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  • Arena Football: Metz Makes Return to Philadelphia Soul

    May 15, 2018 • Arena Football League, Front Page, Philadelphia SoulComments (0)

    Press Release from philadelphiasoul.com

    The Philadelphia Soul announced the return of DL Jake Metz (6’6, 275). The Souderton Area High School graduate played a key defensive role for the Soul in the 2015 and 2016 seasons and helped the Soul to an ArenaBowl Championship in 2016.

    In just two seasons with the Soul, Metz tallied 45 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a quarterback hurry. He led the league in sacks for the 2016 season with eight and was awarded Defensive Lineman of the Year and First Team All-Arena honors for his performance.

    “The addition of Jake gives us another All Arena weapon to our pass rush,” said Soul General Manager and Assistant Head Coach Phil Bogle. “Jake is a natural leader on and off the field and we are happy he is home.”

    It was during his time at the Soul that Metz caught the eyes of multiple NFL teams. Metz was one of four 2016 Soul players to receive an invitation to workout with an NFL team. The Pennsylvania native was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles and participated in their final preseason game in 2016. Then in 2017, after a stint in the China Arena Football League playing linebacker for the Qingdao Clipper, Metz was presented with another NFL opportunity when he signed with the Buffalo Bills. Metz participated in four pre-season games with the Bills and tallied seven tackles.

    Metz recently completed his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Shippensburg University (SU) and was a standout defensive end on the SU football team. Metz finished his SU career as the all-time sacks leader with 30.5 and all-time career tackles-for-loss leader with 55. He also broke the school’s single-season record for sacks in 2012 with 11.5.

    The Soul are home in Week 6 this Saturday, May 19th at the Wells Fargo Center and are going for 21 straight home game wins. The Soul will face the Albany Empire on their first appearance in Philadelphia and kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.

    Photo: Philadelphia Soul official website

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  • Long-time Dallas Cowboys’ TE Jason Witten Hangs Up his Cleats

    May 3, 2018 • Dallas Cowboys, Features, Front Page, History, NFC East, RetirementsComments (0)

    Jason Witten, long-time Dallas Cowboys’ tight end, hass officially announced that he’d be hanging up his football cleats after his illustrious 15 seasons in the National Football League.

    The 36-year old spent all 15 of his seasons donning the blue and silver star on his helmet, making 229 starts (239 games overall) and earning 11 Pro Bowl selections and four All-Pro honors (two First-Team, two Second-Team selections).

    At his retirement, Witten has accumulated 1,152 receptions, 12,448 receiving yards and 68 touchdown catches. His receptions and yards rank second all-time among tight ends as he sits behind only Tony Gonzalez on those two lists. On the catch list, he ranks fourth all-time behind Jerry Rice, Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald.

    Witten has made 179 consecutive starts, dating back to Dec. 16, 2006 — this marks the longest streak by a TE in history.

    So yes, while he never won a Super Bowl championship in his 15 years, his numbers are certainly on-par with the Hall of Fame standards.

    Photo: Getty Images

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  • 2018 NFL Draft Recap: Year of the Rookie Quarterback?

    April 30, 2018 • Features, Front Page, NFL DraftComments (0)

    It was a busy weekend across the National Football League, as the three-day 2018 NFL Draft is officially in the books.

    The first round saw five quarterbacks come off the big board, including four in the top 10. Perhaps the biggest quarterback storyline of the opening round, aside from the Browns making the surprise No. 1 pick of Oklahoma’s Heisman-winning signal caller Baker Mayfield, is UCLA’s Josh Rosen dropping to No. 10 (Cardinals).

    The New York Jets, rather than going with Rosen, selected USC’s Sam Darnold at the No. 3 overall position.

    The Buffalo Bills found Tyrod Taylor’s successor, Wyoming’s Josh Allen at No. 7 overall.

    Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson nearly dropped out of the first round, with the Baltimore Ravens adding to its quarterback depth behind Joe Flacco and Robert Griffin III by snagging Jackson at No. 32.

    After that first round, no more quarterbacks were selected until the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph in the third round (76th overall pick). Rudolph will be able to sit behind the veteran, potential Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a year or two before replacing him once he retires. Let’s face it, Ben may not play past the 2018 season.

    After grabbing the top running back, Saquon Barkley out of Penn State, with the No. 2 overall pick, the New York Giants snatched up Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round (108th overall pick). He’ll join aging veteran Eli Manning and 23-year old Davis Webb on New York’s QB depth chart this fall.

    The rest of the quarterbacks:

    *Cowboys: Western Kentucky’s Mike White (fifth round)
    *Titans: Washington State’s Luke Falk (sixth round)
    *Jaguars: Nebraska’s Tanner Lee (sixth round)
    *Patriots: LSU’s Danny Etling (seventh round)
    *Seahawks: Florida International’s Alex McGough (seventh round)
    *Bengals: Toledo’s Logan Woodside (seventh round)

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  • Ryan Shazier Walks to Podium, Steals Show in First Round

    April 26, 2018 • AFC North, Front Page, NFL Draft, Pittsburgh Steelers, VideoComments (0)

    Thursday’s first round of the 2018 NFL Draft was spectacular.

    It had surprise picks, steals and trade aplenty, but no moment was greater than when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier walked to the podium to announce Pittsburgh’s No. 28 pick. Incredible:

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  • Gronkowski Says He’ll Be Back For 2018 Season

    April 24, 2018 • Breaking News, Front PageComments (0)

    We all knew it was coming, right?

    There was no way the 28-year-old tight end would step away from the game in his prime, despite nagging injuries throughout his eight-year All-Pro career with the New England Patriots.

    Well, now it’s officially official. Gronk will be back in ’18, we can all breathe a heavy sigh of relief knowing we’ll get to witness a few more Gronk spikes.

    https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/988906831937490946

    Photo: Getty Images

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  • AFL: Philadelphia Soul Going For 20th Straight Win at Home

    April 24, 2018 • Arena Football League, Front Page, Philadelphia Soul, Press ReleaseComments (0)

    Press release from Philadelphia Soul official website:

    PHILADELPHIA, PA – April 11, 2016. Final score Jacksonville 59 – Soul 41. That was 742 days ago, and it’s the last time the Soul lost a home game. A few days later, on April 17, the Soul took down the Portland Steel in a home game at the Wells Fargo Center and the winning feeling has continued ever since. This Saturday, the Soul go for 20 home victories in a row when they take on the Washington Valor at the Wells Fargo Center. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.

    It’s been more than two calendar years since Soul fans in Philadelphia have had to leave their home arena disappointed. For a roster and coaching staff that appreciate the impact that fans have on an Arena Football game, it is important to deliver victories in front of the home crowd.

    “We place a lot of emphasis on defending our own backyard,” said Soul General Manager, Assistant Head Coach, and former Soul Player, Phil Bogle. “Philly is the best sports city in the country, and our fans give us a huge home-field advantage, so it’s important to us that we give them their monies worth every time we’re out there.”

    Along the way there have been milestones, last second victories, and dominant performances. Several players on the current roster have been here throughout the entire streak, including QB Dan Raudabaugh, WR Darius “Money” Reynolds, WR Shaun Kauleniamoku, LB Joe Goosby, DB Dwayne Hollis, DB James Romain, DB LaRico Stevenson and OL Wayne Tribue, himself a former Temple Owl. That consistency, and a commitment to excellence, are what most folks around the organization credit for the continued success.

    “It is hard to win in professional sports, and all these guys do is win,” said Philadelphia Soul Majority Owner and former Philadelphia Eagle, Ron Jaworski. “This is a very special group of not only players, but people.”

    In fact, it would seem as though the “winning streak bug” has become a bit contagious here in Philadelphia, now affectionally referred to as the City of Champions. Since the beginning of the Soul’s streak in 2016, several of the Philadelphia sports teams have enjoyed impressive winning streaks of their own. Most recently, the Sixers were winners of 19 straight, including 11 at home, and the Eagles, en-route to winning Super Bowl 52, won 7 straight at home and let’s face it, that Week 17 game against the Cowboys shouldn’t really count as a loss! And of course, let’s not forget the current hot streak for the Phillies, who have started off 9-1 at home this season, their best start at home since 1964!

    Add to all of this the Super Bowl victory, another National Championship from Villanova and two ArenaBowl titles for the Soul, and you can understand why opposing teams are not exactly thrilled when they have to visit Philadelphia. Philly fans are proud, they’re energized, and they demonstrate what a true home-field advantage can do for its teams. We’ll see if the Soul can deliver once again on Saturday night.

    Photo: philadelphiasoul.com

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  • On This Day in 2004: Redskins Select Sean Taylor Fifth Overall

    April 24, 2018 • Features, Front Page, History, NFC East, NFL Draft, Washington RedskinsComments (0)

    With the 2018 NFL Draft just two days away, it seems like it’s the perfect time to take a look back on memories from previous drafts.

    On this day (April 24) in 2004, 14 years ago, the Washington Redskins selected with the fifth overall pick in the draft.

    The late, great free safety was selected behind Eli Manning (Chargers), Robert Gallery (Raiders), Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) and Philip Rivers (Giants).

    (*Rivers and Manning, of course, were later swapped in a trade*).

    Taylor, before being tragically murdered by a home invader at the young age of 24 in November of 2007, played four successful seasons with the Skins.

    The two-time Pro Bowl selection racked up nearly 300 total tackles, 12 interceptions and eight forced fumbles in his 53 starts over that four-year span.

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  • NFL Teams to Announce Draft Picks From Unique Locations

    April 23, 2018 • Front Page, NFL Draft, Press ReleaseComments (0)

    Press release from the National Football League:

    Beginning on Saturday, April 28 at 12:00 PM ET, NFL teams will announce their Day 3 selections for Rounds 4 to 6 of the 2018 NFL Draft from special locations of their choosing. Featuring special guests, clubs will make their picks from around the world, including military bases, state landmarks, and major attractions.

    For the second straight year, Round 6 will be youth football-themed, and youth football players from Pop Warner, NFL FLAG, and local teams will represent various NFL clubs in their individual markets during pick selections.

    Here is a sampling of special team announcements during Day 3 of the NFL Draft:

    *BALTIMORE RAVENS: Former Raven and Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle JONATHAN ODGEN and HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ALL-STARS will make selections from the USS CONSTELLATION.​

    *BUFFALO BILLS: Bills Legend THURMAN THOMAS and BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS COLLABORATIVE OF WESTERN NEW YORK (WNY) NFL FLAG FOOTBALL PROGRAM will announce picks from NIAGARA FALLS.

    *CLEVELAND BROWNS: Pro Football Hall of Fame President DAVID BAKER and youth football players will make selections from the PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME.

    *JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Team defensive linemen CALAIS CAMPBELL and YANNICK NGAKOUE will join Jaguars sweepstakes winners to announce Round 4 and 5 picks from LONDON. Back in Jacksonville, players from the JAGUARS’ 2018 GIRLS FLAG FOOTBALL JAMBOREE will announce the team’s 6th Round Pick.

    *KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: FORT RILEY CHILD AND YOUTH SERVICE TEAMS will announce selections from FORT RILEY MILITARY BASE.

    *LOS ANGELES CHARGERS & LOS ANGELES RAMS: Pick announcements for both teams will occur at the construction site for the LA STADIUM AND ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT AT HOLLYWOOD PARK.

    *MIAMI DOLPHINS: The MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM will announce picks with the FAMILY OF SLAIN FOOTBALL COACH AARON FEIS from the DOLPHINS TRAINING FACILITY.

    *MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Members of the 2018 U.S. MEN’S OLYMPIC CURLING TEAM – the first ever U.S. curling gold medalists – will announce picks at the ST. PAUL CURLING CLUB.

    *NEW YORK JETS: BOOMER ESIASON and HIGH SCHOOL ALL-STAR GAME PLAYERS will make picks from THE INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM.

    *OAKLAND RAIDERS: YOUTH AND HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYERS from Las Vegas will make selections from NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE.

    *PITTSBURGH STEELERS: UNITED STATES ARMY CAPTAIN AND BRONZE STAR RECIPIENT JOHN KELLY will make a pick announcement from Heinz Field along with his SERVICE DOG RANGER.

    *SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: From LUCASFILM, RON HOWARD, CHEWBACCA, STORMTROOPERS, and R2-D2 will make picks along with the SFPAL’S 49ERS PREP FLAG FOOTBALL TEAM.

    *TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: A PARROT will deliver the team’s selection to a pick announcer at the PIRATE SHIP IN RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM.

    *TENNESSEE TITANS: Members of the TENNESSEE YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUE to make picks from the GRAND OLE OPRY music stage.

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  • The NFL officially releases Full 2018 Regular Season Schedule

    April 19, 2018 • Breaking News, Front Page, Lists, Press ReleaseComments (0)

    Official NFL press release:

    The NFL announced today its 17-week, 256-game regular-season schedule for 2018, which kicks off on Thursday night, September 6 in Philadelphia and concludes on Sunday, December 30 with 16 division games.

    The season begins with the NFL’s annual primetime kickoff game, as the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on September 6 (8:20 PM ET, NBC).

    Week 1 is a FOX national weekend with key games on Sunday, September 9 featuring the Dallas Cowboys at the Carolina Panthers (4:25 PM ET) and the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Denver Broncos (4:25 PM ET). Week 1 matchups on CBS include the Houston Texans at the New England Patriots (1:00 PM ET) and the Los Angeles Chargers hosting the Kansas City Chiefs (4:05 PM ET). Week 2 represents the first CBS national weekend with doubleheader games showcasing the Oakland Raiders at the Denver Broncos (4:25 PM ET) and the Patriots visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars (4:25 PM ET).

    NBC’s Sunday Night Football gets underway on September 9 when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears (8:20 PM ET) at Lambeau Field in the 195th regular-season meeting between the storied franchises.

    Kickoff Weekend concludes on Monday, September 10 with an ESPN Monday Night Football doubleheader. The Detroit Lions will host the New York Jets (7:10 PM ET) in the first game followed by the Los Angeles Rams visiting the Oakland Raiders in the nightcap (10:20 PM ET).

    ESPN will televise one game each Monday night in Weeks 2-16. There will be no Monday night game on the final regularseason weekend (Week 17) to provide more flexibility for the scheduling of the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs.

    Primetime games will all kick off earlier this season – Thursday night at 8:20 PM ET (from 8:25 PM ET), Sunday night at 8:20 PM ET (8:30 PM) and Monday night at 8:15 PM ET (8:30 PM) – and all 32 clubs are scheduled for at least one Thursday, Sunday or Monday night game.

    FOX will kick off their Thursday Night Football package in Week 4 with a showdown of NFC playoff teams, as the Minnesota Vikings visit the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFLN). FOX will broadcast 11 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 4-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night), with those games also being simulcast via NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes. In addition, NFL Network will exclusively televise seven games this season, with FOX producing the full slate of 18 games.

    A select number of games will be “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Some of those contests were announced today and other “cross-flexed” games will be decided during the season.

    The regular season will conclude with Week 17 on Sunday, December 30. For the ninth consecutive year, all 16 games scheduled for Week 17 are division contests, enhancing the potential for more games with playoff ramifications.

    Other highlights of the schedule include:

    Nine games in the 2018 regular season will feature a rematch from the 2017 postseason. In Week 2, Jacksonville will host New England at EverBank Field in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game (4:25 PM ET, CBS). Minnesota travels to Philadelphia in Week 5 in a rematch of the 2017 NFC Championship Game (4:25 PM ET, FOX).

    Thanksgiving will feature a trio of divisional matchups on Thursday, November 22. 2018 marks only the second time since 1970 (2014) that the holiday has featured exclusively divisional matchups. The first game will send the Bears to Detroit to face the Lions (12:30 PM ET, CBS). The late afternoon game will feature the Washington Redskins visiting the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET, FOX). The Thanksgiving Day festivities conclude with an NFC South showdown as the Falcons travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on NBC (8:20 PM ET).

    The NFL’s international slate includes three games in London – occurring in three consecutive weeks (Week 6-8) – and one in Mexico City. English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium is the site of the first game of the 2018 London Series schedule in Week 6 on Sunday, October 14, as the Oakland Raiders host the Seattle Seahawks (1:00 PM ET, FOX). The following week, action returns to Wembley Stadium as the Los Angeles Chargers host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, October 21 (9:30 AM ET, CBS). The 2018 London Series concludes in Week 8 with the Jaguars hosting the Eagles at Wembley on Sunday, October 28 (9:30 AM ET, NFLN).

    For the third consecutive season, the NFL will return to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. On Monday, November 19, the Los Angeles Rams host the Kansas City Chiefs in the historic venue on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).

    The NFL’s 32 teams will each play 16 games over 17 weeks. Byes will begin in Week 4 and end in Week 12.

    “Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game.

    Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network: Houston at the New York Jets and Cleveland at Denver, with the game times of 4:30 PM ET and 8:20 PM ET to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday: Baltimore at Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville at Miami, the New York Giants at Indianapolis or Washington at Tennessee. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.

    For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 30. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into primetime.

    Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights.

    The playoffs will include four division winners and two wild cards from each conference. The playoffs begin with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, January 5-6. The two division winners with the best records in each conference will earn first-round byes.

    Wild Card Weekend winners join the top two division champions in each conference in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday and Sunday, January 12-13. The AFC and NFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday, January 20. The winners meet two weeks later on Sunday, February 3 in Super Bowl LIII at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium (CBS).

    The NFL is the only sports league that presents all regular-season and postseason games on free, over-the-air television in local markets. All postseason games are televised nationally.

    Westwood One will broadcast on radio all NFL primetime games, the three Thanksgiving Day games and the entire NFL playoffs.

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  • Dwight Freeney Set to Retire From NFL At Age 38

    April 19, 2018 • Breaking News, Front Page, RetirementsComments (0)

    I suppose we all knew this day was coming.

    At the ripe age of 38 years old, longtime defensive end Dwight Freeney has made the decision to hang up his cleats and call it a career.

    And, oh, what a career it was!

    Freeney and his incredible spin move played 16 NFL seasons, 11 of which were spent in Indianapolis after the Colts selected him 11th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft.

    In those 16 seasons and 218 games (157 starts), Freeney accumulated over 300 tackles, 125.5 sacks, 46 forced fumbles and 17 passes defensed. The seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end played in 22 postseason games, including a Super Bowl win in ’06 with the Colts. He racked up 11.0 postseason sacks and his team went 12-10 in those 22 games.

    Freeney, after leaving Indy, spent two years in San Diego, one in Arizona, one in Atlanta and split the 2017 season between Detroit and Seattle. He put up double-digit sack totals in seven of his 16 seasons.

    One could certainly argue that he’ll find his way into Canton one day.

    Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

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