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Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams is the franchise’s latest dream trader



I used to be born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and was a Chicago Bears fan until I used to be 18. Everything modified after I was 19. Not only did I resign the Bears, I renounced the fandom altogether and decided to grow to be a hired sports journalist with no emotional ties.

More on this later.

However, my younger brother Girard kept his faith and stays a loyal fan of Chicago sports teams, especially the Chicago Bears. He is a die-hard fan, and like many Bears fans, my brother has been over the moon since April 25, when the Bears signed quarterback Caleb Williams, a player some call the messiah. Fans are highly hopeful that 22-year-old Williams will lead the team from frustration to stardom.

“I feel like this is a new time for the Bears,” my brother told me on Sunday morning from his home in Germany, where he has lived and worked since 1989 as an opera singer. “I think there are a lot of positive things happening for the Bears.”

Girard and I actually have been talking about the Bears for a really very long time. Every Monday during the season, my brother laments lost leads, late-game losses, and surprising victories. For the past two seasons, talk has focused on Justin Fields, the recently departed quarterback who was drafted by the previous Bears regime in 2021. In March, after months of speculation, the Bears traded Fields to Pittsburgh, where he’ll compete with Russell Wilson for the starting title work.

My brother believes Fields is in a significantly better situation in Pittsburgh, and Williams – due to changes in the Bears front office and training staff – is in a significantly better situation in Chicago than Fields in 2021.

He emphasized that in 2017 the so-called brain trust Bears passed on quarterback Patrick Mahomes to draft Mitchell Trubisky.

“If Mahomes had come to Chicago back then instead of Trubisky, I don’t think we would have ever heard of Mahomes,” he said.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields will play in the first half of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 7 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

My brother, ever the optimist, believed in Fields. I used to be an agnostic, but I did throw some shade at the young quarterback because I enjoyed watching a Bears fan’s frustration after yet one more quarterback failure. “Justin Fields is playing on a much better team in Pittsburgh now than when he came to Chicago, and Caleb Williams will be in a much better situation than Fields,” he said.

It is true that the Bears have not had a terrific quarterback since Sid Luckman, who played for the Bears from 1939-1950 and led the team to 4 NFL titles from 1940-1946. Since then, there was a parade of quarterbacks, some higher than others, although only two have led the Bears to the Super Bowl.

In 1985, the Bears won the championship under Jim McMahon, who wasn’t stiff, but handed it over to Walter Payton, one in every of the best running backs in NFL history. Those 1985 Bears also had what some say was the best defense in NFL history.

“Jay Cutler was the last talented Bears quarterback,” Girard said. Cutler played for the Bears from 2009-2016. He leads the franchise in passing yards, passing yards, touchdowns, attempts and completions, but has no championships. Not close.

“He had a really good set of receivers,” Girard jogged my memory. “He’s the last successful Bear quarterback.”

Rex Grossman was the starting quarterback when the Bears reached the Super Bowl in the 2006 season and lost to the Indianapolis Colts. The game was notable since it was the first time two Black coaches – Tony Dungy of the Colts and Lovie Smith of the Bears – faced one another in the Super Bowl.

Grossman barely talks about the Bears’ great quarterbacks.

“McMahon had charisma, swagger and several division titles,” my brother said. – He may not have been a terrific quarterback, but he did his job.

My brother believes McMahon was the last Bears quarterback “to have the mystique and aura of winning.”

That is, until Williams.

Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams answers an issue during his introductory news conference at Halas Hall on April 26 in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Williams involves the party with credentials and glitter. He is a Heisman Trophy winner and an NIL-era quarterback who decides the fate of the team himself. At least it does for now. Williams spoke to the media at the NFL game but didn’t practice, work out or take part in the dog-and-pony show for the 32 NFL teams.

“I’m not being romantic and I’m not picking the Bears for the Super Bowl, but I just think it’s a good situation,” Girard said.

Beyond Williams, there is a deeper story about fandom and attachment. There is a spirit of hope that enables fans like my brother to make an emotional investment of their teams.

I withdrew from investing, but there was a time after I cared about it.

I used to be 13 years old on December 29, 1963, when the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants to win the NFL championship. This was a much-needed healing tonic for the Rhoden family. My mother died of breast cancer in August 1963. Her death ripped an enormous hole in our family and left my father a 44-year-old widower with a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son (me) and my 7-year-old little brother.

The Bears’ 1963 championship was a welcome distraction.

Girard doesn’t remember much about the Bears’ championship – he celebrated his eighth birthday five days earlier. He would must wait, wait and wait. And wait until he did, never losing faith.

The Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985. Girard lived in San Francisco, doing what singers do, working on his craft and waiting for a break. By 1985, I had long since fallen off the fan train.

I bounced back for good in the tumultuous yr of 1968. The assassination of activist Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights protest, the Black Power movement, and the Vietnam War made sports fandom appear to be an opiate, a distraction. Deeper evaluation by journalists revealed that many skilled and college sports teams were guilty of racism. In 1968, Gale Sayers, the Bears’ great young running back, blew out his knee. Athletes were pieces of meat, treated like cattle by team owners who had an iron fist over the players. This is a degree that one in every of my favorite players, center fielder Curt Flood, made when he accepted MLB’s reserve clause.

Who had time to grow to be a fan?

Now I root for issues and individuals. I care about Bears general manager Ryan Poles succeeding because I’m old-fashioned enough to imagine that when one black man does well, the community advantages. Poles is a former player whose job is to make the Bears competitive.

As fans, Girard and Chicago Bears Nation encourage Poles because they need the Bears to be relevant and competitive. “My hope is not just for Caleb Williams, but also for the general manager and what he has been able to accomplish,” Girard said.

Caleb Williams is shown on screen during a Soldier Field viewing party as the Chicago Bears select the quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the April 25 NFL draft.

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

As a hired sports author, I used to be only excited by the stories I wrote, the individuals who read them, the athletes and the issues I wrote about – no loyalty to the team. The downside to being a hired sports author is that sometimes I do not appreciate how much the people we call fans care. My brother is very concerned about this. “When I was a kid, when the Bears lost, I just had a bad day,” he said. “It doesn’t happen anymore, but I just love rooting for them and I enjoy the struggles they went through – constantly losing to Green Bay.”

In 1989, he moved permanently to Germany, starting his opera profession. His devotion to the Bears has never waned and has only grown stronger.

“Being a Chicago Bears fan has strengthened my connection to the place I grew up in,” he said. “It’s something you can keep alive at least once a week during football season.”

After a Super Bowl appearance in 2007, the Bears made the playoffs once in 11 years. Bears fans like my brother have had one disappointment after one other with a string of quarterbacks, some good, others higher than adequate: Kyle Orton, Cutler. The Bears traded for Trubisky in 2017 and chosen Fields in 2021.

Bears fans know this story all too well. I mention it in moments of wonder, only to ask why it is going to be different this time.

“We learned a number of things from Justin Fields. We learned that you could’t herald a brand new man and expect him to be the messiah,” Girard said. “You have to have a really solid foundation. We don’t expect him to do it alone.”

Fans of the movement in hope. They work this manner: when it rains, they see the sun, when it is sunny, they see the monsoon.

Now the Bears are telling fans they finally have their guy. Williams is the franchise’s newest dream salesperson. He can be the one to steer frustrated Bears fans to the promised land. Williams is the best potential point guard they’ve drafted in franchise history.

I remind my brother that the Bears have finished in the bottom half of the NFL in scoring in 25 of the last 31 seasons. Girard jogs my memory that last season, the Poles received winger DJ Moore from the Carolina Panthers, who in March exchanged for Pro Bowl winger Keenan Allen. On April 25, the Bears took over Washington winger Rome Odunze with the ninth pick in the draft.

The only thing I can say to my brother is what I at all times say: “Keep the faith.”

He at all times does it.

William C. Rhoden, former award-winning sports columnist for The New York Times and writer of Forty Million Dollar Slaves, is Andscape’s lead author.

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Charles Barkley plans to hang up the mic after the next NBA season




Charles Barkley, TNT, Inside the NBA

With all the discuss TNT losing the NBA broadcast rights, people have been speculating what is going to occur to the “Inside the NBA” team of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. Well, Barkley has publicly stated that no matter whether TNT retains the rights or it goes to one other network, he is looking it quits after this season.

According to Barkley got here in went on the air following the final NBA Championship Game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics on June 14 and announced to his co-hosts and the world that the upcoming season could be his last as a broadcaster.

After telling the guys that he had been talking to other networks and that the NBA partnership was nearing its end, no matter the consequence, he hung up the mic after his twenty fifth 12 months as a commentator.

This puts every thing on hold, and the NBA Hall of Famer decides to put it on hold. It is speculated that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will announce the results of various conversations and negotiations between several platforms regarding who will receive what packages the NBA offers.

announced that the league is negotiating further agreements regarding media rights under the contract with TNT ending after the 2024-25 season. Platforms which can be in talks with the NBA include Disney/ABC/ESPN, Amazon, NBC and Warner Bros. Discovery (parent company of TNT).

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‘Lock That Girl Up!’: Fans Demand Justice for Former Illini Star Terrence Shannon Jr. after an alleged rape victim joked “I have…” using a money emoji




Terrence Shannon Jr. #0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini found not guilty.

On June 13, after a week-long trial, former University of Illinois college basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. was acquitted on charges of rape and sexual battery. Now fans want Shannon’s accuser to face consequences.

Shannon, 23, was charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in September on the Martini Room, a bar near the University of Kansas campus.

Shannon attended the Kansas-Illinois football game on September 8. An unidentified woman told police that within the early morning hours of September 9, a man at a bar pulled her towards him and groped her. She accused the suspect of grabbing her buttocks and reaching under her skirt and penetrating her together with his fingers shortly after they met.

A couple of months later, Shannon learned that he would face criminal charges. He was arrested in December after a woman identified him in a photo of the Illinois basketball team that was available online. Shannon was charged with “unlawfully, criminally and knowingly (engaging) in sexual intercourse with a person … who did not consent to sexual intercourse under circumstances where he was overcome by force or fear, which constitutes a first-degree personal offense.”

Terrence Shannon Jr.  No. 0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini found not guilty.
Terrence Shannon Jr. of the Illinois Fighting Illini reacts after the Connecticut Huskies were defeated within the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at TD Garden on March 30, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

“I definitely felt uncomfortable (…) I do not know why I didn’t (leave). But I would love to do it,” the prosecutor said in the course of the trial.

The basketball star consistently denied the allegations against him. “I never touched, grabbed, pulled. (…) That didn’t happen,” Shannon told the jury after the trial began, per published reports.

Shortly after the arrest, the Illinois basketball team decided to suspend Shannon indefinitely and launched its own independent investigation. The university ultimately dropped the investigation attributable to what the college described as insufficient evidence. Shannon was allowed back onto the court after the temporary restraining order was upheld. He’s already missed six games, but he still made it lead Illinois to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight before losing to national champion Connecticut.

Multiple witnesses, including a current Kansas Jayhawks basketball player, corroborated Shannon’s account and said they didn’t see the Illinois player act inappropriately towards the girl that night.

The attorneys also said Shannon’s DNA was not taken from the accuser’s body in the course of the hospital examination, and so they turned over text messages from the alleged victim in the course of the trial. group chat with your mates where she shared a link to the basketball player’s arrest with ESPN and her friends joked that “She’s got his…” together with a money emoji.

After the not guilty verdict, Mark Sutter, one in all Shannon’s lawyers, said: “We are pleased with the final result. Terrence Shannon Jr. he finally got his day in court. In September we denied the allegations and that day we promised that at some point we’d stand trial and we did. And we’re completely happy with the result. And I believe society at large is guilty for Shannon Jr. apology”.

Shannon released a statement saying that he’s now able to move on from this case and give attention to his future.

“Thank you to everyone who has been by my side over the past nine months,” the statement read. “I knew I used to be innocent of those terrible crimes and I had faith in God that at some point everyone else would comprehend it too. I’m very grateful to everyone for believing in me, especially my family, friends and legal team, whose support helped me survive. I’m able to put this chapter of my life behind me and focus fully on my path forward.

The verdict sparked strong reactions on social media from many individuals who believed there ought to be a “punishment” for the false allegations.

“Shannon shouldn’t have left it like that. I would sue her for defamation, and the prosecutor and policemen for malicious prosecution” – one person he suggested.

This was expressed by other social media users similar feelings. “Anyone who falsely accuses someone of rape should be publicly shamed and imprisoned.”

“Now it’s time to lock this girl up and throw away the key.” he tweeted fan.

“People who bring false accusations against innocent people have to be held accountable and serve their very own prison sentences. I’m glad he won, however the accuser must be punished indirectly for what he did,” one other person he tweeted.

NBA star LeBron James also called and offered Shannon’s support.

“To my young (King) Terrance Shannon Jr! I really like you and best regards! Proud of you!!,” James wrote. “God is sweet! The apology ought to be 30 times louder than the hatred he felt, but we know the way it’s. Anyway, back to the regular program. Great days ahead!”

Illinois coach Brad Underwood said he was “excited for Terrence” and praised him for showing “exceptional poise, maturity and focus” within the months following the accusations.

Before the allegations surfaced, Shannon was projected to be a first-round draft pick. However, Shannon’s lawyer confirmed that he shall be working with multiple teams within the lead-up to the draft.

In May, Shannon traveled to Chicago for the NBA draft, where he expressed his desire to clear his name in court. “I can’t wait for (my) day in court,” Shannon told reporters.

The NBA draft will happen on June 26. The Atlanta Hawks have the No. 1 pick.

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NFL expands Africa programs to Nigeria with three-day talent identification camp




The NFL announced Friday that it’ll further expand its efforts in Africa by hosting a talent identification camp in Nigeria, the fourth country on the continent to host league programs.

The three-day camp, which will likely be held this month in Lagos, will likely be attended by 21 potential players from 10 African countries, whose task will likely be to select future participants of two international NFL training programs: the NFL Academy in England and the International Player Pathway (IPP) program.

This camp follows on from initiatives held over the past two years in Ghana and Kenya (2022) and Cape Town, South Africa (2023) because the NFL looks to construct a fan base on the continent.

Although Ghana (34.7 million), Kenya (54 million) and South Africa (59 million) have significant populations, they’re dwarfed by Nigeria (229 million), probably the most populous country on the continent.

This begs the query as to why Nigeria was not the primary African country chosen.

Seattle Seahawks receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba celebrates after a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lumen Field on December 18, 2023 in Seattle.

Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

Osi Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl champion and the NFL’s chief ambassador for Africa, said that while Nigeria, his parents’ birthplace, would ideally be their first stop on the continent, the league wanted to get its African programs so as first.

“Nigeria will largely focus on what the NFL is doing,” Umenyiora said. “So we wanted to make sure that when we got there, everything would be OK and we would do it the right way.”

On the one hand, expansion is about finding a way to give people outside the United States a possibility that did not exist before: playing within the NFL. But it is also about market expansion. As the NFL moves into more television markets, Umenyiora says it may’t ignore Africa, whose historic economic problems are rooted in colonization.

Nigeria and other African countries have seen economic growth over the past few years, and with the continent having the world’s youngest population, there is a growing fan base right under the league’s nose. Give Nigerians and other Africans opportunities now and they’ll turn out to be consumers later, just as Hollywood and music spread internationally.

“As countries start to get more and more revenue, as they start to get younger, as they start to get more and more technology, they start to consume more and more NFL content,” Umenyiora said.

NFL games were played in England, Germany and Mexico. The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers will play their first league game on September 6 in São Paulo.

Umenyiora hopes the continent will host its own international match soon.

“The moment we have the infrastructure there that can accommodate an NFL game, wherever that is, the moment we have it, they’re going to have to do it,” he said. “You can’t be a global sport and you can’t go around… the whole world and say no to Africa.”

David Njoku celebrates his first turnover in the primary half against the New York Jets at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 28, 2023 in Cleveland.

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

After the camp in Nigeria, Umenyiora hopes to expand into Rwanda, Morocco, Egypt and Angola. For now, nonetheless, the league’s efforts on the continent are starting to bear fruit.

According to the NFL, there are currently greater than 135 players of African descent within the NFL, including Seattle Seahawks receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Cleveland Browns quarterback David Njoku, who will attend the camp in Lagos.

While the IPP program, which provides skilled soccer training to world-class athletes, a lot of whom have never played soccer, is a world initiative, 4 of the 11 participants who took part in 2024 were of African descent. Six Nigerian players from the 2023 IPP class have made NFL rosters this season.

The NFL can also be working with its 32 clubs in countries including Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom as a part of its Global Markets program, which goals to increase the league’s visibility world wide. The Philadelphia Eagles (Ghana) and Cleveland Browns (Nigeria) are the one teams collaborating with African countries.

As a part of Nigeria’s program this month, the NFL can even host a flag football tournament for local under-14 school teams and the primary women’s football training session.

Martenzie Johnson is a senior author at Andscape. His favorite moment within the cinema is when Django asks, “Do you want to see something?”

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