TIME NFL

Chris Borland Is the New Model NFL Player

San Francisco 49ers v New York Giants
Michael Zagaris—Getty Images Chris Borland #50 of the San Francisco 49ers tackles Odell Beckham Jr.of the New York Giants during the game at Metlife Stadium on November 16, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The 49ers linebacker, who just finished an excellent rookie year and was looking at possible NFL stardom, retires in fear of brain injuries. Is this the new football blueprint?

Chris Borland had at least five more lucrative years in him, maybe more. This was going to be his peak earning period. But he decided the rest of his life was worth more.

Borland, a San Francisco 49ers linebacker, just finished a productive rookie year, and was set to take on a bigger role with the team after fellow linebacker Patrick Willis, 30, announced his retirement last week. Willis, bothered by foot injuries, surprised many by leaving the game in his prime. But at least he had a prime. Borland, 24, is also retiring, sacrificing millions to preserve his brain.

It’s a newsworthy decision, but not all that shocking, given the rationale behind it. The brain science becomes more daunting year-by-year: by playing NFL football, you’re risking the quality of your life. A Borland was going to come along at some point: a promising player quitting, before he really gets started.

Is this a bit of a nightmare for the NFL? Sure. The league keeps losing PR battles; Borland’s retirement condemns the game. Yes, four NFL players age 30 or younger have retired during the past week. But don’t expect a flood of players to hand in their helmets. A decade ago, we weren’t even talking about the long-term dangers of concussions. A decade later, a young player staves off the damage. A decade from now? There will be other Borlands. Enough to cripple the league? Doubtful. Many, many decades from now? That’s another story. Fewer young kids are playing tackle football. The trends aren’t good.

Borland, who according to ESPN Stats & Information led the NFL in tackles from Weeks 7-15, when he filled in for Willis as a starter, did the research. He thought he sustained a concussion in training camp, but played through it, because he felt like that’s what he’d have to do to make the team. He called on concussion researchers to get the facts. Borland’s retired, but let’s see if he actually stays on the sidelines. At 24, he can always change his mind. If he follows through on his plan to go back to school and chase a career in sports management, and has a happy, successful life without football … Chris Borland might be the model NFL player, after playing a single season in the NFL.

TIME

Here’s Who Wins March Madness in the Classroom

A complete ranking of the NCAA basketball tournament field by academic success and graduation rates instead of wins and losses

Davidson’s men’s basketball team has won accolades this year for defying expectations on the court, finishing in first place in their inaugural season in the Atlantic 10 after being picked 12th, out of 14 teams, in the preseason poll. The Wildcats run an efficient, aesthetically pleasing offense, a welcome contrast to an otherwise rough college basketball season, where scoring was near all-time lows.

Basketball success is not new to the 1,850 student liberal arts college in North Carolina: Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is a former Wildcat. Nor is academic achievement: Woodrow Wilson is another prominent alum. Now, the two have come together: Davidson is the academic champion of the 2015 NCAA tournament.

According to new rankings generated by the New America, a non-partisan Washington, D.C. think tank, for all 68 teams in the tournament–and shared exclusively with TIME — Davidson cuts down the proverbial nets. Here’s how: we matched teams up in the classroom, using the tournament brackets to determine the games. If the on-court bracket results mimicked academic performance, the Final Four would look like this: Davidson wins the South, Maryland comes out of the Midwest, Baylor takes the West and Dayton wins the East. Davidson knocks off Baylor in one national semifinal. Maryland knocks off Dayton in the other semi, with Davidson taking the title game.

The full bracket is below.

 

The formula for New America’s March Madness mimics that of its College Football Playoff rankings released in December (TCU won that title). The base measure is a school’s most recent men’s basketball “Graduation Success Rate,” a figure measured by the NCAA that doesn’t dock schools for having players who transfer or go pro before graduating–as long as those players leave in good academic standing. The higher the school’s graduation success rate, the higher they start out in New America’s rankings. New America, however, did subtract points from schools that graduate men’s basketball players at a much different rate than the overall men’s graduation rate at the school. To compare students to athletes, New America used federal graduation rates, which take a cohort of students from 2004-2007, and measured if they graduated within six years. Even if a school graduated basketball players at higher rates than the overall male student population, the difference was counted as a penalty against schools that have low overall male graduation rates.

One important note: Harvard, the Ivy League champion, was excluded from the rankings because the Ivy League does not report federal graduation rates for athletes. So the University of North Carolina, Harvard’s first round opponent, moves on. Harvard was one of 13 schools, including Davidson, Maryland, Notre Dame, Butler and Dayton, that reported a perfect graduation success rate for basketball players.

Indiana was the easiest out, finishing last in New America’s rankings. Hoosier basketball players graduated at an 8% federal rate, according to the most recent numbers, fare below the overall male student graduation rate of 72%. That discrepancy killed their score. Indiana basketball spokesman J.D. Campbell points out that current coach Tom Crean was hired in April 2008, after the 2004-2007 cohort captured by the federal rate enrolled in the school. Indiana’s men’s basketball team does have a perfect Academic Progress Rate, an NCAA metric that measures the academic eligibility of current players, and Campbell says that every Crean recruit that hasn’t transferred or left early for the NBA has graduated (one of Indiana’s three early entries to the NBA, Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic, graduated in three years).

To see how the whole field stacks up, check out these rankings.

Read next: The Simple Free Hack to Watch NCAA March Madness Without a Cable Bill

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TIME celebrities

Mitt Romney to Fight Evander Holyfield in Charity Bout

Mitt Romney is greeted by fellow Republicans at a dinner during the Republican National Committee's Annual Winter Meeting aboard the USS Midway on Jan. 16, 2015 in San Diego.
Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images Mitt Romney is greeted by fellow Republicans at a dinner during the Republican National Committee's Annual Winter Meeting aboard the USS Midway on Jan. 16, 2015 in San Diego.

"It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious"

Forget about Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, the real fight of the century is scheduled for May 15 when Mitt Romney enters the ring to battle Evander Holyfield in Salt Lake City.

Yes, you read that right. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Holyfield, the five-time heavyweight titleholder who smacked around the likes of Mike Tyson and George Foreman, are going to lace up gloves and duke it out in a charity exhibition.

However, Romney has no delusions about actually winning this contest.

“It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious,” Romney told the Salt Lake City Tribune. “It won’t be much of a fight. We’ll both suit up and get in the ring and spar around a little bit.”

A portion of the proceeds will help support Charity Vision, which provides doctors and facilities in poverty-stricken areas with equipment and resources to carry out eye operations.

[The Salt Lake City Tribune]

TIME Football

San Francisco Linebacker Chris Borland to Retire Due to Safety Concerns

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders
Thearon W. Henderson—Getty Images Latavius Murray of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Chris Borland of the San Francisco 49ers O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2014

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland told Outside the Lines on Monday that he is retiring due to concerns over “the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.”

According to ESPN, the 24-year-old told the 49ers of his decision on Friday. Borland said he first began to think about the possibility of retiring early during training camp last season. The rookie said he thinks he sustained a concussion, but played through it, partly because he wanted to make the team.

From ESPN:

He said he made his decision after consulting with family members, concussion researchers, friends and current and former teammates, and studying what is known about the relationship between football and neurodegenerative disease.

“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told “Outside the Lines.” “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

Last week, linebacker Patrick Willis retired because he thought the injuries he had sustained while playing football would keep him from playing at an “elite” level and he was worried about the quality of his life after football. Borland told ESPN that his former teammate’s decision did not play a role in his retirement.

In a statement on Monday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said Borland’s decision was unexpected.

“While unexpected, we certainly respect Chris’ decision,” said Baalke. “From speaking with Chris, it was evident that he had put a great deal of thought into this decision. He was a consummate professional from day one and a very well respected member of our team and community. Chris is a determined young man that overcame long odds in his journey to the NFL and we are confident he will use the same approach to become very successful in his future endeavors. We will always consider him a 49er and wish him all the best.”

Borland told ESPN that he plans to go back to school to pursue a career in sports management. Borland has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin.

ESPN notes that Borland is the fourth NFL player under the age of 30 to decide to retire in the past week.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Tim Tebow Works Out for Eagles, Leaves Without Signing

ESPN The Party - Arrivals
Robin Marchant—Getty Images for ESPN Former NFL player/broadcaster Tim Tebow attends ESPN the Party on Jan. 30, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tebow hasn't played in the NFL since 2012

Tim Tebow worked out with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, but the team will not sign him, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Schefter first reported Tebow’s workout, which the Eagles later confirmed to the Philadelphia Daily News’ Les Bowen.

Tebow, 28 in August, last played in the NFL in 2012 as a member of the New York Jets. That season, he appeared in 12 games (two starts) and went 6-of-8 for 39 yards. He also rushed 32 times for 102 yards.

Tebow signed with the New England Patriots in June 2013 but was released two months later.

Though Tebow has begun a broadcasting career with ESPN, SEC Network and ABC’s Good Morning America, he reportedly maintained hopes of resuming his NFL career. Earlier this month, a report from The Boston Globe indicated Tebow was considering participating in the NFL’s veteran combine on March 22. The report said Tebow has worked out “diligently” with renowned quarterback coach Tom House in Los Angeles over the last two years.

The Eagles have been busy this offseason, most noticeably trading away running back LeSean McCoy, signing former Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray and sending quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for quarterback Sam Bradford.

The Eagles also re-signed quarterback Mark Sanchez, who spent 2014 with the team after five years with the New York Jets, where he was Tebow’s teammate in 2012.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Boxing

Manny Pacquiao’s Trainer Says Floyd Mayweather Is Not a Good Role Model

Zou Shiming Media Workout
Jonathan Moore — Getty Images Boxing trainer Freddie Roach talks with the media before a work out session at Wild Card Boxing Club on Feb. 17, 2015 in Hollywood.

Tensions continue to flare before their May 2 bout

Manny Pacquiao’s legendary trainer Freddie Roach says Floyd Mayweather is a bad seed and that he is looking forward to seeing the 38-year-old get knocked out when he squares off with the Filipino superstar in May.

During an interview with sports analyst Jim Rome over the weekend, Roach slated the undefeated welterweight for being “very insecure” and claimed he’s set a poor example for younger generations.

“I mean he’s not a good guy, he’s not a good person, he’s not a good role model,” said Roach, who added that the usually affable Pacquiao doesn’t have much love for Mayweather either.

“I’ve never seen him dislike an opponent in my life, but you know what, he doesn’t like this guy,” Roach added.

The trainer’s comments are just the latest tidbit of controversy to surface as both camps hunker down before their much-anticipated May 2 bout. Earlier this month, Roach told a Philippine news outlet that Mayweather’s advisors were paying Pacman’s potential sparring partners large sums of money to refrain from participating in his training camp.

Read next: The Money Behind ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao vs. ‘Money’ Mayweather

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TIME College Basketball

Here’s Your Printable 2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket

Which four teams will make it to Indianapolis on April 4?

The committee has spoken and the full 2015 NCAA Tournament bracket has been set. Duke, Kentucky, Villanova and Wisconsin are the No.1 seeds in each region. The Big 12 and Big Ten each placed seven teams in the bracket. But which teams will make it to the Final Four in Indianapolis on April 4?

Here’s a printable bracket that you can fill in, courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

For more news and analysis on one of the biggest college tournaments in the sporting calendar, click here.

Read next: 6 Ways to Win Your March Madness Office Pool

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TIME College Basketball

Kentucky Takes Top Overall Seed in NCAA Tournament

Can the Wildcats make it two in a row?

Kentucky’s chasing history, trying to become the first undefeated champion in March Madness since Indiana in 1976.

The Wildcats are seeded first overall in the tournament and tops in the Midwest Region, in search of six more wins for a perfect season.

The other No. 1 seeds are Villanova in the East, Duke in the South and Wisconsin in the West. The Badgers (31-3) secured the first top seed in program history after overcoming an 11-point deficit Sunday against Michigan State to win 80-69 in overtime.

The No. 2 seeds are Kansas in the Midwest, Virginia in the East, Gonzaga in the South and Arizona in the West.

Kentucky defeated Arkansas 78-63 on Sunday to improve to 34-0. The Wildcats will open Thursday against the winner of Tuesday’s play-in game between No. 16 seeds Manhattan and Hampton.

Another play-in game will match No. 11 seeds Boise State against Dayton, both of which were at-large bubble teams.

Other teams that made it off the bubble included UCLA and Texas, both given No. 11 seeds and not forced to play in a play-in game. BYU and Mississippi also made it as No. 11 seeds and will meet in a play-in game.

Colorado State, Temple, Old Dominion and Miami were among those left out. CSU and Temple both had RPIs more than 20 points better than Ole Miss.

The Big 12 and Big Ten led the way by placing seven teams each in the bracket.

TIME College Basketball

College Basketball Has Lost Its Soul

Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - VCU v Richmond
Alex Goodlett—Getty Images The Richmond Spiders play the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during a quarterfinal game in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in Brooklyn.

Attendance and ratings are down. Scoring is at historic lows. Arenas are antiseptic. Why is the sport so troubled?

What are we doing here?

It’s Friday afternoon in Brooklyn, just days before the annual “Selection Sunday” that will decide the layout of the NCAA tournament. The Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, is hosting the conference tournament quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10, a hoop-centric group of schools whose core geographical imprint stretches from Philadelphia, through Washington, D.C. down to Richmond, Virginia, while hitting a few places in the midwest: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Dayton. Yet the Atlantic 10 hosts its conference tournament in New York City, home to Fordham University—one of the league’s northern outliers and worst basketball teams.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the University of Richmond, two schools separated by five miles in the Virginia capital, are playing a tight, tough game, which VCU will eventually win, 70-67. But the whole thing still feels a bit out of place. The Atlantic 10 moved its tournament to Brooklyn back in 2013 because, more than anything, college athletic conferences have become marketing entities. Let’s bring the show to the big city, baby, no matter the convenience for the “student-athletes,” whose time spent traveling extra miles could be spent, you know, studying.

This rivalry game sparked some electricity. Fans of VCU, which made a surprising run to the Final Four back in 2011, travel well, and as VCU finishes off the Spiders, the place is loud and moderately rocking. Still, the building is only a little more than a third full, according to the official attendance figures. Empty seats dot prime areas behind the basket. Most of the fans are wearing yellow (for VCU) or red (for Richmond), but very few locals seem to be there. The Big Apple hasn’t exactly caught A-10 fever.

Which comes as no shock. Across the country, people seem to be falling out of love with college basketball. Attendance for Division I men’s games has fallen for seven straight seasons, according to the Associated Press. TV ratings for CBS and ESPN are down.

A well-documented drop in scoring, which is near historically low levels, has been blamed for college basketball’s struggles. Ugly play has certainly contributed. Controlling coaches drain the fun and flow out of the game. Players are stronger—and more physical, which tends to hurt, more than help, offense. Technology has made scouting an opponent’s tendencies easier. When you know what your foe is about to do, he’s easier to defend.

These trends have surely contributed to college basketball’s struggles. So have some forces beyond the sport’s control. More than ever, Americans want appointment television, whether it’s a must-see football game or even an international soccer game we can all chirp about on Twitter, or a favorite show on the DVR. We have so many entertainment options: Our investment in a two-hour regular season college basketball game better pay off. Too often, it doesn’t.

In football, the regular season games really matter. In baseball, a fraction of the teams make the post-season, so even the early April games have something at stake. In college basketball, if teams struggle in the regular season, they can earn a March Madness spot by doing well in a conference tournament. Does any one regular season game really matter that much?

True, you can say the same thing about NBA regular season games. But if you like basketball, and can choose between watching the best players in the world in the NBA, or a bunch of college kids throwing up bricks and college coaches calling a million timeouts, and calling for a million fouls at the end of close games… it’s an easy call.

When pitted against football, college hoops is almost helpless. College football is a juggernaut, and college basketball starts its season in mid-November—just as the playoff and bowl chases are coming down the stretch. Into December and through the Super Bowl, the NFL is going strong. Even the NFL off-season overshadows college hoops. This past week, major free agent moves—and in particular, coach Chip Kelly’s casino gambling with the future of the Philadelphia Eagles—stole tons of attention from conference basketball tournaments.

College basketball is in danger of becoming a one-month sport, capturing buzz only during March Madness. The sport’s relevance problem even sparked Pac-12 deputy commissioner Jamie Zaninovich to propose on SI.com that the start of the regular season be pushed back to mid-December, and the Final Four to take place in early May—to help college basketball escape football’s shadow.

Officials can tinker with the game. But some of the optics of this week’s conference tournaments also suggest that, because schools have been chasing the lushest revenue streams, the sport has also just lost its way. On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, for example, Butler, from Indianapolis, and Xavier, from Cincinnati, met in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. Why are schools from two Midwestern cities, connected by I-74 through Indiana, playing in New York? As part of something with “East” in the name?

All the conference reshuffling of the past few years destroyed many regional rivalries. Out of this rubble rose a new entity called American Athletic Conference (AAC). ESPN showed highlights from an exciting AAC quarterfinal game between East Carolina and the University of Central Florida that went into overtime. East Carolina won 81-80. The game was played in Hartford, Conn. On TV, the stands looked empty.

College hoops is still thriving in many places. And as we gear up for Sunday night’s selection show, a drab regular season will be forgotten. We’ll fill out our March Madness brackets, root for Cinderella, see if Kentucky can become the first team to finish undefeated in almost 40 years. It’ll be a blast.

But the question is still worth asking: What are we doing here?

Read next: The Case for Sports Gambling in America

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TIME mma

Why UFC Champion Ronda Rousey Won’t Fight a Man

UFC 184 Open Workouts
Josh Hedges—Zuffa/Getty Images UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey holds an open training session for fans and media at the UFC Gym in Torrance, Calif. on Feb. 24, 2015.

The MMA fighter has an insightful reason for sticking to women

Manny Pacquiao recently said Ronda Rousey was “strong enough to beat Floyd Mayweather in MMA,” but it doesn’t look like the UFC champ will be putting that to the test anytime soon: she says she won’t fight a man.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Rousey said she wouldn’t be interested in a battle of the sexes à la Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. “I don’t think it’s a great idea to have a man hitting a woman on television,” she said. She noted that it would be a particularly bad idea in light of the domestic violence situation in the NFL.

“I’ll never say that I’ll lose, but you could have a girl getting totally beat up on TV by a guy—which is a bad image to put across.”

[The Daily Beast]

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