Phoenix gets Alliance of American Football team, will name coach Friday – Arizona Sports


Some of the newly finished stadium construction, foreground, at Sun Devil Stadium starts to fill up with fans prior to an NCAA college football game against Northern Arizona Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix will become the fifth city to have a team with the Alliance of American Football.

A press conference will be held Friday at Sun Devil Stadium, where the games will be played, to announce the head coach.

The AAF will be an eight-team, 10-week league beginning Feb. 9, the week after the Super Bowl. There will be two playoff rounds, then a championship game the weekend of April 26.

The AAF website lists Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Memphis and Orlando as the other four official teams to have joined the league.

Former ASU coach Dennis Erickson will coach the Salt Lake team. Over his five years in Tempe, the Sun Devils went 31-31 and appeared in two bowl games.

Erickson was also the head coach of the Seahawks and 49ers.

Atlanta will be coached by Brad Childress, a former Vikings head coach and assistant for several other NFL teams. He has also coached at the collegiate level, including Northern Arizona.

Mike Singletary, a member of the Pro and College Hall of Fame, will coach Memphis. He was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year for the Chicago Bears.

He was the head coach of the 49ers from 2008-10.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and 10-year pro Steve Spurrier will coach Orlando. He coached at the collegiate level for 26 years, compiling a 228-89 record and appearing in 21 bowl games.

Spurrier is one of four people to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player and a coach.

Follow @Logan_Newsman



Las Vegas as host of College Football Playoff title game considered 'premature' – USA TODAY


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SportsPulse: Did your team make USA TODAY Sports’ college football post-spring top 25? Paul Myerberg breaks it all down.
USA TODAY Sports

When the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional, and that each state should be able to decide if its residents are allowed to bet on sports, everyone in college sports had the same question. 

 

How soon can a national football championship and/or Final Four get to Las Vegas? 

According to College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, it’ll be awhile. 

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The CFP announced in November title game sites for 2021-24. Hancock told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday that it will likely be “at least two years, maybe more, before we start thinking about the next round” of site selection. 

“It’s premature for me to even comment on it because we haven’t talked about it at all,” Hancock said, adding that as of now, Las Vegas does not have a facility that could accommodate a national championship football game. 

But it won’t be long before there will be. Construction a new stadium to accomodate the NFL’s Raiders move from Oakland is scheduled to be completed by fall 2019. 

“I suspect we’re going to want to know that the building is in place, or will be in place, at least a couple years before we go there,” Hancock said. “I don’t think we’ll be awarding any cities where theres’s a stadium under construction — what if you have delays?”

Even if it’s a few years away, Hancock understands the buzz around the Supreme Court’s decision, and the anticipation about how the ruling could, and likely will, dramatically alter the college sports championship landscape.

“We’re always gonna be excited about a new world class stadium,” he said. “That’s the bottom line for us: Let’s give our athletes the chance to compete in a really cool place … a lot of things will happen before our term comes up, in particular what does the NCAA do (about its bylaws). We’ll be watching.” 

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DeAngelo Hall '95 percent sure' he's done with football – NFL.com



DeAngelo Hall is probably done pestering quarterbacks. Probably.

The longtime Washington Redskins corner told reporters Monday morning he was retiring from the NFL. Hall is mulling a possible move into television or a front office position.

“I’m not playing. That’s for damn sure. But yeah, all the other stuff is still on the table,” he said, via the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Hours after Hall’s comments were published, the Redskins said Monday evening on Twitter that the cornerback has not “officially decided to retire” yet.

Hall called into 106.7 The Fan to clarify his earlier comments, saying, “I don’t think I meant to say it that way.”


“Am I done playing football? I’m probably 95 percent sure I’m done playing football but I wanted to do it the right way,” Hall said Monday night. “I wanted to give the Redskins organization the respect it deserved and obviously do it with them when the time was right. I wanted to wait until at least I signed my national deal with the network before I made that official announcement, and I wanted to do it at a press conference.”

Hall added, among other things, that he was considering announcing his retirement on NFL Network last week, but didn’t want to get in the way of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten’s retirement announcement.

The cornerback also said that if the Los Angeles Rams, coached by former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay, had successfully traded for Odell Beckham, he would’ve considered joining the Super Bowl-contending Rams. Instead, L.A. acquired Brandin Cooks, who Hall said was “not as dynamic” as OBJ. Hall is currently a free agent.

“I had some opportunities to go other places but they weren’t in the roles I’d like to see myself in. It was more like leadership, locker room guy. It wasn’t going to be a role where I felt like I could try to get that coveted 50 [career interceptions],” Hall explained. “Why waste another year playing football in that kind of role when I felt like I could be just as big a name or star or personality in the realm of TV or radio and so why not go ahead and start that? That’s the dilemma I kind of wrestle with in my mind. Do I want to play another year where I’m just not quite there?

“Rather than try to just get some sloppy leftovers I might as well just hang it up.”

A first-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, Hall spent the past nine-and-a-half seasons with the Redskins. Hall was traded from the Falcons to the Raiders in March 2008. He lasted just eight games in Oakland before being cut. Hall signed in Washington three days later to a one-year contract. He quickly became a staple in the Redskins secondary, first as a corner, then making the transition to safety.

The 34-year-old ball-hawk compiled 811 career tackles, 132 passes defended, and 43 interceptions — tied for 63rd in NFL history. Injuries curtailed the end of his career, as he played in 22 of a possible 64 games the past four seasons. He participated in just five tilts in 2017.

“I had a vision of a gold jacket, but the injuries the last couple years have been very hard on me,” he said earlier Monday. “So that’s kind of out of the question now. But who’s to say I can’t get in there some other way? That’s kind of my focus. I still want a gold jacket, whether I can get one as an exec, a coach — I’m going to get me a damn gold jacket, believe that.”

In 2010, his second full season in Washington, Hall famously intercepted then-Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler four times, tying an NFL record. Cutler is also expected to retire this year. Without Smokin’ Jay around to pick on, it’s as good a time as any for Hall to transition into his next career. Perhaps Cutler and Hall could end up at the same TV network, so the corner can continue to pick off the QB — this time verbally.



Wisconsin football: Badgers aren't afraid to share national championship aspirations – Landof10.com


MADISON, Wis. — When right tackle Joe Panos uttered the famous words that galvanized Wisconsin’s football team during the 1993 season, it represented a watershed moment for a program intent on changing its history as a Big Ten doormat.

Panos, of course, responded to a reporter’s question about whether the Badgers could actually win the Big Ten championship that season with three words that became etched into lore: “Why not Wisconsin?” The Badgers ultimately earned a share of the Big Ten crown and went on to win their first Rose Bowl.

The trajectory of Wisconsin’s football program has drastically changed in the last 25 years. Instead of aspiring to win Big Ten championships, the Badgers now maintain a firm belief that they can win national championships. They have been on the cusp of the four-team College Football Playoff but have yet to break through.

Which is why, on the heels of one of the most successful seasons in school history, players are uttering a familiar refrain.

“Why not?” Wisconsin inside linebacker T.J. Edwards said recently, when asked whether winning a national title was a realistic goal. “Why shouldn’t it be one of our biggest goals? The part that gets me every time is we can’t win the damn Big Ten championship, so that hurts. Going back-to-back in Indy and losing is something that sticks in my brain. So in order to get to our biggest goal, we have to accomplish that one in front of us.

“It all starts with winning the Big Ten West. We talk about these things every day and how important they should be to us. I think every day we kind of practice, lift and meet with that in mind.”

Wisconsin has become one of the most consistent powers in college football. The Badgers have reached bowl games in 23 of the last 25 seasons, including a current streak of 16 consecutive appearances. They have played in five of seven Big Ten Championship Games, won four straight bowl games and two consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games. Since the start of the 2014 season, they have the fourth-most wins in the FBS. The top three schools — Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State — each have won at least one national title during that span.

But for all of the team’s successes, Wisconsin has not managed to earn a shot at a national championship. Two seasons ago, Wisconsin entered the Big Ten title game against Penn State ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff poll. The Badgers gave up a three-touchdown lead and lost 38-31 but likely would not have qualified for the playoffs even with a victory.

Last season, Wisconsin completed its first unbeaten regular season in 105 years and entered the Big Ten Championship Game ranked No. 4 in the CFP. Wisconsin needed 71 yards for a touchdown with 2:53 remaining in the game but came up short in a 27-21 loss to Ohio State. Wisconsin ultimately defeated Miami 34-24 in the Orange Bowl to cap a 13-1 season.

The fact the Badgers were so close has given rise to a renewed belief.

“It definitely does,” said Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor, a Doak Walker Award finalist last season. “When you go back and look, you just look at the little details. And that’s one of the biggest things. Guys who execute, make fewer mistakes, those are the guys that get over that hump. And those are the guys that win national championships.

“In meetings, we do discuss it. And I think it’s like an understood goal. Guys are coming out and competing at a high level. We know we’re right on the cusp of getting over that hump. So that’s one of the biggest things that we come out here and push ourselves to work for. We know that’s one of our motivations. Besides personal motivations, that’s one of them of why we come out here every day and work hard and compete.”

A big reason Wisconsin enters the season so confident is the team’s experience and depth. Wisconsin returns its top two tacklers, including Edwards, who earned first-team All-America honors last season. The Badgers also bring back 20 of their top 22 offensive players from last season.

Wisconsin football-Badgers national championship
Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook, who earned Orange Bowl MVP honors last season, helps lead a potent offensive attack. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“I think we have a lot of talent,” said Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who will be a three-year starter this season. “I don’t look at one part of our offense and think that, ‘Man, I wish we were better here.’ Obviously, we want to improve. But we have a lot of talent. I’m excited about how these guys work together every day. We’ve been around each other for a while, so it’s kind of fun to come out here and practice.”

Hornibrook threw for 258 yards with 4 touchdowns to earn Orange Bowl MVP honors. He recorded the second-most touchdown passes in a single season at Wisconsin (25) and the fifth-most passing yards (2,607). If he limits his interceptions, the offense will have a chance to thrive on a level that is rarely seen in Madison.

Wisconsin’s top four wide receivers each contributed in big ways last season. Junior Quintez Cephus has the potential to develop into one of the best receivers in the country. Freshman Aron Cruickshank could push for playing time after a stellar spring practice. It is not a stretch to suggest that the wide receiver depth and talent is as good as it has ever been.

Meanwhile, the Badgers bring back their entire offensive line two-deep. That group includes three returning All-Americans: Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel and David Edwards. All three bypassed the NFL draft and returned for another season, as did T.J. Edwards.

“They all could have left, but they didn’t,” Badgers running back Chris James said. “Because I think they understand that we have a great opportunity to really end this thing off right and get that national championship. We were close and we got a little taste of it, but it’s just still not the whole plate.

“It’s not that we have no weakness. But we have a chance where everybody on the team has experience and everybody is playing confident. We know that we’re good. We know everybody in the Big Ten West is going to be coming for us. But the thing about these guys here, these guys don’t back down from competition.”

Wisconsin has reached a level of national prominence that the program could only dream of three decades ago. Scan the list of way-too-early preseason top 25 polls and Wisconsin isn’t ranked lower than No. 7 in any of them. Taylor is the Heisman Trophy favorite in some Las Vegas betting circles.

But there is still a burning desire to accomplish so much more and bring a national championship to Madison. In order to achieve that objective, it begins with a simple offseason question: Why not?

“Being around here for so long and knowing the culture of this place, knowing that we have the personnel, we have the coaches, we have the work ethic, we just have to put it all together,” T.J. Edwards said. “We’ve been so close. I want to gain that respect of Wisconsin’s a team that can do it.

“We just lose those big-time games that we need to win. It’s something that can’t happen anymore and won’t happen anymore. So I’m really excited to get this season going just to prove a lot of people wrong.”



'Heroic, But He's No Hero': Revisiting Football Great Jim Brown – NPR


Jim Brown, a star running back for the Cleveland Browns in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is the subject of a new biography by The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin.

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Jim Brown, a star running back for the Cleveland Browns in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is the subject of a new biography by The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Many consider the running back Jim Brown the greatest American football player ever. But he’s known as much more than an athlete — he’s an activist, an actor, a thinker and a man with an alleged history of violence against women.

Here’s how he’s described in the opening paragraph of Dave Zirin’s new biography, Jim Brown: Last Man Standing.

Football is the closest thing we have in this country to a national religion, albeit a religion built on a foundation of crippled apostles and disposable martyrs. In this brutal church, Jim Brown is the closest thing to a warrior Saint.

Zirin, sports correspondent for The Nation, spoke to NPR about this complicated figure, who is now 82 years old.

“I think it’s important that when we look at these icons of the past, that we look at them not as these kinds of immortals,” Zirin says. “Because if we do that, when we deify people, the problem with that is then there’s nothing to learn from them or their lives. It’s a story of somebody who is very flawed, but somebody who also did heroic things. As Howard Bryant, the great sportswriter, said, he said: Jim Brown is heroic, but he’s no hero. And I think that’s the best way to look at his life.”

Interview Highlights

On why he chose Jim Brown as a subject, and why now

There’s a discussion happening right now — not just in the world of sports, but I think nationally — about masculinity, and about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a real man. And I think we are assessing some of what we’ve been taught. And I think Jim Brown, for the last 50 years, has been this kind of icon of the old way of looking at manhood: somebody who defined his manhood by not showing a great deal of emotion; by playing in the National Football League and never missing a game for injury, and being lauded for that; as being somebody who stepped inside the black power movement and was an icon; as someone who stepped into Hollywood, and was thought that he could be the black John Wayne and participated in the blaxploitation era, which was a very hyper-masculinized form of cinema at the time; and as somebody who stepped to the terrain of the gang battles in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and did a tremendous amount of activism to try to bring warring gangs together and bring peace to the streets of South Central Los Angeles. And all of these landscapes he did with this resolute focus on teaching people of what it means to be a “real man.” And one of the things I try to argue in the book, and this connects with the discussions which are happening right now about masculinity, is whether or not that discussion of manhood is positive or negative. And so I also look in the book about Jim Brown’s history with women, which is the dark side, if you will, of this discussion about masculinity — particularly the issue of violence against women.

On where Jim Brown grew up, and how it influenced his particular type of activism

Well, it’s a fascinating story, because Jim Brown was raised by women on St. Simons Island, which is off the coast of Georgia. And St. Simons was a place that was built on self-sufficiency because the ground was so rough that when enslaved people were brought from Africa, their communities were largely left alone. And this, I think, made a mark on Jim Brown throughout his younger years, of this idea of not being an integrationist, not being someone who supported the goals of Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.], of being someone who more was on the side of: How do we, as black Americans, build our own institutions of power and self-sufficiency? …

Retired NFL greats Jim Brown (left) and Ray Lewis address the media after meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York in late 2016.

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Retired NFL greats Jim Brown (left) and Ray Lewis address the media after meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York in late 2016.

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And this is something I think we forget historically, is that there was a black freedom struggle in this country, but there was a left wing and right wing to that freedom struggle. It’s not like everybody believed in marching, or everybody believed in the Montgomery bus boycott, sit-ins. There was a wide variety of thinking about how black liberation could be achieved. And Jim Brown was, you could argue, on the conservative wing of that camp. And I think it connects to why Jim Brown today is a supporter of Donald Trump … and why he supported Richard Nixon in 1968, as did other figures of that era like the singer James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr. Like, there was black support for Richard Nixon in 1968, and it was built around this idea of economic self-sufficiency.

On Jim Brown’s stance about Colin Kaepernick and modern sports protests

It’s fascinating to me, because Jim Brown said just the other week, on the NFL Network, that if he was the general manager of a team, he would not sign Colin Kaepernick. Last year he walked into the locker room of the Cleveland Browns — the team that of course made Jim Brown famous — and he told players who had been kneeling that they needed to cut it out. And so Jim Brown is really acting as an agent of [NFL] ownership in these cases. …

See, this is what I’m trying to argue with this book, because a lot of people in the sports world were shocked when he said these things, saying: How could Jim Brown, this icon of the black freedom struggle, how could he possibly bury Colin Kaepernick in this way? How can he possibly go into the locker room and tell players to stand up and shut up during the national anthem? And part of what I’m arguing is that: No, these have always been his politics. He’s always had this strain of conservatism in his politics that black people do not achieve advancement through the politics of protest, but through the politics of earning as much money as possible, and trying to get out of the capitalist system whatever they can for the purposes of building economic self-sufficiency. And protest is an impediment to that in the mind of Jim Brown. And those have always been his politics.

What I find so interesting is that his stature on the field, I think, blinded people to what his politics were. I’ll tell you an example of this that I find so interesting, is I scoured the black press in 1968 for when Jim Brown endorsed Richard Nixon, and there are scathing editorials against other black celebrities who were endorsing Nixon, and you could not find a bad word about Jim Brown.

On the history of accusations against Jim Brown of violence against women

It’s a series of accusations that go from the 1960s through the 1990s, and without a conviction. … The repeated accusations and descriptions lead you to look at this as a situation where Jim Brown, at times in his life, definitely saw women as part of the problem, as something that would bring down the black family if they asserted themselves too much in the context of his life. And the accusations against Jim Brown are horrific, and they should be viewed as horrific. But it’s important to say that when they took place, that’s not how they were viewed — they were viewed with a nudge and a wink. And so part of what I’m writing this book is getting us to reassess those times and say: The time of nudging and winking and violence against women has to end — it has to go into the graveyard of history.

Sarah Handel and Viet Le produced and edited this story for broadcast. Patrick Jarenwattananon adapted it for the Web.