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Nets’ Kyrie Irving skips media session, issues statement to ensure message is ‘conveyed properly’



Nets' Kyrie Irving skips media session, issues statement to ensure message is 'conveyed properly'

Did Kyrie Irving one-up Marshawn Lynch?

Lynch is known for saying all sorts of hilarious things, but perhaps his best work came during Super Bowl Media Day in 2015. After reportedly being threatened with a $500,000 fine if he didn’t speak with the media, Lynch answered every single question with some form of “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”

Like Lynch, Irving has never been a fan of dealing with the media. It may have something to do with his tendency to say stupid things about how the Earth is flat. Or maybe it’s because he has gotten weird questions from reporters, like someone asking him if LeBron James played a fatherly role toward him. It’s possible there’s some blame on both sides.

Whoever’s to blame, it seems that Irving is now looking for ways to get out of media obligations. Instead of speaking with reporters as part of the NBA’s media week, the Nets guard issued a statement Friday through a team spokesperson, citing his lack of trust in the media as the reason for his absence.

“Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly,” Irving said in the statement.

MORE: J.R. Smith trends immediately after reports NBA won’t test players for marijuana in 2020-21

In Irving’s statement, he addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the virus “has impacted us all in many ways,” and that he prays “for the safety and health of our communities domestically and abroad.”

Irving also addressed his goals for the Nets in the upcoming season and explained that he plans on making some changes to the way he operates.

“I am committed to show up to work every[]day, ready to have fun, compete, perform and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization,” Irving said. “My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself. Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.”

It seems as if Irving’s substitution of a statement for availability could be a sign of what’s to come this season. So did he figure out a way to cheat the system? Well, it depends on how much of his paycheck he’s willing to lose, as some reporters are claiming his sending out a statement violates NBA policy.

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Who is in Super Bowl 2021? Here are the teams, odds & spread for Super Bowl 55 matchup



Who is in Super Bowl 2021? Here are the teams, odds & spread for Super Bowl 55 matchup

What started as 32 teams was whittled down to 14, and now there are just two squads vying for one trophy in Super Bowl 55.

Even with a few coronavirus breakouts reaching NFL squads throughout the year, the league navigated pretty tough waters and is gearing up for what should be a dazzling finale pitting  well-aged Tom Brady and the Buccaneers vs. the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.

MORE: How much are Super Bowl tickets?

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Brady is making a Super Bowl appearance — his 10th, in fact. But this time, the uniform will be different; he’s making his first appearance as Tampa Bay QB. This is a rematch a few years in the making, with Brady and the Pats knocking off Mahomes and the upstart Chiefs in the AFC championship game during the 2018 season. 

Mahomes coach Andy Reid and KC would rebound nicely. They broke through and won the Super Bowl last year, defeating the 49ers in a very entertaining game. Now, the young NFL master-passer has a chance to exact sweet revenge in this year’s Super Bowl, earn his second ring and prevent Brady from winning his seventh.

Here’s what you need to know about Super Bowl 55:

Who is in the Super Bowl 2021?

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are defending their home turf against the Kansas City Chiefs in the much-awaited playoff rematch between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

This marks the first time the Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl since 2003 (the 2002 season), when the Jon Gruden-led Bucs beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl 37. For perspective, Gruden was 39 years young when he won that Super Bowl as the Buccaneers’ head man. Brady will have a chance to win the 2021 game at 43. 

Of course, this is the second consecutive appearance for the much younger Mahomes and the Chiefs, and Mahomes himself is making history as the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start two Super Bowls. Not bad.

When & where is Super Bowl 55?

  • Date: Sunday, Feb. 7
  • Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. ET (unofficial)
  • TV network: CBS
  • Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

The Buccaneers are vying for a Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 2003, and they’ll be able to sleep in their own beds as they prepare: The Bucs are playing in their home stadium, Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Fla.

Given its warm climate, Florida is a popular state for Super Bowl showdowns: Last year, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens hosted Super Bowl 54. 

Super Bowl 55 odds, line, spread

  • Opening spread: Kansas City Chiefs -3
  • Moneyline: Kansas City Chiefs -180; Tampa Bay Buccaneers +160
  • Over/under: 57.5

The Chiefs open as field-goal favorites over the Buccaneers. Vegas also expects this game to be high-scoring, with an over/under sitting slightly below 60 points. Depending on who is and isn’t available for both sides, expect the numbers to move over the coming two weeks.

How many times have the Buccaneers been to the Super Bowl?

The Buccaneers will be making just their second appearance in the big game. The last time they visited the Super Bowl, they won it on Jan. 26, 2003. 

The Bucs, led by quarterback Brad Johnson and the famed Tampa 2 defense, blew the doors off the Raiders 48-21. The franchise is making its first appearance with Tom Brady throwing passes.

How many times have the Chiefs been to the Super Bowl?

The Chiefs are making their fourth Super Bowl appearance and have a 2-1 record in prior games. They lost Super Bowl 1 to the Green Bay Packers 35-10, and then returned in Super Bowl 4 in 1970, winning it all against the favored Minnesota Vikings.

That would be their last Super Bowl appearance until 2020, when they defeated the 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl 54.

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Bills, Sean McDermott roasted for ‘cowardly’ field goal attempt in AFC championship game



Bills, Sean McDermott roasted for 'cowardly' field goal attempt in AFC championship game

When it doubt, kick it out?

The Bills, down 12 points in the closing seconds of the first half of Sunday’s AFC championship game, were faced with a decision: Try to score a touchdown on fourth down to tighten the gap, or kick a field goal to make a two-possession game a . . . two-possession game.

MORE: Bills-Chiefs live updates, highlights

Well, as has been the theme of the 2020 NFL playoffs, McDermott and the Bills decided to kick the field goal to make the score 21-12, Chiefs. Keep in mind, the field goal was from the Chiefs’ 2, or a 20-yarder. That’s 13 fewer yards than an extra point.

A touchdown in that situation, at minimum, brings the score to 21-15, with the extra point pending. That, obviously, would have put the Bills into one-possession territory. Instead, the field goal kept the game at two possessions with some dude named Patrick Mahomes on the other sideline going nuclear in his return from concussion protocol.

Plenty of people had thoughts on McDermott’s “cowardly” decision to kick:

Coaches’ decisions to kick in high-stakes situations have been at the forefront of this year’s tournament, with the Packers-Buccaneers NFC championship game earlier in the day featuring its own questionable field goal attempt. The Packers opted to kick rather than go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Bucs’ 8 in the closing minutes of the game while trailing by eight.

Winning coaches make winning calls, so we’ll see if this one comes back to bite the Bills in the Buffalo butt.

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Tom Brady taking Buccaneers to Super Bowl 55 is better than all of his Patriots playoff runs



Tom Brady taking Buccaneers to Super Bowl 55 is better than all of his Patriots playoff runs

Tom Brady took the Patriots to 13 AFC championship games, got to the Super Bowl nine times with them and won six rings. He’s now 1 for 1 in NFC championship games with the Buccaneers, taking Tampa Bay to a home game in Super Bowl 55.

Brady can’t match everything he did in New England in one year. But considering the degree of difficulty tied to new challenges — a virtual offseason and no preseason while starting somewhat from scratch at age 43 — this latest NFL playoff run is greater than anything we have seen before from the greatest of all time.

MORE: When is Super Bowl 55? Date, time, location

Brady ended up being less pretty and more gritty Sunday in outdueling Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 31-26 in Lambeau Field. But despite three interceptions, Brady was plenty efficient (20-of-36 passing, 280 yards, three TDs, 7.6 yards per attempt, 108.6 rating) and made all the necessary winning plays — including his legendary 39-yard scoring strike to Scotty Miller right before halftime.

The game played out much like most of Brady’s first regular season in Tampa did. There were frustrating mistakes, including errant passes, missed connections with receivers who ran shaky routes and drops. The running game was inconsistent. The defense stopped the run as usual and delivered a strong edge pass rush, but it had lapses in coverage all over the field.

Like in the regular season, in which the Bucs went 11-5 to earn a No. 5 seed as Brady’s first wild-card team, the Buccaneers put it all together in the right situations. Like their two previous road playoff games with Brady, they found a way to shut the door in the fourth quarter with complementary football.

Brady didn’t come to the Bucs expecting them to roll through the top-heavy NFC the way many of his Patriots teams did in the often-weak AFC. There was a lot of unfamiliarity, both for him with his new coaching staff and his young teammates with him. There wasn’t the automatic three-phase discipline he enjoyed so long with Bill Belichick, or an offensive playbook that had become second nature under Josh McDaniels.

With New England no longer being the right place to support his talent, he had to hand-pick a team he thought had the potential to break through and win championships. To say he chose wisely with the Bucs is one of the biggest understatements in NFL history.

Brady’s 2020 season was one of his most brilliant statistically (40 TDs, 12 INTs, 7.6 yards per attempt, 102.2 rating), on par with his three MVP campaigns. Along the way, he had to mesh his quick-release and short-to-intermediate sensibilities from the Patriots with an aggressive downfield passing game with the Buccaneers.

MORE: Brady’s contract points to return with Bucs in 2022

The Bucs had no doubts about Brady’s arm strength, and he took every calculated opportunity to show it off, especially with field-stretching wide receivers as talented as Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Miller. But when he needed different kinds of chain-moving and scoring plays, he went to his old reliable tight end, Rob Gronkowski, and his new reliable tight end, Cameron Brate. Through it all, slot ace Chris Godwin — when healthy — was his go-to guy and rookie Tyler Johnson was his secret weapon.

That’s how Brady operated a Bucs offense minus Brown to a tee against the Packers, while also knowing that Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones have been taking turns as the hot hand in the rushing attack. His offensive linemen overachieved for him as they continued to protect the GOAT.

There was a lingering question whether the Patriots’ dynasty was more Belichick or Brady. Belichick’s Patriots missing the AFC playoffs while Brady’s Buccaneers won the NFC championship doesn’t end that argument, but it confirms the type of winning energy Brady takes away and gives to a team.

The Bucs proved there is a lot of talent surrounding Brady. Many of their big defensive pieces in 2020 also played key roles in 2019, and the holdover wide receivers and tight ends were big attractions even before Brady recruited Gronkowski and Brown to put them over the top.

Brady also has been a conduit to head coach Bruce Arians and an extension of general manager Jason Licht. He met the challenge of motivating and empowering a whole different group of players on and off the field.

At the same time, he played at a very high level and answered those who doubted, including the Patriots, whether he could still do so while growing another year older. Brady went through Drew Brees’ No. 2 Saints and Rodgers’ No. 1 Packers in their buildings, and his Bucs went significantly farther than Russell Wilson’s No. 3 Seahawks. 

Those are the NFC’s three other active Super Bowl-winning QBs and future Hall of Famers. Brady pushed the Buccaneers to be better than all those teams in the end, much like he owned Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco over all those years in the AFC.

It was as if Brady encapsulated 20 seasons with the Patriots into this memorable run with Tampa Bay, inventing the “Buccaneer Way” and perfecting it over a much shorter period of time. He did all of that with a chip on his shoulder and a smile on his face, to go with a rejuvenated mind and body.

When it seemed as though Brady had passed the torch to Patrick Mahomes and other young guns, he dug deep to find one more way to impress us and pad his resume. With the Patriots, things began to look easy with the perennial Super Bowl trips. With the Buccaneers, everything was much harder, and it still didn’t matter — the GOAT got his typical awesome results.

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