“Sin City” Becomes Acceptable?

 

“Sin City” Becomes Acceptable?

by Amy Lignor

 

So…what changes will occur if an NFL team hits Las Vegas? Not many, actually. Perhaps more of the ‘contract money’ will be lost considering the blackjack tables ARE right in the vicinity; however, NFL owners seem just fine with the fact that the Roger Goodell, Sin City, Raider Nation, NFL Football, Mark Davis, unhappy fans, Las Vegas, Rams, Chargers, Los AngelesRaiders will once again wave good-bye to their “Nation” and relocate to Sin City.

But when you look at the news headlines, the NFL has and retains a long-standing opposition to sports gambling,
Everyone’s favorite, Commissioner Roger Goodell has fought and opposed any effort in the past to legalize sports betting. But when you cannot secure a stadium in your own hometown for your team to play in, it becomes acceptable. A town that took in over $132 million bets on Super Bowl 50 will sit aside the other “All-American” towns and cities that the NFL plays in.

The population was a huge concern for NFL owners at first, seeing as that the Las Vegas market is only half the combined size of Oakland and San Francisco. But when you have nowhere to play, all bets are off. After working extremely hard to find the Raiders a place to play in the Bay Area, everyone finally had to accept the fact that there just wasn’t one to be had.

 

This will become the third franchise to relocate in little over a year. In January 2016, the Rams moved from St. Louis back to Los Angeles. Of course, the Rams will not be the only one in L.A., come September 2017, the Chargers are exercising their option to move from San Diego to L.A., as well. Talk about the amount of money L.A. is about to receive from all the visitors to their stadiums.

 

When it comes to the Raiders, the ones most unhappy are the fans, although they will have their team for one and perhaps two seasons more. (*This actual move is still contingent on the Raiders getting a lease agreement and a stadium developer in Las Vegas). Then they will remain in Oakland while a $1.9 billion stadium for the Raiders (that they will also share with UNLV’s football team) is under construction. But, no matter how hurtful it is, the Raiders will head to Vegas come the 2019 or 2020 season.

 

This is the second time Raiders will leave those diehard Oakland fans behind. The franchise moved much closer but still moved to L.A. following the 1981 season and ended up playing there through 1994 until returning to Oakland – which made the fans go crazy with happiness.

 

Owner Mark Davis is covering his team’s tracks as fast as possible, thinking about the future, letting all Oakland Raiders fans know now that even though he knows there will be disappointment and even perhaps anger that they are leaving, it is important to remember that they understand “…it wasn’t the players. It wasn’t the coaches that made this decision. But it was me that made it. If they have anybody to talk to about it, it should be me. And I’m going to, in the coming days, try to explain to them what went into making this difficult decision.”

 

Davis also went on to tell fans that he will honor any refund requests made by those who placed season ticket deposits. But he also said he believes that his father, late Raiders owner Al Davis, would have been proud of this decision.

 

Right now, as far as that “Raider Nation” is concerned, Mark Davis is absolutely incorrect. We shall see what happens.

 

Source:  GIG News

 

It’s Time to Play Ball!

 

It’s Time to Play Ball!

by Amy Lignor

 

As far back as you can remember, Major League Baseball’s Opening Day comes with pomp, pageantry, good food, excitement, and a whole lot of fun for the family.

Major League Baseball, Opening Day, play ball, “Caps On” campaign, Jason Kipnis, Chris Tillman, David Price, Didi GregoriusCincinnati, home to the very first professional baseball team, will once again hold the annual Findlay Market Parade, making it official to the whole world that baseball has returned. In Cincinnati it is a holiday for one and all, where citizens stop everything to go out and cheer loud and proud for the hometown Reds.

Opening Day also makes it official – even to those who are still looking out their windows to see a blanket of snow every morning – that winter is out and spring is taking over. Better yet…those warm summer months will soon be on the way; those lazy, hazy days where you can sit at the ballpark and hope to catch that winning home run before heading home.

 

This one day every year is Major League Baseball’s most profitable day of the season. After this day, up until the “war” comes where two teams must battle to claim the World Series title, the stadiums are less than half full. But, with only a few extremely rare exceptions, Opening Day allows all the clubs in the league to perform in front of a sellout crowd for their first home game of the season.

 

Now is also the time to brush off that trusty baseball cap. Especially seeing as that the “Caps On” campaign that began last season is back with a vengeance. The specific campaign run by the league encourages everyone, everywhere to don the caps of their favorite teams at work, at school, at the grocery store – and anywhere else you can think of. Now is the time baseball wants you to forget Tom Brady’s jersey and turn your eyes on (what’s supposed to still be) America’s pastime. And, above all, enjoy the heck out of it.

 

To keep you up-to-date, there are a few key players who are out for Opening Day, and their teams and fans are crossing their fingers that they will return as fast as they can.

 

Jason Kipnis of the Indians has been suffering with a strained rotator cuff since first reporting to training camp. Not only is he expected to miss Opening Day, but Kipnis is supposedly going to miss all of April and perhaps even May. He is a key player for the defending American League Champions and without him Cleveland’s lineup is going to be in trouble.

 

When it comes to Orioles territory, Chris Tillman’s pitching shoulder is causing issues. Missing three weeks late last season, he only resumed throwing just recently. He will start on the disabled list for the Orioles, but given the fact that this is a chronic injury, it’s anyone’s guess what the future has in store for Tillman.

 

Although the Yankees finished five games out of a Wild Card spot last year, their dugout is filled with young talent that could make the Yankees into the “it” team this time around. However, trouble comes to them in the form of Didi Gregorius. Suffering a hematoma in his right shoulder, Gregorius will most likely miss all of April. His talent at the shortstop position, plus the fact that he was swinging extremely well, gave the team what they needed. Now, in his absence, the Yankees will have a bigger hill to climb.

 

The Red Sox are facing a different dilemma. David Price’s left elbow has had fans sitting on the edge of a precipice with concern for both Price and their beloved Sox for a while now. Although Manager John Farrell said that Price would only be ‘off’ for a week, it’s now been three weeks since that statement and Price is nowhere near playing status. Yes, the Sox have talent, but the injury could lead to Price opting out of his contract after the 2018 season. If this occurs, the Sox will owe $127 million, which will limit them when it comes to gaining advantageous players in the 2018-19 free agent market

 

But even without these particular names on the field, this is one MLB season that looks like it’s going to be a real thrill ride. Hope, right now, is in every baseball fan’s mind – no matter what team they cheer for. Even if their particular choice seems to not have a chance, history has continued to bring forth ‘Cinderella’ teams that, out of the blue, end up taking the whole kit and caboodle. In other words, if you already think you know who the final two will be…it’s a good bet to think again.

 

Now…Play Ball!

 

Source:  GIG News

Gonzaga Celebrates the Final Four

 
Gonzaga Celebrates the Final Four

by Amy Lignor

 

“Beauty & the Beast” may be raking in the dough at movie theatres everywhere, but it is the Princess Cinderella that appears at the core of the NCAA headlines.

 NCAA headlines, Cinderella Teams, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Mark Few, Zags, Duke, Final Four 2017We all have our “Cinderella Teams.” Heck, they even made a movie after the Hoosiers who once set the world on fire. But as this weekend winds down, it is the Gonzaga Bulldogs that find themselves ready to put on the glass slipper, or watch their ‘coach’ turn back into a pumpkin, depending on what their near future fate turns out to be.

Those who can remember 1998-99, remember that the Gonzaga Bulldogs were also a Cinderella team back then. Being the 10th seed in the Sweet Sixteen match-ups, they went on to lose (like so many others have over time) to the Connecticut Huskies (67-62). Connecticut (most especially the women) became used to being the No. 1 seed, but this season may just be Gonzaga’s chance.

 

As of Saturday, the “Gonzaga Phenomenon” took over the airwaves. Coach Mark Few, who was actually serving as assistant during the first Cinderella moment for this team, told everyone this time around that Gonzaga did not want to be “a one-hit wonder.”

 

It’s not like the Zags were hideous since 1998/99, by the way. It was in 2006 that they scored like there was no tomorrow…unfortunately, for them, there actually turned out not to be. It was in 2013 that they were officially the No.1 seed going into the Sweet 16, yet they banged their heads up against Wichita State and had to say goodbye. In 2015, the Zags once again arrived but lost to what eventually turned out to be the national champions, Duke, during the Elite Eight.

 

This time, Few has built the team into one that has the numbers and the players to win it all. On Saturday night at the SAP Center, they finally got over the “proverbial hump” and celebrated their first entrance into the Final Four. Not only that, the game they played was not even close. We are talking a game between the Zags and 11th seeded Xavier that ended 83-59 – a lot like the Connecticut female games usually end up being.

 

The net was finally cut down by Gonzaga hands, with Few taking the rest and then turning on the top step of the ladder, where he screamed down to his team: “Might as well win it!”

 

The team screamed back, letting the world know the Gonzaga Bulldogs are more than ready to snag that national title. Unlike, however, normal Cinderella teams in the past that really did look too naïve to understand the point of it all, the Zags look very put together and most definitely have the right amount of talent needed to make Spokane, Washington more than proud.

 

Even Few stated that this current squad’s ability “to really, really protect the rim at a high level” is different than in the past, and having the defense hold the No. 1 ranking through the entire tournament in adjusted defensive efficiency backed up that remark.

 

So…what will happen now? Many of the so-called “experts” are coming together to say that even though Gonzaga has given the NCAA a “Cinderella” story this year, the Final Four is exactly how far they’re going to get. This is the first time since 1995 that the Final Four is being played west of Texas, so it makes complete sense to see an East vs. West battle for it all. But, in the end, the experts say that Kentucky has too many weapons for anyone to take them down, not even a “princess” waiting to be crowned.

 

Keep one thing in mind, however. These are also experts who said that the Atlanta Falcons would have no problem bringing down Tom Brady and the Patriots to nab the Super Bowl title this year. See how that worked out?

 

Source:  GIG News

Will NASCAR Theatrics Bring Back Viewers?

 

Will NASCAR Theatrics Bring Back Viewers?

by Amy Lignor

 

For any of the millions who once watched ABC’s Wide World of Sports and heard the words “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” they remember the footage of a skier’s crash when it came to the “agony” side of things. Everyone knew that sight was a fact – a video that was absolutely real. Nowadays, however, it seems that more and more sports are staged agony, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, colorful drivers, Monster Energy, agony of defeat, over-aggressiveness, the perfect scene“making up” shots that appear on TV just for the purpose of gaining fans and increasing television ratings. Many sports have been accused of this over time, but as of late it is the world of NASCAR that has been brought up in headlines and conversations about what’s real and what’s actually a set-up.

We’re not talking about those horrible accidents that sometimes harm beloved drivers that fans have been routing for all their lives. Those are most definitely real and a true “agony” for everyone involved. We are talking about what many believe was a ‘staged scenario’ that occurred between NASCAR drivers Joey Logano and Kyle Busch that occurred following the Monster Energy Cup Series race, the Kobalt 400, held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 12th. NASCAR states that it will not penalize the drivers for this little bout. Everyone agrees, but some are left wondering if perhaps there was a reason to actually start a ‘battle’ between two drivers.

The race was more than exciting with Martin Truex Jr. passing the faltering car of Brad Keselowski on the white-flag lap. Truex then went on to sweep all three stages of the race. However, the excitement of Truex’s pass and eventual win was overshadowed more than a little bit when Joey Logano’s Ford slid up into Kyle Busch’s Toyota as they battled for third position. Spinning into the inside wall on the pit road, Busch ended up crossing the finish line to claim 22nd place while Logano managed fourth.

Viewers and fans watched as Busch headed up the pit road afterwards where he confronted Logano and threw a punch at Joey’s head. It was Logano’s crew that stepped in and took Busch down to the pavement in order to prevent the fight from escalating, which is where Kyle attained the bloody, bruised forehead that he came out with.

It is a fact that NASCAR grew into a national brand back in the 1970’s with massive mainstream appeal because of the drivers. Fans loved the big names and even bigger battles on the track. But over time, it was as if NASCAR became more corporate (like the NFL) and began to ‘tone down’ their more colorful drivers. It seemed that more and more drivers grew scared that they would fall out of favor with their national sponsors, which caused them to fall out of favor with their fans instead because fans grew, well…bored.

‘Stale’ was an adjective used a great deal when it came to NASCAR. Even having Monster Energy become the sponsor of the whole thing was a path NASCAR used to become cooler and bring back fans. No matter how you look at it, however, the one thing that wrestling proved was that fans come back and stay when the ‘agony of defeat’, the colorful ‘characters’, and the theatrical ‘brawls’ – whether real or set-up – are a part of the sport. So…would it be off the mark for NASCAR to do the same thing? Most say, no. NASCAR needs a little fire and building a driver duel would have more people tuning in to all the NASCAR races this year. This won’t be like hockey, of course; boxing on the ice is actually a part of the sport of hockey that’s been around a good, long time. But a few mean comments back and forth and a fight or two after the race is done would bring in more viewers to NASCAR who just want to see what the ‘aftermath’ of the race will be.

With NASCAR coming out and talking about the high emotion of the drivers that will ‘get the best of all of us at some point or another.’ Not to mention Busch stating that he was angered by what he thought was Logano’s over-aggressiveness, and Logano’s crew looking like mobsters protecting their squeaky-clean driver who stated he ‘did nothing wrong,’ sets the perfect scene.

People who do not normally watch NASCAR, or those who turned away a while ago because it had become far too calm for them to get excited about it anymore, will now have something to sink their teeth into. Frankly, if the fight was real, it will bring new viewers who want to see what will happen next. If it was a set-up, the same thing will happen. Why? Because people still want to see the ‘agony of defeat.’

 

Source:  GIG News

Faces Change in Free Agency

 

Faces Change in Free Agency

by Amy Lignor

 

Just this past week the National Football League’s brand new pre-season went into play, with deals and steals happening from one coast to the other. These days are all about transactions and transformations (hopefully positive ones) to teams Just this past week the National Football League’s brand new pre-season went into play, with deals and steals happening from one coast to the other. These days are all about transactions and transformations (hopefully positive ones) to teams that need help. The biggest news came in the form of quarterback changes. Tony Romo will say goodbye to his position in Dallas…yet, where he will be going is still anybody’s guess (all except Jerry Jones, most likely, who seems to know just about everything that happens in the NFL before any deals are signed). Whatever the case may be, it’s a given that when the announcement comes from Tony about which team he will lead, experts worldwide will have something to say.that need help. The biggest news came in the form of quarterback changes. Tony Romo will say goodbye to his position in Dallas…yet, where he will be going is still anybody’s guess (all except Jerry Jones, most likely, who seems to know just about everything that happens in the NFL before any deals are signed). Whatever the case may be, it’s a given that when the announcement comes from Tony about which team he will lead, experts worldwide will have something to say.

The other QB issue came as not much of a surprise to most folks; not only that, but it offered Chicago Bears’ fans a sigh of relief and a new positive outlook for the team they love so much. Chicago cut QB Jay Cutler, who has played with almost no signs of life for a long time now, and replaced him with Mike Glennon. Glennon has landed a three-year contract with the Bears and, frankly, no matter how experts break this QB down they can all agree on one fact: Glennon will be no worse than the man that preceded him.

 

In the CB slot, Logan Ryan landed a very strong paycheck with the Tennessee Titans. This is one move that perhaps Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will regret one day, but fans aren’t betting on it. (Belichick never seems to make one). Ryan played opposite Malcom Butler for the Pats and then ended up moving into more of a slot role, helping to bring home the Super Bowl ring. Trouble is, although he helped capture the Super Bowl title, he also moved into a free agency position that had teams lining up to land him. Perhaps his extraordinary talents will help the Titans achieve some success.

The biggest news in the WR area comes with Torrey Smith leaving the downtrodden 49ers and heading into Philadelphia – a place where experts say he is a truly stellar steal. Smith, being only 28 years-old, still has a future ahead of him, and most people assume that on a far better and more put together team like the Eagles Smith will be able to break out and show everyone his talent. Signing a three-year, $15 million dollar contract, he’s seeking redemption after unable to achieve his goals in 49ers territory. Can’t blame him, of course; after all, the entire 49ers’ team looked less NFL and more High School amateurish for the last two seasons.

 

The Miami Dolphins, on the flip side of free agency steals, made sure that one of their highly skilled WR’s was not going to be swooped up by any other team. Kenny Stills may wonder (as well as various NFL fans) why so many teams were interested in stealing him ahead of free agency. His numbers were okay, but lackluster, scoring 69 total receptions on 144 passes. However, the Dolphins reached out and retained him with a four-year deal worth $32 million ($20 million guaranteed) for the simple reason that Stills showed in college that he is a seriously dangerous deep threat. Yes, this young man is still developing, but Miami coach Adam Gase knows that Stills is a fantastic tool for the Dolphins’ offense and sees him breaking out in 2017.

 

Although a few other trades have happened, one of the most “famous” NFL names – Brandon Marshall – sets sail from the Jets and enters a two-year, $12 million dollar deal with the New York Giants. Marshall is walking directly into another famous WR clan that includes the more-than-colorful Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. This NFC clan, unlike their Dallas Cowboy rivals who built their winning season around runners instead of receivers, are all about throwing the ball downfield. The Giants love the air game and they are more than happy to have Marshall in their corner. With the Jets, Marshall chalked up his worst season since his rookie year back in 2006, yet the previous season Marshall had a league-high of 14 touchdowns. The Giants are most definitely looking for that Marshall who seemed to take a hiatus last season while being imbedded in the Jets’ offense. Fans and experts can’t wait to see if Brandon Marshall goes back to his success with Manning throwing the passes.

 

As free agency deals and steals continue, faces are bound to change even more, making next season in the NFL look more than interesting.

 

Source:  GIG News

Dissecting the New Head Coaches in the NFL

 

Dissecting the New Head Coaches in the NFL

by Amy Lignor

 

Although the “breaking” news today is the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have waved goodbye to their beloved QB Tony Romo, it is the head coaching changes that have occurred in the NFL many experts are not only talking about, but fans are wondering about.

Tony Romo, head coaching changes, 49ers, Chargers, Bills, Rams, Broncos, Jaguars, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Anthony Lynn, Doug MarroneThis off-season, a total of six teams desperately needed to hire a head coach that would, hopefully, bring their teams back into the spotlight after being out a very long time. These teams were the 49ers, Chargers, Bills, Rams, Broncos and Jaguars. So…what’s a ‘great’ choice and what’s a ‘not-so-great’ choice when it comes to these picks? There are many opinions, of course, but let us break this down taking into account the words of fans, media, and all those sports “experts” out there who just love to give their opinions:

 

Many see Doug Marrone – new head coach of the Jaguars being chosen from inside the Jacksonville Jaguars staff – to actually be the worst pick out of the six. Not that Marrone isn’t a good coach, but when it comes to Marrone’s staff, the people are a bit underwhelming. Not exactly a crew many think will “lift” the Jags up and bring them the glory they want. Shaking up the team and making changes in the entire coaching staff would have been a better way to go, and promoting Marrone (one of their “own”) didn’t do any of that.

 

Next up is Sean McDermott for the Buffalo Bills. Anthony Lynn was actually the interim head coach for Week 17 last season; not only was he not moved to full-time head coach, they didn’t even retain Lynn. Instead, they thrust the mantle on this former Panthers defensive coordinator. When taking into account the absolute lack of success the Bills have seen in the past twenty years – not to mention the list of issues that the front office of the Bills have – it is clear McDermott won’t be able to turn this team around very fast. Yes, it is likely the defense will improve greatly after being strangely horrific under Rex Ryan, but the team’s success still depends on whether the ground game can continue to thrive without Lynn. According to fans and experts the chances of that happening aren’t good.

 

One new head coach hire that seems to stump people is Vance Joseph for the Denver Broncos. Why are they stumped? Because the Broncos already have a Super Bowl caliber defense in place and Vance Joseph is a defensive “guy.” This is a team that is all about trying to bring back their offense with the beloved Peyton Manning gone. There are two highly talented young QB’s to work with, so Joseph and his leadership characteristics could be exactly what these men need to rise to the occasion of Super Bowl contenders. In other words, Vance Joseph is probably the best head coach move when it comes to having a real chance to succeed right off the mark.

 

Anthony Lynn, ousted by the Bills, is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Lynn was most definitely seen as one of the top candidates on the market, and being that Lynn is an offensive coordinator who is really good at his job, the Chargers have an excellent man in place. Even with a different group of playmakers, Lynn shouldn’t have a problem building this offense into a well-performing one. All he has to do is bring his proven talents to the team.

 

When it comes to the Los Angeles Rams, they took a chance by filling their head coach vacancy with the youngest one in NFL history: Sean McVay. But even though McVay is unproven in the NFL, he did spend three years as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, improving QB Kirk Cousins to the point of making the man a “franchise QB” for the Redskins. The Rams may just come out smelling like roses with a new, young, creative play-caller. Then again, maybe more experience is needed. We shall wait and see.

 

The last and number one choice for head coach that all fans are waiting to see is Kyle Shanahan, now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Kyle Shanahan was the last to be hired because it was his experience that helped lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they were playing against a coach who is one that will never have to worry about his job coming up for grabs…until he retires, that is.

 

But in San Francisco, the Falcons’ loss to the all-mighty Patriots in the Super Bowl does not deter from the cheering welcome 49ers’ fans are giving Shanahan. He proved to be an elite offensive coordinator and is now going to stand at the helm of a team that once was the absolute best in the NFL business. The 49ers have looked more than embarrassing, showing no resemblance to the brilliance of their illustrious past featuring names like Montana, Young and Rice. They need Ryan desperately to teach them how to fire on all cylinders again, which is exactly what the experts are stating Shanahan will do. If this particular head coach meets the beliefs of everyone out there, you may just see a ‘new’ 49ers’ dynasty emerge.

 

That would be nice. After all, the NFC needs a real star team to stop the AFC Patriots from continuing to win that ultimate prize.

Source:  GIG News

NASCAR Daytona 500: Predictions vs. Results

 
NASCAR Daytona 500: Predictions vs. Results

by Amy Lignor

 

There were a lot of questions coming into this NASCAR season that both viewers and drivers were talking about. Some of those questions received an answer during this Daytona 500. And some predictions that were made actually did come true.

Daytona 500, predictions, Jimmie Johnson, Monster Energy, Kyle Larson, Richard Childress

 

Many were wondering what impact Monster Energy, the new sponsor of the Cup series, would have on NASCAR. It has been twelve consistent years that the sport relied on sponsorship by the telecommunication companies out there before switching to this particular energy drink that has taken over the U.S. of A. The sport was looking at attendance, as well as TV ratings that were declining fast, so bringing in a “Monster” made absolute sense when it came to revving up the sport and marketing to that younger demographic out there. Has it changed the sport so far? Well…although ratings were up for yesterday’s Daytona 500, it looks like Monster Energy has work ahead in order to bring the younger viewers to TV sets across the country. Too bad Tom Brady and the Patriots aren’t the sponsor. Football is still the sport that has no problem nabbing those high ratings.

 

NASCAR is also looking at the topic of less downforce meaning better racing. This new aerodynamic package for the cars features lower downforce. Introduced in 2016, NASCAR went even further this season by reducing the downforce even more. Lower downforce means that more issues regarding performance is left in the hands of drivers instead of in the machine, itself. This is exactly what the drivers wanted and it looks as if it will bring them even more success in 2017.

 

Jimmie Johnson is another topic of discussion for the NASCAR season. After all, his 2016 championship brought him into a tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, setting him atop the all-time list with seven. Even at the age of 41, Johnson shows no signs of letting up, which means it will only take one more title win for him to sit atop the list all by himself. If this occurs, fans and the media will have to “see” Johnson as the best driver ever. Will that happen? Not a chance. Yes, he could win that one title; however, the names Petty and Earnhardt have followings that will never concede Johnson is better than either one of them.

 

Who will be the ‘name’ that comes out from behind the proverbial ‘curtain’ this season? Most state that Kyle Larson will be the one. This Chevy driver won his first race in 2016 and most experts are saying to look for Larson to win multiple times this season. Although for a time it looked like he would win the Daytona 500 yesterday, Larson, unfortunately, was “passed by.” But the season is just gearing up.

 

So…what about the rookies? Is there one that will surprise everybody out there? Experts right now are calling for Ty Dillon’s name to be in the headlines a great deal this season. Of course, with his brother being Cup driver Austin Dillon, and being the grandson of Richard Childress Racing owner Richard Childress, his bloodlines run long and deep.

 

As far as predictions for Daytona, some came true. There was a small bit of confusion when it came to the new rules that NASCAR instituted for 2017, such as cars coming in after 60 laps (the first stage of three stages). And cars not being able to come back on the track from the garage if they went in because of damage done from contact or a wreck.

 

It was also stated beforehand that there was no chance 2016 Daytona champion, Denny Hamlin, would win – only because it is very rare for a driver to go back-to-back. Only three have ever achieved it, including the great Richard Petty. And when it came right down to it, the prediction came true. Hamlin didn’t walk away with back-to-back Daytona wins. This time out it was Kurt Busch who took the win. Only leading in one lap throughout the entire race, Busch proved that all you need is one. After all, it was the final lap where he made the pass on Larson to take it all.

 

In the end, though, whether it was rule changes, a new sponsor, or drivers’ dealing with the improved downforce reduction, the one thing all predicted came absolutely true when the biggest cheer of the day was raised for Dale Earnhardt Jr. during driver introductions. Earnhardt was like the Knight of the Realm as he came back to do what he loves to do after missing 18 races last season with a concussion. People thought he would look nervous – what he did look like, however, was a man who had most definitely come home.

Source:  GIG News

Looking Forward to the NFL’s “Top” Free Agents

 
Looking Forward to the NFL’s “Top” Free Agents

by Amy Lignor

 

Now that the Patriots have (once again) walked away with the Super Bowl title, it is time that the NFL teams focus on the draft and what free agents they need to most definitely keep on their roster.

Now that the Patriots have (once again) walked away with the Super Bowl title, it is time that the NFL teams focus on the draft and what free agents they need to most definitely keep on their roster.The Pittsburgh Steelers always seem to be on all the “experts” lists to make it to the end and finally get back to the Super Bowl’s main stage. Unfortunately, the Steelers can’t seem to get past those pesky Patriots. In order to do so, there is one Steelers’ free agent that most definitely needs to be re-signed by the Steelers; and that is running back Le’Veon Bell. You are talking about a player who missed a quarter of last season, yet still ranked third in the NFL with 1,884 yards from scrimmage. At only 24 years-old, Bell earned his second career Pro Bowl visit and the Steelers literally cannot let him hit the open market and wave goodbye. “Valuable” is a term to definitely describe Bell, especially since QB Ben Roethlisberger has shown he does not have much time left on the NFL stage. Bell is needed and the Steelers can definitely afford his salary.

 

Another name being bounced around is the Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. Now, yes, he has failed to lead the team to a playoff victory, but Cousins certainly has gotten them farther than their previous QB (who we won’t mention). Posting winning records in his two seasons at the helm, Cousins ranked in the top 10 in terms of completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. Consistency is Cousins problem more than anything else, yet his salary is something that the Redskins can afford, and losing him to free agency is something they most definitely cannot afford.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs are also in the headlines when it comes to free agency and a name they really should (and most likely will) keep on their roster. Safety Eric Berry is what most would call a man in the prime of his football career, and is one of the NFL’s best safeties out there. Just as important is the fact that this is an NFL team that has only recorded one playoff win this century. The Bears, Colts – even the Tennessee Titans are drooling for this player; three teams that desperately need to make some impact in their divisions. So…who will sign him? There looks to be a 100% chance that the Chiefs will find a way to keep him no matter what.

 

When it comes to these high-impact players, there is one position (as always) that is desperate to be filled by many teams in the NFL. Bill Belichick, of course, is one coach who does not have to worry about this position, seeing as that he already has the “best QB to ever play the sport” in Tom Brady. What Belichick also has, however, is the biggest bargaining chip in a good, long time. QB Jimmy Garoppolo had the chance to prove his skill and talent (and did just that) when Brady was not able to play. He will also be at the very top of the free agent list, even though Tony Romo and Jay Cutler are also likely to be available to the QB-needy teams out there.

 

Garoppolo would be the youngest of the three if used as a bargaining chip by Belichick. His presence in free agency would have many teams clamoring for him, and will most likely involve having to give up a first- or second-round pick by any team that grabs him from Belichick. But when you look at the Bills, the 49ers, the Bears, (who will definitely give up their QB Jay Cutler because of his continuously bad performances), a QB is needed by many and “picks” will fall by the wayside in order to fill that position. Heck, even the Tennessee Titans may clamor for Jimmy, seeing as that they signed Brock Osweiler (who was supposed to be a “stellar catch” because he showed immense talent when backing up Peyton Manning on the Broncos) for $16 million last season. Although beloved Dallas QB Tony Romo would make sense staying in Texas and playing for the Titans, his price tag would be undoable for the Titans at this point, meaning Jimmy may just be the answer to a $16 million-dollar mistake.

 

In the end, the “stars” look as if free agency will do nothing but offer them more money from the teams they already play for, seeing as that their current teams need these players more than they need them. And, once again, Bill Belichick will most likely receive the biggest prize by getting a first-round pick and adding yet another awesome talent to the Patriots’ roster.

 

Source:  GIG News

Super Bowl LI’s Message: Patriotism

 

Super Bowl LI’s Message: Patriotism

by Amy Lignor

 

There are some people waking up this morning completely stunned. Why? Because they shut the Super Bowl off after the third quarter. They knew what was “going to happen” and had to go to work today, so why bother staying up and watching the rest of what was going to be an obvious blow-out? Besides, they had been given some memorable commercials, a great country western singer ushering in the National Anthem, and a halftime show that was part Lady Gaga/part Spiderman.

Super Bowl History, halftime spectacle, the unthinkable, tribute to America, Melissa McCarthy, Inside these lines, America the Beautiful, #weaccept, MVP, Goodell, Tom BradyThe Falcons were ahead – way ahead – and no team had ever come back from more than a 10 point deficit in Super Bowl history, so the Lombardi Trophy was obviously going to find a home in Atlanta. What they forgot was that the Falcons were playing a team that included the partnership of a coach and QB who (whether they made a deal with the devil, one with God, or simply because they are the most talented in the NFL) still had a quarter to play. And, in the end, this team did the undoable; they came back, went into OT and met with a chorus of cheers as Brady and Belichick solidified themselves as the best QB/coach duo to ever set foot on Super Bowl turf.

 

There is a lot to take from this game. One that Patriot fans are savoring is the fact that Commissioner Goodell had to award the trophy to the team that he avoided when it came to presenting the AFC Championship award. The guy who tried to taint this QB’s image had to leave the stadium in Houston to a chorus of boos while Tom Brady (once again) was named the Super Bowl MVP. There is even the fact that for the 8th time, the man voted League MVP went on to lose the Super Bowl. (Sorry, Matt Ryan). But if you take the time to look at the Super Bowl presentation from a different angle, you will see that the ENTIRE night was devoted to one thing: patriot…ism.

 

It began with Johnny Cash’s incredible voice coming through the TV set as he brought back to life his song: “Ragged Old Flag.” It brought tears to the eyes as the lyrics addressed this country’s division – both political and social – wars, and the very real fact that the “red, white and blue” stood for something. And, no matter what or who is in the driver’s seat right now, that flag is still far more important and meaningful to all Americans than anyone who happens to be “preaching” in 2017.

 

Take the commercials. Even Anheuser-Busch dropped their beloved Clydesdales (which is something that everyone stays up to watch in order to see what Bud’s horses are doing this time around.) They kept the glorious horses in the proverbial barn as they ran a commercial spot entitled, “Born the Hard Way.” This ad spoke of an immigrant coming to this country – his passport being stamped – and his dream being realized as Anheuser combined with Busch to prove that the “American streets were once paved with gold.”

 

Airbnb produced a spot that was emotionally-charged, promoting diversity and tolerance when it came to everything from races to religions to genders. (#weaccept)

 

Audi produced an ad featuring a man and his daughter in a go-cart race, speaking about the fact that females should be supported; their self-worth should be realized so they can take on the world and never settle for less.

 

Coca-Cola brought back a commercial that originally came out in 2014. “America the Beautiful” was the soundtrack as the lyrics were sung alternately in English, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese, French, and Hebrew. (Enough said.)

 

Even the NFL put together a spot called “Inside These Lines.” This was a dramatic look regarding the history of the NFL and how the sport came together, excluding no one from the game that became one based on talent, and not on skin color. At the conclusion, the lines being spoken about were transformed from the lines of the gridiron to the silhouette of the United States of America, where everyone is united and welcome.

 

Even the comical spots were about saving and supporting. The winner of the night came from Kia, and gave comedian Melissa McCarthy yet another chance to shine. She “Saved the Whales,” the trees, the rhinos, and even the ice caps as she went on her “Hero’s Journey.”

 

Then, consider the halftime spectacle. Lady Gaga was incredible. Not a surprise, considering the woman’s talent. What was a surprise was seeing her atop the roof of the stadium as Intel drones hovered above her head in the sky and lit up the night as they came together to create the American flag as Gaga belted out, “America the Beautiful.” She then threw herself into the stadium on cable wires and went into her plethora of hit songs that sent an energy through Houston and into the homes of billions across the globe. She was white hot and will go down as one of the best ever seen at the Super Bowl.

 

In the end, it seemed fitting that this game would lead into OT where the “red, white and blue” did the unthinkable and came back from a 25 point deficit to win their 5th Lombardi Trophy. And whether you are an angry Atlanta Falcons fan this morning or a Massachusetts native that holds their team dear to their hearts, it seemed that every great mind got together last night to make sure that Super Bowl LI was a tribute to America.

 

Congratulations to the New England Patriots.

 

Source:  GIG News

Will LI be #5?

 

Will LI be #5?

by Amy Lignor

 

Yes, Super Bowl LI is almost upon us and, as always, the sports “experts” are having a field day when it comes to calling the game: who will win; who will be MVP; heck, there are even odds on whether or not announcer, Joe Buck, will shave. (If you Super Bowl L1, Atlanta, Falcons, New England, Patriots, Tom Brady, Roger Goodell, Lady Gaga, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, MVP award, no press, impressivewant to bet, that’s the one I’d go for. 10 to 1 odds, people! You could be billionaires if you bet enough and then saw his shiny dimples on television screens across the country.)

You have those souls who believe, wholeheartedly, that the Atlanta Falcons will win. Why is that? Because they get absolutely no press, that’s why. This is a team with a QB who stunned the NFL this year. In fact, it may just be that Matt Ryan lands the MVP award of the entire NFL on February 4th – the night before the game. He shut down the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Championship which left a great many people sad.

After all, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, also a nominee for League MVP, had been on a stellar run. He was the QB who, after losing four games straight, stated that he and his team were going to “run the table” Which is exactly what they went and did. They were the ones who usurped the Dallas Cowboys in their hometown – a team that most thought would take the whole darn Super Bowl this year. And there were those also upset because they were hoping to see the two coolest QB’s – Brady and Rodgers – go up against each other in a mega-shootout that would have gone down in history. See that? Matt Ryan was again overlooked. The Falcons QB wasn’t even spoken about much until…he buried other NFC would-be victors. Going 11-5 this regular season, his star player – Julio Jones – is one that will have to be stopped for anyone else to even think about taking the Lombardi away from the Falcons next Sunday.

 

So, what about the AFC? Well…come on. No offense given to the Steelers fans out there, but when the AFC Championship game began there were only a few hopefuls that believed the Steelers could go up against the Patriots and cancel Tom Brady out for another trip to the Super Bowl. If you remember correctly, it seemed to be only Peyton and the Denver Broncos who could do that with what looked like ease.

 

With Super Bowl LI, we have the number 1 scoring offense up against the number 1 scoring defense. Now we have receivers that can catch almost any throw, running all over the field. And now we have two QB’s that know their jobs and know how to do them very well. So…does Atlanta have a shot? Of course they do. And in some places, on a personal level as well as a professional one.

 

You see, Tom Brady is on some ‘like’ lists, but for many other fans he is ‘disliked.’ What Brady does have, however, is almost a full-scale belief by all the experts that he has earned the title of best QB to ever play the game. (Joe Montana fans disagree.) If Brady pulls this one out, though, he will stand alone as being the QB who won the most Super Bowl rings during his career. And the way things are looking, it seems that he would hold that post all by himself for a good, long time to come. He is the “old man” in this case scenario, as well. But he also has the ability, and the coach, to make another Super Bowl trophy his own.

 

In addition, he has the opportunity to challenge (or at least stick his tongue out behind his back) the one, Commissioner Roger Goodell, who may just have to eat a square of humble pie on Super Bowl day. He tossed Brady out for the first four games this season. And even though we say it was because of deflated footballs, it was most definitely not because of that. He wanted to put Brady in his place – let him know that the buck stopped with Goodell and that he, and he alone, made the rules and could have his way no matter what. Well…Goodell won his day in court. Brady may just win his day (for the fifth time) on the field. If that happens, it would be a whole lot of fun to watch. Of course, with Goodell coming out this past week and praising Brady for being one of the best QB’s to ever play the game, it already looks as if he’ll just suck it up, remain boring, and the two will shake hands like the friends they are most certainly not.

 

In the end, let us just hope this is one Super Bowl where the halftime show and the advertisements are not better than the game. But with Lady Gaga at the helm, we may just be looking forward to another boring battle versus an awesome singer.

 

But no matter what happens, folks, definitely take the odds on Joe Buck’s shaven or non-shaven face. This game is going to be very close, so at least that’s a bet you’ll have a chance to win.

 

Source:  GIG News