Badgers won’t let Watt wing it at commencement

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J.J. Watt was prepared for his May 11 commencement address at the University of Wisconsin. Or at least he thought he was.

Then he was asked to send a copy of his speech when he was done writing it.

“I said, ‘Nothing. Just give me a black screen and tell me when to stop talking.’ That was literally my plan. But I found out you have to write some stuff down. So I have about a month to figure it out.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Houston Texans defensive end started his college career at Central Michigan but transferred to Wisconsin as a walk-on in 2008. He played for the Badgers for two seasons, and although Watt did not graduate from Wisconsin because he declared early for the NFL draft in 2011, he said he knows what everyone actually wants from a commencement speaker.10

“I mean, I have some messages I want to say,” Watt said. “I have some things I want to get across. But let’s be honest: They just want to go drink beer afterwards. They’re excited. I know how commencements go. They just want the person to give a cool message for about five minutes, and then get off the stage.”

Watt said he isn’t nervous about speaking in front of the crowd, saying he’s “really excited about that.”

“I get to go back to Wisconsin [and] Camp Randall [Stadium],” Watt said. “I never graduated, so I get to see what graduation looks like. It’s an honor. It’s such a true honor.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“I grew up 45 minutes from Camp Randall, so being invited to go back [and] have the opportunity to go back to a school and a team that I watched growing up and idolized, walked on and eventually got a scholarship from [and] now to be able to speak at their commencement, it’s an unbelievable honor. I take it very seriously. Even though I said I wasn’t going to write a speech, I take it very seriously. I’m humbled.”

Vikings’ Griffen: ‘Rough year’ with mental health

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Everson Griffen offered an introspective look at his life over the past few months and discussed the difficulties that came with returning to the field while dealing with personal issues related to his mental health.

At the start of offseason workouts, the Minnesota Vikings defensive end said he’s in a place where he finally feels like himself again after a “rough year.” Griffen was hospitalized when concerns arose over his well-being last September, which led to him miss five weeks of the 2018 season.

“It’s a progression each and every day,” Griffen said Tuesday. “I’m taking it day by day, staying consistent with my life outside of football with those matters and stuff like that, and I’m happy. I’m happy.
“To be honest, it was more of a get-through,” Griffen said. “I need to get through this. I need to be tough. … I enjoyed coming here because I’m a competitor, but it was more of a get-through because of how much I had on my plate. So it was more of a get-through. So I didn’t really get the chance to enjoy it as much as I normally do.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“… Now it’s time that I can enjoy it and bring that enjoyment, but still enjoy life. Find that balance. That’s what I really want to find, that balance.”9

Last month, the 10th-year defensive end agreed to a contract restructure before his salary was set to become fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. Griffen took a near $3 million pay cut to remain with the team that drafted him in 2010 and admitted that his struggles on the field gave him a feeling that restructuring his contract was inevitable.

“When I’m me, when I’m myself, I can play well,” Griffen said. “And last year I wasn’t myself. If I was myself, I wouldn’t have to take a pay cut — if I was myself, if I was playing at the level I know I can play at each and every year. But I wasn’t, and sometimes things happen in your life that you have to get better with and you have to move forward and you have to learn from it. And this was a big learning experience and I dealt with some stuff.

“But now I’m comfortable, I’m happy, my family’s happy, my kids are happy and that’s what matters the most to me right now. Sitting here and being free and understanding where I can go and what I can do.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Though Griffen said the Vikings didn’t approach him about taking a pay cut until close to the start of free agency, where the 31-year-old pass-rusher wants to be for the rest of his career was never in question.

“With me, it was bigger than football,” he said. “I took it upon myself and my family to make the right decision to stay here because I want to be a Viking for life and it’s rewarding because I know the people here love me and they have my best interest in mind. I just wanted to come back here and finish what I started. It feels good to be back in this building and being a Viking and just being around all my boys. This is going on my 10th year and I’m very blessed to be where I’m at right now and really, I’m just happy. I’m just happy to be standing here in front of you guys in this place I’m in right now.”

Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan to get UEFA support in potential Europa League final visa bid – sources

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Arsenal will be given the full support of UEFA in order to secure a visa for the Armenia international to play in the Europa League final in Azerbaijan next month if the club reach the May 28 showpiece in Baku, sources have told ESPN FC.

Arsenal face Napoli in Italy on Thursday on the brink of a semifinal encounter with either Villarreal or Valencia having secured a 2-0 quarterfinal first-leg victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s team at the Emirates last Thursday.

But if Arsenal reach the final, they must overcome the issue of Mkhitaryan playing in Azerbaijan — a country which currently prohibits the entry of citizens from Armenia due to an ongoing territorial conflict over the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Mkhitaryan was omitted from Arsenal’s squad for the Europa League group game against Qarabag last October for unspecified reasons, prompting Qarabag coach Gurban Gurbanov to claim that the London club were “afraid” of travelling to Azerbaijan with the Armenia captain in the team.10

The former Manchester United midfielder also sat out a trip to Azerbaijan in 2015, when Borussia Dortmund chose to leave him in Germany for a clash against Gabala due to “security reasons,” despite assurances from Azerbaijan’s authorities that a visa would be granted to Mkhitaryan.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Armenia, however, sent athletes to compete in the 2015 European Games in Baku due to a visa exemption for sporting participants, and sources have told ESPN FC that UEFA are confident that Mkhitaryan and Arsenal would be successful in any bid to secure an Azerbaijan visa.

European football’s governing body has insisted that all efforts will be made to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

A UEFA spokesperson told ESPN FC: “It is a standard procedure for UEFA to send letters of support to associations, clubs or embassies in order to obtain visas for players and allow them to play in UEFA competition matches.”

Cardiff win at Brighton to give hope of avoiding Premier League relegation

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Cardiff City earned a Premier League lifeline when they won 2-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday to close within two points of the south coast club and keep the relegation battle alive.

Cardiff had lost six of their previous seven games but, knowing that anything but a victory would probably end their survival hopes, played with confidence from the start.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

They went ahead after 22 minutes when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing curled in a superb shot from the edge of the box after starting the move inside his own half.9

Brighton, who were thrashed 5-0 at home by Bournemouth on Saturday, looked edgy and went 2-0 down when Sean Morrison headed in a free kick five minutes into the second half.

Although the home team ramped up the pressure in the latter stages, a late Glenn Murray header against a post was the closest they came as Cardiff held out for a potentially priceless victory.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The win takes Cardiff to 31 points from 34 games, with Brighton on 33 from 33. Southampton are on 36 points from 33 while Fulham and Huddersfield Town are already relegated.

Passan: Baseball is obsessed with value — and it’s changing contracts forever

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They’re killers. Two agents used the same word last week to describe this generation of baseball executives. It was meant as a compliment. Modern general managers are single-minded. Uncompromising. They spot weakness and exploit it. This is not personal, not some indictment on their character. It is what the job demands because owners believe it is how championships are built.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

For Major League Baseball teams in 2019, value trumps all. It is their lodestar. Every trade, every free-agent signing, every draft pick, every international amateur — every single transaction in baseball can be commodified. Run it through a proprietary computer system, receive a value. And if the value happens to be negative? Well, there better be an awfully compelling reason to make a move with negative value.

The sabermetric revolution wrought a value-worshipping machine in front offices that for decades operated on a combination of gut feelings, snap decisions and antiquated conventions. Players’ motivations are not nearly as blinkered. Some do prioritize money and proper valuation above all. Others, like Albies, do not.9

And so when the Atlanta Braves secured seven years of his services at that $35 million with options for two more seasons at only $10 million total more, this unprecedented run of extensions — in which teams over the last two months committed more than $2 billion to players already under contract — found its flashpoint. All of the behind-the-scenes chatter among agents and executives, the inside-baseball stuff that peppered discussions about larger economic issues, burbled to the surface in one remarkable deal for a 22-year-old second baseman.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

In his first full season in the major leagues, Ozzie Albies made the National League All-Star team, whacked 24 home runs, played Gold Glove-caliber defense and ran with the stealth of a wise veteran. He established himself as, at very least, an exceedingly capable second baseman. If he develops — if his left-handed swing catches up to his right side, if his plate discipline improves, if his natural leadership skills flourish — Albies is the sort of player around whom a killer can build a championship-caliber team. The last 21-year-old, switch-hitting second baseman with 20-plus homers was … no one. Albies was the first.

There are, of course, unique players all across baseball. It’s just that those of Albies’ ilk, whose combination of age and skill make them exceedingly valuable to teams, are expected to extricate that value. Not just for themselves but for their fellow members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Because MLB is not a capped sport and players don’t receive a fixed portion of revenue like the NFL or NBA, baseball contracts often rely on precedent — and a precedent is only so good as someone who cares to set it.

Tigers’ Moore (torn meniscus) to have surgery

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Detroit left-hander Matt Moore will undergo surgery this week to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

The Tigers said Sunday they won’t have a definite timetable for Moore’s return until after Wednesday’s scheduled procedure in Dallas, although Moore said he’s hoping for a recovery time of four to six weeks.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Moore hurt the knee on April 6 when he left in the third inning of his start against Kansas City. Since then, he said, he’s had two setbacks.8

“I know I have a tear in my meniscus, it’s just the severity of it I think is a little bit unknown right now,” Moore said before Sunday’s game at Minnesota. “It’s when he gets in there, and that’s when I guess they make those decisions. He can only fix what he can see and right now they can’t really tell enough through the MRI to tell me exactly which type of repair they’re going to have to do.“nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Moore was off to a promising start after signing a one-year deal with the Tigers in the offseason. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 10 innings, with nine strikeouts and a single walk.

Moore said the surgery will be performed by Dr. Keith Meister.

“It wasn’t like this sharp pain or nothing like that, but the instability kind of told me that it might not be in our control to let this heal up on its own during the season,” he said.

Curry becomes all-time leader in postseason 3s

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Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is now the NBA’s all-time leader in postseason 3-pointers.

The sharp-shooting point guard passed Ray Allen on that list on Saturday during the Warriors’ 121-104 Game 1 win over the LA Clippers at Oracle Arena.

Curry entered the game seven 3-pointers behind Allen, but the two-time NBA MVP topped Allen in the third quarter, when he sank his eighth 3-pointer of the game, giving him 386 postseason treys.

“That’s pretty special. I mean, I always talk about longevity and the all-time great shooters. Ray Allen, Reggie Miller — anytime we can pass them in the record books, it’s pretty special,” Curry said after the game. “I shot a lot of [3-pointers], so I got to make a lot of them.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Allen racked up those 3s over the course of an 18-year career with 11 playoff appearances. It took Curry only 10 seasons and seven trips to the playoffs to break the record.10

“That’s remarkable, given that he’s kind of right in his prime,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s got a lot of years left.”

Said Warriors forward Draymond Green, “I don’t think there’s much argument when anyone says he’s the greatest shooter of all time. I don’t know if you can find many people to argue that.”

Curry was recognized during a timeout and received a standing ovation.

“You know, I was telling my coaching staff, I still think Steph Curry is one of the most underrated players in the NBA,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t even know how that happens, but he is. He’s taken for granted, and all I know is when he’s on the floor, he is a handful, and he makes them better in so many ways. He was one of the best rebounders today. He just does everything. He’s a great player.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Curry finished the night with 38 points, eight made 3s, seven assists and a career-high 15 rebounds.

“The way I play, the shots I take, obviously have confidence every time you rise up, but to be in the same category and to pass a guy like Ray Allen and all the iconic moments he’s had in playoff games and Finals games and all that type of stuff, it’s pretty surreal,” Curry said.

“So [I’m] definitely honored and grateful for those opportunities. I always joke, though: I shoot a lot of 3s. I’d better make a lot of them.”

Ewing to serve as Knicks’ rep at draft lottery

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Thirty-four years since New York Knicks great Dave DeBusschere pumped his fist on a podium after landing the No. 1 pick to select future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, Ewing will now represent the franchise at the NBA draft lottery next month for a chance to draft Duke phenom Zion Williamson, the team announced Saturday.

“Patrick is a huge part of our team’s history and we’re thrilled to have number 33 represent the franchise at this year’s draft lottery,” said Knicks president Steve Mills. “Patrick’s connection to the lottery is well documented, and we’re proud to have one of the all-time Knicks greats sit on the dais on behalf of the team, the city and the fans.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Knicks finished the season with the worst record in the NBA. New York, the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers — the teams that finished with the three worst records — will all have a 14 percent chance at landing the top pick.

Because it finished with the league’s worst record, New York will select no lower than fifth in June’s draft.9

The club hopes to use its lottery pick and the more than $70 million in cap space it will have this summer to vastly improve a roster that finished 17-65 this season, tying the worst record in franchise history.

That pursuit starts on the night of the draft lottery, when Ewing, the franchise’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks and games played, will sit on the dais for the club.

In recent seasons, Knicks legend Walt Frazier, Mills and GM Scott Perry have represented the franchise on the night of the lottery.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Knicks head coach David Fizdale had Ewing speak to his team earlier this season on a trip to Washington to play the Wizards.

Ewing, currently the head coach at Georgetown, said in an interview earlier this week that he is asked “all the time” about the Knicks’ chances of landing Williamson and free agent Kevin Durant.

Williamson, who on Friday won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player, declined to say whether he would join Duke teammates RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish in declaring for the draft, drawing laughter from the crowd when he said, “Umm, who knows?”

Andre Reed has acting bug after cameos in ‘MacGyver’ and ‘Hawaii Five-0’

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Andre Reed, who ranks seventh in NFL history with 85 postseason receptions, became a household name by playing in four consecutive Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills in the early 1990s, games that were broadcast to tens of millions of fans across the country.

Lenkov later followed up with the 16-year NFL veteran, offering a chance for a cameo appearance on his CBS drama “Hawaii Five-O.” After a successful spot on the show in January 2017, Reed hit the airwaves again last week for Lenkov’s “MacGyver,” also on CBS.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

This week, Reed received an invite for Lenkov’s newest series, “Magnum P.I.” It was a welcome development for Reed, 55, who wants to grow his career in acting.10

“The funny thing is you do these little things and it turns into something else,” he said Wednesday. “When I go into something, something I’m really excited about, I put 100 percent into it.”

Reed was a fourth-round pick of the Bills in 1985 and his NFL career blossomed alongside those of quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas — whom Reed joined in Canton, Ohio, upon his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Though he caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns before his retirement following the 2000 season, Reed still had to earn his roster spot when Lenkov first called.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

After their initial meeting, Lenkov sent Reed a script to memorize and asked for a video to be sent back of Reed reading it. Reed passed the test and was flown to Hawaii — staying at the same hotel as his seven trips to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl — for taping. The two-day shoot involved Reed being investigated for a murder as the general manager of a car dealership.

Despite needing about five takes to nail his lines, Reed performed well enough to get called in February to a shooting for “MacGyver” at a parking garage in Atlanta two days after Super Bowl LIII. The approximately six-hour shoot began at 6 a.m. and saw Reed, playing the role of a prosecutor, speaking into a cell phone outside his vehicle before being stabbed.

“Maybe one of these times I should pay an athlete,” Reed joked of being killed off on the show.

The entire cameo on “MacGyver” lasted about 10 seconds, but Reed found similarities to his playing experience in both the preparation and precision required for the brief appearance.

Two-star to potential superstar: Josh Allen wants to be next Khalil Mack

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The Kentucky Wildcats’ pro day is underway in Nutter Field House, where 15 NFL hopefuls are running, jumping and short-shuttling for an army of stopwatch-wielding men who look as if they jumped off the pages of “team store” catalogs. Every team is represented as they evaluate the draft-eligible players from Kentucky’s winningest team in 40 years (10-3 overall), but the best of those players is a spectator. He’s off to the side, mingling with onlookers, chatting with scouts and doing the dad thing.

On this day, linebacker Josh Allen’s only physical activity is chasing around his 14-month-old son, Wesley, who has a deceptively quick first step. Papa Allen has decided not to perform with his teammates — he’s standing on his NFL scouting combine workout in Indianapolis — and there’s something wonderfully ironic about that.cheap nfl jerseys china nike8

He came back for good, though, and, by his junior year, Allen — long and smooth — was an all-state receiver. He decided to return to Montclair for his senior year, a great idea except he fell off the recruiting map. The website 247Sports tabbed him a two-star recruit, ranking him 2,121st in the nation. Montclair coach John Fiore made him a two-way player, introducing him to defensive end. It was akin to giving Mike Trout his first baseball bat; it was natural. Allen started to do amazing things on the field, like the time against perennial power St. Joseph’s when he ran down the star running back on a sweep.

Fiore knew what he had in Allen, a diamond in the rough, but he couldn’t persuade any of the big schools to recruit him. He implored Rutgers to take a look, but the New Jersey state school wasn’t interested.

“Some people just couldn’t see the potential in him,” Fiore says. “Kentucky did, and they won big. I told Rutgers, ‘You guys are going to look foolish when he’s drafted in the first round.'”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Allen was prepared to sign with Monmouth, but one phone call led to another, which led to a life-changing decision.

It started with Jim Matsakis, the West Orange (New Jersey) High School coach. His team had faced Allen, and he, too, marveled at his untapped potential. Matsakis notified his brother, Louie, a member of the Kentucky coaching staff. Louie alerted D.J. Eliot, the outside linebackers coach. He went online and pulled up Allen’s video. He was intrigued.