Drew Brees brilliance, Tom Brady’s bumbling and buoyant Bills — NFL Week 3 review

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees goes over the top for the winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Atlanta Falcons 43-37 in an NFL football game, on Sunday, Sept 23, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Drew Brees brilliance, Tom Brady’s bumbling and buoyant Bills — NFL Week 3 review

Here is Arab News’ weekly examination of all the talking points from the NFL...

Has Drew Brees’ loyalty cost him greatness?
There are very few records left to break for the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees. In Sunday’s thrilling overtime win against divisional rivals Atlanta Falcons, Brees broke Brett Favre’s record for the most completed passes in NFL history. In the coming weeks, he will likely overtake Peyton Manning’s NFL record for career passing yards — Brees needs just 417 more to claim that record.
Yet, for all his numerical greatness, he has just one Super Bowl ring. Since 2006, Brees has been the Saints’ quarterback, and the stars aligned in 2009 as his efforts clinched an emotional Super Bowl for the team. But he has not been back to the Big Game since, and one has to wonder whether, if he had had the attacking weapons at the disposal of Manning and Tom Brady over the past decade, he could have won a few more. When he does finally call it a day, he will look back fondly on a fantastic career, but perhaps with a touch of regret that — in a sport where titles matter — he will not be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Brady, John Elway and Joe Montana.

Is the Patriots dynasty finally waning?
Speaking of Brady, we are in uncharted waters with the New England Patriots after losing to the previously winless Detroit Lions for back-to-back defeats. Over the past 15 years, that has only happened six times. Worse still, onlookers labeled it one of the low points in Bill Belichick’s 19 years at the franchise. The usually potent and formidable attacking line of the Patriots has not clicked at all this season. There is hope for Pats fans, though, as they have made similarly bad starts before and gone on to win the whole thing. But there is a nagging feeling that this is the beginning of the end for this all-conquering Patriots dynasty.

The NFL is anything but predictable
Hollywood loves an underdog movie about gridiron — think “Any Given Sunday” — but in the NFL, life sometimes imitates art. In the first two weeks of the season, the Buffalo Bills looked like a high school team. This week, they turned up to face the much-fancied Vikings in their own back yard and trounced them 27-6. Meanwhile, the league’s dark horses, Jacksonville, were far from championship-winning material in a dour 9-6 loss to the Titans. A lot of non-sporting nonsense surrounds the NFL, but at its core is an intriguing, exciting and highly unpredictable sport.


We could watch the Kansas City Chiefs every week
The exploits of Patrick Mahomes make the Chiefs the most exciting team to watch in the NFL at the moment, but their blistering offensive line and sometimes shambolic defense mean their games have been high-scoring blockbusters. They became the first team to score 38 points or more in a game during the first three weeks with a 38-27 win over San Francisco, but they have also conceded 92 points in those three matches. Not bad, considering they are spearheaded by Andy Reid, the man sacked by the Eagles for making them too defensively minded and negative.

 


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”