Just Like You, Cam Newton Is Not Having Sex

According to multiple reports from NFL insiders and Deadspin.com, neither you nor Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton are having sex in the month of March. Sources indicate that the news regarding Newton comes as a surprise to those around the league, but about you, not so much.

While the reports of your chastity are news to no one and are relegated to the agate page if they are covered at all, Newton’s celibacy was revealed on network TV—on last night’s Late Late Show—and is front-page news on ProFootballTalk, which noted and transcribed the announcement. Another difference is that Newton’s not having sex by choice, while you certainly didn’t elect to be unloveable.

Newton says that each month of the offseason, he sets himself challenges. In February, he ate vegan. For the month of March, no sex.

“It makes my mind stronger,” Newton said. “So when the season comes around, I say if I did those things, I’m mentally stronger.”

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“God, it’s been a while,” you said.

Newton has a long-term girlfriend with whom he has three children, and she is very lovely and he finds her sexually desirable, so denying himself the pleasure of coupling with her represents a real challenge and a real sacrifice. For you this is just another month.

Newton is handsome, talented, wealthy, fashionable, and fit, and he and his model girlfriend would each be extremely eligible, and capable of finding sex partners anywhere they went, if they weren’t so in love with each other. Newton’s abstinence is denying the universe, if only for a month, the beauty of a physical congress very different than whatever pallid, grunting heaves accompanied the act—which itself looked like two damp, hairless aurochs fighting over a single tuber—the last time you performed it, if you can even remember when that was.

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Of course, this does not prevent Newton and his girlfriend from sharing many other physical, emotional, and intellectual acts of devotion, or from basking in the glow of their children, the harvest of their love, as well as the life they’ve built together. You would give your most prized possessions just to recall what it’s like to be touched.

Unlike you, Cam Newton will be having sex in April.

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Funniest football chants, including songs to Virgil Van Dijk and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on World Poetry Day

IT really is like a form of poetry.

When football fans get together, they love to think up some funny chants for players they either adore or rival stars they dislike.

So, because it's World Poetry Day today, we at SunSport thought we'd give you our favourite footy chants that tickled our funny bone.

'His name is Rio'

The Manchester United legend, who is judging a Premier League poetry competition for World Poetry Day, believes football chants are a "kind of poetry".

And over the years, he's had his own songs chanted by fans across the country.

The most popular was sung to the tune of Duran Duran's 1982 hit 'Rio' by Red Devils fans.

It went: "His name is Rio and he dances on the grass/ Don't take the ball from him, he'll kick your f****** ass."

Enough said.

'We like Van Dijk'

We doubt Virgil Van Dijk had ever heard The Dubliners hit 'Dirty Old Town' before.

But Liverpool fans are so taken with their Dutchman, they've adapted that song to fit a chant for the strapping defender.

"He’s our centre-half, he’s our number four/ Watch him defend and we watch him score/ He can pass the ball, calm as you like/ He’s Virgil Van Dijk, he’s Virgil Van Dijk"

Fittingly covers all his attributes, and is a brilliant song too!

'He's fast, he's red, he talks like Father Ted'

Always a popular figure in the game, Keane played for a number of top clubs, including Leeds United, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur.

But it was at Liverpool where the Kop devised perhaps his funniest ever chant.

"He's fast, he's red, he talks like Father Ted, Robbie Keane," the home faithful sang.

Sadly it was just for one season, and then he was shipped off back to Spurs.

'Ole's at the wheel'

As he was turning Manchester United's fortunes around following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho, the United fans concocted their own special ode to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

And we can thank the Stone Roses banger 'Waterfall' for it too.

It goes: "Ole's at the wheel/ Tell me how does it feel/ We've got Sánchez, Paul Pogba and Fred/ Marcus Rashford, a Manc born and bred/ Duh du, du du du du du/ Duh du, du du du du du/ The greatest of English football/ We've won it all."

'Richarlison is effing brilliant'

Everyone knows 'She's Electric', written by Noel Gallagher and sung with fervour by brother Liam.

Now, it's impassioned Everton fans who are singing their hearts out for their Brazilian hero, Richarlison.

"He's Brazilian," they start. "He only cost £50 million/And we think he's f****** brilliant/Richarlison.

He's Brazilian/ He only cost £50 million/ And we think he's f****** brilliant/ Richarlison."

'Your defence is terrified'

A real modern day classic, the Northern Irish striker's chant went worldwide.

It was originally created by Wigan Athletic fan Sean Kennedy, who blasted his homage on YouTube.

Soon, it was picked up by the Latics fans who sang their hearts out for their free-scoring striker.

The tune itself was borrowed from 90s dance anthem, 'Freed From Desire' by Italian one-hit wonder Gala.

Fans sang in unison: "Will Grigg's on fire/your defence is terrified" over and over again.

'Oh Mane, Mane'

When you're a Liverpool player and you have an Anfield legend singing your song, (A) it must be catchy and (B) you must be doing alright in a Reds shirt.

While on Champions League punditry duty with BT Sport, Steven Gerrard burst into the Mane song in the studio.

"Oh Mane Mane", he sang to the tune of 'Sugar, Sugar by 1960s hitmakers The Archies.

Again, that got adapted on YouTube by comedian Kevin Murphy who made his own funny chant that went viral.

That went: "We've got Salah/ Oh Mane Mane/And Bobby Fir-mi-noooo/And we've sold Coutinho."

'When the ball hits your head and you're sat in row Z'

The unforgiving West Ham fans didn't think much of Bobby Zamora's prowess in front of goal.

The target man hit 40 goals for the Hammers in 152 games, but that didn't stop fans at Upton Park from ridiculing his shooting ability.

You'd hear from the stands: "When the ball hits your head and you're sat in row Z, that's Zamora," to the sound of Dean Martin's 'Amore'. Now that is poetry.

'Your teeth are offside'

The Barcelona forward often made himself the pantomime villain on the pitch.

And when he was playing for Liverpool, fans of arch-rivals Manchester United targeted his looks.

John Carew, Carew, He likes a lap-dance or two, He might even pay for you, John Carew, Carew

"Your teeth are offside, your teeth are offside, Luis Suarez, your teeth are offside," they roared whenever the ball came into their own half.

Funny enough it must've inspired him because he scored twice at Old Trafford for the Reds.

'Keep your wife from John Terry'

John Terry's alleged affair with his teammate Wayne Bridge's ex-girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel made front page news in 2010.

Immediately, it provided football fans their opportunity to create a funny chant.

Taking on the 'Lord of the Dance' anthem, rival supporters sang: "Chelsea, wherever you may be, keep your wife from John Terry".

'Deep fry yer pizzas'

Being a fan of Scotland, you have to have a sense of humour.

And amidst all the disappointment, their fans know how to sing a funny song or two.

A particular favourite came during a 2007 World Cup qualifier against Italy.

The Scots, known for deep-frying Mars bars, threatened: "Deep Fry Yer Pizzas/ We're gonna deep fry yer pizzas".

'Harry Maguire's magic'

A man mountain of a player, the Leicester City and England centre half Harry Maguire takes no prisoners when it comes to a tackle… or even heading a brick.

England fans have developed their own song for the bruising defender.

"Oh, Harry Maguire's magic/ He wears a magic hat/ And if you throw a brick at him/ He'll head the f***** back/ He heads it to the left/ He heads it to the right/ And when we win the Euros we'll sing this song all night!"

'Fat Eddie Murphy'

Opposition fans will try anything to rattle a threatening player's confidence.

Whenever Chelsea's Dutch striker Hasselbaink came to St James' Park, the Toon Army made sure they gave him a warm welcome.

"Fat Eddie Murphy/You're just a fat Eddie Murphy," they all shouted, which even got laughs from the Chelsea fans.

'He likes a lap dance to two'

'Que Sera Sera' has been synonymous with football fans across the land, who mostly coin the chant when their sides are heading to Wembley.

But in 2008, Aston Villa fans took it a whole new and original level.

After Norwegian centre forward John Carew was spied visiting a strip club in the wee early hours, their fans could only laugh.

"John Carew, Carew/He likes a lap-dance or two/He might even pay for you. John Carew, Carew," they sang and we laughed.



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Patriots’ Owner Robert Kraft’s Power Faces Its Biggest Test

Two Fridays ago, Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was in Los Angeles, one of his homes away from home.

He started the day at Nate and Al’s, the Beverly Hills delicatessen where he occasionally dines with friends, including Larry King and Steve Tisch, the co-owner of the Giants. Later that day, he was supposed to play golf with Al Michaels, the longtime host of “Sunday Night Football.”

Kraft never made it to the first tee at the Bel-Air Country Club. During the morning he received word that the police 2,600 miles away in Florida were charging him with two counts of soliciting a prostitute at a massage parlor in Jupiter. Since then, authorities have revealed that Kraft is one of hundreds of men facing solicitation charges as part of a case that also encompasses suspected human trafficking in South Florida.

[Read more: Behind Illicit Massage Parlors Lie a Vast Crime Network and Modern Indentured Servitude]

Suddenly, Kraft’s off-season, and perhaps his status as one of the most influential N.F.L. owners, had been turned upside down.

It is telling that he received the news while in Los Angeles, the capital of the entertainment industry. In the quarter-century since he bought the Patriots, Kraft has been at the center of countless business decisions affecting the league, from labor agreements to franchise sales to the commissioner’s compensation. But Kraft has also left his mark by forming friendships with the leaders of the media companies that pay billions of dollars to televise N.F.L. games.

Those contracts account for about half of the N.F.L.’s estimated $14 billion annual revenue. As the chairman of the league’s media committee, Kraft has become the N.F.L.’s seemingly indispensable owner, as anyone who holds that position usually is, and he has been expert at getting networks like CBS and Fox to pay previously unimaginable rights fees, and making them feel as if they were lucky to do so.

“He is a clever negotiator,” said David Hill, the former chairman of Fox Sports. “He could look at what the broadcaster needed and gauge what they felt they could pay but still leave something on the table so you don’t feel like you were gouged.”

Now Kraft may have compromised his stature within that most exclusive of American business clubs. In addition to any league punishment, he faces up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service — though since this would be a first-time offense, prosecutors said, he is unlikely to spend any time behind bars if convicted.

On Feb. 25, Kraft pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges. A date in court, where he is likely to be represented by his lawyer, is scheduled for March 27.

Kraft’s behavior has come under scrutiny before. He has admitted to meddling in football decisions and alienating his coaches in his early years of owning the Patriots. In 2008, he apologized after his team was fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick because of allegations in 2007 that the Patriots videotaped their opponent’s offensive or defensive signals. Coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000. In 2013, Kraft claimed he was “duped” by Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots tight end who was convicted of murder and later killed himself in prison.

In ownership circles, Kraft is known to act as a kind of shadow commissioner, forming close relationships with sponsors, vendors, media companies and even the N.F.L. Players Association, and pursuing back-channel communications that can sometimes circumvent his fellow owners and league officials.

His influence, though, has limits. Many owners tolerate Kraft’s freelancing because he gets results and tries to keep other owners in the loop. But their tolerance runs thin when his team is accused of wrongdoing, as happened in the Spygate scandal and in 2015, when the Patriots were accused of deflating footballs before the A.F.C. championship game. In those cases, owners were not unhappy when the commissioner penalized the team.

Numerous former and current league executives and Kraft’s ownership brethren declined to comment on the record for this article, as did Kraft. Even privately, many of them were reluctant to criticize him for the solicitation charges, which they consider a personal matter.

It is possible, though, that the arrest could diminish Kraft’s standing among the owners just as his skill sets and relationships are needed.

The league’s television contracts are up for renewal in two years, and the N.F.L. would like new players like Amazon to jump into the fray. Negotiations are likely to be complicated as the league and networks figure out how to value rights for streaming and other new technology. Kraft lost a major ally in Leslie Moonves, his longtime friend, who was forced to step down as chief executive of CBS in September after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct.

If Kraft is concerned about his own allegations, he is not showing it. While he has not spoken publicly about the charges, which the police said stem from video recordings of him, Kraft has been seen in public, including at a pre-Oscars brunch on Feb. 23 where he was photographed with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive.

When Kraft returned to Boston the next day, he was spotted hugging Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after they got off a private jet.

Amid the solicitation case in Florida, it is unclear how involved Kraft will be in league business in the coming months. The N.F.L. is preparing not only for talks with television networks but also for negotiations with the players’ union, whose contract expires at the end of next season. Kraft also sits on the finance and compensation committees, and the management council, which represents the league in labor talks.

Kraft can be an affable but cunning negotiator, and both his business and people skills were hard to miss in 2011 during negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement. Several owners pushed the league to take a hard line and exploit their leverage over the players’ union after a court ruling in their favor, but Kraft was among a contingent of owners leading negotiations in Washington who saw an opening to push the talks across the finish line. While Kraft shuttled back and forth to Boston, where his wife, Myra, was dying of ovarian cancer, he maintained a direct line of communication with leaders of the players’ union.

After the two sides reached a deal, Jeff Saturday, a member of the union’s executive committee, thanked Kraft. “Without him, this deal does not get done,” he said at the time.

ESPN, where Saturday works, said he was not available for an interview. But nearly all of Kraft’s associates contacted for this article said Kraft was a careful listener who asked questions and had a knack for proposing solutions. While he does have a temper, they said, he rarely loses it.

Kraft has spoken often about the need to put league matters over personal ones. In November 2017, he was interviewed with his oldest son, Jonathan, onstage at a sports industry conference in New York. In a thinly veiled criticism of Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, Kraft urged owners to act as partners and not perceive themselves as “bigger than the league itself.” Jones had threatened to sue Kraft and other owners who wanted to extend Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract.

“It’s more important,” Kraft said, “that the people running the league do the right thing for the league than for any one franchise.”

Mark Leibovich contributed reporting from Washington.

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Salah vs Suarez: 'You cannot compare'

Mohamed Salah and Luis Suarez are ‘fantastic players in their own right’, says club captain.

    Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring exploits this season are having a similarly positive impact at Liverpool to that of Luis Suarez when the Uruguayan was at Anfield, according to club captain Jordan Henderson.

    Manager Jurgen Klopp said Salah was close to the same level as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi after the Egyptian scored four goals in Saturday’s 5-0 league win over Watford, taking his tally to 36 goals in 41 games.

    The 25 year old’s prolific debut season has also led to comparisons with Suarez, who moved from Liverpool to Barcelona in 2014 after helping the Merseyside club come close to winning the league title with 31 goals in 33 matches.

    Henderson

    But the club captain Henderson said, “They are both fantastic players in their own right and you can’t compare them.”

    “They are different players. I know they score a lot of goals and both work hard off the ball but it is very difficult to make that comparison.

    “Luis moved on to Barcelona and is doing fantastically well. He is a fantastic player who I was privileged to play with.

    “But Mo [Mohamed] this season has been unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. He is doing it every week, without fail.”

    Confidence

    Henderson believes that Salah’s strike rate this season has given Liverpool’s other players the assurance of knowing there will usually be an end product to all their hard work, as much as they had when Suarez was leading the line.

    “It’s the confidence,” Henderson added. “You have someone like Mo who does the hardest part of the game, which is putting the ball in the back of the net.

    “Then, as a team, if we work as hard as we possibly can, Mo (is) going to finish it in the final third. We had that with Luis. You know when you are walking out there are so many goals out there for you.”

    Liverpool booked a Champions League quarter-final tie against league rivals Manchester City last week following their 5-0 aggregate win over Porto in the last-16.

    Klopp’s team are third in the league, two points behind number two in the league, Manchester United and will play Crystal Palace on March 31.

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    Al Jazeera's new football podcast: Game of Our Lives

    Game of Our Lives is the second podcast from Jetty, Al Jazeera’s new audio venture.

      Every football fan has their favourite goal of all time.

      For sports writer David Goldblatt, that goal was during a 2002 match between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen, when Zinedine Zidane scored in the 45th minute.

      “I was floating on the ceiling – lifted up out of my armchair – looking down on the television,” Goldblatt says in the debut episode of his new podcast, Game of Our Lives.

      “As I settled back down to Earth I thought: Nothing much compares to this.”

      For Goldblatt and many others, watching football can be a transcendent experience.

      It’s also a way to talk about the big issues that affect everyone’s lives: economic and political power; race and class; gender and culture. Game of Our Lives isn’t just a recap of last weekend’s English Premier League or Champions League matches. Instead, it’s a conversation.

      Over the course of multiple seasons, Goldblatt will examine the dual themes of globalisation and human nature through the lens of the world’s most popular sport. And he’ll do it at a time – the run-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia – when attention to all of these issues will be ramping up.

      The debut episode features acclaimed film director Werner Herzog, who joins Goldblatt to discuss his first encounters with the game, the intersection of cinema and football, and his plans to make his own football film.

      “Whenever, for example, I arrive in a city in England, I try to see the next big football game,” Herzog tells Goldblatt. “Because I understand immediately the country and the people. Their collective soul.”

      Game of Our Lives is the second podcast from Jetty, Al Jazeera’s new audio venture. Listen to the show’s trailer in the player above, and subscribe for free in Apple Podcasts or on your favourite podcast player.

      The first episode will air on March 15.

      Follow the show on Twitter and Instagram at @gameofourlives.

      Hear full episodes on Facebook Watch.

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      ‘Bigger than Robert Kraft’ is Adam Schefter’s sketchiest report yet

      ESPN insider extraordinaire Adam Schefter is probably the most prolific reporter in the NFL. He texts and tweets so incessantly, ESPN hired a personal driver for him.

      It may want to add a personal editor.

      He keeps swinging and missing on big stories. His latest has mysteriously disappeared from ESPN. It was said on “SportsCenter” on Friday, lighting up the internet, and then it vanished.

      After Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with a misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, Schefter went on “SportsCenter” and said, “I’m told that Robert Kraft is not the biggest name involved down there in South Florida, and we will see what police turn up in the report.”

      Woah! That’s a biggie!

      It is the kind of scoop you would want to tout online, on-air and on every platform.

      After saying it, Schefter went silent.

      No tweets. No follow-ups. No nothing.

      ESPN gave it the silent treatment from TV to dot-com. It was not added to its online news story.

      When asked about specifics about what happened, Schefter “politely declined,” through a spokesman. ESPN also declined comment.

      There are a lot of problems with Schefter’s story, and it seems apparent ESPN’s editors realized it in the aftermath, which is why they acted as if it didn’t exist.

      The first issue with the story is Schefter is leaving all the meat on the bone. If there is a bigger name, then the real story is: Who is it? Go find that out.

      A potential reason not to, if you are ESPN, is maybe the name is outside of sports. ESPN and Disney sort of believe in synergy, so instead of tipping off the rest of the media world to go on the hunt, why not pass the tip to ABC News?

      By reporting the information without the actual name, Schefter comes across as if he is doing Kraft and/or the NFL a favor by diverting attention. That may not have been his motivation, but it sure feels that way. On Monday, during a press conference, Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg said Schefter’s report was false.

      This has continued a bad trend for Schefter. He may be the best transaction merchant in the whole NFL insider game, but when he steps outside of his signing-and-firing sweet spots the last few months, the results have been uninspiring.

      He reported — and ESPN splashed this one everywhere — that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might interview to be the Browns’ head coach. This was a bombshell, but there was nothing to it.

      Schefter did not drill down on the implausible story. After he reported it, the Browns and Rice both completely denied it. And there is no proof Rice was ever considered. It is the kind of misreport that follows you around.

      After the Saints-Rams NFC Championship game, Schefter reported that some officials on the controversial interference non-call at the end of regulation were from Los Angeles. He said the league may change how it picks officials for games in the future so there is no perception of bias.

      First off, did the officials live in the LA area for years, hoping the Rams would relocate so they would have the chance to do their games and then wait for just the right moment to hatch their plan?

      While Schefter said there was no belief the miscall was made on purpose, it is implied and besmirches the officials’ reputations.

      Bottom line: If the NFL changes how it picks refs for games in the future, then this is a story. Saying the league might and sullying officials should be beneath Schefter’s and ESPN’s standards. While it is OK to keep score on having every scoop, a reporter’s correct percentage is far more important.

      Schefter is one of the best in the NFL news business, and he might even be No. 1. But if he misspeaks on “SportsCenter” — which is another possible explanation for what happened Friday — then he and ESPN need to address it quickly to quell his words as they race around the internet.

      Schefter has reached the top because of the credibility of his reports. He should stop messing with his reputation.

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      French football in shock as 15-year-old dies of heart attack on field while playing with friends

      The midfielder – who spent two years in the youth set-up at Stade Reims – was playing with friends when the tragedy occurred.

      It is believed that the youngster suffered a suspected heart attack on the pitch, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and Bordeaux all offering their condolences.

      Savane played for Reims' U14 and U15 side's before joining partner club Cormontreuil FC last summer.

      The Ligue 1 outfit have announced they will pay tribute to their former youth star against Rennes on Sunday, where they will hold a minute's silence in his honour.

      While his face will be projected onto the screens inside Stade Auguste-Delaune, with players to wear black armbands out of respect.

      Speaking of the player, Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said: "I do not have words. To leave at 15 years is already a real drama.

      "But when it happens more on a football field, between friends, we are in dread. The whole club thinks of Mohamed's family, his parents in particular, and his family.

      While Cormontreuil said in a statement: "We were happy at the beginning of the season to see him come home because he was coming from Stade Reims.

      "He was a great kid, always with a smile, someone very endearing and touched at the club."

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      Football fans will no longer face huge rail bills if match times change

      Ministers last night revealed talks with train operators to force them to adopt a far more “flexible” approach to tickets when supporters’ plans are ripped up at the last minute.

      A pilot scheme will run next month with the hope a new system will be up and running in time for the 2019-2020 season.

      The Department for Transport said hope was that “passengers should not have to pay more for their train tickets in the event a match is rescheduled for TV”.

      It’s part of a plan to encourage more supporters to take the train to games.

      And British Transport Police (BTP) has vowed to provide more stewards on services to increase security and put fans at ease.

      Complaints from fans have been growing about last minute switches given eye-watering travel costs.

      Clubs had traditionally given fans six weeks’ notice when their match times change to fit TV schedules.

      But supporters claim that decisions are increasingly being made far closer to match day. Labour last night claimed the Government was copying its own proposals.

      And Shadow Sports Minister Rosena Allin-Khan insisted fans had to be included in the talks with rail operators.

      She said: “For two years Labour has been pushing the government to introduce a scheme for fans who travel by train. For too long, fans have missed out on the cheapest train tickets when fixtures are rearranged for television.

      “We believe fans must be at the heart of the decision making process.”


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      Ole Miss football to vacate 33 wins from 2010 to 2016 as a result of NCAA investigation

      Ole Miss football will vacate 33 wins over a six-year period as a result of the NCAA's lengthy investigation into the program.

      According to a letter dated Dec. 7, 2018, and released by the university on Monday, the sanctions will affect 14 Southeastern Conference games, including the Rebels' 23-17 win over then-No. 3 Alabama in 2014, and one bowl game: Ole Miss' win over Pittsburgh in the 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl.

      "It's the last part of this process," athletic director Ross Bjork said at an event in Cleveland, Mississippi. on Monday night, according to Rivals.com. "In a way it's just a piece of paper because you saw those games."

      The NCAA levied 15 Level I violations against Ole Miss in 2017 and rendered its final decision in November, after the school appealed some of the charges. The investigation largely revolved around the Rebels' recruiting practices, including instances in which boosters provided impermissible benefits to key recruits.

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      The Worst Super Bowl in History?

      On behalf of Patriots fans everywhere, I apologize for the Super Bowl. We know it was a terrible game. We also know you hate us. Hell, I hate us.

      Even we don’t enjoy this that much anymore. My personal excitement level Sunday night was between enjoying a good cheeseburger and waking up to find a boil gone.

      Aesthetically there have definitely been worse Super Bowls. The 1995 Niners-Chargers game was over in five minutes. The Eighties and early Nineties were filled with games like that, blowouts decided before your second beer. Super Bowl V, in 1971, featured 11 turnovers and a missed extra point.

      But Sunday’s game was 14 punts and four hours of offensive ineptitude capped by an ending that depressed everyone outside New England. The Patriots themselves struggled to conceal the mildness of their excitement over their just-good-enough win. Devin McCourty, yawning almost, called it “still a pretty good feeling.” Depending on your point of view was either an amusing middle finger to the rest of the country or the ultimate testament to their vile corporate personality, or both.

      Tom Brady, in previous Super Bowls, jumped up and down like a kindergartener (the Seattle game in 2015) and collapsed from exhaustion (the Falcons’ comeback in 2017). After his first championship in 2002 he seemed dumbfounded with excitement, wearing the “Who, me?” look of the next contestant on The Price is Right as he stood with his hand on his head staring in all directions.

      This time around, in the postgame interview with Tracy Wolfson, the gazillionaire 41-year-old struggled to identify why he was celebrating. Thinking for a moment, he said, “We’ve, uh, been this far and lost, which is really tough,” then added, “I wish we’d played a little better on offense, but we won… Super Bowl champs.”

      Two weeks of hype for, Well, it’s better than losing. No wonder everyone hates us. He looked about as happy as your Dad unwrapping yet another shaving kit on Christmas morning.

      A lot of people this week are saying things like, “We’ll never see a dynasty like this again.” That might not be true. I could see Patrick Mahomes ripping off six titles. What we’ll never see again is a team that makes it to a ninth Super Bowl and unironically plays the “nobody believed in us” card when they get there.

      Even curmudgeon-in-chief Bill Belichick, who normally keeps such thoughts imprisoned behind that Easter Island face, was babbling about how “Everyone counted us out” in his postgame interview. This is a man who repaints the name of his boat with each title and will soon be puttering around the Vineyard in a vessel called “VIII Rings” (he counts the two he won as a coordinator with the Giants). Count you out? The Patriots are as inevitable as herpes to most Americans.

      Related

      The one poor kid who ran his mouth about the Patriots in the last few weeks was Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. His crime was being insufficiently pedigreed as a player to say true things about Brady (Aqib Talib would have gotten away with it). Robey-Coleman said age had “taken its toll” on the GOAT, who was “not the sharpest” and “not the same quarterback” he’d seen as a member of the Buffalo Bills, hinting Brady’s arm and brain had both slowed. The kid was seemingly forced by someone to backtrack in a public statement in Atlanta a few days later that was as convincing as a captured jet pilot offering a video confession.

      Then the game started, and Brady instantly validated everything Robey-Coleman said! The man who we keep hearing has “seen every coverage” and is “impossible to fool” mixed up zone and man literally on his first pass, which he underthrew to Chris Hogan, allowing (who else?) Robey-Coleman to tip the ball in the air for a crushing early interception.

      The Patriots deserved to lose the game on that play alone, or at least Brady did. But the Rams’ offense spit the bit on the next possession, on the way to not showing up all game, so it didn’t matter.

      The one saving grace of the Patriots throughout its period as America’s leading sports villain was that the team always played interesting Super Bowls. Until Sunday, every single one of their championship games has been a good one, and three or four (2002, 2004, 2008 and 2017 stand out) were outright classics. The only previous title game that was on the boring side was the 2005 game against the Eagles, which the Patriots characteristically won when their opponents appeared to forget the score late in the fourth quarter.

      Not this year. The 2018-19 Patriots made a Super Bowl that was tied heading into the fourth quarter feel as exciting as an evening re-run of Shoe Shopping on QVC. The Patriots wet themselves a half-dozen times early on and headed into the fourth quarter with just three points on the board, forcing the whole country to keep watching out of reflexive Schadenfreude, after which the Pats didn’t even have the common decency to lose the game.

      Even as the confetti fell, the players were so clearly bored, they seemed to borrow interview lines and expressions of exuberance from previous celebrations (the Brady-Edelman-Belichick tri-hug was a clear ripoff of the Brady-Belichick-Legarrette Blount bro-down after the Falcons game). It was like watching the ’27 Yankees jump for joy after winning on a passed ball against a beer league team. An America that doesn’t hate this team has no self-respect, and again, I say this as a Patriots fan.

      A Los Angeles Rams fan at the Super Bowl plays with her phone. Photo credit: David J Phillip/AP/REX/Shutterstock

      Then there was the award celebration, which hit another surprising new low. The Patriots have been waging a fierce national unpopularity contest with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for years. Every time the league suppressed CTE research or colluded against Colin Kaepernick or suspended potsmokers while welcoming alleged domestic abusers back to the field, the Patriots would take back the lead with something like Deflategate or an unsolicited endorsement of Donald Trump.

      On Sunday, when Pats fans in Atlanta viciously booed Goodell for having the temerity to congratulate Pats owner Robert Kraft for winning an 852-punting-yard contest that cratered ratings and probably set the league’s TV ad rates back 15 years, the Patriots improbably snuck back in the lead of this neck-and-neck race.

      This was despite the NFL’s transparent effort to get out from under its self-inflicted Kaepernick cloud — The Root called it the “MAGA Super Bowl” — by running ads praising MLK and showing Goodell touting “community and social justice moments” in Atlanta.

      On stage, Kraft grabbed the Lombardi from Goodell, turned his back, and dragged out his slower-every-year “We are all Patriots!” speech for the 10 millionth time.

      If the Pats owner is at Super Bowl 54 next year wearing that same fat pink tie and pretentious white club collar (a stylistic tradition, by the way, that came from Eton College aristocrats in England wanting to visually distinguish themselves from riff-raff) — if he’s shouting “We are all Patriots!” into the Miami night — there should be rioting across the country, and none of us would blame any of you.

      I wish I could tell you Sunday was the last of this dynasty. If anything, they seem to be reverting to form. Any Patriots fan will tell you the team was actually better from 2001-2005, before Brady started throwing for a million touchdowns.

      Did you see how happy Belichick was after the game? Winning a Super Bowl in which his best player was probably the punter is enough to keep that man tumescent for a decade. He will take it as a personal challenge to see if he can somehow make next year’s game even more miserable for everyone.

      This is one of the reasons Patriots fans love coach Bill, but we get it if you want to stab us in the face for it. That was a bad one. We know. We’re sorry.

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