News that he’s targeting early spring for a decision on whether to approve Hansen’s plan or potentially entertain another option, such as renovating KeyArena, the former home of the NBA’s SuperSonics.

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Gregg Popovich has made his fears about the American political climate well known, and the San Antonio Spurs coach isn’t feeling much better now that he’s had a few days to digest the impending Donald Trump presidency.

“I’m just sick to my stomach,” Popovich told reporters Friday, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all of the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.

“I live in that country where half of the people ignored all of that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part of the whole thing to me. It’s got nothing to do with the environment and Obamacare, and all of the other stuff. We live in a country that ignored all of those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump.”

Popovich, who was feeling uneasy even before the American people made Trump their president-elect, is struggling to wrap his head around the fact that so many of his countrymen either ignored or were unbothered by Trump’s platform and messaging and general behavior on the campaign trail.

“Everybody wants to be successful, it’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain,” Popovich said. “But it does not take away the fact that he used that fear mongering, and all of the comments, from day one, the race-baiting with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living, and with whom I’m living.

“The fact that people can just gloss that over, start talking about the transition team, and we’re all going to be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake, which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected.

“And what gets lost in the process are African-Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh-grade, eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.”

Along with feeling frightened for his fellow citizens, Popovich fears for the future of his country, which he likened to another bygone empire that ultimately tore itself apart.

“I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it,” he said. “I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person. How disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. My final conclusion is, my big fear is – we are Rome.”

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For those who thought Donald Trump had “No Chance in Hell” of becoming President of the United States, not only has it happened, but another former wrestling personality may also be involved in his administration.

NBC Connecticut has revealed that Linda is being considered as his Secretary of Commerce. An official offer has not been made yet, but her spokesman said she would be “honored to serve if Trump asks her.”

This seems to be one of the most expensive cabinet positions in the history of politics, as Linda reportedly gave Trump’s campaign over $6 million a few months ago. She also spent $97 million of the McMahon Family fortune trying to become a Senator in two prior runs.

Linda no longer has much to do with WWE, as she resigned as CEO of the company in 2009. She hasn’t appeared on Raw or SmackDown in years, and isn’t even mentioned on either show.

It looks like a prominent political role like this is something she’s been looking to land for years. The lesson is: never give up on your dreams, especially if you have over $100 million to keep chasing them.

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It was reported a few months ago that Shawn Michaels had been offered a trainer’s job at the WWE Performance Center. WWE never made an official announcement, but it seemed plausible: Michaels is widely regarded as the most influential wrestlers of all-time, and the man himself admitted to discussing the role with Triple H.

While HBK spent time training at the Performance Center in September, his full-time status remained a mystery, until now. Kevin Nash appeared alongside fellow Kliq members Sean Waltman and Scott Hall on the Kevin Gill Showpodcast earlier this week, and he claims that Shawn has accepted a position as Head of the Performance Center.

Nash’s comments are transcribed below:-

Nash: How many people, including the two guys to my left, know that the new Head of the WWE Performance Center is Shawn Michaels? Hall: Oh yeah, I knew that. Waltman: Is he actually moving to Florida? I can’t believe that. Nash: Oh yeah, he’s moving to Florida with the family and everything. If you thought that NXT was something wait til that son of a bitch gets down there and gives them his magic. There is nobody better than him. Physically nobody better. Psychology nobody better. It’s going to be a game changer. I don’t know what the hell they are paying him but it’s got to be a lot because to get Shawn to do the 9-5… Waltman: Whatever it is is a bargain.Nash: His son wants to do graphic design. His daughter wants to be a veterinarian. Sea World is down there. There’s a lot of advantages to being in Orlando over Abilene, TX. Nothing against Abilene. I hear there’s a lot of good things going on there. Gill: I don’t think Full Sail has opened a branch out there. Nash: Graphic design is something you have at Full Sail. “Go with Dad to work.”

As exciting as this sounds, the news does bring Matt Bloom’s status into question. Contrary to Nash’s claims, the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer notes that Bloom is still employed as the Performance Center’s Head Coach:-

Kevin Nash was on the Kevin Gill show and said that Shawn Michaels was the new head instructor at the Performance Center. Michaels has been coaching there, but the WWE confirmed that Matt Bloom is still the the head coach.

Regardless of whether HBK is Head Coach or a regular trainer, this is a huge boost for the Performance Center. Many of WWE’s current trainees will have grown-up idolising Michaels, and they’ll now have the opportunity to learn from him after years of watching him on television. As one of the most highly-regarded and charismatic wrestlers of all-time, Michaels’ presence will only benefit WWE’s next generation.

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Trevor Linden isn’t going to give up on the Vancouver Canucks.

The team’s president of hockey operations and alternate governor told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that he has no plans to resign amid a slow start.

Friedman relayed their conversation in Saturday’s edition of “Headlines” on Hockey Night in Canada.

“I did ask him (Saturday), I said, ‘Is any of this true?’, and he said, ‘Look, I came into this job with my eyes wide open. I knew there was a chance we were going to go through a difficult time. I accept that, I get the criticism and the scrutiny,’ but … he says he’s not going anywhere. He is staying in his current role.”

The Canucks are 5-9-1 through 15 games, and only the Calgary Flames have a worse goal differential than Vancouver’s minus-16 mark.

Linden was hired by the Canucks in his dual role back in April 2014.

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In some sad and scary news from Goldust, the longtime WWE veteran took to Facebook last night to let people know that his transgender stepchild was beaten up by three men the night before.

He did not detail the severity of the injuries, but he called out to “let people live the lives they choose” and threatened that if he was there the perpetrators would be on “life support”:

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Thousands of Goldust’s fans have reached out to him in support, and to wish his stepchild a speedy recovery. Hopefully the injuries are not severe, and this can serve as a bit of a wake up call to those who needlessly target others who are different than them.

Of course, there’s no way to tell at the moment if this is tied to the results of the United States election in any way, but hateful speech has certainly been on the rise as of late in the country.

Here’s to hoping that police are able to find the men who did this, and like Goldust stated, they can “grow the eff up” after they serve their time.

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Conor McGregor is looking to parlay his continued dominance of the MMA world into a new form of compensation.After making easy work of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 on Saturday night, becoming the first ever simultaneous belt holder with an impressive second-round knockout win, McGregor said his next fight is going to depend on what the UFC can offer up. This time, he wants more than the cash he’s been raking in.

Along with the announcement that he and girlfriend Dee Devlin are expecting their first child in May, McGregor demanded at his post-fight press conference that he receive an ownership stake in the company.

“They’ve got to come talk to me now,” McGregor said, via Damon Martin of FOX Sports. “Cause no one has come talk to me since the sale happened as a businessman. I’ve been approached as a ‘hello’ and that type of stuff but I’ve earned something. Who owns the company now? There’s people that have shares in the company, celebrities, Conan O’Brien owns the UFC now. So where’s my share? Where’s my equity?”

McGregor has claimed on multiple occasions since the big-money sale that he’s the reason the UFC was valued at an incredible $4.2 billion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he now wants to be rewarded as such.

“If I’m the one that’s bringing this. They’ve got to come talk to me now, that’s all I know,” said McGregor. “I’ve got both belts, a chunk of money, a little family on the way. You want me to stick around, you want me to keep doing what I’m doing, let’s talk, but I want ownership. I want an equal share. I want what I deserve, what I’ve earned.”

Now that McGregor owns both the featherweight and lightweight titles, fight fans everywhere will eagerly be awaiting news on his next opponent. Which will he defend first? Is a third belt even possible?

McGregor says he won’t be figuring any of that out until he gets what he wants.

“I’ve got a million other hurdles before I consider any of this,” he said. “Whoever runs this who (expletive) now has got to come to me and give me the real slice cause that’s what I’ve earned. I’ve earned this. Biggest gate. Biggest everything.”

McGregor has now won all but one of his last 18 fights, pushing his professional record to an impressive 21-3.

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In addition to the Cruiserweight Classic and the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, WWE is set to run an all women’s tournament early next year. Top talent from all over the world are expected to appear in it.

This news comes from the Pro Wrestling Observer, which has also reported that several names have already been contacted. The tournament is expected to begin shooting in January or March.

You can expect a handful of top indy veterans, current WWE wrestlers and a few names from the past to be involved.

This seems like a solid move on WWE’s part, the Dusty Rhodes tournament and the CWC both received rave reviews. They delivered great matches, and introduced fans to a bunch of new wrestlers, many of which have stuck around for full-time work.

Raw, SmackDown and NXT all badly need new female talent, as each show has roughly half-a-dozen regulars. This is a huge opportunity for the women who will be entered, as it’s likely at least a few of them will be offered deals.

The idea is to have the three yearly tournaments with the CWC, The Dusty Rhodes Classic and the all women’s one. And with filming not too far off, we should start to hear some participants soon.

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Peyton Manning has said he doesn’t see himself becoming a coach in the future, but he will be playing one on television.

The retired quarterback has been tapped as a guest star for a January episode of the comedy series “Modern Family,” playing a character named Coach Gary, who has been hired by Gloria (Sofia Vergara) to teach her son Joe how to throw and catch, according to ET.

This will be the first official acting role for Manning, who has previously appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” and “American Idol.”

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Following in the footsteps of fiery comments from Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr also took his turn Wednesday to rant about his disappointment with Tuesday’s election.

Kerr spoke without stopping for two minutes about what, in his opinion, was a farcical election that saw Republican nominee Donald Trump snatch a shocking victory over Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

“Maybe we should have seen it coming over the last 10 years,” Kerr said. “You look at society, you look at what’s popular, people are getting paid millions of dollars to go on TV and scream at each other, whether it’s in sports or politics or entertainment. I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics.

“Then all of a sudden you’re faced with reality. The man who is going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words. That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one.

“I wish (Trump) well. I hope he’s a good president. I have no idea what kind of president he will be because he hasn’t said anything about what he is going to do. We don’t know.

“But it’s tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity and there hasn’t been. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife, who have basically been insulted by his comments and they’re distraught.

“Then you walk in and see the faces of your players, most of them who have been insulted directly as minorities. It’s sorta shocking. It really is. We talked about it as a team this morning. I don’t know what else to say – the whole process has left all of us disgusted and disappointed. I thought we were better than this.

“I thought ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ was ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’ But watching the last debate, Trump would make a crack at Clinton, and fans in the stands would say, ‘OOHHH, NO HE DIDN’T!’ Like, yeah, he did. This is the presidential election, it’s not ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’

“I’m sorry. This is my rant,” Kerr concluded. “I’m disappointed in the lack of respect and dignity that is involved. That’s the way it goes.”

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The verdict is in, and it isn’t good for Jon Jones.

The UFC interim light heavyweight champion received a full one-year suspension from the USADA for a doping violation that was reported this past July, according to an official release Monday.

On Oct. 31, Jones became the first fighter to enter an arbitration case with the USADA. His attorney, Howard Jacobs, was confident his client would get a reduced suspension after the agency’s independent testing corroborated their defense that Jones accidentally used a tainted supplement. Instead, Jones will be ineligible to compete until July 6, 2017, retroactive to the date when the violation was reported.

Jones was removed from UFC 200 three days before the event when news of his failed test broke. Estrogen blockers were found in Jones’ out-of-competition sample collected on June 16. Those substances are banned due to their potential use in steroid cycles.

The UFC‘s statement emphasizes that “the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use of banned substances.”

Jones’ legal team presented the three-person arbitration panel with a tainted supplement defense, claiming that the substances entered Jones’ system without his knowledge. Conversely, the panel found that “Jones’ degree of fault was at the very top end of the scale,” which resulted in them issuing the full suspension.

The arbitrators elaborated on their decision in an extended statement published by the USADA, specifically referring to Jones previously pointing to a sexual-performance enhancer as the origin of the violation:

“On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat. He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance. However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a ‘dick pill’ he has not only lost a year of his career but an estimated nine million dollars. This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for him should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport.”

The 29-year-old fighter won an interim belt in his last appearance in April when he defeated Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision. He was scheduled to face Daniel Cormier in a championship unification bout in the main event of UFC 200, but that bout was canceled in light of Jones’ positive drug test.

A meeting with the Nevada State Athletic Commission still awaits Jones, which could result in further sanctions.

As of Monday, Jones was still listed on the UFC’s website as the interim champion at 205 pounds, but that status is likely to be rescinded shortly.

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Andy Fantuz will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL and is out for the remainder of the season, head coach Kent Austin confirmed Friday.

Fantuz didn’t play in Hamilton’s regular-season finale after he was forced to leave the previous week’s contest with a knee injury.

Before going down, the 32-year-old was enjoying another productive season in the Steel City. He’ll finish his 11th CFL campaign – fifth with the Tiger-Cats – with 101 receptions for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns.

Fantuz, who’s on track to become a free agent at season’s end, said he doesn’t plan to retire and would like to return to Hamilton next year, according to the Hamilton Spectator’s Drew Edwards.

Time will tell how quickly Fantuz can get back on the field, but an ACL tear typically takes 8-to-12 months to recover from.

The Ti-Cats are set to open the CFL playoffs Sunday, when they’ll host the Edmonton Eskimos in the Eastern Semifinal.

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As one member of the infamous “Big Three” that powered the Miami Heat to four-straight Finals appearances, Dwyane Wade knows a thing or two about being branded the villain.

Long before fans turned on the Golden State Warriors, the league’s ire was focused on the Heat. They were booed everywhere they went, each loss was magnified and celebrated, and that animosity weighed on the team.

Now that it’s Golden State’s turn to shoulder the burden, Wade had some sage words for Kevin Durant, who has been recast as the villain after being the league’s darling as recently as two years ago.

“I think the biggest thing is, what I say is just enjoy it. One thing we did wrong our first year was we played into the villain role because people was not liking that we was together and we tried to play into that role. That’s not why we started playing basketball – we started playing basketball because we enjoyed it and we loved it,” Wade told Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders.

Wade also cautioned that chemistry takes time to build. Winning a championship takes more than cobbling together a few superstars – there’s still a process in order to get there.

“It takes time,” Wade said. “We had great players, but we had a lot of guys who already was used to something a certain way and it just took a little time.”

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Dana White is ready to say goodbye to one of his prized talents.

The UFC president spoke to TMZ on Tuesday and he confirmed Ronda Rousey’s statement that she could be wrapping up her fighting career soon.

“I knew,” said White. “Listen, I don’t want to take the wind out of her sails – let her say her own stuff – obviously, I know what’s going on with her, but it’s winding down for Ronda.”

Rousey is set to return from a 13-month hiatus when she challenges women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in the main event of UFC 207 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. Win or lose, it’s unclear how many more times Rousey plans to compete, and White wasn’t shining any light on the subject.

“That’s up to her to say.”

Since losing her UFC title to Holly Holm last November, Rousey has stayed out of the spotlight, at least compared to a hectic 2014-2015 stretch that saw her featured in several major Hollywood films. White expects her to plant both feet firmly on the silver screen when she steps away from the Octagon for good.

“Ronda Rousey’s made a lot of money. She accomplished what she set out to do,” said White. “You get to a point especially in this business when you have to start looking at things and going – she loves acting, she’s good at it, and if she dedicates herself to it she’ll be even better at it.

“I think when she says she’s done, she’s done, because at the end of the day she stopped doing judo,” White continued. “She moved on to mixed martial arts and I think when she’s done with that she’ll probably move on to acting.”

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Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is doing what he can to ensure the family of Raiders legend Ken Stabler will receive a Hall of Fame ring and gold jacket as part of his induction this year.

Stabler’s family informed the public Friday that a Pro Football Hall of Fame policy ensured that they would not be granted such items normally bestowed upon enshrinees, as they are never bestowed posthumously. Stabler died in July of last year.

Davis caught wind of the decision and labeled it “an injustice.”

“No way I should have my dad’s ring and Bruce Allen doesn’t have his dad’s,” Davis told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “No way I should have my dad’s ring and Junior Seau’s family doesn’t have his. Same with Dick Stanfel’s family, and Kenny’s family. The guy’s earned it and their families should get to enjoy it. This is an injustice that has to be rectified.”

Stabler and Stanfel were inducted as senior finalists for the 2016 class of the Hall of Fame.

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WWE is a forgiving bunch. It seems no matter how awful one of their wrestlers has acted outside of a wrestling ring (with the exception of one man), Vince McMahon is willing to give them another shot if there’s money to be made.

Because of that, most of us have suspected that Hulk Hogan would make a return to the company in some form eventually. Apparently that could be just a few months away.

TMZ interviewed Hulk’s daughter Brooke, who said that “people” have been calling her dad for a WrestleMania appearance.

Now, keep in mind, The Hulkster has been known to spin quite a few stories over the years. He’s also a master politician. This could be a case of him telling his daughter something in the hopes that she’d leak the story to get fans talking about a Hulk return, which in turn would make WWE think there’s a lot of interest in a reunion. Or maybe, she just made it up.

There’s also the possibility that WWE is ready to work with him again. After the Gawker case ended and Hogan walked away with millions of dollars, a lot of the heat over his racist comments seems to have gone away.

It’s certainly possible that he’ll return for WrestleMania 33 in a cameo role, but you can also imagine the company will want to wait even longer for him to re-establish goodwill with the public first.

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The comparisons are inevitable. Connor McDavid understands it. So does Sidney Crosby.

Franchise centers don’t come along very often. Particularly ones with the skill set McDavid seems to share with the player he grew up idolizing. The footwork. The soft hands. The relentless energy. The ability to see something before it happens and the talent to make it so.

A decade ago, it was Crosby who took the NHL by storm. Now it’s McDavid’s turn. A year removed from an injury-marred rookie season in Edmonton, the 19-year-old will get a chance to face Crosby for the first time on Tuesday when the Oilers visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both players, as is their habit, are trying to downplay the meeting. Still, Crosby has a keen sense of where McDavid is at in his blossoming career and the weight placed on his shoulders. Back in 2006, Crosby was trying to do for the Penguins what McDavid is trying to do for the Oilers: lift a once proud team back to relevance, one highlight-reel play at a time.

Listen to Crosby rattle off the things that impress him about McDavid, and the two-time Hart Trophy winner might as well be describing himself.

”I just think his speed stands out the most,” Crosby said. ”It allows him to do so many other things. He sees the ice really well. He’s so strong on the puck. His hockey sense and his speed are the things that stand out the most.”

They’ve been on display with regularity so far for Edmonton, which sits atop the Pacific Division, a solid start for a team trying to end a playoff drought that stretches back to when McDavid was still in elementary school. McDavid is tied for fourth in the NHL in points (14) and seventh in assists (nine), including a patient, heady dish to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the power play on Sunday that turned into the winning goal in a 2-1 victory in Detroit.

”He’s obviously one of the bright young players in the league,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ”I’m sure that team has taken another step and he’s a big reason why.”

Just don’t expect Sullivan do his part to make sure Crosby’s No. 87 ends up in the faceoff circle with McDavid’s No. 97. (Oh, there’s another similarity: both players using the year of their birth as their respective jersey numbers).

”I don’t really think too much about drama,” Sullivan said.

Besides, Crosby’s return to the lineup after a concussion that sidelined him for a few weeks last month has made the environment in Pittsburgh decidedly drama-free. The Penguins haven’t lost in regulation since Crosby came back (5-0-1), and the player who loves nothing more than to set up a teammate has suddenly become a little selfish, in a good way.

Crosby has eight goals in six games, including two each in the final two games of a road swing through California.

”Nothing surprises us,” Sullivan said. ”He’s just a great player. I don’t know how else to say it. I think we’ve grown to expect it out of him and he’s done it each and every night. I really admire his consistency of play.”

And that more than anything else may be what McDavid wants to emulate about Crosby above all else.

”He’s the best player in the world and if you can take anything from his game, obviously that’ll help,” McDavid said.

Though they’ve run into each other occasionally in random places, Crosby hasn’t gone out of his way to reach out and give McDavid advice. Crosby doesn’t want to overstep, pointing out the Oilers have veterans to help guide McDavid as he navigates his first full season after a broken collarbone limited him to 45 games as a rookie.

Still, if there was one piece of advice Crosby will impart, it’s this: tune out the hype and just do what you do.

”The biggest thing is learning on the fly, see what works for you,” Crosby said. ”Just remember what got you to this point and try to continue that success.”

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Randy Moss was beyond thrilled after getting the call that he had been traded from the Oakland Raiders to the New England Patriots in 2007, though he didn’t make the best first impression on his new coach.

Thinking it was a friend playing a prank on him, Moss had some choice words for the person on the other end of the line, who turned out to be Bill Belichick.

“I thought it was a friend or somebody playing with my phone. I actually cussed him out,” Moss told ESPN. “When he kept saying it was Bill Belichick, I knew he was serious. I started being apologetic because I had cussed the man. Then he told me the Raiders were thinking about trading me. I had to be in Foxborough by 10 p.m. Eastern, or the trade would void. So, I just did everything that I could possibly do to get up there by 10 p.m.”

Then, it was time to celebrate.

“After I got off the phone with him, I was excited. I was hyped. I was in a club that night. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who played for the Detroit Lions at the time, was there, so I went up there, high-fiving him, hugging random people,” Moss said. “Shaun asked me what was going on and I said to him, ‘I’m getting ready to be a Patriot.’ The first thing that came out of his mouth was, ‘Man, that’s cheatin’.”

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During Thursday’s WWE third quarter earnings conference call with Vince McMahon and chief strategy and financial officer George Barrios, the company’s chairman revealed that he would consider selling his family’s promotion under the right circumstances.

The question as asked referenced other recent corporate moves, including AT&T’s $85 billion bid for Time Warner earlier this week, and the more relevant $4 billion sale of Ultimate Fighting Championship to WME, while proposing that a similar sale could benefit shareholders. McMahon replied, mentioning that he has considered the idea of a sale, but he also appreciates the idea of being able to control his own destiny. While he did voice concern with the amount of control he and his family would retain after such a sale, he did say that he would have to consider the right deal.

When the questioner continued the conversation, asking McMahon about the prospect of a merger deal that would keep him in his current position, the WWE chairman seemed more amenable, replying “We are open for business.”

Since the sale of UFC in July, speculation has run rampant as to whether WWE could get a similar sum for the company. Though WWE’s stock valuation is strong, the company is far less profitable than UFC.

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Jim Rutherford believes two fading hockey traditions aren’t necessary.

The Pittsburgh Penguins general manager joined the list of hockey personnel to speak up against morning practice sessions on game days, while also arguing that fighting isn’t a vital part of the game when asked about the subjects Monday night.

Rutherford didn’t sugarcoat his answer when asked about the point of a morning skate.

“There isn’t one,” the GM said at the ’50 Years of Hockey’ event in Pittsburgh.

“(The Montreal Canadiens) started (the) morning skate in the early ’70s. (Penguins co-owner) Mario (Lemieux), (head) coach (Mike Sullivan) and I all don’t care for it.”

The architect of the defending Stanley Cup champions also dismissed the notion that fighting is essential.

“When you look at the best events in hockey, you don’t have any fighting,” Rutherford said, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I don’t think we need it.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella did away with his team’s morning skates earlier this season, and several other key NHL figures have argued against the game-day sessions in the last couple of years.

The frequency of fights has been dramatically reduced as the NHL has collectively shifted toward prioritizing speed and skill, which were precisely the qualities many believed separated the Penguins from the rest of the league during their championship run.

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Source: The Citizens’ Voice

WWE Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler talked to Kristen Gaydos of The Citizens’ Voice to promote WWE’s upcoming show at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Dolph talked about how important his match with The Miz was, Big E and more. Below are some highlights.

On his career vs. title match against The Miz:

“It’s bigger than any World Title match, or WrestleMania match, I’ve ever had. I had to put my entire career on the line against the title for one more shot, or leave the WWE. So it definitely is special. More special than any other moment I had. I mean, I could be sitting in a hammock somewhere sipping a piña colada, but working’s cool too.”

Big E:

“He’s one of my favorites. I’m an old-timer now, so I’m constantly helping out the up-and-coming kids … Big E was ready to learn, he works really hard. You can tell right away when you meet somebody that they’re ready to go, to learn and to listen. It was a really fun time. I got to pass down some knowledge to an up-and-coming guy, and no one deserves it more than him.”

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The news is not good for Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler.

The 30-year-old will undergo surgery to repair a fractured left index finger, and will miss four-to-six weeks, the team announced Monday.

Edler suffered the injury after blocking a shot in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.

In 21 games this season, Edler has chipped in with one goal and two assists, and sits ninth in the league with 48 blocked shots.

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The Carolina Hurricanes will be without their No. 1 center for the time being.

Jordan Staal has been diagnosed with a concussion, general manager Ron Francis said, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer.

Staal’s recovery timeline isn’t yet known, but the club placed him on injured reserve Monday, calling up Phil Di Giuseppe from the AHL in a corresponding move.

The veteran forward suffered the injury during Sunday’s contest against the Florida Panthers, leaving the game after playing less than three minutes.

The concussion came with Staal in the midst of a seven-game pointless skid. In 21 contests this season, Staal has five goals and nine points to his name.