With Antonio Brown deal, Steelers chose to dance with a star, shrug off ‘distraction’

The news broke late Monday afternoon about Antonio Brown’s new contract extension with the Steelers, and social media was immediately flooded with images of him twerking. This one, for example.

No one has earned the right to an excessive celebration more than Brown. Not after the year he has had.

Never mind all the catches, touchdowns, game-breaking plays, the third straight first-team All-NFL selection and the Steelers’ trip to the AFC championship game.

It’s the constant noise about the distraction his end-zone celebrations had become. How the flags were endangering his team on the field. How winning “Dancing With The Stars” might mean more to him than winning a ring. And how his Facebook Live show meant he was selfish, immature, unintelligent, violated the franchise’s trust and the sanctity of the locker room, and was becoming less and less worth the trouble.

Amazing what the space of a few months, and of the approach of a deadline and a sudden confrontation with reality, can all make a distraction disappear.

As great as any player can be, if he lasted longer than Davis did, the only thing that should get credit for it is luck. To go a generation back, no running back left as permanent an impression as Bo Jackson. He’s never going to get into Canton. He wasn’t lucky enough to play long enough.

To go to Davis’ era itself, Sterling Sharpe is getting overlooked almost the exact same way.

Tom Brady is planning for his 18th season. He’s lucky. He didn’t dodge all the bullets, either, let’s not forget.

Neither did Peyton Manning. Or Adrian Peterson. Or Rob Gronkowski. Or Earl Thomas. Or Jamaal Charles.

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Cam Newton hilariously takes over a pee-wee football game in Buick’s Super Bowl ad

Buick has released its Super Bowl commercial, Not So Pee Wee Football, starring Cam Newton and supermodel Miranda Kerr.

The ad starts with a group of children who are playing a fun football game, while their parents watch from the bleachers.

But Miller, whose instrumental defensive performance in the Broncos’ win over the Panthers saw him named Super Bowl 50 MVP, is backing Ryan to deliver Sunday.

I think Matt Ryan is going to be the Super Bowl MVP. I think it’s his time. He could be the MVP of the National Football League and he’ll win the Super Bowl MVP, Miller told Omnisport.

Will Fuller Elite Jersey I’m calling it right here. We’re talking about those two guys [Tom Brady and Peyton Manning] being the GOAT [greatest of all time]. But Matt Ryan, he has a very special game as well.

Manning, who retired after winning Super Bowl 50, remains Miller’s favorite quarterback. However, he believes Brady is the best to play the position.

He’s the GOAT [Tom Brady]. He’s the GOAT. You know, me and my opinion I feel like Peyton Manning is my personal favorite quarterback, Miller added. But Tom Brady is definitely the GOAT. After overcoming so many trials and tribulations and so much adversity and is still able to play at an elite level.

Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Phillipa Soo, original cast members of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical, will sing America The Beautiful as part of Super Bowl 51 pregame festivities.

Authentic Womens Grant Hill Jersey The appearance will be the first time the trio, who starred as The Schuyler Sisters, will perform on the Super Bowl stage.

Clayton Kershaw struggles, but Dodgers still complete sweep of Cubs

Robert Horry Authentic Jersey The Cubs rocked Clayton Kershaw for three home runs on Sunday, chasing him after just four-plus innings.

It wasn’t enough to avoid a sweep.

The Dodgers hit four homers in a 9-4 victory to complete a sweep of the defending World Series champions.

After playing 14 innings at Minnesota’s Target Field, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria decided enough was enough. Longoria led off the top of the 15th inning with a solo shot to left

But Springer isn’t the only Astros slugger starting to find his groove. Third baseman Alex Bregman looked like a guy who needed a stint in Triple-A for most of the season, but he too has discovered a recent power surge.

The 23-year-old slugger has collected six hits with three home runs and six RBIs in his last three games. He now has five home runs in his last 10 games after failing to hit a long ball until May 14.

Guys like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez have been reliable offensive threats all season. Add Springer and Bregman back into the mix and this offense, surrounded by a number of other intriguing pieces, will be hard to slow down.
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There have already been rumors circulating around the Astros’ desired starting pitching targets before the July 31 trade deadline. Guys like Yu Darvish, Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole have headlined the list, but even securing a solid No. 3 or 4 option would vastly improve this team’s postseason prospects.

What would the NFL look like if it used the NBA draft lottery?

The 2017 NBA draft is still a month away, but the first 14 picks in the draft order will be decided Tuesday with a lottery to determine which team will own the No. 1 pick. Unlike the NFL, losing the most games in the NBA doesn’t guarantee the first selection, just the best chance at getting it.

For the Cleveland Browns — a team that finished the 2016 season 1-15 — the NFL’s system meant a secured opportunity to select Myles Garrett with the top pick. But what if the NFL adopted the lottery system that both the NBA and NHL use?

When I first entered the NFL, players still struggled with reporting concussions to the trainers. No matter how much you hear the phrase “you can’t/won’t lose your job to injury,” that’s just not true. Reporting a concussion could lead to job loss. However, with more education and attention paid to CTE, players have started to self report concussions to the athletic trainers. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see this change in the players.

So now we get to Gisele’s comments about Brady. There are two ways to interpret her comments — 1) Brady casually mentioned he had a headache or wasn’t feeling right, and Gisele took that as a concussion, or 2) (and I think this is more probable) Brady mentioned he wasn’t feeling right, and Gisele, who’s been in this game for awhile and most likely knows how her husband is feeling, knew it was a concussion without actually asking Tom about it.

My wife is a nurse and we spent eight years in football. She knew exactly how I was feeling, even if I didn’t tell her the absolute truth about an injury. My wife once diagnosed me with a gastrointestinal issue before the team did. So I think it’s improper to just dismiss Gisele’s comments as “she’s not a doctor.”
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Healy’s rookie year was a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season in Oakland

Limited Brandon Saad Jersey Hopefully, Schwarber stays healthy and we finally get to see what kind of numbers this guy’s capable of producing over a full season. It’s almost impossible for him to live up to the hype after he batted .412 in the World Series, but the Cubs are counting on a big season for the big lefty. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if he hits 30 homers with an on-base percentage near or above .380.
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The big right-hander made 18 starts last year, but with a pretty elite crop of rookies in the NL, Taillon didn’t receive a single vote in the Rookie of the Year race despite his 3.38 ERA and outstanding 5.0 K/BB ratio. Don’t be surprised if the former No. 2 overall pick (in the 2010 draft) makes up for that slight by earning an All-Star nod in 2017.

Healy’s rookie year was a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season in Oakland. The 6-5 right-handed hitter joined the club after the All-Star break and proceeded to hit like he’d been in the majors for years; Healy batted .305 with 13 homers and an .861 OPS in 72 games. If he keeps that up this season, maybe folks outside the Bay Area will actually notice this rising star.

I grew up a National League fan. I’ve watched pitchers flail for decades. Pitchers should work on their hitting the same way hitters work on their fielding, but that isn’t a realistic expectation.

So let’s have a simple compromise: Allow the other eight guys pick up the DH’s or pitcher’s plate appearances. That way, pitchers stay away from the batter’s box, and they aren’t replaced by players who are even more one-dimensional.

Five MLB franchises that could end World Series title droughts in 2017

The team Chicago beat in last year’s Fall Classic, the Indians, haven’t won the title since 1948, a relatively quaint little stretch of 68 years. If manager Terry Francona works his magic — remember, he won two World Series titles with the Red Sox — Cleveland’s drought won’t make it into the 70-year club, much less the 80-year club.

Kids Jamie Meder Jersey In the spirit of snapping skids, let’s look at five more lengthy losing streaks that have a chance of ending with the 2017 season (sorry, Brewers and Padres fans, your teams aren’t breaking decades-long World Series droughts this year).

Meanwhile, reports instantly surfaced that they were trying to trade Osweiler for, yes, more picks. Which presumably also gets back that cap space they spent on him … which also presumably has cap implications if they can’t trade him.

They also might end up having to play him. That’s going to hang over them until they either find another quarterback somewhere, or until opening day, when they have to send someone out there to take snaps.

So yes, after all this, they still have the same questions: Where will they get their next quarterback, and how — and are they really going to kick this can down the road again? It looks kind of like the Browns are playing chess, and also like they’re playing with a live grenade.
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The present and future aren’t always determined by the past, even on historically wretched franchises like this one.

But until they prove otherwise … assume it’s a grenade.

NFL Draft 2017: Chiefs move way up to take Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs really wanted Patrick Mahomes.

Kansas City moved up 17 spots from 27th overall to get the Texas Tech quarterback on Thursday.

The Bills, who held the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, received Kansas City’s pick at 27. The Bills also get Kansas City’s third-round pick this year (91st overall) and the Chiefs’ first-round pick in 2018.

The Cowboys still selected the 6-2, 240-pound Indiana native in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but he had lingering nerve damage after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee during Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State.

Though he’ll participate in the minicamp, Smith won’t do much. Garrett said Smith would just go through walkthroughs and sit in on meetings as he continues to progress during Phase 2 of the Cowboys offseason training program.

Smith is still wearing a brace on his knee, but the Cowboys are optimistic he can play this season.

“It seemed like he handled the work well last week, and he’s just done an amazing job right from the start with his rehab taking it day by day, making progress and we’ll continue to do that,” Garrett told reporters, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, during the team’s 13th annual Taste of the NFL. “If he takes that approach, that’s when he’s going to have his most success. That’s what he’s done up to this point”

The Seahawks ended up with 11 selections and had a clear plan for them — an advance rebuild of their defensive strengths. They got plenty of extra pop for their front four rotation, enough secondary players to reload The Legion of Boom. Darboh is a tough inside receiver they needed, and both Pacic and Senior make sure offensive line wasn’t ignored. With all those picks, maybe a linebacker or potential backup QB would have been nice, too.

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McNair is one of the classiest owners in the NFL and well thought of in league circles

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The Texans — particularly O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith — are acting happy to have rid themselves of a player with an inflated contract and, apparently, a bad attitude. But they shouldn’t be doing cartwheels. They blew it when they gave Osweiler his huge deal, amazingly without having met with him face-to-face.

Sam Steel Jersey In all my years as an NFL GM and team president, I never agreed to terms or signed a free agent without sitting down with him. It’s absurd that the Texans brass would make such a major commitment under those conditions. Even with an agent threatening to re-sign with Denver without an immediate commitment, what Houston did made no sense.

McNair is one of the classiest owners in the NFL and well thought of in league circles. But he should have insisted on such a meeting. He surely is embarrassed by how the Osweiler signing has completely unraveled at major expense in dollars wasted ($21 million paid to him last year in signing bonus, roster bonus and salary) and now a lost 2018 second-round pick. The deal also is a black mark on the resumes of Smith and O’Brien, and it will hurt them in future negotiations.

We looked through the MLB draft archives dating to the 2000 draft on Baseball-Reference.com and picked out the best players selected in that range, from No. 56 overall to No. 80 (because those guys were available at 75, obviously). To answer your question, yes, there are a ton of good players available at that point in the draft. Here are the best 15.

Bryce Harper crushes homer in first spring training at-bat

Bryce Harper had a down 2016 season, but if his first at-bat of 2017 is any indication, the Nationals superstar is set for a bounce-back year.
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In his first Grapefruit League plate appearance of the year, the outfielder launched a mammoth home run to right center field.

It’s a Long Way to October aired on WTBS over two nights beginning March 28, 1983. The crew, along with Turner, watched the premiere in a private room at an Atlanta restaurant.
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The reviews were unanimously positive 鈥?especially from Turner, who whooped and hollered and shouted praise around the room as he watched the idea that he proposed nearly 18 months earlier play out in front of him.

This is the greatest thing in the world! was Turner’s feedback that night.

To watch Ted’s pride 鈥?this was his baby. This was his idea from the beginning, Diamond said. And here he was watching it and he was excited.

After all, good entertainment is all Turner had wanted.

He was clapping, Diamond said. He was like a fan watching it. 鈥?That was as much fun as any of it, enjoying the night that it aired with Ted.

That the special was produced during the 1982 season seems fortuitous in hindsight, given the drama that unfolded. Perhaps Turner had an inkling that good things were in store. Or perhaps it was all luck.

Tony Romo will try to qualify for 2017 U.S. Open

Now that Tony Romo has retired from football, he has quite a bit more time to work on his other sport.

The former Cowboys quarterback, long renowned for his golfing skill, will attempt to qualify for the 2017 U.S. Open. Former ESPN reporter Ed Werder tweeted Wednesday that Romo is entered in the local qualifier in Aledo, Texas, which will be held May 8, and Romo is listed in the USGA’s database of entrants.

This is not the first time Romo has attempted to play his way into the U.S. Open. He tried in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and actually advanced to sectional qualifying in 2010 but had to withdraw because weather delays created a conflict with Cowboys practices.

Charles, 30, was released by the Chiefs in February after another injury-plauged season. His productivity had decreased over the last two years, largely because of the torn ACL he suffered in October 2015. He didn’t seem to fully recover from the injury, and didn’t take the field until Week 5 of the 2016 season.

He played in only three games until he suffered a setback in his knee that required surgery on his meniscus. Once again, Charles missed the end of the season.

Carolina did a little finer later on Day 2 with two values at positions of need with Western Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Moton and Texas A&M defensive end Daeshon Hall. But the second-round selection of a player much like first-rounder Christian McCaffrey was a bit curious.

Sure the Panthers wanted a running back and more overall speed and quickness for their offense, but they got that in spades with McCaffrey. A more reliable wideout with a specific role would have been better, and a team that didn’t already have a rookie like him would have suited Samuel.cubs_2244