In Sports….

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►  Ex-NHL Brawler, Now a Coach, Allegedy Punches Teen in Game

When he played for the Buffalo Sabres, Andrew Peters had one clear role: that of a tough-guy enforcer who was quick to fight. Now he’s retired as a player and coaching teens—and in hot water over a hockey brawl. Peters has been suspended as head coach of the Junior Sabres after a video emerged that appears to show him punching or shoving a player from the opposing team during a melee, reports the Buffalo News. The video isn’t crystal clear, however, and the AP reports that Peters has told team officials that he slipped while trying to get the player away from the bench. The teen fell to the ice, though he got up immediately. It could get worse for the 36-year-old Peters: Buffalo police are investigating.

“We are very disappointed in the series of events that unfolded during the (15-and-under) Buffalo Junior Sabres game on Saturday,“ said Buffalo Junior Sabres President Kevyn Adams in a statement. Peters, he added, will remain on suspension until the matter is resolved. During his radio show Monday morning—it’s called The Instigators—Peters said he could not discuss the altercation, but added that he didn’t do a good job of communicating to his team that fighting in youth sports is “unacceptable,“ per WKBW. In six NHL seasons, the winger had only 7 points but 650 penalty minutes—though he once told the Buffalo News that while he disliked fighting, he viewed it as a “necessary evil” to keep his job.

►  Soccer Fans’ Mistake Just Cost Their Own Team $50K

Fans of a British soccer club in the Premier League may need to take their zeal down a notch after an incident over the weekend that reportedly ended up costing their own team nearly $50,000, reports the Telegraph. Crystal Palace devotees determined to make a literal mark on rival team Middlesbrough the night before the two teams faced off descended early Saturday upon what they believed to be the Middlesbrough bus parked at a hotel in a London suburb. The vandals spray-painted “Crystal Palace FC” on the side of the vehicle in red, white, and blue—a move that did little but serve as an ownership tag, because the bus was actually Crystal Palace’s.

A groundsman for the CP team grumbled about the incident on Twitter in a now-private tweet, noting, “£40,000 worth of damage on our coach thinking it was the Boro coach. Nice one!“ The Sun notes that the hotel where the bus was parked, near Crystal Palace’s home stadium, is often frequented by visiting soccer teams. Despite an assertion by Sky Sports that the vehicle was on loan to Middlesbrough from Crystal Palace because they’d flown to the match, the BBC reports that was not the case. The Guardian notes the CP team had to arrange for another bus to take the players to their Middlesbrough matchup, which they won 1-0. A Crystal Palace rep says the cops have been notified.

►  Transgender Teen’s Wrestling Win Courts Controversy

The outcry started building after Mack Beggs started winning match after match in Texas’ high school wrestling tournament—and once the 17-year-old from Trinity High School in Euless clinched the championship Saturday, the controversy reached its peak. NBC News reports that the junior won to “cheers and jeers,“ the jeers from people who weren’t happy that Mack—a transgender student who was born female and is now transitioning to male—was competing in the girls’ 110-pound weight class due to state league rules, which require athletes to compete per the gender listed on one’s birth certificate. This despite the fact that Mack identifies as male (and prefers wrestling boys), opponents dropped out of matches beforehand, and one parent attempted to stop him from competing against girls.

Mack, who finished the season 57-0, per the AP, takes testosterone as part of his transition, and the league permits it as a “valid medical use,“ the Dallas Morning News reports. Parents of other wrestlers are irked by that, claiming the treatments give Mack an unfair edge. Jim Baudhuin, the parent who tried to keep Mack from the girls’ tourney, says he doesn’t blame the teen for the situation—“she’s being forced into that position,“ he tells the AP, referring to Mack as a girl—but the league and the school superintendents who voted for the birth certificate rule. Destiny Dominguez, a 102-pound state champ who has wrestled Mack before, shrugs off the hubbub, telling the Morning News matches are more about “mentality,“ not about brute strength, and that she’s never had a problem facing Mack. In a statement, Mack said he wished the focus was on his “hard work” and teammates.

►  A Boy Collapsed on a Soccer Field. His Mom Saved His Life

Jose Agredano was on the field for his final JV soccer game of the season earlier this month when his parents, watching from the stands in Watsonville, Calif., noticed something was wrong. They ran to their 16-year-old son, who had been hit by a ball, as he collapsed and stopped breathing. His mom, Dr. Gina Agredano, jumped into action, doing CPR on her boy for three minutes until an on-site defibrillator was brought over to shock and re-start Jose’s heart. “I said to myself we were not going to die today,“ Gina Agredano tells the Mercury News. The ball had struck Jose on the left side of his chest, stopping his heart in what is called an impact-induced cardiac arrest.

A doctor who treated Jose at the hospital after his ordeal explains that such events are possible when something hits the left side of a person’s chest at just the right time in the electrical cardiac cycle, between heartbeats. “Had it not been for the CPR and defibrillator, Jose would’ve died,“ she says. Jose—who managed to pass the ball before collapsing, per the Benito Link, and at first thought he’d just had the wind knocked out of him, per KTVU—is expected to make a full recovery with no long-term damage. His reaction when he woke up in the ambulance? “I was really happy to be alive, but kind of upset because I wanted to keep playing.“

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►  Transgender Boy Forced to Wrestle Girls Causes Stir

After winning his third straight match of the Texas state tournament Saturday, wrestler Mack Beggs of Euless Trinity High School is headed to the championship match—of the girl’s 110-pound weight class. The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports Beggs was born female and is transitioning to male. The transgender teen, who has been taking testosterone for more than a year, is 55-0 this season. Some girls at the tournament have forfeited rather than wrestle against Beggs; others have left the mat in tears. After one match, a mother in the stands yelled “cheater” at Beggs while complaining about “how beefed up” he is.

But most everyone seems to agree the situation isn’t Beggs’ fault; he says he’d rather wrestle against boys. But last year, school superintendents voted to use the gender listed on birth certificates for student athletes. And Beggs’ testosterone use is permitted because its a “valid medical use” under athletic league rules, Sports Day reports. Earlier this week, an attorney filed a lawsuit against the league to keep Beggs from wrestling against girls, which he says is dangerous and unfair for the other wrestlers, according to Fox4. A transgender advocate agrees, saying it’s the league’s problem for not letting the 17-year-old wrestle against boys. The attorney, who calls Beggs a “great kid,“ says the lawsuit isn’t “fueled by hate.“

►  Venezeula Skier Never Trained on Snow—and it Showed

For a Venezuelan skier who had only trained on wheels beneath a bright sun, the slopes of Finland proved a mighty challenge, per AP. Adrian Solano wobbled nervously backward as he exited the starting gate at the Lahti2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships this week. He fumbled into the white powder after sliding down a small hill. And he tried awkwardly walking up an incline while others raced by him. By Thursday, sports commentators circulating videos (like this one) of his near-comedic cross-country performance online had dubbed him the worst skier alive. Solano, however, teetered along, unfazed. “From here to the Olympics!“ he proclaimed in an interview with Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet.

Solano’s saga has hit a nerve among Venezuelans and angered the country’s highest officials, who are denouncing France for deporting the athlete in January while he was trying to get to Sweden to train on snow. Airport migration officials in Paris allegedly doubted his story, thinking his journey to the slopes was a ploy to leave his beleaguered country. “We will issue a strong statement to the French government for their affront against a Venezuelan athlete,“ tweeted Venezuela’s foreign minister. Stuck back in Caracas, Solano’s supporters started a GoFundMe page that brought him to Finland just in time to compete. The only problem: He hadn’t practiced skiing on snow, only on wheels in Venezuela’s scorching heat. In the first race, a 10-kilometer qualifying round, Solano failed to finish. In the 1.6-kilometer cross-country sprint, he finished last in 156th place.

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►  WWE Mourns George ‘The Animal’ Steele

WWE Hall of Fame member George “The Animal” Steele, whose given name was Jim Myers, has died at age 79. WWE announced Friday the death of Steele, who was living in Florida. The Detroit native had tweeted and blogged in recent months about his declining health, the AP reports. He dealt with the digestive disorder Crohn’s disease for several years. Sporting a bald head, hairy back, and green tongue, Steele was famous for his signature move of sinking his teeth into the turnbuckle pads around the ring and filling his mouth with the stuffing. At a Boston Red Sox game in 2012, he pretended to take a bite from the baseball before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

Steele, who started appearing in the WWF in 1967, had a master’s degree in science from Central Michigan and was a high school teacher and coach before and during his wrestling career, sometimes turning up for Monday football practice at a Detroit-area high school after a weekend appearance at Madison Square Garden, reports the New York Times. “George Steele was only an animal in the ring,“ tweeted WWE chairman Vince McMahon. “He was one of the truly nice men in the world.“ McMahon’s daughter Stephanie tweeted: “My first time backstage, he scared me so badly I ran into my father’s arms - a true character & a wonderful man.“

►  Guy Practicing Parkour Tumbles 40 Feet Down Chimney

A 26-year-old man says he was making a parkour video with friends when he fell 40 feet down the chimney of a downtown Denver apartment building, reports the AP. Dustin Hinkle tells KCNC-TV that he and a couple of friends were making a parkour video on the roof of the Denver City Lofts on Thursday when he fell through a chimney cover. “I didn’t even believe in God before this,“ Hinkle said. “That’s a real mind-opener right there. I fell forty feet, and I’m alive.“ Hinkle plummeted down the old incineration chimney until a cable caught his fall. “I felt like I was going to die honestly,“ he adds. He was stuck for nearly two hours until firefighters broke through a brick wall to get him out.

Hinkle, who along with his friends is facing a trespassing charge, says he won’t be bounding around from building to building anymore. The Denver Post reports that jail records show Hinkle is 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. Denver Fire Department spokeswoman Melissa Taylor told the Post: “It appeared to me to be a pretty small chimney.“ Parkour involves moving from point to point using obstacles along the way.

►  Woman Scores Half-Court Shot, $500, Fiancé

When Erin Tobin shoots, sometimes she really scores: The 30-year-old New Yorker and college basketball fan was watching her alma mater Siena take on Manhattan on Thursday night in Albany when she got the opportunity to take a half-court shot with a $500 gift card on the line. Not only did she sink the shot and score the cash, reports People, but she turned around to see the Dunkin’ Donuts mascot ditching his costume—revealing Tobin’s boyfriend, Steve Duckett, who sank to one knee, ring in hand.

“I was jumping up and down after hitting the shot since my brother said he’d give me $50 if I even hit the rim,“ says Tobin. “Then I turned around expecting a gift card from Dunkin’ Donuts and there he was on his knees and I didn’t have any words.“ Spoiler alert: She said yes. Says Duckett: “I said to myself, ‘Of course she would hit the shot.‘“ The AP notes that that wasn’t the end of Tobin’s streak that night: Siena beat Manhattan 94-71.

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►  Bach: World leaders back IOC position on Russian doping

IOC President Thomas Bach says he has received support from dozens of world leaders for the decision not to impose a total ban on Russian athletes from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bach says he has met with many heads of state and government since the Olympics in August and they all backed the IOC’s handling of the Russian doping scandal.

The IOC was heavily criticized by anti-doping bodies and some athletes’ groups after rejecting calls by the World Anti-Doping Agency for a complete ban on Russia over evidence of systematic cheating. The IOC let international sports federations decide which Russian athletes could compete.

Bach told a meeting of national Olympic committees in Doha on Tuesday that “the acknowledgment and appreciation by so many political leaders was a confirmation of our decision.“

►  Columbia Wrestlers Benched Over Racist Texts

Columbia University is investigating racist and homophobic group text messages reportedly sent by members of its men’s wrestling team just days after similar incidents at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. According to student-run news site Bwog, which received screenshots of GroupMe messages sent over the past three years, “the men in the group message mock women’s appearances, make jokes about rape, use homophobic and racist slurs, and engage in other distasteful interactions.“ Columbia says it has “zero tolerance” for such “appalling” texts, which sparked protests outside the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, home to several Columbia wrestlers, over the weekend, reports the New York Times.

After the wrestling team was forced to withdraw from what was to be its first meet on Sunday, per Reuters, the university “has decided that Columbia wrestlers will not compete until we have a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter.“ The team continues to practice, however. It isn’t clear when an investigation could wrap up. Meanwhile, a petition calling for wrestlers to be expelled has 900-plus signatures as of this writing. The team’s “use of appallingly violent anti-Black slurs, their blatant anti-Semitism, and their homophobia … celebrates the danger that some of Columbia’s most vulnerable students are put in on and off campus,“ it reads. “This is unacceptable.“

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►  Big 12 official: Joseph’s hit vs. Sooners should have been targeting

DALLAS, Texas — Karl Joseph’s crunching sideline hit on Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook, a play deemed legal at the time, should have been flagged for targeting, Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson said Tuesday.

The hit that became a highlight on Joseph’s NFL draft clips led to an NCAA rule change whereby replay officials in 2016 can stop action to review targeting that wasn’t called on the field.

Anderson described Joseph’s pass breakup as “clear and obvious and evident and egregious.” Take a look:

“Clearly targeting the opponent, lowers the head, makes contact not only with the crown of the helmet, but is making no effort to lower the strike zone and avoid this,” Anderson said. “It should have been called on the field.

“We missed this and this would be one that this year we would want the instant replay official to stop.”

Mindful of stoppages that lead to four-hour games, Anderson’s staff is training replay officials to identify hits that stand out immediately.

“That doesn’t mean we’re stopping every big hit in a football game just in case it might be targeting,” he said. “The language I told the officials is we’re going to stop play on the should have’s. We’re not going to stop play on the could have’s.”

151,365 plays in Division I
161 targeting
17 targeting fouls enforced (44 reversed to no foul)
8 targeting calls in the Big 12 (4 reversed to no foul)

►  Pro Wrestlers Sue Over Brain Injuries, Too

Add pro wrestlers to those suing their former employer over brain injuries suffered on the job. More than 50 retired wrestlers—including Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka—filed suit against World Wrestling Entertainment on Monday, reports Reuters. Other big plaintiff names from wrestling’s early days are Joseph Laurinaitis, 55, known as the “Road Warrior Animal,“ and Chris Pallies, 60, or “King Kong Bundy.“ They say WWE and its chief, Vince McMahon, encouraged them to use dangerous, choreographed moves such as the “piledriver,“ in which a wrestler is dropped head first onto the mat, and then concealed the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other neurological conditions, reports Bloomberg.

“WWE placed corporate gain over its wrestlers’ health, safety, and financial security, choosing to leave the plaintiffs severely injured and with no recourse to treat their damaged minds and bodies,“ the complaint says. On top of that, the lawsuit says WWE classified its wrestlers as “independent contractors” to avoid liability. Nope, says WWE. “This is another ridiculous attempt by the same attorney who has previously filed class action lawsuits against WWE, both of which have been dismissed,” says a statement. Still, one sports law expert calls pro wrestlers “the most disposable athletes in the sports and entertainment business” given the physical abuse they endure, combined with their status as independent contractors. The wrestlers cite not just brain injuries but higher rates of suicide, drug abuse, and violent behavior.

►  Girl Cut From Cheer Squad Threatens to Sue

A Florida student is threatening to sue Leon County Schools … because she was cut from her high school cheerleading team. Caylen Berry, head coach of the Leon High School cheer squad—which finished second in the state last season and will compete in Orlando’s National High School Cheerleading Championship in February, per WGN—says the senior fell twice during a recent tryout and failed to nab a spot on the team, reports the Tallahassee Democrat. Afterward, a rep says the district was “made aware of a parent’s complaint,“ which apparently included a threat to sue. The district is now considering just putting the student on the team—but Berry says that’ll be one strike too many.

Berry claims the district placed a student on the Leon cheer squad last year though she was initially cut. “This is just a thing the district does and thinks is OK,“ she says, though district officials say that decision was made at the school level. If the move is repeated, Berry and some cheerleaders say they’ll quit. “They should not put an athlete on the team that doesn’t deserve to be on the team,“ says Berry. “A decision like this would question my integrity as a professional. It also questions the entire legitimacy of tryouts and cheerleading as a sport.“ LCS says it’s working with school officials to determine “what’s in the best interest of the student and the school,“ per the Democrat. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

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►  MMA Legend Kimbo Slice Dead at 42

Kimbo Slice, the bearded street fighter who parlayed his internet popularity into a mixed martial arts career and worldwide fame, has died. He was 42. Slice, whose real name was Kevin Ferguson, was taken to a hospital in Margate, Florida, near his home Monday, Coral Springs Police Sgt. Carla Kmiotek says. Slice’s death was confirmed by Mike Imber, his longtime manager. “We lost our brother today,“ Imber tells the AP. The cause of death is still unclear. Kmiotek says there is no active police investigation, and no foul play is suspected. Slice was a Bahamian-born ex-football player and strip club bouncer who began competing in unsanctioned street fights in 2003. Videos of his violent knockout victories in those bouts became wildly popular online, both for his punching power and his distinctive, intimidating appearance.

He studied MMA and eventually competed in several promotions, including the UFC and Bellator, which staged his two most recent fights. While he went 5-2 and never won a championship belt, Slice became one of MMA’s best-known figures, attracting large television audiences and crowds to his growing sport. He also had a pro boxing career between stints in the cage, going 7-0 with six knockouts from 2011-13. Slice’s death also was confirmed by Scott Coker, the CEO of Bellator, which promoted his return to MMA last year after a five-year absence. “One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport, Coker said. “Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man. His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts.“

►  U.S. Olympic Basketball Team Loses NBA’s MVP

Stephen Curry has withdrawn from consideration from the Olympics, leaving the US basketball team without the NBA’s MVP. Curry said Monday in a statement that he has decided to pull out for “several factors—including recent ankle and knee injuries.“ He didn’t specify what the other factors were that he referenced. Several athletes have expressed concerns about the water situation in Rio and the Zika virus. The guard is the highest-profile absence for the two-time defending gold medalists, who will already be without NBA All-Stars Chris Paul and Anthony Davis, reports the AP. Curry had spoken of wanting the chance to win Olympic gold, but he missed six games in the postseason with a right knee injury.

Curry said he had spoken with his family, the Golden State Warriors (who could still have a strong presence at the Olympics; and his reps and recently informed the USA Basketball chair of his decision. The Americans have a list of 31 players in their roster pool for this summer and plan to name their 12-man roster later this month. Curry, the first player to be voted a unanimous MVP and the league’s leading scorer, certainly would have been on it. He could have been the team’s biggest star in Rio, with Kobe Bryant retired and LeBron James still uncommitted. But the Mercury News doesn’t see Rio as the 28-year-old’s last shot, noting “he should still be a top player when the 2020 Olympics roll around.“ ESPN reports the US is considered a “heavy favorite” in Brazil, having gone 8-0 in both 2008 and 2012.

►  Here Are Muhammad Ali’s Pall Bearers

The family of Muhammad Ali has settled on his pall bearers for Friday’s funeral in Louisville, with the biggest name being Will Smith, who played Ali in a movie of that name in 2001. Another big name is former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis. The others, per the BBC:

  • Jerry Ellis, the brother of Jimmy Ellis; the latter was Ali’s former sparring partner and a fellow heavyweight champion
  • John Grady, a cousin
  • Jan Wadell, a cousin
  • Ibn Ali, a nephew
  • Komawi Ali, former brother-in-law
  • John Ramsey, family friend

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►  Rio’s Olympic Flame Begins Its 15-Week Odyssey

The Olympic flame has been kindled at the birthplace of the ancient games in Greece, heralding the start of a 15-week journey leading to the August 5 opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, reports the AP. IOC and Rio organizing committee leaders attended Thursday’s flame-lighting at Ancient Olympia, where antiquity’s greatest sporting event was held for over 1,000 years. They voiced confidence Brazil will overcome its political and economic problems to stage a successful Games, the first in South America.

The flame was lit by an actress impersonating a pagan high priestess and will be delivered to the first torchbearer, Greek world gymnastics champion Eleftherios Petrounias. It will traverse Greece for six days, until the April 27 handover to Brazilian officials in Athens. After a brief stopover in Switzerland, the flame will start its travels through Brazil on May 03.

►  ESPN Cans Curt Schilling for ‘Unacceptable’ Facebook Post

An “unacceptable” Facebook post about transgender bathroom laws was the final straw for ESPN, which fired Curt Schilling Wednesday. The former All-Star pitcher, who had worked at the network since 2010, shared a meme, which can be seen   HERE , that showed an overweight man in tight, ripped women’s clothes and the words: “Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, racist bigot who needs to die,“ the AP reports. “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves,“ Schilling commented. “ESPN is an inclusive company,“ the network said in a statement. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.“

The network had allowed Schilling to keep working as a baseball analyst despite a tweet last year comparing Muslims to Nazis, reports the Washington Post. In a blog post, Schilling said he had only “made a comment about the basic functionality of mens and womens restrooms” and denounced “frauds” who were “screaming for ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ while you refuse to do and be either.“ His son, Grant, defended him in a Facebook post, saying Schilling is “not the most well informed,“ but that he has “made great strides to understand people” and has allowed Grant’s trans friends to stay over as well as respected “pronouns and name changes,“ the New York Times reports.

►  WWE Star Chyna Dies at 45

Chyna, the WWE star who became one of the best-known and most popular female professional wrestlers in history, has died at age 45. Police in Southern California say they were responding to a 911 call from a friend of the former wrestler when they found her dead in her Redondo Beach apartment. A friend had gone Wednesday to check on Chyna, whose real name is Joan Marie Laurer, after she had failed to answer her phone for a few days, Redondo Beach police said in a statement. The friend told the 911 operator that Laurer wasn’t breathing. Neither police nor coroner’s officials have released any cause of death, the AP reports.

The tall, muscle-bound, raven-haired Chyna billed herself as the “Ninth Wonder of the World” because her wrestling predecessor Andre the Giant had already called himself the eighth. Rising to prominence in the late 1990s, she was a member of the wrestling squad that dubbed itself “D-Generation X,“ often wrestled against men, and at one point was the WWE women’s champion. After leaving the WWE in 2001, Chyna posed for Playboy and appeared in adult films and on reality TV, including the shows The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. “Today we lost a true icon, a real life superhero,“ a statement on her official website said. “She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her.“

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►  Several Wheeling Park High School basketball players suspended - It follows alleged misconduct on a bus during a trip to Morgantown

WHEELING, WV — As many as four basketball players for Wheeling Park High School face possible discipline after allegations of misconduct on a bus during a January 26 team trip to Morgantown to see a West Virginia University basketball game.

Details of the nature of the misconduct were not available on Wednesday morning.

An investigation was underway, according to Ohio County law enforcement authorities.

On Tuesday night, Wheeling Park forfeited a game against Brooke High School because of suspensions for multiple student-athletes and, as of Wednesday, it was not clear when or if those players would be cleared to return to the team.

Officials with the Ohio County Board of Education said school officials were aware of the incident and were “working with legal counsel.”

►  Pharrell, Metallica part of Super Bowl concerts lineup

NEW YORK — The Super Bowl takes place a week before the Grammys, but the big game is rivaling the awards shows with a plethora of live concerts and on-site musicians, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica to Pharrell and Skrillex.

Alicia Keys, OneRepublic and the Band Perry will perform at concerts on Saturday, Friday and Thursday, respectively. Dave Matthews Band will take the stage Thursday and as part of the Sports Illustrated Experience, Iggy Azalea will perform on Friday, the same night Nick Jonas will perform at the annual “ESPN The Party.“

Lil Wayne and A$AP Rocky will headline the Maxim Party on Saturday, while Avicii, Elle King and Travis Scott will perform at a Rolling Stone magazine party the same night.

Though Super Bowl 50 will be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, most of the concerts and parties will take place in San Francisco.

Fall Out Boy announced Monday that they will perform Friday during Verizon’s go90 Live free concert series at The Regency Ballroom. The rock band, which has performed around the Super Bowl in the past, said performing ahead of the big game gives musicians the opportunity to gain new fans.

“People are there and they’re hyped for the Super Bowl, so it’s a chance to win people over, which is awesome,“ frontman Pete Wentz said in an interview last week.

Skrillex and country singer Hunter Hayes are also part of the lineup for the go90 Live, which is offering free tickets on a first-come, first-served basis at Hunter and Skrillex will perform on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Metallica will perform at the AT&T Park the night before the big game, where the Carolina Panthers will take on the Denver Broncos and halftime show performers include Beyoncé and Coldplay.

Wentz, who said he joined a fantasy football league this year but lost, said he’s rooting for both teams — sort of.

“If I was a 10-year-old right now, I feel like there’s no way you’re not a Cam Newton fan. He optimizes cool and he looks like he’s having fun every moment he’s playing,“ he said. “But at the same time, we watched the Broncos-Patriots game with my buddies from Denver ...and it was cool ‘cause it was emotional for them, so maybe I’m for the Broncos a little bit for my friends.“

DirecTV and Pepsi are teaming up to put on shows at Pier 70, including Dave Matthews Band, Pharrell and Red Hot Chili Peppers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The Chili Peppers, who performed with Bruno Mars during the halftime show in 2014, are expected to bring out special guests during their set.

Snoop Dogg will host the Player’s Gala on Sunday, where he will DJ, perform and host a Super Bowl viewing party. Zac Brown Band will perform at the Bleacher Ball on Friday, and Diplo and rapper-singer-producer Future will perform at a New Era concert on Saturday night.

San Francisco-based Third Eye Blind will perform at the 25th annual Party with a Purpose, while actor-singer Jamie Foxx will host a SiriusXM live broadcast on Friday.

Wentz said he hopes to see some of his musician peers throughout the week.

“I always try to sneak in something. ...I will watch Metallica any chance that I get,“ Wentz said.

►  ‘Thursday Night Football’ to air on both CBS and NBC

“Thursday Night Football” will air on both CBS and NBC next season.

The NFL has agreed to a two-year deal with the networks, the league announced Monday. CBS had broadcast games in partnership with NFL Network the past two seasons.

A person familiar with the contracts told The Associated Press the deals are worth $450 million for 10 games, five each on CBS and NBC. CBS paid $300 million for eight games in 2015.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not made public.

The new contracts for 2016 and ‘17 increase the number of games on traditional broadcast TV by two. They will again be simulcast on NFL Network.

NFL Network will still televise eight games exclusively, which will include late-season Saturday matchups and other to-be-determined games.

The league is also negotiating with digital companies for a separate streaming rights deal, which will be announced soon.

The NFL launched “Thursday Night Football” on cable channel NFL Network in 2006 with eight games, which grew to 13 by 2012. In 2014, the league partnered with CBS for a 16-game slate — half simulcast on CBS and NFL Network and half solely on NFL Network.

CBS will broadcast the first half of the season and NBC the second. Both networks will use their top broadcasting teams and contribute to the production of the NFL Network-only games.

►  The Super Bowl’s most memorable trick plays

The appetite for gadgets and gimmicks at the Super Bowl is typically low. Surprising the other team with a safety blitz or deep pass, sure, but the risk of true trickery can often seem too steep with a title on the line.

Mess up a clever play in a game of this magnitude and lose a close one in the end? Good luck living that decision down for the rest of your coaching career. The reward of a momentum swing, though, remains a viable reason to roll the dice.

Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable trick plays in Super Bowl history:


Dallas had a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter in New Orleans on January 15, 1978. After Denver lost a fumble on a sack at its 29-yard line, Cowboys coach Tom Landry ordered the kill shot.

Running back Robert Newhouse grabbed a pitch from Roger Staubach and ran left. He stopped and threw right to Golden Richards for the game-sealing touchdown.

The play became even more of a standout afterward, when Newhouse revealed his anxiety in the huddle stemming from an excess of Stickum, the now-banned substance once used by skill-position players to grip the ball more easily, on his hands. Newhouse was hastily scrubbing it off in the huddle once his assignment became clear.


Leading Seattle by four points early in the fourth quarter in Detroit on February 5, 2006, Pittsburgh got the ball back with an interception at its 5-yard line. Three plays later, coach Bill Cowher made a bold call.

Running back Willie Parker handed off to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El on a first-down reverse from the Seahawks 43. Then Randle El, a former college quarterback at Indiana, halted his run and heaved the ball to a wide-open Hines Ward for the 21-10 final score.

That’s the only touchdown pass by a wide receiver in Super Bowl history.


New Orleans stunned Indianapolis by recovering the kickoff to start the second half in Miami on February 07, 2010.

The play was called “ambush,“ a stutter-step tap by rookie kicker Thomas Morstead out of a standard formation with the Colts leading 10-6. The Saints responded with their first touchdown six plays later and went on to win 31-17.

Coach Sean Payton even drew praise for the daring move from President Barack Obama at the White House ceremony for the first-time champions that summer.

Honorable mention:

— Los Angeles Rams score on 24-yard halfback pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith for two-point third-quarter lead on Pittsburgh Steelers, who came back to win 31-19 in 1980.

— New York Giants use 44-yard flea flicker pass from Phil Simms to Phil McConkey in third quarter to set up short touchdown and pull away from Denver Broncos, on way to 39-20 victory in 1987.

— Denver Broncos complete 23-yard halfback pass from Steve Sewell to John Elway to set up field goal in first quarter for 10-0 lead on Washington Redskins, before falling 42-10 in 1988.

►  NFLers Worry About ‘100% Injury Rate,‘ Teams Using Them

As the NFL victims of brain damage get more prominent and younger and younger, the AP sent reporters into all 32 locker rooms in the league to take the temperature of 100 current players themselves. What those reporters encountered: An acute awareness of the risk of injury—though some players say they do their best to ignore fears, others say it affects players’ actions on the field—and broad suspicions that teams aren’t always providing the best care, or acting in the best interest of the players themselves; those suspicions were more prevalent among veteran players, with 35% saying their interests are protected, as opposed to 71% among those who have played professionally less than four years. “Some places are really good at it, other places are, in the players’ opinion, not good at all,“ says a 12-year veteran with the Arizona Cardinals. Other findings from the investigation:

  • 39 of the 100 players said they are more worried about the long-term effects of concussions than other types of injuries.
  • 52 rated their general level of concern about injuries as high or medium (“You can break your neck at any moment; it’s not like we’re playing golf,“ Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said), while 48 said it was low or nonexistent.
  • 71 said they have noticed other players’ play affected by health concerns, and 36 acknowledged their own play has been influenced.

“The one thing I always say is: The game catches up to everybody,“ said a Redskins lineman not involved in the survey. “My hope and prayer is that I want everybody to be healthy and to be prosperous. But I don’t know if that’ll happen. Call me hopeful or call me crazy.“

►  Hidden Motor Found in Pro Cyclist’s Bike

If you’re going to cheat in cycling, there’s the tried-and-true Lance Armstrong method. Or you can just try to hide a motor in the bike. Yes, the world of professional cycling has uncovered its first case of “motorized doping” in a major competition, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. It came in the wake of the women’s cyclocross World Championships in Belgium over the weekend, when officials using “some kind of radio-frequency-detecting tablet” discovered the motor in the bike of 19-year-old Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche, reports Gizmodo. Rumors of this kind of cheating have been floating around for years, but this is the first time an actual motor has been found.

“It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud,“ says Union Cycliste Internationale chief Brian Cookson. “There was a concealed motor.“ The accused rider says it’s all a big mistake, blaming a mechanic for handing her an “identical” bike that belonged to a friend. “This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck,“ says Van den Driessche. “A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race.“ However, she faces at least a six-month ban from the sport and acknowledges that her cycling career might be done, reports Cycling News. Weirdly, Van den Driessche didn’t actually finish Saturday’s race—she had to withdraw over unspecified “mechanical issues.“

►  4 High School Wrestlers Accused of Raping Teammates

Four high school wrestlers in Oklahoma have been charged with rape over what prosecutors describe as a very disturbing incident on a team bus after a tournament in January. According to prosecutors, the students—18-year-old Tanner Shipman and three others under 18—restrained and assaulted a 16-year-old student at the back of the bus before attacking a 12-year-old boy on the bus and again in a secluded area at Norman North High School, reports NBC News. Shipman has been charged as an adult with offenses including “Rape by Instrumentation Upon a Person Under 14.“ The other three have been charged as juveniles.

Prosecutors say the wrestlers restrained the 16-year-old boy before assaulting him over his clothing with their fingers and later did the same to the 12-year-old, this time with condoms over their fingers, News 9 reports. According to court documents, the assault on the younger boy only ended when a parent arrived to pick him up. All four students have been suspended. One coach who was supposed to be supervising the students has been fired and another resigned after being suspended.

►    Super Bowl ads this year might be a snooze

NEW YORK — No GoDaddy. Not a bikini in sight. Service messages instead of crotch or fart jokes. As the Super Bowl turns 50 and faces middle age, will this be the year that advertisers stick to — gasp — good taste?

The Super Bowl remains advertising’s biggest stage, especially as the broadcast TV audience fragments further thanks to Netflix and other on-demand TV services. Advertisers are spending as much as an estimated $5 million per 30 seconds to capture more than 114 million viewers expected to tune in. Debate over the game-day ads will start on social media before the game and carry over to work the next day, so it’s crucial to stand out, without going so far as to offend.

But this year, amplifying a trend seen the past few years, advertisers seem to be playing it extra safe. And that might mean a repeat of last year’s “Somber Bowl,“ when viewers were turned off by too-serious ads.

Distinguished British actress Helen Mirren will deliver a lecture about drunken driving and why it’s a terrible idea. Many others are going with anthemic or public service-style messages: Colgate Palmolive will urge viewers to “Save Water,“ while outdoor brand Marmot urges people to spend more time outside and BMW showcases people who “Defy Labels.“

Slapstick, crass humor and sex seem to be relegated to the sidelines. Internet address provider GoDaddy, which for 11 years walked the line of bad taste with ads that showed skimpily clad women and an extremely long close up of a kiss, is sitting it out, citing the need for more targeted advertising.

“People want to be entertained. They don’t want somber messages or to be reminded of their problems,“ said veteran ad man Richard Kirshenbaum, CEO of ad agency NSG/SWAT. “The Super Bowl is America’s great campfire. People want to gather around and have a great time.“

Of course, light-hearted humor will be in abundance when the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos face off on CBS on Sunday. There are the requisite talking animals and celebrities galore. Doritos’ ad shows dogs trying to check out at a grocery store, and Ryan Reynolds plays all of the residents in a town called “Ryanville” for Hyundai, for example.

And there are still several major advertisers, including Chrysler and Coca-Cola, whose super-secret ads could deliver big surprises.

Cinematic or serious ads can be Super bowl hits. Chrysler has garnered kudos for years for its spots about American engineering and its cars featuring stars like Eminem and Clint Eastwood. Attaching your brand to a social cause can be a way to engender goodwill.

But advertisers can’t afford another crop of ads like last year. Those ads struck viewers as depressing, most notably a dark PSA from insurer Nationwide. It featured a child’s death to highlight the risks of preventable household accidents. (Nationwide is not returning this year.)

“The Nationwide ad sucked the oxygen out of the room at every Super Bowl Party in America,“ said Peter Daboll, CEO of AceMetrix, which measures the advertising effectiveness.

Squarespace is one advertiser that is sticking to comedy, enlisting comedy duo Key & Peele to promote its website services. Last year’s ad starred Jeff Bridges meditating in a couple’s bedroom that was deemed by some as too esoteric.

“One of the things we really wanted to make sure we were doing is being entertaining,“ said Squarespace founder and CEO Anthony Casalena. “At the end of day watching Super Bowl, it’s a sporting event, you’re with friends. We wanted to make something that people had fun with.“

►  NASCAR’s Tony Stewart hospitalized with back injury

CHARLOTTE, NC — Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart was hospitalized Tuesday with a back injury and Stewart-Haas Racing said the team was unsure of the extent of his injuries just a week before he is expected in Daytona to prepare for his final season in Sprint Cup.

The 44-year-old Stewart was injured Sunday during an accident while he was riding an all-terrain vehicle somewhere on the West Coast, SHR spokesman Mike Arning told The Associated Press. He was being evaluated at an undisclosed hospital and able to move all extremities.

Arning indicated Stewart’s condition will not be updated again until Thursday. Stewart was in Arizona on Saturday night at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale and interviewed on live television from the event.

Stewart is retiring at the end of this NASCAR season, and he was due to report next week to Daytona International Speedway to begin preparing for the February 21 Daytona 500.

“We have received word from Stewart-Haas Racing of Tony Stewart’s accident and injury,“ NASCAR chairman Brian France said in a statement. “On behalf of everyone at NASCAR, I wish Tony a full recovery and look forward to seeing him back in our sport when he’s ready to return.“

Stewart turns 45 in May and missed a third of the 2013 season with a broken leg he sustained in a sprint car accident. A year later, his car struck and killed a fellow driver at a dirt track in New York. Stewart was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but faces a civil suit from the family of Kevin Ward Jr.

Stewart spoke last month of his excitement over his upcoming final season, and said he’d likely return to racing in non-NASCAR events upon his retirement. He has not competed in anything out of a Sprint Cup race since Ward’s death in 2014.

But he also spoke of what he’d like to accomplish in this final season with a focus on winning his first Daytona 500. Stewart is 0-17 in the crown jewel event and came heartbreakingly close to winning it several times during his career. It remains one of the few holes on a resume that includes the three championships, 48 victories and more than $122 million in winnings.

He goes into the year with a new crew chief — his third change since he won the title in 2011 — and hopes to find some success on the track after three long years. Both the injury to his leg and Ward’s death took a toll on Stewart, and he has not won a race since 2013, before he was injured.

Stewart was 28th in the final Sprint Cup standings last year with three top-10 finishes and 24 laps led, both career lows.

Speaking to reporters at the Rolex 24 at Daytona last week, AJ Foyt expressed sympathy for Stewart and said the driver has not gotten over Ward’s death. Stewart considers Foyt his hero and idolized the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner as a child.

“I feel sorry for Tony, I think people don’t realize that wreck really hurt him more,“ Foyt said. “He’s really a soft-hearted person and something like that really bothers you. I know I had an accident years ago when I ran IMC and a guy ran through the cockpit with me and threw me out on the race track and he lost his life. That bugged me and I had nothing to do with it.

“Things like that bother you for a long time. If you don’t have no feelings, it wouldn’t bother you but Tony’s got a lot of feelings. And I just hope he goes out on top.“

WSSAC Regional Alignments Set for 2016-2017 Academic Year

The Free Press WV

PARKERSBURG, WV — The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission board of directors on Monday approved new regional alignments starting in the 2016-2017 academic year and going through 2019-2020.

The regional alignments for boys and girls basketball are posted below.


Region 1, Section 1: Brooke, John Marshall, Wheeling Park

Region 1, Section 2: Buckhannon-Upshur, Morgantown, Preston, University

Region 2, Section 1: Hedgesville, Martinsburg, Musselman, Spring Mills

Region 2, Section 2: Hampshire, Jefferson, Washington

Region 3, Section 1: Capital, George Washington, South Charleston, St. Albans

Region 3, Section 2: Greenbrier East, Princeton, Riverside, Woodrow Wilson

Region 4, Section 1: Parkersburg, Parkersburg South, Ripley

Region 4, Section 2: Cabell Midland, Huntington, Hurricane, Spring Valley



Region 1, Section 1: Berkeley Springs, Frankfort, Grafton, Keyser, Petersburg, Philip Barbour

Region 1, Section 2: East Fairmont, Fairmont Senior, North Marion, Oak Glen, Weir

Region 2, Section 1: Bridgeport, Elkins, Liberty (H), Lincoln, Robert C. Byrd

Region 2, Section 2: Braxton County, Clay County, Herbert Hoover, Lewis County, Nicholas County, Roane County

Region 3, Section 1: Independence, Liberty (R), Oak Hill, Westside, Wyoming East

Region 3, Section 2: Bluefield, James Monroe, PikeView, River View, Shady Spring

Region 4, Section 1: Point Pleasant, Nitro, Poca, Sissonville, Wayne, Winfield

Region 4, Section 2: Chapmanville, Lincoln County, Logan, Man, Mingo Central, Scott



Region 1, Section 1: Bishop Donahue, Cameron, Hundred, Madonna, Valley (W), Wheeling Central

Region 1, Section 2: Magnolia, Paden City, St. Marys, Tyler Consolidated, Ritchie County

Region 2, Section 1: Clay-Battelle, Dodridge County, Gilmer County, Notre Dame, South Harrison, Trinity Christian, Tygarts Valley

Region 2, Section 2: East Hardy, Harman, Moorefield, Paw Paw, Pendleton County, Tucker County, Union, WV School for the Deaf

Region 3, Section 1: Charleston Catholic, Fayetteville, Midland Trail, Pocahontas County, Richwood, Valley (F), Webster County

Region 3, Section 2: Greater Beckley Christian, Greenbrier West, Meadow Bridge, Montcalm, Mount View, Summers County

Region 4, Section 1: Calhoun County, Parkersburg Catholic, Ravenswood, Wirt County, Wahama, Williamstown

Region 4, Section 2: Buffalo, Hannan, Sherman, St. Joseph Central, Tolsia, Tug Valley, Van

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