Michael Phelps Explains That Photo of His Hilariously Intense Stare He Made Right Behind Tiger Woods

Michael Phelps has done it again. No, not another Olympic medal: but another viral face.

During Wednesday’s episode of Today, the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time spoke about what it was like to watch Tiger Woods’ iconic comeback as he won the Masters on Sunday for the fifth time, but the first time in over a decade.

Phelps, who had an amazing seat for the championship, called Woods’ win one of the “coolest things I’ve ever seen live in sports, and definitely in golf.”

Phelps’ excitement definitely was visible. Some viewers of the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, which Phelps says was the first he’d ever attended, caught a pretty excellent (and soon viral) moment on camera. Phelps had a seat just behind Tiger for his shot at the 16th hole in the tournament.

Phelps told Today just how special that moment felt. “I mean, just watching Tiger come back, watching him be able to do that and get back on top of the mountain, it’s so cool.” And it was even cooler, the swimmer said, because he didn’t have his phone on him during the Masters. Afterwards, he did receive some texts from people who noticed him during the broadcast. His wife, Nicole, captured the moment in an Instagram post as she watched with their son, Boomer, on TV.

During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the internet fell in love with the #PhelpsFace, an intensely meme-able mug he had on before competing against Olympian Chad le Clos.

Watch the full Today interview here.

Sports – TIME

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Brands are rolling with 4/20 as pot legalization grows

LOS ANGELES — Potheads have for decades celebrated their love of marijuana on April 20, but the once counter-culture celebration that was all about getting stoned now is so mainstream Corporate America is starting to embrace it. No, Hallmark doesn’t yet have a card to mark “420.” But many other businesses inside and outside the…
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FTC eyes personal punishment for Mark Zuckerberg over privacy

The Federal Trade Commission is mulling ways to hold Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible for Facebook’s privacy lapses, including fines that would ding the CEO’s own wallet, according to a new report. The watchdog, which started probing Facebook last year over data breaches tied to the 2016 presidential election, is looking at the 34-year-old billionaire’s past…
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QB Rosen: Uncertainty with Cardinals ‘annoying’

As the NFL draft looms, with the expectation that the Cardinals will take Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick, current Arizona QB Josh Rosen says the uncertainty is “annoying” but he understands that “football’s a business.”
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Ben Simmons teaches talkative Nets a lesson in Playoffs 101

There is a lot for these young Nets to learn during this playoff series with the Sixers. The lesson they learned in Game 3 Thursday night at Barclays Center was to think twice before saying something that might motivate an opposing player. A day after Nets forward Jared Dudley said Sixers guard Ben Simmons was…
Sports | New York Post

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FIFA Is Backing a Social Media Boycott By U.K. Soccer Players Protesting Against Racism

(MANCHESTER, England) — FIFA is backing a 24-hour social media boycott by professional players in England in a protest against racial abuse and revealed plans for a new global campaign to eradicate discrimination in soccer.

Following a series of high-profile cases in recent weeks, the Professional Footballers’ Association has gathered support from Premier League stars to stay off Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 9 a.m. Friday (0800 GMT) until 9 a.m. Saturday as they push for a crackdown on racist messages.

“Collectively, we are simply not willing to stand by while too little is done by football authorities and social media companies to protect players from this disgusting abuse,” England and Tottenham defender Danny Rose said on Thursday.

FIFA said that it was listening to the concerns of players and supporting their decision to put pressure on social media companies to take stronger action against racism by not posting for a day.

“We applaud the initiative of the English professional football players,” FIFA said in a statement to The Associated Press. “FIFA is fully engaged in combating racism and any form of discrimination not only in football but society in general.”

FIFA is preparing to write to all 211 member associations and the six confederations encouraging them to adopt a three-step procedure which allows a referee to stop play, suspend a game and ultimately abandon the fixture if discriminatory abuse persists.

FIFA was criticized in 2016 for dismantling its anti-racism task force after saying its mission had been completed.

Now the Zurich-based governing body says it is “preparing a concrete action with worldwide impact that will launch a powerful campaign against discrimination.”

After being targeted with monkey noises while playing for England in Montenegro in a European Championship qualifier last month, Rose said he couldn’t wait for his career to end to escape racism in football.

“Football has a problem with racism,” Rose said. “I don’t want any future players to go through what I’ve been through in my career.”

Unlike Rose, Manchester United defender Chris Smalling does have public accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

“Throughout my career I have developed a thick skin against verbal abuse, justifying it as just ‘part of the game’ but the time has come for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to consider regulating their channels, taking responsibility for protecting the mental health of users regardless of age, race, sex or income,” Smalling said.

“I understand that I am in an extremely privileged position and I am deeply thankful for that but, at the end of the day, we are all human.”

Earlier this week, Manchester United condemned abuse directed at Ashley Young online following the club’s Champions League exit at Barcelona.

Watford captain Troy Deeney was also targeted with racial insults on Instagram earlier this month after scoring in an FA Cup semifinal win over Wolverhampton.

“My teammates and I have been on the receiving end of well documented abuse from a minority of narrow-minded, ignorant people both on social media and on the pitch,” Deeney said. “Any racism in football is too much, and it’s essential that we fight it wherever and whenever we see it.

“On Friday we are sending a message to anyone that abuses players — or anyone else — whether from the crowd or online, that we won’t tolerate it within football. The boycott is just one small step, but the players are speaking out with one voice against racism — enough is enough.”

The PFA has distributed a red graphic featuring the words “Enough. Make a stand against racism.”

“While there has been progress in the battle against racism within football, there are still far too many instances of players being abused,” said Leicester captain Wes Morgan, who won the Premier League in 2016. “I’ve heard it in the stands and I’ve seen it online. We all have. That’s why, as players, we are coming together on Friday to say that more must now be done to eradicate racism from our game.”

Twitter said earlier this week that it uses “proprietary-built internal technology to proactively find abusive content” but anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out asked for more serious action.

“Football is more popular than it has ever been, but we have a discontented generation of players who won’t stand for racist abuse any longer. Enough is enough,” Arsenal and England women’s team forward Danielle Carter said. “We want to see social media companies take proper responsibility for racist abuse on their platforms and we want them to find solutions.”

Sports – TIME

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Michelin restaurants and fabulous wines: Inside the secret team dinners that have built the Spurs’ dynasty

Over the past 20 years, Gregg Popovich has sliced an exclusive culinary trail across America — all for a singular purpose. This is the story of his legendary team dinners, and how they have served as a pillar of the Spurs’ decades-long dynasty.
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Stormy Weather Threatens to Wreak Havoc With Boston Marathon

HOPKINTON, Mass. — Runners are trying to stay dry as they await the start of the 2019 Boston Marathon.

The 123nd running of the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon got a wet start. But it’s not as cold as expected, with temperatures in the 60s as runners arrived instead of the 30s that were initially forecast.

Monday is the sixth anniversary of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings. It’s the first time the anniversary date falls on the same day as the marathon.

Runners are gathering underneath large tents set up outside of a high school in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

Defending champions Des Linden and Yuki Kawauchi have said they’re not bothered by the forecast for a rainy, windy day because they won last year in similar conditions. They lead a field of about 30,000 runners on the 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) trek from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

The mobility impaired division is scheduled to begin at 9:02 a.m. EST.

Sports – TIME

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Give This Baseball Pitcher Who Pulled Off the Matrix Move a Trophy Immediately

Talk about bending over backwards.

During Tuesday night’s game between the Astros and the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., some kind of miracle — or a moment from the film The Matrix — seemed to happen. The A’s first baseman Kendrys Morales hit a line drive right at pitcher Collin McHugh’s head. But, by the force of magic, witchcraft or an angel, McHugh evaded the ball.

With the ball coming towards McHugh with that kind of velocity, the slow-motion video of the moment is breathtaking. McHugh slid his body backwards as the ball sliced between his mitt and his face. It was far too close for comfort, but somehow, it didn’t touch him.

Astros home plate umpire, Chris Guccione, reportedly told the pitcher he simply had to watch the video immediately. “‘You’ve got to watch it. It went right here.’ So we both turned around and watched the big screen,” McHugh said after the game, according to NBC Sports. “He was like, ‘Dude, I don’t know how you did that.’ I don’t either. Kind of lucky, I think.”

Sports – TIME

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Russell Wilson’s Seahawks Decision Makes Him Football’s Highest-Paid Player

(RENTON, Wash.) — Russell Wilson is sticking around with the Seattle Seahawks as the highest paid player in the NFL.

Wilson posted a video on social media early Tuesday saying, “Seattle, we got a deal,” shortly after agreeing to a $ 140 million, four-year extension with the Seahawks, his agent Mark Rodgers told The Associated Press. Wilson’s new deal runs through the 2023 season and includes a $ 65 million signing bonus, a no-trade clause and $ 107 million in guaranteed money.

Wilson’s per year average of $ 35 million tops Aaron Rodgers’ average annual salary of $ 33.5 million as part of the $ 134 million extension he signed last year with the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson’s current $ 87.6 million, four-year deal was signed at the beginning of training camp in 2015 and was set to expire after next season.

“Russell’s goal and his hope was that he would continue his career with the Seahawks and continue to bring championships to this town,” Rodgers said. “He believes there is still unfinished business and he is looking forward to pursuing that without having to worry about contracts and his future.”

The 30-year-old Wilson had set a midnight deadline for a new deal with Seattle. He wanted certainty about his contract before the start of the team’s offseason workout program, which began on Monday. Wilson showed up for the first day and by the end of the night was posting a video with wife Ciara announcing the agreement.

The deal ends the debate about Wilson’s future with the Seahawks, although there seemed to be little doubt he would remain in Seattle for a while. The team held leverage knowing it likely had at least three more seasons with Wilson under center. Even if he played out 2019 under his current deal, Seattle could have used the franchise tag if needed to keep him under contract through 2020 and 2021 at a reasonable price by quarterback standards.

But the extension allows Seattle to budget for the future knowing how to work with Wilson’s hefty paycheck in the years ahead and build a contender around the former third-round pick that has developed into a franchise QB.

Wilson’s new deal was going to have to top the extension signed by Rodgers before the start of last season. Wilson was the second-highest paid player in football behind Rodgers when his deal was signed in 2015, but had fallen to the 12th highest-paid QB in the league, according to Overthecap.com.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection is coming off arguably his best season as Seattle went a surprising 10-6 and earned an NFC wild card before losing to Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but the Seahawks were ahead of schedule thanks to their return to a run-first offense and Wilson’s exceptional performance when tasked to throw.

The 5-foot-11 Wilson threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns and matched his career low with seven interceptions. He attempted only 427 passes — his lowest total since his second season when Seattle won the Super Bowl — but his efficiency was a career best with a 110.9 passer rating. He also ran only 67 times, a career low, as the improved run game and offensive line play allowed Wilson to stay in the pocket more and scramble for his life less.

It was a stark change from the 2017 season when Seattle missed the playoffs for the first time under Wilson. He led the league in touchdown passes, but also was Seattle’s leading rusher due to a non-existent run game.

The idea of Wilson ever leaving Seattle has always seemed a stretch. Teams simply don’t give up on quarterbacks with the kind of success he’s had. Wilson has led the Seahawks to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, the only miss coming in 2017 when Seattle finished 9-7. He won a Super Bowl in his second season and got back to the championship game a year later before making the one major mistake of his career that will linger until he wins another title, throwing a goal line interception in the final minute when the Seahawks had a chance to take the lead on New England.

Wilson has shelved the stigma of short quarterbacks being unable to play in the NFL. He’s also been extremely durable, never missing a game while playing through significant knee, ankle and shoulder injuries.

Sports – TIME

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Martha Stewart brand sold for $215 million

Martha Stewart is not worth what she used to be. The domestic diva’s homemaking empire has been sold to Marquee Brands for $ 215 million — $ 140 million less than what its current owner Sequential Brands Group paid for it in 2015, The Post has learned. The deal, which also includes the Emeril Lagasse brands, totals…
Business | New York Post

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Russel Wilson’s Seahawks Decision Makes Him Football’s Highest-Paid Player

(RENTON, Wash.) — Russell Wilson is sticking around with the Seattle Seahawks as the highest paid player in the NFL.

Wilson posted a video on social media early Tuesday saying, “Seattle, we got a deal,” shortly after agreeing to a $ 140 million, four-year extension with the Seahawks, his agent Mark Rodgers told The Associated Press. Wilson’s new deal runs through the 2023 season and includes a $ 65 million signing bonus, a no-trade clause and $ 107 million in guaranteed money.

Wilson’s per year average of $ 35 million tops Aaron Rodgers’ average annual salary of $ 33.5 million as part of the $ 134 million extension he signed last year with the Green Bay Packers.

Wilson’s current $ 87.6 million, four-year deal was signed at the beginning of training camp in 2015 and was set to expire after next season.

“Russell’s goal and his hope was that he would continue his career with the Seahawks and continue to bring championships to this town,” Rodgers said. “He believes there is still unfinished business and he is looking forward to pursuing that without having to worry about contracts and his future.”

The 30-year-old Wilson had set a midnight deadline for a new deal with Seattle. He wanted certainty about his contract before the start of the team’s offseason workout program, which began on Monday. Wilson showed up for the first day and by the end of the night was posting a video with wife Ciara announcing the agreement.

The deal ends the debate about Wilson’s future with the Seahawks, although there seemed to be little doubt he would remain in Seattle for a while. The team held leverage knowing it likely had at least three more seasons with Wilson under center. Even if he played out 2019 under his current deal, Seattle could have used the franchise tag if needed to keep him under contract through 2020 and 2021 at a reasonable price by quarterback standards.

But the extension allows Seattle to budget for the future knowing how to work with Wilson’s hefty paycheck in the years ahead and build a contender around the former third-round pick that has developed into a franchise QB.

Wilson’s new deal was going to have to top the extension signed by Rodgers before the start of last season. Wilson was the second-highest paid player in football behind Rodgers when his deal was signed in 2015, but had fallen to the 12th highest-paid QB in the league, according to Overthecap.com.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection is coming off arguably his best season as Seattle went a surprising 10-6 and earned an NFC wild card before losing to Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but the Seahawks were ahead of schedule thanks to their return to a run-first offense and Wilson’s exceptional performance when tasked to throw.

The 5-foot-11 Wilson threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns and matched his career low with seven interceptions. He attempted only 427 passes — his lowest total since his second season when Seattle won the Super Bowl — but his efficiency was a career best with a 110.9 passer rating. He also ran only 67 times, a career low, as the improved run game and offensive line play allowed Wilson to stay in the pocket more and scramble for his life less.

It was a stark change from the 2017 season when Seattle missed the playoffs for the first time under Wilson. He led the league in touchdown passes, but also was Seattle’s leading rusher due to a non-existent run game.

The idea of Wilson ever leaving Seattle has always seemed a stretch. Teams simply don’t give up on quarterbacks with the kind of success he’s had. Wilson has led the Seahawks to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, the only miss coming in 2017 when Seattle finished 9-7. He won a Super Bowl in his second season and got back to the championship game a year later before making the one major mistake of his career that will linger until he wins another title, throwing a goal line interception in the final minute when the Seahawks had a chance to take the lead on New England.

Wilson has shelved the stigma of short quarterbacks being unable to play in the NFL. He’s also been extremely durable, never missing a game while playing through significant knee, ankle and shoulder injuries.

Sports – TIME

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St. John’s coaching search: Porter Moser lands surprise offer

St. John’s looks like it has found the man it wants to lead its program. Now it waits to see if the feeling is mutual. Porter Moser, the 50-year-old coach of Loyola-Chicago who reached the Final Four last year, was offered the vacant head-coaching position Monday night, according to several sources. A week ago, Chris…
Sports | New York Post

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Rams RB Gurley says knee ‘feeling pretty good’

Rams running back Todd Gurley reported Monday for the first day of voluntary workouts and was peppered with questions about the status of his left knee, which he said is “feeling pretty good.”
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President Trump to Present Tiger Woods With Presidential Medal of Freedom

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump says he will present Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Woods won his fifth Masters title Sunday, overcoming personal and professional adversity to once more claim the green jacket.

Trump tweeted Monday that he spoke to Woods and congratulated him on “the great victory” and “to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!”

Trump didn’t say when a ceremony will be held. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for a civilian.

The president is an avid golfer who played a round with Woods at Trump’s golf club in Jupiter, Florida, in February. He watched the Masters from his Virginia golf club on Sunday.

Sports – TIME

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Tiger Woods Wins 2019 Golf Masters in Major Comeback

(AUGUSTA, Ga.) — Fallen hero, crippled star, and now a Masters champion again.

Tiger Woods rallied to win the Masters for the fifth time Sunday, a comeback that goes well beyond the two-shot deficit he erased before a delirious audience at Augusta National that watched memories turn into reality.

Woods had gone nearly 11 years since he won his last major, 14 years since that green jacket was slipped over his Sunday red shirt. He made it worth the wait, closing with a 2-under 70 for a one-shot victory, and setting off a scene of raw emotion.

He scooped up 10-year-old Charlie, born a year after Woods won his 14th major at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S Open. He hugged his mother and then his 11-year-old daughter Sam, and everyone else in his camp that stood by him through a public divorce, an embarrassing DUI arrest from a concoction of painkillers and surgeries.

“WOOOOOOO!!!” Woods screamed as he headed for the scoring room with chants of “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger” echoing as loud as any of the roars on the back nine at Augusta National.

Woods lost his impeccable image to a sex scandal. He lost his health to four back surgeries that left him unable to get out of bed, much less swing a club, and he went two years without even playing a major. It was two years ago at the Masters when Woods said he needed a nerve block just to walk to the Champions Dinner. At that time, he thought his career is over.

Now the comeback is truly complete.

Woods won his 15th major, leaving three short of the standard set by Jack Nicklaus. It was his 81st victory on the PGA Tour, one title away from the career record held by Sam Snead.

“A big ‘well done’ from me to Tiger,” Nicklaus tweeted. “I am so happy for him and for the game of golf. This is just fantastic!!!”

It was the first time Woods won a major when trailing going into the final round, and he needed some help from Francesco Molinari, the 54-hole leader who still was up two shots heading into the heart of Amen Corner.

And that’s when all hell broke loose at Augusta.

Molinari’s tee shot on the par-3 12th never had a chance, hitting the bank and tumbling into Rae’s Creek for double bogey. Until then, Molinari had never trailed in a round that began early in threesomes to finish ahead of storms.

And then it seemed as though practically everyone had a chance.

Six players had a share of the lead at some point on the back. With the final group still in the 15th fairway, there was a five-way tie for the lead. And that’s when Woods seized control, again with plenty of help.

Molinari’s third shot clipped a tree and plopped straight down in the water for another double bogey. Woods hit onto the green, setting up a two-putt birdie for his first lead of the final round. Woods followed with a tee shot on the par-3 16th that rode down the slope next to the cup and settled two feet away for his final birdie.

That gave him a two-shot cushion, and no one was going to catch him.

Sports – TIME

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How Tiger Woods Completed One of the Greatest Comebacks in Sports

The most thrilling comeback in American sports history had to be completed at Augusta, at the Masters on a Sunday afternoon in April.

After all, the Augusta National Golf Club is where Tiger Woods, 22 years ago, first burst into our cultural consciousness, like no one we had never seen before: golf’s first black superstar, a player who everyone figured would rewrite his sport’s record book. He won by a dozen strokes that day in 1997, as a 21-year-old, and never looked back. By the time he was 32, Woods had won 14 major championships, even taking four in a row — the 2000-2001 Tiger Slam — during his astonishing prime. He gave a mass audience a reason to stay inside on Sundays, and watch men walk on grass and swing at a little white ball.

Then came the personal scandal about a decade ago, which the fed tabloids for months and destroyed his marriage. He returned to golf, but kept getting hurt. He had four back surgeries in three years, between 2014-2017. Woods fell out of the top 1,000 in the world golf rankings. He thought he may never play again. On Memorial Day Weekend in 2017, police found him asleep at the wheel, and arrested him. He had painkillers in his system, and was struggling with managing that pain. Wearing a Green Jacket less than two years later was unimaginable.

But here we are. It seemed Woods and one of his playing partners in the final group, Francesco Molinari, would go shot for shot down the stretch. But on the 15th hole Molinari, last year’s British Open champion, hit a shot in the water, essentially knocking him out of the tournament. Woods, wearing his signature Sunday red, with a mock turtle neck, birdied the par 5 and was now alone with the lead. Unlike his last Masters win in 2005, when he needed a miracle chip on the par 3 16th hole to pull it out, Woods stuck his tee shot on 16, giving him another birdie and more breathing room. Now, he could essentially soak in a coronation. Brooks Koepka — winner of three majors since 2017, and playing in the group ahead of Woods — could have cut Woods’ lead to a single stroke on 18, but he missed a make-able birdie putt. All Woods needed was a bogey 5 on 18 to clinch it.

Tiger had been crawling towards his moment. He contended in the last two majors, which enabled him to refresh his memory of how to win one: plod along, let the other guys make mistakes and stay calm.

When he tapped in the winning putt, for his 15th career major, Woods screamed and flipped his club. He hugged his son Charlie, who wasn’t born the last time Woods won a major 11 years ago, and daughter Sam, who was about to turn one. Woods grew hoarse from all his yelling. He refused to hide his catharsis. Augusta’s proper “patrons” turned into actual sports fans, celebrating as if their team just won a Super Bowl. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” the fans chanted, pushing up the volume to college football stadium decibel levels.

The 14-year gap between Tiger’s fourth and fifth Masters wins is the largest in golf history. The last time he won a major, Barack Obama and John McCain hadn’t even been officially nominated as presidential candidates. Woods’ chase of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors titles is officially back on. We once thought we’d be commemorate that historic moment — Woods passing Jack with 19 — circa 2011 or so.

In recent years, we could afford to forget that storyline. It was dormant, like Tiger’s game. He was almost done. Not anymore. Because Tiger Woods just won the Masters.

Sports – TIME

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall says QB Ben Roethlisberger is racist

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall accused the team's current quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of being racist while supporting ex-teammate Antonio Brown on Twitter this week. On Thursday, Mendenhall, who played for the team between 2008 and 2012, took some time to defend wide receiver Antonio Brown, whose rift with the Steelers quickly became public and led to his eventual trade to the Oakland Raiders in March. In a series of posts, Mendenhall expressed sympathy for Brown, tweeting, "I know he seems outta pocket right now, but I seriously feel for [Brown]."

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Disney’s streaming service sends stock to new heights

Walt Disney Co.’s new video streaming service is a dream come true — for investors. The entertainment company’s stock surged to new heights Friday after Disney released details of its new video streaming service, Disney+, including a price tag that dramatically undercuts rival Netflix. The stock soared 12% to close up $ 13.43 a share to…
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Wells Fargo shares new details on CEO search in earnings call

Wells Fargo provided new details about its CEO search on Friday without disclosing whether it will follow Warren Buffett’s advice to avoid Wall Street candidates. In a conference call to discuss its first-quarter earnings, interim CEO Allen Parker said the troubled bank has hired an executive search firm to find a replacement for Tim Sloan,…
Business | New York Post

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An Encounter With Sheer Heartbreak at the Virginia, Auburn Final Four Game

About a half hour after Virginia defeated Auburn, 63-62, at the Final Four in Minneapolis, eyes in the Auburn locker room were predictably red. When someone stomps all over your heart, tears will follow.

Junior guard Will Macoy, a reserve for the Tigers, stared blankly ahead, as if he were preparing for a funeral. Assistant Coach Steven Pearl started tearing up, while singing the praises of one of his players. Uneaten fruit bowls and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sat on a table. Given the pit in Auburn’s stomach, who was going to bother?

With about a second left in the game, and Auburn up 62-60, Virginia’s Kyle Guy leapt in the left corner, and launched a three-pointer to win the game. Auburn’s Samir Doughty lurked nearby, and did… what, exactly? When Guy was airborne, Doughty, holding his arms straight up in the air, made slight contact with Guy. He missed the shot. When Doughty heard a whistle, he had just one thought:

Not a foul.

Millions agreed with him. James Breeding, the man with the whistle, did not. In what will go down as one of the most controversial calls in college basketball history, Breeding awarded Guy three fouls shots, with .6 seconds left in the game. Guy channelled all his coolness, and made all three, giving Virginia the 63-62 advantage. Auburn’s final heave fell well short.

In the dejected locker room, Doughty refused to rip the officials, at least until he could look at a replay. I offered to show it to him on my cell phone; he politely declined.

“They ref in the Final Four because they do a great job,” says Doughty, who has the Phillies logo and 215 area code tattooed on his left shoulder — he’s from Philadelphia. “Lion Hearted,” reads his chest tattoo. “They’re going to try to the best of their ability to make the right call. So I can’t question that.” Breeding ruled that Doughty took away Guy’s landing spot, a violation of Rule 4, Section 39.i, according to NCAA National Coordinator of Officials J.D. Collins.

Rarely, however, are such non-blatant infractions whistled at the end of games.

“I just don’t think the game should be decided like that,” says Auburn’s Bryce Brown, whose hot shooting allowed Auburn to erase a 10-point deficit with 5:22 left. After Guy missed the shot, Auburn’s bench and fans — thinking the game ended — started celebrating.

“We thought we won it,” says Auburn senior forward Horace Spencer. “I didn’t see the ref call the foul. I didn’t understand what was happening. So they walked over to the bench and said something to us. We were about to storm the court as we were like ‘Damn. That’s it. For real.’ They’re going to make all three of these and we’ll have 0.6 seconds. You can’t win like that.”

Auburn fans filled the cavernous U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, with boos. According to the Associated Press, polices escorted some members of Auburn’s student section out of the stadium. Doughty discourages any fans from threatening the ref, on social media or elsewhere.

“Definitely we don’t want to go that route,” says Doughty. “It’s a cold world out there, people will do stuff like that.”

Doughty said he’s not going to hide from the heartbreaker: he planned on watching a replay of the foul call back at his hotel. “You did not touch him!” his mom said on a FaceTime call. “She’s on my side,” he says, smiling slightly. Doughty asked me if I thought Breeding made the right call. Be honest, he implored. I told him I thought it was a foul, and felt like a jerk.

He didn’t mind though: Doughty again sympathized with Breeding. He insisted that Breeding thought he was doing the right thing, and Auburn would just have to live with it. Doughty then joined four teammates around a smartphone, to watched another replay. Before Guy got his shot off, Virginia’s Ty Jerome appeared to double dribble with a few seconds left. A turnover there would have effectively given Auburn the game. “He did double dribble!” said Spencer. “Oh my God!”

Another body blow for Auburn, before heading home.

Sports – TIME

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Ty Jerome, the ‘Herky-Jerky’ Underdog, May Win Virginia the NCAA National Championship

The number of people who’ve failed the Ty Jerome “eye test” could fill an arena or three. Take one quick glance at Jerome, the 6’5″ Virginia point guard, and you might not think he’s one game away from a potential national championship, and a reasonable bet to win the Most Outstanding Player award at the Final Four. Jerome’s not dunking on anyone, not overwhelming opponents with his physicality, not blowing by everyone on the court with his blazing speed. “Not athletic,” says Jerome in Minneapolis, where Virginia will play Texas Tech on Monday night in the national championship game. He’s listing reasons, with a slight grin, on why he’s failed the so-called “eye-test” so many times. “Not long. Doesn’t look strong.” He’s been listening to this stuff his whole life. And while other players may underestimate his ability, he’ll happily keep kicking their ass.

“He’s the kind of guy who will rip your heart out,” says Virginia radio announcer Dave Koehn, “and smile while doing it.”

Just ask Auburn. Jerome filled the box score against the Tigers in Saturday’s first national semifinal, scoring 21 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. When he had to leave the game with four-and-a-half minutes left after picking up a silly fourth foul, Virginia couldn’t subsist without him. Auburn began cutting into the Cavaliers’ nine-point advantage, and eventually took the lead before Virginia won the game on a mini-miracle: shooting guard Kyle Guy was fouled, barely, on a last-second three-point shot. He made all three free throws, giving Virginia a 63-62 win.

And while the refs may have missed a Jerome double dribble in the waning seconds — a turnover would have essentially clinched the game for the Tigers — Jerome points out that an Auburn player grabbed his shirt on the play. To Jerome, the violations cancelled each other out. “I knew they weren’t going to call a double dribble after they let that one go right in front of them,” he says.

Jerome unveiled his entire arsenal against Auburn. Deep threes at opportune moments. Little leaners that had no business going in the basket. Jerome stops, and starts, and stops, and starts, calling to mind the inferior athlete who’ll eventually score on you, since he tests your patience and wears you down. When asked to describe Jerome’s game, Virginia associate head coach Jason Williford offers up “Herky-jerky. Old man. YMCAish.”

Almost from the time Jerome arrived home from the hospital to a basketball in his crib — his father, Mark Jerome, put it there -— he’s heard the doubters. “Guard him!” his mom, Melanie Walker, remembers other parents shouting at youth basketball tournaments in the New York City area, where Jerome grew up. “He can’t go past you! He’s not fast enough!” (“As Mark can attest,” Melanie says. “I got in a couple of fights.”) Mark, who played college basketball at Lafayette — Melanie played at Brandeis — doubled as Jerome’s AAU coach, and was tough on his son. He said some things to young Ty he regretted, and would rather not repeat. “Often times I’d look in front of the mirror and say how could I have done that?” says Mark. “How would I have treated him that way?”

Read more: Why Telling the NCAA to Pay Players Is the Wrong Way to Help College Athletes

Still, Ty remained utterly committed to basketball. His parents couldn’t get him out of the gym. The problem: he was small and skinny.

“He entered his freshman year of high school about 5’10” with no signs of puberty,” says Melanie. “Not a single hair under his arms.” After his first year at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y., a doctor told Ty he still had some growing to do. His eyes lit up. “How much?”Ty asked. About another inch.

Fortunately for Jerome and Virginia, that prediction stunk. He sprouted up about a half-foot in high school. Virginia coach Tony Bennett kept seeing Jerome on the summer hoops circuit (while scouting other higher-rated prospects, naturally). But Bennett couldn’t get Jerome out of his head. So he recruited Jerome, who committed to Virginia before his junior year at Iona. Still, the questions wouldn’t stop. Could Jerome do the things he did in high school — take over games, throw magical passes — at the college level, lest at Virginia and in the ACC, where he’d be facing the likes of Duke and North Carolina? Koehn, the Virginia radio announcer, recalls a mid-major college head coach telling him that Jerome would have thrived at his school, but he’d struggle at Virginia.

“That stuff would bring a lot of kids down,” says Vic Quirolo, Jerome’s high school coach. “But it seemed to energize him.”

Once he got to Virginia, Jerome hit the weight room hard with strength coach Mike Curtis. “He’s not the most genetically gifted athlete in college basketball,” says Curtis. “But he’s phenomenal at doing the little things that can level the playing field for him.” Virginia tracks things it calls KPIs — Key Performance Indicators. When it comes to things like sleep, hydration, and nutrition, Jerome hits the marks.

His defense has improved under Bennett, one of the most demanding defensive coaches in the country. Jerome also got better at shooting on the move. So now, one year removed from Virginia’s historic loss to UMBC —- the top-seeded Cavaliers became the only school in NCAA tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed — Virginia sits one game away from a national championship, with its point guard a potential first round NBA draft pick.

Bennett calls that loss a “painful gift,” and it’s clear that Jerome takes the negativity personally. On Sunday, his emotions almost boiled over as he cited a news article from the UMBC aftermath that demeaned the program.

“All the outside noise has made us so much stronger, so much more unified, and brought us together,” says Jerome. Making fools of the doubters has defined Jerome’s entire basketball life. Why not a national title to top it all off?

Sports – TIME

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Lawyer argues against Kraft video release

An attorney for Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Friday that the public release of video evidence in the prostitution solicitation case against him would invade his privacy and jeopardize his right to a fair trial.
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Hammer says Shields fight will change women’s boxing

The unifying world middleweight fight between two-time American Olympic champion Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer will change the face of women’s boxing, the German said in preparation of the biggest bout of her career.


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Why You Can’t Blame the Lakers’ Magic Johnson for Calling it Quits

Magic Johnson quit his gig as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday evening, in unforgettable fashion. Before LA’s last game of its dismal regular season (the team finished 37-45), Johnson told the world of his decision before telling the woman who hired him in the first place: Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. He was afraid Buss was going to talk him out of it.

Next time, just try a text?

Give Johnson some credit, however, for not mincing words as to why he was leaving. “I got a great life. Damn, I got a great life outside of this,” he told the assembled reporters at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. “What the F … what am I doing? I got a beautiful life. I’m going back to that beautiful life. I’m looking forward to it.”

Can you blame Magic Johnson for wanting to return to being Magic Johnson for a living? Why make tough calls about the future of Luke Walton, LA’s embattled coach, when you can instead enjoy walking into any room in America, and feeling the love? The Magic job involves smiles and charm and stories and laughter. The Lakers job involves salary cap stress. Now Johnson can say: take your luxury tax — and Lavar Ball while you’re at it — and shove it.

Magic joins a list of Hall of Famers who’ve tried grinding jobs, only to realize the real work stinks. Earlier Tuesday, Magic’s teammate on the 1992 USA Basketball Olympic “Dream Team,” Chris Mullin, also resigned suddenly. After leading St. John’s to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Hall of Fame St. John’s player-turned-coach quit after his fourth season (and his first winning one) at the helm. Mullin cited a “recent personal loss” as factoring into his decision; his older brother died of cancer in March. Another ’92 Dream Teamer, Clyde Drexler, quit as coach of his alma mater, the University of Houston, in 2000 after two seasons and a 19-37 record. Drexler cited a desire to spend more time with his family, and acknowledged he almost quit immediately upon starting the job.

“Because of the time that it takes in the coaching profession, in the first week I was thinking, ‘Boy, this is going to be a little bit more difficult than I thought,’” Drexler said back then.

Yes, another Dream Teamer, Larry Bird, enjoyed more success as a coach. He led the Indiana Pacers to the NBA finals in 2000, and won NBA Coach of the Year in his first season, in 1998. Bird walked away after Indiana’s Finals appearance, maintaining that NBA coaches had a three-year shelf life. That’s easy to say when you’re Larry Bird, and can ditch a job you don’t need. The Pacers haven’t returned to the Finals since Bird flew the coop.

Meanwhile, Michael Jordan’s commitment to building the Charlotte Hornets, the franchise he’s owned since 2010, into a winner has repeatedly come into question. Since Jordan bought the team, the Hornets (or Bobcats, the franchise nickname through 2014) have reached the playoffs three times, only to lose in the first round in each appearance.

This isn’t to say beware the Dream Team. Legends have flamed out in other sports too. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, coached the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes for four seasons from 2005-2009; he finished with a not-so-great record of 143-161 before stepping down. Patrick Roy, the legendary goaltender who won four Stanley Cups during his career — two with the Montreal Canadiens, two with the Colorado Avalanche — coached the Avs for three seasons before resigning in 2016. He made the playoffs just once, losing in the first round. Ted Williams, one of baseball’s greatest hitters of all time, was fired after going 54-100 for the 1972 Texas Rangers. He finished his managerial career 273-364.

People like Patrick Ewing, who took over as coach at his alma mater Georgetown in 2017, and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, who just finished his first season as coach of alma mater Memphis, may enjoy different results than the other stars. (In three combined seasons so far, Hardaway and Ewing have finished .500 or better each year, but made zero NCAA tournament appearances). And Bill Russell did win back-to-back titles, in 1968 and 1969, as player-coach of the Boston Celtics. Though without Russell the player in the lineup, Russell the coach finished under .500 in four seasons leading the Seattle Sonics in the 1970s, and a dismal 17-41 as coach of the Sacramento Kings for part of the 1987-88 season.

Perhaps these big-name players should take a cue from golf hero Arnold Palmer. People used to say that no one loved being Arnold Palmer more than Arnold Palmer. With his playing days behind him, he didn’t spend his time working as a coach or tour commissioner or anything like that. Instead, he’d order himself to drink at the Masters. In other words, he lived like a legend.

Sports – TIME

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NBA rumors: Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball over De’Aaron Fox was tension point

NBA rumors: Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball over De'Aaron Fox was tension point originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com Put plain and simple, the Los Angeles Lakers are an utter disaster. After drastically underperforming in Year 1 of the LeBron James era, the Lakers are looking toward an uncertain summer where they hope to be able to woo either Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson to ride shotgun alongside James. Their future got even murkier Tuesday when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson abruptly announced he was stepping down at an impromptu press conference prior to the Lakers' season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Doctors May Have Found a Way to Reveal Concussion Damage in Living Football Players

Researchers may be closing in on a way to check athletes while they’re alive for signs of a degenerative brain disease that’s been linked to frequent head blows. Experimental scans found higher levels of an abnormal protein tied to the disease in a study of former National Football League players who were having mood and thinking problems.

It’s the first time a major study has tested these scans for detecting chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which is only diagnosed now after death, with brain autopsies.

Doctors are searching for a way to tell when players, veterans or others with concussions or other head injuries are at risk for permanent damage. It’s too soon to know if the scans will enable that — so far they only show that these athletes are different as a group; they can’t be used to say a particular player does or does not have CTE.

“We’re not there yet,” said Boston University neuroscientist Robert Stern. “It is not ready to be used for individual diagnosis in the clinic.”

He led the study, published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It’s an encouraging advance. It looks like they have detected CTE in living players,” said Dr. Gil Rabinovici, a neurologist and imaging expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who is doing other research using the scans.

“It’s hugely important to be able to detect the disease in living people” to know how common it is and to research treatments, he said.

The study was done in Massachusetts and Arizona and involved 26 former NFL players with thinking, mood or behavior problems, and 31 similarly aged men without these symptoms or head injuries.

They were given positron emission tomography, or PET scans, in which a radioactive tracer is injected that binds to various substances and makes them visible on the scans. Several of these tracers are used now to look for a protein called beta amyloid in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. An experimental tracer that doctors are testing binds to another protein, tau, which is the key one that’s been implicated in CTE.

Men in the study had both types of tracers. Tau levels were higher in the players compared to the others, but their amyloid levels were similar, confirming that CTE is a different disease than Alzheimer’s.

Researchers also saw a relationship to years of play.

“The more years of play in tackle football across all levels, the greater the amount of tau detected,” Stern said.

However, there was no relationship between tau levels and the severity of mood and thinking symptoms. Researchers think the study may have been too small to detect a difference or that tau may not be the only factor involved.

“There’s a lot more work to be done to develop a diagnostic” tool using these scans, said Dr. Michael Weiner an imaging expert at UCSF who is involved in other CTE research.

Government grants and Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which makes the tracers, funded the study. Some authors work or consult for the company.

A larger study of former NFL and college football players is underway; first results are expected early next year.

Mike Adamle, a former running back for the Chicago Bears and sports announcer, has been told he has symptoms consistent with CTE, and has been evaluated by Stern at the Boston research center though he was not part of the current study.

“I had more than a few” concussions, Adamle said. “If you were running, everybody kind of led with their head. Back then, it was a test of your macho man stuff.”

The illness has been devastating, said his wife, Kim. “He couldn’t remember his lunch or he couldn’t remember his lines on the air,” and lost multiple jobs, she said.

If a test could have shown he was at risk and given him a chance to consider quitting play, “I would have definitely taken note,” Mike Adamle said.

Sports – TIME

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Virginia Basketball Was Supposed to Be Boring. Hah!

In the hours leading into tipoff, Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball national championship game, between Virginia and Texas Tech, received about as much love a blister on a big toe. Or a wart. Pundits and the general basketball populace wrote it off as an eyesore. Two of the best defensive teams in the country, sans transcendent stars, and worst off all, the game featured Virginia, the team that plays that plodding pace and grinds you into the ground. The message: you’re better off watching Mary Tyler Moore Show rerun than enduring the Cavaliers and Red Raiders.

Thankfully, Monday night’s affair, which Virginia won 85-77 in a riveting overtime victory, utterly failed to play to that type. And by the way, Virginia, which clinched its first title in school history and has now won 66 of its last 72 games over the last two seasons, can no longer be called boring, or bad for college basketball, with its deliberate style and pretty vanilla coach, Tony Bennett. Virginia—yes, Tony Bennett’s Virginia—has just delivered a historically entertaining national championship. Virginia, that Virginia, could be the most thrilling team in college basketball history.

Consider: has there ever been a team that won three straight games, in such an unlikely fashion, to close out a title run? Against Purdue in the Elite Eight, the Cavaliers were done, down two with six seconds to go, before Virginia point guard Ty Jerome missed a foul shot and freshman Kihei Clark chased down a loose ball and before throwing a 40-foot pass to Mamadi Diakite, who flicked in a short shot at buzzer to force overtime. (Virginia eventually won, 80-75). Then, on Saturday night, Virginia was done after blowing a ten-point lead late in the second half; until Kyle Guy got fouled while attempting a three-point shot in the final second: he made all three, giving Virginia a 63-62 win.

Then, on Monday night, Virginia blew another lead: the Cavaliers were up 10 points with a little over ten minutes left, and led by 8 at the 5:46 mark. No way could they pull off part III. And yet, Jerome found De’Andre Hunter, Virginia’s outstanding sophomore forward who scored a career-high 27 points against Texas Teach, alone in the corner, with the Cavaliers down three. I have to make this, Hunter said to himself. True, and he did. Virginia tied the game with 14 seconds left. Another overtime, another Virginia victory, as this time Virginia prevailed 85-77.

“They scored 85 points,” said Bobbie Paterson, grandmother of Virginia guard Kyle Guy, who finished with 24 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. “How can you say that’s boring?”

So go ahead and call Virginia—the team that couldn’t even pull off a comeback against 16th-seeded UMBC, the team that blew the Cavaliers out in the opening round in last year’s tournament—the most exciting college hoops team ever. Virginia junior Braxton Key, who played 28 minutes off the bench on Monday, is with me. “Yes, I think your thesis is very accurate,” says Key. “Those three games, back to back to back, to have crazy finishes … wow, I never thought of that.” He laughs, knowing Virginia flipped all preconceptions.

After a slow start—and lots of Twitter snark about Texas Tech’s 3-2 lead at the first media timeout—the national title game more than exceeded its minimal expectations. The second half, in particular, featured an NBA-level duel between Hunter and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver. Hunter won it handily, as Culvert struggled from the field, shooting 5-22—and 0-6 from three-point range—and finishing with 15 points. Hunter wasn’t scoring much in the first half, as he shot 1-8 from the field. But Jerome, in particular, told him to keep looking for this opportunities to score. “He told me he loves aggressive me,” Hunter says.

After the confetti fell and the team watched “One Shining Moment” on the U.S. Bank Stadium Jumbotron, Jerome buried his head on his mother’s shoulders, sobbing. After the UMBC loss last year, Jerome’s mom and dad stayed up until 2 a.m. in the team hotel in Charlotte, consoling him. “We couldn’t believe what happened,” says Jerome. “We thought we were going to win it last year. And we obviously weren’t ready for it. A lot of years. I just went back to Charlottesville, I remembered that feeling. I put a plan together for the summer. And we got better.”

As he was talking on the confetti-strewn court, Jerome cradled the championship trophy. After everyone wrote off Virginia for becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No.16, the title tastes even sweeter. “You can criticize, you can argue the system doesn’t work, you can argue we’re not talented,” says Jerome. “We’re national champions. You can’t say anything.”

So it’s probably time to zip all griping about Virginia’s style. “I think it’s entertaining,” says Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, the Virginia grad who won the NBA rookie of the year award in 2017. “I think it’s good basketball. Virginia produces pros. Coach Bennett’s the best coach in the country. That’s what he’s proven tonight. It’s a dream come true.”

“Hey, I love the way we play,” says Virginia associate head coach Jason Williford from the victorious Virginia locker room. “We’re never going to apologize for that. I’ve heard it all. You couldn’t win. You can’t recruit guys. You’re not going to go to the pros. Well, guess what? We’re the national champions.”

Sports – TIME

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