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Baltimore Ravens

Robert Griffin Joins Baltimore Ravens

NFL team the Baltimore Ravens announced on Wednesday 4 that they have agreed to a one-year contract with quarterback Robert Griffin III. The contract will place Griffin in a back-up position to starter Joe Flacco.

The 28-year-old veteran player sat out the entire 2017 campaign, after being cut from Cleveland Browns’ slate in March 2017.

General manager of the Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome, said of the deal, “He came in last week, worked out. Had a real good workout and we were able to come to an agreement late yesterday. He will probably be here early next week to sign the deal.”

Ian Rapoport, an NFL Network Insider, has reported that Griffin’s base salary will sit at $1 million plus a small bonus upon signing of the contract.

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “He’s a very talented quarterback who’s had a lot of success in this league early on.

“So we’re excited about it. We felt like we needed a No. 2 quarterback. You look at the veteran quarterbacks out there… I mean, where we’re at right now, I’m pretty excited about this player. I’m really feeling like we got a steal.”

In 2017, Griffin had rejected contract offers from both the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals during his search for a new team. He reportedly felt that both teams were not the right fit, but has seemingly changed his mind.

Joining the Baltimore Ravens presents Griffin with a shining opportunity to resurrect a once massive career in the game—one that has been almost-lost since 2014.

The player took to Twitter shortly after the offer, tweeting a rather celebratory “#PlayLikeARaven”.

Alliance of American Football

The Alliance of American Football to Launch 2019

Charlie Ebersol has announced the launch of the The Alliance of American Football in 2019.

The league will comprise of eight 50-man teams playing a 10-game schedule that will begin February 9 2019, one week following next year’s Super Bowl.

Ebersol, the son of long-time NBC Sports Executive Dick Ebersol, said, “The Alliance of American Football represents a fundamental shift in the way we approach professional sports.

“We believe fans and players are what’s most important so our approach is simple—we’ve created an alliance where fans and players share in the success of their teams.”

The Alliance of American Football league is to be funded by an all-star roster of investors including the Founders Fund, Slow Ventures, The Chernin Group and Adrian Fenty, to name a few.

The league is to be built through regionally-based allocation in the fall; eight Alliance regions and their coaches will be announced within the next 12 weeks.

Bill Polian, co-founder of The Alliance of American Football has said “There is a significant amount of football talent looking to begin or extend their professional careers. The Alliance will provide those players with a new opportunity to compete at a high level.” He added, “Our players and fans are the lifeblood of The Alliance and we will treat them as such.”

In further support of the league, television network CBS are to air the games in their line-up throughout the season. “As The Alliance of American Football launches next February we are excited to become the official television partner, adding more football to our robust programming line-up with a great package that includes two primetime games on CBS, as well as a full slate of regular-season spring football on CBS Sports Network,” said chairman at CBS sports, Sean McManus.

Further reading: Allen Robinson Set to Join Chicago Bears

NFL

NFL Teams Ask Prospect About his Sexuality

Prospect Derrius Guice claims that team officials at the NFL draft combine in Indianapolis asked him about his sexuality and whether his mother was a prostitute.

In an interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday, Guice said that the team interviews were “pretty crazy… some people are really trying to get in your head and test your reaction.”

He continued, “I go in one room, and a team will ask me do I like men, just to see my reaction… I go in another room, they’ll try to bring up one of my family members or something and tell me, ‘Hey, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?’”

In response, executive director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith told PFT Live: “Find out what team did it and ban them from the combine.

“The question is inappropriate. Questions along these lines are always inappropriate.”

In a statement to the Washington Post, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “A question such as that is completely inappropriate and wholly contrary to league workplace policies. The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, state and federal laws.

“The league annually reminds clubs of these workplace policies that prohibit personnel from seeking information concerning a player’s sexual orientation.”

The Human Rights Campaign’s director of public education and research, Ashland Johnson responded to the question as “absurd and inappropriate”. In reference to similar incidents in the past, he added “it’s clear that the NFL did not do enough to prevent it from happening again.”

The NFL seems likely to investigate the claims that team officials asked Guice about his sexual preferences. Jim Buzinski said that NFL officials “definitely have to identify the team and the coach… and they need some sort of punishment, at least a strong fine.”

NFL Playoffs

Down to Eight: NFL Playoffs Are Here

Although I’ve been one of the many people taking a break from the NFL during the season, I figured I would get my NFL fix during the playoffs. After a long season full of controversy and political implications, we have finally reached the coveted NFL playoffs where all the commotion can die down and we can focus on the best teams in the league competing for the ultimate prize: an NFL Superbowl Championship. The wildcard games were everything we thought they were going to be but the divisional round looks to be a clash of young, up-and-coming talent with three of the games’ greatest quarterbacks to ever lace up their cleats. Let’s break down the games and I will give my predictions at the end.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Atlanta comes into this game off of an impressive victory over the L.A. Rams in Los Angeles. The Falcons who have found their stride over the last several weeks of football are looking to bounce back after last season’s collapse against the New England Patriots in the SuperBowl. Their balanced attack gives them the edge as well as the experience of Matt Ryan, who also has the elite wide receiver, Julio Jones as a safety net to lean on in tough times. Philly is coming in without their starting quarterback Carson Wentz and despite having a pretty dominant season, missing a talent like Wentz versus a team looking to redeem themselves seems like a tall order for the Eagles. With the injury, they will start Nick Foles at quarterback to go with the rest of their attack during the NFL playoffs. If Foles can limit the turnovers and manage the game against Philadelphia’s defense and strong running attack, they can keep it competitive. But in the end, I believe the experience and tenacity of the Falcons will overcome the Eagles on the road, propelling them back to the conference championship for the second year in a row. Final Score, Falcons 31- Eagles 17.

New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota has been one of the most consistent teams all season. Case Keenum took over for Teddy Bridgewater after his injured players Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater and has not missed a step. Their 13-3 record offered them around one bye and an NFC North championship. They take on the hungry and multifaceted New Orleans Saints who defeated Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in their wild-card matchup with a masterful performance by their legendary QB, Drew Brees. Despite being one of the most potent running attacks in the league this season, it took a Brees effort to lift them over the Panthers at home. If they can get any help from their running game against the Vikings in that cold weather, then they can pull off the upset during the NFL playoffs. It is hard for me to pick Keenum over Brees in any fashion, so I won’t here either. Saints upset the Vikings with a big game by Mark Ingram and that saints offense. Final Score: Saints 34- Vikings 24.

Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots

QB Marcus Mariotta leads his rugged Titans unit up against the defending champions during the NFL playoffs with arguably the best quarterback and coach in the history of the sport looking to cement their legendary status with another NFL championship. Mariotta comes into the divisional round after leading his team to a 22-21 comeback victory over AFC foes the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card game. Hoping to continue his success, he will need to play a turnover-free and explosive game in order for his titans to have any chance of completing the upset on the road in Foxboro Stadium. The conditions will be cold and the atmosphere of the NFL playoffs will be unlike any the young Mariotta has ever experienced, but if he wants to start putting his name in the hierarchy of active NFL quarterbacks, this is his best opportunity—an opportunity the entire Titans organization should be waiting for. With all that being said, New England will come out the victors setting up a Championship game versus either the tough defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars or their biggest AFC rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Final Score, Titans 17- Pats 28.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh has been waiting for an opportunity to play the Jaguars again after getting pummeled early in the season by this tough Jacksonville defense. They forced Roethlisberger the Steelers Championship winning QB into five interceptions and overall his worst professional game of his career. Ben Roethlisberger played so bad that he was quoted after the game questioning his own abilities and whether he still had the hunger to play professional football. Since that loss, the Steelers have won 10 out of 11 games, their only loss coming off the heels of one the most controversial no-catch calls in recent history against the New England Patriots in week 14. They will get a healthy Antonio Brown back for the divisional game which will make the game that much easier for Big Ben. If Jacksonville can keep the game ugly and their defense can keep them in it, then they have a puncher’s chance. But ultimately it comes down to quarterback play and Blake Bortles will have trouble against the Steeler defense while Big Ben is prime to bounce back from that performance in week five of the NFL playoffs. Pittsburgh battles to advance for their long-awaited rematch with the New England Patriots. Final Score, Jags 9- Pitt 24.

These are my divisional round picks, who do you have to advance to the AFC and NFC Championship games? Let me know in the comments.

Further reading: Dear College Football: Stop Playing Playoff Games on New Year’s Eve

Mike and Mike

Tailgating 101 With ESPN’s MIKE and MIKE

College News talks tailgating 101 with ESPN’s MIKE and MIKE. When it comes to sports-talk radio, one name comes to mind: Mike.

Well, it’s actually two Mike’s in particular, Golic and Greenberg, the hosts of ESPN’s radio talk show Mike and Mike in the Morning. The duo, who have been together since 1998, moved into television in 2005, when their show began airing on ESPN2.

It’s safe to say these guys know what they’re talking about when it comes to football and they are downright aficionados when it comes to tailgating. Mike and Mike, who recently partnered with Lee Jeans, bestow upon us the holy rules of tailgating. Superstitions and fashion advice ensue!

Also read: Top 25 Men’s NCAA basketball teams have been announced

Let’s start off with a big one: what city do you think has the best tailgate reputation? And why?

Golic: Well, like you’ll see in the Lee Jeans Survey, so many people say Green Bay, which is a fantastic place. I got to play there, when I was in the NFL, and it’s like a religious experience for a player. The tailgating is incredible because of the smell of brats everywhere. For me, I like Kansas City, I’m a big barbecue guy, and I love the smell of that stadium and all the barbecued foods. I lean to the red of Kansas City.

Greenberg: And I like San Francisco. If you’ve ever gone to a football tailgate at San Francisco, they’ve got lobster on the grill, they got Caesar salad. They’ve got good white wine. As far as I’m concerned, we’re dressing up our tailgate a little bit and that’s what I like. That’s what I appreciate. You take your basics and you dress them up. So you have Lee Jeans, which are comfortable enough for Golic but they’re stylish enough that you can dress them up with a nice shirt. You can put a blazer on if you like. An open neck. You can wear some boots or something like that. So you look good when you’re going to your tailgate. You take selfies and you’re feeling good about yourself watching your team win.

Now onto to the more serious question: team jerseys. Should they be tucked in?

Greenberg: Oh my goodness, no.

Golic: Oh no.

Greenberg: If anyone, besides one of the players in the game, has a tucked in a jersey, they require immediate assistance.

Golic: Anyone like that stops at my tailgate, I give them the move along sign. Just move it along you’re not stopping at my tailgate.

Do you think that superstition dictates the way people dress across the country at tailgates?

Greenberg: Certainly does for me.

Golic: No.

Greenberg: I’ll tell you a quick story. 1982, the New York Jets made a run all the way to the AFC Championship game. My family ate dinner—the same dinner—in the same restaurant, every single night. Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place, in Lower Manhattan. I had the same dinner every single night, spaghetti with sausages, because they were making this run. I believe strongly in that. So if your team is winning, you go to the tailgate, you got your Lee Jeans. You wear the same shirt, whatever it was you were wearing the first time, you keep wearing it. Whatever time you arrived, that’s when you arrive. Whatever it is that you ate and drank, you eat and drink. Until they lose. Then you can reset, but until then the karma is working, Don’t mess with it.

Golic: Not me, I wear whatever I want. Eat whatever I want. And I don’t worry about all that. It’s too much work for me.

What about tailgating food staples?

Golic: For me the staples are: hot dogs, brats, cheeseburgers, and a beer in each hand. And I think I’m good.

Greenberg: Yeah, and I don’t mind any of those. I like the staples, but I like to dress them up a little bit. If you’re going to do hamburgers or hot dogs, why don’t you caramelize some onions? Why don’t you roast some peppers? Why don’t you do a little something to dress it up? Which, again, goes back to our theme, you’ve got the comfort food, but let’s make it a little more stylish. You’ve got the comfortable jeans from Lee, let’s make them a little more stylish. As the case may be, in this case, Lee has taken care of that for you. They’re stylish enough to wear anywhere.

Pro or college football, what fans throw the most epic tailgates in your opinion?

Golic: I’d go college. Pro is nice, but you’re in the stadium, you’re in the parking lot of the stadium in a big city. In college, you’re in a parking lot, but then you have the campus. You can walk around and check it out. If you’re school is visiting another college, you go to that, you see a different campus. You can walk around. There’s just more of that collegiate experience. And the biggest key, is you can tailgate all day Saturday and Saturday night, sleep in on Sunday. If you tailgate all day Sunday, you got to get up for work Monday and that could be difficult.

Greenberg: I tend to be more of a pro football fan than a college football fan, though I’m actually coming around on that a little bit. But as far as I’m concerned, tailgating is such a unique part of Americana, I’ll take my football tailgating Saturdays, Sundays, or any day of the week.

Thank you so much for talking with us. Where can we find more about the survey results you mentioned?

Golic: Survey results are very easy to find, just like the name of our show is Mike and Mike, this can’t be any easier: Lee.com.

Greenberg: Even Golic can spell it.

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Christiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo dazzling 2 games brings back the Lionel Messi Debate

Who is the best in the world right now?

Let’s make a case for Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid star forward has been a dominant force in International Futbol since he stepped on the field. He was a heralded youth player with all intentions of being one of the best to EVER play the game. He became the 1st Portuguese born player to play for the power house Manchester United Team in 2003 and from there he began his more than dominant career with his nifty ball skills and uncanny ability to score goals. Fast forward 13 years and Ronaldo is arguably the best player in the world and proves it every time he steps on the field.  He now plays for Real Madrid wear he holds the largest contract in sports. Although there is much debate with Barcelona’s mega-star all around stud Lionel Messi who has his own case that I will discuss later Ronaldo still remains top bill across the world.

Ronaldo is the first Portuguese born player to ever win 4 European Gold Shoes and 3 Ballon d’Or Awards in a career. The 30 year old is in the prime of his career and has yet to slow down. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup he came up big against the United States with less than 2 minutes left in the game to crush the USA chances of a 1st round win over Portugal. His influence on the field is evident and the excitement he brings to the sport is rarely matched by any other big names in the world’s most popular sport. He will go down as 1 or 2 best to ever play the sport when it is all said and done.

Let’s Talk Today

Ronaldo as of late has been on real hot streak scoring 8 goals in his last 2 club matches. This includes a 5 goal performance against Espanyol, he then followed that up with a record breaking hat trick that jumped him above Messi with his 78th, 79th, and 80th goal of the Champions League which is only rivaled by Messi’s 77 goals who has also had one of the most historic seasons ever. Ronaldo is my favorite player but out of respect I want to go into some detail about Messi and why he could easily go down as the best of this generation.

Let’s make a case for Lionel Messi

Barcelona is one of most successful clubs in the world and the reason is because of one of the world’s best dual threats to play the game Lionel Messi. The Argentinian has put together one of the most marvelous careers and he still has so much more game to play. The Spanish clubs forward has put together a historic season. The 28 year old Messi started his career with the same prowess as Ronaldo but has done even more when it comes to dominating the competition. Through early injuries he has still managed to become the first player to win 4 consecutive Ballon d’Or Awards and 3 European Gold Shoes. His career has also lead to Barcelona winning multiple titles which make his case for best that much stronger.

Messi lead his Argentinian team to the FIFA World Cup final in 2014 eventually losing to the best team in the world Germany in a 1-0 match. His strengths with setting up his teammates as well as putting the ball in the net are main reasons experts sometimes place him above Ronaldo. He makes his team better and puts them in position to win titles better than anyone else in the world and deserves the respect and admiration for it.

Finishing the conversation

If we are talking about pure skill and ability it is hard to go wrong with either choice. Ronaldo is easily the most exciting and electrifying player I have ever seen run a soccer field his skill with the ball is unmatched even by Messi. Messi on the other hand is like watching LeBron James on the basketball court he is simply better than everyone else in all facets of the game. His knowledge and cunning ability to move through defenses with or without the ball is amazing. Messi is a few years younger than Ronaldo so he can potentially be bigger than him but we will see they both have long careers ahead of them and time will only tell. If Messi can stay healthy he will probably go down as the best to ever do it but Ronaldo is the guy right now. Who do you think is the best of the generation? Leave a comment and let me know.

World Cup

US Eliminated by Belgium 2-1 in World Cup Thriller

Today, the United States Soccer Team lost 2-1 in extra time in their World Cup match against Belgium.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil just entered its knockout stage where the top sixteen teams in the tournament advanced. US and Belgium were slated to play the last match from this current round and the winner would be the last member of the top eight to move on.

Belgium had not lost a game in Brazil coming into the match against the US, while the US barely moved on from their “group of death” with Germany. Despite their perfect record, Belgium had been thought to have under performed with their level of talent on the roster. Yet the Belgian side still posed a tremendous challenge against a US squad with their injured star striker Jozy Altidore not ready to make any contribution.

The game was thrilling all the way until the end and regular time did not yield a goal. Tim Howard, the US goalie, made an astonishing sixteen saves for the offensively stagnant US side. At the end of regulation, the US got their chance to take the lead when midfielder Jermaine Jones headed a ball right in front of striker Chris Wondolowski, who mistimed his kick and sent the ball flying right.

Belgium attacked with vigor throughout the game and finally got their break when Kevin De Bruyne scored just three minutes after extra time started. If the US was not devastated enough at that point, Romelu Lukaku buried in a second goal just twelve minutes later.

After Belgium’s second goal, it seemed that all was lost for the US. Yet, in the 107th minute, two minutes after Lukaku’s goal, nineteen year old sub Julian Green connected a volley from midfielder Michael Bradley into the back of the net. This goal gave the US hope and lit a fire under the team.

The US attacked with pace and urgency and had numerous attempts to tie the game. One of them being on a set piece where captain Clint Dempsey almost put it away from a couple of feet outside the goal.

At the end of the day, Belgium withstood the relenting attack by the US and sealed their date with Argentina in the quarterfinals. Many American fans must be thinking “what if,” but the US should hang their head high on this performance for they showed tremendous heart and resilience.