Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A’Ja Wilson Becomes First Female Athlete to Sign Endorsement Deal With Ruffles

Lorie ShaullCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ahead of the tipoff of the WNBA playoffs tonight, the basketball league's official chip announced a huge endorsement deal for one of the players that will be vying for the championship.

Ruffles announced Las Vegas Aces star forward A’ja Wilson, 26, has signed a multi-year contract with the brand.

"Now, as the Official Chip of the WNBA, we're proud to welcome our first-ever female athlete to our roster with a flavor of her own," Stacy Taffet, senior vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America, said of the deal in a statement released by the company. "A'ja embodies what it means to Own Your Ridges, so we're owning our ridges too and elevating our product game as part of this partnership by bringing fans the first-of-its-kind Ruffles Ridge Twists."

The chipmaker added that the deal with the four-time WNBA All-Star would begin with the “game-changing launch of the new Ruffles Ridge Twists product line, including her own signature flavor, Smoky BBQ."

"I grew up eating Ruffles so it's a dream come true to join the family of Chip Deal athletes and have my own signature flavor that's inspired by my Southern roots," Wilson said.

The deal makes the Hopkins, South Carolina, native the first-ever female athlete to represent the brand.

Selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft by the Aces, Wilson led the University of South Carolina to its first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in 2017. The Gamecock's all-time leading scorer, she was named the SEC Player of the Year a record three times in a row and led South Carolina to four consecutive SEC championships.

Wilson was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Year in 2018. She earned league MVP honors in 2020 and won an Olympic gold medal the same year as part of Team USA.

The chips will be available in stores nationwide in the coming weeks and are currently available on in 5.5oz bags for $5.59 and 1.75oz bags for $2.29. Las Vegas heads into the WNBA Playoffs as the league’s top-seeded team. They face off against the Phoenix Mercury at home in Game 1 of the first round at 10 p.m. ET.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Russian Court Gives WNBA Star, Brittney Griner, 9 Year Prison Sentence

(Source: Russia 24/CNN)
WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling by a Russian judge on Thursday.

The conviction came with a nine year prison sentence and she was fined 1 million rubles ($16,590).

Griner offered an apology for her behavior ahead of the sentencing.

"I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them," she said. "I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home."

She added: “I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling it does not end my lifeHope in your ruling it does not end my life."

The two-time Olympic champion testified that she inadvertently placed cannabis cartridges into her bag while “stress-packing” for her trip to Russia, where she was contracted to play basketball for a local team during WNBA’s off-season.

“I want the court to understand that this was an honest mistake that I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from COVID and just trying to get back to my team,” Griner said.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Jackie Robinson Museum Finally Opens in Manhattan After 14 years of Planning, Delays

 Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Tuesday, 75 years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier and became the first Black player of its modern era when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Jackie Robinson Foundation completed its long mission to open a museum in his honor.

Robinson's widow Rachel, who turned 100 in July, was on-hand for the star-studded half-hour celebration, which featured sports and entertainment luminaries including filmmaker Spike Lee and tennis legend Billie Jean King, among others.

Defying the 80-degree-heat in her wheelchair, she then cut the ribbon to officially mark the end of the 14-year-old process that led to the museum's creation and begin a whole new era of appreciation for one of the sport's greatest icons.

"There's nowhere on the globe where dream is attached to our name — or our country's name," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said of the museum's importance to the city while addressing the assembled crowd. "There's not a German dream. There's not a French dream. There's not a Polish dream. Darn it, there's an American dream. And this man and wife took that dream and forced America and baseball to say you're not going to be a dream on a piece of paper, you're going to be a dream in life. We are greater because of No. 42 and because he had an amazing wife that understood that dream and vision."

Originally projected to open in 2010 before delays caused by the Great Recession, and later Covid 19, the museum's location is at 75 Varick Street in Lower Manhattan. It features nearly 20,000 square feet of exhibits and installations honoring the legacy of Robison in baseball and beyond — including his role as a pioneer in the U.S. civil rights movement.

“The issues in baseball, the issues that Jackie Robinson challenged in 1947, they’re still with us,” said Robinson's 70-year-old son David, who joined his mother and sister Sharon (72) for the event. “The signs of white only have been taken down, but the complexity of equal opportunity still exists.”

According to materials provided by the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Jackie Robinson Museum will enhance the JRF's —which was established by Rachel in 1973 — mission to promote higher education, by educating the general public about a man whose words and actions resonate as loudly today as they did during his lifetime:

The Museum will depict Robinson’s extraordinary athleticism and explore his prolific engagement in American life that included civil rights activism, civic engagement, economic empowerment efforts and public commentary. Educational programming for all ages is on the Museum’s agenda as are forums, lectures and other events that address issues central to Robinson’s legacy, such as equal access to education, civic affairs, economic empowerment, the business of sports and race relations.

“The Jackie Robinson Museum is the realization of a dream for my family. My mother has long hoped for a permanent space where people learn about the issues my father cared deeply about and the change he fought hard to affect,” said David Robinson. “We hope the Museum will be a place to not only learn more about his time in baseball and love of sports, but about all that he did to contribute to social progress. We extend our deepest appreciation to everyone who helped make this dream a reality.”

The museum will open to visitors on Labor Day this Sept.26. Guests can expect unprecedented access to over 450 hours of video footage and over 40,000 photos of Robinson on and off the field.

A seven-time All-Star and a World Series champion, Robinson hit .313 with 141 homers and 200 stolen bases in 11 seasons and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962. MLB retired his number (42) for all major league players in 1997.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Deion Sanders to Donate Half His Salary to Jackson State Football Facility Renovation

Deion Sanders
During his time as a professional athlete, Deion Sanders was known for doing things his way.

Given the choice between a football career and playing baseball after college, he chose to do both and remains the only player to have appeared in both a Super Bowl and a World Series.

His flashy demeanor on and off the field earned him the nickname "Neon Deion," and his penchant for leveling his game up when needed, clenched the star his preferred alias "Prime Time."

So, it comes as no surprise that since joining the college coaching ranks that the man widely considered to be one of the best cornerbacks to ever play in the NFL continues to employ his own unique methodology when it comes to managing a college program.

Much to the delight of Jackson State University fans and alumni, it is one that is paying major dividends for the school on the football field.

Since taking over the head coaching job at the historically Black institution, Sanders, now going by "Coach Prime" at his own request, has led the school to back-to-back winning seasons. In his second season (fall 2021) he coached the Tigers to a program-record 11 wins, the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and was awarded the Eddie Robinson Award as the top Football Championship Subdivision head coach.

Most coaches would let those results speak for them but Sanders — who has encouraged a culture of hard work mixed with some flashes of the over-the-top theatrics that endeared him to some fans and made him a pariah to others in his program —is not most coaches.

He is doubling down on his investment in the program's future.

Monday Sanders, whose personal wealth is estimated to be between $35 and $40 million by various media sources, announced that he will donate half his salary to help finish the school's football operations facility.

"I'll put half on it to get this done," said Sanders, who signed a four-year deal with the school worth an average of $300,000 per year in 2020. "If you don't believe me, check me. I will send you the receipts."

According to Sanders, by making the donation, he hopes to ensure the facility is ready before the season starts. Jackson State will open the season against Florida A&M on Sept. 4 in Miami.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

LeBron James and LIFEWTR Unveil Purpose-Driven Partnership to Inspire Communities

It's not on the same level as "The Decision," but LeBron James' move to PepsiCo in 2021, after nearly two decades with rival Coca-Cola, was a big deal. 

Now the basketball billionaire — who has already played heavily in marketing for PepsiCo brands Mtn. Dew and Ruffles — is expanding his alliance with the company.

Wednesday James and PepsiCo's premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR announced a multi-year partnership. 

The deal will purportedly support the Lakers star's passion for community empowerment, an initiative that holds true to the brand's mission to help people thrive.

"LeBron James' unwavering dedication to uplifting individuals and communities mirrors our mission at LIFEWTR to help people thrive," Zach Harris, Vice President, Water Portfolio at PepsiCo Beverages North America, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to work with him to further the LIFEWTR brand's commitment to helping underrepresented voices flourish."
"I've always loved LIFEWTR and how every detail – from the original art showcased on its bottles to the brand's efforts to champion diverse voices – serves a bigger purpose," James, 37, added. "LIFEWTR is all about inspiring creativity, and I want the kids in my I PROMISE program and people everywhere to be inspired by the exciting work we'll do together."

Specifics of the program were not provided, but LIFEWTR said the collaboration with LeBron will include the debut of dedicated programming that will be announced later this year. It added that the NBA legend and LIFEWTR will work together on such efforts as the LeBron James Family Foundation's mission to “support underserved communities across the U.S.,” and the I Promise School, which James established to “provide a new approach to urban education for underserved students and families in Akron, Ohio.”

The company said the partnership signals the next chapter in James' ongoing relationship with PepsiCo, describing LIFEWTR as having a demonstrated history of supporting diverse communities and the evolution of the partnership is in service of the commitments just like its parent company through The PepsiCo Racial Equity Journey.

According to PepsiCo, the initiative elevates diverse voices within the company, among supply chain partners, and the communities it serves, while helping to dismantle longstanding racial barriers for Black and Hispanic Americans through a $400 million and $172 million investment over five years.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Denzel Washington, Simone Biles Among 17 Medal of Honor Recipients

Gymnastics legend Simone Biles is among 17 Presidential 
Medal of Honor Recipients Announced Friday. 

Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles and actor Denzel Washington are among the 17 people slated to be given the nation's highest civilian honor next week.

President Joe Biden made the announcement Friday that the duo would be among those to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The award is presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.

"These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith," President Biden said in a statement revealing the selections.

He added, "They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come."

Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.

Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.

Joining them on the list are US Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, and several posthumous honorees, including Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, and Dr. Julieta GarcΓ­a — the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president — amongst others.

The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7.

Click here for a complete list of the recipients. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Former NFL Star and Heisman Winner, Ricky Williams, Unveils Name Change

Photo Credit: Instagram @linneamiron
What's in a name?

For one of the best college football players of all time and the second leading rusher in Miami Dolphin's history, it's respect — just not maybe the way you think.

At least that's one reason why legendary University of Texas running back and one of the NCAA's all-time career rushing yards leaders — Ricky Williams — decided to change his to Errick Miron.

It may seem like a strange choice for the 1998 Heisman winner, whose signature dreadlocks enchanted crowds nearly as much as his unstoppable moves on the field, but on a recent episode of “The Dan LeBetard Show with Stugotz,” Miron said it was all about finding balance.

"My wife is an attorney, so she can handle herself, but I’m the famous one. She’s been used to being the hotshot around her friends, but she comes around me, and people forget she exists," Miron, who revealed he made the name change official over a year ago after he got married to his wife, Linnea Miron, said, "I started thinking of ways to create more balance in our relationship, and one of the things that popped into my head was taking her last name.”

Legally his first name has always been Errick, so the switch from that instead of his nickname Ricky was not exactly world-ending, but the decision to take on his wife's last name was a huge one but ultimately worth it to the No. 2 rusher in Miami Dolphin's history.

“It was quick and easy, and it felt really meaningful,” he said. “In every relationship, you want to have some kind of balance, but in the traditional model, it becomes difficult when the male makes all the money.”

As for his old last name, Miron said that it was never something that was really sacred to him.

“It’s like one of those family secrets,” he said. “Williams was my grandmother’s husband’s name, and he wasn’t my dad’s father, so Williams isn’t really my last name. I find more meaning in this last name than Williams.”

While Miron and his wife have made peace and are happy with the change, it might be some time before it catches on. The former NFL star, lifestyle guru and sometimes sports commentator sells cannabis under his old name —something that is unlikely to change soon.

Monday, April 11, 2022

NFL, Ohio State Mourn Tragic Death of Dwayne Haskins

Courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers 
The football world is still reeling over the death of former Ohio State star and NFL first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins, Saturday morning.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Haskins, 24, was trying to cross Interstate 595's westbound lanes, near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County when he was struck by a dump truck around 6:30 a.m.

The patrol said in a news release the qaurterback, who was in South Florida working out with some Steelers teammates, had been "walking on (the highway) for unknown reasons."

No further details were available at the time, but a traffic homicide investigation is open.

Reaction to the death was quick. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wrote on Instagram that he was "devastated and at a loss for words" following the death.

"He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community," the post read. "Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Kalabrya, and his entire family during this difficult time."

Haskins, who was drafted No. 15 in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Washington Commanders and played two seasons for them, signed a one-year restricted free agent tender in March with the Steelers and was expected to compete for the starting job in 2022.

Before that he played collegiately at Ohio State where he finished third in the 2018 Heisman Trophy race.

Monday, Ohio State coach Ryan Day addressed the tragic death after practice in a press conference.

He said Ohio State players were hurting over the tragic loss and spoke of his close relationship with Haskins.

“When you think about Dwayne, you think about the compassion that he had,” Day said. “Certainly for all of his teammates and his friends, but he always took time after practice to be around family members, kids. He was like a big brother."

Day added that Haskins personally meant a lot to his family because of the player's close relationship with his son R. J.

"He meant a lot to this program. He is going to be missed," Day said. "We are all hurting… It makes you hug your loved ones a little bit more and you just understand how fragile life is.”

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Major League Soccer Reaches a Deal to support Black Banks, Hoping to Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap

Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Blank Bank Foundation (NBBF) leaders join with Dr. Bernice A. King to announce MLS’s historic $25 million transaction with Black-owned banks across the country. L to R: NBBF Co-Founder Brandon Comer; Black Players For Change Founder and MLS veteran Quincy Amarikwa; King Center CEO Dr. Bernice A. King; MLS Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Sola Winley; NBBF Co-Founder Ashley Bell.

MLS Will Leverage Historic $25 Million Loan With Black Banks

Major League Soccer is attempting to do its part to help close the racial wealth gap.

Thursday, the league announced a partnership with the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF). Through it, the league will leverage a $25 million loan with eight Black banks.

According to MLS, the historic deal would mark the first time any sports league has participated in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black-owned banks.

"Major League Soccer's partnership with the National Black Bank Foundation is a tangible step in the efforts to close the racial economic gap in the United States, and it's the right business decision for us," MLS Commissioner said Don Garber of the reasoning behind the move in a statement. 

"As a league, we continue to increase our initiatives in support of racial justice. In order to make a genuine impact, economic justice must be part of the equation. This transaction with a syndicate of community-focused Black banks is an important measure, and it is our hope this will raise awareness of the importance of Black-owned banks and their impact on the economy."

Dr. Bernice A. King, National Black Bank Foundation board member and King Center CEO, added, "I brought MLS and NBBF together because I saw an opportunity to create a partnership with the power to transform lives in Black communities and change hearts and minds throughout our nation. This deal undoubtedly marks an important moment in the continuing struggle for civil rights in the United States."

According to the Federal Reserve, the Black-white economic gap in the United States has remained virtually untouched since the Civil Rights Movement. Historical efforts by Black families to escape the continuum of poverty by building intergenerational wealth, primarily through homeownership and small business entrepreneurship, have been thwarted by racialized credit access. In 2020, lenders denied Black mortgage applicants at a rate 84% higher than white borrowers.

The terms of the loan have yet to be disclosed, but it is known the interest and fees will be paid in advance, creating what's called Tier 1 capital — which the league says will almost immediately allow the banks to offer more loans and lines of credit in Black and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Falcons' Calvin Ridley Suspended Through at Least 2022 Season for Betting on NFL Games

All-Pro ReelsCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The good news for the Atlanta Falcons, who have not had a winning season since 2017, is that they just opened up $11.1 million in salary-cap room for the 2022 season.

The bad news for the Dirty Birds is the reason for that windfall is the team will be without receiver Calvin Ridley, a former first-round draft pick who became the first NFL player suspended for gambling since 2019, Monday, and will be forced to sit out at least the 2022 season.

The NFL said in a statement that over a five-day stretch in November 2021, when he was on the non-football injury list to address his mental health and away from the team, Ridley placed bets on games.

While the NFL did not indicate what contests he placed bets on, multiple reports said the bets involved multiple teams — including the Falcons, whom he picked to beat the Jaguars in Week 12. The Falcons won that game 21-14.

In a letter NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, sent notifying Ridley of his suspension, he praised the player for admitting to his actions when the league brought him in for questioning but chided him for putting the reputation of the game at risk.

"There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL's success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league," Goodell wrote. "Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL."
The investigation found no evidence inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. The league also noted that there was no evidence the Falcons staff nor players were aware of the transactions.

The Falcons, who now have only one receiver — rookie Frank Darby — from the 53-man roster last season under contract, issued the following statement on the action taken against the receiver.

"We were first made aware of the league's investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league's findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office."
Ridley said he bet $1,500 total denied having a gambling problem in a series of tweets following the announcement. He also seemed surprised by the severity of his punishment.

"I know I was wrong But I'm getting 1 year lol." he wrote.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Brian Flores Opens up About 'Sham' NFL Interview

Courtesy Photo
Black History Month started out with a bang for sports fans Tuesday when former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL, the New York Giants, the Dolphins and Denver Broncos for racial discrimination.

Now he is opening up about his dispute with the league and some of the incendiary charges leveled in his bombshell lawsuit.

Asked how it made him feel knowing that he was walking into an interview where a decision might have already been made during an appearance on “CBS Mornings” Wednesday, Flores said, “It was a range of emotions. Humiliation. Disbelief. Anger. I worked so hard to get where I am in football to become a head coach. To go in on what was a sham interview, I was hurt.”
Flores walked into the interview with an idea that it was just a cursory attempt to respect the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operation positions, thanks to a damning text exchange with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick that was the catalyst for the lawsuit that states that the league "remains rife with racism" and that "in certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation."

Belichick accidentally texted him to congratulate him on the NY Giants job thinking he was Brian Daboll. The lawsuit presents text messages of Belichick sending congratulations to Flores for landing the Giants job on Jan. 24. That text was sent two days prior to Flores interviewing for the job.

After Flores initially appeared confused by the text message, he asked Belichick, “Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll. Just making sure.”

Belichick replied: “Sorry – I f—ed this up. I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB”

According to the lawsuit, Flores was then "forced to sit through a dinner with Joe Schoen, the Giant’s [sic] new General Manager, knowing that the Giants had already selected Mr. Daboll. Much worse, on Thursday, January 27, 2022, Mr. Flores had to give an extensive interview for a job that he already knew he would not get — an interview that was held for no reason other than for the Giants to demonstrate falsely to the League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

Daboll was hired as the Giants head coach on Jan. 28.

The Giants responded on Tuesday after being named in the lawsuit.

“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the team said in a statement. “We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates. The fact of the matter is, Brain Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach."

Read the entire lawsuit here.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Watch: Hip-Hop Legends Come Together in Epic Super Bowl Halftime Trailer

Last year we reported that Dr. Dre had assembled some of hip-hop's greatest talents to headline the 2022 Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Today, with the game closer on the horizon, the rapper and producer dropped a hype video for the event that has expectations soaring for the halftime experience at the first Super Bowl in Los Angeles since 1993.

In the nearly four-minute clip directed by F. Gary Gray, who had the same role on "Straight Outta Compton," the biographical movie about Dre's former group N.W.A. released in 2015, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar answer "The Call" from Dre and unite to head to the stadium together in their own unique ways.

Eminem opens the video battle-rapping his alter ego Slim Shady before getting the nod and jumping on his private plane. Snoop Dogg cruises the California streets to his frequent partner in rhyme in his custom lowrider. Blige announces she's back in a high-fashion photoshoot before jumping in her own slick ride, and Lamar wrestles with his own verses and smoking pen in an empty room before jumping on his custom bike to heed the call.

The soundtrack, scored by Adam Blackstone, transitions into Tupac Shakur's 1999 hit "California Love" as they come together and approach the stadium. It is in an homage to the deceased star who was a pivotal part of Death Row along with Dre and Snoop and the city in which the game will be played.

"The opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime show, and to do it in my own backyard, will be one of the biggest thrills of my career," Dr. Dre said in a statement when the lineup was originally announced.

"It will be an "unforgettable cultural moment," he added.

Whether or not that is true remains to be seen but the hype video has certainly made some fans believers. Watch the entire clip below:

Thursday, January 6, 2022

If Covid Cancels Super Bowl Halftime Show Dr. Dre Could Lose Millions

Dr. Dre could lose millions of dollars on the Super Bowl, by betting on himself.

In December we reported the NFL, Pepsi and Roc Nation announced five hip-hop icons will unite to headline the 2022 Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar are slated to take to the stage to perform together for the first time in their careers at the show, and Dr. Dre has sunk millions of his own dollars into the production.

Now TMZ is reporting, that thanks to a clause in Dre’s insurance for the event, that if the show is canceled the legendary rapper and producer will be out of luck regarding recovering his funds.

The Communicable Disease Exemption, dating to the SARS outbreaks in the early 2000s, exempts insurance from paying out in the event of a cancelation resulting from a similar outbreak of a virus or bacteria.

It has been a provision in many insurance packages since those outbreaks and ensures Dre’s insurance will not cover a coronavirus-related cancelation, and with cases surging around the nation as the pandemic rages on — it seems likely that would be the cause of any cancellation.

Luckily enough for Dre, there are currently no indications that the Super Bowl nor its halftime show will be canceled now. The NFL has been looking at replacement venues for the game, but an NFL spokesperson told NBC Los Angeles recently that the game will take place as scheduled.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Lee Elder, who broke the race barrier at the Masters, dies at 87

Photo Courtesy Lee Elder Foundation — November 2020: Lee Elder being honored at the 2020 Masters Tournament

Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play in the Masters, is dead at the age of 87.

The PGA Tour announced his passing on its official Twitter Monday, noting that this past April he was honored for his accomplishments at Augusta National, and his legacy will surely live on.

No official cause of death was listed, but Elder had been reportedly in poor health in recent years. During his appearance at the Masters in April he wore a visible oxygen tube. The Tour said he died early Sunday in Escondido, California.

His contemporary, and one of the greatest golfers to ever walk the greens, Jack Nicklaus responded to the death on Twitter writing, "Lee was a good player, but most important, a good man who was very well respected by countless people. The game of golf lost a hero in Lee Elder.''

A native Texan, Elder did not play a full round of 18 holes until he was 16 and learned the game while caddying when most courses were segregated. Following his history-making turn at the formerly all-white Masters, which he qualified for by winning the Monsanto Open, he notched three more career PGA wins. In 1979 he became the first African American to qualify for play in the Ryder Cup.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Resigns After Racist, Misogynistic and Homophobic Emails Exposed

Photo Credit @NFL Twitter

Just hours after The New York Times released a scathing report Monday night highlighting a history of racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails sent by Las Vegas Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden, to NFL officials over a seven-year period prior to his hire, ESPN is reporting that the once highly sought coach is out of a job.

Shortly after ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he was told by sources that” Raiders owner Mark Davis arrived at the team's facility earlier Monday evening and went to find Gruden.”

"Earlier this evening, The New York Times uncovered a trail of emails dating back seven years, in which Jon Gruden had a clean sweep of offending NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, women, gays, minorities, all sorts of people."

Gruden followed up shortly with a statement of his own saying, “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Davis himself confirmed both the meeting and the reported conclusion by Schefter, releasing the following statement:

"I have accepted Jon Gruden's resignation as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders."

It was the final stop on a rollercoaster of a week for the 58-year-old, who was in his second stint with the Raiders as head coach.

Friday after reporting by the Wall Street Journal revealed Gruden had used a racial stereotype to refer to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith in 2011 in an email to then Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, he quickly apologized.

Gruden, who said, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires,” in the email, told the WSJ he was “really sorry" and that he refers to liars as "rubber lips." 

I don’t think he’s dumb,” Gruden told the Journal. “I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.

It seemed the controversy might die out with the Raiders staying mum on the subject and Gruden and others trying to play off the incident as a one-time mistake years before he was head coach, but Monday’s report spurred immediate action from the team which publicly prides itself on a commitment to diversity and anti-racist principles.

Gruden, who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win in 2003 before eventually moving on to ESPN where he worked as a color analyst during the period when he composed most of the offensive emails before being hired to coach the Raiders in 2018, finishes his tenure with a 22-31 record.

Rich Bisaccia will serve as the interim head coach of the team, effective immediately

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Ex-NBA Players Arrested in $4 Million Scheme to Defraud League's Healthcare Plan

Eighteen former NBA players, along with one of their spouses, were charged Thursday with defrauding the league's health and welfare benefit plan with a scheme that resulted in around $2 million in losses for the league on $4 million worth of fraudulent claims.

According to federal prosecutors, Terrence Williams, who was drafted No. 11 by the then-New Jersey Nets in 2009 and played for the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics, in a journeyman career orchestrated the scheme.

He recruited other plan participants to defraud it by offering to provide them with false invoices to support their fraudulent claims, which those defendants then submitted for reimbursement. In return for his services, many of the defendants are alleged to have paid William's kickbacks totaling approximately $230,000.

Along with Williams; Alan Anderson, Anthony Allen, Shannon Brown, William Bynum, Ronald Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Christopher Douglas-Roberts, Melvin Ely, Jamario Moon, Darius Miles, Milton Palacio, Ruben Patterson, Eddie Robinson, Gregory Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Charles Watson Jr., Antoine Wright, and Anthony Wroten and Allen's wife, Desiree Allen, were indicted.

"The defendants' playbook involved fraud and deception," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told a news conference after FBI agents across the country arrested 16 of the defendants. 

All of the defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Williams is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. 

Read the entire indictment here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Bubba Wallace Becomes Second Black Driver to Win NASCAR Cup Series

Photo Courtesy of
Over a year after a noose found in his garage at the same track prompted a hate-crime investigation by the FBI, Bubba Wallace made history Monday by winning a rain-shortened race at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway to become just the second black driver to win in NASCAR’s top series.

“This is for all the kids out there that want to have an opportunity and whatever they want to achieve, and be the best at what they want to do,”  an emotional Wallace said following the win. “You’re going to go through a lot of (BS). But you always got to stick true to your path and not let the nonsense get to you. Stay strong. Stay humble. Stay hungry. Been plenty of times when I wanted to give up."

The 27-year-old Alabama native, driving the 23XI Racing team's No. 23 Toyota — a car number picked for him as its first driver by majority owner Michael Jordan — led for the last five laps of the race after driving through a wreck to take the lead before the race was officially called with dusk approaching and 104 of 188 laps complete.

It was the first victory by a black driver 1963 at NASCAR's elite Cup level since 1963 when Wendell Scott — whose life served as inspiration for comedian Richard Pryor's "Greased Lightning" racing epic —accomplished the feat only to have NASCAR deny him the official victory for months. His family was just recently presented with his trophy from that race. 

"I'm so happy for Bubba and our entire 23XI Racing team. This is a huge milestone and a historic win for us," Jordan, who started 23XI Racing alongside NASCAR legend Denny Hamlin in 2020 said in a statement posted to the team's Twitter account. "From the day we signed him, I knew Bubba had the talent to win and Denny and I could not be more proud of him. Let's go!"

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Five Hip-Hop Icons to Unite for Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show

Courtesy Roc Nation 

It’s still way too early in the NFL season to predict whether the game will be worth watching, but for the first time in a long time it looks like the Super Bowl’s halftime show will be must-see television for hip-hop fans no-matter what teams are facing off in the main event. 

Thursday the NFL, Pepsi and Roc Nation announced five hip-hop icons will unite to headline the 2022 Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. 

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar will take to the stage to perform together for the first time in their careers. Jay Z whose firm Roc Nation has helped produce the last two halftime shows and will guide this one as well said in a statement that the show was “history in the making.”

"Dr. Dre, a musical visionary from Compton, Snoop Dogg, an icon from Long Beach and Kendrick Lamar, a young musical pioneer in his own right, also from Compton, will take center field for a performance of a lifetime,” said Jay Z, hyping the lineup. "They will be joined by the lyrical genius, Eminem and the timeless Queen, Mary J. Blige.”

Dr. Dre thanked Jay Z, Roc Nation, the NFL and Pepsi for the opportunity to participate in what he called, “an unforgettable cultural moment.”

"The opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime show, and to do it in my own backyard, will be one of the biggest thrills of my career," Dr. Dre. said.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Jordan Brand Pledges $1 Million Dollars to UNC's Ida B. Wells Society to Support Diversity in Newsrooms

Michael Jordan Photo Courtesy Nike

NBA legend Michael Jordan may have a degree in geography, but in the wake of George Floyd's 2020 murder by Minneapolis Police and the ensuing chaos and societal strife generated by it the basketball player turned billionaire businessman believes that it is organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education that will determine the direction of the future.

So, instead of increasing its map budget or funding a professorship, the University of North Carolina alumnus, who returned to get his degree following his hall-of-fame career, announced that he and his eponymous Jordan Brand will donate $1 million to UNC's Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting to help diversify newsrooms. 

In a press release shared by the school this past Thursday, it says the grant originally announced in May, will boost the program's efforts to increase diversity in the field of investigative journalism with outreach efforts aimed at aspiring young journalists of color: 

With the help of the Black Community Commitment grant, the Society intends to expand its existing internship program for college students and recent college graduates, partnering budding talent with major news organizations like The New York Times, the Miami Herald, ProPublica, the Associated Press and the USA Today Network around the United States.

The Society also plans to launch an All-Star Investigative Summer J-Camp, starting in July of 2022, that will bring students from majority-Black and Latino and historically disadvantaged schools together for an immersive, multidisciplinary training program in partnership with an historically Black college. 

Diversifying Investigative Reporting - Ida B. Wells Society + Jordan Brand from Here At UNC on Vimeo.

The school is just the latest recipient of a windfall from Jordan Brand, since the star who famously avoided controversy throughout his career made a pledge to make a commitment to the black community part of his company's DNA.

It was an action taken in direct reflection on the George Floyd case as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. 

I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” said an unusually outspoken Jordan in a statement following Floyd's death. “I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.

“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be a part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.

“My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

ESPN Duped by Fake Football Team

Did the self-described “worldwide leader in sports” get duped into airing a football game between one of
the top high school football squads in the nation and an online academy with a dubious pedigree, a head coach with an active warrant and several players that may not have been eligible to play in the game?

Bishop Sycamore head coach Roy Johnson was fired Tuesday. 
Well, there’s no disputing the fact that defending high school national champion IMG Academy — a perennial gridiron powerhouse from Florida — faced off with Ohio-based school Bishop Sycamore Sunday in the Geico High School Football Kickoff on ESPN, beating the cleats off the Centurions, 58-0. 

The game, which was supposed to put two of the nation’s best teams on national display, was such a mismatch that the network’s own announcers began to question the legitimacy of Bishop Sycamore during the broadcast.

Shortly following the game other details began to emerge that put the whole affair in question. It was discovered that the contest was the team’s second in three days, putting player safety into question. Then it was reported that the school was 0-6 last year and didn’t seem to exist prior to last season.

By Tuesday things had really gone off the rails. Bishop Sycamore head coach Roy Johnson was fired for “a lot of things,” school director Andre Peterson told Chris Bumbaca of USA Today. One of which was the fact that he has an active bench warrant for failure to appear in a domestic violence case, which was eventually dropped to a criminal mischief charge, issued July 2 by the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office. He is also facing a pending fraud charge for defaulting on a $100,000 loan issued in April 2018 that was never repaid to First Merchants Bank, and a 2019 civil lawsuit filed by ARN Hospitality, says Johnson owes a balance of $110,685 to the group which owns a hotel he is alleged to have housed players at for a night in 2018. 

Add to that the fact that several players, parents and other associates of the team brought some pretty damming stories to light in the aftermath of the contest, it sure seems like ESPN should have been wary of ever approving the squad to be spotlighted on the national stage.

For its part, the network tried to take the focus for the black off itself, issuing a statement Monday that threw Paragon Marketing Group — responsible for arranging the schedule for the Geico event — under the bus:

 We regret that this happened and have discussed it with Paragon, which secured the matchup and handles the majority of our high school event scheduling. They have ensured us that they will take steps to prevent this kind of situation from happening moving forward.

Whether or not that was enough to convince the world, that a network that prides itself on getting the facts and getting them first and employs hundreds of reporters across various mediums couldn’t figure out something it took less than a half for its own announcers to see remains to be seen.