MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY QUARTERBACK. MR. RAYNE DAKOTA “DAK” PRESCOTT IS THE FIRST QUARTERBACK PICKED BY THE DALLAS COWBOYS SINCE THE 2009 SEASON, NOTE: In December 2014, Prescott earned his undergraduate degree in educational psychology before receiving his master’s degree in workforce leadership only a year later.

dak-prescott Dak-Prescott- dakRayne Dakota “Dak” Prescott  (born July 29, 1993) is an American football quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, where he was the starting quarterback from 20132015, and holds all school passing records.

Prescott attended Haughton High School in Haughton, Louisiana. As a senior he completed 159 of 258 passes for 2,860 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also rushed for 951 yards on 90 attempts with 17 touchdowns.

Prescott started the 2013 season and again as the backup to Russell, but took over as the starter when Russell suffered a concussion. He played in 11 games, completing 156 of 267 passes for 1,940 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 829 yards on 134 carries with 13 touchdowns. He was the MVP of the 2013 Liberty Bowl after leading the Bulldogs to a 44–7 win over the Rice Owls.  His 2013 season performance ranks seventh in passing yards (1,940), tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns (13), and fourth in total yards (2,769) and total touchdowns (23). Following the season he was named to the 2013 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

In his first season as a full time starter Prescott led the Bulldogs to a 10-2 regular season record, its first number 1 ranking in program history, and led them to the Orange Bowl. During the 2014 season Prescott broke 10 school-records including: single season passing yards (3,449), total yards of total offense (4,435), passing touchdowns (27), and total touchdowns (41). Additionally his 14 rushing touchdowns is tied for fourth in school history. Prescott also garnered several accolades throughout and following the season. He was named the Manning Award Player of Week 5 times (vs. UAB, at LSU, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Auburn; vs. Vanderbilt), the 2014 SEC Offensive Player of Week 3 times (at LSU; vs. Auburn; vs. Vanderbilt), the Athlon Sports, Davey O’Brien, Maxwell Award Player of Week two times each (at LSU, vs. A&M), and was the 24/7 Sports National Offensive Player of Week (at LSU). He was named a 2014 Honorable Mention All-American by SI.com, was named to the 2014 First-Team All-SEC team by the AP, Coaches, and ESPN.com and was on the 2014 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. He won the Conerly Trophy, was a finalist for the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, and the Manning Award. He also finished eighth in the 2014 Heisman Trophy voting and received two first place votes.

Prior to the 2015 season he was named a 2015 National Player of the Year Candidate, was selected to 2 Preseason All-American teams (Athlon Sports & Phil Steele) and was chosen First Team Preseason All-SEC by the media. During the 2015 season he became the fourth player in FBS history to pass for 60 touchdowns and rush for 40 touchdowns in a career, joining Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan, Tim Tebow of Florida and Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. His 2,411 rushing yards places him third in all-time rushing yards by a quarterback in SEC history behind Tebow and Matt Jones of Arkansas.  He ranks 4th in SEC history with 107 total touchdowns responsible for (passing, rushing, and receiving)[ and 5th in total yards (rushing and passing) with 11,153.  His streak of 288 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception is the longest in school history and the third longest SEC history. In the Bulldogs’ 2015 contest against Arkansas he set the school single game record and tied the SEC single game record for touchdowns responsible for with 7 (5 passing 2 rushing) and set a new school record for touchdown passes in a single game.  He was named the AutoNation National Offensive Player of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America, the Davey O’Brien Award National Quarterback of the Week, a Manning Award Star of the Week by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the SEC offensive player of the week following his performance in the Bulldogs’ victory over Kentucky; a game in which he passed for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns to go along with 117 yards and 3 scores on the ground. The six touchdowns in a single contest tied the school record set by Jackie Parker in 1952 and Prescott became the first player in school history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 yards in the same game. This was the fourth time that he has been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week, the most in program history.  Prescott received further national recognition by being placed on several national award watch lists including being named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, a semifinalist for both the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien Award, placed on the watch list for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Manning Award,the Wuerffel Trophy, and the Senior Bowl, and won the Senior CLASS Award.  For the season he passed for 3,793 yards, 29 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Prescott was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and will be expected to compete to be the backup to Tony Romo.

He is the son of Nathaniel and Peggy Prescott and has two older brothers, Tad and Jace and an older sister Natalie Prescott-Smith and older brother Elliott Prescott from Mr. Prescott’s previous marriage. Jace was an offensive lineman at Northwestern State. His mother died of colon cancer in November 2013.

10 things to know about new Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, including his master’s degree and his Cowboys fandom.

1. He holds 38 school records at Mississippi State

2. His mom died of cancer during his sophomore season

3. He’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated — twice

4. He grew up a Cowboys fan

5. Even though Tony Romo tested his faith

6. He was randomly attacked during Spring Break 2014

7. He enjoys fishing

8. His real first name is Rayne

9. He earned two degrees from MSU

10. The trait he feels he shares with Tony Romo

  • Single game record for passing yards in the Orange bowl with 453
  • Single game record for passing attempts in the Orange bowl with 51
  • Single game record for passing completions in the Orange Bowl with 33
  • Single game record for passing yards in the Belk Bowl with 380
  • Single game record for total yards in the Belk Bowl with 427
  • Single game record for touchdown passes in the Belk Bowl with 4
  • Most passing TDs in a bowl game in school history with 4 in the 2015 Belk Bowl
  • Highest single season passing efficiency with 151.72 in 2014
  • Highest passing completion percentage in a single season with 66.2% in 2015
  • Most touchdowns responsible for in a single season with 41 in 2014
  • Most total yards in a single season with 4,435 in 2014




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bridgeman_bucksbest_111031_10JUNIOR BRIDGEMANbridgeman02_md-01JB

Former Milwaukee Bucks player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, who became one of the largest restaurant franchise operators in the country after retiring from the NBA in 1987, is in the process of divesting his restaurant holdings and has become a new bottler for the Coca-Cola system.

Bridgeman turned a purchase of five Wendy’s franchises in Milwaukee into 240 Wendy’s nationwide (the second largest portfolio in the chain’s franchisee network) and 125 Chili’s, according to Restaurant Business Online.

Today those restaurants, which bring in more than $1.5 million of annual sales apiece, are at the heart of a 240-store portfolio—making Bridgeman’s private company, Bridgeman Foods, America’s second-largest Wendy’s franchise owner. (Bridgeman won’t discuss his profits.) He also owns 125 Chili’s restaurants, 45 Fannie May Chocolate stores, and scads of other retail franchises, most of them clustered in the upper Midwest, between corporate headquarters in Milwaukee and Louisville. His employee roster numbers 9,000 people. Estimates of his net worth range from $450 million to $600 million.

Bridgeman has signed a letter of intent to acquire territory from the Coca-Cola Co. in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska, including the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. Bridgeman also will acquire a production facility in Lenexa, Kan. Justin Bridgeman, one of Junior Bridgeman’s sons, will lead the company with his father.

Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman (born September 17, 1953) is a retired American basketball player.

Born in East Chicago, Indiana, Bridgeman was a member of the 1971 East Chicago Washington High School Senators basketball team, which went undefeated (29-0) and won the Indiana state high school basketball championship. Among his teammates were his brother Sam, Pete Trgovich (who played at UCLA) and Tim Stoddard (N.C. State), who would go on to have success as a Major League Baseball pitcher.

A 6’5″ guard/forward from the University of Louisville, Bridgeman was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975 and immediately traded with Brian Winters, David Meyers and Elmore Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bridgeman went on to have a solid 12-year NBA career, spent mostly with the Bucks, and he scored 11,517 total points. Although he was a sixth man for most of his career, he averaged double figures in scoring for nine consecutive seasons. He played in 711 games for the Bucks, still the most in franchise history, although he started only 105 times. His #2 jersey was retired by the Bucks franchise in 1988.

Also, The Former 6th Man Of The Year Award Winning Professional Basketball Player, “Junior Bridgeman”, has become the first existing Wendy’s franchisee to acquire company-owned locations in the quick-service brand’s recently announced 425-unit refranchising effort.

Bridgeman, one of the restaurant industry’s most established athlete franchisees, bought 30 Wendy’s units in the St. Louis market through BB St. Louis Inc., a partnership between Bridgeman and Chauncey Billups, a point guard for the Detroit Pistons and a 16-year veteran of the National Basketball Association. The deal marks Billups’ first foray into the restaurant industry.

The acquisition increases the total number of Wendy’s restaurants that Bridgeman operates to 196. He also operates more than 100 locations of Chili’s and several dozen Fazoli’s units. The latest deal with Wendy’s includes 29 existing units and one location under construction.Dublin, Ohio-based The Wendy’s Co. disclosed that the acquisition includes a development plan for more new locations in the market and a requirement to remodel some of the units in Wendy’s new “Image Activation” prototype design.

“We are expanding our relationship with successful, well-capitalized franchisees with strong operating credentials and a commitment to our Image Activation reimaging program,” chief executive Emil Brolick said in a statement. “We have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Junior Bridgeman, and he is an exceptional person, an excellent operator and very committed to building a people culture. In addition, we are eager to welcome Chauncey to the Wendy’s family.”

Bridgeman said in a statement that he and Billups were excited about their new partnership. “We have a tremendous opportunity in the St. Louis market,” he said, “and our goal is to build upon the positive momentum and growth that the Wendy’s brand is currently experiencing.”

For every player like Billups, though, there are several more who end up going broke within five years of retirement—tales that break Bridgeman’s heart. “Unless you grew up in a family where someone owned a business or you sat around the kitchen table talking about the business page—which 99.9% of the players didn’t—you have no idea what $10,000 or $100,000 can do or how long it really lasts,” he says.

Bridgeman is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Bridgeman has an estimated net worth of over $400 million dollars as a result of his great decision making abilities, and his tireless work ethic. He was also elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.



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Serena Battles Past Radwanska To reach Indian Wells Final


INDIAN WELLS, UNITED STATES - MARCH 11 : Serena Williams in action at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open


Mar 18, 2016; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Serena Williams (USA) shakes hands with Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) after their semi final match in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Williams won 6-4, 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports


Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to forge past Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 7-6(1) and move into the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday.

The world number one, who will play Victoria Azarenka for the title, was 4-2 down in the opening set and not moving freely in the semi-final at Indian Wells.

However, after the American found her rhythm she claimed four straight games to take control of the set, then continued her run in the second to win the opening three games before her Polish opponent fought back.

Radwanska displayed the kind of tennis that will see her rise to number two in the world rankings on Monday, rallying to win the next three games to get the set back on serve.

The Pole even had a chance to win just her second career set against Williams when she broke the American to lead 6-5, but could not close out on serve.

Williams then snuffed out any hopes Radwanska had of claiming a first victory over the American, winning seven straight points to take the tiebreaker 7-1 and improve to 10-0 in their head-to-head battles.

“I think it was really good for me to have a match like that and I think that’s the reason ‘Aga’ is doing so well, because she never gave up,” Williams told reporters.

“I was up so much in the second and she just came back and was determined more than ever, so it was really good to play well against her tonight.

“I could have played three sets but I figured I should at least do 1,000 percent right now. That’s what I tried to do.”

Williams improved to 23-1 at Indian Wells, where she won in 1999 and 2001, before taking a self-imposed 14-year exile from the event amidst allegations of racial abuse from fans after sister Venus withdrew minutes before their semi-final showdown.

Some 15 years later, she is feeling the love.

“I had a lot of support, I heard a lot of ‘Go Serenas’ and that was kind of cool,” Williams added.

“This year has been great. It feels so great to be supported. It’s been a great comeback here in Indian Wells, so I’m excited about that.”

Despite service troubles, including five double faults in the opening set, and a poor second set, Azarenka found her way past the 18th seed to give herself a chance at a second title of the year and a return to the world’s top 10.

“It definitely was a tough battle,” Azarenka said.

“I’m glad I stayed strong and stayed cool and calm and tried to find a way in the third set to take control.

“I worked so hard this week to put myself in a position to play the best player in the world,” she added about the final.

“That’s exactly where I want to be. I want to go out there and try to play my best tennis, play high quality tennis, do what I do in practice and just have fun.”

Serena Williams Closer to Making Her Indian Wells Return Triumphant


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bb-hofbarry-bonds-edit-1barry-bonds-hitting-coach-2bb-businessbarry-bonds-family-foundation-blogSAN FRANCISCO — Though his last home run came in 2007, Barry Bonds keeps tabs on modern celebrations. So when the former Giants star walked into a hotel ballroom Monday night to pose next to his bronze plaque, Bonds kept with the times:

He whipped out his cell phone and took a selfie.

“Why not? That’s the way of the new world, right?” Bonds joked.

Other than it taking several tries to get the focus just right, the seven-time MVP had a smooth night at the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Bonds’ induction class included his former manager, Dusty Baker, as well as Olympic skier Jonny Moseley, golf champion Roger Maltbie and the late Warriors owner, Franklin Mieuli.

Bonds, looking sleek now that he’s an avid cyclist, had no desire to talk about what his Bay Area honor might mean for that other Hall of Fame — the one in Cooperstown. The all-time home run leader has never come close to induction there because voters have avoided any player under the cloud of steroids.

Asked about being omitted from the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bonds smiled.

“If I sat up here and I talked about it, it’s me against … how many of you guys in here?” At this point, Bonds scanned all the notebooks, microphones and TV cameras surrounding him.

“So the story can come out every way it can. See, I learned that lesson about staying out of those conversations and enjoying what’s in front of me.”

Instead, the 14-time All-Star focused on an induction that cemented his place as a Bay Area sports family. Barry said his father, Bobby Bonds — also a former Giants All-Star outfielder — would have been “elated.”

“I try to explain to people: My family — counting Willie (Mays) as my godfather because we’ve always considered Willie family — we’ve been entertaining the Bay Area since 1958,” he said. “My father came along to entertain it, and I came back to entertain.”

Moseley, the youngest of the crowd by far — he was born in 1975 — was still old enough to look back at a lasting legacy. He grew up in Tiburon and won a gold medal in the men’s mogul at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.

In doing so, Moseley used his signature move — the 360 mute-grab — a trick he borrowed from the snowboarding crowd. Though Moseley met with some resistance with some of his flash, that trick and others like it have become commonplace among mogul skiers.

“I do feel like I did leave my mark,” Moseley said. “I kind of hung it out there. … That’s what I get credit for, and I’ll take it.”


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Cutting Niches – Cricket Gains Footholds In Nigeria

615_340_CC_Illustration-Cricket518a6335f29ac-2C453ACF4AEBF0FC033DCB0581ACCC37_1255509615042_673FRMC762211-nigeria-cricket In the sprawling city of Gwoza, Nigeria, schools and homes are embellished, unfortunately, with abandoned hand grenades, landmines and Kalashnikovs. The city adorning gutted shopfronts and walls scarred with bullet wounds capsulizes the protracted uprising of the dreaded militant group Boko Haram.

A similar scale of destruction has been wrought upon other cities: Chibok, Borno, Madagali, Dikwa, Marte, Gulak. It is a common sight to see troops patrolling at public places, holding fully-loaded machine guns. In these tough times, sport has tended to act as a balm to break free from those soul-shattering experiences. It provides an opportunity to escape from fear and suffering.

Football is by far the most popular sport in the country. But, there is another sport, played with a willow and a leather ball, that is, surprisingly, flourishing in the region. In particular, in the largest city of Nigeria, Lagos, cricket has become one of the favourite pastimes for many. Despite mostly living a straitjacketed existence, it is not uncommon to see a sturdy group of cricketers shouldering kits on their way to play for the Ibeju Lekki club in Lagos.

The history of cricket in Nigeria can be traced back to the early 19th century. The sport, however, was mainly confined to the ‘educated elite’. Back in 1904, Nigeria took on Ghana (then Gold Coast) in a friendly game of cricket and over a period of time, it became an annual fixture.

By the mid-1970s, the sport had seemingly hit a dead end. There weren’t many takers for cricket. Nigeria had also become a part of West African Cricket Conference. In 2002, when the West African Cricket Conference ceased to exist and Nigeria emerged as an independent associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), there were very few cricket grounds, no proper coaching centres and no real organised structure in place to help the game and interest develop.

Gradually, through the earnest efforts of the board and a few keen enthusiasts, the country is sitting up and taking notice of their progress. The facilities are improving and the coaching structures have become more robust. There is also an upsurge in the popularity of the game.

“Cricket in Nigeria is played in over 22 states [out of 36 states] in both male and female categories. In the last 3 years, Nigeria has embarked on developmental programs, initiating national junior championships in both boys and girls categories. [We have been] Organizing sports teachers cricket courses, coaches and umpires courses, media seminars [teaching the journalist how to report the game] and introducing cricket to primary schools across the country,” Joseph Eshua, Nigeria Cricket Federation’s [NCF] General Manager told Cricbuzz.

Grappling with financial difficulties to fund the game, the attempt to spread the game across the country has seen many roadblocks. The board receives most of the funds from the ICC. They sometimes even rent cricket grounds for various events held in the region to raise money.

Eshua spoke about the various sources through which the game is funded in the country and the challenges faced by the board. “Nigeria has three sources of income. [Funding from] the ICC – this is given to support developmental programs in the country. Sponsors [individuals/corporate bodies] – a few programs are being sponsored by some cricket enthusiasts and corporate bodies. And the government. The government supports only international trips.” However, he added that there is a “lack of support from government on developmental programs [and] lack of interest from corporate bodies due to little knowledge about the game.”

The lack of funds is a severe drawback, but for now what’s available is what will do. Joseph Oche Onaja, in his coaching clinic, has young hopefuls playing with bats that cost only 8 dollars. None of the batsmen wear helmets and they have to make to do with tennis balls rather than a leather one. They may not be the most effective measures, but slowly the likes of Onaja are helping cricket gain a foothold, even in states that are under the siege of Boko Haram.

Femi Solebo, the Chairman of Club Cricket Committee Lagos, is one of the few cricket enthusiasts playing a vital role in transforming Nigeria’s cricket. Solebo, who fell in love with the sport while studying in the United Kingdom, has been one of the chief financiers of the Lagos League. The club he plays for – Ibeju Lekki – even funds the cricketers’ education, lunches and kits.

Solebo agrees that compared to football, it is more expensive to play cricket. “With soccer, all you need is just one ball and then you’re away,” he said in an interview with BBC News. “Whatever it is they want to do, we’ll fund that and insist that you can only be a member of this club if you have some kind of educational background – and that’s what the other clubs try to do as well.”

The Nigeria side is also playing to help the country progress through the lower rungs of world cricket. From the chaos of numerous civil wars, Nigeria qualifying for Division 5 of World Cricket Division League in 2013 is testament to what can be accomplished when passion meets perseverance.

Two years before their Division 5 qualification, only a steady half-century by Kuwait’s Irfan Bhatti scuttled Nigeria’s hopes of winning the final of Division 7. In the two years that followed, they had made the jump to Division 5, where they have, since, played some impressive cricket.

The relative success of Nigeria in the World Cricket Division League has served as a catalyst to raise the profile of the game in the region. Nigeria has already started its preparation for the 2016 World Division League 5 to be held in Jersey. Twenty-two players have been picked for a preparatory camp and they are scheduled to tour England, where they will play a few games. Kunle Adegbola will captain the side, with Obruthe Clive Ogbimi coaching the setup.

In terms of popularity, cricket still faces a battle for oxygen when up against football. With Nigerian footballers representing various clubs in top leagues around the world, it has naturally captured the imagination of the country. Even the highly competitive Lagos League club matches are watched only by a handful of people, some of whom happen to be former national cricketers.

One more issue the board faces is the lack of sponsorship and broadcast deals. The general consensus is that to attract sponsors, the board perhaps needs to start a national league.

Nigeria has been tottering due to incessant civil wars and political instability. The mood of the country is mostly morose and sombre. The deep scars of violence have crushed the spirits of thousands of citizens. For those aspiring cricketers in Nigeria, it is all the more reason to play the game; as in cricket, there is hope.


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THE GREATEST GOLFER OF ALL TIME, TIGER WOODS IS NAMED VICE CAPTAIN FOR THE 2016 RIDER CUP, Woods will be joined by captain Davis Love III and fellow vice captains Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Tom Lehman

United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III today announced that Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods would serve as three of his five vice captains for the 2016 Ryder Cup, which will take place Sept. 27-Oct. 2 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

Upon being named U.S. captain, Love immediately appointed Minnesota native Tom Lehman as a vice captain. Lehman, the 2006 U.S. captain, was a member of three Ryder Cup teams.

“To welcome four vice captains of this caliber is a giant first step toward preparing the 2016 team for success,” said Love, who made today’s appointments from the RSM Classic. “Tom, Jim, Steve and Tiger have over 50 years of combined Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experiences that they are eager to share. They’ll also be my eyes and ears from event to event next year on TOUR. That’s invaluable, and as captain, I am grateful for their commitment, dedication and passion to win.”

The 45-year-old Furyk has played in nine consecutive Ryder Cups (1997, ’99, 2002, ’04, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’12, ’14), which is the second most in U.S. Ryder Cup history (Phil Mickelson, 10). A West Chester, Pennsylvania, native, Furyk was a member of winning U.S. Ryder Cup efforts in 1999 and 2008. A 17-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Furyk also played in seven Presidents Cups and served as a vice captain at the 2015 Presidents Cup.

“I am honored to be named a vice captain for the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team,” said Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion. “The Ryder Cup is in my DNA, and I love everything about this event: the enormity of the stage, the passion, the competition and the pressure. I look forward to being part of the team as we strive to win back the Ryder Cup on U.S. soil.”

This is Stricker’s second stint as a Ryder Cup vice captain. He was a U.S. vice captain at Gleneagles in 2014 and served in the same capacity last month at the Presidents Cup in South Korea. Stricker, 48, played for the U.S. in three Ryder Cups (2008, ’10, 12) and was on the winning side in 2008 at Valhalla. A native of Edgerton, Wisconsin, Stricker has 12 PGA TOUR victories on his resume, as well as five Presidents Cups.

“Having known Davis for such a long time, I am thrilled to join him and the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team as vice captain,” Stricker said. “We learned a great deal from the Ryder Cup Task Force meetings, and we are optimistic about our plans for 2016 and beyond. I think about the Ryder Cup all the time. There is nothing quite like it in sports. I am ready to roll up my sleeves, get started and get up to Hazeltine.”

Woods’ appointment is his first as a vice captain. A 39-year-old native of Cypress, California, Woods will draw upon a wide array of playing experiences gained in seven Ryder Cups (1997, ’99, 2002, ’04, ’06, ’10, ’12) and eight Presidents Cups. Fourteen of Woods’ 79 career victories on the PGA TOUR have come in major championships, including four PGA Championships. Woods is a record 11-time recipient of the PGA of America’s PGA Player of the Year Award.

“I’d like to thank Davis for his confidence in me and for my selection as a Ryder Cup vice captain. This is something I want to do,” Woods said. “I will continue to do whatever I can to help win the Cup back. Once I’m fully healthy, I’d like to try to make the team too, but either way, I’m very excited to work with Davis, the other vice captains and the players to get a U.S. victory.”AP_10093009718_i4qfsfzt_ip6dok9l

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Solomons Seek To Reprise Historic High Watermark.

thSolomon-610x360Football, of course, is massively popular in many countries across the globe. Such thoughts of all-consuming passion might conjure images of South America, Europe’s historic heartlands or some of Africa’s most populace nations. Yet few nations in the world can outdo Solomon Islands, at least on a purely pro-rata basis. Five-figure crowds flock to important matches at Honiara’s Lawson Tama Stadium – the national stadium carved out at the bottom of a steep mountainside. Such numbers are truly remarkable given the population on Guadalcanal, where the capital is situated, is barely 100,000 amid a national population of 500,000.

Yet important matches are only infrequent for the Solomon Islands, who in recent years have become known as the Bonitos. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, football is truly one of the country’s binding elements.

Twelve years ago the nation crowded around radios deep into the late evening as a lone voice described the Solomons greatest football achievement. There was no TV or internet coverage, simply the humble intonations of recently retired local radio broadcasting icon Bart Basia crackling into the humid Melanesian air. On that occasion a 2-2 draw with Australia in Adelaide meant qualification to the Oceania final, putting the Solomons just a single step away from the FIFA Confederations Cup and a FIFA World Cup™ play-off with Uruguay.

An almost unimaginable match-up with Diego Forlan, Alvaro Recoba and Co failed to materialise as the Socceroos got their revenge in the continental decider. But to this day that achievement during Germany 2006 qualifying remains a high watermark.

Platform for renewed glory
Recent campaigns have seen the Solomons remain highly competitive, but the promise of a decade ago has waned slightly amid improving standards in Oceania. This year the Bonitos have a chance of carving out a new era when they cross the warm waters of the Solomon Sea to Papua New Guinea, where Oceania’s Stage 2 qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup will take place.

The fact that the matches will take place in a neighbouring Melanesian nation is an advantage according to veteran midfielder Henry Fa’Arodo, the Bonitos most well-known face and one of the few survivors of that famous match 12 years ago in Adelaide.

“Playing in PNG is definitely a positive for us,” Fa’Arodo told FIFA.com on a recent visit to Australia where the Solomons commenced a lengthy build-up towards the May-June qualifiers. “The environment suits us, especially compared to tournaments in New Zealand in particular, where we struggle to get into the environment.”

Cultural familiarity aside, up to half a dozen of the current Bonitos squad, Fa’Arodo included, have experienced club football in Papua New Guinea, mostly donning the colours of the ambitious Hekari United who famously featured at the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup.

“We know what it is like environment-wise so playing in Papua New Guinea will leave the boys relaxed and more confident,” said Fa’Arodo. “We have a lot in common culturally, both being Melanesian, as we do with Vanuatu and Fiji.”

While the conditions may suit the Solomons, the heat and humidity of Port Moresby will mean an extra challenge for some of the other visitors to PNG, most notably pre-tournament favourites New Zealand. While the All Whites would typically start as favourites, and pre-qualifiers Samoa as outsiders, it is difficult to pick a standout among the remaining six teams, in a tournament where only half the field will progress to the next stage.

To say Fa’Arodo knows a thing or two about Oceanian football would be an understatement. He has played in three Oceania nations – New Zealand, PNG and his homeland – as well as in Australia, formerly a member of the OFC. He is also the only Solomon Islander to appear in Australia’s professional A-League, and is now entering his fifteenth year in the international arena.

Flamboyance and finesse
The Solomon Islands are renowned for their flair and ingenuity, and it is little surprise they have found success on the Futsal court and on sand. And Fa’Arodo says the current national team display all the hallmarks of a traditional Solomon Islands side.

“The technical ability is a quite a bit better than it was ten years ago,” he says. “That is a real positive compared to what was the case before. Most of the guys are very naturally talented footballers.

“We feel like we have under-achieved given the talent we have,” Fa’Arodo adds in reference to recent years. “Competition in Oceania is getting better and better, so the challenge now is to get back to where we were.”

Whether Solomon Islands can reprise their famous achievements of the past this year remains to be seen. One thing, however, is certain. Success on the World Cup stage will unite a nation that is divided by geography.

“People in the villages will be listening on the radio, people in the town will be watching on TV,” Fa’Arodo says with a touch of excitement in his voice. “The interest is really high. The nation comes together and goes crazy for football. If we can get a good result it will make a lot of difference to football in the Solomons.”AFRICAN FUTBOL

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Raiders Owner Mark Davis Calls Lease Deal ‘Win-Win’ For Both Sides

oakland-raiders-wallpaperal_davis_616s.raiders.0212oakland-raidersFour weeks after being stymied in their effort to move to Los Angeles, the Raiders agreed to a one-year lease extension Thursday to remain at the Oakland Coliseum through the 2016 season — and possibly beyond.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, who had been mulling multiple options to move his team since being passed over by the NFL’s other owners to relocate the Raiders to Southern California, called the deal a “win-win” for both sides.

“It gives us an opportunity to work on a permanent facility for the Raiders here in Oakland,” Davis told reporters. “It gives us some certainty for this season as well as flexibility for the following two seasons.”

The agreement with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority guarantees that the Raiders will play the 2016 season in the same stadium they have called home since 1995. It also carries two one-year team options.

The deal still needs approval of the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Both are expected to meet to discuss the terms of the agreement within the next two weeks.

“I feel very optimistic about the situation,” JPA Chair and Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid told The Associated Press. “It gives (Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf) and her team an opportunity to work with the Raiders on putting together a perm facility that will keep the Raiders here in the city of Oakland. This is an NFL city.”

Reid declined to discuss specific details about the new lease with the Raiders but said it was much better than previous agreements between the two sides.

“(It) is a much better lease agreement than the one that’s due to expire on Feb. 17,” Reid said. “That shows the Raiders commitment to sit down and get a deal done.”

If the Chargers opt to stay in San Diego, the Raiders would then be given the chance to move to Los Angeles, where they played from 1982 to ’94.

The St. Louis Rams were approved to move to Los Angeles in January, and the San Diego Chargers have an option to join the Rams at their yet-to-be-built stadium in Inglewood.

Davis, who took over the Raiders after his father Al Davis died in 2011, has repeatedly stated a desire to keep his team in Oakland while at the same time checking out other potential sites. He has met with officials from San Antonio on several occasions, and recently was reportedly interested in exploring Las Vegas as a possible place to move the franchise.

“If people are going to call you and offer you things to look at, you have to look at them,” Davis said. “But my heart is here in Oakland and if we can get something done, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The Raiders currently share the O.co Coliseum with the Oakland Athletics, who are also seeking a new stadium of their own. A’s owner Lew Wolff has stated his desire to have a baseball-only stadium at the site where the Coliseum currently sits. Davis, however, has said he favors building two stadiums — one for football and one for baseball.

To help in negotiations for getting a new stadium built in Oakland, the Raiders hired consulted Larry MacNeil and added him to their stadium development team. MacNeil previously spent 10 years as chief financial officer for the San Francisco 49ers and was instrumental in getting the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium built.

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Ingrid Williams, The Wife of Former New Orleans Head Coach, and Current Oklahoma Thunder Assistant Coach, Monty Williams dies in car crash.

Tragedy struck the Oklahoma City Thunder and rippled throughout the NBA Wednesday, as news spread of the death of the wife of Monty Williams, an assistant coach with the team. Ingrid Williams, 44, was involved in a car crash Tuesday, and she leaves behind five children.

“The Thunder organization has heavy hearts tonight with the news of Ingrid’s passing,” the team said in a statement. “Words cannot adequately describe how deep our sorrow is for the loss of Monty’s wife. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty and his family, and we will support him in every way possible. We know the entire community of Oklahoma City has them in their prayers.”

Monty Williams was in his first year with the Thunder after serving as the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans from 2010 to 2015. That team also released a statement:

“The New Orleans Pelicans are devastated to hear the news of Ingrid Williams’ passing,” the Pelicans said. “Ingrid was beloved by the Pelicans organization and the New Orleans community and will forever be remembered as one of the most generous, kind and humble individuals we’ve ever known. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty Williams and his family during this difficult time.”

According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Pelicans held a moment of silence for Ingrid Williams before their game Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. After the Spurs-Magic game, an emotional Gregg Popovich, who had helped Williams begin his coaching career, declined to speak about the death of Ingrid Williams.

Monty Williams joined the Thunder coaching staff before this season after serving as Pelicans head coach from 2010 to 2015 before he was fired. Williams also played in the NBA for six teams from 1994 to 2003.ingrid_monty_williamsmonty williams and wifemonty wms and wifemonty-williams-suits

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