Buccaneers Steamroll Packers Amid Sports Frenzy in Tampa Bay

By Terrance Turner

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.

The Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the World Series.

And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 4-2.

The Buccaneers stunned the once-undefeated Green Bay Packers Sunday evening with a burst of offensive power. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady shined, leading the team to its fourth win. According to UPI, Brady completed 17 of 27 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-10 win on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 16 for 35 and threw two interceptions.

The Packers jumped out to a 10-point lead early, but then the Buccaneers scored 38 unanswered points. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got picked off by Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean in the second quarter. Dean lit up the team with a 32-yard interception return to the end zone. That pick-six put the Bucs on the board.

Another interception by Rodgers opened the door to a TD rush by Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II. That touchdown put Tampa Bay up 14-10, its first lead of the day. It was a lead that the team would never let go.

Later, Brady slung another touchdown pass to Bucs receiver Tyler Johnson as the second quarter wound down. Then, with just over a minute left in the first half, Brady threw a laser-point pass to Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski. It was Gronk’s first touchdown of the season — and his first in nearly two years. The last time Gronkowski caught a touchdown, it was 2018 — 679 days ago — in a Patriots game versus the Miami Dolphins.

That added to an already commanding lead. The game was 28-10 at halftime.

Rodgers continued to struggle in the second half, contending with an aggressive Bucs defense that swarmed and sometimes sacked him. (Tampa Bay’s Ndamukong Suh was especially difficult to evade.) Rodgers’ woes continued when Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a chest injury and had to return to the locker room.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay continued to roll. Kicker Ryan Succop drilled a 50-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 21-point lead. And the team benefited from some costly mistakes by its opponent. A massive defensive pass interference call on the Packers was followed by a flag for having too many men on the field. Those penalties set up Tampa Bay’s next (and final) touchdown, courtesy of running back Ronald Jones. The Buccaneers defeated Green Bay handily, 38-10.

Notably, the Buccaneers were one of the most penalized teams going into this game. But they managed to play this game from start to finish without any penalties. The Buccaneers haven’t played a penalty-free game since 1983.

“… It was good. I think not turning the ball over helped a lot and I think not being behind on down and distance helped a lot,” Brady said after the win, per the team. “But certainly (there are) better things that we can do (and) things better than what we did today. We’re going to keep working at it.”

Clemson Wallops Georgia Tech In Record-Breaking Game

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By Terrance Turner

The Clemson Tigers haven’t lost a football game in over a year.

Today was no exception. Clemson, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, overcame several turnovers and a dogged opposition to win today’s match versus Georgia Tech. In their highest-scoring road game in a century, the Clemson Tigers steamrolled the Yellow Jackets, 73-7.

The match opened inauspiciously: Clemson running back Travis Etienne fumbled the ball early in the first quarter. Georgia Tech recovered and launched its drive, but was unable to score any points. A volley of sorts ensued: Clemson scored first when Lawrence threw a touchdown to Cornell Powell. Georgia Tech responded with a 59-yard touchdown when QB Jeff Sims found receiver Jalen Camp. But Clemson clapped back with an 83-yard TD to receiver Amari Rodgers.

A subsequent Tigers field-goal drive made the score 17-7. But the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets weren’t giving up. Their defense soon forced Lawrence to throw his first interception since Oct. 19, 2019. But once again, they couldn’t turn that turnover into points: Georgia Tech turned the ball over on fourth down. Clemson took over.

From them on, it was an offensive onslaught: Lawrence threw yet another touchdown, a 34-yard beauty to Clemson tight end Davis Allen. Then, Lawrence surprised onlookers by tossing another TD to an unlikely source: 300-pound defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney. And on a subsequent drive, Lawrence scored again — finding Frank Ladson Jr. in the end zone for another TD. That score put Clemson ahead, 38-7.

And then, after his embarrassing fumble, Travis Etienne redeemed himself in a big way. With just over two minutes left in the half, Etienne rushed into the end zone for a touchdown, putting his team up 44-7. (That score made Etienne the team’s all-time scoring leader; he’s racked up 408 points during his career, per ABC.)

When Georgia Tech tried to put together a drive, Sims threw an interception. Tigers player Nolan Turner returned the ball 31 yards to the seven-yard line, and Clemson quickly found the end zone. Lawrence located Rodgers again for a daring TD pass. That touchdown added to what was already a commanding lead; the Tigers led 52-7 at halftime.

But Lawrence’s head-turning play wasn’t the only thing that caught notice. Announcers raved about Lawrence’s intangibles, work ethic, intelligence — and his leadership. Before the first half ended, they noted that Lawrence led a protest march on the Clemson campus back in June. That march followed similar demonstrations across the country after the killing of George Floyd.

Days before, Lawrence had tweeted: “There has to be a shift in the way of thinking. Rational must outweigh irrational. Justice must outweigh injustice. Love must outweigh hate. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and you don’t like how it feels — that’s when you know things need to change.” Lawrence clearly felt that it was important to speak up and take action. The ABC commentators quoted Lawrence as saying: “Unless you act, it’s just words.”

As impressive as Lawrence’s commitment to justice is, his play today was just as striking. Lawrence threw five touchdowns in the first half alone. According to ESPN, that’s the first 5-TD game since quarterback Deshaun Watson played for Clemson in 2016. Lawrence finished the day with 404 passing yards and five touchdowns, both career highs.

Lawrence exited the game in the third quarter, but the scoring didn’t stop. Running back Chez Mellusi rushed for a 5-yard TD in the 3rd. Then, replacement QB Hunter Helms launched a 7-yard touchdown pass to #14 Kobe Pace. Finally, wide receiver Ajou Ajou caught a screen pass and returned it for 35 yards, evading defenders as he rushed into the end zone. That final touchdown sealed the deal for Clemson’s landslide victory. (It’s the biggest conference win in ACC history, according to ESPN.) The Clemson Tigers scored the most points they’ve had in a road game since 1915 (!!!)

Best of all, the Clemson Tigers remain undefeated (5-0).

For all of his stunning playmaking, Lawrence still thought there were things to improve upon. In a postgame interview, he commented: “It’s a good day. I felt really sharp on my reads […] I just wanna work on — still, just continue to get better, you know, on my accuracy. Missed a couple throws, I mean…We really left, probably, at least 14 points off the scoreboard.”

“There’s always something you can get better at,” he noted. “But it was a good day.”

After Lifeless Start, Chiefs’ Offense Explodes to Stun Patriots

By Terrance Turner

It was 6-3 for the entire first half of tonight’s game. The Kansas City Chiefs had two field goals. The New England Patriots had one.

No big plays. No long passes. No touchdowns.

Neither offense showed any signs of life as the third quarter began. The Patriots punted at the start of the third quarter. Then the Chiefs had to punt after an incomplete pass by Mahomes. A seven-minute drive by the Patriots took them all the way to the twelve-yard line. Then RB Rex Burkhead rushed for seven yards to the 5-yard-line. But then, Patriots QB Brian Hoyer was sacked by Chiefs player Taco Charlton. Hoyer fumbled the ball; Kansas City recovered. (Hoyer was later replaced by quarterback Jarrett Stidham.)

This low-score, lackluster offense continued through the third quarter. But then — with just 49 seconds left in the quarter — something happened. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes launched a pass to tight end Travis Kelce, who turned the play into a 45-yard pitch-and-catch. Then, just minutes later, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill scored by skirting the edge of the field. Hill disappeared inside a sea of blue Patriots jerseys, scampering down the sideline for the touchdown.

It was now 13-3 — the score at the end of Super Bowl 53, which the Patriots won. The Patriots responded tonight with a touchdown of their own. But it was the Chiefs who would prevail. Mahomes threw another touchdown – this time to wide receiver Mecole Hardman. A left-field interception sealed the Chiefs’ win. Stidham tried a pass to veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman. The ball bounced off of Edelman’s hands and into the hands of safety Tyrann Mathieu. He ran it all the way into the end zone for the touchdown.

Follwing the touchdown, the Patriots regained possession and tried to mount a scoring drive. But after two short rushing plays, Stidham was intercepted by Chiefs’ Rashad Fenton, who returned it for 31 yards, according to MSN. That pick effectively ended the game. The Chiefs rolled over the Patriots, 26-10.

The Chiefs are now the first team in NFL history to start 4-0 in four consecutive seasons. Tonight was their 13th straight win (counting the postseason and Super Bowl). Tonight was also Travis Kelce’s birthday. Kelce will celebrate his 31st birthday with a win. He’s also breathing some rarefied air: the Chiefs are one of only six undefeated teams in the NFL.

Texans Fire Bill O’Brien After 0-4 Start

By Terrance Turner

The Houston Texans have fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien.

“On behalf of my family and our entire organization, I want to sincerely thank Bill O’Brien and his family for their impact on our franchise,” Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “Bill’s leadership moved our organization forward as he guided us to four AFC South division championships, 52 wins and multiple playoff appearances during his tenure.” (Those 52 wins, however, were accompanied by 48 losses.)

The move comes after a dispiriting 0-4 start by the Texans. After a (predictable) loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and another loss to the Baltimore Ravens the next week, the Texans lost again to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Hopes were high for yesterday’s match against the Minnesota Vikings, but those hopes were dashed, too.

On paper, it should’ve been a winnable game: both teams were 0-3. But Minnesota scored first, with a rushing touchdown by running back Dalvin Cook. After a kick return later, the Vikings caused a fumble by the Texans and cashed in with a field goal. After another Cook TD, it was 17-6 at the half. The Texans scored a touchdown via wide receiver Will Fuller and then nabbed a field goal. But the Vikings responded with another TD courtesy of receiver Adam Thielen. Then they hit the end zone again, courtesy of running back Alex Mattison,. Texans WR Kenny Stills scored late, and the Texans tried to rally with a last-minute drive. But upon review, WR Will Fuller’s touchdown catch was overturned. The Texans lost, 31-23.

The Houston Texans are now 0-4, at the bottom of their division (the AFC South). Their playoff chances are practically nil. According to ESPN, only one team — the 1992 Chargers — made the playoffs after an 0-4 start. Frustration on the part of Texans fans and players was widespread after yesterday’s loss.

Defensive end J.J. Watt echoed the thoughts of many with his comments in a press conference yesterday. “We obviously have to do something different,” Watt said. “We are 0-4. Whatever we’re doing is not working. Something needs to change. Something needs to be different.”

What had to change is the leadership — which has come under fire before.

O’Brien’s firing comes after an 0-4 start, but it also comes after years of head-scratching decisions. In 2017, O’Brien traded 2014 No.1 pick Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks. (He’s now defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, who are undefeated.) That same year, O’Brien also traded Duane Brown — regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the game — to the Seahawks. Star safety Tyrann Mathieu left the team in 2019 to sign a contract with the Chiefs — who are now Super Bowl champions.

But the final straw for many fans came this year. After a stunning comeback against the Buffalo Bills, the Texans were up 24-0 against the Chiefs. But after the first quarter, they suffered an epic collapse: the Chiefs outscored the 51-7 in the rest of the game to win, 51-31.

And then, O’Brien lost the support of many Texans fans — and caused an uproar among football fans — by trading away DeAndre Hopkins. Widely regarded as a top-tier NFL receiver, Hopkins had collected 31 touchdowns during his last three seasons. O’Brien traded him for RB David Johnson and some draft picks. The reaction was swift and merciless.

“My first instinct when I saw the terms of this trade was to worry whether Hopkins had lost a limb. My second instinct was to give the Texans side of this deal the same grade safety Tyrann Mathieu awarded his former team. This is a jaw-dropping, mind-bending, inexplicable trade for O’Brien, whose bizarre run as Texans general manager is going to be the subject of a 30 for 30 documentary one day,” wrote ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. Bleacher Report writer Bill Tanier lambasted O’Brien.

“Bill O’Brien is a staggeringly terrible general manager. He’s also an awful head coach, as illustrated by his many suspect decisions as the Texans blew a 24-point lead to lose 51-31 to the Chiefs in the AFC divisional round (among other examples in big games),” Tanier wrote. For the Texans, this trade is so bad that it has substrata of badness: Johnson is a damaged-goods running back who lost his starting job last year and is three full years removed from his last productive season.”

Surprise! Patrick Mahomes Has Big News (UPDATED)

By Terrance Turner

On Feb. 2, quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 50 years. On July 6, he signed the most lucrative sports deal in history: a 10-year, $450 million deal worth up to $503 million. On Sept. 1, Mahomes received his Super Bowl ring at Arrowhead Stadium and proposed to longtime girlfriend Brittany Matthews. And now, just four weeks later, Mahomes is adding yet another highlight to an unforgettable year.

Mahomes and Matthews are expecting!

Matthews shared the announcement on social media this afternoon. The surprising news came via a picture of her and Mahomes, with a sonogram of their unborn baby. The two have been together for over eight years; they began dating in high school, when Mahomes was a sophomore and Matthews a junior.

The news comes just hours after Mahomes and the Chiefs stunned the Baltimore Ravens with a bravura performance. On last night’s highly anticipated “Monday Night Football” match, Mahomes scored the team’s first points with a six-yard touchdown run. Then he tossed a 5-yard shovel pass to fullback Anthony Sherman and a dazzling 20-yard TD to receiver Tyreek Hill. But the game’s highlight was arguably Mahomes’ jaw-dropping 49-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mecole Hardman. (He later threw in a two-yard TD courtesy of offensive tackle Eric Fisher.)

But it was his 13-yard pass to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce that put Mahomes over the edge. According to ESPN, it took just 34 games for Mahomes to break the record set by quarterback Kurt Warner. Last night, Mahomes became the fastest quarterback to reach 10,000 passing yards.

And now, he’s about to become a father.

“Being able to kind of grow up and have these dreams of having a family and playing in the NFL […] it’s really cool,” said Mahomes on Wednesday. During the virtual call with reporters, Mahomes was apparently asked which of his teammates could look after his child. “As far as like an uncle? I would say like Matt Moore, or someone like that, that’s responsible. I can’t let Trav or anybody do it. You never know what would happen,” Mahomes said, smiling.

UPDATE (Oct. 19): Mahomes may not trust Kelce to babysit, but he certainly trusts him on the field. On their match with the Bills Monday night, Mahomes found Kelce for two touchdowns in the first half. One of them was a diving catch that put the Chiefs ahead 7-3 in the first quarter. The other came in the second quarter, with the Chiefs down 10-7. Mahomes threw a dart to Kelce in the end zone, making it 14-10. The team added another TD courtesy of Darrel Williams in the third quarter, then tacked on two field goals to win 26-17.

UPDATE (Oct. 21): Mahomes and Matthews are expecting a baby girl! Matthews announced the news on Twitter today via video. Mahomes shared the video on his profile, adding the hashtag #GirlDad:

Brady & Bucs Stymied By Saints In Season Opener

By Terrance Turner

Today was the first time since 2000 that Tom Brady hasn’t started for the New England Patriots. Instead, he served as quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But while the Patriots cruised to a win earlier this afternoon, Brady and the Bucs…didn’t. The New Orleans Saints’ sensational offense and bruising defense obstructed them at every turn.

The game began promisingly enough. Brady scored the team’s first points himself, rushing into the end zone for a touchdown that made it 7-0. But the Saints answered with a touchdown of their own: running back Alvin Kamara scored a rushing TD to tie the game. After Brady was intercepted by Saints’ Marcus Williams early in the second quarter, Kamara seized the moment and scored again, putting his team up 14-7. It was his second touchdown in 90 seconds.

By the midpoint of the second quarter, the game was already getting chippy. On one play, the jostling between Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore turned serious. After the play, when Evans’ back was turned, Lattimore shoved him from behind. Evans turned around and appeared to throw a punch at Lattimore, knocking off his helmet. The two began scuffling, and their teammates joined in. The referees had to break up the action before it turned into a brawl:

Lattimore got flagged for unnecessary roughness; the 15-yard penalty went against the Saints. But they recovered rather quickly. A Buccaneers drive stalled when Brady got sacked; their field goal was blocked by a Saints defender. The Saints ended up scoring a field goal of their own to end the half, making the game 17-7.

After halftime, more woes awaited the team. Brady was intercepted again by Saints’ Janoris Jenkins, who returned the ball for a pick-six. That made it 24-7. The Buccaneers rallied to narrow that lead, helped by a 45-yard penalty against the Saints. That set up a touchdown for the Bucs. Brady found tight end O.J. Howard for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 24-14. Later, kicker Ryan Succop nailed a field goal to bring the Bucs within one score.

A volley of sorts ensued: Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders scored a touchdown to make it 31-17; that was followed by a field goal from Saints kicker Wil Lutz. The Bucs responded when Brady hit receiver Mike Evans for a 2-yard TD. But the Saints recovered an onside kick, and a 38-yard catch by Kamara set up 1st and goal. Kamara rushed in for a touchdown, but it was overturned on replay. (Kamara had stepped out of bounds just nanoseconds before the ball crossed the plane.)

It didn’t matter. Kamara (who just signed a $75 million, five-year extension yesterday, after rumors of a trade) was all smiles. It wasn’t hard to see why. The Saints began their season with a convincing win, 34-23.

Chiefs and Texans Unite on NFL Season Opener

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, the NFL season began with a highly anticipated match. The Super Bowl-defending Kansas City Chiefs played against the Houston Texans — but not before a major statement. The national anthem was performed by Chloe and Halle, who wore T-shirts that honored George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — both Black people slain by police this year.

After the anthem, Alicia Keys’ version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (informally known as “the black national anthem” played at Arrowhead Stadium. The Texans remained in the locker room for both anthems, then emerged for an unusual display. After they came on the field, both teams locked arms in a show of unity; in the center were Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Remarkably, fans (who only filled 22% of the stadium) began booing.

There were many opinions about this development:

Another distressing development: the absence of intros. Despite being a Thursday night game, tonight’s contest happened on NBC, which typically airs “Sunday Night Football”. Tonight’s match unfolded much like a typical Sunday night contest, with SNF commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. But the very thing that made “Sunday Night Football” different from every other broadcast — the player introductions, where each player appears on the screen to state his name and the college he went to — were gone. Michaels explained the disappearance of the intros by saying that “we couldn’t get into [training] camps to do them.”

Do players not have smartphones? Are they not able to record their introductions on the field before (or after) the game? Are they not allowed to be filmed in the locker room? Can the players not record intros during the Zoom press conferences while they answer questions? Many observers lamented their absence during tonight’s broadcast:

OK. Back to the game.

The first touchdown of the NFL season came courtesy of running back David Johnson, who rushed into the end zone early to put the Texans up 7-0. Johnson temporarily silenced the deafening chatter of fans who objected to the trade that brought him to the Texans and sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. But it would be the last time the Texans held the lead.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately, with a successful 11-play drive. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce, tying the game. Then the Chiefs gained the lead when Mahomes found Sammy Watkins in the end zone. A field goal by their kicker Harrison Butker put the Chiefs up 17-7 at the half.

In the third quarter, we saw further dominance by rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. (He replaces Chiefs RB Damien Williams, who opted out this season due to concerns about COVID-19. His mother has cancer.) Edwards-Helaire made his debut with a sensational performance, running for 136 yards. His 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter padded the Chiefs’ lead. Then Chiefs rookie L’Jarius Sneed picked off Watson’s pass near the end of the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Mahomes’ interception was negated by a pass interference call against the Texans. Saved by the flag, Mahomes threw a dart to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. That gave the Chiefs a commanding 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Texans managed to make things more respectable: Watson himself rushed in for a touchdown, then later found Texans tight end Jordan Akins for another score. But that would be the end of the scores for the Houston Texans. The Chiefs sealed their fate when Butker drilled another field goal to give them the win: 34-20.

“There’s a lot to fix,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the Texans’ loss. “It’s only one game. We have to improve pretty quickly. But it’s only one game . We have to get back to work pretty soon and fix these things.” They play the Ravens on Sept. 20.

PATRICK MAHOMES IS ENGAGED

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, Patrick Mahomes was presented with the Super Bowl ring that he earned in such memorable fashion on Feb. 2nd:

According to ESPN, the Super Bowl ring contains 234 diamonds and the player’s name in gold, along with his jersey number in diamonds. But tonight, Mahomes presented longtime girlfriend Brittany Lynne Matthews with a diamond ring of her own. Matthews alerted her followers of the news via Instagram Stories:

The proposal apparently happened after the Super Bowl ring ceremony at Arrowhead Stadium, according to Today. Mahomes, 24, and Matthews, 25, are high school sweethearts. According to the Kansas City Star, they started dating at Whitehouse High School in Texas, when Mahomes was a sophomore and Matthews a junior. (Mahomes is from Tyler, Texas.) When their relationship began, Mahomes was still a safety on the football team. He would eventually become a standout on the football and basketball teams, becoming a star quarterback while Matthews played on the soccer team.

Matthews went on to play at the University of Texas at Tyler and later signed to play professionally in Iceland. Meanwhile, Mahomes attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, and later became a superstar QB for the Kansas City Chiefs. After a series of come-from-behind victories in the playoffs, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a stunning fourth-quarter comeback in this year’s Super Bowl. Powered by two touchdowns by running back Damien Williams, the Chiefs racked up 21 points in six minutes to win, 31-20. Now, after a record-breaking contract extension, Mahomes has added yet another milestone to an unforgettable year.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Joins Investors to Buy XFL

By Terrance Turner

Five months after shutting down due to COVID-19, the XFL is back! (Kind of.)

Today, news broke that the league was purchased for about $15 million by a group of investors that include actor and athlete Dwayne Johnson. He bought the XFL with two partners: Gerry Cardinale (CEO of Redbird Capital) and business partner Dany Garcia — his ex-wife.

Garcia and Johnson were married for over a decade before splitting in 2007. (They have an 18-year-old daughter, Simone.) The two founded Seven Bucks Productions, a multi-platform production company, in 2012. The company produced the TV shows “Ballers” and NBC’s “The Titan Games”. It also helped bring some of Johnson’s biggest box-office hits to the screen. Between 2017 and 2019, Garcia served as executive producer for “Baywatch”, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Hobbs and Shaw” — all starring Johnson. Now, Dany Garcia has become the first female owner of a major sports league in America.

Garcia reacted to the historic news via Twitter: “Honored to be making history by following my dreams,” she tweeted. In the tweet, Garcia also thanked Johnson and Cardinale. Gerry Cardinale is the founder and managing partner of Redbird Capital, a private investment firm. Redbird has many sports connections: it co-founded OneTeam, which helps athletes “maximize the value of their name, image and likeness rights”. The organization works with the players’ associations of the MLB and NFL, among others.

According to Sportico, which broke the story, two major hurdles remain. The sale must be approved at bankruptcy court on Friday, Aug. 7. If all goes well, the sale should become official by Aug. 21. Significantly, Johnson, Garcia and Cardinale purchased the XFL from the now-bankrupt Alpha Entertainment, founded by WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. Johnson was a superstar in the WWE universe before becoming one of Hollywood’s most bankable talents. Now, he’s buying the company of his onetime WWE boss. (Incidentally, Johnson & Garcia’s daughter — 18-year-old Simone Johnson — signed a contract with WWE in February.)

Alpha Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 13, after the XFL shut down due to coronavirus. There were more than 30 bids for the football league in court. But according to ESPN, the bid by Johnson & company was the only qualified one. Now, the league may resurge by next year. Garcia told ESPN that the XFL may return in 2021. “We’re planning for it,” she said.

See the source image
Dany Garcia is the first female major-league owner in American sports. (Latina magazine)

“We’re doing all the steps that need to happen for the execution of that. But we’re also being mindful to what has actually been successful,” Garcia said. “It has been really interesting to see that [in sports], when you create a bubble, your players are safe. When you don’t, it’s chaos. We are a league, because of the number of teams we have, that actually can create a bubble environment. Those discussions are active.”

Johnson reacted to the sale with gratitude. “The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things — my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” said Johnson. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans and everyone involved for the love of football.” He shared a similar sentiment on Twitter, adding the hashtag “full circle”. (Johnson played football at the University of Miami from 1990 to 1994. He also played briefly in the CFL. He had only $7 — just seven bucks — when he got cut from the Calgary Stampeders.)

“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity,” Garcia added in a statement today. “Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built.” Indeed, many of the films she produced with Johnson (“Fighting with My Family”, “Skyscraper”, “Ballers”, “The Titan Games”) have an athletic bent — or just athletic feats by Johnson and his superhero physique.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart during an interview for their 2019 “Jumanji” sequel. Johnson’s business partner Dany Garcia executive produced both “Jumanji” films. (Photo screengrab courtesy of Youtube.)

“It is a privilege to partner with Dany and Dwayne on the acquisition of the XFL,” said Gerry Cardinale, Founder and Managing Partner of RedBird Capital Partners. XFL President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Pollack was more effusive: “I could not imagine a better outcome for the XFL. Dany, Dwayne, and Gerry are the best possible ownership group for exciting journey ahead,” he stated. “I think our [XFL] players, fans, and coaches are in for something special.”

How former and current XFL players will react to this news is still unclear. But rapper Wale clearly has plans. Wale tweeted today that he will be playing in the league next year:

UPDATE: The sale was approved on Friday, Aug. 7, in a Delaware bankruptcy court. U.S. District Judge Laurie Silverstein allowed the sale to proceed after the XFL resolved a dispute over the $15 million sale price with the court’s unsecured creditors’ committee. Johnson, along with Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital Partners, will officially assume control of the XFL from former owner Vince McMahon later this month.

UPDATE: Johnson confirmed the takeover today via Twitter:

Patrick Mahomes Signs Largest Sports Contract in History

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Patrick Mahomes beams in this file photo released today. (Photo via Twitter @Chiefs)

By Terrance Turner

It should come as no surprise that the Kansas City Chiefs have signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a contract extension. But the details of the arrangement are nothing short of astonishing. Per numerous sources (including NFL reporter Ian Rapoport), Mahomes’ 10-year extension is worth $503 million — making it the largest contract in the history of sports.

According to Rapoport, this is the first time that an NFL player has been the highest-paid in sports. His NFL Network colleague Tom Pelissero added that Mahomes’ deal comes with a $10 million signing bonus and a “roster bonus” that grows to $49.4 million by 2027. Pelissero added that Mahomes could earn up to $103 million by next March.

The Chiefs added 10 years to what was already a two-year contract for Mahomes, ensuring that he will remain a Chief through at least 2031. Accordingly, Mahomes tweeted “Here to stay”, alongside a highlight video with captions by Mahomes. “Chiefs Kingdom, you’ve been with me since the beginning,” he wrote. “You helped us overcome adversity to become Super Bowl champs. And we’re staying together…for a long time. We’re building a dynasty.”

Mahomes, 24, has racked up 76 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions in three seasons as a Chief. After being named 2018 NFL MVP, he overcame a frightening midseason injury (a dislocated kneecap) and not only survived the 2019 season but helped power the Chiefs to a 12-4 record. Then he and the Chiefs battled other AFC standouts in the postseason. They overcame three straight double-digit deficits in the playoffs. After stunning the Texans in a come-from-behind win, they rallied to beat the Titans in the AFC Championship. (It was the first AFC Championship Game since 2010 not to include Tom Brady.)

You may recall that in February, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in rather memorable fashion. Down 20-10 with only six minutes left, Mahomes rallied and led the team to score 21 unanswered points — including two touchdowns by running back Damien Williams. Mahomes, who is biracial, is only the third black quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. His performance earned him the honor of being named Super Bowl MVP.

“This is a significant moment for our franchise and for the Chiefs Kingdom,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Since he joined the Chiefs just a few years ago, Patrick has developed into one of the most prolific athletes in all of sports. With his dynamic play and infectious personality, he is one of the most recognized and beloved figures to put on the Chiefs uniform. He’s an extraordinary leader and a credit to the Kansas City community, and I’m delighted that he will be a member of the Chiefs for many years to come.”

One of Mahomes’ teammates put it more bluntly. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu voiced approval of the deal. “The young man deserve it all,” Mathieu wrote on Twitter. “One of the best I’ve been around. One of the greats.” Mathieu previously played for the Houston Texans, whose quarterback Deshaun Watson may be in line for a payday of his own. Texans superstar defensive end J.J. Watt tagged Watson in a playful tweet today:

UPDATE: Mahomes is apparently making some money moves as the start of the season approaches. Today, news broke that Mahones is now a part owner of the Kansas City Royals. The baseball team is located in the very city for which he won the Super Bowl. That fact wasn’t lost on the quarterback. “I’m honored to become a part owner of the Kansas City Royals,” said Patrick Mahomes. “I love this city and the people of this great town. This opportunity allows me to deepen my roots in this community, which is something I’m excited to do.”

After signing the largest-ever sports contract in history, Mahomes has made history again. This deal makes Patrick Mahomes the youngest sports owner ever. NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported the record-breaking development earlier thiis morning:

UPDATE: After the Chiefs went 2-0 in their first two games, Patrick Mahomes was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. After praising Mahomes’ athleticism and vision, author Derek Jeter lauded Mahomes’ commitment to his teammates and coaches. “There is a lot more promise in Patrick Mahomes’ future than just on-field accolades,” Jeter wrote. “He already has started to build a legacy as one of the most impactful athletes of his generation, and I, for one, am excited to see what is next.”