Arian Foster demolished Stephen A. Smith’s take on Marshawn Lynch

For The Win

Stephen A. Smith is among the number of those that disapprove of Marshawn Lynch’s refusal to talk to the media, and voiced that on ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday, citing the recurring arguments of ‘it’s in the contract’ and ‘everyone else has to answer questions.’

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who’s also been known to give scant or repetitive answers time to time, was a guest on ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday, and summarily destroyed Smith’s take on the situation.

If we’re all aware that we’re going to get the same platitudes, why do we need them from every player? Since when has ‘because everyone else does’ been a good enough answer for anything? And with Marshawn Lynch being as good at football and as intriguing as he is, why do we need him to talk to write about him?

(Thanks to 247 Sports for sharing.),AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6Fnz-mSe-_DWvY0MQz5SJic4Y&bctid=4018215469001

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Williams’ wait pays off with Super Bowl trip after 11 seasons with Minnesota

Defensive tackle Kevin Williams had just completed his 11th season with the Minnesota Vikings and was wondering where he would play the next season, or even if he would. Right tackle Justin Britt was preparing for the scouting combine after helping the University of Missouri advance to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in the school’s second season in the conference.

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Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Kevin Williams (94) tackles San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) during a Dec. 14 game at CenturyLink Field. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Little did they know they would end up being teammates and contribute significantly to the Seattle Seahawks’ 12-4 regular season.

Williams didn’t sign with the Seahawks until June 12, and said, “To be honest, I was enjoying the summer. Don’t get me wrong; I wanted to play and figured the right call would come. But I also was comfortable knowing that if it’s time to go home, it’s time to go home. I wasn’t scared to go home and be a daddy and be a husband.”

But the call came from the Seahawks and also coincidentally the New England Patriots, but Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett steered him there.

Williams acknowledged, “He basically just said, ‘Come on over. I have been watching you throughout your career and you do some great things. I think you really can help us and we are going to try to get back to the Super Bowl.’ I don’t think he lied to me. He sold me on the pitch.”

Still, it was an adjustment for Williams, who had been to six Pro Bowls with the Vikings. There wasn’t a starting job available and he had to accept the role given him.

As Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said of signing Williams, “That was a huge get. He’s a terrific guy; we knew what we were going to get from the person. But, we told him, ‘This will be a different role for you.’ He was coming to where he wasn’t going to be a starter and just be part of the rotation.”

The 34-year-old Williams did just that for the first nine weeks of the season until nose tackle Brandon Mebane suffered a torn hamstring against theNew York Giants on Nov. 9. Suddenly, it was time for Williams to step up.

As Quinn said, “He had played a lot of 3-technique, but then when Brandon got hurt, he came through for us in a huge way to step in and play nose tackle. He has been a huge impact.”

Williams started the last seven games of the regular season as well as Seattle’s two playoff games.

It’s notable to recall the words of head coach Pete Carroll the day after Mebane was injured and the day before he was placed on injured reserve to end his season: “I mean, there is nobody like Mebane. He’s a unique player. He’s had, I think, the best season he’s had since we’ve been here — most consistent. So that’s a big hit to take. But our guys that go in play good football, too, so we will expect them to play up and maintain the level.”

Williams surely has, and now he finds himself on pro football’s biggest stage. He said, “I was rotating everywhere. Now I’m locked into a spot and I can get a lot more comfortable doing it. But being here is definitely a blessing. You see so many guys that are great and get so many accolades but never get to this game. It’s a blessing and it will be more of a blessing to win.”

Concluded Quinn, “I have real appreciation for him; I’m happy he’s going through this. In this profession where we all run across the good guys, I can say, that’s a great dude. That’s Kevin.”



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Pro Football News and Info, Super Bowl Coverage

The Shady Story Behind Soaring Super Bowl Ticket Prices

Allegations of collusion and marketplace manipulation are being thrown around as average asking prices for Super Bowl tickets topped a staggering $9,000 this week.

Generally speaking, every year, there’s a predictable arc to Super Bowl ticket prices on the secondary market. The market rate for Super Bowl tickets tends to be high (perhaps three times face value) in the days before the AFC and NFC Championship games, and then once it’s clear who will play in the Super Bowl, there’s usually a price spike as fans clamber for the chance to see their team win the title. After this initial wave of purchases subsides, prices tend to drop as Super Bowl Sunday nears and sellers don’t want to get stuck with seats at the last minute.

Understandably, the trajectory and peak for pricing is a little different every year, depending on which teams are squaring off and where the game is being played. Projections for the 2015 Super Bowl’s ticket prices called for seats to be less expensive than usual, supposedly because of “fatigue” among fans of the two teams in the game, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, who have both played and won it all over the past decade.

Yet the price drop almost everyone expected over the past couple of weeks never took place. Soon after the AFC and NFC Championship games ending, asking prices were relatively cheap, with the average ticket selling for around $2,900 and the cheapest tickets available for roughly $1,900. At the start of this week, the average list price was up to $6,500 and the “cheap” seats were at least $4,200.

By Thursday afternoon, $7,100 was the least expensive ticket posted for sale on secondary market sites such as TiqIQ, while StubHub alerted the media that the “current average list price for the Super Bowl is $9,484.37, which is up 282.43% since last year at this time ($2,480.06).”

That’s at the sites that actually had access to tickets. As of midday on Friday, popular secondary ticket exchanges like Vivid Seats and Razor Gator had posted messages to the effect of “Sorry, but we currently have no tickets available for this event.” StubHub listed fewer than 300 seats available for purchase, with asking prices ranging from roughly $7,500 to $40,000. The NFL’s official Ticket Exchange by Ticketmaster site listed 109 tickets for sale, with individual seats starting at $6,500. Anyone interested in a pair of seats together would have to pay at least $7,800 per ticket. Face value for Super Bowl tickets ranges from $800 to $1,900.

What caused the ticket supply to shrink and prices to go totally bonkers? In its Thursday release about skyrocketing prices, StubHub accused a handful of unnamed large ticket sellers in control of most of the Super Bowl ticket inventory of colluding with each other and manipulating the marketplace. “A consolidation of supply has allowed sellers to manipulate the marketplace and made it near impossible for any last minute fans to attend the game,” StubHub global head of communications Glenn Lehrman said in the release.

At the start of this week, the explanation for the unexpected rise in prices was that many brokers had been “short-selling” tickets, based on the assumption that the previously established pattern would hold true and prices would fall as Super Bowl Sunday neared. To short-sell tickets, “a broker typically lists tickets in a generic section of the stadium and doesn’t disclose exactly where the seats are until the Wednesday before the game,” as a post by ESPN’s Darren Rovell explained. “The idea for the brokers is to take money from ticket buyers when the tickets are at a higher price after the conference title games, then actually buy the tickets days later as the prices start to come down.”

Apparently, tons of brokers hopped on board this scheme of selling tickets on “spec”—only when the time came to buy actual seats later on as promised, the going prices in the marketplace were far higher than brokers had anticipated. In the investing world, they call that a “short squeeze.”

StubHub says that the collusion of a few large ticket sellers has limited supply to “essentially short-squeeze brokers and make the marketplaces” such as StubHub and VividSeats “buy up the supply at upwards of 4x market value.”

One clear end result is that unless you’re rich or the Mayor of Glendale, Ariz., the host town for this year’s Super Bowl, you’re basically out of luck in terms of getting tickets to the game. Everyday fans are the big losers in all of this. On the other hand, the ticket sellers being accused of rigging the game—the ones who allegedly held back supply and pushed prices skyward—have been cashing in over the past few days.

As for secondary market sites like StubHub and TiqIQ, as well as the smaller brokers whose sales take place on these sites, the results are somewhat muddled. “At the end of the day, many brokers took a big hit from this, while very few made a profit,” TiqIQ’s Chris Matcovitch said in an email. In some cases, the secondary market sites have felt forced to pay far above market rates in order to save face and not have brokers breaking the promise of tickets sold on spec. According to TiqIQ, overall ticket prices on its site have been average as far as Super Bowls go, though the volume of sales is down “significantly.”

“You will be hearing horror stories all weekend,” said Matcovich. “People without tickets, brokers folding, lawsuits, etc.”



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Pro Football News and Info, Super Bowl Coverage

NFL lays out how Super Bowl footballs will be inspected, guarded

PHOENIX — During Super Bowl XLIX, the NFL will have to keep track of nearly five times more footballs than for a typical game — and that will include whether they are properly inflated. The league said there will be “added security,” too.

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Amid a continuing investigation probing whether the New England Patriots used illegally deflated balls during the AFC Championship Game, the NFL held its first pre-Super Bowl officiating press conference Thursday. Ball inflation was a prime topic.

Prior to other games, each team prepares and breaks in 12 footballs it will use that day. They are presented to officials two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff for inspection, including an air pressure test.

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For the Super Bowl, the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will each have 54 balls.

“The thing with the Super Bowl is during the first half, we rotate footballs in as much as possible, because then those balls are used for charity and NFL auction,” said Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating.

“So that’s something that’s been in place for many years at the Super Bowl.”

The awareness over proper ball inflation has become quite heightened since the start of the controversy known as Deflategate. It has brought denials from Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady that they had anything to do with deflating balls, perhaps to gain a grip advantage in the rain against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago.

The protocol for who oversees the balls before kickoff changes at the Super Bowl, too.

“So we have 108 footballs that we take custody of on Friday,” said Blandino. “The teams do practice with those footballs. They prepare them, and then we take custody of those footballs on Friday.

“We have them in our control, and then they’re brought to the officials’ locker room three hours before kickoff Sunday. We inspect them, we gauge them and then basically approve or disapprove of the football.”

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There will be an extra wrinkle Sunday.

“There will be some added security just because of the environment that we’re in for this game,” said Blandino, though he offered no specifics.

“Just some additional security measures from Friday when we take custody to when they deliver them on Sunday,” he offered. “Not quite Stanley Cup (protection for the NHL’s famous trophy), but there will be additional measures.”

The man in control of the balls in the days before Super Bowl XLIX will be Tony Medlin, equipment manager for the Chicago Bears.

“(He) has been doing this for a long time, he has custody of the footballs,” said Blandino, specifying that Medlin will bring the balls to the officials for inspection Sunday before turning them over to the ball boys.

Under league rules, balls must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch of air pressure.

While the Patriots are still under investigation, the league has determined, “footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half (against the Colts), (and) the footballs were properly inflated in the second half.”

Were the balls in the AFC title game properly inspected by referee Walt Anderson before the game?

“We did review what happened pre-game, and from everything we reviewed and all the information we have … the balls were properly tested and marked prior to the game,” said Blandino.

Why were the balls checked at halftime?

“There was an issue that was brought up during the first half. A football came into question, and then the decision was made to test them at halftime,” said Blandino, who didn’t reveal how the issues was raised.

“There’s an investigation going on. I can’t get into too many specifics. But really, that’s the chain of events that occurred during the course of the game.”

Might there be halftime inflation checks Sunday?

“We’ll plan accordingly, and if a situation comes up, we’ll adjust,” said Blandino.

He expects the league to consider altering its pregame protocol for handling the footballs in the future.

“I think it’s something that’s going to be discussed by the (competition committee),” said Blandino.

“There’s a lot of different things that can happen with the process. We can test balls at halftime just randomly. … That’s something that will be discussed.”

Source:  USA TODAY


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Pro Football News and Info, Super Bowl Coverage