<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 30 Nov 2015 06:33:04 -0500 Mon, 30 Nov 2015 06:33:04 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA['Dear Basketball': Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement]]> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 04:26:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-Madison-Square-Garden.jpg

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers has decided to retire after this season.

The 37-year-old Bryant made the announcement in a post on The Players' Tribune on Sunday. The decision was not totally unexpected, given that Bryant has said many times in recent weeks that he was considering making his 20th NBA season his last.

There's no more wondering now.

After two decades, two Olympic gold medals, five championship rings, 17 All-Star selections, an 81-point game that ranks as the second-best in NBA history and more than 32,000 points, Bryant's career is officially winding down.

"This season is all I have left to give," Bryant said in what he called a letter entitled "Dear Basketball."

Bryant said in an interview on Sirius XM Radio just last week that "if something changes," he would come back and play next season. Only a few days later, that's apparently no longer an option.

"My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it's time to say goodbye," Bryant wrote in the post. "And that's OK. I'm ready to let you go. I want you to know now. So we both can savor every moment we have left together. The good and the bad. We have given each other all that we have."

Bryant ranks third on the NBA's career scoring list, and only 13 players in league history played on more championship teams. Bryant helped the Lakers to titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.

This season has been a struggle for the five-time champion, whose young and rebuilding Lakers are mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings while he's shooting a career-worst 32 percent. Injuries have dogged him in recent years as well, limiting him to 41 of a possible 164 games in the previous two seasons. And even this season, back issues have kept him from playing as much as he would like.

"It's tough to see one of the absolute greatest competitors go through this," Miami guard Dwyane Wade told The Associated Press on Sunday, prior to Bryant making his announcement. "You can put a team around a guy to help a guy, especially late in his career. They're just not in position right now to do that. He's won five championships, so no one feels bad for him from that standpoint. But from a standpoint of seeing one of this era's greatest players go out in a rebuilding process, it's tough."

The Lakers have 66 games remaining after Sunday and it will likely turn into a adoration tour of sorts for Bryant, who has already gotten long ovations from normally hostile fans on road trips this season, particularly in places like New York and Miami where crowds sensed that they might be seeing him as an opponent for the final time.

The Lakers' next road game is, perhaps not coincidentally given the timing of Bryant's announcement, on Tuesday in Philadelphia -- his hometown.

"Philly is where I grew up," Bryant told AP in an interview in Miami earlier this month. "It's always a different emotion there than anywhere else."

Bryant came into the NBA straight out of high school, won the dunk contest at All-Star weekend as a rookie, played in the All-Star game for the first time the following year and a star was fast born. The 81 points he scored against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006, are second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in NBA history, and he's the only player to spend 20 consecutive seasons with the same team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[WATCH: Tom Brady Dresses Up for Turkey Day Surprise]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:47:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Tom+Brady+102915.jpg

Looks like the New England Patriots' star quarterback couldn't resist having a little bit of fun on Thanksgiving.

Tom Brady posted a funny video of him hiding in a pile of leaves in a turkey costume, and then popping out to surprise his young children.

We can't decide what's more precious: his children's reactions or the fact that Brady goes "gobble gobble." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[A's Pitcher Hosts Syrian Refugees]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:09:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/172*120/DSC_15321.jpg

Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle and his activist girlfriend Eireann Dolan, both natives of Illinois, hosted 17 Syrian refugee families for a Thanksgiving meal in Chicago on Wednesday night with Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a special guest.

The idea of whether to accept Syrian refugees has become controversial as of late, as some critics fear that terrorists could slip in as desperate families seek safe shelter from their war-torn homeland.

But the couple shunned those worries, and instead decided to act how they think all Americans should.

“Chicago is so lucky to have 17 Syrian refugee families now officially calling it home,” Dolan wrote on Instagram. “We thought we'd officially welcome them with one of our greatest American traditions, Thanksgiving.”

Her photo shows women in hijabs and a young boy wearing a Cubs baseball cap seated around a festive table, dotted with Pepsi, flowers and cranberry sauce.

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A’s spokesman Ken Pries told NBC Bay Area on Friday the power couple hosted the dinner on Wednesday and have no personal connection with the refugees. The city of Chicago and the mayor helped put them in contact with the group, he said.

“It was obviously a very nice gesture," he said.

The couple has made nice gestures before.

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The A’s kicked off LGBT Pride Night in June, which sparked some homophobic reaction, such as season ticket holders indicating they wanted to sell their tickets.

Dolan, who said she has two “super gay” moms, and Doolittle offered to buy any unwanted tickets up to $3,000, and donate the tickets to the Bay Area Youth Center’s Our Space community for LGBTQ youth.

Photo Credit: Walter Mitchell, City of Chicago
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<![CDATA[Great-Grandma, 102, Plays Baseball]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:33:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/102-year-old-grandma-baseball.gif

“Keep your eye on the ball.”

A San Diego cul-de-sac has been transformed into a concrete baseball diamond, home to the Zimmer family’s annual Thanksgiving game for about 22 years.

The instruction comes from the team’s oldest and feistiest player, 102-year-old Ann Sellaro.

But she’s not satisfied with acting as batting coach. Putting aside her walker, the great-grandmother steps up to the imaginary plate with a blue, plastic bat in hand.

One, two, three swings at bright yellow wiffle balls and Sellaro strikes out. But for her family, the misses don’t detract from her baseball chops and a love of the game that helped inspire two of her great-grandsons to become Major League Baseball players.

"I taught them everything they know," Sellaro says.

Kyle and Bradley Zimmer, La Jolla High School graduates, were both first-round draft picks out of the University of San Francisco. Kyle now pitches for the Kansas City Royals, and Bradley plays center field for the Cleveland Indians.

But long before they were playing in the big leagues, their training began in a quiet La Jolla cul-de-sac. Sellaro was there dealing out advice “since the first time we picked up a bat, I think,” said Bradley.

“I think that was about two days after we started walking,” quipped Kyle. "It’s been a long time."

Back then, the Zimmers and their friends would keep the wiffle balls within easy reach. However, as they grew, the balls soon started flying across streets, over fences and into neighbor’s yards.

“We've had to extend the home run line,” said Eric Zimmer, the players’ dad. “It used to be the curb, and then it was the sidewalk, then it was the neighbor’s roof.”

The annual Thanksgiving game has become less competitive with fewer rules, but their favorite part remains the same.

“Anytime you can say you have a grandma who's 102 years old and showing you how to hit a wiffle ball in the backyard, it's pretty special,” said Bradley. “So having her down here has been awesome. It's something that we really cherish and look forward to every year."

Sellaro used to travel long distances to watch her great-grandsons play, but as traveling becomes harder, she shows her support by watching their games on TV or online.

In person, though, the batting coach instincts kick back in.

“Keep your eye on the ball,” she says, pointing at Kyle. “And that goes for you, too.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Brett Favre’s Number Retired]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 22:37:00 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/179*120/GettyImages-56396130+%281%29.jpg

The Chicago Bears will head into a hostile Lambeau Field Thursday night to face the Green Bay Packers, and even though they won’t have to face Brett Favre, the legendary quarterback’s presence will still be a big part of the evening.

That’s because the Packers are retiring Favre’s jersey at halftime of the Thanksgiving showdown.

The honor has been a long time coming for Favre, who spent the vast majority of his Hall of Fame-caliber career wearing the green and gold, and it’s especially appropriate that he is receiving the distinction during a game against a Bears team that he routinely tortured in his NFL career.

In 36 career starts against the Bears, Favre racked up a 23-13 record and some incredible passing numbers. He threw for 8606 yards in those 36 games, tossing 60 touchdowns and rushing for three more against Chicago during his career. Those 60 touchdowns are the most he threw against any team, and even though he did throw 42 interceptions against the Bears (also the most he’s thrown against any team), he still represented the Bears’ ultimate nemesis during his time in Green Bay.

The list of Favre’s best games against the Bears is a long one, but there are a few that certainly stand out.

Few will forget the masterful performance he had at Soldier Field in a November 1995 game, where he threw five touchdowns and racked up 336 passing yards despite playing the game with a severely sprained ankle.

A 2002 tilt against the Bears in Champaign was another Favre classic as he threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns in an emphatic 34-21 victory.

Unfortunately for Chicago, Favre’s replacement in Green Bay hasn’t been an easier opponent, as Aaron Rodgers holds a 12-3 record and throws for an average of 242.5 yards per game against the Bears in his career. Oh, and he’s thrown 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions too.

<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 04:08:16 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Germany-Boxing-AP_11982943034.jpg Click to see dramatic game action photos from professional football, hockey, basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Durant's New Sneaker Is Taboo to Some in Prince George's]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:09:24 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/KD8+PG+County.jpg

With his latest Nike sneaker, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant attempted to pay homage to the Maryland county where his journey to NBA all-star and MVP began, but some find it offensive.

The $180 sneaker, which goes on sale Wednesday, is called the KD8 ‘P.G. County,’ and that abbreviation of “Prince George’s” upsets some in the county. For years, using “PG” has been considered taboo.

“We would certainly prefer that it was ‘Prince George’s County,’” said Barry Hudson, the county executive’s spokesman.

The county reached out to Nike when it learned of the name.

“Actually sent a letter to Nike kind of giving them some idea of the nature of the term ‘Prince George’s County’ versus ‘PG County’ just to let them know that it is, to many in the county, a pejorative,” Hudson said.

Melvin McCray, who once coached Durant at the Seat Pleasant Activity Center, said the name of the shoe makes perfect sense. Durant has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the facility where a room is named in his honor.

“Whether it’s ‘PG County,’ whether it’s ‘Prince George’s County,’ I just think we all should just enjoy the moment and just embrace it,” McCray said.

Photo Credit: Nike]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Beat Lakers, Set Record]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 01:44:18 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/178*120/Lakers-lose-to-Warriors-record-nba.jpg

The Golden State Warriors made history against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. The Warriors went to 16-0 with the 111- 77 win is an old-fashioned game of blowout basketball, which marked the best ever start to an NBA season. Previously, the 1993-94 Houston Rockets held the record at 15-0.

Surprisingly, the Warriors came out shooting cold against the visiting Lakers. Not so surprisingly, the Warriors still managed to take a massive lead on a Lakers team that has the habit of falling flat on its face. For the 12th time in 14 games, the Lakers lost. This time, though, the purple and gold trailed by 19 points before the first quarter was up.

Kobe Bryant had had an awful night. He shot up air balls, he shot up bricks and he even shot up one thud-worthy attempt that stuck in between the backboard and the rim. The 37-year-old shot 1-14 from the field and looked worse than he has all season, and Bryant has not looked good this season.

No Laker scored over 10 points, so Bryant can hardly take all the credit in the loss. Jordan Clarkson went 2-11, Nick Young shot 3-10 and Roy Hibbert went 0-4. This was a game where the Lakers' best punch would possibly give them a chance against the world champs, but the Lakers seemingly slipped and fell as the opening bell rang out.

"They're a better team than we are," Lakers coach Byron Scott said on TWC SportsNet after the game. "It's pretty much that simple."

The Warriors only needed one quarter to decide the outcome, so the game never looked in doubt. However, the Lakers did show positive signs in the second period. Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell and almost-rookie Julius Randle combined to help cut the 22-point lead down to only 16 points by halftime. Russell hit shots, while Randle bruised his way to buckets. Both players shot 50 percent from the field for the night.

Along with the other starters, Russell and Randle did not play in the fourth quarter because the Warriors led by 34 points after three quarters. Stephen Curry had already received his sendoff ovation at that stage, and the game called for emptying the bench for guys like Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. to get extra minutes.

Curry finished with 24 points and nine assists on 10-21 shooting. By his standards, he had a bad night in that the league's Most Valuable Player only hit four of his 12 attempts from beyond the three-point line. However, Curry sat the whole fourth quarter because the game was simply not competitive. The Warriors' largest lead on the night was 41 points.

Draymond Green also had a positive night in more ways than one. Green had a +/- of 36, which tied Curry for the best net-positive players on the team. Green finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal in 30 active minutes on the court.

"It's just another loss for us, another win for them," Scott said. "That's how I kind of look at it and just go back to the drawing board."

Next, the Warriors look to extend their record to 17 games in Phoenix on Friday night. The Lakers look to snap a four-game losing streak in Portland on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Diaco Expected to be Bowl Eligible in Year Two]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:39:56 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/diaco112415.jpg The UConn football team is bowl eligible with six wins and their head coach is not surprised by his team's improvements.]]> <![CDATA[Hartford Wildcats Need Your Help to Go to National Championship]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:03:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/football-field-generic.jpg

There was no practice at Colt Park Monday for the Hartford Wildcats, two days after the 12-and-under youth football team won the regional championship.

But now some real work has begun, as boosters try to raise $35,000 so the players can pursue the national championship next month in Kissimmee, Florida.

"Any size donations, no donation is too small," said their coach, Von Allen.

Some of the players have been Wildcats since second or third grade. Running back/linebacker Bernard Lee is one of them.

"Through all the years it's been tough, with all the cold weather, but we worked hard through it, come to practice every day, making it happen, working hard," he said.

Saturday, the Wildcats beat Leominster, Massachusetts 51-7 to win Nee England title. They've never won regionals before and many of the players have never been to Florida before.

" I'm really excited," said center Devon Gay. "We work so hard and it just feels good to playoff."

They've won the right but not the fight yet as organizers try to raise up to $35,000 for the trip. They only have til Dec. 5 to raise the money and take their shot at the national title.

Coach Allen said,"That's all they want to do. At the end of the day there's only one happy team.
That's the team who wins nationals."

Click here to make a donation to the Hartford Wildcats on their gofundme.com page.

<![CDATA[After Flying High Early, Jets Are a Wreck]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:35:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/196*120/112215jets.jpg

When Bilal Powell is your biggest threat in the passing game and Ryan Fitzpatrick your most dangerous runner, chances are you’re not a very good team.

Ditto for when a guy named Cecil Shorts III puts on a triple-threat performance not seen since the days of Red Grange against you. And, of course, double-ditto for when the best player in your team’s history gets burned like a ruined Thanksgiving dinner before being knocked out of the game by a knee to the head. Finally, can’t ditto this one enough: if your head coach is talking about turning to Geno Smith to get things going … well, you get the point.

The Jets aren’t a very good team, as they proved yet again in Sunday's 24-17 loss at Houston. In fact, at 5-5, they’re the very definition of average -- although they’d have a tough time convincing anyone that they’re even approaching ordinary based on their play over the past few weeks.

In short, Gang Green can’t pass very well. They can’t run any better, especially when they’re playing almost exclusively out of the shotgun because of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injured left thumb. They’re suspect on defense, having not held an opponent under 20 since Week 4. While we’re at it, they’re not much on special teams. And they’re unlucky. After racking up +8 in turnover differential in the season’s first two games, they’ve since posted a -6.

On the positive side, after three TDs on three passes in his pro career, the Jets prevented J.J. Watt from ringing up a fourth score after the just-returned Calvin Pryor broke up a throw in the end zone in the first quarter. Other positives, anyone? Don’t all speak at once!

It was basically the only time all day that the visitors thwarted Watt, who was somehow even better than usual on Sunday. The All-Pro DE had 5 five tackles for loss, two sacks and five hits in all on Fitzpatrick. I’m old enough to have watched Lawrence Taylor play his entire career here, and I feel confident saying this: Watt, not LT, is the best defensive player I’ve ever seen.

Ten games in, the Jets are now looking at a steep climb back into postseason contention. Their last two opponents, Buffalo and Houston, have passed them in the Wild Card race, and the roster is starting to resemble a supersized IR list. Sheldon Richardson sat out the Texans game with an ailing hamstring. Nick Mangold, back in Sunday despite a neck injury, had to leave the game after a laceration required stitches on his right (snapping) hand. In next week’s game against Miami, the Pro Bowl center is expected to roll the ball to his effectively one-handed quarterback.

Darrelle Revis, who looked infirm trying to cover Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins even when healthy, suffered a concussion -- and Fitzpatrick had his bell nearly broken in his fourth-quarter TD scramble. He followed that up with two INTs to seal the loss in the game’s closing minutes.

After flying so high to kick off the season, the Jets are, quite simply, a wreck. 

<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 11]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:17:01 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_386456190580.jpg Get an up-close look at all the best NFL plays and players from Week 11.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Security Increased for Yale-Harvard Football Game]]> Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:34:31 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Yale+Security+1200.jpg

There was a show of force in New Haven as extra security was brought out for the 132nd playing of “The Game” on Saturday.

In the end, Harvard beat Yale 38-19 in the Yale Bowl. New Haven police reported no major problems.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to show up and watch the Yale-Harvard football rivalry.

About 130 officers kept a watchful eye on the crowd.

More than 60,000 fans were expected to pack the Bowl to watch the Game.

But first they had to pass through what was called enhanced security measures.

“It makes a lot of people feel better knowing there’s a lot of security here for precautionary measures, have it be the terrorist attacks that happened in Paris or you know issues that have been happening on Yale’s campus over the last couple weeks,” says John Carideo of New Milford.

Fans had been told to arrive as early as two hours before kickoff and to be prepared for long security lines.

They were warned not to bring bags.

While the governor said there was no known threat, police and Yale said the extra security was all in an effort to provide comfort and ensure the safety of everyone.

“I believe they’re taking every precaution given the events that are taking place around the world and I understand it. It’s a little bit of an inconvenience but for the safety of all of us it’s important,” Darrin Steinmann, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Jets Have Good Chance to Get Well in Houston]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:44:02 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/488073794.jpg

The Jets are going to Houston to play a first-place team this weekend, albeit one with a losing record. The season has been a roller coaster for the Texans, who started off badly, with losses in four of their first five games, then came on strong, winning three of the last four.

Yes, it’s easy to get well when you’re facing off against the likes of Jacksonville, Miami and Tennessee, as Houston did in weeks 6 through 8. However, last Monday night, the Texans took down the previously-undefeated Bengals, proving that they can play -- and that, for all the talk that Andy Dalton has suddenly become Aaron Rodgers (and, of course, that Rodgers has suddenly regressed into Dalton), we might not want to get him fitted for a yellow blazer just yet.

If Houston is a much-improved squad, though, they’re also a much-injured one. QB Brian Hoyer, who coach Bill O’Brien kept on a yo-yo through the first half of the season, continuing to hope against hope that Ryan Mallett would stop acting like a 7-year-old (and a particularly immature one at that), is out this week after suffering a concussion in the Cincy contest. Like the Jets’ own Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014, Hoyer seems to have found new life in Texas, cutting down on INTs and making smart plays. Without him, though, and with Mallett cut from the team and apparently taking a timeout in his room, O’Brien is turning to fifth-year pro T.J. Yates.

Yates, who, it’s been reported, has been in witness protection since injuries forced him into the starting lineup for the Texans’ postseason run during his rookie year, is the epitome of nothing special. If Hoyer is a game manager, Yates is a game intern. And unfortunately for him, several key co-workers have called in sick. Arian Foster, one of the NFL’s best running backs over the past decade, is out for the rest of the campaign with a torn Achilles. WR DeAndre Hopkins, who’s merely been phenomenal this year, is expected to play on Sunday, but has been sidelined this week with an ailing knee. Hopkins has 71 catches through nine games. No other Texans receiver has even 30.

Unfortunately for Gang Green, J.J. Watt is alive and well. The defensive lineman/cyborg leads a unit that has clamped down over the past few weeks after essentially playing like Watt and 10 other guys who expected him to make every play (he nearly did). Houston surrendered 28 points a game through their first seven, but only a total of 12 in the past two weeks.

And while the Jets have already ceded their division to the Pats, the Texans are looking at a pathetic AFC South as theirs for the taking. They’ve got plenty to play for.

The visitors, meanwhile, are sorely in need of the type of invigoration Houston has experienced - especially on D. Lining up against Yates, a Foster-less run game and a banged-up Hopkins, if this isn’t the time for it, then what is? 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2020 Olympic Vision]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 23:17:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ceana_rodriguez_1200x675_569535043685.jpg 16-year-old Ceana Rodriguez from New Britain has her sights set on making the 2020 Olympics in Taekwondo. Sports Director Kevin Nathan has her story in this week's More Than the Score. ]]> <![CDATA[NFL's Doug Flutie Loses Both Parents on Same Day]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:02:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/flutie-AP_05060901526.jpg

Legendary Boston College quarterback and longtime NFL player Doug Flutie lost both his parents Wednesday morning.

Flutie said his father, Dick, died of a heart attack in the hospital following an illness. Less than an hour later, his mother, Joan, also suffered a heart attack, Flutie wrote in a social media post Wednesday.

"They say you can die from a broken heart and I believe it," Flutie said on Facebook. "The most important part of their 56 years of marriage was providing opportunities to their children. They were incredible parents and grandparents and my family and I will miss them both."

Flutie's NFL career was sporadic, withhin playing 92 games and starting 66 between 1986 and 2005. During that time, he played with the Bears, Patriots, Bills and, finally, the Chargers, from 2001 through 2004. During a long NFL hiatus, he played in the Canadian Football League from 1990-97, being inducted into both the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

The quarterback is best known for his time at Boston College, during which he received the Heisman Trophy and other accolades. He threw for an astounding 10,759 yard sand 70 touchdowns in four years.

Photo Credit: AP/File
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<![CDATA[Doug Flutie's Parents Die on Same Day]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 21:51:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Doug+Flutie+and+Parents.jpg

Legendary Boston College quarterback and longtime NFL player Doug Flutie lost both his parents Wednesday morning.

Flutie said his father, Dick, died of a heart attack in the hospital following an illness. Less than an hour later, his mother, Joan, also suffered a heart attack, Flutie said.

"They say you can die from a broken heart and I believe it," Flutie said in a statement. "The most important part of their 56 years of marriage was providing opportunities to their children. They were incredible parents and grandparents and my family and I will miss them both."

"They have been together for so long that I think the shock of it all when he passed - I'd assume that that's where she wants to be, too," said Jill Cukier Pappalardo, who was a high school classmate with Doug Flutie.

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Most of the Flutie family, including Doug, has moved down to Florida, but the family's legacy remains strong in Natick, Massachusetts, where they lived for many years.

"It was sad, shocking," said one Natick resident.

"I used to see them around the local restaurants," said another. "Mostly Doug."

There were nothing but kind words for the family, including at Agostino's Restaurant, where the family were regulars.

"They were very nice, great family," said one long-time waitress.

The announcement went viral on social media with messages of condolences.

"our hearts go out to the Flutie family, all of whom are in our prayers," Boston College announced in a statement.

The New England Patriots also responded.

"Sending thoughts and prayers to former Patriots QB and New England football icon," the team stated.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft released his own statement.

“My heart breaks for Doug Flutie and the entire Flutie family," he wrote. "It is hard enough to cope with the loss of one parent. I can’t imagine losing both parents on the same day. I know that the Flutie family will be in the thoughts and prayers of their many fans throughout the country, especially all of those here in New England."

Flutie's NFL career was sporadic, withhin playing 92 games and starting 66 between 1986 and 2005. During that time, he played with the Bears, Patriots, Bills and Chargers. During a long NFL hiatus, he played in the Canadian Football League from 1990-97, being inducted into both the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

The quarterback is best known for his time at Boston College, during which he received the Heisman Trophy and other accolades. He threw for an astounding 10,759 yards and 70 touchdowns in four years.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Doug Flutie, Getty Images
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<![CDATA['Big Papi' Plans to Retire]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:04:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/TLMD-Boston-medias-rojas-david-ortiz-red-sox-getty-images-470371776.jpg

One of Boston's most beloved athletes has announced he will be retiring after the 2016 season.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, on his 40th birthday, confirmed what many people were already talking about in a video posted to YouTube Wednesday, courtesy of The Players' Tribune.

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"I thought a lot about it and, you know, for every single one of us, athletes-wise... we run out of time at some point and life is based on different chapter and I think I'm ready to experience the next one in my life," Ortiz said in the video. "I picked this day to announce that after the next season, I'm going to be done with my career."

Nicknamed "Big Papi," Ortiz will leave the game a three-time World Series champion, at least, and holder of the Red Sox single-season record for home runs. The Red Sox designated hitter is also a nine-time All-Star.

"I would like people to remember me as a guy that was just part of the family, you know?" he said. "A guy that was trying to do the best, not only on the field, but with everyone around him."

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"It is difficult to adequately convey what David Ortiz has meant to the Boston Red Sox," says Principal Owner John Henry. 

"David's first home run in a Red Sox uniform set the tone for the rest of his career," says Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. It was a go-ahead pinch-hit home run in the top of the 14th inning against the Angels. In that summer of 2003, David became the best slugger in all of baseball and carried the team on his back for the last three months of the season - a trend we would come to see time and again throughout his career. He has been in a Red Sox uniform nearly as long as we have been here, and he has been integral in all of the successes that we have all experienced."

"David Ortiz transcends numbers, home runs, and wins," says Red Sox President Sam Kennedy. He is one of the game's greatest players - and greatest champions - and he has been there for the city of Boston through thick and thin every step of the way. He has been a pillar of our team and a pillar of our city."

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Even After Ugly Stretch, Things Look Good for Jets]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:29:33 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Uniformes-unicolores-de-Nike-confunden-a-espectadores-de-la-NFL-con-daltonismo-juego-Bills-Jets.jpg

It all depends on how you look at things.

If you’re a glass-half-full type, you’d probably note that, just nine games into the season, the Jets have already won more games than they did in all of 2014, and are very much in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card spot, with five very winnable games ahead of them before the Pats come to town just after Christmas.

If you’re glass is half-empty, you’d likely mention that, after a very impressive start, the Jets have been plain awful over three weeks, with only the fact that they were playing the Jaguars preventing three straight defeats. And, of course, if they continue to play this way, they’ve got about as good a shot at the playoffs as the Bengals do of going undefeated (yes, I know, Cincy lost a few days ago).

Well, my glass is now fully empty, because I drank its contents while writing this. But I’m an optimist by nature -- which is the only thing that’s kept me semi-sane after more than three decades of watching Jets football -- and I think things are looking good for Gang Green.

No doubt, after putting in a solid effort vs. New England in late October, the Jets have fallen off a cliff. Ten-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is making rookie mistakes. Chris Ivory was so bad for a stretch that New York fans were longing for a return of Chris Johnson, who seemed to run on eggshells last year (by the way, a revitalized CJ performed exceptionally well while playing in Arizona in 2015). The defense, which was so formidable earlier in the season, has apparently decided that tackling isn’t an integral part of the job. Oh yeah, and special teams isn’t anything to text home about, either.

But, after all that, the Jets are still right in the thick of the postseason race. Fitzpatrick, who should be OK for Sunday’s game in Houston following a 10-day layoff, has been very good even as the rest of the team slipped, although he had a rough night last Thursday vs. Buffalo. In that debacle, Ivory again shone, running like his old self in the second half. As for the Jets D, well, there’s simply too much talent for the unit to be as ineffective as it’s been in recent weeks.

Still feeling half-empty? Fill up on this: Houston, Miami, the Giants, Tennessee and Dallas. The Jets should do just that against their next five opponents. Win four of those, and playoffs are a very good bet.

Not too long ago, the Jets looked like an elite team. Then, they looked terrible. Now, they look like a 5-4 team with a decent chance to win 10 games. However you look at things, that’s gotta look pretty good. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[German Stadium Evacuated After Bomb Threat]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 21:59:45 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_554879857092.jpg

A soccer stadium in Germany packed with thousands of fans was abruptly evacuated Tuesday night because of a "potential threat to spectators," police said, NBC News reported.

Authorities, however, cautioned that no explosives were found and no arrests were made as people streamed out of a Germany vs. Netherlands match — the setting of the latest scare to grip Europe following Friday's wave of attacks in Paris.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declined to detail the threat during a news conference, adding that police "had good reasons" in shutting down the friendly game in the northern German city of Hanover.

"It would have been irresponsible to let the game proceed," added Boris Pistorius, the interior minister of the German state of Lower Saxony.

Earlier, Germany's Lower Saxony Police Chief Volker Kluwe told the nation's public broadcaster that there was "concrete evidence" that someone planned to set off explosives at the game.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report: David Ortiz Will Retire After 2016 Season]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 17:34:59 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-4897136341.jpg

Big Papi is getting ready to say goodbye to baseball. 

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will retire after the 2016 season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Ortiz is a nine-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion and he holds the Red Sox single-season record for home runs.

On Jan. 22, 2003, Ortiz signed a free agent contract with the Red Sox.

Ortiz has been a fan favorite in New England since his start with the team.

"People love Big Papi, even if someone knows nothing about the Red Sox they've heard of David Ortiz," says Theo Matt, a manager at the Red Sox Team store.

Based on the reaction of Mets Fan Rich Rivera, Matt is right. "Oh man the guy can hit the ball, clutch in World Series playoffs we definitely could have used him this year against the Royals that's for sure," says Matt.

Right now there's nothing public from Big Papi himself.

The Red Sox organization tells us they'll only comment if and when he makes an announcement.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Son of Patriots Player Has Cancer]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:22:26 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/461911932.jpg

New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder shared the sad news Monday that his infant son is battling kidney cancer.

Solder, himself a cancer survivor, made the announcement Monday night while speaking at the Above & Beyond the Gratitude Gala benefitting the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, according to the Boston Herald. The foundation is named for a Patriots player who died of non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2007.

Solder's son, Hudson, who was born in July, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor last month and has already begun chemotherapy, the Herald reports.

Solder thanked fans on Twitter Monday night and asked them to support the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.

Solder himself beat testicular cancer in 2014 and remains on injured reserve. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Fantasy Sports Conflict Continues]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 15:19:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/draftkings-AP_312823411334.jpg

Fantasy sports site DraftKings has filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order preventing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from enforcing the order to shut down because he said its operations constituted illegal gambling.

The cease-and-desist letter was also sent to FanDuel, another major daily fantasy sports site.

In a statement Monday, DraftKings said it believes the temporary restraining order is necessary "and warranted to protect DraftKings' business while we pursue our legal action to prevent the New York Attorney General from denying New Yorkers the right to continue playing the daily fantasy sports games they love."

The move comes days after DraftKings and FanDuel filed court papers in state Supreme Court in Manhattan askiing a judge to rule on the legality of their businesses.

Earlier this month, Schneiderman ordered the fantasy sites to stop taking bets in New York, calling the companies illegal gambling sites.

But in court papers, both companies argue the opposite. They say daily fantasy sports are actually more skill-based than season-long fantasy sports, which are legal in New York. They also claim Schneiderman threatened their business partners and payment processors.

DraftKings' suit calls the cease-and-desist order "unconstitutional" and alleges Schneiderman is "misreading" New York's gambling laws, and attempting to "bully" DraftKings and its vendors into immediately shutting down its New York operations before it has a chance to defend itself.

The company says New York is home to more than 7 percent of its customers.

"The Attorney General's actions constitute a shocking overreach," the suit reads. "He has unleashed an irresponsible, irrational, and illegal campaign to destroy a legitimate industry, intending to deprive hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers of the use and enjoyment of these services."

Schneiderman's office didn't immediately respond to an email request for comment on the temporary restraining order motion filed Monday. Previously, a spokesman said the companies are operating illegally.

Fantasy sports has been a popular U.S. pastime for years, but daily contests, where winners and losers are decided in one night, rather than over the course of a season, have exploded in popularity recently. DraftKings and FanDuel have advertised heavily on the Internet and TV ahead of and during the 2015 NFL season.

The sites have come under increased scrutiny since it was revealed last month that a midlevel DraftKings employee playing fantasy football beat more than 200,000 other players, winning $350,000 on rival FanDuel. The case raised questions about insider trading after game data not publicly accessible was inadvertently posted online.

NBC's parent company, Comcast Corp., and NBC Sports are among the investors in FanDuel.

Photo Credit: AP/File]]>