<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News, Photos, and Scores for the Padres, Chargers and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:29:01 -0800 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:29:01 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[How to Spot Counterfeit NFL Merchandise]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:40:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/counterfeit+NFL+merchandise.jpg

Selling counterfeit merchandise is a serious crime, and the Super Bowl is a prime location for these criminals.

In a townhouse development in Glendale, Arizona, a team of federal agents had a sting for illegal merchandise.

"The merchandise has an invoice attached with all of it. And it's very clearly marked. It's coming from China," said ICE New England spokesperson Dan Modricker.

Counterfeit NFL jerseys, along with NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball apparel, were all seized in an early morning search warrant.

How big of a business is this? Federal agents at the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, or IPR Center, are tasked with cracking down on the $200 billion annual counterfeit network.

Modricker is in town this week for Super Bowl XLIX.

"Our main point of being out here is to educate the consumer. And to make them realize that this isn't a victimless crime," Modricker said.

This haul here, worth about $100,000, is just from greater Phoenix and from the past few days.

So how does a consumer to spot a fake jersey while in Glendale?

"Their main goal is to make money. So they're going to crank these things out as quickly as possible. And so, you'll see that they don't even bother to lift the needle when they go from one letter to the next. So you'll see the cross-stitching from one letter to the next to the next. It's all one seam," Modricker said.

It's not just stitching; there is also shoddy coloring and rip-off holograms. Authorities also warn that some of the material used for this knock-off merchandise can be potentially harmful to your body. Modricker pointed to a pair of fake NFL team earrings.

"When you look at it, you have no idea who made this, what materials they used. I know lead is a lot cheaper than silver. So you don't know what you're putting into your body," he said.

Plus, Modricker says, it's crushing the economy, since up to 1.4 million Massachusetts jobs rely on intellectual property.

One man is in custody facing felony charges in Wednesday's sting. 



Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[SportsWrap Launches on NBC7.com]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:06:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Derek-in-Super-Bowl.jpg

The just-launched SportsWrap on NBC7.com aims to inform and entertain the diverse, perhaps even eclectic, sports town that is San Diego.

We have fans of football, baseball, soccer, hockey, basketball, golf, tennis, surfing, Olympic events … you name it, San Diegans watch (and more likely participate in) it.

Sports fans in our town are also intelligent and informed. Sportswrap on NBC7.com is aimed at catering to that audience.

We will share information on the Chargers, Padres, Aztecs, Toreros, Tritons and all the other teams, athletes and events, but more than that, we’re going to offer analysis on news from people who truly know San Diego sports.

It is one thing to know what happened. It’s another thing to know why it happened, what it will lead to, and how it affects the San Diego sports landscape.

As a TV News entity, we do video extremely well, so you can expect to see plenty of moving pictures, including interviews with your favorite local athletes.

Plus, sports and entertainment go hand-in-hand, so we’ll be talking about the fun aspects of the sports world.

We understand you lead a busy life, so have made it easy to get SportsWrap updates on the go. Click HERE to sign up for the daily SportsWrap newsletter – and follow SportsWrap lead contributor Derek Togerson HERE on Twitter. You will also find SportsWrap coverage on the free NBC 7 iPhone, Android, and iPad apps.

Bottom line, the goal of Sportswrap on NBC7.com is to inform and entertain you. But, not always in that order! 

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<![CDATA[Golf Pros Get Into the Swing of Phoenix]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:34:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Steven6p0128_1200x675_390604355885.jpg The Seahawks and Patriots may be in Arizona to practice for the Super Bowl, but other pros that aren't in the big game are brushing up on their golf skills. NBC 7's Steven Luke reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Australian Open: Sharapova Cruises Into Finals]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:28:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP80796916905.jpg

Maria Sharapova has reached the Australian Open final for the fourth time, beating fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2 in a lopsided semifinal on Thursday.

The second-ranked Sharapova needed 10 minutes to hold in her opening service game, fending off two break points. She responded to the only service break against her in the first set by winning six straight games to take the match away from the 10th-seeded Makarova, who had only taken one set off her in five previous matches.

She will next meet the winner of the all-American semifinal between top-ranked Serena Williams and 19-year-old Madison Keys.

Sharapova won the Australia Open title in 2008 and lost finals in 2007 and 2012. She opened the season by winning the Brisbane International title.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Phil Mickelson Commits To Fitness]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:33:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/phil+mickelson+phoenix+open+0128.JPG Phil Mickelson went winless on the PGA Tour in 2013. That just does not happen to this Golf Hall Of Famer. The last time Lefty went winless was way back in 2003. At this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson looks more svelte than he has in recent years. He's making a commitment to fitness and a better diet. He explained his reasons for the change on Wednesday in Scottsdale.]]> <![CDATA[Super Bowl Teams Try To Get Back To Normal]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:30:24 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/163*120/462428204.jpg

For the first time since arriving in Arizona, the Patriots and Seahawks got to do something with an actual football emphasis; they practiced (what a novel concept!).

With all 53 players on the active roster and 10 practice-squad members healthy enough to work, a rarity for this late in a season, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks opened their practice week for Super Bowl XLIX with their weekly “Competition Wednesday” practice on the campus of Arizona State University.

Head coach Pete Carroll usually determines playing time based on who has the best day of practice on "Competition Wednesday." The three Seahawks who entered the week with some injury concerns, CB Richard Sherman, FS Earl Thomas and OG J.R. Sweezy all practiced with the first teams and showed no ill effects. All three should be fine for the Super Bowl.

Speaking of ill effects, Patriots QB Tom Brady said he's been battling a cold, and taking extra garlic to try and fight it. Perhaps it's a trick the Northern California native picked up in Gilroy. Head coach Bill Belichick did not seem concerned about his quarterback's sniffles.

Said Belichick, “He took all the snaps.”

New England held a two-hour practice session that Belichick saw as significant for getting his team back on a regular schedule following two days without practices.

"This Wednesday is kind of like a regular Wednesday, tomorrow will be kind of like a Thursday, Friday will be like a Friday,” Belichick said. “So we’re trying to get back on schedule.”

The NBC broadcast crew -- including play-by-play man Al Michaels, analyst Cris Collinsworth and sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya -- attended the practice.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Man Among Finalists in $1M Super Bowl Doritos Ad Contest]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:53:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dorito+add.jpg

You might see a Doritos commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday featuring a couple of 20-somethings dancing on a rooftop in Astoria, Queens.

The ad starts in the apartment of Alex Pepper, a 25-year-old dancer and actor. This was his production, so he had an inside track on the starring role. He plays a guy who -- with his friend’s encouragement (and bag of Doritos) -- works up the courage to introduce himself to the neighbor he’s had a crush on.

Watch for yourself, here. It doesn’t end well for the budding lovebirds.

But the real-life ending could be a dream come true for Pepper.

His spot was selected as one of 10 finalists in PepsiCo’s annual Dorito’s Crash the Super Bowl contest, which has already earned him $25,000 and a trip to watch the game at University of Phoenix Stadium this Sunday.

He found out in a surreal phone call from "The Hunger Games" actress Elizabeth Banks.

Alex says the $25,000 is more than he made last year as an actor and dancer. And the whole experience is more than he could’ve imagined when he was sitting on the couch watching Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium last February.

“I saw this contest was happening at last year’s Super Bowl and thought, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. Would love to do that sometime,'” says Pepper.

Two weeks before the entry deadline, he decided that "sometime" should be now. So he called a few friends, asked his girlfriend to shoot with his Nikon D800 camera, and set a budget for the project: $80.

“Low budget,” he laughs. “And a lot of that went to duct tape.”

Duct tape?

Watch the end of the spot -- these amateur video producers managed to pull off a pretty slick industry editing trick. They needed duct tape to make a dummy that would stand-in for actress Morgana Phlaum, the star’s would-be crush.

She agreed to the shoot without hesitation, even after Pepper explained the ending.

“Can I throw you off a roof? And she was like, ‘Okay, yeah, sounds good!’”

Pepper’s resume includes theater and an appearance on NBC’s "Saturday Night Live." And the script was inspired by Pepper’s real-life professional nightmare: accidentally dropping a dancer during a move.

"There’s a lot you can’t control -- the floor lights get in your eyes or something like that -- and we took that idea and turned it into a commercial," Pepper said.

And if it airs as the grand prize winner on Super Bowl Sunday, Pepper will earn $1 million, along with a one-year "dream job" at Universal Pictures.

Worst case scenario? He’s headed to Phoenix with his girlfriend to watch the Super Bowl in person.

"The worst case scenario here is already pretty amazing,” he said.

Voting closes at midnight. You can vote for a finalist here.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Out for Rest of Season]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:14:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-shoulder-injury.jpg

Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the Los Angeles Lakers announced on Wednesday, and the 19-year veteran expects to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season.

Wednesday's news came with little shock, but it still carried with it great meaning. Bryant had now suffered season ending injuries in three successive seasons. At the end of the 2012-13 season, Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon. In the 2013-14 season, Bryant lasted only six games before suffering a fracture in his knee. For 2014-15, Bryant completed 35 games and waited until the halfway mark in the season before his shoulder gave out.

The expectation that Bryant would go under the knife and end his season leaked out of the Los Angeles Lakers' offices on Friday, Jan. 23. Later that day, the team sent a news release that confirmed Bryant's torn rotator cuff and specifically made mention of surgery as an option.

The news release also stated that Dr. Neal ElAttrache would examine Bryant on Monday. After Monday's meeting, Bryant decided that surgery would be required. ElAttrache previously performed Bryant's Achilles surgery and also operated on LA Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke's broken collarbone. The world famous surgeon performed both those operations within 24 hours of one another. No surprise, ElAttrache performed Bryant's latest shoulder operation, along with Dr. Steve Lombardo.

Over the weekend, Bryant released a dramatic video that all but confirmed his season had ended and surgery was on the horizon. In a video clip for an upcoming documentary film which placed cameras in the room, Bryant underwent his initial examination with Lombardo. In the clip, Lombardo clearly announced that Bryant's muscle had detached from the bone. Although not explicitly stating that the Lakers' superstar required surgery, the video appeared to show Bryant coming to terms with the severity of his injury.

To ease Bryant's mind on missing the remainder of the season, the Lakers lost their ninth game in a row to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. The defeat was the Lakers' 12th in the last 13 games, and LA's 34th defeat in 46 contests the season. Currently holding firm as the fourth worst team in the NBA, even a miracle would not save this team.

If the Lakers miraculously win every remaining game on their docket, they would finish with 48 wins. A season ago, the 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks finished with 49 wins and entered the playoffs with the eighth and final spot. Effectively, these Lakers have already been eliminated from the postseason.

For Bryant, the decision to get surgery should not have been difficult when considering the current standings and the nature of the injury. Ending the season rehabbing an injury should be an unwelcome familiar feeling, but Bryant's contract calls for only one more season. For Bryant's sake and for the sake of the fans, hopefully he can finish his Hall-of-Fame career on a healthy note.

At the moment, Bryant's involvement in training camp in Hawaii, which would be Bryant's last, remains unclear. According to the Lakers, Bryant will be out for approximately nine months and is expected to make a full recovery.

“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” ElAttrache said in the Lakers' official press release.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marcus Allen Checks Out Scottsdale's Golf Scene]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:46:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Web_PKG_Marcus_Allen_At_TPC_Scottsdale_NBC_RSH-MCDS_1200x675_390453315942.jpg Super Bowl week is great for parties, but it's also an excuse for NFL players and alumni to play some long-awaited golf. NBC 7's Derek Togerson walked the links in Arizona and found a Hall of Fame running back who's also a San Diego native playing a round with the most well-known golfer on earth.]]> <![CDATA[FAA: Super Bowl Is Strictly a “No Drone Zone”]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:34:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/drone+123114.jpg

If you are going to the Super Bowl, make sure you leave your drone at home.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Wednesday that the unmanned aircrafts are barred from flying over or near the game.

"Many familiar sounds are associated with the Super Bowl," the FAA wrote. "Cheering fans. Referee whistles. The spectacular halftime show. Booming fireworks. But one sound you shouldn’t hear is the whirring of an unmanned aircraft overhead. The Super Bowl is strictly a 'No Drone Zone'."

The restriction also applies to airplanes, hang gliders, hot air balloons, model rockets and most other flying machines. Violators of the ban could end up in jail for "careless and reckless" operation of an aircraft.

The warning came just two days after a federal government employee said he accidentally crashed a drone on the grounds of the White House. The man, who was off duty at the time, called the Secret Service after the crash and is cooperating with authorities in a probe of the incident.

The New England Patriots are set to take on the Seattle Seahawks live from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on Sunday, Feb. 1, airing on NBC.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Addae is "Mad for No Reason" on Game Day]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:39:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Jahleel-Addae-profile.jpg Chargers safety Jahleel Addae prides himself on being a physical player. However, sometimes his aggressive style can threaten his own health. Despite sustaining at least two concussions in 2014, Addae is not going to change the way he performs on the football field. Jahleel shared his mind-set and approach to each game, and how he transforms from a low-key guy in to a heat-seeking missile on Sundays.]]> <![CDATA[NFL Debuts 1st Anti-Domestic Violence Super Bowl PSA]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:52:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/footballs.jpg

The NFL will air its first public service announcement against domestic violence as part of its No More campaign during the Super Bowl on NBC on Sunday.

A 30-second ad will air for $4.5 million, but the NFL has already released a chilling 60-second version. The ad is based on a real 911 call a domestic violence victim made in October.

The unsettling video starts out showing a disheveled home, with an unmade bed, books thrown on the floor, a sink piled up with unwashed dishes and a fist-sized punch in the wall. A woman is speaking in a rushed tone with the 911 dispatcher, pretending that she is ordering a pizza.

The dispatcher soon realizes the woman is unable to speak openly in her house because her abuser will hear. The final scene shows a framed picture of a woman torn from the wall and left by the trashcan.

The screen fades to black, and a message appears in white: “When it’s hard to talk, It’s up to us to listen.”

“The goal of the PSA is to activate and engage the vast audience of men and women across America in saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault,” No More director Virginia Witt told Today.com.

The NFL has faced a number of high-profile domestic abuse allegations involving its players, most notably Ray Rice.

That case inspired many women to speak out on social media using the hashtag #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft and restarted debates about the NFL's history of players accused of domestic abuse.

“Public awareness is the first, essential step toward changing the culture into one where domestic violence and sexual assault no longer happen,” said Witt.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Memorable Halftime Shows]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:29:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/superbowl-halftime-01-160625501.jpg These performances rocked at the Super Bowl halftime shows. See more photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 14 Most Heartbreaking Super Bowl Moments]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:11:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edt-upsets.jpg The 49-year history of the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of shocking upsets, horrendous blunders and lopsided routs.

Photo Credit: NFL]]>
<![CDATA[Tiger Woods Explains Tooth Incident]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:22:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tiger+woods6.JPG

Tiger Woods finally explained how he lost his tooth while watching his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn capture her record 63rd World Cup title in Italy a week ago.

The golf champ’s publicist previously told The Associated Press that after the Jan. 19 competition, “a media member with a shoulder-mounted video camera pushed and surged toward the stage, turned and hit Tiger Woods in the mouth.”

“I had my mask on, so no one knew who I was, trying to blend in because there is not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, OK?,” Woods told reporters after playing at the Phoenix Open. “That was the whole idea of why I wore the mask." 

“I was looking down, and all the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she's hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down,” Woods explained.

“Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth,” Woods said. “He chipped that [tooth], cracked the other one. And so then, you know, I'm trying to keep this [mask on] so the blood is not all over the place. Luckily, he hit the one I had a root canal on.”

Woods said he was in a lot of pain after the incident.

“The flight home was a joke," Woods said. "I couldn't eat, couldn't drink until he fixed them, put the temporaries on. I couldn't have anything touch it. Even breathing hurt, because any kind of air over the nerve, the tooth that was still alive, was cracked.”

When asked if the cameraman felt bad about the incident, Woods said, “He didn’t care.”

Vonn won a super-G competition, breaking a 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins with a flawless run down the Olympia delle Tofane course.



Photo Credit: AP
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Wholesome, Less Racy Super Bowl Ads Expected]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:36:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/super-bowl-commercials-AP322500772403.jpg Advertisers are spending record amounts of money on this year's Super Bowl commercials, hoping to score big with sports fans and consumers. After a string of domestic scandals in the NFL, analysts say expect to see more hopeful, positive ads.]]> <![CDATA[Tiger Woods Explains Return To Phoenix Open]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:00:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/462348558.jpg

Even though he has not won a PGA Tour event since August 4, 2013, and is coming off another round of injuries, Tiger Woods moves the needle for a golf tournament. Woods is returning to competitive golf this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, an event he has not played in since 2001.

Usually, about 500 media credentials are requested for the tourney. This year, that number topped 800. When Woods is in the field, more people are interested.

Tiger’s hiatus from the TPC Scottsdale was prompted by safety concerns. In 1999, police subdued a heckler and discovered he’d snuck a gun in to the gallery. In 2001, a fan threw an orange on to the green when Woods was putting.

On Tuesday, after playing nine holes during a practice round, Woods was asked if he remembered the incident.

“The guy on 6?” asked Woods. “That's one of the reasons why I hadn't played in a while. You know, I think the people here have done a fantastic job over the years and making sure things are a lot more safe.”

Tiger is also dangerously close to dropping out of the Top-50 in the world rankings and losing a spot in the highly lucrative, invitation-only WGC events. He needs to get a few tournaments under his belt to beef up his resume. So, instead of making his traditional season debut at Torrey Pines (he will still play the Farmers Insurance Open the following week), Woods is teeing it up in the desert.

Once again, he’ll be trying to work in a new swing, this one constructed by his latest coach, 37-year-old Chris Como.

“We have a game plan we need to get to,” said Woods. “Each stage, you know, we're ahead of schedule on each stage of the game plan, and, you know, that's a good sign. Overall, I'm very pleased to go out there and hit shots. Speed's coming back up. It's going to be a fun year. Chipping, I was caught between techniques, between my old release pattern and body movement when I was working with Sean and then my new release pattern. We had to basically just hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chips and just get it out of there, and now it's better.”

As is the tournament tradition, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is being held the same weekend as the Super Bowl. This year, they happen to be about a 30-mile drive away from each other. So, will Woods, an outspoken football fan, be making a quick exit from the golf course and heading to the West Valley to see a game?

“I'd like to. That's the plan. I just wish my Raiders were there, but they're not.”

And odds are, they won’t be any time soon. But if it’s any consolation for Woods, he got to play his pro-am round on Wednesday with Raiders Hall of Famer (and San Diego Lincoln High alum) Marcus Allen.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shaun White Talks Air and Style at Rose Bowl]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:56:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP685928216033.jpg Carlsbad native Shaun White loves snowboarding and music. So he’s bringing them together at the Rose Bowl in one incredible February event, Air + Style. A custom-built, 16-story high, 450-foot long, snow-covered ramp and 70-foot jump will be constructed while 18 bands over three stages perform. He sits down with NBC 7's Derek Togerson to explain more.

Photo Credit: Invision for AEG]]>
<![CDATA[What Did We Really Learn From Super Bowl Media Day?]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:56:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Media+Day+Aerial+Picture.JPG

One of my favorite things about Super Bowl Media Day is this:

Nowhere else on earth will you find as much talking with as little being said.

All 106 players, plus the head coaches and coordinators, are available to speak with the 6,000 or so media members in attendance. All of them are asked multiple questions. None of them say anything (I think they all learned from Falcons defensive back Ray Buchanan wearing a dog collar, calling out Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, then watching Denver beat Atlanta to a pulp, 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII).

So, these days you get a whole lot of clichés and learn basically nothing about the game we’re all allegedly here to cover. The Seahawks and Patriots were on top of their say-nothing game in Phoenix. Here’s a sampling of the answers to a few questions on Tuesday.

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll on how to beat the Patriots:

“The game plan for us is to play like we always play. That’s the big challenge, that we can play with the same kind of intensity and attitude, the execution that gives us the chance to win. So, regardless of what they do, we have to play like we’re capable of playing. That’s a greater challenge in itself, but that’s really what we’re after. If we do that, that gives us our best chance to win.”

New England head coach Bill Belichick on how to beat the Seahawks:

“Seattle’s a great football team. We’re going to need a great effort out of everybody: our offense, defense, special teams, coaching staff. Seattle’s very good in all phases of the game. They’re well coached. They have a lot of great players. You can see why they were a championship team last year and why they’ve had so much success with the No. 1 seed in the NFC this year. So we’re going to have to do a lot of things well, we’re going to have to do them consistently for four quarters and that will be a big challenge for us. It’s going to take all of the above.”

Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman on playing against a QB like Tom Brady:

“It’s fun, it’s fun for competitors. It’s a great challenge for us and anybody who’s ever been an elite competitor or an elite player enjoys those moments against other great players. It brings the best out of you. I think we as a group and as a team enjoy going against an elite team because it brings the best out of us.”

New England quarterback Tom Brady on the spectacle that is Super Bowl week:

“Well, we just got down here yesterday so we’re trying to obviously get settled here in our hotel. It’s a big game, obviously, with a lot going on here. But we’re locked in on practicing. It starts tomorrow.”

Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin on the Patriots defense:

“Sound. They are extremely dangerous because they are athletic. They are physical. They fly around to the ball. They are one of the fastest front seven we have seen. We are anxious about the opportunity. We know that they have some dogs over there. We know about the dogs on our defense, so like I said we are just excited about the opportunity.”

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski on the Seahawks defense:

“They’re very, very good. They’re very, very talented. Very, very tough mentally and physically. Probably one of the best defenses out there, if not the best defense. We’ve got to go out there and prepare and we’ve got to be ready.”
Not exactly earth-shattering stuff here, is it?

Of course, part of the problem is the football guys are not getting fed great questions and are not asked to elaborate when they spew the obvious, and that’s our fault as media members. But, for the foreseeable future, Super Bowl Media Day will be more about reporters trying out out-outrageous one another and the NFL making lots of money.

They did, after all, have it sponsored by Gatorade and sell a few thousand tickets to fans for the event.

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<![CDATA[SNF's Collinsworth Talks Chargers Stadium]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:54:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chris+collinsworth.JPG

The debate about whether or not San Diego should build a new stadium that can be used by the Chargers (among many other things) is going to be heated until San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s task force comes to a conclusion. It’s easy to see the validity of arguments on both sides of that discussion.

What is not being questioned is the fact Qualcomm Stadium is not a very good place to see a football game. During the December 7th game against the Patriots on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, broadcasting legend Al Michaels even said traversing the halls at the Q is like, “walking through the ruins.”

His broadcast partner Cris Collinsworth feels very much the same way. In Arizona at a Super Bowl XLIX event on Tuesday, NBC 7 asked Collinsworth his opinion on the San Diego stadium situation.

You will notice in the video above, he did not pull any punches.

"It's probably last or next to last depending on where you want to rank it with Oakland. I don't meant to be offensive, but that's a fact," said Collinsworth.

Hear more by clicking the video player at the top of this page.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl Preview: Seahawks v. Patriots]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:55:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/brady-wilson-2.jpg Just ahead of Super Bowl XLIV, here are five things you may not know about the history behind the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

Photo Credit: Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Seahawks' Big Task: Stop Gronkowski]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:08:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP326652112586.jpg

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover features the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary. Cornerback Richard Sherman stands front and center with a big smile, flanked by big-hitting strong safety Kam Chancellor, nickel corner Jeremy Lane, free safety Earl Thomas and corner Byron Maxwell.

All look relaxed and confident. And why not?

In 2014, the Seahawks had the No. 1 defense in the NFL overall and were the top-ranked group against the pass. As they head into Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX matchup against the New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz., they know they’ll present Tom Brady and the Patriots with the best defensive unit they’ve seen all year.

But one Patriot has the Seahawks very concerned: tight end Rob Gronkowski.

At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is not only bigger than most tight ends, but also is more athletic, runs better routes and has better hands than most. And, his chemistry with Brady is strong. Gronkowski is Brady’s go-to receiver, especially in crucial situations. Other teams have trouble blanketing him.

In two playoff victories, Gronkowski has 10 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. This, after he had 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs in 15 regular-season games.

If the Seahawks want to win a second straight Super Bowl, they’ll have to contain Gronkowski and limit the damage he can do. But that’s difficult. He’s bigger than most corners and able to outmaneuver most safeties.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wrote this week that Gronkowski may be “the single most dominant and unstoppable offensive weapon in the game.” He said the Seahawks’ defense of him will be one of the key matchups.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week that Gronkowski has “all of the elements that you’re looking for from a big-game tight end.” He added that he’s been spending plenty of time watching film of Gronkowski, searching for the best way to neutralize him.

The Seahawks may employ a variety of coverages on "Gronk," with several players assigned to him, depending on situations. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is faster than most, and may help, but he’s six inches shorter than Gronkowski. Carroll said outside linebackers K.J. Wright (6-foot-4) and Bruce Irvin (6-foot-3) also are “pretty tall and long” and could be in the mix.

But the No. 1 Seahawk assigned to limit Gronkowski Sunday will likely be super-athletic safety Kam Chancellor, whom Carroll calls “about as big a strong safety as you can find.”

Wright told reporters in Arizona that he’s confident Chancellor – selected All-Pro this season along with his safety mate Thomas – can do the job.

“Our best against their best,” Wright said. “Of course I’ve got my money on Kam. He’s an All-Pro, he’s the captain of our defense. I expect him to win every battle.”

Chancellor is 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, known for his ability to hit, support the run defense with ferocity and leap over tall buildings (or at least the line of scrimmage in attempts to block kicks).

Chancellor told the Boston Herald he’ll be up for the task.

“He’s definitely a big, physical guy,” Chancellor said. “But it’s just big on big. You play big on big.”

Chancellor says the Seahawks have great coaching and game planning and prepare players to succeed. Sunday should be no different. He’s confident Seattle can do what it needs to do to slow Gronkowski.

“One thing we do is practice fundamentals,” Chancellor told the Herald. “We practice man coverage. We practice defense. So any situation they throw at us, any situation that occurs, we’re prepared for it and we’re ready for it.”

 

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers' Inman Has Rollercoaster Ride of 2014]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:38:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dontrelle_Inman_on_his_2014_year_NBC_RSH-MCDS_1200x675_389681731592.jpg Despite their rash of injuries and disappointing finish, the Chargers did have a few pleasant surprises this season. One is wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. The former undrafted free agent who spent two years in Canada talked with NBC 7's Derek Togerson about his roller coaster ride that was 2014, and what he hopes to accomplish in 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Invite 18 Non-Roster Players to Spring Training]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 01:07:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/164293623.jpg

The Padres have invited 18 players who are not already on the roster to their 2015 Major League Spring Training. For me, this is one of the most fascinating parts of the roster building process.

The 18 players are a range of former All-Stars trying to regain their form and stick a few more years in the Big Leagues like relief pitcher Jose Valverde, who has led three different teams in saves; draft picks with big signing bonuses trying to force their way on to an Opening Day roster a little earlier than expected, like Austin Hedges; and journeymen, the guys who have been in professional baseball for years but never really established themselves as every day Big Leaguers like Marcos Mateo.

One guy who Padres fans will be keeping a close eye on (as long as A.J. Preller doesn't trade him for Mike Trout or something) is outfielder Hunter Renfroe. San Diego's outfield is stacked with talent after a series of off-season trades, but Renfroe, the team's first round pick in 2013, is already knocking  on the door thanks to his prodigious pop (You can see the kind of power Renfroe possesses here).

If he goes nuts with the bat in the Cactus League the Padres will be severely tempted to put him on the Opening Day roster, perhaps even moving him to 1st base.

Here's the full list of this year's non-roster invitees:

Right-Handed Pitchers:

Justin Hancock
Jay Jackson
Marcos Mateo
Jose Valverde
Matt Wisler

Left-Handed Pitchers:

Scott Elbert
Jason Lane
Chris Rearick

Infielders:

Jake Goebbert
Diego Goris
Ramiro Pena
Brett Wallace

Outfielders:

Rico Noel
Hunter Renfroe

Catchers:

Cody Decker
Griff Erickson
Rocky Gale
Austin Hedges



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Owner Defends Team, Blasts Media]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:54:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/166*120/462310318.jpg

The New England Patriots held their first round of media availability in Phoenix on Monday. If this was any indication on what the rest of the week will hold, it's going to be an interesting seven days.

The biggest talker coming in to the most scrutinized sporting event on the planet was allegations of the Patriots using deflated footballs to gain an edge in the AFC Championship game. Last week, Pats owner Robert Kraft said his team would be completely helpful with the NFL's investigation.

However, over the weekend he had a chance to think about things a little more. And he has a few more things to say about this issue. Here is the full transcript of his statement from Monday in Phoenix:

“On the plane ride out to here, I prepared a few remarks which I would like to read to you.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I want to express what an honor it is to be here and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I know how difficult it is to get to this game and I appreciate the work of everyone who helps host the event. We are anticipating a great game against the defending Super Bowl champs, Seattle Seahawks.

“Given the events of the last week, I want to take a minute to address the air pressure matter before we kickoff this week’s media availabilities. I have spoken with Coach (Bill) Belichick. I have spoken with Tom Brady. I have taken the time to understand to the best of my abilities what goes on in the preparation of game day footballs. And I want to make it clear that I believe, unconditionally, that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules.

“Tom, Bill, and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys, they are part of my family. And Bill, Tom, and I have had many difficult discussions over the years, and I have never known them to lie to me. That is why I am confident in saying what I just said. And it bothers me greatly that their reputations and integrity, and by association that of our team, has been called into question this past week.

“As I said on Friday in my prepared statement, we welcome the League’s investigation and the involvement of Attorney (Ted) Wells. I am confident that this investigation will uncover whatever the facts were that took place last Sunday and the science of how game balls react to changes in the environment. This would be in direct contrast to the public discourse, which has been driven by media leaks as opposed to actual data and facts. Because of this, many jumped to conclusions and made scarring accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff questioning the integrity of all involved.

“If the Wells’ investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the League would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week. I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.

“In closing, I would like to say to all the fans of the National Football League, and especially the amazing fans of the New England Patriots, that I and our entire organization believe strongly in the integrity of the game and the rules of fair play properly, equitably and fairly enforced. Thank you.”

Of course, it's the media's fault. Isn't it always? Forget about the fact the media also showed leaked footage of the Patriots recording the Jets coaches making calls in 2007, sparking an investigation that proved Belichick and his band of miscreants were guilty. The media was right before, and odds are it's right again.

It's fine for Kraft to defend his coach and quarterback. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have made him a lot of money. And, if this whole incident does turn out to be false, then the league and the media do need to apologize for it.

But when we all find out just how bad this thing really is, Kraft needs to get back on that podium and apologize for HIS false accusations. That's only fair, right?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[5 Key Factors for Super Bowl XLIX]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:24:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/jussbritt.jpg

Everyone knows the stars who’ll be playing in Super Bowl XLIX, and what kind of impact they can have on the outcome of this Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Patriots in Arizona.

But beyond Tom Brady, Marshawn Lynch, Rob Gronskowi and Richard Sherman there are other lesser-known players, units and factors that could be key. Among these are:

1. Justin Britt, Seahawks right offensive tackle

The rookie from Missouri, a second-round pick, showed great promise his first season. The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder played every offensive snap of the regular season. And, the Seahawks running game ran more often off right guard and right tackle this year, with Lynch often getting big chunks in that direction. But Britt – who missed the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury – has been a liability as a pass blocker. According to the Washington Post, citing Pro Football Focus, Britt ranked dead last as a pass blocker among right tackles in 2014 and was fourth worst among all tackles. If the Patriots see Britt as a weakness – he’s reportedly fit again and will start Sunday – they could scheme to attack him in new and varied ways to exploit his deficiencies, which could be a big problem for Seattle’s passing attack, especially if the Seahawks fall behind.

2. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots offensive tackles

Both blockers are solid, with Solder at left tackle and Vollmer on the right side. But they anchor an offensive line that will be tested by the Seattle pass rush, particularly defensive ends Michael Bennett (seven sacks in 2014) and Cliff Avril (five). For the Pats passing offense to work efficiently, Tom Brady will need time and Solder and Vollmer will need to seal off the outside pass rush, whether it be against Bennett and Avril or blitzing linebackers or defensive backs.

3. Patriots special teams

It was the Seahawks who made big news on championship game Sunday by pulling off a fake-field goal play for a touchdown that started their comeback and then recovering an onside kick. But in a duel of special teams, the Patriots’ units are stronger, and in a game as close as this one is expected to be, that could be the difference in the outcome. The Patriots’ special teams were ranked No. 3 in the NFL in 2014 in the annual special teams analysis put together by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, behind only the Eagles and Bills. The Seahawks were 17th. The Pats blocked three field goals and one punt this season. Julian Edelman was fifth in the NFL in punt-return yards and averaged 11 yards per return. Matthew Slater – the son of former Rams Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater -- is a four-time Pro Bowler on special teams and a coverage and tackling star.

4. Bobby Wagner, Seahawks middle linebacker

He doesn’t look imposing as NFL linebackers go, at 6 feet and 241 pounds, and he's overshadowed by Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and the overall Legion of Boom defense. But the third-year pro from Utah State was selected first-team All-Pro this season and was NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December. He was a key to the Seahawks defense countering the Denver Broncos’ offense in last year’s Super Bowl and will be the man to counter Brady’s play-calling and audibles Sunday. After missing the first five games of this season, Wagner has been the catalyst to the Seahawks defensive revival. His wide-ranging speed, smarts and ability to rush the passer can destroy even well-designed plays. The Patriots will need to find a way to counter his effectiveness via blocking schemes or misdirection.

5. Turnover and penalty problems of the Seahawks

Seattle is a ball-control offense, with a strong running game. But the Seahawks – who usually take good care of the football – didn’t in the NFC Championship game against Green Bay. They had five turnovers, a problem they can’t repeat against the Patriots, who finished tied for second in the NFL this season with a plus-12 on the takeaway/giveaway charts. Seattle was right behind, tied for fourth at plus-9, so the NFC title game implosion wasn’t usual. But they can’t afford another flood of mistakes. Meanwhile, the Seahawks were the most-penalized team in the NFL, getting flagged 144 times for 1,112 yards while – and here’s the strange part – being the beneficiary of just 80 penalties against their opponents, the lowest total in the NFL.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Owner Strongly Defends Team]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:32:55 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Robert+Kraft1.jpg

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft made a strong defense Monday night of his team's actions and integrity regarding the NFL's investigation into under-inflated footballs being used in the AFC championship game.

At times sounding angry, Kraft said he expected an apology from the league once the Patriots are found to be not guilty of breaking any rules.

"I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots did nothing wrong in this process that was in violation of NFL rules," Kraft said at the team's first media availability in Arizona.

Kraft also said it "bothers me greatly" that the reputations and integrity of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have been "called into question, and by association our team."

He added that in 15 years together with Belichick and Brady, they had never lied to him.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Hosts Pats Send-Off Rally]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:44:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/20150126_102348.jpg

It was a Patriots Super Bowl send-off like no other.

After a week of "DeflateGate" distractions, Patriots players and their fans made it clear they plan to channel that negative energy into a win on Sunday.

"We have the greatest fans in all of football," said veteran Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork. "That's the one reason we always play for our city."

The fans here definitely aren't fair weather fans, not only braving the elements Monday, but also sticking with this team through good seasons and bad.

"I was there in '91 when they only won one game, and I used to go home crying and my wife used to say, 'Aw, you always go home crying,'" said Ron Pietruszka, a season ticket holder for 37 years. "But now I'm coming home smiling all the time and she's happy, too, so they say, 'Happy wife, happy life.'"

"Who wouldn't want to be here right now?" asked Louis Chino of Chelsea, Massachusetts. "Us Patriot fans, you see, we out here, it's cold, it's a blizzard coming, but we don't care. Whatever, we celebrate the Patriots and on to victory we go."

Never one to guarantee a victory, Pats quarterback Tom Brady, who's been put through media ringer this past week, had one simple message for fans.

"Thank you guys for all your support, we'll be needing you all next Sunday night," he said. "Go Patriots!"

After the rally, the Patriots quickly hopped on a plane headed to Arizona and Super Bowl XLIX, leaving behind New England and its impending blizzard.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe to Have Shoulder Surgery]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:27:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-torn-rotator-cuff.jpg

Kobe Bryant is set to have surgery on his torn rotator cuff, the Los Angeles Lakers said Monday.

Bryant's right shoulder was injured in last Wednesday's game against the New Orleans pelicans and neesds surgery to repair it, the team said in a statement.

Bryant was examined Monday morning by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, who confirmed that Bryant's rotator cuff was torn and advised him to have surgery to repair it, according to the team. He's scheduled to undergo the operation on Wednesday morning.

While Bryant was expected to miss the rest of the season with the injury, the team didn't confirm that in their statement.

The team said instead that it will provide an estimate for the shooting guard's return following the surgery.

Refresh this page for updates on this developing story.

]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Nye Knocks Belichick]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:41:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Nye-Belichick_SplitScreen_sm.jpg

The cast of "Saturday Night Live" wasn't the only one poking holes in the New England Patriots' explanation for the "deflategate" scandal over the weekend.

Bill Nye offered his expert opinion as “The Science Guy” Sunday, saying coach Bill Belichick's recent account for why his team’s footballs were under-inflated during the American Football Conference championship game against the Indianapolis Colts doesn't add up.

“I’m not too worried about coach Belichick competing with me,” Nye told ABC’s "Good Morning America." “What he said didn’t make any sense."

The Patriots have denied allegations that the team broke NFL rules by intentionally under-inflating the footballs to gain an advantage in their 45-7 victory against the Colts, which clinched their chance to face the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Belichick said in one news conference that it's possible that climatic conditions and rubbing the balls ahead of last weekend's game affected air pressure.

But “The Science Guy” refuted that claim.

“By rubbing the football, I don't think you can change the pressure," he said. “To really change the pressure, you need one of these: the inflation needle. I can't help but say, 'Go Seahawks!’”

The NFL, which is investigating the allegations that the Patriots were involved in the ball issue, said evidence concluded that the footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half of the game. But the one used for the second half were in compliance with their policy.

“The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games,” the statement reads. “We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay.”

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<![CDATA[NFL Launches YouTube Channel]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 08:48:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/77248493.jpg

Searching for Super Bowl highlights next week after the big game?

They'll be available, legally, straight from the source.

The NFL has protected its video as fiercely as any league, pushing most users to its website or to its broadcast partners.

On Monday, the league and YouTube announced a partnership between two of the most powerful brands in the marketplace, creating an official NFL channel on the video website. Clips will also be directly viewable through simple Google searches.

Content posted daily to the portal by the league will include game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps and clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice and other original programming from NFL Network and NFL.com. Highlight packages from the current postseason were already viewable Sunday, and plenty of Super Bowl programming was scheduled to appear throughout the week and after the game.

Game highlights and other content will also be available through Google's search engine, which will display official NFL videos along with related news and information in a box at the top of the page. Kickoff times and broadcast information for every NFL game will be prominently displayed.

Google acquired YouTube in 2006. The tandem previously formed partnerships with the other three major American sports leagues, MLB, the NBA and the NHL. Google has been trying to mine more revenue from YouTube, which is positioned for further growth as consumers continue to shift toward online and mobile viewing and away from live television.

"We continue to see an insatiable appetite for digital video content, and this partnership further expands fans' ability to discover and access NFL content throughout the year," Hans Schroeder, the NFL's senior vice president of media strategy, business development and sales, said in a statement distributed by the league.

Previously, the NFL videos that popped up in a YouTube search weren't sanctioned. The NFL, like many other entities and organizations, has used a YouTube tool called "Content ID" to be able to block unlicensed videos.

Football fans still flocked to the site, of course. Maybe they pulled up one of those "Bad Lip Reading" montages of silly voice-overs accompanying game clips. Or in the hunt for that favorite highlight — "Odell Beckham Jr. one-handed catch," for instance — they found a bunch of shaky camera-phone videos that some New York Giants fan took of the TV screen.

Now those searches will be more fruitful.

The billion-dollar question, then, is whether this partnership will pave the way for eventual live streaming of games through the YouTube site rather than over the air or on cable. Probably not anytime soon, though. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said "the focus is on non-live highlights." He added that "the agreement will provide tremendous exposure for our broadcast partners."

YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon, pointing to the site's past streaming of live Olympic events, said the opportunity is there and the technology is waiting if the league were to decide to do so.

"We would welcome it with open arms if the NFL or any other league" wanted to show live games on the site, McLernon said.

Terms of the deal were not provided. But it's a safe bet that it's worth a lot of money.

The league, citing Nielsen data, said the 2014 regular season reached 202.3 million unique viewers, representing 80 percent of all television homes and 68 percent of potential viewers in the U.S., and NFL games accounted for the entire top 20 and 45 of the top 50 most-watched television shows last fall.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ernie Banks Died of Heart Attack]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:27:29 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ErnieBanks2014.jpg

The family of Ernie Banks announced in a press conference Sunday that the famous Cubs player died after suffering a heart attack.

Banks' death was caused by the heart attack, according to Mark Bogen, the family attorney. Funeral arrangements are currently being made.

Banks passed away on Friday at the age of 83, just seven days before his next birthday.

Bogen also announced that a Facebook page has been created for fans to celebrate Banks' legendary life. The page, called Ernie Banks Remembered, was created shortly after Banks passed away.

Banks' family is currently working with the Chicago Cubs and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office to create a public memorial for Mr. Cub, Bogen said.

Liz Banks, the wife of Ernie Banks, was present at the press conference, but Bogen delivered the news and did not take any questions.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ernie Banks Mourned]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:26:52 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ernie-Banks-Chicago-Cubs.jpg

Ernie Banks is a Chicago legend who touched many lives, both on and off the field. He embodied the spirit of the Chicago Cubs and united fans as an unwavering point of pride for the team.

Fans across the country and in Wrigleyville are mourning the loss of "Mr. Cub," who passed away Friday at the age of 83. Here's what some of his big-name fans are saying.

President Obama and Michelle Obama: "He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team's behind him, and Mr. Class -- 'Mr. Cub' -- is ready to play two."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "Ernie Banks was more than a baseball player. He was one of Chicago's greatest ambassadors. He loved this city as much as he loved -- and lived for -- the game of baseball. This year, during every Cubs game, you can bet that No. 14 will be watching over his team. And if we're lucky, it'll be a beautiful day for not just one ballgame, but two."

Gov. Bruce Rauner: "Ernie Banks was a trail blazer who helped break down barriers, a veteran who served his country with honor, a respected community leader and the greatest Chicago Cub of all time. While we mourn him here, there's no doubt that up in heaven, 'Mr. Cub' is lacing up his cleats an asking Saint Peter if they can 'play two.'"

Sen. Dick Durbin: "'Mr. Cub' was so much more than a great hitter and Gold Glove fielder. His infectious love for the game of baseball was matched only by his passion for the people of Chicago ... His positive, hopeful Cub view of life filled every room and every baseball diamond he ever touched."

Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs: "Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known."

John McDonough, president and CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks: "Ernie was an illuminating superstar who was personable, humble and selfless. He was also the greatest player to ever wear a Cubs uniform. He loved the Cubs, Wrigley Field and the city of Chicago. The Friendly Confines were always a bit friendlier when he was around. I will miss him."

Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State: "I was honored to learn many things from him while I was in the Cubs organization. And I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with him throughout the years in our joint efforts to help others. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to his friends. I was privileged to have played baseball with him, and to call him my friend. Ernie Banks -- Mr. Cub -- will be missed."

Rev. Jesse Jackson: "He was not only a great baseball player, but beyond his talent as a shortstop and eventually a first baseman, was his character, his eternal optimism -- "let's play two today" -- and his personality was a racial bridge builder. He treated all people with dignity and respect. He never stopped reaching out to bridge the racial chasms."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Life and Times of Ernie Banks]]> Sat, 24 Jan 2015 06:18:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ernie_banksP11.jpg Ernie Banks is a baseball legend, the first African American to play for the Chicago Cubs and the first black manager in Major League Baseball. He is known for his skills at bat and in the field, as well as his sunny, positive attitude and love for the game. Click to see pictures from throughout this memorable figure's life.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Great Ernie Banks Dies at 83]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:28:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ErnieBanks2014.jpg

Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs great who was affectionately known as "Mr. Cub" and was the face of the franchise for decades, has passed away at the age of 83. 

Banks was the first African-American to don a Cubs uniform, and it was the only one he would wear.

In a 19-year career, Banks slugged 512 home runs, drove in 1636 RBI, and perhaps more than any other player who has ever played for the franchise embodied the spirit of the club in the eyes and hearts of Cubs fans.

Even after his playing career came to an end in 1971, Banks continued to be an ambassador for the team.

He was a constant fixture at Cubs games, often singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" after the passing of Harry Caray in 1998, and he was one of the most popular figures at the annual Cubs Convention.

Banks made his MLB debut in 1952 at the age of 22 years old, and as his career went on he cemented his status as a legend. He was never better than in the 1958 and 1959 seasons. He won the MVP award in both seasons, and he set career highs in both home runs and RBI in those seasons. 

Unfortunately for Banks and the Cubs, he never made it to the postseason as a member of the team. In the 1969 season, Banks teamed up with fellow legends Ron Santo and Billy Williams and led the team to a massive lead in the standings as August ended. As September unfolded however, the Cubs faded badly, and they missed out on the postseason as the New York Mets surged and ultimately won the World Series title. 

Despite not having postseason experience on his resume, Banks was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and he never stopped being an ambassador for the game and for the team. His indomitable spirit and constant optimism were a bright spot for the Cubs through some of the team's leanest years, and despite teams coming close in 1984 and 2003, Banks' teams were the ones that fans still talk about and remember.  

"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball," Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. "He was one of the greatest players of all time.  He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And and more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.  Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Face a Test in Seahawks' Read-Option]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:19:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/russwillsea.jpg

To beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots know they’ll have to contain running back Marshawn Lynch. Yet here’s the problem: If they focus too much attention on Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson may burn them.

Wilson led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing in 2014 with 849 yards. In fact, Wilson ranked 16th in the league in rushing. And when Wilson does take off, his plays can be painful for defenses. He averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, had eight runs of more than 20 yards and scored six touchdowns.

What New England will face on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, is the Seahawks’ read-option scheme, which forces defenses to choose between focusing on Lynch or being cautious, in case Wilson pulls the ball out and sprints around the defenders crashing on Lynch.

Against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks’ read-option was very effective. On 17 read-option plays, Seattle’s Lynch or Wilson gained 121 yards and scored two touchdowns. Most of the time, Lynch got the ball. But late in the game, Wilson had two key carries on the read-option that resulted in 16 yards and a score.

“They execute the read-option at a very high level,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia told the Boston Herald this week. “It’s extremely dangerous. They do it from a number of different looks. They obviously have tremendous skill players that can handle the ball and handle that type of offense.”

The read option, however, is not unfamiliar to the Patriots, who’ve faced it many times over the past two years. In fact, coach Bill Belichick brought Tim Tebow into camp last year largely to run the offense against his defenders.

One tactic is to emply a spy -- a defender whose responsibility it is to keep his eyes on Wilson and not let him break free if he decides to fake the handoff to Lynch. That spy might be delegated by how the Seahawks line up. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich has played the role well before, as has linebacker Jamie Collins.

Last season, Ninkovich played spy against Cam Newton of the Panthers.

But whoever it is, he’ll have to stay vigilant. Even one play where he’s tricked or loses concentration -- as happened to the Packers late in Seattle’s comeback win -- could be costly.

Ninkovich has said in the past that the read-option scheme is simply “a green light to hit the quarterback.”

But Wilson is an extremely skilled, smart and patient ball handler who can also exploit overly aggressive defenders.

“You just have to be under control and know what your assignment is every time,” said Ninkovich.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ravens' Cody Being Investigated]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:41:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Terrence+Cody+157365657.jpg

Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Terrence Cody is under investigation for animal cruelty

The case deals with the death of Cody's dog, an $8,000 bull mastiff from Spain.

The case is being discussed with the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office.

The team said Friday morning it plans to release Cody after the Super Bowl but didn't give a reason, NBC Sports reports. His one-year contract is set to expire in the spring.

The Ravens selected Cody in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He played in 57 games over five season but only one in 2014 after having hip surgery in the spring.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>