Edwin Jackson’s friend says the former Colts LB wouldn’t want his death politicized

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson was killed by a suspected drunken driver early Sunday morning. He was just 26 years old.

The driver in the incident was Manuel Orrego-Savala, who was in the U.S. illegally, according to CBS News. The news prompted a tweet from President Donald Trump, who used it as an opportunity to talk about the border and illegal immigration.

The material I put on [videotape] from the little time I had, not going through training camp and being here for the installs, I was OK, Revis said, via ESPN. I wasn’t great or my best ever. No way. But at the same time, for what I came in here and was asked to do, for the most part I’m happy with it.

What does this mean for the Chiefs? Kansas City helped its cap space situation by dealing Alex Smith to Washington, but clearing another $4.5 million was an easy choice.

The Chiefs will still likely be on the hunt for a cornerback to place in the lineup opposite Marcus Peters, but the addition of Kendall Fuller in that Smith trade also means the secondary for Kansas City is headed in the right direction.

Jeff Carter, who had 32 goals and 34 assists last season, sustained a deep cut to a tendon in his ankle on Oct. 18 against the Montreal Canadiens and needed surgery.

The Kings have shown resilience in Carter’s absence, such as during an eight-game winning streak from Nov. 25 to Dec. 9, but have also displayed a glaring lack of offense in a six-game losing streak from Jan. 4-19.

The good news is the Kings are close to having Carter back, but coach John Stevens called him “doubtful” to play against the Oilers.

“He looked like he was flying out there today. Hopefully he feels well, and well enough to play,” forward Tyler Toffoli told reporters after practice on Friday. “I wish I could move like he does. I think a lot of people do.”

Added defenseman Jake Muzzin, “It’s nice to see him out there. He looks pretty good during the drills, his speed and that looks there. It’s nice having him back in the room with the guys and on the ice with us as well.”

The Kings have already defeated the Oilers handily in both meetings this season.
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Rob Gronkowski invited 69 family members and friends to Super Bowl 52

Rob Gronkowski’s fascination with the number 69 just won’t end. While the six-time Pro Bowler competes for his third Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52 on Sunday night, 69 of his family members and friends will be there to cheer him on.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Gronkowksi will fly 69 people to Minnesota for Super Bowl 52.

Nice.

On Feb. 14, Manziel announced he accepted an invitation to participate in the Spring League. He told Bleacher Report in a statement:

“Football has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Sometimes you take for granted how much you value something until it’s gone. My goal is to make it back to the NFL and I realize I have to earn that privilege. The Spring League has provided me with a great opportunity to play ball again, and ultimately, that is all I want to do. I miss the competition. I’d like to thank Brian Woods and The Spring League staff for this opportunity to play the game I love. I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I’m 25 years old and I know my best football is ahead of me.”

Timberlake had been joking a few seconds earlier about his own ability to play for the Patriots in the game. That prompted the question about his son, which Timberlake answered by saying he’d never play football. He never backtracked on that point, though he briefly sounded like he was making a joke.

“If he wants to get into the arts or sports, yeah, I would fully support that. I think I can hopefully offer him some advice on what to do and what not to do.”

Timberlake’s stance isn’t unique. It’s become a more common one as the world’s learned more about the consequences of repeated blows to the head involved in the sport.

A study in 2017 found that 99 percent of former NFL players who had donated their brains to research had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease.

A bunch of current and former players have said they won’t let their children play the sport that became a career for them. Enrollment in high school and youth football programs has generally been on the decline for a while.bears_082-223x223

DH or not, J.D. Martinez can be a fantasy star in Boston

Every American League team hit more home runs than the Boston Red Sox last season, so adding a power bat was clearly an offseason priority. Long linked to free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox came to an agreement with the player Monday on a deal that makes a lot of sense for all. No player hit more than 24 home runs for the 2017 version of the Red Sox. Martinez, in a mere 62 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks after coming over from the Detroit Tigers, managed to hit 29.

Austin Dillon, driving the No. 3 car made famous by Dale Earnhardt, took the lead late to win the Daytona 500. It was Dillon’s only lap led. Rookie Darryl Wallace Jr, driving the 43 in his first Daytona 500, finished second. Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Chris Buescher rounded out the top five.

Dillon celebrated the victory by sliding through the infield grass just as Earnhardt did when he won his first Daytona 500, 20 years ago.

Presley plays all three outfield positions. He stole five bases without being thrown out last season.

Baltimore, which announced the deal Monday, had been in the market for a left-handed hitting outfielder. Presley will compete with Jaycob Brugman, acquired from Oakland last November.

The thought with the talent angle is that, at the bare minimum, you’re supporting your ratios while you wait for a role to present itself (the Bradley approach). The résumé idea is more of a short-term plan, hoping that loyal managers look in the past to determine whom they hand the ball to in the ninth (the Melancon-rebound approach).

I prefer the Bradley approach, as there is less risk involved, but it is important to understand that you are not the only manager struggling to secure saves (29 players had 15-plus saves last season, but only 10 had more than 30), and that this category is often decided during the season.
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Pirates land Corey Dickerson for Daniel Hudson, minor leaguer

With just two Group 1 wins (over Florida State and Notre Dame), the Cardinals’ lack of bad losses is mainly what’s keeping them afloat. (Louisville’s worst loss by RPI was at No. 49 Syracuse.) But with all of the Cards’ remaining five games qualifying for Group 1 status, they have a real chance of improving their seed during the closing stretch. A word of caution, however. David Padgett’s team last won a game over a team in this projected field way back on Jan. 13 (Virginia Tech).

Mind that key word (or), as in either hitter or pitcher, but not both. Ohtani will begin the 2018 season with dual eligibility, as a designated hitter on the hitting side and starting pitcher on the pitching side, and in each individual scoring period in your league, you will need to make a decision as to on which side to use him.

This means that in leagues with daily transactions, as is the ESPN standard, on any given day Ohtani can serve as either your starting pitcher or your designated hitter/utility. He’ll accrue statistics only for the role in which you choose, meaning that on days where you have him activated as a starting pitcher, he’ll receive credit only for his pitching statistics, and on days where you have him activated as a DH/utility, he’ll receive credit only for his hitting statistics.

The game used to face the league’s best rookies off against the best sophomore players from the season but switched from that format in 2015 to the World vs. USA format.

The league’s best international rookies and sophomores will play for the World, while the best American-born players will play for the USA. The USA team is led by top rookies like Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, and Kyle Kuzma, while the World is led by 76ers teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

The Nationals didn’t release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn’t official at the time.

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.royals_038

All that build-up has the world more than ready for kickoff time on Super Bowl Sunday.

By the time the 2018 Super Bowl starts with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC, TV networks will have stuffed pregame shows with the final offerings of analysis for Eagles vs. Patriots in Super Bowl 52 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

New England, a 4 1/2-point favorite over Philadelphia, is hoping to win its second consecutive Super Bowl and sixth in franchise history. The Eagles, of course, are searching for their first Super Bowl victory. But you know all the storylines by now.

As for the Westwood One radio broadcast, Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason will call the action from the booth with help from Mike Holmgren, Tony Boseli and Ed Werder.

Sirius XM radio listeners can find the Super Bowl on channel 88 (83 for Eagles call; 82 for Patriots call).

Given the teams that were in contention for Super Bowl 52 as late as the conference championship round of the playoffs, NBC should be happy it ended up with Eagles vs. Patriots.

“The best matchup is Boston vs. Philadelphia,” media expert Brad Adgate told Sporting News. “You’ve got two top-10 markets. They’ve met in the Super Bowl before.

“Your first love’s your first love,’’ Brady says in the episode. “And I want to keep doing it because I think I can. …

“When the day comes when I feel like I can’t do it anymore, whether even physically, which I doubt, or more mentally that I won’t be able to, you know, give what I need to to the other parts of my life, I’ll say it’s enough. But it’s not going to be for a while, though.”

That’s where he’s most prolific — his steadiness in standing out no matter who’s in the New England offense with him.

“He understands what we wants to do and where to put his teammates. That’s what makes him so great,” Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier told SN’s Alex Marvez last year on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “They have a great understanding of their scheme and what they want to do each and every week. He’s a accurate quarterback and super efficient. He’s not going to beat himself — he’s going to make you beat yourself. You can’t beat that.”
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Zach Ertz’s controversial touchdown catch gave the Eagles the push they needed to get ahead of the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.

With less than two and a half minutes left, Ertz caught the ball at the 6-yard line, took two steps toward the end zone and leaped in. But as he fell to the ground he appeared to lose control and the ball popped out.

New England’s success under Belichick and Brady created this irreversible phenomenon. And it’s not like Duke or the Yankees — it’s much worse. Fans aren’t rooting against the Patriots. They’re too busy looking for flags. They’re looking for controversy. They’re looking for clues, like a ref patting Brady on the back; anything that allows a trip down the wormhole of the Spygate or Deflategate controversies, the asterisks that smear the NFL’s greatest dynasty.

If you want to put asterisks on the Patriots before Spygate, that’s fine. Spygate and Deflategate will always be taglines for Belichick and Brady. All of that has been addressed. Brady served a four-game suspension. That’s not coming off his bio. Yet it’s the same story.

New England being back in the Super Bowl is also a product of a league that doesn’t have another dominant team. Other than Philadelphia with Carson Wentz, there wasn’t a team this year that stood out as a hands-down contender. The Patriots have exposed that more than anything, and it’s a reality few want to accept.

Conspiracy theories aren’t going to end this dynasty. Super Bowl 52 might not end it, either. After all, if there’s a hot take that burns brighter than the rest, it’s the one that proclaims the Patriots’ dynasty dead after each monumental defeat. Remember Week 1 against Kansas City?

It’s no different than Alabama football, which comes with a lesson. Belichick has preached the same thing over and over again to his team, and he said as much at the Ohio State coaches clinic last spring.

If Tom Brady had it his way, he’d play football until dentures served as his mouthpiece. The term ageless fails to define the Patriots quarterback, who at age 40 and in his 18th year put together yet another MVP-caliber season.bills_007

Trump has poured fuel on the flame of a simmering culture war and has further pushed sports deep into the political arena

“Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!” Trump said.

The tweets continue a three-day crusade by the president to pressure the league to fire players who have taken a knee to protest police violence against minorities.

Among players, coaches and team owners, the public reaction has been sharply negative of his comments.

While the NFL continues to look into whether the Seahawks violated the concussion protocol in their treatment of Russell Wilson on Nov. 9, the quarterback was focused on the pain in his jaw, telling reporters it was nearly broken by a Karlos Dansby hit that kept him on liquids through last weekend.

“It was pretty close,” Wilson said of the near-fracture Friday. “The doctor was like, ‘Man, any harder, we probably [would have] had to wire your mouth shut,’ so that was a good thing that didn’t happen.”

It’s too early to say that the Seahawks have found their new bell cow back, but Chris Carson staked a strong claim Sunday, rushing for 93 yards on 20 carries in Seattle’s 12-9 win over San Francisco. Thomas Rawls, coming back from an ankle injury that sidelined him in Week 1, got the start but gained just four yards on five carries, while Eddie Lacy wasn’t even activated for the game.

The 5-foot-11, 218-pound Carson, a seventh-round pick out of Oklahoma State, got stronger as he went along. On the Seahawks’ final drive, as they were trying to ice the game, he had carries of nine, 12 and 16 yards.

In Kansas City, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt has emerged as a full-fledged fantasy darling. The rookie, who rushed for 148 yards in the opener against New England, carved up Philadelphia on Sunday, scoring on two touchdown runs and rushing for 81 yards. One went for 53 yards and the other, well, it generated the best TD celebration of the day.jaguars_085

Who has two thumbs and pushed his team up to the No. 2 spot? This guy.

Do that, get ahead on them and you can force their offense to become one dimensional in a way they don’t want to be. The defense has actually been playing a lot better over the last few weeks — they haven’t given up more than 30 points since their blowout loss to the Steelers in Week 11. Maybe they have more upside than I think, but I could see 10 other teams strangleholding the Titans in a first round matchup.

The Bills are the best STORY in the playoffs, but not the best team. In fact, with LeSean McCoy nursing an injured ankle, it would be hard to imagine the Bills getting out of the first round. It’s awesome that Andy Dalton threw a miracle touchdown pass and is now generating over $250,000 in donations from Bills fans who are throwing $17 increments his way.

But it’s also not a team that feels like a sustainable playoff contender because of the limitations on offense. They are well coached and will be emotionally fueled for whoever they play (in this case Jacksonville) but the Bills are probably out in the first round regardless.

This is on the way the rebuilding process has been conducted and the unnecessarily roundabout route being taken at the quarterback position. The QB of this team right now should be Carson Wentz or Deshaun Watson, not DeShone Kizer. The Browns basically went out of their way not to get Wentz or Watson in the past two NFL drafts and they are paying the price for it.

Darnold wasn’t great in 2017, unable to build upon the excitement from his Rose Bowl performance a year ago. But he flashes comparable play to that of Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz and a young Eli Manning. It would be a surprise if the Browns opted for anyone else.

Rosen is expected to be the No. 2 overall pick, but it is still to be determined whether the Giants will be the team making this selection. Drafting Rosen gives the Giants (and their new regime) a quarterback with which to build after Eli Manning. But a few teams, most notably the Cardinals and Bills, might aggressively try to trade up to draft Rosen if the Giants want to give Manning another Super Bowl run.jaguars_045

By the time Ramsey reached Jacksonville in 2016, the transition was complete.

He feuded with Baltimore receiver Steve Smith Sr., later calling Smith an “old man” and that he didn’t respect him as a man. Later that season he was ejected for fighting with an Oakland wideout and last spring he called out Houston star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Then came the confrontation with Cincinnati’s A.J. Green this season. Lamont Ramsey, watching from the stands in early November as his son burrowed his way into the receiver’s head, loved it.

“He’s got A.J.,” the elder Ramsey told someone that day when he knew the battle had been won, and a short time later, Ramsey shoved Green and Green put the cornerback in a chokehold before suplexing him to the ground. Ramsey, after all, always did identify with wrestling’s bad guys.

Kraft went with “Elton John,” but Blank may actually have hit the bull’s-eye. The Patriots owner has spoken about his close relationship with Trump, who praised Kraft, plus New England quarterback Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick, in remarks at a dinner the night before his inauguration.

“I will always be grateful to him for his thoughtfulness and his continued friendship,” Kraft said of Trump in March of last year, noting that he had attended the 2005 wedding of the then-businessman to Melania Trump. Brady has also spoken of his friendship with Trump, although he has tried to downplay that relationship in recent months, as the president emerged as a highly polarizing figure.

But as great as the Patriots are, their win doesn’t come in such a dominant fashion if they’re not as prepared.

“Tennessee’s a good team,” Belichick said after the game. “We saw what happened last week in Kansas City when Kansas City had a lead at the half similar to the one that we had. Our guys did a real good job of kind of keeping their foot on the gas and keep pressing it.”

Part of the Patriots’ preparation for the Titans game was the recognition of Tennessee’s stout run defense. That helps explain why Brady threw 53 passes Saturday, a big jump from his average of 36.3 attempts per game in the regular season. New England running backs, on the other hand, carried the ball just 23 times combined.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants: Following three consecutive games with 70 yards or more, Darkwa was a dud in Week 12, tallying just 39 yards from scrimmage. New York has benched Eli Manning and the offense is not very good. The Giants visit Oakland this weekend and while the Raiders have improved their run defense significantly in recent weeks, it would seem doable that Darkwa could produce 60-70 yards again, and perhaps a touchdown. Darkwa is owned in 72 percent of ESPN leagues, but has only been started in 40 percent of lineups.
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Jimmy Garoppolo sprained his AC joint in his throwing shoulder according to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo.

All eyes will be on quarterbacks Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, this week. It’s a chance for the two most intriguing quarterbacks in this class to get in front of NFL scouts, coaches and front-office executives to show why they should be high first-round picks. Apart from the on-field aspect, they will both be able to do interviews and classroom sessions to prove themselves off the field. This is a huge week for both in the battle of who’s going to be the top pick in the 2018 NFL draft -and Allen and Mayfield will be coached up by the staff of the Denver Broncos, who have the No. 5 overall pick.

Bottom line: After his huge Week 1, Riddick is long gone from waivers in competitive leagues. Washington is 100 percent worth a look and should be claimed off wires ahead of whatever backs are available in Miami or Carolina.

Other news and notes: Thomas Rawls got kicked in the leg Sunday versus the Rams and suffered a leg contusion, but should be fine moving forward. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett both left that game as well but both returned and should be relatively fine.

Rashad Jennings will be limited in practice this week, according to the team, and was seen with a wrap around his left hand and wrist.

This response to the kneeling controversy tells us something about the state of American civil religion and the way it accommodates — and then deforms — traditional religious communities.

The tropes of “God and country” or “faith and the flag” are almost always instances where country and flag domesticate faith in God. Or, to put this in terms that religious folk should understand: These liturgies of civil religion are covert modes of idolatry. The rank and priority are reversed; our political identities trump all others.

O’Hara: Coughlin’s general mindset is more about the physicality of the game than the X’s and O’s. There are a lot of similarities in personnel between this year’s Jaguars and the 2007 Giants, who reaped the benefits of Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, among others. The success of the 2017 Jaguars stems from the defense, with a ferocious front that features a bevy of beasts, including Defensive Player of the Year candidate Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus and Dante Fowler. jaguars_005