<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:45:05 -0500 Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:45:05 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bears Sign David Carter, A.J. Cruz to Contracts]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:05:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-168333039.jpg

The Chicago Bears will report to training camp in Bourbonnais on Wednesday, and they will do so with two new faces on the roster as they signed David Carter and A.J. Cruz to contracts.

Cruz’s deal was for three years, and Carter inked a one-year deal, the team announced Tuesday.
The Bears also announced that they were placing linebacker Jonathan Brown on waivers to make room on the 90-man camp roster.

Carter, a defensive lineman, didn’t play in the NFL last season after spending the previous three years with the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys. He has appeared in 35 career games, recording 30 tackles and a sack.

As for Cruz, the wide receiver has spent the last two seasons in the Arena Football League, including this season with the Arizona Rattlers. Cruz returned kicks and played receiver for the team, scoring a combined 14 touchdowns (six returns, five TD receptions, and three rushing TD’s) and playing a key role in the team’s offense.

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<![CDATA[Chicago Named 2018 WJC Finalist ]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:55:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-460938574.jpg

 The city of Chicago has become used to hosting Stanley Cup Final games over the years, but in 2018, they could be playing host to an even bigger tournament as they’ve been named as a finalist for the World Junior Championships.

The bid, which has been spearheaded by Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, would bring the tournament to the city for the first time in history. The event was last held in the United States in 2011, when Buffalo and Niagara served as host cities.

St. Louis, Buffalo, Tampa, and Pittsburgh were also named finalists by USA Hockey

The World Junior Championships are put on by the International Ice Hockey Federation, and take place in late December. The 2018 tournament will take place from December 27, 2017 through January 5, 2018. According to the Chicago Tribune, the tournament would be hosted at the United Center and at a new practice facility that the Blackhawks plan to construct near the building.

In the 2015 tournament, held in Toronto, Canada took home the gold medal with a 5-4 victory over Russia. Slovakia won the bronze medal, while the United States was eliminated thanks to a quarterfinal loss to the Russians.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[High School Grad Sinks Half-Court Shot for $10K]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:58:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/willie+cole+shot.jpg

A recent high school graduate from Chicago made an epic half-court shot during a youth basketball tournament over the weekend to win a $10,000 prize.

Willie Cole, 18, sunk the shot with ease during Nike’s Chi League All-Star at Whitney Young High School on Sunday.

Despite having a $10,000 prize on the line, Cole appears calm as he steps toward the line and shoots, as seen in video provided by Nike. A swoosh is heard as the ball falls through the net and the crowd erupts with excitement. Players rush the court to congratulate Cole.

The Chi League All-Star event spotlighted some of the best youth, pro-am and high school basketball players in Chicago.

It’s not clear what Cole, a graduate from TF South High School, will do with his winnings.



Photo Credit: Nike, Inc. ]]>
<![CDATA[Offseason Recap: Detroit Lions ]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:55:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-471748498+%281%29.jpg

As the Chicago Bears prepare for the upcoming season, we’re taking a look at what the other teams in the NFC North did this offseason to bolster their chances of grabbing a playoff berth.

Today, our focus shifts to the Motor City as we look at the moves of the Detroit Lions.

Additions:

The Lions had to bring in some new pieces on their defensive line this offseason, acquiring tackle Haloti Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens and Tyrunn Walker via free agency. They also worked hard in the NFL Draft to add a couple of potential impact pieces, with running back Ameer Abdullah potentially stepping in for Reggie Bush (who was cut by the team) and Laken Tomlinson potentially becoming a fixture on the team’s offensive line.

One pick-up to keep an eye on this offseason is Gabe Wright, who was drafted by the Lions out of Auburn in the fourth round. A lot of attention will be paid to Ngata and rightfully so, but Wright could be a future stand-out for the team in the middle of that defensive line, and he has the explosiveness to be the playmaker that the team needs after their offseason losses.

Subtractions:

If there was one team in the NFC North that was hammered by offseason losses, it was the Lions. In addition to cutting Bush loose in a February roster move, the team also lost defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to free agency, with Suh signing a rich contract with the Miami Dolphins and Fairley bolstering an already-stout defensive line with the St. Louis Rams.

The Ngata trade and Wright draft selection are designed to help soften the blow, but the loss of two home run hitters from the middle of their defensive line will not be an easy thing for the Lions to deal with. Suh is an other-worldly talent that will be sorely missed by the Lions, and it will be interesting to see how the team deals with that adjustment.

What it Means:

The Lions were a playoff team last year, but with the losses of Suh and Fairley, it is a fair question to ask as to whether or not they can hit that peak again. The team still has an excellent offense with Stafford at quarterback and Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, but health concerns could dog Megatron this season. Golden Tate should continue to provide some distraction for opposing defenses as well.

Another interesting player to keep an eye on during the early part of the season is tight end Eric Ebron. Brandon Pettigrew never developed into a dynamic pass-catching threat at the position for Detroit, but with a year of development under his belt, Ebron could take a step forward in the coming season.

Games vs. Bears: Week 6 (Oct. 18) and Week 17 (Jan. 3)

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<![CDATA[Tom Brady, NFL in Deflategate Settlement Talks: Source]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:32:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/461977230.jpg

Tom Brady is engaged in settlement talks with the NFL, a source familiar with the talks tells NBC News' Peter Alexander.

Last week, there were reports that the NFL Players' Union had pitched to Commissioner Roger Goodell a possible settlement between Brady and the League.

All of this is playing out as the NFL mulls Brady's four-game suspension, which the quarterback appealed. The NFL determined he was aware of team staffers deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game.

Goodell and Brady last met on June 23 during a suspension appeal hearing.

The Patriots paid a record $1 million fine and were stripped of two draft picks, including a No. 1 selection next year.

The Patriots did not challenge their punishments.



Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hawks Get 21 National TV Games in 2015-16]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:28:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-477496582.jpg

To the victor goes the spoils, and in the case of the Chicago Blackhawks, they certainly have gotten a nice reward for their third Stanley Cup championship in six seasons. The Hawks will appear on NBC and NBCSN 21 times during the 2015-16 season.

That number, which eclipses last year’s total of 20 games on the networks, represents a quarter of the Blackhawks’ total games and one-fifth of all of NBC’s hockey coverage in the coming season.

The Blackhawks will kick off the season on NBCSN with their Stanley Cup banner ceremony against the New York Rangers on Oct. 7, and they will also play games against teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Montreal Canadiens on the network. They will also have their outdoor game against the Minnesota Wild televised on NBC Feb. 21, with the start time tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

Eight of the Blackhawks’ NBCSN games will take place on the network’s Wednesday Night Rivalry series, including a game against archrival Detroit and two contests against their division rival the St. Louis Blues.

In total, 12 of the 21 games will be completely exclusive to NBCSN and NBC, with the rest being televised locally on CSN Chicago.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Add Mayers to Front Office ]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:26:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/176*120/129609209.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have had a huge impact on youth hockey participation in the city, and on Monday they took a step toward pushing those numbers even higher as they hired former center Jamal Mayers as a Community Liaison.

Mayers, who played for the Blackhawks when they won the Stanley Cup championship in 2013, will work with the team to help build more awareness and enthusiasm for the sport of hockey in the community, according to a press release issued by the team.

“We are proud to welcome Jamal back to the organization in this role,” Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said. “We envision him being a strong asset to the Blackhawks as we continue to focus on the growth of youth hockey. Jamal’s involvement in our local neighborhoods will help to further engrain the Blackhawks brand into our community.”

Hockey has steadily grown in popularity in the state of Illinois during the Blackhawks’ recent run of success, with over 30,000 players now active in the sport according to data from USA Hockey.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Championship Movie Available Tuesday]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:23:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/196*120/Coach+Q+Trophy.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are enjoying a short summer off after winning their third Stanley Cup championship in six seasons, but fans looking for a reminder of the team’s incredible run are in luck as the official championship video will be released on Tuesday.

The film will be available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital HD this year, and it will feature all sorts of behind the scenes videos and interviews from the team’s historic run. Whether you want to relive Scott Darling’s first round heroics, or the Hawks’ big comeback over the Anaheim Ducks, or Kimmo Timonen closing out his career by winning the Cup for the first time, you’ll have the ability to do so.

If fans buy the movie on DVD, they’ll get extended looks at the team’s championship parade through Chicago and their rally at Soldier Field, as well as footage from their locker room celebration. The Blu-Ray will also feature a copy of the team’s 2013 Stanley Cup championship movie, as well as special interviews with Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews.

The film will be available for purchase on the NHL’s website, with the Blu-Ray costing $29.95 and the DVD checking in at $24.95.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boston's Olympic Loss Could Spell Win for L.A.]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:21:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TLMD-boston-olympics-2024-render.jpg

Now that the U.S. Olympic Committee has dropped Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games, Los Angeles is emerging as the back-up city.

“Los Angeles could bid with a couple of years notice,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and the author of “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.” “They don’t need seven years notice. They have almost all their venues already intact.”

In a statement Monday the committee's CEO, Scott Blackmun, said the federation was still interested in mounting a bid for the Summer Games. He did not mention a specific city.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that his office had not had recent conversations with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"I continue to believe that Los Angeles is the ideal Olympic city and we have always supported the USOC in their effort to return the Games to the United States," he said in a statement. "I would be happy to engage in discussions with the USOC about how to present the strongest and most fiscally responsible bid on behalf of our city and nation."

The U.S. Olympic Commitee ended Boston's bid after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a Monday morning press conference that he was not ready to sign a host city document that would force taxpayers to cover any cost overruns. The U.S. Olympic Committee had wanted him to sign the contract as soon as possible, he said. But he said he would not without more financial information about the Games and was willing to let the committee choose another city over Boston.

The host city contract, which does not need to be signed until 2017, guarantees that the International Olympic Committee will not be held responsible for any cost overruns.

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s board members had also wanted to know whether Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker supported Boston’s bid. Baker spoke to committee officials on Monday but said beforehand that he would have no answer for them because he was waiting to see a full report from a consultant commissioned to analyze the bid.

The deadline to officially submit bids to the International Olympic Committee is Sept. 15. San Francisco and Washington D.C. also competed to be the U.S. selection. A source told NBC Bay Area that it was now too late for San Francisco to submit a bid that could win. Jack Evans, a D.C. council member, said that the city was still vying to be chosen.

“We in the District would still be very interested," Evans said.

Officials from the U.S. Olympic Committee could not immediately be reached for comment.

Earlier Alan Abrahamson, a sportswriter, said that the U.S. Olympic Committee ought to kill Boston’s bid, Abrahamson, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, called it the most dismal effort he had seen in 16 years of covering the Olympics.

“Los Angeles is America’s Olympic city,” said Abrahamson, who wrote a column on the topic on his website, 3 Wire Sports. “It hosted the Games twice in 1932 and 1984. The Games are a part of the fabric of civic life in Los Angeles.”

Politicians, businesses and the people of California are behind the Olympics, he said. And like Zimbalist, he said Los Angeles could be ready with little notice.

“Los Angeles could host the Games on maybe two years notice and do a fantastic job,” he said.

Before Boston's bid derailed, Zimbalist said that Baker’s position was key because the state not Boston would have to be the Games’ guarantor.

“Nobody ever expected Boston to actually provide a guarantee,” he said. “They don’t have the resources to do it. Their budget is much too small.”

Zimbalist said that he thought Walsh, who had been closely affiliated with the pro-Olympics group, was trying to cover himself should the U.S. Olympic Committee reject Boston.

“I think that he’s trying to step out in front of that train and say, ‘I was first, I never wanted to put the Boston’s taxpayers at risk,’” Zimbalist said.

Boston’s bid had been expected to go to a statewide referendum next year. The organizers had said that if the majority of voters in Massachusetts and Boston did not vote in favor of it they would pull the bid. A group, No Boston Olympics, had formed in opposition to hosting the Games.



Photo Credit: Boston2024.org]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Position Overview: Quarterback]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:26:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cutler+after+vikings+loss.jpg

As the Chicago Bears prepare to meet for their training camp in Bourbonnais, Grizzly Detail is taking the opportunity to examine what the team’s roster looks like before practices get underway.

We’ll get started today by taking a look at a critical position for Adam Gase’s offense as we examine the quarterback position.

The Starter:

It wouldn’t be Bears season without wondering aloud about whether or not Jay Cutler can handle the rigors of being the quarterback for the team, and this season is no different. His performance last year was so poor that he ended up getting benched late in the season in favor of Jimmy Clausen, and even though he did get the start in the final game of the season, the performance did leave his status for this season in question.

Despite that, Cutler goes into camp as the undisputed starter, but with an interesting caveat. This could very well be his final season with the Bears if things don’t go well, with a trade meaning he would only count $3 million against the salary cap in 2016 or a June 1st roster cut costing the Bears approximately $10 million (a savings of $7 million) toward next year’s number.

With that in mind, it really is put-up-or-shut-up time for Cutler with the Bears in 2015, and with a couple of new weapons and a new offensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see if he can come through.

The Back-Up:

David Fales and Shane Carden will be on the Bears’ roster for the start of training camp, but Clausen will almost certainly be the back-up quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season. He made four appearances for the Bears during the 2014 campaign, including a Week 16 start against the Detroit Lions. In those games, Clausen tossed two touchdown passes and completed 54.2 percent of his passes.

He may not be a threat to start Week 1 over Cutler, but Clausen will be an interesting player to watch as the season wears on. Could he get some playing time if the incumbent starter struggles? Will he be forced into action due to injury? Those are both definite possibilities, so fans shouldn’t be surprised if Clausen makes at least a couple of appearances for the Bears in 2015.

What to Watch For:

The Bears are going to rely more on their running game in 2015 than they did under Marc Trestman, but that doesn’t mean that the passing game will take a backseat. Adding Kevin White and Eddie Royal to the mix will give Cutler some really fast targets to utilize in the offense, and having Alshon Jeffery as a vertical threat gives them another element to work with.

Both of those factors should make the passing game more effective this season, but it will be up to Cutler to make Gase’s offense work.

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<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 17:31:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_425804299638_Sports_Soccer.jpg Click to see dramatic game action photos from professional football, hockey, basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dustin Plunkett: Special Olympics Saved My Life]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:07:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/7-26-15-dustin+plunkett.JPG

Many athletes can attest to the difference sports made in their life, but for former Special Olympics World Games athlete Dustin Plunkett, sports saved his life.

Plunkett, 33, was born with an intellectual disability and cleft palate that affected his speech. Growing up, he was ridiculed for his disabilities.

"It was really tough on top of getting bullied every single day of my life. I was called retard, slow, stupid, dumb," Plunkett told NBC4 on Friday.

But Plunkett now is a far cry from the boy who was bullied by his peers. He's a former athlete at the Special Olympics World Games, member of the Special Olympics of Southern California's board of directors and now an ESPN analyst for the Special Olympics.

As a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics, Plunkett has traveled the world as a public speaker and has stood by Yao Ming at the World Games as well as President Barack Obama at the White House.

"I’m around people that are just like me, I'm around people that were bullied and ridiculed every day of their life growing up," Plunkett told NBC4 in December. "This is our safe place."

Plunkett credits the Special Olympics for not only changing his life, but saving it. When he was going through a pregame medical screening in 2004, a dentist noticed the poor condition of his teeth, and he was later diagnosed with gum cancer.

"If it had gone one more month long, I wouldn't be alive today," Plunkett said last year.

Plunkett has been involved with the Special Olympics since 1996 and has coached athletes in basic sports skills and as the assistant basketball coach for Southern California's Lakewood Special Olympics program, according to the organization.

"I was told I was going to be worth nothing in my life," Plunkett said. "And now look at me."



Photo Credit: Jorge Diaz]]>
<![CDATA[N.J. Teen Wins 1st Gold at Special Olympics]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:04:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/150726-noah-dellas-special-olympics.jpg

A 17-year-old from South New Jersey hit the water first at Alamitos Beach in Long Beach and never looked back, winning the triathlon that kicked off the 2015 Special Olympics World Games on Sunday.

Noah Dellas took just under an hour and 13 minutes (1:12:58) to complete the half-mile swim, 20 kilometer bike, and 5k run.

Asked in the finishing chute how he felt, Dellas replied simply, "OK." It was his second thrill of the weekend, after seeing his swimming inspiration, Olympic legend Michael Phelps, at Saturday night's opening ceremonies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Coach Lisa Rumer, who trained all four Team USA members in the international field of 22, recalled Dellas’ shyness during the first few months after he began training.

"As he understand that we cared and wanted him to succeed, and he started to create goals because he knew he could do it, that's when he branched out and really took hold of his passion," Rumer said.

Among the women, New Jersey teammates Amy Noctor, 27, and Courtney Dreyfus, 18, finished second and third, respectively.

The Special Olympics were created for athletes with intellectual disabilities, such as Asperger's and Downs syndrome. There is a broad spectrum among the 6,500 athletes who have come from 165 nations.  The World Games are being held in greater Los Angeles for the first time in four decades.

In a tent cooling off after their race, Noctor and Dreyfus both spoke of how the Special Olympics movement has helped them overcome challenges they face and broadened their daily lives.

"You can just be you. You don't have to hide anything and you can push beyond your boundaries," said Dreyfus.

Amy's parents dedcribed the progress they've seen in her.

"Amy does not make a lot of friends on her own, but when she comes here she meets a lot of people and talks to them," said Mathew Noctor, Amy's father.

"She's become more independent, more sure of herself," said Heidi Noctor, Amy's mother.

"It's given me a life. It's the best part of my life right now," said Amy.

"Amen," added her father.

The first ever World Games triathlon featured another innovation: allowing non-Special Olympic athletes on the course as a "unified" event. Pro Triathlete Heather Jackson said it proved mutually inspirational for both groups of athletes. Jackson also marveled at the enthusiasm of the fans in the finishing chute - "more than for some pro triathlons," she said.

Among team sports, beach volleyball was also unified, enabling some non-Special Olympic athletes to play on the same team. The initial reaction of spectators was positive.

"I just think it's a great idea," said volunteer Tracy Lambert.

Events continue across the Southland through next weekend.



Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Surfer Catches A Wave On Fire]]> Sat, 25 Jul 2015 20:56:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Surfer_Catches_A_Wave_On_Fire_1200x675_491314243896.jpg Jamie O'Brien got the idea to surf while on fire from Instagram.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Surfer Rides Wave on Fire]]> Sat, 25 Jul 2015 20:57:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Surfer+Of+Fire.jpg

Jamie O’Brien is a professional surfer who’s known for catching big waves … and his even bigger personality. O’Brien is the star of the Red Bull TV Web Series, "Who is JOB 5.0." He wanted to make this season really stand out, so while in Tahiti for an event he finally got to do something he’s been toying with for more than a year.

O’Brien solicited ideas for the show from fans on his Instagram account. One of them really caught his eye.

“They said, ‘It would be cool if you lit yourself on fire,’ and I thought, might as well,” O’Brien said. “So I went in to Red Bull and I said, Hey I want to light myself on fire and go in to a barrel at Teahupo’o, and they looked at me like … Are you for real?”

Oh, he was for real, alright. O’Brien put on 15 pounds-worth of clothing, from thermal suits to sweatshirts and a wetsuit and, with the help of nearly two-dozen people, lit himself on fire and took off through a massive barrel.

As you can see in the video, some of the flames crept up to the side of his face, giving him a bit of a burn and scorching part of his eyebrow (the fire was eventually extinguished by the spray of the waves). But the experience from Jamie’s perspective was otherworldly.

“(When) you’re on fire in the barrel, the whole wave lights up fluorescent orange,” said O’Brien, after pulling off the ride of a lifetime. “It’s a really crazy feeling that you can’t even explain.”

I’m not sure what Jamie could possibly do to top this. But, I’m sure a few people who follow him on Instagram will be able to come up with something.



Photo Credit: Courtesy Red Bull]]>
<![CDATA[Special Olympics Kicks Off]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:38:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-481983578.jpg

Seven thousand athletes representing 177 countries gathered to kick off the 2015 Special Olympics World Games at the Los Angeles Coliseum Saturday night, marking the largest event hosted by the city since the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.

First Lady Michelle Obama, along with a slew of other celebrities, attended Saturday's opening ceremony, which included performances by Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne, Cody Simpson and Nicole Scherzinger.

"It's all about doing the best that you can do, the best that you're capable of and sharing in the joy," said Bob Gladwell of the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club. "And you spend time with the athletes here and you know you get so much more than they get."

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Athletes will compete in 25 sporting events during the games, concluding on Aug. 2. More than 500,000 spectators are expected to attend the free events.

Dylan Rae of Australia is a Special Olympics bowler who isn't competing, but traveled to LA to cheer on his fellow Australians.

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"It just gives Dylan an opportunity to socialize with his peers and also to be a bit independent and enjoy sports just like everybody else can," Julie Rae, Dylan's mother, said.

Coaches and competitors have been attending welcome parties around Southern California since last week. The torch, also known as the Flame of Hope, has been making its way through California and will make its final stop in LA at the opening ceremony.

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NBC4 reporter Kate Larsen contributed to this story.


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<![CDATA[No Family Speech at Seau Induction]]> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:04:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Seau-as-Charger-72499459.jpg

Junior Seau's family will not be invited to speak when the linebacker is inducted into the NFL's Professional Football Hall of Fame in August, according to several published reports.

Seau, considered by many to be the greatest linebacker in NFL history, will enter the HOF August 8 with Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Bill Polian, Will Shields, Mick Tingelhoff and Ron Wolf.

Unlike the others, Seau will be honored with only a video presentation, according to a report published Friday in the New York Times.

On May 2, 2012, Seau was found dead of a self-inflicted shotgun wound in his Oceanside home right along the shore. His death occurred less than three years after his retirement from football.

Seau's family filed a wrongful death suit claiming his death was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits during football.

Then, his relatives opted out of a settlement in a federal class-action lawsuit and are still fighting with the NFL in court over what they say was a decades-long deception about concussions and brain injuries.

His former wife, Gina, and his four children want more information to emerge about the debilitating effects of head injuries, according to their lawyer, Steven M. Strauss, a partner with the Cooley law firm in San Diego.

Before his death, Seau told family members that if he ever made it into the HOF, he wanted his daughter Sydney to to introduce him, the NY Times reports.

“I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him,” she told the paper.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Curry Wishes 'Happy Birthday' to Boy Fighting Cancer]]> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:54:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/202*120/stephmain1.png

Hundreds of birthday cards arrived last weekend for a nine-year-old Texas boy fighting a rare type of cancer, according to KWTX. The wishes kept pouring in from friends, family and well-wishers all weekend

Then on Wednesday, Taliq got a message from his favorite NBA player.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry wished Taliq a happy birthday and speedy recovery via a video message on Twitter.

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Taliq's mother Tanisha wanted to make his tenth birthday a special one because she believes little words of encouragement will help him battle his cancer, KWTX reported. So she asked everyone she knew — and strangers — to send him birthday cards.

Doctors diagnosed Taliq with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma on Feb. 18. DIPG is a type of brain tumor found in the pons, part of the brainstem on the lower back of the brain, KWTX reported. Taliq gained 55 pounds since his diagnosis.

Taliq's mother said that the birthday cards and gifts — some which arrived all the way from Australia — immediately made him feel better. Taliq didn't complain about a headache for the first time in months. "Tears just came to my eyes because as a mother, I have been waiting four months to wait to hear him say those words," she told KWTX.

Taliq's mother Tanisha has set up a Go Fund Me site for her son.



Photo Credit: Tanisha Davis via Go Fund Me/Stepen Curry
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<![CDATA[U.S. Requests Extradition of Former FIFA VP]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:24:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_473903051335.jpg

The U.S. formally requested the extradition Wednesday of Trinidad and Tobago lawmaker Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president at the center of the world soccer corruption scandal, the country's attorney general said. 

"The process is now for me to examine the documentation and consider the evidence and decide whether to issue the authority to proceed," Attorney General Garvin Nicholas said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The U.S. said it would seek Warner's extradition on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. 

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<![CDATA[Patrick Kane Distracted by Taylor Swift at Hawks Game]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 19:47:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-475639274.jpg

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane has developed a reputation for scoring big goals and winning championships during his time in Chicago, but before all of that success, he was a wet-behind-the-ears teenager with a crush on a big-time celebrity.

That celebrity was singer Taylor Swift, and Kane got in trouble during his rookie season as he was distracted by the starlet during a Blackhawks game. We’ll let Liz McNeill from Second City Hockey take over the story, which was told by former Hawks head coach Denis Savard at the Blackhawks Convention this weekend:

“Kane lost his guy on the backcheck, leading to a goal against. Savard yelled at him that he must have been distracted, looking at two pretty blonde girls who were sitting behind the bench. After the game, Kane was late getting to the team bus because he was talking to the same girls and got yelled at again. The next day Kane went to Savard’s office to give his defense: “You know who those two girls were? One of them was Taylor Swift.” Savard still didn’t know who Taylor Swift was and had to ask his wife.”

Kane has a penchant for bringing the Stanley Cup to Jimmy Buffett concerts, but he likely won’t be meeting Ms. Swift any time soon. His day with the trophy is scheduled for August 8 in Buffalo, but Swift will be in Seattle to perform a concert on her 1989 World Tour.

h/t to Greg Wyshynski from Puck Daddy (the hockey-inspired Swift lyrics at the end are worth a look) 

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<![CDATA[Simmons Lands HBO Talk Show Deal]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:34:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/simmons5.jpg

The man formerly known as "The Boston Sports Guy" is set to join HBO, according to the New York Times.

Simmons will start working for HBO in October and will host a talk show that will begin airing next year. He's also expected to do podcasts for the cable network.

ESPN announced in May that it would not be renewing Simmons' contract. At ESPN, Simmons helped create the "30 for 30" sports documentary series and launched the sports and culture website Grantland.

He got his start writing for the Boston Herald and for Digital City Boston in the 1990s, where he was known as "The Boston Sports Guy." He is also a former writer for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Young Hawks Fan Surprises Team at Convention ]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 17:05:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/209*120/Kane.png

Back in January, the Chicago Blackhawks launched a campaign called “What’s Your Goal,” which was dedicated to the idea of making the dreams of Hawks fans come true.

The first video in that series featured a Blackhawks fan named Christina, whose goal was to attend a game at the United Center. That may seem simple enough to rectify, but a significant obstacle stood in her way: Christina is blind.

Undeterred, Christina’s family made progress toward bringing her to a game, but the Blackhawks got involved and made her dream come true as they not only gave her tickets to a game, but also arranged for her to meet Patrick Sharp.

At the Blackhawks Convention over the weekend, a panel convened to discuss the “What’s Your Goal” series, and although Sharp is no longer with the organization, the young fan that he met was, and it made for a tearful and awesome scene:

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<![CDATA['World's Largest' Corn Maze Features Epic Hawks Design]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:54:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hawks+maze.jpg

The “world’s largest” corn maze now has a design fit for champions.

Richardson Adventure Farm, a Spring Grove-based farm that claims to be home to the world's largest corn maze, made a last-minute switch on this year’s design, changing it from an Alice in Wonderland tribute to one that honors the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions.

George Richardson said the corn maze is typically cut into the field before the hockey season is even over, but heavy rainfall this year delayed the process.

“When they finally won the Stanley Cup we called our maze designer, ‘I know you’re going to kill me, but could we switch our whole entire design,’” Richardson said.

The farm was given two days to submit their new design and sure enough, it worked. The farm owners received permission from the Blackhawks to use their logo and within a week, the design was cut into the field.

The maze covers 28 acres and features the Blackhawks logo, two hockey players, the Chicago skyline and “Champions 2015.” In total, there are more than 9 miles of trails within the maze, Richardson said.

“We knew the Blackhawks design would be really cool,” Richardson said. “We’re very excited.”

The maze will be open from Aug. 29 through Nov. 1.
 



Photo Credit: Richardson Adventure Farm]]>
<![CDATA[Cutler Draws Negative Reaction in New Quarterback Ranking ]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:54:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/173*120/460514190.jpg

If there is one player on the Chicago Bears that generates controversy even when he’s not on the field, it’s quarterback Jay Cutler.

Whether it’s stories involving his wife not feeling like Chicago is home or the fact that his signature apparently makes footballs being auctioned for charity worthless, Cutler is always in the news for one reason or another, even when the team isn’t playing.

On Tuesday, Cutler’s reputation was examined again by the good folks at ESPN, who came out with their annual ranking of the NFL’s quarterbacks. Breaking the players into four different tiers, the 35 league insiders that voted ranked quarterbacks based on their ability on the field, as well as their ability to win games without top-tier talent surrounding them.

In the voting, Cutler checked in at the number 20 spot, in a tie with Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders. He ended up ranking in Tier 3 on the list, which features “quarterbacks who are good enough to start but need lots of support, making it tougher to contend at the highest level.”

What’s interesting about the ranking isn’t just the fact that he’s ranked in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks, but on just how toxic his reputation is in NFL circles.

“I’ve never seen a guy get paid that much money and see that many people fired around him,” an NFL head coach told ESPN. “It’s incredible. It’s never his fault. You could give him a 2, but I’d want him as a backup.”

With the start of training camp just over a week away, it’s hardly heartening to hear that kind of news, but it does illustrate just how low Cutler’s reputation is in NFL circles.

Cutler is the third-ranked NFC North quarterback, with Matthew Stafford of the Lions checking in at number 13 and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers tied for first in the ranking with Tom Brady.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Federal Authorities End Prosecution of Barry Bonds]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 20:43:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/457272930_8.jpg

The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday formally dropped its criminal prosecution of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball's career home run leader.

The decade-long investigation and prosecution of Bonds for obstruction of justice ended quietly with the DOJ's one-paragraph court filing announcing it would not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a lower court's reversal of his felony conviction.

A jury convicted Bonds in 2011 of obstruction of justice for giving a meandering answer to a federal grand jury when asked about injections. A federal appeals court overturned that conviction in April.

The DOJ could have asked the high court to take the case. Instead, the DOJ said the reversal of Bonds' conviction would stand.

Bonds attorney Dennis Riordan decline comment early Tuesday, saying he needed to speak with his client before discussing the case publicly.

Major League Baseball had no immediate comment on the Justice Department decision.

The U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco didn't respond immediately to a phone call seeking comment. The San Francisco office obtained an indictment of Bonds in 2007, charging him with lying to a federal grand jury about performance-enhancing drug use.

A jury convicted him of obstructing justice because of the answer he gave when he was asked if his personal trainer Greg Anderson ever injected him with steroids.

"That's what keeps our friendship,'' Bonds replied. "I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see.''

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April said that answer didn't amount to obstruction. The court said the answer wasn't "material'' to the sprawling federal investigation into sports doping centered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A federal judge sentenced Bonds to 30 days of home confinement, two years of probation, 250 hours of community service in youth-related activities and a $4,000 fine after the 2011 trial and conviction. Bonds served the home confinement before his conviction was overturned.

Bonds ended his career after the 2007 season with 762 career home runs, surpassing Hank Aaron's long-standing record of 755.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Who Should Blackhawks Protect in NHL Expansion Draft? ]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:16:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/181*120/GettyImages-459635672.jpg

In an era where professional sports leagues are looking for new ways to generate revenue for their coffers, the NHL is setting its sights on one of the richest targets available: adding expansion teams.

Over the past few weeks, the league has been accepting bids from interested ownership groups as they explore the possibility of adding two more teams into the fold. On Monday afternoon, it was revealed that Quebec City-based company Quebecor is angling to bring a team to the Canadian city to replace the departed Nordiques, who became the Colorado Avalanche in 1994. The city of Las Vegas has also been looking to get a team, selling 14,000 season tickets to fans and even going so far as to pick the name “Black Knights” for a potential franchise.

With the very real possibility that the league is going to expand by two teams as soon as the 2017-18 season (the earliest date that the league is willing to go through with those plans), we decided it would be an interesting exercise to see how the move would affect the Chicago Blackhawks. After all, the league would stock the new rosters with talent from the existing 30 teams through an expansion draft, and that would mean that the Blackhawks would have some interesting decisions to make in terms of which players to protect from the process.

Under the rules that were used in the last NHL expansion draft in 2000 (the year the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the league), a team can choose one of two combinations of players to protect: one goaltender, five defenseman, and nine forwards, or two goaltenders, three defensemen, and seven forwards.

If the same rules were used today, here are the players we believe the Blackhawks would make an effort to retain.

Forwards:

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Marko Dano, Viktor Tikhonov, Corey Tropp

As you can tell, we’re going with the route of only protecting one goaltender, meaning that the Hawks can retain more forwards and defensemen. Hossa is potentially an intriguing candidate to leave unprotected, with his high salary cap hit and the fact he’s still got another six seasons left on his contract, but the notion of letting him go elsewhere and then potentially retire in a few years would be bad news as the Blackhawks would have to absorb salary cap recapture penalties.

Among the notable players left unprotected by the Hawks are Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg, with Ryan Garbutt, Andrew Desjardins, and Jeremy Morin also left out of the fold.

Defensemen:

Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor Daley, Trevor van Riemsdyk

According to expansion draft rules, a team has to leave at least one defenseman unprotected that has played in either 40 NHL games in the previous season or 70 in the previous two combined, and David Rundblad barely fits that bill. Over the past two years, he has played in 71 games for the Blackhawks and Coyotes, and as such the team would likely choose to leave him unprotected over putting another veteran on the chopping block.

Goaltender:

Corey Crawford

Leaving Scott Darling unprotected wasn’t that tough of a decision, as it meant the Blackhawks were able to hold onto players like Daley, van Riemsdyk, and Dano. Saving two extra forwards and two extra defensemen at the expense of a low-cost back-up goaltender was a no-brainer to us.

Players Most Likely to be Drafted:

Without going through the other 29 rosters to pick players that would be sent away, it’s impossible to determine which Blackhawks would fit the needs of the new teams, but from which players are available, it would seem that guys like Bickell, Rundblad, and Darling would all get a decent amount of interest. Versteeg could as well based on his cheap cap hit and versatility.

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<![CDATA[Hawks Ask Fans to Help Decide Fate of Stanley Cup Ice]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 19:03:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-477284300.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have asked for help from fans in deciding the fate of the United Center ice they won the 2015 Stanley Cup on.

The team announced during the Blackhawks Convention over the weekend that the ice from Game 6 – the ice they won their first championship title in more than 75 years on – will be repurposed, according to Crain's. But they’ve asked for fans to help decide how. 

Fans can share their ideas for what the team should do with the ice by using the hashtag #MyIceGoal, the team said. 

The team tweeted earlier that the convention was "just a tease," but the campaign will be open to everyone via social media. 

The team sold $99 vials of melted ice taken from the United Center after winning the 2013 Stanley Cup championship.

While the #MyIceGoal campaign hasn’t been promoted by the team since the convention, we’ve gathered a few of the many suggestions posted to social media so far.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Pippen, Shaq in Heated Bulls-Lakers Instagram Battle ]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 07:49:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pippen+shaq.jpg

Oh no he didn’t! Scottie Pippen and Shaquille O’Neal are in a bit of an Instagram war and things are getting heated.

Shaq started the war of words (and Photoshop) when he posted that he thought an all-time Lakers team would beat an all-time Bulls team “by fifty.”

His post was accompanied by a photo of Bulls players Derrick Rose, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant compared with Shaq’s pick of the best Lakers players: Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, Shaq and Kareem Adbul.

His words didn’t go unnoticed as the Bulls legend quickly chimed in.

“Sorry @shaq but I don’t get caught up in hypotheticals. All I know is we won 6 titles, twice the amount you claimed while in LA…” Pippen wrote in an Instagram post.

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That’s when things really started to heat up. Shaq later shared two posts, one of which alleged that Jordan was the only reason the Bulls’ titles were won, calling Pippen, "Robin," and Jordan, "Batman," with the hashtag #youwereok.

He then shared an image of Pippen’s face on a T-Mobile Sidekick saying “Anybody need a T MOBILE SIDEKICK. I GOTTa PRETTY GOOD ONE #BESTSIDEKICKEVER.”

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Just when you thought Shaq may have won the battle, though, Pippen shot back with a slam dunk.

"Easy big fella... if only you were as good at free throws as you are talking smack! @shaq" he wrote in one post.

“Speaking of being a sidekick… if I recall correctly you know a thing or two about that as well. @shaq” he said in a second post.

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Shaq has since fired off a series of posts calling Pippen a “bum,” renaming him “Scottina Pippen” and posting a video of himself scoring.

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Pippen has not yet responded. Who do you think will win the battle?
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Patrick Sharp Dons Dallas Stars Jersey for First Time]]> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 21:14:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000013376686_1200x675_488283715833.jpg It's not a sight most Blackhawks fans wanted to see, but Monday Patrick Sharp donned his Dallas Stars jersey for the first time.]]> <![CDATA[FIFA Chief Showered With Cash in Stunt]]> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:35:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/072015-sepp-blatter-fifa-cash-stunt.jpg

Sepp Blatter, the outgoing president of scandal-scarred FIFA, settled in for a press conference on Monday and got a surprise instead — a shower of cash tossed by a prankster, NBC News reported.

A British comedian walked up to Blatter at the appearance in Zurich and told him the cash was to support a North Korean bid for the World Cup in 2026. He tossed the wad of bills after an alarmed Blatter demanded: "Where is my security?"

Blatter announced earlier this year that he would relinquish his post after FIFA executives were indicted by American prosecutors on corruption charges. FIFA will elect a new president in February.



Photo Credit: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kids Ask Hawks Players Hilarious Questions]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 09:56:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/189*120/hawks+fan3.jpg Chicago-area kids asked Blackhawks players a series of questions during a seminar at the Blackhawks convention over the weekend. NBC Chicago's Peggy Kusinski moderated the event.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>