<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usSat, 03 Dec 2016 14:44:40 -0500Sat, 03 Dec 2016 14:44:40 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Belichick on Gronk Injury: 'Obviously, We're Disappointed']]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:15:00 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/bill9.jpg

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said it's too soon to say if tight end Rob Gronkowski might be able to play again this year.

Gronkowski is scheduled to undergo back surgery on Friday for an injury suffered in last week's game against the New York Jets. 

"Obviously, we're all disappointed," Belichick said at his Friday press conference. "Nobody's worked harder than Rob, or been a better teammate, so hopefully things will work out as positively as possible for him... It's an unfortunate situation."

A joint statement released Thursday by the team and Gronkowski's family said he is not expected to be able to play for the remainder of the 2016 season. But the statement wasn't clear on whether that included the playoffs.

Asked if the statement released Thursday means Gronkowski is out for the playoffs as well, Belichick was noncommittal. He said it's too soon to say whether Gronkowski will be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

"There's obviously more information coming," he said of Friday's surgery. "Right now we have what we have. When more information comes, there may be another decision to be made. I don't know."

Quarterback Tom Brady talked about the challenge his team faces with Gronkowski injured in an interview with Westwood One Sports on Thursday night.

“To not have Gronk out there and one of our best players and most dependable consistent players not in the lineup makes things challenging for us, but that’s what the NFL season is about," he said. "It’s about overcoming challenges."

Brady said everyone on the team will have to step up to make up for a season without their star player.

"We’ve played games this season without him and we’re going to need to reach a higher level as individuals so we can reach a higher level as a team,” he said.

This is the third time Gronkowski has had back surgery since 2009. He has also had four forearm surgeries, knee surgery and ankle surgery.

<![CDATA[Soccer Players Who Missed Doomed Flight Cope With Loss]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:23:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/soccer-plane-crash.jpg

As the recovered bodies of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team begin to be returned to families Friday, the players who did not travel on the team's ill-fated flight are left mourning their teammates, NBC News reported.

"I still have the chance to hug and kiss my children, but my teammates can't do that anymore," said Chapecoense defender Demerson Costa.

The crash killed 71 people, including 19 people from the soccer team. The pilot reportedly told a Colombian air traffic controller he had run out of fuel just moments before the plane crashed into the Andes Mountains.

One player, Matheus Saroli, didn't board the flight because he forgot his passport. He lost his father, coach Caio Junior, who was on board.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[New York Ranked Ahead of Boston As 'Best Sports City']]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:53:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/odell+beckham+winning+streak+drop.jpg

Patriots and Red Sox fans might disagree, but Giants and Yankees fans will embrace the new "Best Sports Cities" rankings from WalletHub.  The site ranked New York as the number 1 overall best sports city in the United States with Boston coming in second. 

The website ranked the top sports cities in the United States "from the fan's perspective" comparing 50 key metrics across 423 cities in five of the country's largest sports: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer.  The site included ticket price, number of sports bars, and team performance among the factors in make the rankings.

On the list, New York ranked number 1 overall in the "Baseball Rank" and number 8 in "Football Rank."  Boston ranked number 2 in "Basketball Rank and Hockey Rank" but came in at only 13 in the football category.

With successful college and minor league teams, several Connecticut cities were on the list.  New Haven came in at 177 on the overall list, but number 44 in the country for midsize cities.  Hartford ranked number 279 overall but came in at 79 in the soccer category and 76 in the country for midsize cities.  East Hartford ranked 304.  New Britain came in at 248.  With UConn, Storrs came in at 252.  Fairfield, Hamden and Norwich all made the small cities list.

Los Angeles ranked number 1 in basketball.  Detroit ranked number 1 in hockey, while Green Bay ranked number 1 in football.  Orlando was the number 1 soccer city.

If you break down how the rankings came into play, they gave football the most weight towards the overall grade with 49 percent followed by basketball, baseball, hockey, and then soccer.

The overall top 25 rankings for "Best Sports City" are:

1. New York, NY

2. Boston, MA

3. Pittsburgh, PA

4. Los Angeles, CA

5. Chicago, IL

6. Philadelphia, PA

7. Washington, DC

8. Detroit, MI

9. St. Louis, MO

10. Denver, CO

11. Atlanta, GA

12. Clemson, SC

13. Green Bay, WI

14. Cleveland, OH

15. Houston, TX

17. Dallas, TX

18. Cincinnati, OH

19. Seattle, WA

20. San Francisco, CA

21. Miami, FL

22. Kansas City, MO

23. Minneapolis, MN

24. Orlando, FL

25. Indianapolis, IN

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Expect Gronk to Miss Season After Back Surgery]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:18:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gronkgronk.jpg

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will undergo back surgery Friday, and the team does not expect him to return this season.

While a joint statement by the team and the Gronkowski family didn't specify the nature of the back injury, it noted Gronk suffered a lung contusion in the Nov. 13 game against the Seattle Seahawks. After a hit in this week's Jets game, the statement said he left with significant back and leg pain.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and others reported that the surgery is for a herniated disc.

"It's not just back pain," said Dr. Christopher Bono, Chief of the Orthopedic Spine Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "It's usually pain that radiates from the buttock on down to the leg. It can be horrible."

Various reports said Gronk could be out of action for six to eight weeks. But the team and the player's family gave a grimmer timeline.

"We do not expect that he will be able to play for the remainder of the 2016 season, but will await the results of tomorrow's surgery before making a final determination," the statement read.

This is the third time Gronkowski has had back surgery since 2009. He has also had four forearm surgeries, knee surgery, and ankle surgery.

Here is a breakdown of Gronkowski's injuries that involved surgery:

2009   Herniated disk surgery while in college at Arizona
2012   Broken forearm initially vs Colts in November while blocking on an extra           point. Missed time until playoffs, and came back and re-aggravated the           injury in the playoffs against Houston (January of 2013). Missed rest of             playoffs. Ultimately he had FOUR forearm surgeries between 2012-2013
2013   Had Back surgery in offseason
2013  Tore ACL/MCL vs Browns in December. Had surgery. Missed rest of                   season (including playoffs)
2016  Will undergo back surgery Friday (Will be his 3rd back surgery (2009,               2013)

"We are deeply saddened any time a player is lost to injury," the joint statement said. "We are committed to assisting Rob throughout his recovery and look forward to his returning to play football for the New England Patriots."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Is Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of Year]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:23:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kingjamesja.jpg

LeBron James delivered on a promise and ended decades of Cleveland sports misery in 2016.

For leading the Cavaliers to an NBA title and ending the city's 52-year title drought, James was chosen as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year on Thursday, joining Tiger Woods as the award's only two-time winners since its inception in 1954.

"I'm honored," James said following shootaround before the Cavs hosted the Los Angeles Clippers. "I'm more happy for my family, my kids, for my wife, my mom, and for my foundation, for the kids that I represent and the kids that use me as a role model and an inspiration."

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Appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals in June, James rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the favored Golden State Warriors, who won 73 games during the regular season but couldn't put Cleveland away. James scored 41 points in Games 5 and 6 and made a key block in the final minutes of an epic Game 7, making the Cavs the first Cleveland major sports franchise to win a title since the Browns in 1964.

James was selected finals MVP for the third time in his career.

The 31-year-old James returned to Cleveland as a free agent in 2014 and pledged to bring a title to his home state. He did it in his second season, an achievement that ranks as the greatest accomplishment of his career.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taking the Plunge: Michael Phelps Looks to Dip Into Tech ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:30:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mikemikemike.jpg

Michael Phelps wants to dive into Silicon Valley's investment opportunities as he tries to make the transition from Olympic swimming star and product pitchman to entrepreneur.

"I would love to get involved, whether it's in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes," Phelps said in an interview during a recent visit to San Jose, California while appearing at an Intuit software conference.

For now, Phelps isn't providing any details about what he is going to do, though he says he has been getting advice from venture capitalists and other experienced investors in Silicon Valley startups.

Getting into tech investing would be a new direction for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of his own line of swimwear and endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. That's far more than the $1.65 million that he received from the U.S. Olympic Committee and Speedo for winning a record 28 medals, including 23 golds, in five Olympics. He's still promoting products; he is currently doing commercials for computer chipmaker Intel in a campaign that began in October.

Whatever he does next, Phelps isn't ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this year with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he's keeping them to himself.

Making the leap from pitchman to businessman won't be easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California's Marshall Sports Business Institute. "Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don't follow through," he said. Phelps "is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it."

Other celebrities have ventured into the tech industry in search of riches, with decidedly mixed results.

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Notable successes include rapper and record producer Dr. Dre, who was part of the founding team that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion 2014. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that made early investments in startups such as the ride-hailing service Uber, the home rental-service Airbnb and the music streaming service Spotify. The fund's value had soared to $250 million from $30 million, based on a review of its books earlier this year by Forbes magazine.

Among the flops: HJR Capital, a tech-investment firm that collapsed in 2009, a decade after former San Francisco 49er lineman Harris Barton founded it and later enticed ex-teammates Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join him. In Rhode Island, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game company that went bankrupt in 2012.

Phelps is exploring ways to expand his business ventures beyond a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his "MP" logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won't say what. "I am getting my feet wet," Phelps said with a grin. "2017 will be a big year."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[I Miss Him: Barkley Reveals He and Jordan No Longer Friends]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:16:09 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jordanbark.jpg

NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley gave an interview on the Dan Le Batard radio show this week where he explained, despite a recent photo that had been making the rounds, he and once close pal Michael Jordan have not buried the hatchet.

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Barkley said a recent pic taken by TNT colleague Kenny Smith mistakenly spread the belief the two had made amends from a long-running feud. But Barkley recalled it as a brief, awkward encounter at a public event they just both happened to be attending.

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"I love Michael. I miss Michael's friendship. He was a great friend to me for a long period of time. And I love him and miss him like a brother. But we just happened to be at the same place so we took a picture together," Barkley said. "We are not back to where we use to be."

Barkley explained Jordan holds a grudge for criticism Barkley levied at him as owner of the NBA Charlotte Hornets. Barkley said Jordan surrounded himself with 'yes' men who wouldn't challenge some of his questionable personnel decisions. 

"Some people, when you're their friend, expect you to have their back no matter what. And part of my job sucks some times when I have to criticize people I like or a friend," Barkley said. "He took it personally and got really angry. And I haven't really spoken to him in years."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Serena Williams on Sexism: Being a Woman Is Not a 'Flaw']]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:26:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/serenaserena.jpg

Serena Williams served up another ace. Only this time it was in the form of an open letter about sexism and wage disparity between males and females in sports.

The letter, initially written for Porter Magazine’s 'Incredible Women of 2016' issue, was reprinted by The Guardian on Tuesday. Williams dedicated it to “all incredible women who strive for excellence” as she wrote about gender discrimination in sports that she and other women face.

"When the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts," Williams wrote. "I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you."

The gender wage gap in professional tennis has been a topic of conversation this year. The New York Times reported in April that last year, Roger Federer received $731,000 for defending his title at the Western & Southern Open. At the same tournament, Serena Williams received $495,000 for defending her respective title. It was just one of many instances in which the compensation disparity was evident.

Williams has made it clear on many occasions that she wants to be the “best tennis player in the world,” not “the best ‘female’ tennis player in the world.” In her letter she pointed out how descriptions tend to exclusively gender-mark women. While people call her one of the greatest “female” athletes, they do not similarly say LeBron James or Tiger Woods are considered some of the greatest “male” athletes. Instead, they are just considered great athletes.

“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” Williams wrote, “One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw.”

Former professional tennis player Ray Moore brought sexism in tennis to light earlier in the year with his controversial comments about how female tennis players “ride on the coattails of men” and how they should thank prominent male tennis players like Federer and Nadal “because they have carried this sport.”

But despite ongoing ignorance in the sport Williams closed her letter offering encouragement to young women to follow their dreams with resilience.

“We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Audemars Piguet]]>
<![CDATA['Poor Choice of Words': Pats Slam Ex-NFL Exec After Brazilian Soccer Crash]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:37:08 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/avion-colombia-16.jpg

The sports world is reeling Tuesday after a Brazilian soccer team's plane crashed in Colombia, killing 71 people. But when a longtime NFL executive gave his thoughts on Twitter, the New England Patriots struck back.

"NFL club partnership so strong that if there were tragedy similar to Brazilian soccer crash other NFL clubs would restock affected team," former senior executive Joe Browne wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted.

The Pats did not approve of that approach:

"Poor choice of words & disrespectful to all who lost lives," the team publicly replied. "Players are not stock; they're the most important people in NFL."

Hours after the team tweeted, Browne removed his message.

"Thought I was being informative today re terrible Brazil soccer tragedy but tweet was ill-timed and poorly worded. I've deleted it," he tweeted Tuesday night. "Superior move by Columbia [sic] soccer team to ask that trophy be awarded to devastated Brazilian club in memory of victims."

The Pro Football Hall of Fame gave Browne, who spent 50 years with the NFL, the Ralph Hay Pioneer Award earlier this year. He is the longest-serving league office employee in NFL history.

Attempts to reach Browne at FleishmanHillard, where his Twitter bio says he is a member of the international advisory board, were unsuccessful. The Patriots had no additional comment beyond the tweet.

Photo Credit: EFE
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<![CDATA[Patriots Beat Jets in 22-17 Victory]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 07:40:03 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Patriots+Jets.jpg

Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning for the most wins by a quarterback in NFL history, getting his 200th by throwing a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell with 1:56 left to lead the New England Patriots to a 22-17 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.

Trailing 17-16 with 5:04 left and the ball on the Patriots 17, Brady led an efficient drive by completing six passes to drive New England down the field.

After James White stretched for 4 yards on fourth-and-4, a 25-yard catch by Chris Hogan put the ball at the 8. Brady then zipped a pass to Mitchell to put the Patriots (9-2) ahead.

A 2-point conversion try by White was initially ruled good, but the call was reversed because the ball never crossed the goal line - giving the Jets (3-8) a final chance.

But on second-and-5 from the 30, Chris Long hit Ryan Fitzpatrick before he could throw, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Trey Flowers.

Brady and the Patriots then ran out the clock - helped by LeGarrette Blount's 23-yard scamper - to win the closely played game that had been flexed out of a prime-time spot.

Patriots fans loudly chanted "Brady! Brady!" in the final moments at MetLife Stadium, which had lots of empty seats with frustrated Jets fans apparently opting to stay home.

It was the 500th win in franchise history for the Patriots, who became the first original AFL franchise to reach the mark.

Brady, who was questionable with a knee injury, wasn't his usual spectacular self, but finished 30 of 50 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell caught five passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns.

Fitzpatrick, who was back as the starter after missing New York's last game with a sprained knee, was 22 of 32 for 269 yards.

The Jets had taken a 17-13 lead with 10:17 left when Quincy Enunwa leaped over Malcolm Butler in the end zone to grab a pass from Fitzpatrick.

The wide receiver's right foot came down inbounds and while his left foot never touched the ground his backside did.

It was initially called an incomplete pass, but Todd Bowles challenged and the call was reversed _ for a 22-yard touchdown.

Stephen Gostkowski's 41-yard field goal with 7:02 left cut the Patriots' deficit to one at 17-16.


New England took advantage of a Jets turnover in the second quarter when Robby Anderson caught a pass and gained 25 yards, but had the ball punched out of his hands by Devin McCourty.

Butler recovered, and Brady went to work with an efficient drive. He completed an 18-yard pass to Julian Edelman, joining Manning (71,940), Brett Favre (71,838), Drew Brees (64,180) and Dan Marino (61,361) as the only players with 60,000 yards passing.

A 15-yard run by Dion Lewis got the ball to the 5 and he added a 1-yard run. On the next play, Brady fumbled the snap but recovered and fired a pass to Mitchell for the tying score.


New England tight end Rob Gronkowski left the game late in the first quarter with a back injury.

He had been uncertain to play after missing last week's game with a chest injury. It was not immediately certain if the latest injury was connected to the previous one.

Gronkowski had no catches when he left, with Brady unable to connect with him on two third-down throws.


Nick Folk had a 54-yard attempt blocked by Alan Branch that was recovered by Dont'a Hightower with 1:58 left in the opening half, giving Brady and the Patriots the ball at their 46.

New England got the ball down to the 21 after a 14-yard catch by Hogan on third-and-2, but the Patriots opted to not use a timeout despite having one left. After an incompletion to Mitchell in the end zone, Gostkowski's 39-yard attempt was wide left, leaving the game tied at halftime.

Gostkowski kicked a 29-yarder midway through the third quarter, giving New England a 13-10 lead.


Brandon Marshall's first touchdown catch since Oct. 9 against Pittsburgh gave New York a 10-0 lead 4 seconds into the second quarter. After a 6-yard run by Bilal Powell out of the wildcat took the ball to the 1, Fitzpatrick found Marshall in the end zone on the opening play of the second.


Patriots: vs. Los Angeles next Sunday.

Jets: vs. Indianapolis next Monday night.

Photo Credit: Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thursday Night Football: Cowboys Go for 11th Straight Win]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:03:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16330088209607.jpg

Dak Prescott will face as good a pass defense as he has seen all year when the rookie quarterback tries to run the Dallas Cowboys’ winning streak to 11 in-a-row on Thursday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings.

The teams face off on NBC at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Minnesota is coming off a loss to Detroit in the last seconds that was their fifth in six games following a 5-0 start. Prescott, a fourth-round draft pick who has supplanted Tony Romo, threw for a TD and ran for another on Thanksgiving Day.

The Vikings will play without their coach Mike Zimmer. He will miss the game following emergency surgery to repair a detached retina. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the interim head coach.

The Vikings’ defense has allowed 13 TDs through the air and picked off passes 12 times. Against the comparably dangerous Philadelphia defense, Prescott made a couple of shaky throws, including an interception in the end zone. But he also led Dallas back from a late 10-point hole and threw a winning TD pass in overtime.

Minnesota QB Sam Bradford should have an easier time against the Cowboys’ secondary. The sixth-year-player is on pace to blow away his previous best in completion percentage. A 31-for-37 game against Detroit bumped him up to 71.3 on the year and he’s at nearly 80 percent in November.

Four to watch:

Dallas RB Zeke Elliott: Another rookie enjoying a breakout year for the Cowboys; he’ll be leaned on heavily. His next yard will be 1,200 for the season and 200 ahead of the nearest competitor.

Dallas CB Anthony Brown: The rookie cornerback had a howler against Washington, and figures to be targeted heavily by Bradford and top Vikings WR Stefon Diggs. 

Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes: Leads the Vikings with four interceptions this season, all in the last eight games, including one he took back for a touchdown.

Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter: Has 3.5 of his 7.5 sacks this season in the last three games. He’ll go up against a line that has allowed 15 all year.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Miami Crowd Boos Kaepernick]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 02:00:07 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/KaepernickDolphins.jpg

Playing in Miami on Sunday just days after getting tangled in a "heated" discussion about Fidel Castro with a newspaper reporter, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick received a "flood of boos" from the South Florida crowd, CSN Bay Area reporter Matt Maiocco tweeted.

Kaepernick's Castro talk began months ago when he flashed a shirt featuring the former leader of Cuba, who passed away late Friday, meeting with Malcolm X. The lettering across the shirt read, "Like minds think alike."

After the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Dolphins, Kaepernick was asked about some of the statements he made, in which he defended Castro’s record of education in Cuba.

"I said was that I agree with the investment in education," Kaepernick said. "I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement in him helping end apartheid in South Africa. I would hope that everybody agrees that those things are good things. Trying to push the false narrative that I was a supporter of the oppressive things that he did, it’s just not true."

Kaepernick, who again wore a T-shirt depicting Malcolm X following Sunday's contest, was asked about his shirt selection.

"I’ve worn many Malcolm X shirts," Kaepernick said. "He was a great man, and he lived the life that he talked about. He was someone that truly walked the walk and was a great leader for the African community and someone I admire."

When asked Sunday if he understands concerns that arose with his decision to wear a shirt that portrayed Castro, Kaepernick said, "I can understand the concern. But for me what I said was that was a historic moment for Malcolm."

Kaepernick added, "I’m not going to cut out pieces of Malcolm’s life. In 1960 when they met in Harlem, that was a historic moment. That’s something that I will always be true to, what Malcolm was, what he represented, because I’m not going to cut out history.”

During a conference call earlier this week, a Miami Herald reporter, who is reportedly related to Cuban exiles, questioned the San Francisco signal caller's choice to don the shirt with Castro, to which Kaepernick responded by saying, "I'm not talking about Fidel Castro and his oppression. I'm talking about Malcom X and what he's done for people."

The reporter then condemned Kaepernick for changing the subject of the discussion away from Castro's history of abuses. The quarterback responded by applauding Castro for investing more in education instead of criminal punishment.

Kaepernick answered the jeers Sunday by leading his offensive unit to the end zone on the team's first drive of the game. He finished with 296 yards through the air and three scores to go along with 113 yards on the ground.

CSN's Matt Maiocco contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Eric Espada, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn’s Larrier Out for Rest of Season With Torn ACL]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 09:14:59 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16320097638265.jpg

UConn forward Terry Larrier will be out for the rest of the season after he injured his left knee against Oklahoma State.

Officials from UConn said Larrier, a redshirt sophomore, has a torn left ACL. Recovery for this type of injury generally takes around eight months.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Jordan's Medal of Freedom Reaction Sparks New Memes]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 19:54:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/mj+tears.png

Michael Jordan may be “more than just an internet meme,” but his emotional reaction to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday became just that.

With tears in his eyes, the five-time MVP was presented with one of the highest civilian honors by President Barack Obama at the White House – and the Twitter-verse took notice.

Images of Jordan’s face during the ceremony quickly sparked a flurry of new and old memes as the sports icon became yet another viral sensation.

Yet, in celebrating Jordan’s achievements, Obama noted that the NBA icon is more than just some of the historic moments he made in sports history.

“MJ is still more than those moments, more than just the best player on the two greatest teams of all time – the dream team and the 1996 Chicago Bulls—he’s more than just a logo, more than just an internet meme,” Obama said, referring to the infamous "Crying Jordan" meme.

Jordan’s tear-stained face during a 2009 speech at his Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony became a viral meme on social media, used by the sports world as the go-to symbol of sadness in defeat. The meme often features Jordan's watery mug superimposed onto losing team's players, fans, mascots, coaches and beyond, employed to comment on any number of sports failures.

“[He’s] more than just a charitable donor, or a business donor committed to diversity,” Obama added. “There is a reason we call somebody 'the Michael Jordan of' — the Michael Jordan of neurosurgery or the Michael Jordan of rabbis or the Michael Jordan of outrigger canoeing. They know what you're talking about. Because Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of greatness.”

But as Jordan’s eyes filled during Obama's remarks, the "Crying Jordan" meme came to life in front of our eyes, and the Twitterverse churned out a new batch of memes: Crying Jordan 2.0

Photos of Jordan’s emotional reaction began sprouting on the social media site, many side-by-side with his long-viral meme.

Jordan was among 21 recipients for this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, including fellow sports icons Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, and Vin Scully, who spent 67 seasons as the broadcaster of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.

They also included Ellen DeGeneres, who has advocated for equality and fairness, and Tom Hanks, who has worked for social and environmental justice.

Obama said the activists, athletes and artists "helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way." He added that the medal is "a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better."

Photo Credit: NBC
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<![CDATA[Samuelson Drops 28 on LSU in 76-53 UConn Win]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:36:30 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn_LSU.jpg

UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson recognized early on that LSU was exhibiting little respect for her long-range shooting. So the 6-foot-3 sophomore made the Lady Tigers pay with the most prolific game yet in her very promising career.

"She lit us up from the 3-point line," LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. "I didn't feel like we had the awareness that we needed to play somebody of her caliber as far as shooting the 3."

Samuelson hit seven 3-pointers en route to a career-high 28 points, Kia Nurse added a season-best 15 points along with eight assists, and No. 3 UConn handed LSU its first loss of the season, 76-53 on Sunday night.

"I was shooting well and my teammates were getting me the ball, so I was going to keep shooting the 3s," Samuelson said. "I'm pleased with how I shot today and I just hope that'll carry on to the next game."

Crystal Dangerfield added 10 points and Gabby Williams grabbed 10 rebounds for UConn (3-0), which extended college basketball's longest active winning streak to 78 games. Yet Huskies coach Geno Auriemma didn't sound too pleased about how his team looked in its most lopsided victory of the young season. He cringed at UConn's 20 turnovers, 17 personal fouls, and six-minute stint without a field goal in the third quarter.

"Today was a struggle," Auriemma said. "The ball was flying all over the place."

Samuelson, who was widely seen as one of the nation's best freshmen last season, hit seven of her eight made shots from 3-point range and also sank all five of her free throws.

Nurse called it a "huge luxury" to know she could look for Samuelson anywhere on the offensive end and be confident she would hit open shots.

Raigyne Moncrief scored 15 points for LSU (3-1), which trailed by 21 at halftime and struggled to get much closer than that for much of the second half. Alexis Hyder added 11 points for the Lady Tigers.

UConn began to pull way on consecutive 3's by Nurse and Samuelson, which opened a 10-0 run that pushed the Huskies' lead to 31-16.

Later in the period, Samuelson hit a 3 from the right wing while being fouled by Hyder, completing a four-point play which made it 40-23. Samuelson added a couple free throws to give her 14 points in the first half, and Dangerfield's jumper made it 46-25 at halftime.


UConn: UConn's winning streak is the third longest in college basketball history, behind only its own program record of 90 straight from 2008-10 and the UCLA men's record of 88 consecutive victories from 1971-74. ... UConn has now beaten 110 straight unranked opponents since losing by a point to then-unranked St. John's on Feb. 18, 2012.

LSU: The Lady Tigers were off to their best start since their 9-0 beginning to the 2009-10 season and their struggles against a juggernaut like UConn doesn't mean this season's LSU squad won't be competitive in most games. "I thought we did some good things defensively," Fargas said, noting that her team played UConn tight for all but the second quarter. "We did some things for three quarters that really allowed us to show the potential of this team." ... Senior guard Rina Hill made her season debut after missing the first three games because of a hip injury. She played 15 minutes and had a rebound and an assist.


The Huskies have now won five straight against LSU and improved to 8-1 all-time in the series, with the lone loss coming in the 2007 NCAA tournament regional finals to a Lady Tigers squad led by current WNBA and U.S. national team player Sylvia Fowles. After the game, Auriemma ran into another former LSU great, Seimone Augustus, outside the UConn locker room, and they chatted about the state of the Lady Tigers compared to about a decade ago.

"The talent level is just completely different. It's not even night and day," Auriemma said. "So from where it was, to where it is today, it's not even the same program. You can't even put it in the same category from back then. I don't know all the reasons why, but when that happens it takes a while to get it back."


UConn defeated second-ranked Baylor on Thursday, and by winning convincingly at LSU, the Huskies did nothing to dissuade voters from moving them up at least one spot.

Photo Credit: BILL FEIG/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Troy Hill Arrested on Suspicion of DUI After Crash]]> Sat, 19 Nov 2016 22:27:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-461456068.jpg

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated after a crash on the 101 Freeway Saturday morning, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol received a report that a Mercedes Benz and a big rig had crashed on the westbound 101 Freeway west of Haskell Avenue just before 8 a.m., according to the CHP.

When officers arrived, one of the drivers identified himself as Troy Hill, and said he was a player for the Los Angeles Rams.

Hill was driving the white Mercedes when he swerved to the right and collided with the big rig, authorities said. 

Officers at the scene noted that Hill showed signs of alcohol intoxication and conducted a series of field sobriety tests. Hill was arrested after officers determined he was under the influence of alcohol, according to the CHP.

Hill was taken to the Los Angeles Police Department's Van Nuys jail where he was booked for DUI. He was released after posting $15,000 bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The Rams acknowledged an "incident" involving Hill in a brief statement, but called it an "ongoing legal matter" and provided no more details. The team added that he will be inactive for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Packers Start Playoff Push Against Washington on SNF]]> Fri, 18 Nov 2016 15:55:27 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Aaron_Rodgers.jpg

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers can give their playoff chances a big boost by taking down Washington in a playoff rematch on Sunday Night Football (8:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC).

Washington (5-3-1) is in command of the wild card race, but far behind Dallas in the NFC East, while the disappointing Packers (4-5) are third in the North, but only a game behind Minnesota and Detroit.

Green Bay beat Washington 35-18 in a wild card game in January. 

Evening up its record won’t be easy against Washington’s defense, led by cornerback Josh Norman and a pass rush that has 25 sacks.

Rodgers has 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this year, but the Packers’ offense is still struggling, mostly because it can’t run the ball effectively. Rodgers’ 37 carries for 226 yards are second on the team. He has all three of the Packers’ rushing TDs this season.

The Cowboys are starting to pull away in the division from Washington, whose record would be good enough for second place in any other division. If Washington can’t catch the Cowboys or second-place Giants, it just has to stay ahead of the other also-rans, something it can get a start on Sunday night.

Four to Watch

Washington DE Trent Murphy: He has seven sacks in his third pro season, after getting six in his first two years.

Washington WR Jamison Crowder: He already has a pair of 100-yard games this season and fellow receiver DeSean Jackson has been hurt this week, though will likely play.

Green Bay WR Ty Montgomery: With receiver Jordy Nelson tied atop the NFL leaderboard at 8 TD catches, the Packers have used Montgomery to supplement their anemic rushing game. Success has mostly been elusive so far.

Green Bay LB Nick Perry: Green Bay has a formidable pass rush, too, and Washington QB Kirk Cousins surely remembers getting taken down by Perry for 2.5 sacks in that wild card game.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' Kris Bryant Wins National League MVP]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2016 18:52:36 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-620749086+cahcorros.jpg

It’s been nearly 20 years since the Chicago Cubs have had a player win the National League MVP award, but that streak came to an end on Thursday as third baseman Kris Bryant won the trophy in convincing fashion.

Bryant put together an incredible season as the Cubs posted the best record in baseball, clinched their first division title in nearly a decade and won their historic World Series. He is the team’s first MVP winner since 1998, when Sammy Sosa clubbed 66 home runs and led the Cubs to the National League wild card berth.

Bryant won 29 out of the 30 first-place votes for the award, and he became just the fourth player in MLB history to follow up a Rookie of the Year award with the MVP award, joining Cal Ripken Jr., Ryan Howard, and Dustin Pedroia in that exclusive club.

Bryant won the Rookie of the Year award last season, but he had an even better year in 2016. In 155 games, Bryant blasted 39 home runs and drove in 102 RBI, and he led the National League in runs scored with 121. He also elevated his batting average by 17 points and struck out 45 fewer times this season than he did in his rookie year.

Bryant also showed his defensive versatility by playing just about every position on the field this year, including time at first base, all three outfield positions, and even shortstop for an inning.

Washington Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy finished behind Bryant as he got the one first place vote that didn't go to the Cubs slugger. Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers finished in third place, taking home 11 second place votes.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo finished fourth in the balloting, with three second place votes to his credit, and shortstop Addison Russell (one sixth place vote) and pitcher Kyle Hendricks (one ninth place vote) each received votes in the balloting.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>