FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Cleveland Browns have the last laugh, Philip Rivers deserves a ring and Seattle Seahawks show spirit

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The Browns are finally looking like a competitive team. (AFP)
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Updated 27 November 2018

FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Cleveland Browns have the last laugh, Philip Rivers deserves a ring and Seattle Seahawks show spirit

  • Hue Jackson endures sorry loss against his former Cleveland Browns.
  • Philip Rivers once again proves he is worthy of a Super Bowl ring.

LONDON: As we grind closer to the playoffs who is dancing in the end zone and who is is in need of a hail Mary pass?

ALL HAIL RIVERS


I have waxed lyrical about LA Chargers’ Philip Rivers before, but as each week passes he gets better and better. He completed 25 consecutive passes — the first time that has happened in a single game in NFL history — on the way to driving the Chargers to a win over Arizona Cardinals. He led the team to 45 unanswered points in the last three quarters in response to going 10-0 down in the first. If that was not enough, his 96.6 percent completion rate — having connected on 28 of his 29 throws — is a new record as well. Rivers has commendably stuck with the Chargers through thick and thin, even during their move from San Diego up the road to Los Angeles. But it will be one of gridiron’s great travesties if he ends his career without a Super Bowl ring. Any other player, with so much talent, at one of the NFL’s stand out franchises would have a different one to wear every day of the week, but it has never worked out for Rivers. For neutrals without a team to support in the playoffs this year, they could do a lot worse than Rivers and his Chargers.


BROWNS GET THE LAST LAUGH

The story of Hue Jackson’s switch from the Cleveland Browns to their Ohio neighbors in Cincinnati has been the great soap opera of this season. The final nail in the coffin of Jackson's ill-fated stint as head coach at the Browns was his inability to manage and get the best out of the raw talent of quarterback Curtis Mayfield. And, as if to rub salt in the wound, the traveling Browns fans could not hide their glee as their former coach paraded up and down the Bengals touchline, now a Bengals assistant coach, trying to stop a rampant Mayfield. And failing as miserably as he had when trying to utilize him. Mayfield was superb in a very comfortable 35-20 Browns win, finishing with 258 yards and four scores for an offense that secured touchdowns on their first four drives. Mayfield's performances have brought smiles to the long-suffering Browns fans this year, and while a 4-5 record is hardly going to threaten the big guns, a competitive team has been a long time coming for that city.

SEAHAWKS SPIRIT

You have to hand it to Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson. Even when they are not firing on all cylinders, this Seattle Seahawks side find ways to win. Week 12 was the second week running that they managed to steal victory from the jaws of impending defeat. We cannot ignore the fact that the Panthers were extremely wasteful and should have won this game long before they lost it 30-27. But Wilson was fantastic, escaping from seemingly certain sacks to hit big throws at vital moments. With time ticking away in the last quarter and on a three-yard fourth down, Wilson threw a perfect pass into the hands of David Moore for the game-tying touchdown. A day when he sparked flashbacks to his remarkable 2013 season.

NFL DOING THE RIGHT THING


With the furore surrounding players “taking a knee” during the US anthem that has surrounded the NFL in the past 14 months, and a supposed lack of support for players from franchises and league authorities, it should be celebrated when the league makes a good decision. San Francisco 49ers’ Reuben Foster was hit with another domestic violence charge this week after an incident in Tampa Bay, having had similar charges dropped earlier in the year. General Manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan instantly made the decision to release Foster. Kudos.

 


Muslim Premier League stars join initiative to help UK’s health service fight coronavirus

Updated 10 April 2020

Muslim Premier League stars join initiative to help UK’s health service fight coronavirus

  • The NHS Charities thanked the players for the initiative

LONDON: Muslim football stars Riyad Mahrez and Xherdan Shaqiri are among 150 Premier League players who announced an initiative to help fund the UK’s National Heath Service (NHS) in its fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The fund, called “#PlayersTogether,” was revealed in a statement on social media by several of the game’s superstars on Wednesday, including Manchester City’s Algerian striker Mahrez and Liverpool’s Swiss midfielder Shaqiri.

 

 

 

 

“We can confirm that after extensive conversations between a huge number of players from all Premier League clubs we have created our own collective player initiative, #PlayersTogether, and have partnered with NHS Charities Together in order to assist them in generating and distributing funds quickly and efficiently to where they are needed most,” the statement said.

“It is about we, as players, collaborating together to create a voluntary initiative, separate to any other league and club conversation, to try and help, along with so many others in the country, to make a real difference.”

 

 

According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, alongside Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, the fund will be managed by Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, Watford’s Troy Deeney and West Ham’s Mark Noble.

The NHS Charities thanked the players for the initiative and it was welcomed by the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who had contracted COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

“Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part,” Hancock tweeted after the announcement.

The move follows comments by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters who admitted the league could lose “at least £1 billion ($1.2 billion)” as a result of the virus and this week suggested a 30 percent pay cut for players, but discussions broke down after the Professional Footballers Association said lost tax receipts would end up hurting the NHS.

The league’s players had been criticized, in particular by Hancock, for not doing enough in contrast with top players from Europe’s other high-profile leagues — such as Spain and Germany — who took significant pay cuts amid the crisis.

Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford acknowledged the criticism his fellow footballers had received and welcomed the initiative.

“I think there has been plenty of occasions, for me personally, where we’ve tried to help but we’ve not helped in the best way possible,” Rashford told BT Sport, adding: “You can get some backlash from that. We wanted to take our time with the decision.”

Other Muslim players from the Premier League have been active in helping the fight against the coronavirus, including United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba who used his 27th birthday to team up with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to raise £27,000 for their work helping the world’s vulnerable children during the crisis.

 

 

“It’s my birthday and I’m always grateful that me, my family and friends are healthy. Nonetheless, not everybody is in good health right now. The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting the health and lives of many, including children,” Pogba wrote.

“The impact of a large-scale outbreak, especially on poor and vulnerable children, can be immense.

“UNICEF is helping prevent the spread of coronavirus by supplying vital medical supplies, consulting with communities and implementing prevention campaigns. It is a priority to stop the spread of this new virus, and the misinformation that’s spreading alongside it. At times like this we need to come together.”

Arsenal’s German superstar Mesut Ozil also invited fans to share pictures of them proving they are staying at home with any of his replica jerseys, promising to share the best images on his social media channels and an invitation for two people to an Arsenal match at Emirates Stadium.