Sunday Column

Sunday Column: Happy Super Bowl Sunday, Kobe Bryant & Much More

February 2, 2020

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Photo: From Insider

LeBron James revealed his new tattoo in memory of Kobe Bryant on Instagram on Friday. The tattoo is mostly black, with the main image that of a snake — a Black Mamba entwined around the number 24 and the number 8, with a black rose on the upper left and lower right. Underneath, the caption in script is “Mamba 4 Life.”

Kobe Bryant’s final jersey number will be something this year’s NBA All-Stars play to reach. The NBA announced major changes to the All-Star format on Thursday, turning every quarter into a mini game for charity before an untimed final quarter with a target score that will decide which team wins. Scores will be reset — back to 0-0 — at the start of the second and third quarters, then restored to begin the fourth quarter.

Kobe Bryant died at 41 with an estimated net worth of $600 million and assets in his venture capital firm valued at more than $2 billion.

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has made her first public comments since Kobe Bryant and Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash. Buss shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram Thursday in which she wrote about a specific day when Kobe brought Gianna to spend some time with her.

The Los Angeles Lakers ownership group and front office knew before the TMZ report and found out from Kobe Bryant’s brand manager, we can be almost certain that Bryant’s wife Vanessa was informed about her husband’s and daughter’s death before the Lakers were. TMZ founder Harvey Levin said Tuesday, which is that TMZ had permission from Kobe’s “people” to release the news.

Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, and Ja Morant, the No. 2 overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies, met at half court following Friday’s contest and exchanged jersey’s. Both South Carolina natives, played on the same AAU team the summer before Williamson’s freshman year of high school and Morant’s sophomore year, the two have remained friends.

Earlier this season, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey put the NBA in controversy expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Hong. In the October tweet, Morey wrote, “Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong.” League sources estimate that the fallout from the controversy cost the league upwards of $150-$200 million.

James Harden, over his past 11 games (he missed two games recently with a thigh injury), the 11-year veteran has averaged 28 points, well off his season average of 35.7. The 30-year-old is shooting only 35 percent from the field and a ghastly 25.2 percent from beyond the arc in those 11 games.

Point guard Mike Conley will returned to the Utah Jazz’s against the Portland Trail Blazers, Conley will replace Royce O’Neale in the starting lineup.

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Photo: USA Today

The Kansas City Chiefs are favored by 1, and the over-under has risen all the way to 54.5 points, after a stunning 95% of the action came in on the over when the line was set at 51.

According to the latest annual survey from AdColony, 72% of football fans will watch the Super Bowl on traditional channels from broadcast TV, followed by 13% who will watch on connected TV.

National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell believes Toronto would be able to support a franchise but said a state-of-the-art stadium would be a pre-condition for the league to move north of the US border.

The grass is always greener for a Super Bowl. The NFL makes sure of that. Every year, the NFL grows multiple fields at an offsite location for the Super Bowl, preparing sod specifically for the big game, and even the practice fields. It all starts nearly two years out, meaning that the grass for Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, has been under preparation for some time—and the grass for next year’s big event in Tampa, as well as the 2022 edition in Inglewood, California, is well on its way.

For the same price of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl, an advertiser could purchase 1.12 billion to 1.4 billion impressions on Twitter.

Bud Light made two different ads starring Post Malone and is asking fans to help pick which of the pair ought to run on Sunday when Fox telecasts Super Bowl LIV. Both spots promote Bud Light Seltzer, a new product, and don’t focus entirely on the beer which has been synonymous with Super Bowl advertising for decades.

In a Super Bowl ad for SodaStream starring Nye, two astronauts walk along the arid Martian surface when they finally find what scientists have hoped to discover for decades: water. News reports confirm the finding, the space station at home celebrates, and that’s when Nye pops in to exclaim: “This changes everything!”

Hyundai aims to leverage the publicity for its 12th Super Bowl campaign in the past 13 years with social media activations that can broaden its reach among smartphone users. The strategy could help it reach younger audiences who are heavy consumers of media on mobile devices and are more difficult to reach through linear TV.

If you were hoping to watch the Super Bowl on your Roku TV or set-top box, I hope you don’t mind paying for streaming services like FuboTV, Sling or Hulu, because your existing cable subscription is no good as of today. Roku is pulling all of its Fox apps off of the platform, effective tomorrow, two days before the Big Game.

Since debuting in the NFL in 2018, Mahomes has taken the league by storm. While the 2018 NFL MVP missed two games this season denting his regular season stats, he has thrown for eight touchdowns and 615 yards in two postseason games thus far, adding 106 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Mahomes is scheduled to make roughly $2.7 million in 2020. The Chiefs hold a fifth-year option for 2021, which would likely pay Mahomes roughly $25 million. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has the highest average salary in the NFL right now at $35 million. Wilson was also given a $65 million signing bonus, the largest in the league.

Mahomes indicated on Wednesday that he would like to retire as a member of the Chiefs, “The people are what really drew me to Kansas City. I hope I get to play there the rest of my career now. Just the people and how they accept you, care about you more as a person than as a player and how much passion they have for the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s special. And it’s somewhere where I want to be the rest of my career.”

Joe Montana after winning four Super Bowl titles in 14 seasons with San Francisco, Montana was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs. While he did lead Kansas City to two playoff appearances in as many seasons, the success Montana saw in San Francisco did not duplicate itself.

“It’s not easy to go to another team and get accepted, no matter how much success you’ve had and how many years you’ve played,” Montana continued. “They still want to see you come in and be the same player and be that loyal to them as you were to the other team you just left. So, it’s not easy (for) guys looking at that change, especially at the quarterback position.”

Is Tom Brady moving on from the New England Patriots? His latest social media post hinted at that possibility. Brady posted a photo on Twitter and Instagram Thursday that showed him walking out of the tunnel inside a stadium. His back is turned to the camera and he appears to be walking away.

Rumors earlier in the week suggested that New England Patriots quarterback and impending free agent Tom Brady purchased a home in Las Vegas. This led to further speculation that Brady could join the rebranded Raiders in Vegas once free agency opens.

Tight end Greg Olsen has not decided if he will return for a 14th NFL season or begin a full-time broadcasting career , but he will not be part of coach Matt Rhule‘s first Carolina Panthers team.

Sammy Watkins the high-priced 26-year-old pass-catcher for the Kansas City Chiefs might have other things on his mind. Specifically, sitting out the entire 2020 season. When asked about renegotiating his contract, Watkins said, “If it suits me and my family and (meets) my needs, for sure. But I’m really in a different space right now. I don’t know what I’m going to do. If we win it, I might chill out. I might sit out a year. You just never know.”

Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott  is now done playing nice. The impending free agent laid into the Cowboys on Thursday over the contract negotiations, seemingly calling the team out in the process.

“You would hope and you would think something is going to get done, right,” Prescott said Thursday, via David Moore of Dallas News. “I mean, you would have thought something would have gotten done before the season. In my brain, it only says that it gets done. Without the tag.”

Betting on Super Bowl LIV is predicted to bring in $400 million in total bets, according to analysts at PlayUSA.com. Already the most bet-on sporting event in the country, legalized gambling in 13 states should bolster this year’s total beyond previous records.

Terry Bradshaw to headline ‘The Bradshaw Bunch” reality series on E! later this summer.

Having worked with the Colts since 2015, the new multi-year deal sees Allegiant make the step up the sponsorship ladder and increase its activation efforts across physical locations, as well as digital and broadcast assets.

Dusty Baker was formally introduced as the new manager of the Houston Astros on Thursday, and the 70-year-old former veteran player made one thing very clear to the media the sign-stealing stops here. Joe Espada will stay on in that role as part of Baker’s staff as bench coach.

The top rental on the open market this season as the trade deadline approaches is undoubtedly Chris Kreider  of the New York Rangers. Kreider should be of interest for many teams around the league that need an upgrade in their forward ranks. The 28-year old has 17 goals and 32 points in 48 games, but more importantly, he also brings incredible speed and physicality to the ice every night.

Everything has gone wrong for the San Jose Sharks this year, and the wheels continue to come off. Tomas Hertl suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee and is out for the rest of the season.

The NHL is reportedly investigating the Arizona Coyotes organization for alleged recruiting violations regarding how the club may handle its pre-draft scouting process. The investigation concerns the Coyotes allegedly putting draft-eligible Canadian Junior League prospects through fitness testing well ahead of the 2020 NHL draft.

The Flyers Broadcast Network, which is available on Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and Apple, will offer five new exclusive podcasts, as well as access to the ice hockey franchise’s Flyers Radio 24/7 livestream.

The Chicago Cubs and reliever Jeremy Jeffress finalized an $850,000, one-year contract. The 32-year-old Jeffress can earn $200,000 in performance bonuses: $50,000 each for 40, 45, 50 and 55 games pitched.

Mookie Betts is entering his final season before entering free agency, and there was never any momentum for Betts to sign a long-term extension with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox and Dodgers or the Red Sox and Padres is closer to completion, while free agency is moving rapidly to a close.

The Colorado Rockies and All-Star shortstop Trevor Story finalized a $27.5 million, two-year deal Friday, avoiding arbitration. Story remains eligible to become a free agent following the 2021 World Series. The 27-year-old hit 35 homers and swiped 23 bases last season. He also set career highs in runs (111), batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.363).

The Colorado Rockies will retire the jersey of outfielder Larry Walker on April 19. Walker, the National League MVP in 1997, played 10 seasons with the Rockies, batting .334 with 258 home runs and 848 RBIs. His 17-year career also included stops in Montreal and St. Louis.

The Mariners added a veteran arm to their bullpen Thursday, agreeing to a $1.6 million, one-year contract with Yoshihisa Hirano. Seattle also agreed to a minor league contract with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Matt Adams agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Mets on Friday, hoping to earn a job as a backup and a bat with pop off the bench.

Left-handers Derek Holland and Robbie Erlin agreed to minor league contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates along with catcher Andrew Susac and outfielder Charlie Tilson, and all four will report to big league spring training.

Curtis Granderson has announced his retirement after a 16-year career. Granderson spent the prime of his career split between the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and New York Mets.

Longtime scout and Washington Nationals senior adviser Phil Rizzo has died. He was 90. The Nationals confirmed Rizzo’s death in a statement Saturday. Phil is the father of World Series-winning Washington general manager Mike Rizzo.

Less than 24 hours after Mike Krzyzewski was screaming at Duke’s student section, some students saw a different side of the Blue Devils’ coach, Krzyzewski met with 40 to 50 students who were staying in tents outside Cameron Indoor Stadium. Explaining his outburst Tuesday night was due to the emotions he was feeling over the death of Kobe Bryant, as well as his close relationship with Jeff Capel, Pitt’s head coach, who played at Duke and was later an assistant coach under Krzyzewski.

Marty Blazer, who pleaded guilty in September 2017 to the five counts against him: securities fraud, aggravated identity theft, making false statements and documents, and two counts of wire fraud and was the key informant in the FBI’s college basketball bribery investigation.

Blazer, has been cooperating with the NCAA and plans to provide information “of value to the investigations” that he has so far withheld prior to his sentencing, according to a letter Friday from the NCAA addressed to the judge.

Ohio State freshman point guard D.J. Carton is taking a temporary leave of absence from the team to deal with his mental health. The school announced Thursday that Carton was taking some time away “to deal with personal matters.”

ShotTracker has partnered with marketing firm Learfield IMG College to expand its system into U.S. college programs.

DAZN was named the top sports app by consumer spend worldwide in 2019, ranking above ESPN, MLB AtBat, etc.

Dominick Reyes competes in the biggest fight of his life at UFC 247 on Feb. 8, when he challenges the seemingly unstoppable Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship.

Since his professional MMA debut in December 2014, the undefeated Reyes has shown how dangerous he can be as a fighter, scoring finishes in five of the six fights he had prior to the UFC with all five coming in the first round.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is expected to garner $5.94 billion in sponsorship dollars, with $1.95 billion coming from Olympic partners including Coca-Cola and P&G, double the amount sponsors spent at the previous games. The report also predicts that local sponsors including Canon, Asahi, and Fujitsu will spend $3.33 billion, four times the amount spent during Rio’s 2016 games.

Snapchat Touts Its Ability to Reach Gen Z, Millennials During March Madness. 75% of people who intend to watch the tournament use the app during live sports.

Sponsorship spending on the NFL and its 32 teams exceeded $1.47 billion during the 2019-2020 season, up 5.76% year-over-year, according to data from IEG. There were more than 350 new deals signed over the course of the season.

Declared the end of an era, giving voice to what was a popular refrain at the time – is football the next boxing? Not only has the NFL halted its slide, it’s booming once again, further cementing its position as the king of U.S. sports. Its ratings surged during the most recent season for the second straight year – climbing as much as 7% on some networks – even as TV watching declined overall. A remarkable 41 of the 50 most-watched programs on TV last year were NFL games.

Twitter is currently compiling enthusiastic tweets in support of the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs and individual players, with plans to customize the traditional celebratory confetti with more than 100 unique messages.

Fans who use the hashtag #NFLTwitter will be eligible to have their tweets included, with the social media platform planning to pull tweets in real time, even during the Super Bowl.

Jay Glazer has become a household name from his sports writing to his on-camera personality with FOX Sports as an NFL insider. However, even someone as successful, popular and friendly as Glazer struggles from time to time, “I’ve always suffered from depression and anxiety my whole life,” he said. “The only thing that’s kind of helped me through the grey is being of service to other people and doing things.”

It appears the PGA Tour is getting ready to offer exclusive PGA Tour Live streaming rights to ESPN+. CBS and NBC will retain the rights to broadcast PGA Tour events on network TV. A parallel deal with Golf Channel to continue to air Tour rounds that do not appear on the networks is also in the works.

Penn National Gaming is betting big on its newest partner, Barstool Sports. The casino company announced it’s taking a 36% stake in the digital sports media company for about $163 million in cash and convertible preferred stock. Shares of Penn National climbed more than 12% Wednesday following the news.

Geoff Reiss wants Yahoo Sports to be one of the first things to come to their minds. Reiss, the general manager of Yahoo Sports, helped oversee a banner year for the company in regard to football. Celebrating the 20th year of Yahoo Fantasy Football, the company added several new features and a new game type, leading to a 6% uptick in new users year-over-year.

Yahoo Sports also signed a new wide-ranging agreement with BetMGM in October, letting fans nationwide see betting odds, as well as letting betters in the state of New Jersey place bets through BetMGM.

PepsiCo’s Doritos brand is letting users of a new app called Sway: Magic Dance create augmented videos based on its Super Bowl commercial showing singer Lil Nas X and actor Sam Elliott in a dance battle over Cool Ranch tortilla chips.

Studios are migrating to the pregame and postgame shows as prices soar for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl.

USA Gymnastics proposed a plan Thursday in federal bankruptcy court that would settle all civil claims made against the organization in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal for $215 million.

That $215 million total, according to documents filed in the Southern District of Indiana, is the amount USA Gymnastics’ insurance carriers are willing to provide the sport’s national governing body to end years of legal battles with athletes who were abused by the former national team doctor.

Vox Media aims to make more than $20m-plus in profits off of its podcast business in 2020.

Real Housewives of New Jersey and from RuPaul’s Drag Race in its teasers. Comedian Lilly Singh played a part in Olay’s purpose-driven #MakeSpaceForWomen ad campaign. And Pop-Tarts promoted its new pretzel Pop-Tart with a game day teaser featuring the Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness.

Adidas is laying out a comprehensive plan of attack to end plastic waste in its products within the next decade.

Popeyes launched a clothing line to give fans “That Look from Popeyes” and is being compared to Beyonce’s Ivy Park brand.

Nike is being investigated by the SEC over claims it made illicit payments to elite youth basketball players.

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