TIME super bowl 49

Seattle Seahawks Star Unsure if He’ll Skip Super Bowl for Son’s Birth

Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks speaks during a Super Bowl XLIX media event on Jan. 28, 2015 in Chandler, Arizona.
Christian Petersen—Getty Images Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks speaks during a Super Bowl XLIX media event on Jan. 28, 2015 in Chandler, Arizona.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there"

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said he has not thought about the possibility of skipping the Super Bowl for the birth of his son, ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss reports.

Sherman’s girlfriend, Ashley Moss, is pregnant with their first child and expected to give birth within the next week. She is in Arizona and Sherman did not say if he would miss the Super Bowl to be with her during labor if it overlaps with the game.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Sherman said. “We’re not thinking about the possibility.”

Sherman also said they have already picked a name, but aren’t ready to reveal it.

In 2013, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco skipped his son’s birth to play in a Week 2 game against the Cleveland Browns. Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards missed the birth of his son in 1981 to play in a game, but said he would understand if Sherman skipped the Super Bowl, NJ.com’s Randy Miller reports.

In baseball, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy skipped the first two games last season to see his son’s birth, and Mark McGwire didn’t play in the final two games of the 1987 season to see his son’s birth and finished with 49 home runs.

Sherman’s status for the game was temporarily in doubt after he injured his elbow during the NFC title game against the Green Bay Packers, but he completed treatment for the injury earlier this week.

The Seahawks will try to win their second straight Super Bowl on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME apps

These 7 iPhone Apps Will Help You Tackle the Super Bowl Like a Pro

New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks
Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against defensive tackle Vince Wilfork #75, and outside linebacker Jerod Mayo #51 of the New England Patriots at CenturyLink Field on October 14, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.

Are you ready for some downloads!?

Now, more than ever, America is a nation divided — we are a collection of red states (rooting for the New England Patriots) and blue states (rooting against the New England Patriots, because let’s be honest, outside the Pacific Northwest, no one cares about the Seattle Seahawks).

But ours is also a land of iPhone users and everyone else. If you happen to huddle around an Apple smartphone or tablet, these seven apps can help make your game day a big hit, from planning your snack attack to posting your post-game celebratory photos.

NFL Homegating: If you’re going to pull on your game jersey and throw a party, don’t just dress the part — do it like a pro with the help of an official NFL app. Stuffed with football-friendly recipes from Marc Payero, the executive chef at the NFL Huddle Cafe, Homegating can help you craft a menu from finger foods, like honey sesame chicken wings, through fourth quarter sweets, like cinnamon streusel cake.

You can also hand off all your party invites to the free app, signing into it through Facebook (or other online accounts) and then sending all the get-together details to your friends through the service. It will also aggregate an entire season of party pics and videos from all your Sunday gatherings, which could be epic if your team eventually goes on to win the big game.

Football Squares Plus: Football pools help make Super Bowl Sunday fun for everyone, even if your team is on the losing end of the score. This $2.99 iPad app can help you streamline the tedious square-selecting process, not just by making it paperless, but by letting your party people buy their boxes with the free Squares Buyer for Football Squares Plus companion app.

Of course, not everyone has an iPhone, so mirroring the iPad app using Airplay and an Apple TV can give all your attendees a peek at the side action. And the app can also run other kinds of pools, like baby birthdate guessing, so it’s not a one-trick pony (unlike some team’s offensive schemes).

Super Bowl XLIK Digital Game Program: Capture all the excitement of actually going to the game — without having to pay the $5,700 that Stubhub is currently asking fans for — with this digital download of the official game program. With recaps of the current season, interactive content, and video clips, it’s an excellent summary of the road that brought the Patriots and Seahawks to Arizona. And loaded with trivia from championships past, the app is a great way to learn about the history of the big game, or to settle some sideline arguments.

Betting Odds: What are the odds on the biggest game of the year? Well that depends on who you ask and when you ask them. SportsInsights, a wagering analytics company, keeps tabs on more than 40 sports books from around the world and constantly updates the line. This free iPad and iPhone app gives you ongoing access to their expert takes, with lines, spreads, odds, over-unders and even line movement data, sending push alerts for breaking news such as injuries or weather.

This kind of information can help you make perfect picks not just for the Super Bowl, but also for NBA and MLB games, greatly enhancing your enjoyment of the sports . . . because it’s for entertainment purposes only, right?

NFL Mobile: Whether you’re at the game (lucky you) or not, the league’s official mobile app is a must-tap for football fans. On site, it provides maps and guides for all the weekend’s events. But in living rooms across America, this thing is stuffed with everything from live streaming of Media Day player cams to videos of the Super Bowl Commercials (which some people enjoy more than the game). Verizon customers get an added perk of being able to live stream the game itself through the app, which is great if you can’t blitz the couch and catch it on a big screen.

Madden Mobile: With both teams featuring strong defenses, it’s unlikely Sunday’s championship will be a blowout. But if it is — or if you’d rather take a pass on Katy Perry’s halftime fireworks — this free game should already be downloaded and ready to go. Fully-sponsored by the NFL and the player’s association, this football game franchise not only has every team and all the players, it also offers a variety of ways to play, like head-to-head matches or creating your own league.

In addition, leading up to Sunday’s showdown, live events give players the opportunity to earn bonus points, letting you get your team as stacked as possible.

Fancred: Win or lose, you’re going to want to be surrounded by your fellow fans once the final whistle blows, and online that can be difficult. There’s a lot of haters out there — especially on social networks — and they’re quick to rip their opposing fans. Fancred, a mixed media social network focussing on sports, is a place where you can connect with people who also follow your team (and avoid those yahoos rooting for the other guys).

Pulling in photos, news stories, and more from your friends, athletes, official team online presences, and media members, Fancred a great way to connect post-game, in the off-season, or even in the middle of a match with people who wear the same colors that you do.

TIME Soccer

Former Portugal Star Luis Figo to Run for FIFA Presidency

UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Semi Final Draw
Harold Cunningham—Getty Images Luis Figo looks on during the UEFA Champions League semifinal draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on April 11, 2014

Former Portugal star Luis Figo will challenge Sepp Blatter for FIFA’s presidency, he told CNN on Wednesday.

The 42-year-old Figo won the Ballon d’Or as the world’s top player in 2000 and said he wants to repair the image of soccer’s governing body.

“I care about football, so what I’m seeing regarding the image of FIFA — not only now but in the past years — I don’t like it,” he told Alex Thomas in Madrid.

“If you search FIFA on the internet you see the first word that comes out: scandal — not positive words. It’s that we have to change first and try to improve the image of FIFA. Football deserves much better than this.”

Figo’s credentials include stints with Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as two World Cup appearances for Portugal. He has worked for Inter Milan and Portugal in recent years, and he also confirmed that he has the required support of five FIFA member organizations to appear on the ballot.

Figo joins four other candidates who have announced they will challenge Blatter, who is seeking a fifth consecutive term. On Monday, Dutch football association president Michael van Praag announced he will run after securing the five declarations of support.

Three other candidates have declared their intentions to run against Blatter. FIFA’s former international relations director Jerome Champagne announced in September that he will run, and FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein confirmed his intentions to run earlier this month.

Former French midfielder David Ginola announced earlier this month that he will run. He is reportedly being paid $380,000 by a bookmaker to challenge Blatter.

Voting for the presidency will be held on May 29 in Zurich.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Kobe Bryant Expected to Be Out 9 Months After Shoulder Surgery

at the Smoothie King Center on January 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Stacy Revere—Getty Images Kobe Bryant grabs his shoulder during a game at the Smoothie King Center on Jan. 21, 2015 in New Orleans.

Bryant injured himself during the third quarter of the Lakers' game last Wednesday

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery on his injured shoulder and will be out for nine months, the team announced on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Bryant would have surgery on his torn right rotator cuff and that he was likely done for the season. Bryant injured himself during the third quarter of the Lakers’ game last Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Bryant’s surgery.

MANNIX: Kobe will be back next season, but will it be with the Lakers?

In 35 games this season, Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Not including the 2013-14 season, in which he was limited to just six games, Bryant’s 22.3 points per game is his lowest total for a season since 1998-99.

Bryant, 36, signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers in November 2013.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME super bowl 49

Marshawn Lynch Owes Us Nothing

NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks Team Media Availability
Christian Petersen—Getty Images Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch sits at his podium during a Super Bowl XLIX media availability at the Arizona Grand Hotel on January 28, 2015 in Chandler, Arizona.

Like it or not, the Seattle running back's media boycott does him no harm. So why should he speak?

Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch has made a sport of ignoring the press. At Super Bowl media day on Tuesday, he answered questions with a stock response: “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” He uttered that phrase 29 times in less than five minutes. (Reportedly, the NFL threatened Lynch with a $500,000 fine if he didn’t show). During Wednesday’s media session, he switched things up a bit. “You know why I’m here,” Lynch said 14 times.

Lynch’s performance sparked the typical finger-wagging. “Crass Act,” screamed one columnist. Boycott Skittles! (Lynch has a confectionery deal).

Or is Lynch actually an American hero?

Then there was this tweet:

Wow, that’s quite a proclamation on the importance of one’s profession. Especially in 2015.

Athletes no longer need the media; more specifically, the news organizations that used to have a sweet monopoly on delivering what we now call “content.” (Surely the television and distribution arms thats deliver the actual football action to millions of viewers help underwrite Lynch’s paycheck. But Lynch isn’t sticking it that type of “media.” And the complaints aren’t coming from, say, the network that will draw a record number of eyeballs Super Bowl Sunday, no matter how Lynch behaves). If Lynch wants to put his story and views out there, he can do it himself on Twitter. Or nab a senior editorship at Derek Jeter’s thingy. Or on the team website. Or on Entertainment Tonight, with whom Lynch actually chose to speak.

That’s the key: the choice is his. A more charismatic media presence could win Lynch more endorsement deals. But as long as he can plow through defenses on the football field, he’ll still make millions if he never says a word. You can think Lynch’s act is rude and is doing the media, and a segment of fans, a disservice. You can think the NFL’s fines are draconian. But you just can’t argue that third-party inquisitors are the reason Lynch and his fellow NFL players are the most obsessed-over athletes in the country. If Lynch wants to shut it down, no one will stop watching him play.

TIME Football

Brett Favre: ‘I Was Wrong for Retiring Early’

He retired from the Packers in March 2008, then went to the Jets and Vikings

In an interview on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” airing this weekend, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre said he was wrong to retire from the Packers in March 2008.

Favre retired told Bensinger that when he retired in a press conference, he wasn’t fully committed to his decision but made it because the organization needed to know.

“I should have stood my ground and not retired early,” Favre said. “…Mike [McCarthy] wanted to know and that’s – as a head coach of a team or Ted Thompson’s job as a GM, I think, rightfully so, they need to know which direction they’re going to go in. But there was nothing in the rulebook that said I had to give them an answer until the day of the training camp.”

Favre went on to be traded to the New York Jets, where he played for a season, before spending the final two years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings.

Brett Favre, Lloyd from ‘Entourage’ star in Super Bowl ad

Bensinger asked Favre what advice he would give for Denver Broncosquarterback Peyton Manning, who is currently facing retirement rumors.

“I would ask him to ask himself, ‘Okay, do you think you still could play at a high level?’ No one else can answer that. Only he can. And if the answer is yes, what also I would say would be, ‘Do you think there’s any chance in November of next year or the following off-season that you will say, regardless if I don’t play that I know I’m going to say what if? What if? If I went back, we would have won it. You know, what if I’d just went back for one more?’ If you say that, then you need to go back.”

Favre was asked about his relationship with current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who took over the position after Favre left Green Bay. Favre said he never felt threatened by Rodgers, but he knew there would be a day when Rodgers would become the starter.

• ​BISHOP: Dan Marino’s one and only Super Bowl

Favre said he feels he was a good mentor to Rodgers, but believes it’s a misconception that the starting quarterback needs to be one to a backup.

“I think as a starter, my job’s hard enough to win ball games and be a leader,” he said. “You’re not a babysitter. And I’m not, by no means, talking about Aaron … Nowhere does it say that you have to take that guy under your wing and teach him the ropes.”

On Tuesday, Favre told Fox Sports 1 that he feels Rodgers is “by far” the best quarterback in the NFL right now.

Favre is set to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in July, which he said will “mean as much as anything I’ve accomplished in my career.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Marshawn Lynch May Be Fined for Beast Mode Hat

NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks Team Media Availability
Christian Petersen—Getty Images Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks sits at his podium during a Super Bowl XLIX media availability on Jan. 28, 2015 in Chandler, Ariz.

Seahawks player has already been fined $100,000 by the league for refusing to speak to media after games

Even though Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch met his obligation and showed up at Media Day at the Super Bowl, he could still face a fine for wearing unsanctioned gear, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Darren Rovell report.

Lynch’s agent Doug Hendrickson said Wednesday he had not heard from the NFL regarding a fine, ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported.

Lynch spent fewer than five minutes at the podium on Tuesday, repeating “I’m just here so I won’t be fined” almost 30 times.

But Lynch wore a hat with a Beast Mode logo on it, which is selling for $33 on the company’s website and drew the attention of the league.

According to the report, the league does not like when players wear gear or promote a brand that it has not already approved.

There is precedent for the league fining players for running afoul for not wearing approved brands. Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was fined $100,000 for wearing a Vitamin Water hat during Media Day at Super Bowl XLI in 2007.

Lynch has already been fined $100,000 by the league for refusing to speak to the media after games and has been fined twice this season for making an inappropriate gesture after touchdowns.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME public health

Even More Bad News For Young Football Players

helmet football concussion
Getty Images

Former NFL players performed below expectations for their age groups on cognitive assessments

Professional football players who began playing tackle football before age 12 experienced more dramatic cognitive decline as adults than their counterparts who begin playing later in life, found a new study in the journal Neurology. Overall, former NFL players in the study performed below expectations for their age groups on cognitive assessments.

“As a society we need to question whether we should sanction and condone allowing our children at a young age to having their brains be jostled about inside their skulls hundreds of times per season,” says study author Robert A. Stern, a professor at Boston University.

The study tested 42 former NFL players who were experiencing brain function issues on their ability to remember a list of words, solve problems requiring mental flexibility and read and pronounce uncommon words. Athletes who began playing before age 12 performed significantly worse than their late-starting counterparts on all measures.

MORE: The Tragic Risks of American Football

The results challenge a common misconception that young people are likely fine if they aren’t experiencing full-blown concussions or dramatic injuries. Repeated hits sustained by children under 12, even if they’re not traumatic, may also affect the brain’s structure and function, the study suggests.

“For me, the biggest concern in long-term consequences is not concussion, but rather sub-concussive exposure,” says Stern. “We need to continue anything and everything possible to reduce the number of hits.”

Stern describes the findings as “robust” but noted the study’s limitations. For one, focusing solely on NFL players makes it impossible to generalize the findings to all athletes, or even all football players. Still, he says, the notion that tackle football poses the risk of brain damage just makes “logical sense.”

MORE: Football Head Impacts Can Cause Brain Changes Even Without Concussion

The study, released just days before the Super Bowl, adds to a growing body of evidence on the dangers of the sport, particularly for young people. A 2012 Virginia Tech study, for instance, tracked accelerometers in the helmets of youth football players ages 7 and 8 and found that the average player received 107 impacts throughout the course of the season, some at speeds equivalent to a car accident. Parents have responded to the mounting research by questioning whether their kids should play the sport at all. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of children ages 6 to 12 playing tackle football declined by more than 25%.

TIME Super Bowl

The Simple Way to Make Football Safer

Better materials could mean fewer concussions

Football is not a safe sport, and the Super Bowl on Sunday was no exception, with one player out because of a concussion before the New England Patriots prevailed over the Seattle Seahawks. Even though players wear lots of protective gear and helmets to protect their skulls, it doesn’t stop what many are calling a “concussion epidemic” among U.S. sports. But, one scientist is calling upon the community to develop new materials that could make helmets much safer.

A new study published Wednesday shows former NFL players who played tackle football before age 12 were more likely to have memory and thinking problems when they’re adults. But scientist Ainissa Ramirez, author of the book Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, says it doesn’t have to be this way. If helmets were made with better materials, players’ brains could be better protected. “Helmet material is too stiff, it’s not able to absorb the force,” she says.

MORE: How a Digital Football Could Have Saved Us From Deflategate

Ramirez and her co-author Allen St. John decided to ask the question: Why don’t other animals who hit their heads often get concussions? First, they looked at the woodpecker. “What we learned that woodpeckers don’t get concussions because they have small brains which means they can handle bigger forces,” explains Ramirez. “You know this intuitively, if your cellphone drops off your desk or your laptop drops off your desk, you’re not going to be too worried about your cell phone but you’re going to be afraid for your laptop.”

Next they looked at rams, and made a promising discovery. “Rams and big horned sheep hit each other at 40 miles and hour, and seconds later they are coming back for more,” says Ramirez. “They have brains comparable to our own size. They can survive and not get concussions because of their horns.” Rams’ horns are made out of a polymer called keratin. Keratin is in our hair, our fingernails, in tortoise shells, and porcupine quills for example. Ramirez says it’s very stretchy, and for rams, it acts like a crumple zone for a car, but with the ability to recover.

“We need better materials [for helmets] and we can borrow from nature. Maybe we need a material that’s sort of like keratin,” says Ramirez.

It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve borrowed from nature. Velcro, for example, was created in the 1950s when George de Mestral, a Swiss electrical engineer. After returning from a walk, he discovered his socks and his dog’s fur were covered in burs. Intrigued by how they worked, de Mestral looked at the burs under a microscope and discovered a bunch of little hooks, which became the inspiration for velcro.

Ramirez isn’t positive that keratin will for sure work as a helmet material, but she’s calling on the scientific community to try it out, or at least prioritize the search for better materials. Despite the fact that in 2013 the NFL launched a $10 million program to find better shock absorbent materials for helmets and other technologies to prevent concussions, there hasn’t been much of a race for finding the perfect material. One promising effort is from a team at UCLA that’s researching the use of a energy-absorbing microlattice material that could replace the foam in helmets.

You can watch a video of UCLA’s material below:

Ramirez says she thinks there are not many academics taking on helmet materials because the field isn’t “sexy.” “Scientists have egos like everyone else and if you’re sitting at the table working on helmet material, people think, ‘well what’s wrong with that person?’” says Ramirez. “It’s also hard to get an audience with the NFL. There are a lot of barriers.”

Still, the hope is that more priority and funding from the NFL and medical community will spur greater innovation for new helmet materials. We might see new technologies to prevent concussions in the near future, though not in time for the Super Bowl this weekend.

 

TIME Security

Feds Want Super Bowl to Be a ‘No Drone Zone’

"Don't spoil the game, leave your drone at home."

The Federal Aviation Administration ordering this Sunday’s Super Bowl game a “no drone zone” in a YouTube video that urges recreational drone users within flying distance of the Glendale, Arizona stadium to “leave your drone at home.”

The FAA posted the public service announcement on YouTube Wednesday, kicking off a social media campaign under the Twitter handle #NoDroneZone

The FAA highlighted an existing ban on flying drones over professional and college level sporting events that take place in stadiums with more than 30,000 seats.

“Besides possibly landing a violator in jail, flying an unmanned aircraft over a crowded stadium could result in an FAA civil penalty for ‘careless and reckless’ operation of an aircraft,” the FAA warned in a public statement.

The announcement comes only two days after a wayward drone crashed in a secure area outside of the White House, raising questions about the government’s preparedness to prevent drones from trespassing over sensitive areas.

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