Whether Twitter (and social media in general) makes athletes more popular or less popular is certainly up for debate — it’s probably both, depending on what exactly they use it for — but it is undeniable that without social media, the struggle for stories about these players during “down times” on the sports calendar would be very, very real.
Personally, I like Twitter the most when it is honest and a real reflection of who the athlete is. That would explain why the topic of Arian Foster contending that he could take down a wolf with his bare hands overtook my national radio show on Sunday night cheap soccer jerseys wholesale:
For the record, I had multiple calls from Alaskans to my show saying that Foster is absolutely nuts (duh!), one of them even citing the pounds per square inch that a wolf deploys when shredding an object with its fangs (wolf analytics!). It was a fun topic to spend kicking around, as it took us to a place where eventually callers were trying to figure out which deadly animal they would stand the best chance of beating with their bare hands. (Most prominent answer — NONE.)
Arian Foster may no longer be a Texan, but as long as he’s on Twitter, he lives on in our minds, hearts, souls and laptops.
Fast-forward to Monday night, and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Peruse Watt’s Twitter timeline, and over the past several weeks it’s largely retweets from fans who bought tickets to his charity softball game (May 13, Minute Maid Park, tickets available at jjwfoundation.org) and retweets of combine/draft accolades for his younger brother, T.J. Watt, who is thought to be a second-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
There are no bold proclamations of how he could destroy a wolf with his bare hands (Fact: If any athlete could, it’s a healthy J.J. Watt), and there are absolutely zero political statements (Why do you think J.J. Watt is so damn popular?). Hell, it took Watt’s girlfriend, Houston Dash star Kealia Ohai, to change HER Facebook status and profile picture for the world to learn they were officially a couple!
But every now and again, J.J. Watt has a solid take on something sports-related. On Monday night, he tweeted this…
We know that youth sports and after-school activities are a passion for J.J. Watt, as his foundation benefits numerous school systems to help them provide equipment and resources to conduct sports and activities. We also know that Watt grew up playing every sport under the sun. The freaking guy is good at hockey, for God’s sake!
As a parent of three sports-playing kids myself and a daughter who runs track and cross country at the collegiate level, I couldn’t agree with Watt’s take more. The trend that’s taken kids who love and have the athletic wherewithal to play multiple sports over different seasons down to specializing in one sport year-round is unfortunate and, oftentimes, unseemly.
For one, these are different lessons to be gleaned from playing different sports — universal lessons in teamwork and sacrifice, but also specialized lessons in strategy and use of different muscle groups. I’m a firm believer that being able to have substantial experiences in many things is better than inundation in one thing. (The Bill O’Brien Versatility Theory in play!) Second, playing different sports often avails kids to sport jerseys wholesale different groups of people and friends. There is nothing bad about that.
But more to the point that I think Watt was driving at, in the unsavory specialization realm, kids and parents begin to brush up against the lunatic fringe of parents and coaches (and even the slimeball outer fringe when you begin to get into handlers in high school). A lot of specialization is a money grab by “private coaches” planting dreams of stardom down the road in the heads of kids and parents, a vast majority of whom end up on the scrap heap (simple math — only so many people get to the levels that these coaches brag about on their clientele page).
It’s why I don’t watch the Little League World Series on TV, quite honestly. There’s just something a little weird about watching a bunch of sixth graders from around the world getting the Major League treatment on ESPN, knowing full well that, in 2017, a lot of these kids are probably being asked to play baseball and ONLY baseball by delusional parents. Hey, maybe my abstaining from watching it makes me the lunatic. Whatever.
But back to the original point…yes, J.J. Watt! Totally agree! Play lots of sports, kids. Dream big. Work hard. Hunt greatness. And for the love of God, do NOT flip any 1,000-pound usa wholesale jerseys tires.
It’s no secret the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a need at wide receiver, and the 2017 NFL scouting combine hasn’t disappointed, with a whopping 58 prospects at the position. Even without Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, who didn’t participate because he’s recovering from ankle surgery, this group features a lot of talent. Here’s how they performed in Indianapolis and how they’d fit in with wholesale jerseys the Bucs:
John Ross, Washington: In case you live under a rock, Ross beat Chris Johnson’s NFL combine 40-yard dash record, running an official time of 4.22 seconds (0.74 5-yard split). He sustained a cramp in his calf on the run, which meant his day was done. Now he’ll head home to undergo shoulder surgery. Ross’ 17 touchdown catches in 2016 were tied for most among all receivers in Power 5 conferences. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ross scored a touchdown on 20 percent of his offensive touches last season, the highest rate among Power 5 conference players with at least 80 touches. Ross had a formal meeting with the Bucs. It should be noted, too, that a player the Bucs are expected to pursue in free agency, DeSean Jackson, has trained with and mentored Ross.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State: Samuel ran the 40 in 4.31, and would have been the talk of Indy on Saturday had it not been for Ross’ earth-shattering 40 time. Samuel served as an H-back for the Buckeyes, but at 5-foot-11 and 197 pounds, that’s not doable at the next level. He led the Buckeyes with 15 touchdowns last year, but the thing that jumps out in watching his tape is his yards after the catch. He’s also incredibly versatile: He looks physically like he’d line up in the slot, but at other times that he could take handoffs as a running back and take pitches out of the backfield, and of course could go vertical with that top-flight speed — he’s not getting caught from behind. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter would have so many options with him. Samuel also had a formal meeting with the Bucs in Indianapolis.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC: Smith-Schuster ran a 4.54 40, posted a 32.5-inch vertical and had a 10-foot broad jump. Koetter has said he prefers bigger receivers, and Smith-Schuster fits the bill at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. He doesn’t have breakaway speed and looks to be more of a possession receiver. Smith-Schuster had 3,092 receiving yards over the last three seasons, second-most among Power 5 conference players. He’s plenty tough to bring down when the ball is in his hands (watch him stiff-arm defenders) and would be an asset over the middle with that kind of toughness. Koetter also said the Bucs need some yards after the catch. Smith-Schuster is a solid blocker, a plus for a run-heavy team like Tampa Bay. The most interesting thing with him, though, is that despite having great size, he’s not a player you see making many contested catches. He had a formal interview with the Bucs in Indy on Friday.
Zay Jones, East Carolina: He ran a 4.45 in the 40 (0.79 5-yard split) and had a 4.01 in the 20-yard shuttle, second-best among receivers. He turned in a 6.79 in the three-cone drill (13th among receivers). In the last two seasons, Jones produced 1,322 yards after the catch, the most of any player in college football. He also had 535 receiving yards after contact over the last three seasons, also the most among all players in college football.
Rodney Adams, USF: Adams turned in an official 4.44 in the 40, tied for ninth among receivers. In the last two seasons, Adams had 1,221 yards after the catch, third-most among all players in college football, and averaged 10.9 yards after the catch, more than any other player at the combine. He can make an immediate impact on special teams, where he averaged 26.3 yards per kickoff return over the last two seasons and produced a kickoff return for a touchdown against Navy in 2015. He met with the Bucs in Indianapolis.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M: Reynolds ran a 4.52 40 and posted a 37-inch vertical (fifth among receivers). That’s pretty darn good for a guy who’s 6-foot-3 game jerseys wholesale. What jumps out with Reynolds is his consistency and production, especially downfield, which is where the Bucs could stand to improve. He averaged 17 yards per reception last season. His 15 catches on balls traveling 30 or more yards downfield over the last three seasons were fifth-most in the Power 5. What may be most impressive of all is that in the last two seasons he was targeted for 22 passes of 30-plus air yards and he managed to haul in 15 of them. No other player comes close to that. He had 2,788 receiving yards over the last three seasons, fifth-most in the Power 5, and his 12 receiving touchdowns in 2016 were tied for eighth. His 377 receiving yards after contact over the last three seasons were fifth-most in college football. Reynolds met with the Bucs in Indianapolis.
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky: Taylor turned in a 4.50 40, dominated the three-cone drill with a 6.57, tops among receivers, and posted a 33.5-inch vertical. His 11-foot broad jump was also tied for sixth among receivers and his 11.23 60-yard shuttle was eighth. His 3,197 receiving yards over the last two seasons were most of any player in college football, as were his 34 receiving touchdowns. He could making a living on yards after the catch, and with his size (5-foot-11 and 198) and skill set, is probably best suited for a role in the slot.
Chris Godwin, Penn State: Godwin turned in a 4.42 in the 40 (0.79 5-yard split), tied for fifth among receivers, and a 4.00 in the 20-yard shuttle, tied for tops at the position. Where he really shined was in his on-field work, matching effortless catch after catch. Godwin had 2,421 receiving yards over the last three seasons, ninth-most in the Power 5 during that span. His 303 receiving yards after contact over the last two seasons was third-most in college football and most in the Power 5. He’s a player who has shown great ability to catch the ball on passes deep down the field. At 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, he’s got pretty good size.
Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia: McKenzie ran a 4.42 in the 40 (tied for fifth among receivers), posted a 36-inch vertical and had a 6.64 in the three-cone drill, second among wide receivers. At 5-foot-7 1/2 and 173 pounds, he faces a huge size disadvantage at the next level as a receiver, but he could make a big impact on special teams with five punt returns for touchdowns (third-most in SEC history) and a kickoff return for a touchdown in three years at Georgia. If the Bucs did utilize him on offense, it would have to be out in space, working out of the slot.
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina: Switzer had 2,566 receiving yards in the last three years, sixth-most among Power-5 players in that span. At 5-foot-8 and 181 pounds, his size is limiting at the next level, but he could be a productive slot receiver, although he doesn’t offer an upgrade over what the Bucs have already in Adam Humphries. Where he shines is on special teams. His five punts returned for touchdowns tied an NCAA single-season record.
Shelton Gibson, West Virginia: He was expected to be one of the faster players in the combine but turned in a 4.50; it was disappointing considering the way he hyped his own speed, saying that he’d top Johnson’s record. He didn’t come close, although his on-field speed is more eye-catching, and he’s got decent size at 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds. He finished first in the 60-yard shuttle with a 10.71. He is one of those receivers you could really air the ball out to downfield. In fact, his 17 receptions for 20-plus air yards and 13 for 30-plus air yards both were more than any other Power 5 player last season. Over the last three seasons, he produced 21 catches for 30-plus air yards, also tops among Power 5 players. His ability to make adjustments to the ball on tougher catches is impressive.
Artavis Scott, Clemson: Scott managed only usa wholesale jerseys a 4.61 in the 40, disappointing for a player with his level of production in college. His other numbers were also near the bottom (4.49 in the 20-yard shuttle and 12.06 in the 60-yard shuttle), something he’s going to have to answer for as pro days and private workouts get underway. He had a combined 2,149 yards after the catch over the last three seasons, more than any other player in college football during that span. His 534 receiving yards after contact over the last two seasons were second-most in college football. What Scott brings is sure-handedness: His 78.5 percent receiving percentage over the last three years was fourth-highest among Power 5 players athletic jerseys wholesale.
Mike Williams, Clemson: Williams did not run the 40 but posted a 32.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot-1-inch broad jump. His most impressive trait on tape is his ability to adjust his body in mid-air — he’ll dive and spin and contort his body in all sorts of ways to make some really tough catches, including jump balls, much like Mike Evans. Williams had 60 receiving first downs in 2016, second-most among players in the Power 5. At 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, he looks the part of a player Jameis Winston could lob the ball to or hit on a back-shoulder fade. He also looks like a player who could fill the role left by Vincent Jackson and grow with Evans for years to come.
It will be another homecoming for the grinning big man wholesale jerseys with the twinkle in his eye. Though in Dwight Howard’s case they’re starting to pile up like ports of call in a drifting sailor’s log.
Orlando, Los Angeles and Houston have led to Atlanta, where he hasn’t put in enough hours yet to add to his trail of broken hearts. But give him time.
Howard returns to the Toyota Center Thursday night (8 ET, TNT), where the difference from a year ago is not night and day as much as it is between a deep, dark cave somewhere beneath the Earth’s crust and the surface of the sun.
This time 12 months ago, the Houston locker room could hardly have been more toxic if someone had dropped a vial of sarin gas in the middle of the floor. Colorless, odorless, deadly.
After every game, win or lose, Howard would sit in his chair on one side of the spacious, ultra-modern digs and to tap away on his phone and answer questions with soul-less platitudes. Harden, meanwhile, stood directly opposite him, singing and rapping loudly to himself, barely acknowledging that an outside world existed. Theirs was never a war of open hostility wholesale authentic jerseys, but more like a junior high cafeteria where the students talk around each other.
After a lifeless and mediocre 41-41 finish in 2015-16, the Rockets are 36-16 — third-best in the NBA — not just because they’re better, but also happier. Dwight Howard and James Harden’s chemistry was never quite fully there.
Sure, Eric Gordon has pumped in the second-most 3-pointers in the league and is a leading candidate for the Kia Sixth Man Award. But he and fellow ex-New Orleans Pelican Ryan Anderson are thriving in coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense and an atmosphere that isn’t so thick with passive-aggressive discord.
Veterans Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley are Corey Brewer are back to their old selves, doing more running and diving and shooting. They’re simply enjoying themselves on the court rather than trying to see how fast they could dressed and get out of a locker room full of distrust. A year later, it’s a mope-free zone.
Chemistry is a funny and fleeting thing in sports and can blow up at a moment’s notice, especially when it was an odd, volatile mix in the first place.
It begins at the top, where Rockets own Leslie Alexander has always been a star-plucker and will perennially chase the biggest, brightest bauble — and Howard certainly was one of those in the summer of 2013.
At the same time, general manager Daryl Morey had pursued Howard like Ahab chasing the white whale for years. Trouble was, when he signed Howard to a four-year, $88-million deal (an out-clause in 2016), Morey was like the dog who finally catches the car. Now what to do?
Harden and Howard were never a good fit usa wholesale jerseys, not as personalities and not on the court. Not with both of them wanting the same thing, but differently. Both gave lip service to having only selfless championship goals. But the truth is each wanted to be the lead horse pulling the wagon with vastly opposing views of how the game should be played. That should all have been sorted out at those wining-and-dining meetings in Beverly Hills during the courtship process. But the Rockets’ brass had stars in their eyes and Howard simply wanted to flee the no-holds-barried criticism of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, who were then coached by D’Antoni.
After their first season together ended with Damian Lillard’s 3-point dagger knocking them out of the playoffs in the first round, the veiled recriminations began behind the scenes and they both would have preferred the other gone.
Take a look back at the Blazers-Rockets series from the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
The 2014-15 season found the Rockets making a surprising run to the Western Conference finals. But that was one part beating (a broken and dysfunctional) Dallas team in the first round, another part an utterly Clippers-being-Clippers collapse in the Western Conference semifinals combined with Howard missing 41 games with leg injuries (which allowed Harden to seize control).
By the time the 2015-16 season began, the cracks in the facade had become a chasm and almost from Day One, Howard was marking time. The truth is the Rockets were perfectly happy with his numbers — 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game — last season youth sports jerseys wholesale. But Howard wasn’t happy and once he goes into full-moping mode, there’s never a good ending (as the Magic and Lakers can attest).
He returns with quite similar averages (13.8 ppg, 12.8 rpg) and is wearing the same smile for his hometown team.
At 31, in his 13th NBA season, it is fitting that Howard makes his latest return on Groundhog Day, still selling the same story. But the burned bridges are piling up.
Former NHL forward Teemu Selanne might have retired Wholesale Jerseys at the end of the 2013-14 season, but he’s still got his finger on the pulse of the NHL.
When Patrik Laine, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, completed his first NHL hat trick at 2:40 of overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, Selanne was watching.
The message from Selanne, who was selected with the No. 10 pick by the Jets in 1988 and played four seasons in Winnipeg, came by surprise to Laine. He hadn’t seen the tweet as of Thursday morning, but the 18-year-old took the compliment in stride usa wholesale jerseys.
“Oh, OK,” he said.
Laine said Selanne has been a big inspiration for fellow Finland-born hockey players.
“He’s a big guy in our country, a legend who has been an idol to a lot of young kids who have played hockey in Finland,” Laine said. “He’s just an amazing guy. He was an awesome player and it’s nice to know him.”
Laine said he spoke with Selanne as recently as the World Cup of Hockey 2016, where the 46-year-old gave him a few pieces of advice heading into his rookie season china wholesale jersey.
“He just said you’re going to get the first games just once, so enjoy them and have fun and have fun with the guys and give your best shot with the guys on the ice,” Laine said.
As much as Selanne has influenced Finland-born players, Laine said he doesn’t want to model his game after anyone, including the Finnish Flash.
“I just want to be who I am,” he said. “I don’t have to pretend or anything. I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life, I know that. I don’t have to model anybody.”
Selanne will be in Winnipeg on Saturday to play in the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NHL.TV). Laine plays in the Heritage Classic on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV) against the Edmonton Oilers.
Laine scored 1:00 into the third period and tied the game with 55 seconds remaining in regulation. His hard, accurate and quick release featured on all three goals.
“I’ve never seen anybody score goals like Patrik Laine does in practice. Ever, in 20 years,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “There are guys that are good shooters in practice and they can’t seem to find a way to translate that into a game. But he has a gift, there’s no question about it. It’s a different shot.”
It’s a shot Laine has been perfecting for years.
“I’ve worked a lot to get my shot where it is right now,” he said. “I’ve just learned on my own. I’ve watched a lot of videos from YouTube, old NHL players, (Washington Capitals captain Alex) Ovechkin and guys like that. I’ve just tried to learn on my own and make it better nhl jersey wholesale.”
Laine’s overtime winner also re-wrote Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history. Twice.
He became the first player in franchise history to score a game-tying goal with under 1:00 left and go on to score the game-winning goal in overtime, and also became the youngest player in franchise history at 18 years, 183 days to record a hat trick.
“It’s one achievement more to my career,” he said.
Laine said he celebrated his hat trick by eating half a bowl of ice cream. It was Smarties flavor and his girlfriend ate the other half.
“That was pretty good,” Laine said. “My dad bought it.”
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Some quick-hit thoughts regarding the New England Patriots and the NFL:
1. If initial projections by some legal experts are correct, wholesale jerseys this could be the week that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s request for an en banc hearing. Brady’s legal team filed its official appeal May 23, and at the time ESPN legal analyst Andrew Brandt, among others, estimated that a ruling could come as early as three weeks or possibly take as long as six weeks. Monday marks five full weeks since Brady’s appeal, which means we’re officially in the red zone for a court decision.
2. What is it like working under Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia? Here is how 2013 first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper, now in his first year with the Patriots, described it during last week’s Sirius XM NFL Radio interview: “He’s just the type of guy who is going to get on you, like every coach, but when you’re doing it correctly he’s going to make sure you know that. And he’s going to give you the repetitions it takes on building the fundamentals and laying the foundation, so once you do get with the live bullets flying you’re ready to go and it’s second nature. That’s one of the biggest things I’d say about him, every day it’s doing the same repetitions, and it’s, ‘Oh, this again?’ You quickly learn that it starts to translate into the practice film, then it will translate into the game film, and that’s when you’re successful.”
3a. One of the notable transformations on the Patriots’ roster is at defensive tackle wholesale custom jerseys, where the club released its two players — Chris Jones and Dominique Easley — who best fit the description of a penetrating 3-technique. In their place, the club has favored bigger, stouter tackles who aren’t built to win with an explosive first step or penetrating move as they are with power or to hold the point of attack (e.g. Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine). When I asked defensive line coach Brendan Daly earlier in the offseason about the “disappearance of the 3-technique,” he politely contested my choice of words by pointing out how the defense is getting some of that from its defensive ends when they move inside in passing situations, and also from linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins when they pressure up the middle. It was a brief chat with Daly, but one I appreciated because it prompted me to look at things differently.
3b. In discussing the concept of defensive ends moving inside to rush on passing downs, one of the most topical players of late to highlight is San Diego Chargers rookie Joey Bosa, the third overall pick out of Ohio State. The Chargers envision him playing on the edge but also moving inside in some passing situations. It was something the Patriots’ Jabaal Sheard did wholesale best jerseys in 2015, which coach Bill Belichick previously mentioned was new to him, and he seemed to handle it well.
4. Jones is essentially competing with veteran Earl Mitchell for a backup spot behind Ndamukong Suh in Miami. The system being implemented by Dolphins first-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has similarities to the Bengals’ 4-3 (think about Geno Atkins as a penetrating 3-technique), which makes sense when considering Joseph spent the past two years as Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach and he also brought linebackers coach Matt Burke with him to South Florida. Meanwhile, Easley is behind All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald in the Rams’ 4-3, with coordinator Gregg Williams recently touting the overall line as arguably the fastest in the NFL. So both former Patriots have landed in schemes where the traditional 3-technique wholesale cheap jerseys china review — usually undersized but often explosive — is a bigger part of the scheme.
5. The Pro Football Writers of America announced its five annual awards last week, and Patriots left tackle Nate Solder was edged out by Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry for the George Halas honor, which goes to the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. Berry is a deserving choice — as is Solder, who has used his NFL platform to raise awareness for testicular cancer (Solder had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2014). In addition, Solder’s son Hudson, who was born in July 2015, was diagnosed with kidney cancer last fall and Solder and his wife, Lexi, have shared his story to raise public awareness. Solder will return in 2016 from a biceps injury that cost him most of the past season, and he should be a strong consideration for the award again at this time next year.
6. Former Maine Black Bear Mike DeVito, who retired from the NFL this offseason after six years with the Jets (2007-2012) and three with the Chiefs (2013-2015), is exploring some opportunities in the media and will provide color commentary for televised UMaine games in 2016. We caught up on the radio last week, as DeVito was co-hosting a sports radio program on 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, and his first question about the Patriots was with the offensive line. DeVito said as the Chiefs prepared to face the Patriots in the playoffs last season, they felt the O-line was one area that could be exploited. The big changes this year for New England: The return of Scarnecchia as coach, Solder’s return to health, the possibility that Cooper (right guard) realizes his potential as the No. 7 overall player selected in 2013, third-round draft pick Joe Thuney as a possible starter at left guard, and a potential open competition at center headlined by incumbent Bryan Stork and second-year man David Andrews.
7. Patriots top draft choice Cyrus Jones, in an interview with Tide 99.1 in Alabama last week, highlighted some of the similarities he has noticed in coming from Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide program to Belichick’s program. The primary link: “Coach Belichick is definitely a coach that demands discipline from his players. He runs a tight ship.” Jones is quickly learning what Alabama alum Hightower learned after the Patriots selected him in the 2012 first round. Hightower said of Belichick and Saban, “I literally think they’re exactly the same … two peas in a pod.”
8. Patriots No. 3 tight end Michael Williams, who tore his left ACL on June 8 in mandatory minicamp and was placed on season-ending injured reserve, is waiting for swelling to subside before undergoing surgery. The expectation is that the surgery will take place the week of July 4. He’ll rehab during the season in hopes of being ready to go next offseason, when he is a restricted free agent usa wholesale jerseys.
9. After the Cavaliers captured the first professional sports championship for the city of Cleveland since the Browns won the 1964 NFL championship, Browns cornerback Joe Haden told TheMMQB.com that it was motivation for the Browns, who are in the midst of another rebuilding project. Did You Know: The Browns have missed the playoffs each of the past 13 seasons, which is tied with the Raiders for the second-longest active streak in the NFL. The Bills, who last made the playoffs in 1999, have the longest active playoff drought.
10. Something to look forward to later this year: With this marking the 15-year anniversary of the Patriots’ first Super Bowl championship team — the 2001 squad that shocked the St. Louis Rams (aka The Greatest Show on Turf) — the club gathered a few of the reporters from that era to reflect, reminisce and travel back in time to that special season. Along with Tom Curran, Ron Borges and Bryan Morry, and led by host Bob Socci, we taped several segments that will run throughout the season on the team’s website (starting the week of July 25). So many meaningful stories to tell from that magical run.
The Premier League is gearing up for a new season and the oddsmakers are crunching numbers in their London offices, coming up with the first future odds that they hope will lure bettors to wager on teams for the next campaign.
Near the bottom of the 2014-15 standings were the Foxes of Leicester City, in their first year back in the Premier League after an 11-year absence. Thanks to winning seven of their last nine games, they were saved from relegation.
“They escaped by the skin of their teeth, and all signs for us had them pointing towards relegation again for this season,” said David Williams of Ladbrokes, a betting company whose roots can be traced back to 1886.
Bookies try to come up with odds to get people to bet on this sorry team, which was entering its 48th season in England’s top division. Leicester’s best finish was as runner-up in 1928-29.
So Ladbrokes sets the odds of the Foxes winning the 2015-16 title at 5,000-1. Ladbrokes’ biggest competitor, William Hill, concurs wholesale jerseys.
(For comparison, if you ever thought Kim Kardashian would become president of the United States, you could have gotten those odds for 1,000-1.)
The 5,000-1 odds on Leicester are available through August, with Ladbrokes taking 47 bets at the highest odds while William Hill wrote 25 bets.
Below is the story of seven people — from Tom Hanks to a 39-year-old carpenter — who all have tales to tell about their brush with Leicester City’s unbelievable championship season.
The bettors Leigh Herbert
Herbert is a 39-year-old carpenter who attended his first Leicester City game in the late 1980s. Immediately, he was hooked.
Like many teams, Leicester’s recent history has been marked by promotion and relegation, the coming up and falling down common to soccer teams, when every season is cheap wholesale jerseys free shipping a fight to stay relevant.
Despite the temptations to bet — there are betting shops with kiosks everywhere you look in Leicester’s city center — Herbert never really was tempted, except for his annual wager each year on the Grand National, a steeplechase horse race that takes place in Liverpool.
But what he heard on Aug. 5, 2015 was just too tempting: He was told the Leicester City team was 5,000-1 to win the title. So that night, he downloaded William Hill’s app to his phone, funded the account and put one pound on the bet. Editor’s Picks
Moments later, he erased the one pound and replaced it with a five-pound bet ($7.31 using today’s exchange rate).
Little did he know that quick thinking could change his life cheap soccer jerseys wholesale.
“I was a bit drunk at the time,” Herbert now admits. “So no, of course I didn’t think they were actually going to win the league.”
As the season goes on, Leicester City is playing well. By Christmas, the Foxes have somehow lost only one of their first 17 matches (a 5-2 defeat to Arsenal on Sept. 26). They are the best team in the league.
On Feb. 6, after a shocking 3-1 victory at Manchester City, fans start a new chant:
“We’re gonna win the league, we’re gonna win the league, we know you don’t believe us, we know you don’t believe us, we’re gonna win the league!”
Herbert couldn’t believe the position he was in. He was in line to win $36,500.
It was around that time that Herbert also started paying attention to something that showed up in connection to his bet on Leicester. It was called “cash-out value.”
It’s a common practice in England for bookies, if they face significant risk, to offer bettors a buyout plan. It’s an automatic program that offers a bettor the chance to immediately take the cash at a discount reflective of a bet’s current odds to pay out.
The cash-out numbers kept going up and Herbert kept resisting. That was until April 1. With Leicester up five points on second-place Tottenham with seven matches to play, William Hill was offering him $21,191 for his bet, which represented 58 percent of the total value if he won the bet at season’s end.
“I thought, at that point, we were going to win, but it was too costly to lose it all,” Herbert said cheap jerseys china wholesale.
So he made a deal with the bookmaker. He cashed out two pounds of his five-pound bet at a 55 percent payout. Herbert saw $8,300 pumped into his account.
He’ll use the money as a deposit on a house, he says, which he’ll now buy before he marries his fiancée, Kerry.
With Leicester clinching the title, Herbert will get another $21,918 for a total payoff of $30,218, or a return on his investment of more than 425,000 percent over a 270-day period.
And he says he doesn’t regret the $6,332 he left on the table from making the first deal.
Every year for about two decades, John Micklethwait put down a 20-pound bet on his Leicester soccer team. He even had a date to remind him just in case he forgot – Aug. 11, which is his birthday. If he hadn’t made a bet by then, he’d walk to a betting parlor in London and take care of it.
Micklethwait actually won a couple times, when Leicester became champion in the lower leagues, but the winning payouts weren’t anything to brag about. The losing tickets usually found a spot on the wall behind his computer at The Economist, where he was editor-in-chief.
Leicester’s rise to the top of the Premier League this season has been a treat for Micklethwait.
“I couldn’t be happier, other than having 100 grand in my pocket too,” he said.
You see, Micklethwait didn’t put a 20-pound wager on his Foxes this year.
He was hired as editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News in February 2015, and when Aug. 11 came and went, it wasn’t as easy for him to walk somewhere and place a bet. He was now living in New York, where sports betting isn’t legal.
So Micklethwait let it go, even as he started hearing about Leicester’s long odds. The first time he heard 5,000-1, he admits, he did the math wrong — figuring his mistake cost him 10,000 pounds. But as Micklethwait followed his team with passion — he went to four games, despite the long distance — he came to realize his job move cost him 100,000 pounds ($146,000).
At the premiere for his latest film, “A Hologram For The King,” Hanks told a reporter that he was feeling less down about his relegated Aston Villa club because he placed a 100-pound bet ($146) on Leicester to win at the beginning of the season.
Pressed by the reporter on the red carpet, Hanks backed off a bit, saying, “Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.”
Hanks’ publicist, Michelle Margolis, told ESPN she couldn’t get us closer to the answer, but if Hanks did do it — we suspect it was a joke — it would be the single largest bet at the 5,000-1 odds. Karisma Kapoor
In the first week of August, the 20-year-old Kapoor and her family were discussing Leicester’s season, the team’s recently hired manager — Claudio Ranieri of Chelsea fame — and, of course, the tempting odds.
“We got to ‘Why not put a couple pounds on it?'” Kapoor said.
So she and her Aunt Simmi put down a pound each ($3 total) to win a potential 10,000 ($14,600).
She said she started to think it could become reality when Leicester emerged at the top of the table in December, but said she only recently started thinking about what she’s going to do with the money.
“I will save a bit,” Kapoor said. “I’ll use some to go on holiday and I’ll buy my brother Champions League tickets.” Unknown Internet bettor
On the exact same day Kapoor placed her bet, so, too, did a man who risked 50 pence (73 cents) on the Foxes on the Ladbrokes app. But three days later, he inexplicably cashed out, after the team won its first game of the season. The move cost him more than $3,600.
“We tried to console him,” Ladbrokes’ Williams said. “He hung up on us twice.”
Moss attended his first Leicester City game with his father after the elder Moss returned home from World War II.
Since then, he has been a fan of the Foxes and has been known to bet on the action.
So in July, Moss was given 2,000-1 odds by Betfred shop manager Neil Samways and bet one pound that Leicester City would win it all.
Even though Betfred had shorter odds than the other sports books, Samways thought Moss was crazy. On the slip he wrote “Pigs Might Fly.”
“As we were winning more games, I would ask him if he had seen any flying pigs lately,” Moss said.
Like the others who bet on the Foxes, Moss said he didn’t expect to get back his money, thinking, at best, the team would finish in fourth place usa wholesale jerseys.
How is he spending his money? He’s taking his 23rd trip to Las Vegas and is going to roll it over.
Lineker, the man behind BBC’s famous “Match of the Day” and the 1986 World Cup Golden Boot winner, has been associated with Leicester City his entire life.
He grew up as a fan of the team and spent nine years playing for the Foxes, including his youth career.
He didn’t necessarily put his money down on Leicester, but did agree to risk his body if the Foxes won the title.
“YES! If Leicester win the I’ll do the first MOTD of next season in just my undies,” Lineker tweeted to his more than 4 million followers in mid-December.
“I’m in good shape,” Lineker recently told the Radio Times. “For an old bastard. I’ll probably work out for two weeks beforehand, very, very hard.”
Don’t worry too much about Lineker. He’s making money off the whole deal. His sponsor, Walker’s Crisps, put him on billboards as the potato chip company counted down to the title.