<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:11:32 -0800 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:11:32 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ernie Banks Remembered]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:31:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Ernie-Banks-Chicago-Cubs.jpg

Fans got the chance to say goodbye to Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks during a memorial service and procession Saturday morning.

On Friday, those fans paid their respects to Banks during a visitation at the Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Banks, the Chicago Cubs great who was affectionately known as "Mr. Cub," died last Friday at the age of 83 after suffering a heart attack.

Among the attendees at the service were Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who both spoke.

"Ernie Banks is not Mr. Cub because we loved him. He is Mr. Cub because he loved us back," Ricketts said.

Gov. Rauner reminisced about the summers he spent watching Ernie Banks on TV and praised him for his sunny disposition.

"Ernie, he always looked at the bright side. He was an eternal optimist, like we all should be," Rauner said.

Banks' close friends and family were also in attendance and shared their memories. His twin sons, Jerry and Joey, both spoke about their father and their childhood memories of playing in Wrigley Field, "the best playground ever," Joey Banks called it.

"For every tear we shed comes 10 stories of laughter, followed by 'That sounds like Dad,'" Jerry Banks said.

Since Wednesday, fans have been flocking to Daley Plaza, where a statue of the Hall of Famer was placed and will remain through Saturday.

In lieu of flowers, the team suggested fans make a donation in Banks’ memory to Cubs Charities, at www.cubs.com/give.

Banks is the most beloved and famous player in Cubs history. He was the first African-American to don a Cubs uniform, and it was the only one he would wear. In his 19-year career with the Cubs he hit 512 home runs and was twice voted the National League's Most Valuable Player.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Why the Patriots — or the Seahawks — Will Win]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 09:54:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/byllnbradee.jpg

Both the Seahawks and Patriots have won Super Bowls before. So who will win Super Bowl XLIX Sunday in Glendale, Arizona? A case can be made for both:

Why the Patriots could win

It’s a dynasty. New England has won three Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, which qualifies for as much of a dynasty as the NFL has right now. The coach and QB have come up big when it counts before, so they’ll find a way to win a fourth.

The “evil genius” factor. Belichick may not be well-liked these days (or maybe ever), but he’s found a way to reach five of these championship games and win three. The personnel has turned over and the staff has changed, but Belichick knows his Xs and Os and is known for figuring out ways to limit the effectiveness of his opponents’ best players. Certainly he’ll come up with something special to stop Marshawn Lynch and limit Russell Wilson’s impact as a runner.

LeGarrette Blount. Since the running back joined New England after his release by the Steelers in November, the Pats’ running game has had an explosive, workhorse ballcarrier to keep defenses honest. If the Seahawks defense spreads out and focuses its efforts on stopping tight end Rob Gronkowski or wideout Julian Edelman, Blount should be able to gash them with power runs.

Special teams superiority. Both teams are solid in all areas, but New England’s punt-return, kick coverage and field-goal blocking abilities are a tick better. One big play could be the difference.

Brady-to-Gronkowski. The passing combination may be the hardest to stop in the NFL when Gronk is healthy, and he’s been healthy and very productive.

Why the Seahawks could win 

Karma. The flip side to the “evil genius” factor. The Patriots have been caught bending the rules before, so the whole “Deflategate” scandal from the AFC Championship Game is just the latest chapter. Remember, the Patriots went into Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, trying to complete an undefeated season, when they were upset by the Giants -- after the whole “Spygate” controversy first surfaced. That was Karma I. This could be Karma II.

Pete Carroll. The Seattle head coach has managed to get his team to peak at the right time for two seasons now. The Seahawks play hard for him, and Carroll’s defense was No. 1 overall and No. 1 vs. the pass this season. After surviving a scare against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, all the mojo is on the side of Seattle's upbeat coach.

Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks’ All-Pro safety will be the man tasked with containing Gronkowski, and he seems ideally suited for the job. He’s big, strong and athletic and should be up to the task. If Seattle can take away Brady’s No. 1 target, the Pats will be playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ young quarterback just wins. He’s not the best passer in the league -- until crunch time. Then he simply finds a way to make plays with his arm and his feet. He has a 6-1 playoff record, including five straight wins. In a meeting of the teams in 2012, Wilson led two late touchdown drives as the Seahawks pulled out a comeback victory.

Marshawn Lynch. If the Seahawks can get “Beast Mode” in gear early, they can control the game’s tempo. And it will help open up other avenues for the Seattle offense. Plus, after a week of Lynch vs. media shenanigans leading up to the game, wouldn’t it be perfect for Lynch to win the MVP award and get yet another chance to be interviewed on national TV? “I’m just here so I won't get fined… and to get my trophy.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Look Into The NFL Experience at Super Bowl XLIX]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:42:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000010043656_1200x675_391718467991.jpg How much cash does the Super Bowl generate for the host city? With Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara next year, it's a timely question. NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney is in Arizona to get answers.]]> <![CDATA[Chryst Hiring Hasn't Excited Most 49ers Fans]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 09:28:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/geepnkappp.jpg

Geep Chryst’s coaching history isn’t exactly comforting to 49ers fans.

First, the team’s new offensive coordinator was hired only after a series of higher-profile coaches either declined interest in the job or took jobs elsewhere. Second, Chryst was the quarterbacks coach of the Niners last season when quarterback Colin Kaepernick seemed to take a big step back in his progression.

And third, in Chryst’s only previous tenure as an NFL offensive coordinator, with the San Diego Chargers in 1999 and 2000, his offense ranked 26th and 28th overall.

Reports that Chryst had been hired –coming in the wake of the firing of Jim Harbaugh and the hiring of new head coach Jim Tomsula  -- drew some scathing comments from 49ers fans online.

“I hate you, Jed York,” said one, referring to the team’s CEO who decided to let Harbaugh go. “Faithful for life, but I feel that I am now ‘stuck’ cheering for this train wreck.” Wrote another: “This is a total and complete collapse. Will be an interesting season to watch from that view point. Back to the dark ages.”

Some point, too, to the fact Chryst played a big role in the 49ers’ play-calling in the red zone – for both good and bad. It was Chryst who reportedly called the play to tight end Vernon Davis that resulted in a game-winning touchdown vs. the Saints in a 2012 playoff game. But he also, then, is partly responsible for the 49ers’ lack of success in the red zone in 2014 (just 43 percent of possessions resulted in TDs, the fourth-worst rate in the league).

But Chryst is a smart man, Princeton educated and with a master’s degree, who’s been coaching since 1987 and in the NFL since 1991. As tight ends/offensive quality control coach with the Carolina Panthers in 2009, he helped craft a rushing attack that produced two backs with more than 1,100 yards rushing in the same season. And in 2011 with the 49ers, he helped tutor Alex Smith to the best season of his career. It was a turnaround season for Smith, who hadn’t lived up to expectations to that point. And, he helped Kaepernick quickly develop into a dyanmic playmaker in succeeding Smith.

Chryst has been consistently praised by former Bears coach Mike Ditka – who gave him his first NFL job – and Harbaugh.

Yet Chryst now will have to prove himself all over again. After the 49ers’ offensive stagnation in 2014, the release of Harbaugh, the hiring of Tomsula and accusations that York and GM Trent Baalke have “settled” for some less-expensive coaching options, Chryst is in a tough position.

What he says at his introductory news conference about schemes and ideas will be very interesting. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California Lawmaker Roots For Cheerleader Bill ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:37:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/raaiderette3.jpg

Rooted on by a lawsuit first brought on by an Oakland Raiderette, a California lawmaker, a former Stanford University cheerleader herself, has proposed a bill that would force professional sports teams to treat cheerleaders just like any other employee.

“NFL teams and their billionaire owners have used professional cheerleaders as part of the game day experience for decades," California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said on Thursday announcing the introduction of AB 202. "They have capitalized on their talents without providing even the most basic workplace protections like a minimum wage."

Her bill would entitle cheer atheletes to be eligible for California's minimum wage, as well as overtime, and the right to paid sick time and workman's compensation, just like any other employee in the state. As it stands, most cheerleaders are treated as independent contractors, and sometimes, even volunteers, Gonzalez said.

The NFL has repeatedly declined comment on this issue, and spokesman Greg Aiello did not immediately return a phone call or email on Friday seeking comment.

Gonzalez, who said cheered at Stanford when she was an American Studies major in the 1990s and also served as a labor leader before being elected in 2013, gave direct credit to Lacy T., an Oakland Raiderette who was the first cheerleader in the country to sue a professional sports teams regarding alleged unfair labor practices in December 2014.

In November 2014, the Oakland Raiders settled a class action suit with the Raiderettes, paying Lacy T. and about 90 other cheerleaders a total of $1.25 million. Lacy T.'s suit, which inspired others around the nation, alleged that the football team violated state labor laws by failing to pay minimum wage. With all the time Lacy T. worked off the field - at practices and mandated community event attendances - she figured she earned less than $5 an hour, far below California's minimum wage.

Three Raiderettes, however, have since rejected that class action suit, and are continuing to pursue their work conditions case against the NFL. The NFL has argued in court that the football league is exempt from state labor laws.

Mike Taylor, a spokesman for the Oakland Raiders, also didn't immediately return a request for comment on Friday regarding Gonzalez's bill.

Gonzalez said that Lacy T.'s case outlined a "stunning system of abuses against cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders stemming from the team’s misclassification of these cheerleaders."

That's because until the class action agreement almost three months ago, the Raiderettes, like many other cheerleaders around the country, were paid to cheer at games, but not paid when they were told to attend mandatory practices and community events. In an interview Friday, Gonzalez did note that the team was the only one seeming to "move ahead" by paying the Raiderettes $9 an hour, on and off the field.

But that's not enough. Gonzalez said she wants this practice to change for all pro sports teams in California. So far, she said she hasn't met any formal opposition to her idea. She hopes that enough people will care about this issue to get on board.

“If the guy selling you the beer deserves a minimum wage, so does the woman entertaining you on the field," she said. " All work is dignified and cheerleaders deserve the respect of these basic workplace protections."

Photo Credit: Michael Abar
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<![CDATA[Raiders' Carr Says He Owes Much to Olson]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:20:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/nosakscahr.jpg

Greg Olson’s time in Oakland is over and Bill Musgrave is the Raiders’ new offensive coordinator.

But based on what quarterback Derek Carr said this week, he’ll always be hearing the advice of the Raiders’ now-departed offensive coordinator in his mind.

It will the job of Musgrave and head coach Jack Del Rio to provide Carr with the roster help and coaching to allow him to continue to grow and succeed as an NFL quarterback. It’s out with the old and in with the new.

But Carr said this week that Olson taught him things in his rookie season of 2014 that will be valuable for the rest of his career.

Olson is now working for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and when Carr was asked by the Florida Times-Union for his opinion of Olson’s coaching ability, Carr was very complimentary. Carr told the paper that Olson was the key to protecting his growth and allowing him to grow.

Though the Oakland offense wasn’t good in 2014 – ranking dead last in yards and next-to-last in scoring – Carr was sacked only 24 times as a rookie, despite the fact Oakland faced more blitzes than any other NFL team.

“Coach Olson taught me so much about protections,” Carr told the Times-Union. “We were one of the top two or three most pressured teams in the NFL while still being one or two in least amount of sacks. His big deal is eliminating hits on the quarterback. That’s something Gus (Jaguars coach Gus Bradley) liked when interviewing him. I’m sure he wanted to eliminate hits on their franchise guy.”

That would be Blake Bortles, the Jags’ QB who was sacked 55 times as a rookie.

With Olson now gone, the Raiders will still need to put a priority on protecting Carr so he can develop. No matter what Carr learns under Musgrave and the new coaching staff – and beyond to the rest of his career – he says he will continue to use the knowledge Olson gave him about protection schemes.

“I’ll have a protection plan for the rest of my life,” Carr said. “Just spending that one year with him. There won’t be a look or pressure that I’ll see where I have no clue what to do. I’ll know exactly how I want to pick it up and exactly how to pick it up, because of how he taught me and what he taught me.”

While the Raiders’ offense was among the worst in the NFL in 2014, Carr set team records for passing yards and TD passes and drew praise from teammates and opposing coaches. Said former Broncos head coach John Fox, now with the Bears: “I think he’s a tremendous young player.”

And, thanks to some terrific protection and coaching by Olson, a fit and healthy one going into his second season.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Richard Sherman's Dad Loves Life as LA Garbage Man]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:55:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/204*120/1-29-15-Richard+Sherman+Kevin+Sherman.JPG

He's had boots on the ground without fail for 20 straight years.

Day after day at the break of dawn, Kevin Sherman is on a mission to keep the streets of LA clean and provide for his family.

Growing up in Compton, the only goal for his children was education and to make sure they end up in a better position than he. And in 2010, his youngest son Richard graduated from Stanford, where he also played football.

You might know him: Richard Sherman, the dominant cornerback for Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks, one of the best known and most outspoken players in the NFL.

The NFL's biggest trash talker received his most important life lessons from a canny trash man.

"Don't change for anybody," Kevin Sherman said. "Be yourself. Right, wrong, indifferent, nobody can never say you're not yourself."

Despite losing an eye in a teenage go-karting accident, he taught his kids to never quit, which is why the father of the star athlete is still hard at work and two years shy of retiring and earning a pension.

"My son is an NFL player, but I don't want my son taking care of me the rest of my life," he said.

All the while, Kevin Sherman remains in the background collecting memories — Super Bowl rings.

Photo Credit: Neil Torres]]>
<![CDATA[Belichick, Carroll Coach Super Bowl From Different Angles]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:42:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Super-Bowl-Coaches.jpg

Put Bill Belichick behind a microphone and he's C-SPAN — minus the information.

Pete Carroll is more like a Lifetime movie. Or, as defensive lineman Michael Bennett puts it, "He has that Benjamin Button effect on everyone."

The Super Bowl coaches approach their obligations to the public and media from opposite ends. Belichick, coaching for his fourth championship in New England, is dry, offers little to no insight and rarely makes anyone laugh. Carroll, looking for his second straight title, is a high-fiving, fist-bumping extrovert who started one of his news conferences this week with a welcoming, "What's up?!?"

Different styles have produced similar results, though.

Belichick is making his sixth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach and his Patriots are as close as there is to a dynasty in the current NFL. Carroll's team is being mentioned as a possible dynasty, as well, and that notion will only gain steam if the Seahawks win Sunday and become the first back-to-back champions since, who else?, New England in 2003-04.

Dissimilar as they are, they have both built their teams on a foundation of unflinching candor inside their locker and meeting rooms — a quality Carroll brings to some of his public speaking, but one that Belichick eschews.

"What you see on TV is what you get, pretty much, from the two," said Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner, who previously played for Carroll in Seattle. "They have similarities too, though. Their football IQ is way up there. They are so different, but at the same time they're the same. That's why they both have succeeded at this level."

Over his 15 years in New England, Belichick has made it increasingly difficult for anyone outside of Patriots Nation to love him. Nobody likes a boring cheater, and that is how he's sometimes portrayed. It's all summed up in his handling of the controversy of Super Bowl week — Deflategate — a subject he has refused to talk about since Saturday, when he held a news conference to deny wrongdoing and announce he was moving on. "We're just focused on Seattle this week," he's said, repeating some version of that time and again.

A much fuller picture of the coach was painted in the 2013 NFL Network production "A Football Life," which gave an inside and genuinely absorbing look at the coach — miked up and behind the scenes during what turned out to be a disappointing 2009 season.

"Hard not to get choked up about it," Belichick said, barely controlling the tears as he toured his old stomping grounds, the old Giants Stadium, where he won his first two Super Bowl rings as New York's defensive coordinator. "I spent a lot of hours in that room."

One trait his old boss, Bill Parcells, turned into an art was figuring out how to get the most from each of his players by treating them individually.

It's not a trait Belichick shares, at least in the sense that no one seems to get the Superstar Treatment in New England: High-priced cornerback Darrelle Revis got sent home one day for being late for a meeting. Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards in a win against Indianapolis but has barely been heard from again after showing up late for a meeting.

"He's done a good job of treating everybody fairly, treating everybody the same," said Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "If something goes wrong, he makes sure we know about it. It's all about knowing how to get the best out of everybody."

Carroll does the same thing — just differently.

Quirky as they come, he once said a book that guided many of his core philosophies was, "The Inner Game of Tennis," a 1974 self-help manuscript by W. Timothy Callwey that is about finding "the state of 'relaxed concentration' that helps you play your best."

It's also about tennis, but "the stuff really resonated," Carroll said in an interview while he was coaching Southern California.

In keeping with the touchy-feely theme, he has repeatedly made it clear this week that he respects the individuality of his players — from Richard Sherman, who is willing to speak on just about everything, to Marshawn Lynch, who doesn't want to talk about anything.

The coach's willingness to bend, however, does not mean he deviates from the consistent routine he established when he came to Seattle after nine years at USC. Wednesdays are "Competition Wednesdays." Thursdays are "Turnover Thursdays." And so on.

"He's got a philosophy he stays true to," said offensive line coach Tom Cable. "For a lot of us who've coached a long time, we've been around a lot of great teachers, but their philosophies can go up and down. For him, he's the way he is every day."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who hired Carroll back in 1997, then Belichick in 2000, called his former coach, "pretty special to be around. A lot of fun."

He feels he set Carroll back by not giving him the full control he wanted, and the owner adjusted his style when he made the next hire.

Everyone benefited: Belichick and the Patriots — and Carroll and Seattle.

There's no big mystery to all this coaching success, Belichick insists.

"It's about players making the plays that your team needs to win," he said. "I think as a coach, you want to make sure you don't screw that up."

Photo Credit: The Associated Press
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<![CDATA[5 Unexpected Stars Could Be Super Bowl MVP]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:15:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/Gostyformvp.jpg

In Super Bowl V, the Cowboys' Chuck Howley was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player – even though his team lost.

In Super Bowl XII, Dallas defensive linemen Harvey Martin and Randy White shared MVP honors, despite the presence of such Hall of Fame teammates as Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett.

And in last year’s Super Bowl victory by the Seahawks, under-the-radar linebacker Malcolm Smith shined brighter than Legion of Boomers Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas – by returning an interception for a touchdown and getting a fumble recovery – to be named MVP in the victory over Denver.

While usually the Super Bowl MVP winds up in the hands of a star quarterback, running back or wide receiver, occasionally the MVP goes to a surprise contributor or defender.

Given the matchup of the Seahawks and Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX, here are five players who – under the right circumstances – might join the list of surprise MVPs:

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks wide receiver

When the Patriots and Seahawks last played in 2012, Baldwin had a big impact. He caught just two passes, but one was a 24-yarder for a touchdown, and the other went for 50 yards. Obviously, he’s not intimidated by the Patriots (though the personnel has changed some over two seasons). Plus, Baldwin is coming off a big NFC Championship Game performance, with six catches for 106 yards.

Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots kicker

No kicker ever has won game MVP, but Gostkowski could be just the man. The Seattle defense was the best in the NFL this season, so TD opportunities could be limited for New England. Even if Tom Brady & Co. move the ball up and down the field, Seattle is strong in the red zone. That could mean a lot of field-goal attempts for the reliable Gostkowski, in his ninth season with the Pats. This season he was 35-of-37 on field goals with a long of 53 yards.

Julian Edelman, Patriots wide receiver

The Seahawks defense will be acutely aware of tight end Rob Gronkowski, and containing him will be its No. 1 goal in the passing game. Edelman, however, is a consistent, elusive receiver who often seems to be effective even when defenses are well aware of him. After 92 regular-season catches, he’s had 25 in two playoff games. Plus, Edelman is a dangerous punt returner, with four taken all the way back for TDs in six seasons.

Bruce Irvin, Seahawks outside linebacker

This week, Irvin called Seattle one of the “top defenses to ever play” in the NFL because of its depth and talent. While Irvin is a big contributor, he’s overshadowed by some of the bigger names on defense. At 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, Irvin – in just his third season – has long arms, an ability to get to the passer and a knack for making big plays. This season he had 6½ sacks and two interceptions, scored two TDs and was in on 37 tackles. He could be a focal point of whatever scheme defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has to put pressure on Brady.

Jonas Gray, Patriots running back

In recent games, LeGarrette Blount has been New England’s go-to back, and he’s been exceptional. But the Patriots believe in going with matchups, hot hands (or feet) and a committee approach. Gray is one of three Pats backs with more carries this season than Blount, and he averaged 4.6 yards per attempt this season. At 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds, he’s a rugged back, a bit like Blount, and could keep getting the ball if he gets off to a good start. Earlier this season, Gray rushed for 201 yards in a win over the Colts.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl Commercial by "No More"]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:01:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/footballs.jpg

No celebrities or NFL players facing the camera, saying "No more." This ad simply depicts a 911 call of a woman pretending to order a pizza while calling police with her attacker still in the house.

The Super Bowl commercial by No More, the group trying to end domestic violence and sexual assault, is a stark contrast to ads in recent months bringing attention to the issue that has become central for the NFL since Ray Rice was suspended for punching his then-fiancee in a casino elevator.

The new ad has become a topic for discussion around the Super Bowl.

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, daughter of former NFL player Phillippi Sparks, said what the NFL has gone through with domestic violence has helped publicize where women can call for help or find a safe haven. Sparks said it's great that people aren't being silent about domestic violence anymore.

"So it's unfortunate all the way around for whomever is involved in those sorts of things and for the teams having to deal with the media and all of those different things," Sparks said. "But at the same time for other domestic violence victims to know they can speak up that's all that's important, that's all that matters."

In the ad, the 911 call is a reenactment inspired by true stories of women using the tactic of disguising their calls while reaching out for help. No actors are seen in the stark ad; video shows only a house where a hole has been smashed in a wall, with books and photos knocked to the floor.

The ad concludes with the phrase: "When it's hard to talk, it's up to us to listen." It had already more than 482,000 views on YouTube by Wednesday.

The ad will air Sunday just after the second quarter between Seattle and New England. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said it can only help by bringing more attention to the issue.

"I think anytime you talk about domestic violence it is going to have a meaningful effect, you want to eliminate that as part of society," Sherman said.

Seattle linebacker Heath Farwell said the ad is key to better communication.

"Guys realizing this (is) an issue, and you know it's not just football, it's across this county, these are the issues we have to address and to get better at," Farwell said.

Domestic violence has been a critical issue for the NFL for nearly a year since Ray Rice was arrested Feb. 15 over an altercation at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. The Baltimore running back initially was suspended two games, then indefinitely after video from inside an elevator surfaced showing him hitting his now wife, Janay.

An arbitrator threw out the indefinite suspension in December. He was released by the Ravens and has not signed with another team.

NFL players have been featured in ads from No More since October airing weekly.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said New England supports the league's efforts against domestic violence. Belichick said it has been a priority for New England owner Robert Kraft since he was hired. The Patriots gave up their draft rights to defensive tackle Christian Peter a week after taking him in the fifth round in 1996 because of questions about his history with women

"So it's always been that way for us, for our organization, and obviously we support everything in that area," Belichick said. "But what the league decides to do relative to things like that, you know, it's not really my pay grade."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Timelapse: Super Bowl Field Laid]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:23:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/univofphx-grass-superbowl_1200x675_391108675509.jpg Watch as this timelapse video shows workers sliding the grass field into place prior to Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.]]> <![CDATA[Super Bowl-Bound? What Not to Pack When You Fly ]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:25:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP401070192235_TSAwaiting.jpg

The TSA has some packing tips for the lucky fans flying into Phoenix for Sunday's Super Bowl XLIX: leave your propane tanks and blow horns at home.

The Transportation Security Administration posted on Thursday to its TSA Blog a number of helpful hints for traveling into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which they say ranked as the 15th busiest airport for passengers screened in 2014.

With the Super Bowl and a major PGA golf tournament both wrapping up on Sunday, the flood gates may open at the airport gates. On Monday, up to 80,000 are expected to travel.

With that many people standing in baggage and security lines, the agency plans to deploy 90 extra screening officers and open additional security lanes in Phoenix. But the other do's and don'ts released this week could keep lines running smoothly and make sure you aren't that one person caught with a air horn or flask in your carry-on luggage:

Unfortunately for those looking to raise their noise game in the stands, air horns are prohibited in both carry-on and checked baggage.

Flasks of any kind are banished, though you can still bring small amounts of tailgating tipples like tequila and vodka aboard the plane if you wish. Packed in a carry-on bag, you are allowed as many 3.4 ounce bottles that fit into one quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag. But if you want to bring your whole handle of vodka, you need to check your bottle, packed away, curbside or at the desk. Just make sure it is 140 proof or less — anything higher needs to be left at home.

Can't imagine hitting the pre-game tailgates without a nice, juicy hamburger or hot dog? While you'll need to leave your propane tanks at home, you are allowed to check some tasty burger toppings, such as BBQ sauce and swiss cheese. Salsa, cheese dips and salad dressings are OK in your checked bag, too.

With Sunday forecasted to be 72-degrees and sunny around Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium, according to The Weather Channel, you should have no problem meeting TSA rules mandating you leave your gas heaters and stoves behind. You can still tailgate at the stadium, just minus those items.

In addition to checking to make sure you don't have prohibited items in your luggage, the TSA urges all travelers to get to the airport with more than enough to spare. Because whether you’re rooting for the Patriots or the Seahawks this Sunday, it’s easy to agree that airport travel is best when checked baggage and security lines run quickly and stress free.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl XLIX Bingo]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:04:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bingo-th.gif

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most competitive days of the year. We've created a Bingo Board for those of you who aren't huge sports fans, but want to embrace the game day spirit of rivalry. As you watch the Super Bowl, you can click on a square with the corresponding event that happened, whether it's about a player, fans, or during the halftime show. We've thought of it all! No two boards are the same, so you can play against your friends. And for those of you who like to play Bingo the old fashion way, you can even print out the bingo sheet B4 the game starts. See what we did there? Good luck and may all your footballs line up! 

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<![CDATA[Big Passing Mistakes Can Be Super Costly]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:21:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/petecarooly.jpg

Back in January of 1971, the Baltimore Colts pulled off a miracle.

In a game later dubbed by some as the “Blunder Bowl,” the Colts beat the Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V while also committing seven turnovers, the third-highest total in Super Bowl history.

In fact, the game was a monument to mistakes, with both teams combining for 11 turnovers.

But not one of those Colts turnovers was an interception returned for a touchdown. If it had been, Baltimore would have been doomed. In fact, if it happens to either the Seahawks or Patriots Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., history says that team also has no chance of winning.

As ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook pointed out this week, teams that have returned interceptions for touchdowns in the 48 previous Super Bowls are 12-0. It all started when Green Bay's Herb Adderley returned an interception 60 yards in the Packers' victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl II.

“Get a pick-six, win the Super Bowl,” he wrote. “It’s pretty much that simple.”

If that’s the case, give the Seahawks the edge going into the 49th Super Bowl.

The Seahawks – who had the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL this season -- have returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season. The Pats have zero. And in their careers, Tom Brady (2) has thrown more pick-sixes than Russell Wilson (1) – though Brady has played 15 seasons and Wilson is in only his third.

Both teams have been very careful with the football this season, however. In the 16 games of the regular season, the Patriots threw nine interceptions; the Seahawks threw just seven. On defense, New England picked off 16 passes, three more than Seattle.

Both head coaches, Pete Carroll of Seattle and Bill Belichick of New England, are defensive-minded coaches who preach the value of takeaways – but also drum it into their offensive units to take care of the football.

So, seemingly, a pick-six in Sunday’s Super Bowl might appear an unlikely prospect. Brady hasn’t won three Super Bowls by making careless mistakes in big games. Wilson, too, has developed a reputation for strong decision-making and winning close games.

Then again, Carroll’s ball-hawking ‘Hawks in practice and games are always out not only to make stops but “Get the Ball!” – one of the coach’s favorite phrases.

Said Carroll of his defensive philosophy with the Seahawks: “The defense can balance out a mistake or two by an offense by taking the football away. So it’s the No. 1 emphasis in the program.”

If the Seahawks do that Sunday, taking a Brady pass all the way back for six points, figure Carroll's bunch will be in line for their second Super Bowl rings.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Super Bowl Set-Up Time-Lapse]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:50:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005950803_1200x675_390886979585.jpg Check out this awesome time-lapse video of the construction of Super Bowl Central, produced by the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.]]> <![CDATA[Niners' New Quarterbacks Coach a Believer in Mobile QBs]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:54:47 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/166*120/colkapie.jpg

Steve Logan isn’t a coach with a national reputation, and he certainly isn’t a recognizable name in the Bay Area.

But when the 49ers selected him to be the team’s new quarterbacks coach – on the same day the team reportedly selected former quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst to be Jim Tomsula’s new offensive coordinator – San Francisco may have selected a perfect guide for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Logan, who has been an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Bucs, a coaching assistant with Tomsula in NFL Europe and a longtime college coach (who is the all-time winningest head coach in East Carolina history) believes in the playmaking ability of mobile quarterbacks. He’s also known for thinking outside the offensive box.

In a story Wednesday in the Wilmington, N.C. Star News, writer Brett Friedlander – who covers East Carolina football – called Logan “one of the most innovative offensive minds in the game” and referred to his “edgy style and unfiltered insights.” At East Carolina, he spread the field with his offenses and ran a wide-open passing attack. One coach said Logan liked to use "every inch" of the field.

During his career, he’s coached future NFL QBs Jeff Blake and David Garrard at East Carolina, Matt Ryan at Boston College and Josh Freeman with the Bucs. In recent years, Logan has made a name for himself as a sports radio talk-show host, and said on air Wednesday that Kaepernick is “my kind of guy – mobile, accurate and smart.”

It’s not known what kind of offensive changes Chryst might employ with the 49ers to take better advantage of Kaepernick’s skill set and GM Trent Baalke’s desire to have a run-first offense. But based on what Logan has said previously, it seems he would be an advocate for moving pockets, designed runs, the read option and other tactics to get Kaepernick more throwing lanes and opportunities to use his feet. Some analysts believe it was a mistake that the 49ers went away from the read option in 2014 and seemed intent on making Kaepernick more of a pocket passer.

Matt Barrows, who covers the 49ers for the Sacramento Bee, wrote Wednesday that Logan recently spoke on-air about his time as Tulsa offensive coordinator in the early 1980s when he came to the conclusion that “mobility at the quarterback position” is a prime weapon not only for attacking defenses but also for countering blitzes.

“The offense plays with 10. The defense plays with 11,” Logan said, according to Barrows. “Therefore at any given time the defense can bring one more guy than I can protect with. When that happens, what are we going to do? We’re going to have Russell Wilson or Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers – you guys got that? – and he’s going to run around and make guys miss and we’re going to score. That’s it. It’s a simple game.”

Sounds simple, but it certainly wasn’t for Kaepernick or the 49ers in 2014. Despite his mobility, Kaepernick was sacked 52 times, which doesn’t seem possible considering his speed. But it was a fact.

Now Logan and Chryst and Kaepernick will try to figure out together how to get better in 2015.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Defense Can Jam With "Jelly"]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:37:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/jellyellisz.jpg

The NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award will be announced Saturday, and it’s a sure thng that Oakland’s Justin “Jelly” Ellis won’t win it.

In 2014, the first-year defensive lineman had a solid debut, yet played in the shadow of two terrific rookies, quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Khalil Mack.

Yet as the Raiders look to 2015, they know they have a young defensive tackle who should only continue to grow and play a bigger role in whatever defensive scheme new head coach Jack Del Rio and an as-yet-unnamed defensive coordinator decide to run.

Ellis, a 6-foot-2, 334-pounder from Louisiana Tech, a fourth-round pick in 2014, played in all 16 games and had 14 starts. He didn’t have eye-popping stats – he was in on 21 tackles and had zero sacks -- but as the season progressed his playing time gradually increased. By the end of the season he had passed veteran Pat Sims in the defensive line rotation.

In his first season, Ellis showed great strength and an ability to disrupt offensive blocking schemes.

Ellis, along with Mack, was named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team.

“He’s done a good job of not getting moved off the football consistently,” former Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com during the 2014 season. “He’s affected the passer on several situations by pushing the pocket, kind of being able to do that with some power and some speed-to-power inside like that. He’s been, really, an active player and his snap count has been going up. … He’s earned that.”

Ellis has been a defensive tackle in the Raiders’ 4-3 scheme, but there has been some speculation Oakland might shift to a 3-4. Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham – who reportedly was offered the job this week as Raiders defensive coordinator but turned it down – has been a 3-4 coach, and Del Rio, too, has experience with the 3-4.

If the Raiders do change, Ellis might be a perfect nose tackle – a stout, strong and quick defender who can hold his own against blocks and disrupt running plays.

But no matter what scheme the Raiders run, or who the next defensive coordinator turns out to be, Oakland has a solid talent in Ellis.

“He has a nose tackle body type but with better quickness and penetrating skills than most short, fat nose tackle types,” ESPN NFL scout Matt Williamson said recently. “I like and would say he is a longtime starter.”


<![CDATA[How to Spot Counterfeit NFL Merchandise]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:40:42 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/counterfeit+NFL+merchandise.jpg

Selling counterfeit merchandise is a serious crime, and the Super Bowl is a prime location for these criminals.

In a townhouse development in Glendale, Arizona, a team of federal agents had a sting for illegal merchandise.

"The merchandise has an invoice attached with all of it. And it's very clearly marked. It's coming from China," said ICE New England spokesperson Dan Modricker.

Counterfeit NFL jerseys, along with NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball apparel, were all seized in an early morning search warrant.

How big of a business is this? Federal agents at the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, or IPR Center, are tasked with cracking down on the $200 billion annual counterfeit network.

Modricker is in town this week for Super Bowl XLIX.

"Our main point of being out here is to educate the consumer. And to make them realize that this isn't a victimless crime," Modricker said.

This haul here, worth about $100,000, is just from greater Phoenix and from the past few days.

So how does a consumer to spot a fake jersey while in Glendale?

"Their main goal is to make money. So they're going to crank these things out as quickly as possible. And so, you'll see that they don't even bother to lift the needle when they go from one letter to the next. So you'll see the cross-stitching from one letter to the next to the next. It's all one seam," Modricker said.

It's not just stitching; there is also shoddy coloring and rip-off holograms. Authorities also warn that some of the material used for this knock-off merchandise can be potentially harmful to your body. Modricker pointed to a pair of fake NFL team earrings.

"When you look at it, you have no idea who made this, what materials they used. I know lead is a lot cheaper than silver. So you don't know what you're putting into your body," he said.

Plus, Modricker says, it's crushing the economy, since up to 1.4 million Massachusetts jobs rely on intellectual property.

One man is in custody facing felony charges in Wednesday's sting. 

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Australian Open: Sharapova Cruises Into Finals]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:37:58 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP80796916905.jpg

Maria Sharapova has reached the Australian Open final for the fourth time, beating fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-2 in a lopsided semifinal on Thursday.

The second-ranked Sharapova needed 10 minutes to hold in her opening service game, fending off two break points. She responded to the only service break against her in the first set by winning six straight games to take the match away from the 10th-seeded Makarova, who had only taken one set off her in five previous matches.

She will next meet the winner of the all-American semifinal between top-ranked Serena Williams and 19-year-old Madison Keys.

Sharapova won the Australia Open title in 2008 and lost finals in 2007 and 2012. She opened the season by winning the Brisbane International title.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Man Among Finalists in $1M Super Bowl Doritos Ad Contest]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:53:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/dorito+add.jpg

You might see a Doritos commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday featuring a couple of 20-somethings dancing on a rooftop in Astoria, Queens.

The ad starts in the apartment of Alex Pepper, a 25-year-old dancer and actor. This was his production, so he had an inside track on the starring role. He plays a guy who -- with his friend’s encouragement (and bag of Doritos) -- works up the courage to introduce himself to the neighbor he’s had a crush on.

Watch for yourself, here. It doesn’t end well for the budding lovebirds.

But the real-life ending could be a dream come true for Pepper.

His spot was selected as one of 10 finalists in PepsiCo’s annual Dorito’s Crash the Super Bowl contest, which has already earned him $25,000 and a trip to watch the game at University of Phoenix Stadium this Sunday.

He found out in a surreal phone call from "The Hunger Games" actress Elizabeth Banks.

Alex says the $25,000 is more than he made last year as an actor and dancer. And the whole experience is more than he could’ve imagined when he was sitting on the couch watching Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium last February.

“I saw this contest was happening at last year’s Super Bowl and thought, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. Would love to do that sometime,'” says Pepper.

Two weeks before the entry deadline, he decided that "sometime" should be now. So he called a few friends, asked his girlfriend to shoot with his Nikon D800 camera, and set a budget for the project: $80.

“Low budget,” he laughs. “And a lot of that went to duct tape.”

Duct tape?

Watch the end of the spot -- these amateur video producers managed to pull off a pretty slick industry editing trick. They needed duct tape to make a dummy that would stand-in for actress Morgana Phlaum, the star’s would-be crush.

She agreed to the shoot without hesitation, even after Pepper explained the ending.

“Can I throw you off a roof? And she was like, ‘Okay, yeah, sounds good!’”

Pepper’s resume includes theater and an appearance on NBC’s "Saturday Night Live." And the script was inspired by Pepper’s real-life professional nightmare: accidentally dropping a dancer during a move.

"There’s a lot you can’t control -- the floor lights get in your eyes or something like that -- and we took that idea and turned it into a commercial," Pepper said.

And if it airs as the grand prize winner on Super Bowl Sunday, Pepper will earn $1 million, along with a one-year "dream job" at Universal Pictures.

Worst case scenario? He’s headed to Phoenix with his girlfriend to watch the Super Bowl in person.

"The worst case scenario here is already pretty amazing,” he said.

Voting closes at midnight. You can vote for a finalist here.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Kobe Bryant Out for Rest of Season]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:14:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kobe-Bryant-shoulder-injury.jpg

Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the Los Angeles Lakers announced on Wednesday, and the 19-year veteran expects to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season.

Wednesday's news came with little shock, but it still carried with it great meaning. Bryant had now suffered season ending injuries in three successive seasons. At the end of the 2012-13 season, Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon. In the 2013-14 season, Bryant lasted only six games before suffering a fracture in his knee. For 2014-15, Bryant completed 35 games and waited until the halfway mark in the season before his shoulder gave out.

The expectation that Bryant would go under the knife and end his season leaked out of the Los Angeles Lakers' offices on Friday, Jan. 23. Later that day, the team sent a news release that confirmed Bryant's torn rotator cuff and specifically made mention of surgery as an option.

The news release also stated that Dr. Neal ElAttrache would examine Bryant on Monday. After Monday's meeting, Bryant decided that surgery would be required. ElAttrache previously performed Bryant's Achilles surgery and also operated on LA Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke's broken collarbone. The world famous surgeon performed both those operations within 24 hours of one another. No surprise, ElAttrache performed Bryant's latest shoulder operation, along with Dr. Steve Lombardo.

Over the weekend, Bryant released a dramatic video that all but confirmed his season had ended and surgery was on the horizon. In a video clip for an upcoming documentary film which placed cameras in the room, Bryant underwent his initial examination with Lombardo. In the clip, Lombardo clearly announced that Bryant's muscle had detached from the bone. Although not explicitly stating that the Lakers' superstar required surgery, the video appeared to show Bryant coming to terms with the severity of his injury.

To ease Bryant's mind on missing the remainder of the season, the Lakers lost their ninth game in a row to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday. The defeat was the Lakers' 12th in the last 13 games, and LA's 34th defeat in 46 contests the season. Currently holding firm as the fourth worst team in the NBA, even a miracle would not save this team.

If the Lakers miraculously win every remaining game on their docket, they would finish with 48 wins. A season ago, the 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks finished with 49 wins and entered the playoffs with the eighth and final spot. Effectively, these Lakers have already been eliminated from the postseason.

For Bryant, the decision to get surgery should not have been difficult when considering the current standings and the nature of the injury. Ending the season rehabbing an injury should be an unwelcome familiar feeling, but Bryant's contract calls for only one more season. For Bryant's sake and for the sake of the fans, hopefully he can finish his Hall-of-Fame career on a healthy note.

At the moment, Bryant's involvement in training camp in Hawaii, which would be Bryant's last, remains unclear. According to the Lakers, Bryant will be out for approximately nine months and is expected to make a full recovery.

“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” ElAttrache said in the Lakers' official press release.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MLB Favors New A's Stadium in Oakland]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:47:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/libbyschaaf1.jpg

The A's are looking at "various options" for building a new ballpark in the Bay Area.

And Oakland is on the list.

Keeping the A's in Oakland is absolutely something owner Lew Wolff as well as new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred are keen on, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Wolff had planned to build a new ballpark in Fremont almost a decade ago before setting his sights on San Jose.

But with the economy as well as MLB itself helping to block those two options -- San Jose is officially San Francisco Giants territory, according to the league -- Wolff is "re-energized" about the prospect of an Oakland ball yard.

However, nothing is certain -- including where they might play and who would build it.
Oakland officials are hoping to keep both the A's and the Oakland Raiders happy with new fields near the current Coliseum, according to the report.

New Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf appears to have rekindled both teams' interests in their hometown as well.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Debuts 1st Anti-Domestic Violence Super Bowl PSA]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:12:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/footballs.jpg

The NFL will air its first public service announcement against domestic violence as part of its No More campaign during the Super Bowl on NBC on Sunday.

A 30-second ad will air for $4.5 million, but the NFL has already released a chilling 60-second version. The ad is based on a real 911 call a domestic violence victim made in October.

The unsettling video starts out showing a disheveled home, with an unmade bed, books thrown on the floor, a sink piled up with unwashed dishes and a fist-sized punch in the wall. A woman is speaking in a rushed tone with the 911 dispatcher, pretending that she is ordering a pizza.

The dispatcher soon realizes the woman is unable to speak openly in her house because her abuser will hear. The final scene shows a framed picture of a woman torn from the wall and left by the trashcan.

The screen fades to black, and a message appears in white: “When it’s hard to talk, It’s up to us to listen.”

“The goal of the PSA is to activate and engage the vast audience of men and women across America in saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault,” No More director Virginia Witt told Today.com.

The NFL has faced a number of high-profile domestic abuse allegations involving its players, most notably Ray Rice.

That case inspired many women to speak out on social media using the hashtag #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft and restarted debates about the NFL's history of players accused of domestic abuse.

“Public awareness is the first, essential step toward changing the culture into one where domestic violence and sexual assault no longer happen,” said Witt.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FAA: Super Bowl Is Strictly a “No Drone Zone”]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:10:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/drone+123114.jpg

If you are going to the Super Bowl, make sure you leave your drone at home.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Wednesday that the unmanned aircrafts are barred from flying over or near the game.

"Many familiar sounds are associated with the Super Bowl," the FAA wrote. "Cheering fans. Referee whistles. The spectacular halftime show. Booming fireworks. But one sound you shouldn’t hear is the whirring of an unmanned aircraft overhead. The Super Bowl is strictly a 'No Drone Zone'."

The restriction also applies to airplanes, hang gliders, hot air balloons, model rockets and most other flying machines. Violators of the ban could end up in jail for "careless and reckless" operation of an aircraft.

The warning came just two days after a federal government employee said he accidentally crashed a drone on the grounds of the White House. The man, who was off duty at the time, called the Secret Service after the crash and is cooperating with authorities in a probe of the incident.

The New England Patriots are set to take on the Seattle Seahawks live from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on Sunday, Feb. 1, airing on NBC.

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<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Memorable Halftime Shows]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:02:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/superbowl-halftime-01-160625501.jpg These performances rocked at the Super Bowl halftime shows. See more photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The 14 Most Heartbreaking Super Bowl Moments]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:11:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edt-upsets.jpg The 49-year history of the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of shocking upsets, horrendous blunders and lopsided routs.

Photo Credit: NFL]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick is Working Hard in Arizona]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:53:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/Kapinarizz.jpg

There’s no doubt Colin Kaepernick is the most important player on the 49ers roster.

After Kaepernick’s production and efficiency on the field took a dip last season in an 8-8 season, even team CEO Jed York weighed in publicly on the team’s young quarterback.

“Colin did some things very well this year, and there are things he needs to improve on,” York told reporters at the end of the 2014 season. “That’s something that is very important. I don’t think you have a more important position in sports than quarterback.”

So it was news when Kaepernick, soon after that, announced he would be working for several weeks this offseason with former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Kurt Warner and quarterbacks coaches Dennis Gile and Mike Giovando in Arizona to polish his technique and fundamentals on the field and add to his ability to read defenses and study film.

Now, it sounds as if both Kaepernick and Warner believe the 49ers quarterback is making progress in all those areas.

Colin Kaepernick’s father, Rick, told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group this week that his son is excited by what he’s learning.

“I know Colin is very, very pleased and extremely happy with the instruction he’s getting,” Rick Kaepernick told Inman. “He’s learning a lot. He’s a sponge.”

Also, Warner – at the Super Bowl this week as an analyst for the NFL Network – told Bay Area News Group columnist Mark Purdy that much of a quarterback’s success comes down to technique, a hint that perhaps Kaepernick needs to refine the way he plays in some way.

“It all starts with technique,” Warner told Purdy. “Because if you don’t have technique, you’ll never have consistency. And then from there, we’ll go to the mental side of it and see how far we can push the envelope and how good he can be.”

That could be Warner’s biggest impact on Kaepernick: sitting down with him to discuss the ins and outs of studying film and reading defenses. Warner told Purdy he’s “been very impressed so far” with what Kaepernick knows.

“Been very pleased with where he is at,” Warner said. He added that they’re going to throw a lot at him to see how quickly and accurately he can improve in his decision-making abilities as a quarterback in the three seconds he has against rushing defenders.

“(To) know where to go with the football, know how to get there and technique-wise, be able to get it there,” Warner said. “So we’re going to push the envelope in all those areas and see how far we can get him.”

Obviously, too, Kaepernick seems to be enjoying the challenge.

This week, Kaepernick tweeted a photo from his Instagram account of him working with a coach in Arizona on his technique with the message: “Grind in silence!” and “I don’t get tired.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Like Louisville Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:30:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/granthamBrowns.jpg

The Raiders’ search for a defensive coordinator has traversed the NFL and now has reached as far as the University of Louisville, where the Cardinals’ Todd Grantham is now a person of interest.

The Lousiville Courier Journal reported that Grantham was scheduled to interview with the Raiders this week.

So who is Grantham?

Grantham, who has coached just one season under head coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville, had the No. 6 ranked unit in total defense in major college football this past season, giving up just 308 yards per game. Louisville led the nation in interceptions, was 11th in sacks and tied for 24th in scoring defense, allowing 21.8 points per game.

Grantham coached a 3-4 defensive scheme at Louisville, the same system he employed for the four previous seasons at Georgia, where the Bulldogs had success as a unit with more sacks and takeaways than under the previous coach. In 2011, the Georgia defense ranked fifth in the nation.

To get Grantham, Louisville had to pay dearly – a reported $1 million per year over a four-year deal that made him the fourth highest-paid assistant coach in college football.

Before coaching at Georgia, he was the defensive coordinator under head coach Romeo Crennel for three seasons (2005-07) with the Cleveland Browns, where his units ranked 16th, 27th and 30th overall defensively. During his first two seasons in Cleveland, however, the Browns pass defense ranked sixth and eighth in the league.

He’s also coached the defensive line for the Cowboys, Texans and Colts in the NFL.

Grantham has been a believer in the 3-4 scheme, which would be a change from the Raiders’ current 4-3 system. He changed Louisville from a 4-3 to 3-4 defense this past season.

In the past, Grantham has said Nick Saban – for whom he coached at Michigan State in the late 1990s – has been a big influence. Both believe in the importance of speed on defense.

In 2012, Saban – the now very successful coach at Alabama – told the New York Times that Grantham is “one of the two or three best” assistants he’s ever had.

As a defensive coach, Grantham has said “big people beat up little people,” and he loves huge defensive linemen. But the main thing he likes is to study the opposition and figure out a way to attack it.

He believes in an aggressive, attacking defensive style.

“My whole thing is matchups,” Grantham told the Times. “How can we get the mismatch in the rush. You are trying to get your best player on their weakest link on offense.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tiger Woods Explains Tooth Incident]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:22:08 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tiger+woods6.JPG

Tiger Woods finally explained how he lost his tooth while watching his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn capture her record 63rd World Cup title in Italy a week ago.

The golf champ’s publicist previously told The Associated Press that after the Jan. 19 competition, “a media member with a shoulder-mounted video camera pushed and surged toward the stage, turned and hit Tiger Woods in the mouth.”

“I had my mask on, so no one knew who I was, trying to blend in because there is not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, OK?,” Woods told reporters after playing at the Phoenix Open. “That was the whole idea of why I wore the mask." 

“I was looking down, and all the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she's hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down,” Woods explained.

“Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth,” Woods said. “He chipped that [tooth], cracked the other one. And so then, you know, I'm trying to keep this [mask on] so the blood is not all over the place. Luckily, he hit the one I had a root canal on.”

Woods said he was in a lot of pain after the incident.

“The flight home was a joke," Woods said. "I couldn't eat, couldn't drink until he fixed them, put the temporaries on. I couldn't have anything touch it. Even breathing hurt, because any kind of air over the nerve, the tooth that was still alive, was cracked.”

When asked if the cameraman felt bad about the incident, Woods said, “He didn’t care.”

Vonn won a super-G competition, breaking a 35-year-old record of 62 World Cup wins with a flawless run down the Olympia delle Tofane course.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Wholesome, Less Racy Super Bowl Ads Expected]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:36:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/super-bowl-commercials-AP322500772403.jpg Advertisers are spending record amounts of money on this year's Super Bowl commercials, hoping to score big with sports fans and consumers. After a string of domestic scandals in the NFL, analysts say expect to see more hopeful, positive ads.]]> <![CDATA[Super Bowl Preview: Seahawks v. Patriots]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:55:35 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/brady-wilson-2.jpg Just ahead of Super Bowl XLIV, here are five things you may not know about the history behind the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

Photo Credit: Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Seahawks' Big Task: Stop Gronkowski]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:08:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP326652112586.jpg

This week’s Sports Illustrated cover features the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary. Cornerback Richard Sherman stands front and center with a big smile, flanked by big-hitting strong safety Kam Chancellor, nickel corner Jeremy Lane, free safety Earl Thomas and corner Byron Maxwell.

All look relaxed and confident. And why not?

In 2014, the Seahawks had the No. 1 defense in the NFL overall and were the top-ranked group against the pass. As they head into Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX matchup against the New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz., they know they’ll present Tom Brady and the Patriots with the best defensive unit they’ve seen all year.

But one Patriot has the Seahawks very concerned: tight end Rob Gronkowski.

At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is not only bigger than most tight ends, but also is more athletic, runs better routes and has better hands than most. And, his chemistry with Brady is strong. Gronkowski is Brady’s go-to receiver, especially in crucial situations. Other teams have trouble blanketing him.

In two playoff victories, Gronkowski has 10 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. This, after he had 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs in 15 regular-season games.

If the Seahawks want to win a second straight Super Bowl, they’ll have to contain Gronkowski and limit the damage he can do. But that’s difficult. He’s bigger than most corners and able to outmaneuver most safeties.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wrote this week that Gronkowski may be “the single most dominant and unstoppable offensive weapon in the game.” He said the Seahawks’ defense of him will be one of the key matchups.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week that Gronkowski has “all of the elements that you’re looking for from a big-game tight end.” He added that he’s been spending plenty of time watching film of Gronkowski, searching for the best way to neutralize him.

The Seahawks may employ a variety of coverages on "Gronk," with several players assigned to him, depending on situations. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is faster than most, and may help, but he’s six inches shorter than Gronkowski. Carroll said outside linebackers K.J. Wright (6-foot-4) and Bruce Irvin (6-foot-3) also are “pretty tall and long” and could be in the mix.

But the No. 1 Seahawk assigned to limit Gronkowski Sunday will likely be super-athletic safety Kam Chancellor, whom Carroll calls “about as big a strong safety as you can find.”

Wright told reporters in Arizona that he’s confident Chancellor – selected All-Pro this season along with his safety mate Thomas – can do the job.

“Our best against their best,” Wright said. “Of course I’ve got my money on Kam. He’s an All-Pro, he’s the captain of our defense. I expect him to win every battle.”

Chancellor is 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, known for his ability to hit, support the run defense with ferocity and leap over tall buildings (or at least the line of scrimmage in attempts to block kicks).

Chancellor told the Boston Herald he’ll be up for the task.

“He’s definitely a big, physical guy,” Chancellor said. “But it’s just big on big. You play big on big.”

Chancellor says the Seahawks have great coaching and game planning and prepare players to succeed. Sunday should be no different. He’s confident Seattle can do what it needs to do to slow Gronkowski.

“One thing we do is practice fundamentals,” Chancellor told the Herald. “We practice man coverage. We practice defense. So any situation they throw at us, any situation that occurs, we’re prepared for it and we’re ready for it.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Manute Bol Bobblehead Night at Oracle]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:18:09 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/N5A-MAKING-OF-MANUTE-BOL-VO---00000821.jpg

The Golden State Warriors are honoring a very special former player Tuesday night.

The first 10,000 fans into Oracle Arena Tuesday night for the team’s game against the Bulls will receive a Manute Bol bobblehead. The team says the 10-inch bobbleheads are the tallest in franchise history.

The 7-foot-7 Bol spent three seasons with the Warriors. He died in 2010 from kidney failure and complications from skin disease.

In addition to the bobbleheads, the team will honor Bol with a larger than life bobblehead. The Warriors tweeted a photo of 7-footer Andrew Bogut standing next to the sculpture.

Photo Credit: NBA
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<![CDATA[Niners Still Searching for Offensive Coordinator]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:33:38 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/nynerzocsearch.jpg

When the 49ers decided to cut ties with head coach Jim Harbaugh, it was questioned by many. After all, successful NFL coaches such as Harbaugh don’t come around often.

But once the deed was done and new head coach Jim Tomsula announced, 49ers watchers were at least hopeful there was a master plan in place. That the change in coaching regimes would bring with it a better offensive scheme and a talented coordinator who could put sizzle into San Francisco’s attack.

So far, however, that hasn’t happened.

It was thought that the 49ers wanted Indianapolis Colts special assistant Rob Chudzinski to come aboard as offensive coordinator. That the reason they were waiting so long was to allow Chudzinski to get free of his contract, which expired this week. That Chudzinski – a former Browns head coach and Panthers offensive coordinator who seemed to be able to get the most out of two-way quarterback Cam Newton in Carolina – was the guy the 49ers had targeted as a perfect fit for Colin Kaepernick, a QB with similar abilities to Newton.

But early Tuesday, the Colts announced they are retaining Chudzinski. He will now be the associate head coach to head coach Chuck Pagano.

So now where do the 49ers go? If Chudzinski was No. 1 on their list, who’s No. 2? And does this mean the 49ers will simply be settling for whoever is available now, or are they still excited about the next man on their list?

Former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan has been reported to be a person of interest for the team, but if he were truly of interest, why haven’t the 49ers yet made a move in that direction? It was reported back on Jan. 3 that Shanahan, 62, already had interviewed for the 49ers’ head coaching position. And it was reported recently that Shanahan – the 49ers’ offensive coordinator from 1992-1994 – might be open to being in that role again. And he, too, has experience coaching mobile, two-way quarterbacks, having coached Steve Young in San Francisco, John Elway in Denver and Robert Griffin III in Washington.

But if Shanahan truly is interested, how will he feel about taking the job after the 49ers have waited so long to make a move – especially if he believes the Niners’ No. 1 choice was Chudzinski, (or Lane Kiffin, who decided to stay at Alabama) and not him?

The Niners do have some assistants on staff with offensive coordinator experience in the NFL, such as Tony Sparano (now the tight ends coach) and Geep Chryst (the former coach of the quarterbacks who has been retained), but both would seem to be fallback hires at this point.

As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion wrote recently: “The staff will probably be experienced. But its assemblage seems fragmented, the process confounding. If there’s a coherent plan, it’s well hidden.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Retaining Woodson Smart Move by Raiders]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:34:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/chazwhoodsyn.jpg

Charles Woodson is an amazing talent, one who seems to be as good now as he was 10 years ago.

So when the Raiders announced Monday they had re-signed the 38-year-old safety to a one-year deal, it was good for the team on multiple levels.

For one, Woodson is coming off a terrific season. In his 17th season in the NFL, Woodson was still an impact player. He led the Raiders in tackles (160) and had four interceptions. He was a highlight on a defense that didn’t have many.

For another, Woodson is a leader and positive role model on a team in need of them. The coaching staff has changed this offseason and the roster will no doubt go through another shakeup with more rookies and free agents coming on board. Though head coach Jack Del Rio has yet to announce the signing of a new defensive coordinator, Woodson provides continuity. Retaining Woodson – a certain Hall of Famer with deep roots in the Raiders organization – is an investment in quality.

“The fight is to bring the Raiders back, and I want to be a part of that,” Woodson sold the media Monday. “That’s why I keep signing on.”

In 2014, Woodson thrived, operating as wide-ranging defender who was as much at home near the line of scrimmage against the run as he was defending against the pass.

Last season, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver raved about Woodson as a defender for his smarts, toughness and ability to help those around him. Going forward, he should be able to continue to do all those things in 2015, even though he’ll turn 39 – truly ancient by NFL standards – in October.

He’s someone the younger players, such as linebackers Khalil Mack and Sio Moore and cornerback DJ Hayden – can respect and follow.

“He can see a call and practice it once or twice and get it right,” Tarver said of Woodson’s IQ last season. “Both by his athletic ability and his mind. He can focus. That’s one of the things that we’re working on with our young guys is, ‘Hey you may not be able to play with this guy forver.’ This is a Hall-of-Fame mindset. When you tell him something, he learns it and he locks in and he does it.”

Woodson, the only player with 20 or more sacks and 50 or more interceptions, said he wasn’t ready to walk away from football. He still has plenty to give.

“I love the game,” he said. “You never get rid of that. The Raiders have been good to me, giving me a second chance to come back around and wear the silver and black.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>