<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:50:01 -0800 Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:50:01 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Warriors' Draymond Green Slings Coffee at Peet's in Berkeley]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 18:44:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/draymond-peet-1.JPG

Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green played barista for a day at Peet's Coffee & Tea in Berkeley Monday.

And fans went crazy.

The line to meet Green snaked all the way up to Edwards Stadium on Oxford and Fulton streets. Inside Peet’s, the Warriors forward served up coffee for customers and autographed balls for fans.

Green was at Peet’s to promote the release of the specialty coffee roaster’s “Warriors Grounds” blend. The company will donate 5 percent of the proceeds to the Warriors Community Foundation.



Photo Credit: Ariel Nava/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Peyton Manning Explains Eli's Reaction]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 18:47:45 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508990438.jpg

One of the most talked about moments of Super Bowl 50 was when cameras captured the reaction of Eli Manning to his brother's team the Denver Broncos scoring a critical touchdown in the win over the Carolina Panthers.

Everyone has an opinion of what's behind Eli Manning's not-so-pleased expression. Not to mention the hilarious memes that have been created because of it.

But on television Monday morning, Peyton Manning put speculation to rest, explaining why his brother didn't appear to be celebrating along with the rest of the Manning family.

“Eli’s just like me. Eli is analyzing the game. He’s thinking about whether we were going to go for two. Whether it was going to be reviewed,” Manning told CBS News.

“Eli’s kinda like me,” Manning continued. “He wasn’t gonna to relax until that final second ticked off. I’ve had a great chance to celebrate with Eli. He’s very happy and proud of me just like I’ve always been of him.”

Peyton tied his younger brother Sunday for two Super Bowl rings apiece, leading many to wonder whether sibling rivalry had anything to do with Eli's emotionless face.



Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Day After Big Game, Fans Line Up to Buy SB50 Memorabilia]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:55:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sb50-mersh.jpg

Super sale!

At the NFL Shop inside Levi's Stadium on Monday morning, it felt like the day after Christmas. The shop, which Sunday, was selling pullovers for $95 emblazoned with a "Super Bowl 50" logo, had those same sweaters for half-price on the day after the big game.

Victor Sanchez of Phoenix paid $92 for his bling, a 50th Super Bowl wristwatch that was priced at $180 the day Denver's defense shut down Carolina's quarterback, Cam Newton, and the Panthers high-scoring offense.

The NFL Shop opened at 8 a.m., and by noon, more than 100 people crowded the wall of caps reduced from $35.

"This is great! We saw some things yesterday but decided to come back today. I won't tell you how much we've spent," said Melissa Torres of Denver, clutching a plaque commemorating Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning's pre-Super Bowl 2016 accomplishments in his 18-year NFL career.

The shop is situated in the northwest corner of Levi's Stadium, near Gate A, which is nearest Tasman Drive, across from the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The sale does not include items proclaiming the NFL's newest champions, the Denver Broncos, but there were plenty of iconic Golden Gate Bridge-themed shirts, caps, key chains and pennants to keep shoppers perusing the stock on tables.

But, now that word's out, the limited supply might be snapped up in a retail equivalent of Denver's pass rush on Super Bowl Sunday.

The sale, Monday only, ends at 6 p.m.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Docs Detail Alleged Manziel Beating]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:29:50 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/JohnnyManziel-AP_324132097739.jpg

NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel hit his girlfriend Colleen Crowley so severely on Jan. 29 that she suffered a ruptured eardrum and still can't hear in her left ear, the woman's attorney said Monday.

"They expect (her ear) to heal but it'll take a while," Dallas attorney Kathy Kinser told NBC 5.

Kinser represents Crowley, who wrote in an application for a protective order that she and Manziel dated for two years and lived together for four months in Cleveland before the alleged attack in Dallas last month.

Dallas police re-opened the criminal case on Friday and NBC 5 has reported that police in Fort Worth are also investigating.

Manziel, the Cleveland Browns quarterback who became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy while playing at Texas A&M, agreed to the order, which forbids him from seeing her for two years.

Crowley's version of what happened that night, including more alleged violence and threats that Manziel would kill himself, is detailed in a sworn statement she wrote to obtain the protective order. Manziel's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

She said the two went to dinner at Victor Tangos restaurant in Dallas with three friends, then went to two bars before going to an "after party" at Hotel ZaZa. The friends left Manziel and Crowley alone.

"We planned to spend the night together in his room there," Crowley said in the statement.

"We started having a discussion about things I had heard earlier in the week about him being with a girl who had caused us problems in the past," Crowley said. "I told (him) that if I was going to spend the night, it would be on the couch."

Crowley said Manziel threw her on the bed.

"He claimed it was 'playfully' but it frightened me and I took it seriously," she said.

Crowley said she decided to leave the hotel but he "restrained" her from leaving.

"I tried to fight him off," she said. "I became very scared that he was going to hurt me."

She said Manziel continued to restrain her and led her down a back stairway to the valet.

"When we got to the valet, I was crying and begged the valet, 'Please don't let him take me. I'm scared for my life," she wrote. "The valet replied, 'I don't know what to do,' and allowed Manziel to "literally throw me in the front passenger seat of his car."

In a statement to NBC 5, Avi Niego, manager at Hotel ZaZa said, "(It) is our policy not to comment publicly on any aspect of our operation."

Manziel and Crowley drove to a nearby bar where she had earlier parked her car, she said.

"I jumped out of the car and ran across the street and hid behind some bushes," she said. "He flipped a U-turn and pulled right in to where I was hiding. He grabbed me by my hair and threw me back into the car."

That's when Crowley said Manziel hit her in the head on her left ear.

Crowley said she tried to hit back but Manziel threw her off and she hit her head on the car window and fell on the floorboard.

"Still fearful for my life, I stayed in the floorboard motionless until (Manziel) pulled me back onto the seat. He was telling me to 'stop' and wouldn't let me have my phone.'"

The two drove down Interstate 30 from Dallas to Fort Worth, where Crowley, a TCU student, has an apartment.

Crowley said she at first told him she hated him but Manziel told her he was going to take her car and kill himself.

"I thought maybe he was on drugs or having a psychotic break so to keep him calm I began telling him, 'I love you. We can figure this out. We can talk,'" she said.

Manziel started laughing, she said.

"I started crying even more and he told me, 'Shut up or I'll kill us both,'" she said.

She said he responded by saying, "I would never kill you. You don't deserve that. I would only kill myself."

Crowley said they arrived at her apartment and continued to fight, which she described as "more verbal than physical."

"He then smashed my phone onto the tile in my apartment entry," she said. "I was in my kitchen so out of fear for my life, I pulled a knife out of my knife block and advanced toward him. He ran out of the apartment."

She said she screamed for help and a neighbor came out. He ran.

Fort Worth police have said officers searched for him with the help of a helicopter but couldn't find him.

"I continue to be extremely concerned for my health and well-being," Crowley wrote.

Manziel signed the protective order, agreeing not to be around Crowley for two years and pay Crowley's attorney's fees of $12,500.

Manziel's attorney, who is listed on the court documents as Brad Beckworth of Austin, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.

Kinser said Crowley met with Dallas police on Friday.

Dallas police have released no new information on the case since announcing on Friday they were investigating.

Colleen E. Crowley's Application for Protective Order



Photo Credit: File – AP
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<![CDATA[With Bigger Role, Autry Showed Raiders His Value in 2015]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 09:30:26 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/Autreeie.jpg

The Raiders have some big decisions to make over the next few weeks about whether to re-sign key performers who are entering free agency.

Will they keep left tackle Donald Penn? It may be the biggest question. Will they retain punter Marquette King? There seems little doubt.

But there are other role players who are pending unrestricted free agents that may be attractive to keep – players who didn’t come into the league with much acclaim. Players such as backup defensive end Denico Autry.

Autry, a 6-foot-5, 273-pounder, was signed by general manager Reggie McKenzie as an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State in May of 2014.

He played in 10 games in 2014 and was in on 13 tackles. In 2015, he played a much bigger role, appearing in 14 games and starting eight following the injury to veteran Justin Tuck. He made a big statement, coming up with three sacks and was in on 22 tackles, including one for a safety, while also batting down three passes.

With the retirement of Tuck and some uncertainty about Mario Edwards Jr.’s health, it seems likely that McKenzie will want to retain Autry if the price is right. Autry has proven he can put pressure on quarterbacks. In two years at Mississippi State, he had six sacks and three forced fumbles, along with 73 tackles.

Autry, 25, certainly shouldn’t be expensive – although he should get a raise. He made $510,000 in 2015 after a first-season deal for $247,058, according to Spotrac.com.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio became a fan of Autry’s after seeing what he could do in a larger role.

“Denico was not a surprise,” he told reporters this past season. “He was a guy that when we came into camp it was hopeful that he would compete and do the things he’s been able to do. He flashed occasionally on tape from last year. He’s a big, athletic guy and he’s got a great work ethic. He’s a young man that’s really worked hard and embraced all the different challenges that we’ve thrown at him and he’s done a nice job.”

Plus, as Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in December, Autry wants to stay in silver and black. Tweeted Tafur: “Autry has proved to the rest of the NFL he can play. Plans to re-sign with #Raiders. What about testing his market value? ‘I don’t care about that.’ ”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Odds Are, 49ers Won't Be Playing in 51st Super Bowl]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 11:17:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/187*120/chypprh.jpg

When the 49ers moved into Levi’s Stadium they hoped they’d be participants in Super Bowl 50. Instead, they were forced to watch the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers on their home turf Sunday.

Now that this year’s Big Game is over, it doesn’t look all that likely they’ll be participants in Super Bowl LI, either. According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook odds released Sunday night after the Broncos’ victory, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are co-favorites, at 8-1 odds, to get to the next Super Bowl on Feb. 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium (formerly Reliant Stadium) in Houston.

The 49ers?

Their odds to get to the NFL’s championship game are 60-1, which ranks as No. 31 in a 32-team league. The only team below San Francisco is Cleveland, at 200-1.

The 49ers, coming off a 5-11 season and the firing of head coach Jim Tomsula after just one season, have fallen a long way in three seasons. Back in September of 2013 the 49ers were headed into a new season as co-favorites to reach the Super Bowl at 6-1, along with the Broncos. And last season the Niners were given 25-1 odds right after the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the 49th Super Bowl, tied for seventh in the NFL.

As David Fucillo of SB Nation noted Sunday night after the Broncos-Panthers game, the 49ers have hired a dynamic offensive head coach in Chip Kelly, “but it has not done much for their perceived chances.”

Also having a little something to do with it, of course, are the questions about quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s future, an offensive line with several holes and whether a suspect defense can get better and stop the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams offenses in the rugged NFC West in 2016.

In Kelly’s first year with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, he turned them from a 4-12 team in 2012 to a 10-6 team. Can he perform another miracle in 2016?

Right now, a 10-6 record for the 49ers would feel like reaching the Super Bowl after a horrible 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FAA Tracks Four Airspace Violations During SB50]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 10:50:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Levi-Stadium-SB-AP_256090637103.jpg

There were four airspace violations by private planes during Sunday's Super Bowl at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the Federal Aviation Administration said. 

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told NBC Bay Area on Monday that the he knew of four "temporary flight restrictions" during the game, one more than was originally reported on Sunday.

In general, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said, pilots could face sanctions ranging from warning letters to license suspensions or revocations.

The FAA declared the air space above the stadium a "no fly zone" during the Super Bowl game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. That meant drones and other aircraft were not allowed to fly within 32 miles of the stadium between 2 p.m. and midnight on game day.

Major Katrina Andrews, a spokeswoman for the air component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said the violators were not drones. Instead, she said they were pilots of  private planes, such as small Cessnas, who didn't read their notices telling aircraft to stay away from the stadium during the big game. The FAA said these four planes violated the airspace: a Cessna 150, a Cessna 172, a Vans RV 6 and a Beechcraft BE35.

She said the pilots received an alert that they were violating the air space and were escorted or diverted to the Livermore Municipal Airport or Palo Robles, where they were headed anyway.

"It appears they had not read their notice to airmen (NOTAMS), which explains the parameters of the restricted area," she said.

NORAD is the agency charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Tweet From Seahawks' Lynch May Indicate Retirement]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 20:28:56 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/MarshawnLynch-AP_324019937170.jpg

Leave it to Marshawn Lynch to be at the center of attention in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

Except this time, Lynch may have given the surest sign he's on the verge of retirement.

Lynch, the mercurial Seattle Seahawks running back, sent a tweet during the fourth quarter of Sunday's Super Bowl with a pair of cleats hanging from a power or telephone line, along with an emoji depicting a peace sign. It certainly wasn't a definitive statement that Lynch is ready to call it a career, but it would fit with a mounting stack of evidence that the bruising running back is ready to move on from football.

Lynch's teammates in Seattle were certainly taking his tweet as a statement of retirement. Doug Baldwin, Bruce Irvin, Paul Richardson and Richard Sherman were among the many teammates to pay tribute to Lynch on social media.

"Salute to my guy @MoneyLynch ... It was an honor sharing the field with you," Sherman wrote on Twitter.

"To one of the greatest teammates I've ever had the pleasure of suiting up with. Salute. #Beastmode," Baldwin posted on Instagram.

Messages left for Lynch's representatives were not immediately returned.

The tweet from Lynch also backed statements from Jan. 22 by Seattle general manager John Schneider in a pair of radio interviews that indicated Lynch was leaning toward retirement. Schneider said in separate interviews with two Seattle radio stations that he believes Lynch is leaning toward calling it a career after an injury-filled 2015 season.

Schneider first appeared on KIRO-AM, the team's flagship station, saying the team was going to give Lynch time and leeway to decide what he wants to do, but added he was "under the impression" Lynch was leaning toward retirement.

Later on KJR-AM, Schneider hedged his comments slightly, but reiterated that he thought Lynch was considering stepping away.

"I really, honestly don't know at this point," Schneider said on KJR. "If you put a gun to my head I would say he is leaning toward retirement. But I think with Marshawn you never really know. He's a fierce competitor. We just have to handle it the right way in terms of showing him as much respect as we possibly can for everything he's done for this organization."

ESPN reported earlier Sunday without identifying its sources that Lynch had been telling close friends he was planning to retire.

Lynch will turn 30 in April and is coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season where he was limited to just seven games in the regular season and one of Seattle's two playoff games. Lynch was bothered by hamstring and calf issues early in the season and later missed the final seven regular-season games with an abdominal injury that required surgery. Lynch returned for the NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina but was mostly a non-factor with the Seahawks falling behind 14-0 in the opening moments of the loss.

Lynch was limited to just 111 carries and 417 yards in the regular season, the first season of his career where injuries have been a significant factor.

Lynch would cost the Seahawks $11.5 million against the salary cap for the 2016 season, a massive number for a running back of his age, but Schneider had indicated changes would be needed if Lynch wanted to return. 



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Levi's Stadium Turf Issues Force Players to Change Cleats]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 18:50:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/levi-stadium-turf-new.jpg

Players on the Broncos and Panthers were forced to change cleats during the first half of Super Bowl 50 due to footing issues with the Levi's Stadium sod.

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About halfway through the second quarter, CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson said, not only were Carolina and Denver players changing cleats mid-game, they were complaining about slippage in the Levi’s Stadium turf.

The 2-year-old stadium has a history of turf troubles. The field was replaced at least six times this season, SI reports.

But Sunday’s problems can’t be blamed on the 49ers. The NFL took over the stadium prior to the Super Bowl and new turf was installed last month ahead of the Sunday's game.

Field issues had the stadium in the spotlight back in October when Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker slipped during a field goal attempt.

During the preseason, the San Francisco 49ers were forced to move the team’s open practice off the turf due to "poor field conditions."

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CSN Bay Area's Scott Bair contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[Businesses Disappointed with Super Bowl Profits]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 20:00:24 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Marianne+Business.jpg

When Santa Clara business owners heard the Super Bowl was headed to the Bay Area, they were understandably excited: With tens of thousands of people swarming Levi’s Stadium for the big game, surely big profits would follow, they assumed.

As it turns out, however, sales in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl has been lackluster at some locations that were counting on a customer uptick.

Nga Huynh, the owner of Butter and Zeus, says that the foot traffic has slowed at her location.
“Businesses is a little bit down because of all the road closures,” she said. “We aren’t seeing our usual Sunday crowd.”

Like many restaurateurs, she’s keeping her eatery open late so that people leaving Super Bowl parties can come and dine.

Despite Huynh’s disappointing sales, however, the Super Bowl has met the expectations of other business owners, particularly those within a two block radius of the stadium.

“This super bowl thing is amazing,” said a cook at Dona Maria Mexican Food, where tacos were in high demand but short supply.

“We’re probably up 100 percent,” said Guillermo Prado, owner of Dona Maria’s. “Normally, business on Sunday is slow.”



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrities at Super Bowl 50]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 06:44:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AMBRO_GettyImages-508985750.jpg Famous faces dotted the crowds at Super Bowl 50 as A-list celebrities flocked to see the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Super Bowl 50]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 06:58:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508990588.jpg

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Curry, Warriors Hit 'Rolling Stone' Party After Big Win]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 12:54:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rs-party-th.jpg Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry, Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa were among the celebs spotted checking out performances by Travis Scott and Avicii at one of the most exclusive pre-Super Bowl 50 parties in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Dazzling Fireworks, Pricey Snacks, Tight Security at SB50]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 20:14:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ezra2.jpg

The Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10, winning Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium.

The NFL’s extravaganza Sunday featured an electrifying rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" by Lady Gaga and a flamboyant halftime performance by Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

Tens of thousands of fans have poured in to the Bay Area in the days leading up to the game, but all eyes were on the South Bay Sunday.

StubHub sold over 5,000 tickets — ranging from $3,000 to more than $10,000 — to the event. Fans, from all over California, North Carolina and even Australia, began lining up before 9 a.m. on game day to snag their seats at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

A sense of anticipation and excitement permeated the festivities with revelers stocking up on beer, chicken and hot dogs. Some, however, were miffed at seeing that water bottles were priced at $7, Bud Light at $13 and Pinot Grigio at $25.

Thousands boarded Caltrain, which transported them from San Francisco to Mountain View, where a light rail brought them directly to Levi's Stadium.

VTA officials, who estimated that around 12,000 people would use the service from Mountain View Sunday, were pleased by the turnout. On Monday, officials announced that 9,500 fans had, in fact, used the light rail and bus service.

Stacey Hendler Ross with the VTA said the transit agency has spent nearly a year coming up with "plans on how to take people [to Levi's Stadium] safely, efficiently, and effectively."

Melissa Rutledge, a Panthers supporter, was glad she chose to use public transit to and from Levi's Stadium.

"It was wonderful — very safe, really clean," she said. "Unfortunately, there were Broncos fans."

Broncos fan Jamie Cosmer, however, was so excited to watch her favorite team live that she was at a loss for words.

"I can't even talk, I can't even talk," she said.

Media personnel from Russia, Mexico, the U.K., Germany and Japan also flocked to the venue and reported that security — by way of armored vans, helicopters and even the National Guard — was expectedly tight. 

The Department of Homeland Security deemed the Super Bowl a tier-one event, which earned it a high level of security starting at the federal level. 

A no-fly zone took effect around 2:30 p.m. Sunday and officials promised violators that they would see an F-15 fighter aircraft on their tail. A no-drone zone was also enforced in a 32-mile radius surrounding Levi’s Stadium.

Meanwhile, Black Hawk helicopters circled the stadium all day, military personnel and snipers perched on rooftops surrounding the 65,000-seat venue, and K-9 units that work with explosives walked among the crowds.

Attendees admitted to NBC Bay Area that they were grateful for the increased security measures and large number of uniformed officers.

"With big events like this, ever since we’ve had Al Qaida and whatnot, [they] have to be secure," Grace Meullens said. 

Ryan Hooten agreed.

"I feel pretty safe," he said. "If anything goes down, I think the safest place is the Super Bowl."

Earlier in the week, fans flocked to the NFL Experience as well as Super Bowl City to watch performances by One Republic, Alicia Keys and others. The massive turnout, in fact, forced officials to close Justin Herman Plaza on Friday and Saturday evenings to ensure the public's safety.

People also spotted celebrities, including Justin Bieber and Cuba Gooding, Jr., and took in a Metallica concert at AT&T Park.

Meanwhile, NFL great Jerry Rice successfully masqueraded as a Lyft driver and a cancer-stricken teenager's dream to watch the Broncos in action was fulfilled when tight-end Vernon Davis surprised him with two tickets to the Super Bowl.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cannabis Activists: Pot Could Help Cure 1 of NFL's Ills]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 06:03:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CTE-split-stabler-seau.jpg

With much of the NFL world camped out in the San Francisco Bay Area in the days before Super Bowl 50, researchers released sobering news: late Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler had a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head.

Later Wednesday, another late, great QB, Earl Morrall, also was revealed to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is associated with memory loss, impaired judgment and progressive dementia. Dozens of former players have been diagnosed, some who died in old age, like Frank Gifford, and a few who took their lives, like Junior Seau.

There is no known treatment for CTE, not least because there's no test that can point it out in the living — it's detected in post-mortem brain scans. But to one former player who's sure his nine-year career gave him the disease, there's an obvious treatment that isn't allowed in the NFL, even though it would be easy to score not far from Levi's Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday for anyone with a doctor's note: medical marijuana.

"If cannabis is implemented and (the NFL) can lead the science on this, they can resolve this brain injury situation in a big way," Kyle Turley said.

Turley is at the forefront of a vocal movement arguing that medical marijuana's pain-suppressing and possible neuroprotective benefits make it the only effective treatment for the effects that chronic concussive blows to the head have on football players. As co-founder of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, Turley is the movement's most outspoken member, but it also includes other retired players and rapper/marijuana entrepreneur Snoop Dogg.

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More players' brains are found to show signs of CTE with each year that passes. Researchers at Boston University have found evidence of CTE in 96 percent of the NFL players' brains they examined. At the same time, more states are allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana as a medicine – 23 so far, according to National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

California was the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana, and remains the only medical marijuana-legal state so far to host the Super Bowl. Nearly half of the medical marijuana identification cards issued in California were prescribed in the Bay Area, according to the Department of Public Health.

A small body of research suggests marijuana can heal head trauma, yet Turley wonders why the league isn't investigating the drug as a medicine. To advocates, hosting the Super Bowl in the region is almost hypocritical, given what they see happening to the heads of NFL players and the spiraling lives of some former players.

"The NFL's policy against medical marijuana is stupid and counterproductive," said Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of NORML, in an email calling the NFL out of touch with the laws of the state. "There's no doubt NFL players would be better off with medical access to marijuana."

The NFL did not comment for this story.

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Science, the Brain and Medical Marijuana
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The NFL, CTE and Medical Marijuana

Hard-Knock Lives

Turley is a former defensive lineman who has been extremely outspoken about his medical struggles after playing for three NFL teams in nine years.

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A New Yorker article from 2009 describes him blacking out at a Nashville concert, feeling much the same way he did when he was kneed in the head during a game years earlier. The former lineman had recently retired and was taking painkillers. He wound up in the hospital, where he said he briefly lost nearly all control of his body.

"Before quitting all the pills and committing to cannabis ... my life was a train wreck, plain and simple," Turley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

Today, Turley has eliminated all other chemicals from his system, from Aleve to Zoloft, he said. The San Diego resident has found strains of marijuana that relieve pain and other strains with effects comparable to the psychiatric pill Vicodin, but without the narcotic effects.

Medical marijuana has fairly well known, though not conclusively proven, pain relieving benefits. But to Turley, the drug also treats mental anguish he believes comes from CTE. There is very little research on that front, but the 40-year-old father insists marijuana has given him stability after recently feeling despondent and suicidal.

"The reality is I don't think about those things anymore. And if it wasn't for cannabis, I wouldn't be where I am mentally," Turley said.

Turley swears that marijuana use is rampant in the NFL – "from players to coaches to owners, marijuana is in the National Football League" – but only a handful of players have spoken out about using it. They emphasize the mental clarity it offers as much as the pain relief.

"I always healed fast, ahead of schedule; was never really very swollen; my mind was very sharp, and after concussions medicated with it," Nate Jackson told marijuana magazine High Times this week, discussing how marijuana helped him in his days with the Broncos in the 2000s.

It's not just young players who swear by pot, either. Jim McMahon, one of the heroes of the Chicago Bears' 1985 championship, revealed last month that he weaned himself off pharmaceutical drugs that left his head feeling fuzzy.

"This medical marijuana has been a godsend. It relieves me of the pain – or thinking about it, anyway," he told The Chicago Tribune.

But there isn't much medical research to back up their claims.

Science, the Brain and Medical Marijuana
Most medical marijuana advocacy is directed at the drug's pain-relieving qualities, which may be recognized by many states, but not the federal government. The FDA has not approved marijuana as a drug, though it notes there is widespread general interest in its potential as a less addictive alternative to painkillers.

But last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association found only some evidence that medical marijuana and similar drugs help chronic pain, less evidence for help with nausea and brain disorders and a risk of adverse effects, including nausea, fatigue and confusion. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says long-term marijuana use can affect learning, thinking and memory, and has been linked to mental illness and depression.

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Advocates dispute those claims, and in the case of brain trauma, their case is bolstered, in some sense, by the fact that little research has been done on medical marijuana's effects on the brain.

The psychoactive chemical in medical marijuana, THC, was associated with a significantly improved mortality rate in patients who sustained traumatic brain injuries, according to a 2014 UCLA study. A study by Michigan State University researchers found that, in test tubes, THC reduced tau deposits, which indicate CTE and Alzheimer's.

Marijuana advocates cite these and some other studies when describing the drug's purported neuroprotective effects, saying it may be able to protect and heal brain cells in a way no other drugs can.

Other supporters only go as far as saying they intoxicate and sedate patients less than opiates do, and are easier on the stomach than anti-inflammatories, like Berkeley Dr. Frank Lucido, who says he has prescribed marijuana to two former NFL players. Asked about any neuroprotective effects, he noted they were unproven in humans.

Turley and others who do believe the drug can protect or restore neurological function mainly argue that more research needs to be done, and soon. A federal study found in 2012 that retired players were three times likelier to die of neurodegenerative diseases than the U.S. population on the whole.

"NFL pockets are deep enough to support a crash research program to determine that this combination of cannabinoids is effective in preventing the consequences of concussion," Harvard emeritus professor of Psychiatry Lester Grinspoon wrote in an open letter to the commissioner of the NFL in 2014.

For now, marijuana remains a problem in the NFL, subject to fines and suspensions during the season for repeat offenders, just as the federal government continues to classify marijuana as one of the most dangerous drugs.

Turley hopes his Gridiron Cannabis Coalition will help change that position, as much for the players as for Alzheimer's patients and others he thinks can benefit from cannabis.

"The attitude of the active players is the attitude of police forces around our country," Turley said. "It is absurd that this continues to be a reason for a player to be suspended or someone is arrested. We don't want to deal with this anymore."

The NFL, CTE and Medical Marijuana 
On Saturday, the NFL announced that Ken Stabler will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. If last year's ceremony is any indication, CTE will hardly be mentioned at all when he is honored.

The 2015 induction of Junior Seau, who was 43 when he killed himself, was marred by the league's initial refusal to let his family speak at the ceremony. The league cited a long-standing policy, but many noted that the family had sued the NFL, saying his suicide was at least partially caused by repeated hits to the head sustained in his playing days. His daughter eventually did speak, and did not mention Seau's brain.

Though the league settled concussion-connected lawsuits last year involving thousands of former players, about 200 opted out, including Seau's family. The suits claimed players weren't properly protected from concussions or informed of their risks.

The NFL did not admit liability in settling the suits. Since CTE has become associated with football, the NFL has also donated a substantial amount of money to research, including $30 million to the National Institutes of Health – its largest-ever donation to any organization.

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As for medical marijuana use, there are signs that the league's position could change.

A representative for the the NFL Player's Association told NBC Owned Television Stations it is reviewing medical-marijuana policy, though didn't comment further. The union works with the NFL to set the league's drug policy.

And the league that doled out four drug-related suspensions to Ricky Williams – the electric running back whose career is now synonymous with marijuana in the game – has recently expressed more openness toward medical marijuana, if not the drug on the whole.

Commissioner Roger Goodell briefly addressed the issue in the run-up to last year's Super Bowl, saying the NFL could one day condone cannabis as a treatment but that its medical experts didn't yet consider its use proper.

If the league did decide to reverse course on the issue, it would still face a major hurdle: the federal ban on marijuana would mean players without contracts might gravitate to teams in states where medication was legal.

Not that that should stop the league from trying, said Turley, a fiery speaker about the cause.

"It would have been an amazing opportunity for the NFL to have dealt with this proactively, instead of allowing this to be another thing that shows their desire to really change things is very lackluster," Turley said.

Turley, Williams and McMahon will all talk about their experiences with marijuana this month at the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo in Dallas, the first marijuana conference in a state that hasn’t legalized marijuana medicinally, according to Rory Mendoza, the event’s organizer.

Their goal, for now is to slowly raise awareness about how the drug helped them, like a football team grinding out a long drive a few yards at a time.

And on Sunday, Turley will be watching the Super Bowl at home with family and friends, avoiding intoxicants and drugs – except the one he believes can save his life, which he long ago dedicated to football.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Broncos Player Surprises Fan With Super Bowl 50 Tickets]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 10:22:35 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/vernon+1.jpeg

A Denver Broncos player visited a cancer and heart transplant patient the night before the Super Bowl and was moved to tears by the encounter.

Alex Walter, who is undergoing treatment at Lucile Packard Children Hospital Stanford, is an ardent Broncos fan who had long dreamed of meeting a team player.

His surprise came in two parts.

Walter, 18, was first bowled over Tuesday when Vernon Davis decided to stop by.

The Montana teen again was left dumbfounded Saturday when the tight-end handed him two tickets to watch Super Bowl 50 between Davis' Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.

Walter said he has been a Broncos supporter since he was 2 years old and is particularly in awe of wide-receiver Demaryius Thomas as well as Davis, for whom he made a bracelet out of his Beads of Courage.

Deeming the experience "cool," Walter said he was excited for the Broncos to defeat the Panthers and to be able to watch them do it. He said he plans to give his second ticket to a friend who is also a patient at Lucile Packard.

Meanwhile, Davis teared up looking at the beaming teenager.

"It brings joy to my heart ... to be able to give him the tickets," he said. "It means a lot to me … to see everything come to fruition for him."

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Davis said also that he makes a conscious effort to be compassionate and uplifting and found himself filled with gratitude at being able to "share this experience" with Walter.

Pediatric oncologist Sheri Spunt recalled Walter predicting that he would "freak out" if he ever met the Broncos, prompting hospital officials to take to social media earlier in the week to get the team’s attention.

Walter, who attends classes at Lucile Packard, has to undergo chemotherapy for a year and also been through radiation therapy, she said.

"He was born with congenital heart disease and had multiple heart surgeries and, ultimately, required a heart transplant," Spunt said. "Then unfortunately several years after that he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a relatively uncommon type of childhood cancer."

A lifelong Broncos fan herself, Spunt quipped that she was jealous that Walter would be at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday.

"Going to the Super Bowl is awesome and I know that he is going to be very excited," Spunt said."He’s the kind of guy who comes even during the off-season wearing his Broncos gear. So I know he will be absolutely thrilled to go to the Super Bowl and see his favorite team."

For her part, Walter’s mother Ronda also shared in her son’s amazement.

"He is so excited about the whole experience!" she said.

NBC Bay Area's Robert Beasom contributed to this report.

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Photo Credit: Robert Beasom]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Land Thrilling Victory in Statement-Making Game ]]> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 21:26:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508243866_594_screen.jpg

The Warriors confronted another “statement game” Saturday night and, once again, made a semi-convincing argument on their behalf.

Meeting Oklahoma City for the first time this season, the defending champions blew a 20-point lead but summoned just enough defense at crucial times to post a thrilling 116-108 victory before a celebrity-studdent crowd at Oracle Arena.

Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by Stephen Curry’s 26 points. Harrison Barnes put in 19, Klay Thompson had 18, Marreese Speights totaled 15, while Shaun Livingston added 10.

The Warriors (45-4) held the Thunder without a field goal (on 0-for-5 shooting) over the final 3:36 to hang on and get the win.

With the likes of Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Kate Hudson and Jim Harbaugh looking on, the Warriors ran their home record to 23-0 and extended their home win streak to 41, second-longest in NBA history behind the 1994-95 and 1995-96 Bulls, who won a record 44 in a row.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 27 to pace the Thunder (38-14), which saw its five-game win streak snapped.

The Warriors are now 4-0 against the three teams widely considered most threatening to their chances to win back-to-back titles. They are 2-0 against the Cavaliers, 1-0 against the Spurs and now 1-0 against the Thunder.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Draymond Green didn’t score much, only nine points, but he was crucial to the Warriors gutting this one out in the fourth quarter.

Green’s line – nine points, 14 rebounds and six assists – don’t tell the story as much as his late-game determination against Oklahoma City’s big men. The Warriors had 11 rebounds in the quarter, and he had five of them, including four in a 111-second span inside the final three-plus minutes.

TURNING POINT

After Enes Kanter made a turnaround jumper to tie the game 104-104 with 3:36 left, the Warriors closed it out with a 12-4 run.

Green’s free throw with 3:25 left put the Warriors ahead for good and Curry scored six points during the run.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: C Festus Ezeli (L knee soreness) and F James Michael McAdoo (L foot toe sprain) were listed as out.

Thunder: G Andre Roberson (R knee sprain) was listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Tuesday at Oracle Arena, where they play host to the Houston Rockets. Tipoff is set for 7:35 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Source: 49ers' DeBartolo Elected to Hall of Fame]]> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 17:30:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/picresized_th_1291323816_76052206.jpg

 SAN FRANCISCO -– Eddie DeBartolo’s journey from Youngstown, Ohio, to owner of the 49ers will reach its final destination just 60 miles from his hometown.

DeBartolo was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in a vote of the 46-member board of selectors on the eve of Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium, CSN Bay Area’s Mindi Bach reported Saturday.

The enshrinement ceremony will take place on Aug. 6, in Canton, Ohio.

DeBartolo, 69, this year’s lone nominee as a “contributor” was selected for the Class of 2016.

The latest group of Hall of Fame inductees, as selected during a meeting that lasted approximately nine hours at Moscone Center, is scheduled to be announced Saturday evening.

Former 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens announced on Twitter that he fell short of the required vote during his first year of eligibility. Owens wrote: "Unfortunately I did not make it. CONGRATS to the 2016 HOF CLASS. Thanks to ALL MY FANS for ur unwavering love & support."

Owens ranks second in NFL history with 15,934 receiving yards, third with 153 receiving touchdowns, and sixth with 1,078 career receptions.

Owens was certainly not passed over for his on-field performance. The voters discussed Owens’ pros and cons for 43 minutes, 12 seconds, according to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.

He played his first eight seasons with the 49ers, but also spent short periods of time with Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati over his final seven years in the NFL. Owens will have to wait at least another year.

DeBartolo is no stranger to waiting. He was a finalist for the Hall of Fame on three separate occasions before this year. DeBartolo took over ownership of the 49ers in 1977. He hired Bill Walsh in 1979, and his teams averaged 13 victories per season from 1981 to 1998 – not including the strike-shortened 1982 season.

During his time in charge, DeBartolo’s teams won five Super Bowls, 13 NFC West championships, advanced to the NFC Championship game 10 times and made 16 playoff appearances. The 49ers posted the highest win percentage in the 1980s and 1990s.

But DeBartolo likely fell short of the required votes in previous years due to a 49ers salary-cap violation in the late-1990s and the way his ownership ended with the 49ers.

The NFL’s salary cap was instituted to level the playing field, in part, due to DeBartolo’s eagerness to attract and stockpile top players with his spending.

Then-team president Carmen Policy and vice president Dwight Clark reached settlements with the NFL as part of the league's investigation into alleged salary-cap violations. The 49ers agreed to pay a $300,00 fine and surrender draft picks in 2001 and 2002.

DeBartolo's tenure with the 49ers ended in controversy in March 2000 when he reached an agreement with his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, to split their financial interests. DeBartolo York, and her husband, John York, gained permanent control of the football team, a racetrack in Louisiana and the Edward J. DeBartolo corporate headquarters in Youngstown. Eddie DeBartolo agreed to take real estate holdings and stock.

One year earlier, then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced a one-year suspension for DeBartolo for his role in a gambling scandal that resulted in DeBartolo pleading guilty to a felony for failure to report an extortion attempt from former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.

Leading up to Saturday’s selection, DeBartolo said he was truly humbled to be considered for the highest honor in the sport while acknowledging the complication of his exit from the NFL. But DeBartolo was wildly popular among his players and he is the only owner in NFL history with five Super Bowl titles.

“Whatever good I did in the past, whatever bad I did in the past, I mean, it all goes together,” DeBartolo said. “It’s like baking a loaf of bread. When it comes out of the oven, people say he deserves it or he doesn’t deserve it.”

Hall of Fame officials instructed voters to not to weigh DeBartolo’s legal issues when considering his candidacy, sources told CSNBayArea.com. The voters discussed DeBartolo for longest period of time, 50 minutes, 33 seconds, according Gosselin.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marshawn Lynch Opens 'Beast Mode' Store in Oakland]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 11:14:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/marshawn-lynch-media-day.jpg

Marshawn Lynch wants to outfit the Bay Area in "Beast Mode."

That's the name of the Seattle Seahawks star and Oakland native's clothing company, which grand opens Friday at 811 Broadway Street.

The Chronicle reports Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is expected to attend an opening party at noon and has declared Friday "Beast Mode Day" in the city.

According to the Beast Mode website, the store will enter all customers who purchase at least $100 today into a chance to win a pair of tickets to Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

As for whether he'll return to the field himself next year, Lynch cheekily deflected the question from TMZ Sports on Thursday night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[McKenzie's Success With LInemen in Free Agency a Good Sign for Raiders]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:48:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/rodneehydsynn.jpg

Once the Super Bowl 50 is over Sunday, the Raiders’ offseason will truly begin.

On Monday, NFL teams can begin waiving players. On Tuesday, teams can start signing their own players whose contracts have expired. And, on Feb. 16, clubs can designate franchise players. A month from Super Bowl Sunday, the free-agent season kicks off with teams permitted to contact and sign players from other teams who are about to become unrestricted free agents.

So, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and his staff have a busy few weeks ahead as they work to add missing pieces to a team that could be on the verge of a winning season and a possible trip to the playoffs after posting a 7-9 record in 2015 under first-year coach Jack Del Rio.

Recent history should give Raiders fans hope that McKenzie will (mostly) make the right moves in 2016, especially when it comes to bolstering the offensive and defensive lines.

In 2014, he signed offensive tackles Donald Penn and Austin Howard who both played key roles this past season. In 2015, McKenzie added center Rodney Hudson, tackle-guard J’Marcus Webb and defensive tackle Dan Williams. Veteran blocking tight end Lee Smith also made a big contribution.

Of course, in both the 2014 and 2015 free-agent signings, McKenzie had some big misses – Lamarr Woodley, Maurice Jones-Drew and Kory Sheets in 2014 and Trent Richardson, Christian Ponder and Curtis Lofton in 2015. But McKenzie’s ability to find productive, impact free-agent linemen has been a key component of the franchise rebuild.

In 2015, Hudson and Williams stabilized both lines, something to keep in mind as the Raiders will look to upgrade at right guard and on the defensive line.

In fact, the analytic website Pro Football Focus noted late in the 2015 season that Hudson and Williams ranked among the best free-agent signings of the year.

Hudson solidified a line, provided leadership and was a terrific pass blocker. He ranked among the best pass-blocking centers in the NFL in 2015 while also being graded as a strong run blocker. His performance, wrote PFF, was “a big part of the development” of quarterback Derek Carr, who had much more time to throw than in his rookie season.

Williams, meanwhile, ranked among the NFL’s top interior linemen in run-stop percentage and had “arguably his best season.”

And, both Williams (28) and Hudson (26) still have many productive seasons left, so they will be a part of whatever storyline McKenzie and Del Rio can build for the Raiders over the next few seasons.

A couple of more solid free-agent signings for both lines in March will set the tone for McKenzie’s work this offseason.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will Fullback Bruce Miller Have a Role in Kelly's Offense?]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:44:27 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/millahtyme.jpg

When Chip Kelly was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the fullback was as extinct as the dodo bird in his offensive scheme.

At both the University of Oregon and with the Eagles, Kelly employed the spread attack, with multiple wide receivers.

According to reporter Matt Maiocco of Comcast Sportsnet, citing Pro Football Focus, the Eagles never employed a fullback in Kelly’s three seasons and aligned a tight end in the backfield for blocking only 66 times. On the Eagles roster, Kelly carried seven wide receivers and four tight ends, but no fullbacks. As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wrote this week, that could be bad news for 49ers fullback Bruce Miller.

So, now that Kelly is head coach of the 49ers, what is Miller's fate?

Miller has been a top-tier performer for the 49ers and played a key role in the Jim Harbaugh-Greg Roman offensive scheme as a devastating blocker in an old-fashioned power-running attack. Miller’s blocking ability opened lanes for running back Frank Gore, and the converted defensive end also proved to be a valuable receiver out of the backfield.

However, Kelly is an offensive innovator, willing to change and adapt if he can see an advantage and at Oregon he in fact used a fullback at times.

In 2012, according to Charles Fischer, a writer for FishDuck.com, a website covering Oregon football, Kelly used a fullback as part of what he called his Jumbo formation, also called “The Beast in the Backfield.” The fullback, Colt Lyerla, was used as a blocker on power runs between the tackles and also as the first option (inside handoff) on read-option plays by quarterback Marcus Mariota.

In fact, Kelly used his fullback in multiple ways, positioning him in various spots in the backfield before the snap.

As Fischer wrote at the time, “It’s old school in theory, but innovative in its application within the spread offense.”

So, based on history, Kelly may be willing to incorporate Miller into his wide-open, spread scheme, especially because it would take advantage of a talented player while also giving defenses something else to think about.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TIMELAPSE: Demolition of Candlestick Park Complete]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 13:24:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/CANDLESTICK+GIF_18147279.gif

As the San Francisco 49ers’ new home, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, gets ready to host Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, the development company building a new mixed-used complex released time-lapse video of Candlestick Park being torn apart.

The video, provided on Thursday to NBC Bay Area by Lennar Urban and shot by OxBlue, shows about two minutes of the ‘Stick being taken down, seat by seat, and 19 seconds of what the future site should look like, including sweeping views of the San Francisco bay.

The eight-month demolition of Candlestick Park was finished in September to make way for a new urban mixed-use project at Candlestick Point in the southeast corner of San Francisco. More than 95 percent of the materials used to build Candlestick were recycled by the demolition firm, Silverado Contractors, according to Lennar Urban spokesman Dave Satterfield. The entire project should take 20 years and $8 billion to complete, thought the retail mall portion is expected to open in 2018, Satterfield said.

The complex, being built by Macerich Corp., will include an Africa diaspora-themed shopping marketplace, a hotel, movie theaters and 12,000 new homes at the site and nearby at the former naval shipyard of Hunter’s Point.

The 49ers left Candlestick Park after the 2013 season for a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara. The Super Bowl will be played there on Sunday between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.
 



Photo Credit: Lennar Urban]]>
<![CDATA[Road to Rio's Olympics: Six Things to Watch ]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:07:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/RioAthletesZika-AP_469134667784.jpg

The first Olympics to be held in South America will take place in August, when 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will compete in Rio de Janeiro.

The 2016 Summer Games will feature such iconic venues as Copacabana Beach for beach volleyball and Maracaña Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and medal soccer matches. (The most successful World Cup nation with five titles, Brazil has never won a men’s or women’s Olympic soccer title.)

Golf and rugby will return, golf for the first time since 1912 and rugby since 1924. But it will likely be the last Games for American Michael Phelps, who enters as the top-ranked swimmer in the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley, and for Jamaican Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, who swept the 100-meter dash and 200 meter dash at the World Championships in August.

Brazil is in a financial crisis and costs have been a problem. Organizers have cut $500 million to balance an operating budget of $1.85 billion, and the number of seats in some venues has been reduced.

And the appearance of the Zika virus has added a new anxiety.

So six months out, here are six ways to follow the 2016 Summer Games now:

The Olympic Torch will be lit from the sun’s rays on April 21 in the Greek city of Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient games. It will tour Greece before the relay officially begins on May 3 in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia. About 12,000 torchbearers will cover more than 22,000 miles by road and air. The torch itself — made from recycled aluminum and resin — expands as it is passed to reveal the colors of Brazil. The relay will end on Aug. 5, when the last torchbearer will light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony at Maracaña Stadium.

How does the flame remain burning throughout? The torch itself is extinguished at night or while on planes but the flame is still lighted in enclosed lanterns, which are closely guarded.

Will Rio be ready to host the Games?

One worry is the sewage-infested water that athletes will be swimming and boating in — near Marina da Gloria in Guanabara Bay, off Copacabana beach and in Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. Tests commissioned by The Associated Press -- the results of which were released in July and again in December -- discovered high levels of viruses and bacteria from human feces, up to 1.7 million times what would be considered dangerous on a Southern California beach. The contamination was found not only close to land but also offshore, where sailing will take place. In August, some athletes participating in pre-Olympic rowing and sailing events became ill with vomiting, fevers and diarrhea. 

Olympic and World Health Organization officials have not followed through on promises to do their own viral testing, according to the AP. WHO says Brazil needs only to test for bacterial “markers” of pollution.

Adding to the health concerns is the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which arrived in Brazil last year and is now “spreading explosively” across the Americas, according to WHO. Brazil reported a surge of babies born with microcephaly — marked by unusually small heads and severe brain damage — though exactly how many is in flux. The virus may also be causing another serious condition, Guillain-Barre syndrome, which leaves some patients unable to move.

Brazil’s health minister said the country would send 220,000 troops to eradicate mosquitoes but he also was quoted this month in the country’s major newspapers as saying the country was badly losing the battle.

Transgender athletes should be able to compete without undergoing sex reassignment surgery, according to guidelines announced by the International Olympic Committee in January. 

The guidelines were changed to reflect current scientific, social and legal attitudes about transgender issues, the committee’s medical officials told The Associated Press.

Previous guidelines, approved in 2003, required transgender athletes to have surgery followed by at least two years of hormone therapy before they could compete.

Now, female-to-male athletes are eligible to compete as males without restriction. Male-to-female athletes must show a testosterone level below a certain cutoff for at least a year before their first competition.

The guidelines, not regulations, are meant for international sports federations to follow.

Accusations of doping by Russia prompted U.S. Olympic athletes to call for officials to broaden their investigation, the AP reported. The Americans wrote to the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency the week of Jan. 25 in response to a two-part report detailing doping inside Russia’s track team, allegedly with the state’s participation.

The Americans want the investigation to be expanded to sports beyond track and field.

Follow along as athletes earn their way to Rio, beginning with the U.S. marathon trials in Los Angeles on Feb. 13. Trials for other popular events: diving, June 18 to 26 in Indianapolis; men’s gymnastics, June 24 to 26 in St. Louis; swimming, June 26 to June 3 in Omaha, Nebraska; track and field, July 1 to 10 in Eugene, Oregon; and women’s gymnastics, July 8 to 10 in San Jose, California.

The U.S. women’s soccer team will compete in Olympic qualifying matches to be held from Feb. 10 to 21 in Dallas and Houston, while the U.S. women’s water polo team will be competing for a berth from March 21 to 28 in Gouda, Netherlands.

A surfeit of talented players in some sports will make it tough to finalize Olympic teams.

Superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are among the 30 finalists for the U.S. men’s basketball team. The list features 18 players who have won 29 Olympic or World Cup gold medals. Other marquee names vying for the 12-member roster: Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City Thunder and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Likewise, the qualification system for golf will eliminate some top players. The 60 men and women will be chosen from the top official world rankings, but there is a limit of four players per country. The cutoff for qualifying is July 11.

Refugee athletes will have the chance to compete in the Games. Three potential athletes have been identified so far and up to 10 are expected to qualify, according to the IOC. A group of refugees will march together in the opening ceremony, a refugee will carry the torch during the Greek leg of the relay, and the torch will make a stop at a refugee camp in Athens, the president of the IOC said on Jan. 28 during a three-day trip to Greece, the AP reported.

The IOC has pledged $2 million to help refugees.

Nick Zaccardi contributed information for this article.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[London 2012]]> Sat, 28 Jul 2012 07:04:30 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/olympic-stadium-London.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[See Levi's Stadium Being Built From Ground Up]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:18:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/levi-animation_1200x675_616229443962.jpg After its second year of operations, Levi’s Stadium is ready to host Super Bowl 50 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Construction on the stadium, about 45 minutes south of the City in Santa Clara, began in April 2012. Work was completed by mid-2014 at a cost of about $2 billion.]]> <![CDATA[Snoop Dogg Deletes 'Ganja' Tweet ]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:13:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/snoop5.jpg

Rapper Snoop Dogg turned into a Super Bowl 50 “reporter” during the Broncos and Panthers press conference in Santa Clara Thursday, chatting up Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and telling Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis to “go to work” with a broken arm.

"That's your spirit. Go to work. And when you get a sack, dab with your broken one, for me," he told Davis, referring to the "dab" dance move newly popular with football players and other athletes.

The rapper tweeted a photo of him shaking hands with Manning: “Legend. #TurfdUp,” he wrote, referring in the hashtag to his YouTube sports show. His next tweet was a selfie, followed by a photo of himself acting as a reporter for DirectTV's "The Rich Eisen Show."

Snoop also sent out a couple of tweets promoting Merry Jane, his Marijuana lifestyle platform he hopes will act as an icebreaker for people who take pride in their love for marijuana.

One said: “ganja proving 2 help athletes with sports related injuries,” with a photo of a rolled up ball of weed.

The tweets were removed from his timeline after some time. It wasn’t immediately clear why the rapper took the tweets down.

The NFL has a strict drug policy, but many question whether it is out of date. According to media reports, marijuana is coveted by NFL players as an invaluable painkiller, and for younger players, smoking weed is normal.

"There are so many people in the closet, and we are giving them an opportunity to come out of the closet and just admit they like to smoke," Snoop said at the Merry Jane launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in September. "I’m a smoker, my name is Snoop Dogg, and I’m a stoner."



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NBA Champion Warriors Honored at the White House]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 13:22:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-508426396-sm.jpg Obama welcomed the 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to the White House to congratulate the team on their championship season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Clowning' Obama Impersonates Stephen Curry at White House]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 13:27:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WEB+GIF+OBAMA_18138916.gif

President Barack Obama always has fun when he welcomes world champs to the White House. Just ask the Giants.

But this takes the cake.

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"Steph's a pretty good shooter," the president said – with a laugh – during the NBA Champion Warriors visit to the White House on Thursday. "For those of you who watched the game against the Wizards last night, to use slang, he was clowning."

"He was all jumping up and down."

President Obama proceeded to demonstrate his Stephen Curry "clowning" impression.

Curry went off in Washington on Wednesday, scoring 51 points, with a career-tying 11 three-pointers.

In case you missed it, we've posted video of the entire White House ceremony.

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Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Mavericks Surf Contest on Hold Due to Super Bowl Blackout]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 04:08:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mavericks-handa.jpg

The huge events surrounding the Super Bowl, as well as the resources needed to accommodate the big game, will leave the Titans of Mavericks Surf contest on the sidelines this week.

The Pillar Point Harbor patrol continues to monitor the El Niño-powered waves pounding the Mavericks surf area in Half Moon Bay. Deputy Harbormaster Cary Smith says the 20-foot waves with 40-foot faces would be ideal for the contest.

But Thursday is the first day of a "blackout" period for the Mavericks contest because so many agencies needed for the contest are tied up with the Super Bowl.

Smith says the blackout period ends Monday.

"I know it might seem like bad timing," Smith told NBC Bay Area, "but we're hoping the Super Bowl will bring us luck and maybe super waves so the contest can be held."

The Mavericks surf contest is an invitation-only event in which the world's top surfers are notified about 48 hours in advance that conditions are right. The contest is not held if the timing doesn't work out.

Smith says this year reminds him of another when the waves finally hit the right size – but on Thanksgiving, and right before Christmas, both holiday blackout periods.

"We'll be ready today as we always are," Smith said. "The waves will bring out a lot of surfers. It will probably be like a showcase for the top surfers. It just won't be the Mavericks contest."



Photo Credit: Robert Handa/NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Golden State Warriors Honored at White House]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:27:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/AP_82877935622.jpg

In a season of memorable moments for the Golden State Warriors, the 2015 NBA Champions can add a White House visit to that list.

President Obama welcomed the team to the East Room Thursday and honored them for winning the championship title.

"Dub Nation is well represented here," the president said, noting Warriors' fans House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, were in attendance. 

"It's a bipartisan affair," Obama said.

The president also praised interim coach Luke Walton, who led the Warriors to a record-setting 24-0 start this season — none of which will count on Walton's officials record due to NBA rules that credits wins and losses to head coaches only.

“You defied the cynics, you accomplished big things, you racked up a great record and you don’t get enough credit. I can't imagine how that feels," Obama quipped, drawing parallels between his presidency and Walton's leadership.

The Warriors were already in D.C. for a game against the Washington Wizards Wednesday night, where reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry lead the team past the Wizards 134-121 for their eighth straight victory.

Obama took the chance to mock Curry’s celebrations during his 51-point performance.

“For those of you who watched the game against the Wizards last night, he was — to use slang — he was clowning,” Obama said, mimicking Curry's jumps.

This wasn't Curry's first White House visit, nor the first time meeting President Obama. The star guard swung by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in support of the president's Malaria Initiative last year, and the two also played a round of golf with Curry's dad and former Boston Celtics captain Ray Allen.

“It will be fun, I’m looking forward to it,” he told reporters Wednesday evening after the game. “Everybody, besides Coach Kerr and Luke Walton, it’s their first time [at the White House] so we’ll be excited.”

Celtics forward David Lee, who spent five years on the Warriors roster, joined his former team in D.C.

“It’s certainly a thing that I definitely can’t pass up, especially since we have the off day, and it’s a chance, one of the final times to kind of celebrate what was accomplished last year,” Lee told the Boston Globe earlier this week.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[After Comeback Season, 49ers' Gabbert Eager to Get Started]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 08:32:03 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/171*120/blaynegbrttt.jpg

While there is uncertainty about Colin Kaepernick’s situation with the 49ers in 2016 – will he stay or will he go? -- Blaine Gabbert’s status is more solid.

The 49ers certainly could sign a free-agent quarterback or draft one to compete for the starting role, but Gabbert will likely be in the mix.

After resurrecting what looked like a dead NFL career with a solid half season in San Francisco, Gabbert goes into this offseason at age 26 with another year left on his contract for a very affordable salary-cap cost of $2.25 million.

After making just one mop-up appearance for the 49ers in 2014, Gabbert started eight games for the 49ers in 2015, completing a career-high 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards and 10 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. His quarterback rating of 86.2 eclipsed his marks of 65.4, 77.4 and 36.0 in his three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also showed an ability to run and buy time in the pocket against pass rushers and came out of the season encouraged.

“I’m approaching this offseason like I’m the starting quarterback of the 49ers,” he told a reporter earlier this offseason, before Chip Kelly was hired as the successor to Jim Tomsula as head coach. “Regardless of what happens, that’s my mindset going forward, that I’m going to take this team and run with it.”

Now that Kelly has taken over, Gabbert has a hint of what’s in store for 2016. He’ll need to learn a new offensive system that operates more quickly than any other in the NFL. It’s a fast-paced scheme that will require quick reads, quick releases and quick feet, with the read-option a big part of the offense that Kelly also ran with the Philadelphia Eagles and at the University of Oregon.

This week, Gabbert told Carl Steward and Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group that he’s only had a brief meeting so far with Kelly, but he’s been studying film of Kelly’s offense with his previous teams and has a feel for what Kelly will require of him.

“I think the biggest thing from the quarterback standpoint is you have to distribute the ball to your playmakers,” Gabbert said. “The quarterback has to be in control of the game, so from that standpoint, you need a guy back there who knows the system in and out and knows where to go with the football.”

One thing he does know is that Kelly “has a proven track record of winning.”

“He’s going to bring that culture to the building, and I know we all can’t wait to start working with him,” said Gabbert.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Draymond Green Slings Coffee at Peet's in Berkeley]]> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:03:48 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/draymond-peet-1.JPG Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green played the part of a barista at the Peet’s Coffee & Tea store in Berkeley.

Photo Credit: Ariel Nava/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Stephen Curry Bangs Panthers' 'Keep Pounding' Drum]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 15:55:23 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/curry-drum-th.jpg The reigning NBA MVP banged the drum for the Panthers before the team took the field prior to Super Bowl 50.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[49ers Reverse Course on Cancelled Girl Scout Sleepover]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 05:51:19 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/nynyrsstadyumm.jpg

As it turns out, the 49ers messed with the wrong people: the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts of Northern California gave its troop members incentive to sell a lot of cookies over the next month. For girls who sell 50 cases, they’d be treated to an overnight party at Levi's Stadium in May. The organization signed a contract with the 49ers in September to host the party. The Girl Scouts estimate 1,200 girls and their fathers would attend.

This week, the 49ers backed out, saying a concert was just scheduled for that date.

“The girls were going to get to run through the tunnel and burst through a banner celebrating their
accomplishments. Just cool. The girls were excited,” said Marina Park, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California.

The Scouts knew the cancellation was a possibility. Still, the girls were devastated.

After news organizations, such as the Mercury News, which broke the story,  started asking questions Wednesday night, the 49ers backpedaled. The team released a statement saying the Scouts can host the overnight party the following week in May. It also stated the team will now cover the cost of the event, which the Girl Scouts estimate is around $70,000.

“It feels good, I have to say, to know we're appreciated and supported by our community,” Park said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Curry Drops 51 in Warriors' Win Over Wizards]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 19:52:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508243866_594_screen.jpg

 

WASHINGTON – It’s on to the White House for the Warriors, who can celebrate their NBA 2015 championship in the wake of a victory in the nation’s capital.

 

The Warriors once again gave back a big lead but were able to hang on for a 134-121 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday before a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

Steph Curry scored a game-high 51 points – 25 in the first quarter – to win a spirited battle of point guards with Washington’s John Wall, who finished with 41. Curry's 11 made 3-pointers matched a career-high.

Three other Warriors scored in double figures, as Klay Thompson totaled 24 points, while Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes each tossed in 12. Green posted his second consecutive triple-double, 10th overall, adding 12 assists and 10 rebounds to his points total.

The Warriors (45-4) concluded a sweep of their three-game East Coast road trip while also pushing their win streak to eight.

The Warriors took the lead three minutes after tipoff and never lost it, surviving several Wizards rallies. The Warriors pulled away despite committing 18 turnovers, off which Washington (21-26) scored 24 points.

The Warriors on Thursday visit the White House for a ceremony with President Barack Obama.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Curry stole the show early and clutched it to his chest for the entire evening.

Curry scored 25 points in the first quarter, giving him an NBA-best seven quarters this season with at least 20 points. He had 36 in the first half, the only player in the league with more than one 30-point halves this season.

His line: 51 points (19 of 28, 11 of 16 from 3-point distance), seven rebounds and two assists. He managed to finish plus-20 despite seven turnovers.

Green also finished plus-20 for the game.

TURNING POINT:
After Nene made one of two free throws to pull the Wizards to 87-84 with 3:52 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 10-0 run in only 73 seconds to go up 97-84 with 2:39 left in the quarter.

The Wizards got no closer than six in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors led by as much as 17 in the first half, but the Wizards opened the second half with a 17-5 run to cut it to two (79-77) with 8:24 left in the third quarter. Washington got no closer than six in the fourth quarter.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: C Festus Ezeli (L knee soreness) and F James Michael McAdoo (L foot toe sprain) were listed as out and placed on the inactive list.

Wizards: F Alan Anderson (L ankle surgery) and F Kris Humphries (R knee soreness) were listed as out and placed on the inactive list.

WHAT’S NEXT:
The Warriors on Thursday visit President Obama at the White House before returning to Oakland, where on Saturday they play host to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first meeting this season between the teams.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>