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Archive for September, 2012

Bryant field goal leads Falcons past Panther 30-28 (Yahoo! Sports)

ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan took an awful beating.

Another win for the Atlanta Falcons will make the pain a lot easier to take.

Shaking off a career-high seven sacks, Ryan completed a 59-yard pass to Roddy White with about a minute remaining, setting up Matt Bryant’s 40-yard field goal that kept the Falcons perfect on the season with a wild 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

After squandering a 24-14 lead in the second half, the Falcons needed a crucial fumble by Cam Newton to even have a chance – and they still faced long odds when the Panthers downed a punt at the Atlanta 1 with 1:09 remaining.

Ryan had no timeouts and surely some doubt about how much time his beleaguered offensive line would give him. But he dropped back about as far as he could, threw it about as far as he could, and relied on White to go up and make the catch.

He did, between two defenders.

Bryant’s kick won it with 5 seconds remaining.

”We made the plays when we needed to,” said Ryan, who passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns. ”That’s what you need to do week to week in this league.”

The Falcons (4-0) are off to their best start since 2004, when they reached the NFC championship game.

This was their stiffest challenge yet.

”That was exciting. Whew!” said coach Mike Smith, finally able to exhale. ”Every time it looked bleak, every time it looked like we didn’t have a chance, we were able to overcome it.”

Newton threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score. But he let the ball slip away when it looked as though he had clinched the victory for the Panthers (1-3).

”You have to protect the football,” Newton said. ”That was a key focus going into this game, and I fumbled. There’s a lot of guys that are trusting the ball carrier, and I was the ball carrier that particular play to get the job done. And I dropped the ball.”

On third-and-2 at the Atlanta 46, Newton took the snap and bulled his way over the left side, his body surging across the spot needed for the first down. On the sideline, several of the Panthers broke into a celebration.

But John Abraham knocked it loose, the ball squirting backward. Fullback Mike Tolbert covered it for Carolina at the 45 – 1 yard shy of a first down. After attempting unsuccessfully to draw the Falcons offside, the Panthers punted it away.

Ryan and White took advantage of another chance.

”I threw it high and far to the spot we talk about,” Ryan said. ”Roddy went up and made a great catch. When you’re in that situation late in the game, that’s what you have to do.”

White was sandwiched between cornerback Josh Norman and safety Haruki Nakamura, but managed to leap over both of them to bring down the pass at the Carolina 40. A pass interference call and two short completions made things easier for Bryant, who had already connected from 41 and 33 yards to improve to 8 for 8 on the season.

Make it 9 for 9.

The kick was straight down the middle.

With Julio Jones hindered by an injured right hand, White came up with a huge game for the Falcons. He had eight catches for 169 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. But his biggest catch was the final one.

”Matt told me he was going to throw it up there. Just make a play,” White said. ”Not for one second did we think we were going to lose the game.”

Ryan credited his offensive line on the final drive, even though they struggled most of the day to keep him upright against Charles Johnson and the rest of the Panthers defense.

Johnson spent so much time in the backfield he should’ve worn an Atlanta jersey, finishing with 3 1/2 sacks. Ryan was hit 12 times after throwing and hurried on at least a half-dozen other attempts.

”The offensive line did a great job,” Ryan said, all evidence to the contrary. ”If you’re going to throw the football that far down the field, you need some time. The guys did a great job of pass protection, giving us time to throw it down there.”

Newton’s fumble ruined what had been a stellar performance. He threw for 215 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown to Greg Olsen early in the game, then a 36-yard scoring play to Kealoha Pilares that put the Panthers ahead 28-24 with 7:55 remaining.

Newton also ran for 86 yards on nine carries, bulling his way into the end zone from 4 yards out late in the third quarter.

The Panthers played much better than they did in their previous outing, a 36-7 home loss to the New York Giants, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from sliding a daunting three games behind Atlanta in the NFC South.

”I want to apologize to my teammates and the fans that were watching out there,” Newton said. ”Everybody was doing their job. I clearly had the first down, but I’ve just got to hold onto the football.”

Ryan also connected on a 60-yard touchdown with Michael Turner, who took a screen pass right about the line of scrimmage and zigzagged down the field for the first scoring reception of his nine-year career.

DeAngelo Williams scored Carolina’s other TD on a 13-yard run.

Notes: The Falcons failed to score a TD on their opening possession for the first time this season, going three-and-out. Also, it was the first time the Panthers did not allow a touchdown on their opponent’s opening drive. … Nakamura had an early interception, but it was largely a day to forget for the Carolina free safety. He was beaten on both of White’s touchdown receptions, missed a tackle on Turner’s scoring play and had the ball snatched away by White on the long pass that set up the winning field goal. … Atlanta’s only other 4-0 start came in 1986.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Rick Ross And Jeezy Fight

Things got kinda rowdy last night at the BET Hiphop Awards in Atlanta last night. Rick Ross and Young Jeezy got a little physical backstage. DJ Drama was present during the scuffle and he summarized what happened. Check it out!!!

Below is what was tweeted during the incident…


Giants WR Hakeem Nicks out for Eagles game (Yahoo! Sports)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants will be without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks for Sunday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The team announced Saturday that Nicks will miss the contest because of a knee problem and will not make the trip to Philadelphia. He previously missed a Sept. 19 win over Carolina with a sore foot.

Coach Tom Coughlin has said Nicks developed swelling in his left knee after working out Thursday. It was his only expected practice for the game.

Nicks banged his knee making a catch against Tampa Bay.

The Giants will likely start either Domenik Hixon or Ramses Barden. Hixon missed the Carolina game with a concussion, but is probable this week. Barden picked up the start against Carolina and had career bests of nine catches and 138 yards.


NFL refs approve deal, ready for Sunday games (Yahoo! Sports)

IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL officials ended their labor dispute with the league by approving a new eight-year contract with a 112-5 vote Saturday, then hustled off to the airport to get to work.

Next stop, stadiums around the country.

And, the officials hope, anonymity.

”The last Super Bowl that I worked, when we got in the locker room, I said, ‘You know, the best thing about this game, nobody will remember who refereed this game,”’ said Scott Green, president of the referees’ association. ”That’s how we like to work.”

The vote ended a labor spat that created three weeks of increasingly chaotic games run by replacement officials who drew criticism of everyone from the average fan to President Barack Obama.

”It was pretty much ‘Come on in and vote,”’ Green said. ”We’re going to talk football now. We’re going to stop talking about CBAs and lockouts and now we’re going to talk about rules and video and getting ourselves ready to work football games.”

They may get ovations similar to the one bestowed on the crew that worked Thursday’s Cleveland-Baltimore game with the tentative deal in place.

The referees met for about an hour and a half Friday night to go over the contract, then gathered for another 30 minutes Saturday morning before approving the contract.

”We are obviously pleased to hear it,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Because they were aware of the financial parameters, most of the discussion by the referees involved non-economic issues such as year-round work and developmental squads, said Tim Millis, the association’s executive director.

The deal came together quickly this week after an increasing chorus of complaints became impossible to ignore when a disputed touchdown call on the final play gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers on national television Monday night.

Many thought the ruling of a Seattle touchdown instead of a Green Bay interception was botched, and the labor dispute drew public comments from Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

By late Wednesday, the sides had a contract calling for refs’ salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019. The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service.

The defined benefit plan will then be frozen. Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials to work year-round. The NFL also can retain additional officials for training and development and assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

The officials that worked Thursday’s Ravens-Browns game were cheered from the moment they walked onto the field. The difference between the regular crew and replacements was clear. The officials kept the game in control, curtailing the chippy play and choppy pace that had marred the first three weeks of the regular season.

”I think the thing we’re most proud of is the lesson that we all learned,” Green said. ”If you’re going to be in a professional league, you’ve got top-notch coaches, you need professional officials as well.”

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


NFL refs approve deal, scramble for Sunday return (Yahoo! Sports)

IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL referees voted and approved a new eight-year deal with the league on Saturday. Now they all can get back to the business of calling games.

Referees approved the contract by a 112-5 vote, officially ending a lockout that led to a rising chorus of complaints from players, coaches, fans and politicians. The next stop for the refs who gathered in Irving, Texas, was the airport, where most were to hop on planes taking them straight to their Sunday game sites.

The deal came quickly after three weeks of escalating difficulties for league-hired replacement refs, culminating in a disputed touchdown call that decided Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks game. With a tentative deal in place, league referees returned to cheers at Thursday night’s game between Cleveland and Baltimore.

The tentative contract called for refs’ salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019. The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service.

The defined benefit plan will then be frozen. Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials to work year-round. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

Monday night’s game ended in chaos after replacement refs called a touchdown catch for the Seahawks instead of a Packers interception. Many fans and commentators – and players in the league – thought the call was botched. Criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league kept escalating, and the labor dispute drew public comments from both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. By late Wednesday, both sides had a deal.

”It’s all history now,” head linesman Tom Stabile said Friday. ”For us, it was a benefit. It may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Line judge Jeff Bergman said he could see Monday night’s play coming as he watched at home. He noticed that players were starting to take advantage of replacement officials struggling to keep control of the game.

”The last play of the game was something that was going to happen sooner or later,” Bergman said. ”It gave us and the league an opportunity to get together and hammer out a deal that was going to get hammered out anyway.”

Referee Ed Hochuli, who led weekly tests and conference calls for officials to stay sharp during the lockout, declined to say whether the replacements made the right call.

”You really don’t want to see that,” Hochuli said. ”You don’t want to see the controversy. You don’t want to see teams lose games that they shouldn’t have lost, if indeed that’s what happened. We’re not making a judgment on that.”

Now, the refs have to get used to being fan favorites.

The officials that worked Thursday night’s Ravens-Browns game were cheered from the moment they walked onto the field. The difference between the regular crew and replacements was clear. The officials kept the game in control, curtailing the chippy play and choppy pace that had marred the first three weeks of the regular season.

Officials on Friday said they were ready for applause – and ready for when it inevitably disappears.

”After the euphoria of the moment wears off, probably sometime early in the second quarter, it’ll be back to regular NFL football mode,” said referee Gene Steratore, who will head to Green Bay for Sunday’s game, one week after Packers players ripped the replacements over Monday’s disputed touchdown. ”Players will be questioning our judgment, our ancestry. Coaches will be screaming at us. And it’ll be life as back to normal on Sundays.”

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Nicki Minaj Surprises Lil Wayne With A Birthday Present

Lil Wayne must have asked his friends not to get him any gifts for his birthday. Nicki Minaj surprised him with a nice present at Weezy’s birthday party in Hollywood, CA. Happy birthday Lil Wayne!!!


Officials gather for contract ratification vote (Yahoo! Sports)

IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL officials on the verge of approving a new contract say they’re excited to get back to work.

Officials started arriving Friday at a Dallas-area hotel to discuss and vote on an agreement reached with the league late Wednesday. Some planned to fly directly to their assigned cities for Sunday’s game.

The deal must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members.

Some said they thought Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks game, which ended in chaos after a call in the end zone gave the Seahawks the winning touchdown instead of a Packers interception, provided the final push toward a settlement. Many fans commentators – and players in the league – thought the call was botched.

Monday night’s call brought the three-week furor over replacement officials to a fevered pitch.

”It’s all history now,” head linesman Tom Stabile said. ”For us, it was a benefit. It may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Line judge Jeff Bergman said he could see the play coming as he watched at home. He noticed that players were starting to take advantage of replacement officials struggling to keep control of the game.

”The last play of the game was something that was going to happen sooner or later,” Bergman said. ”It gave us and the league an opportunity to get together and hammer out a deal that was going to get hammered out anyway.”

Referee Ed Hochuli, who led weekly tests and conference calls for officials to stay sharp during the lockout, declined to say whether the replacements made the right call.

”You really don’t want to see that,” Hochuli said. ”You don’t want to see the controversy. You don’t want to see teams lose games that they shouldn’t have lost, if indeed that’s what happened. We’re not making a judgment on that.”

After three weeks of games marred by mistakes, the regular refs said they were heartened by the support they’ve received from fans, players and coaches – even if they don’t expect it to last very long now that they’re back.

”You’re not really beloved by the public. You’re tolerated. And to see that type of reception that our guys got last night was really heartwarming,” said Bergman, who will head to Green Bay for Sunday’s game, one week after Packers players ripped the replacements for calling Monday’s disputed play a touchdown.

”After the euphoria of the moment wears off, probably sometime early in the second quarter, it’ll be back to regular NFL football mode,” Bergman said. ”Players will be questioning our judgment, our ancestry. Coaches will be screaming at us. And it’ll be life as back to normal on Sundays.”

One crew returned to work Thursday night. Cheered from the moment they walked onto the field, the men in stripes ran a smooth and efficient game as the NFL’s lockout of officials came to an end with the Baltimore Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Browns.

”To just be applauded by 50,000 people prior to anything happening, it was something that kind of chokes you up,” referee Gene Steratore said. ”It was a very special feeling.”

AP Sports Writers Joseph White and Rachel Cohen and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this story.

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Refs cheered at first NFL game following lockout (Yahoo! Sports)

BALTIMORE (AP) — No one is complaining that the refs cost the Cleveland Browns the game. That mere fact is a major victory for the NFL and the seven-man crew led by referee Gene Steratore, who brought official harmony back to the nation’s most popular league.

Cheered from the moment they walked onto the field, the men in stripes ran a smooth and efficient game Thursday night as the NFL’s lockout of officials came to an end with the Baltimore Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Browns.

”To just be applauded by 50,000 people prior to anything happening, it was something that kind of chokes you up,” Steratore said. ”It was a very special feeling.”

Sure, there were calls that made both sides unhappy. Browns coach Pat Shurmur drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing an intentional grounding call, and Ravens left tackle Michael Oher could be heard raising all kinds of beef about a holding call.

But, overall, the officials kept the game in control, curtailing the chippy play and choppy pace – not to mention the inconsistent calls – that had marred the three weeks of games with replacement officials.

”It was great to have those guys back,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said. ”It looked like they knew what they were doing.”

An agreement to end the lockout was reached late Wednesday after marathon negotiations, two days after a ”Monday Night Football” finish brought debate over the use of the replacements to a fevered pitch nationwide.

That game ended when a 24-yard desperation pass on the last play was ruled a touchdown – even though replays appeared to show it should have been an interception – giving the Seattle Seahawks a disputed 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

The stage was set for something eerily similar Thursday. A fourth-down unnecessary roughness penalty on Baltimore’s Paul Kruger – a good call, given the way he shoved Cleveland’s Joe Thomas after the whistle – gave the Browns one final play from the 18-yard line.

But Brandon Weeden’s 18-yard pass sailed high as time expired. No controversial ending this time.

”I thought they handled (the game) great,” Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. ”I had all the confidence in the world that this was going to be officiated in the right way.”

The newfound love for the refs was evident all evening.

About an hour before kickoff, they made their first appearance on the field and heard cheers from the early arrivals. A few minutes later, Steratore was shaking hands with Shurmur near midfield and getting a hug from Ravens face-of-the-franchise Ray Lewis at the 30-yard line.

Later, when the crew returned, they received a standing ovation and doffed their caps to the crowd. One fan held up a sign that read: ”Finally! We get to yell at real refs! Welcome back!”

”It was very chaotic with the replacement refs,” said Karen Riley, a 44-year-old fan wearing a Rice jersey. ”They couldn’t control the players on either side. There were bad calls, constantly, and in some cases refs making different calls at the same time.”

When Steratore then turned on his microphone to greet the captains for the pre-game coin toss, the crowd heard him say: ”Good evening, men. It’s good to be back.”

The stadium erupted in a roar.

”You know we always pride ourselves in being a face without a name,” Steratore, a 10-year league veteran, told The Associated Press about an hour before kickoff. ”This will be a little different, but I don’t expect it to last too long. And that’s the goal – is that we can let them get through that portion of this. It’s happy to be back, it’s happy to be appreciated. But then as soon as the game starts, it’s happy to disappear again and let the entertainers entertain.”

The deal to end the lockout is only tentative – it must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members in a vote scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Dallas – but both sides nevertheless went forward with the plan to have the regulars back for Thursday’s game.

So Steratore hustled to Baltimore, making the 3 1/2-hour drive Thursday morning from his home in the Pittsburgh area. He’s usually in place the day before a game, but none of his regular pregame meetings had to be changed because the Browns-Ravens game was at night.

”We’ve had a few weeks to actually realize that this was the first September that I was home for multiple Saturdays and Sundays for almost 30 years of my life, continuously. … It just feels completely different,” Steratore said. ”To be away from something that is involved with this level of professional sport, just to come back and feel that again, it doesn’t take long to realize why you were missing it as much as you were missing it.”

Steratore, who is a basketball official in the Big East Conference among others, also was fully aware he would be jeered the first time his crew made a questionable call – just like always.

”Without a question,” he said. ”I’ve been yelled at by my own children many times, so this won’t be any different.”

Sure enough, the same fans that cheered the coin toss let out a full chorus of boos when line judge Jeff Seeman tossed his yellow flag some 20 yards to whistle Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard for a personal foul in the third quarter. Replays showed it was a good call: Pollard led with his helmet to make contact with a defenseless receiver, costing the Ravens 15 yards in a drive that led to a field goal for the Browns.

Steratore’s crew nearly made a misstep in the first quarter, incorrectly spotting the ball by 2 yards after a misapplication of the rules following a holding call on the Browns. But two members of the crew caught the mistake and notified the referee before the next snap. A brief huddle ensued, and the ball was moved to its correct spot.

The crew made it clear it wouldn’t tolerate the extra shoving and yelling after the whistle that had been frequently permitted by the replacements. Offsetting personal fouls were called on Cleveland’s Johnson Bademosi and Baltimore’s James Ihedigbo for extracurricular roughness on a punt return in the first quarter.

Then there was Shurmur’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Replays appeared to validate the grounding call he was trying to contest, and the coach took responsibility for his loss of temper.

”I can’t do that,” Shurmur said. ”It’s an emotional game, and I got to make sure I keep my emotions in check.”

There were 18 penalties called in the game, mostly the familiar calls for holding and false start. There were two rare – and indisputable – whistles for fair catch interference on punt returns, and a hands-to-the-face call on Baltimore’s Kelechi Osemele was so obvious that it drew three flags.

The league’s new agreement with the officials runs for eight years. Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the ending of the Seahawks-Packers game ”may have pushed the parties further along” in the talks.

”Obviously when you go through something like this it is painful for everybody,” Goodell said. ”Most importantly, it is painful for our fans. We are sorry to have to put our fans through that, but it is something that in the short term you sometimes have to do to make sure you get the right kind of deal for the long term and make sure you continue to grow the game.”

The dispute even made its way to the campaign trail, with President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, calling Thursday ”a great day for America.”

”The president’s very pleased that the two sides have come together,” Carney said.

AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington, and AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Dwight Howard declares his love to Ellen Degeneres.

I’ve been loving you since 2004, Finding Nemo. – Dwight Howard

NBA sensation, Dwight Howard has declared his love for talk show host/comedienne, Ellen Degeneres on her hit self-titled talk show(The Ellen Degeneres Show). The talk host show/comedienne/actress played the character, Dory in the computer-animated comedy-drama film written and directed by Andrew Stanton. Actually, the film was released in 2003, not 2004 as the newly Los Angeles Lakers point forward mentioned on the show. Perhaps it was quite infatuated by Degeneres and led to his error. It happens.

See Dwight Howard on The Ellen Degeneres Show. And check out his dance moves for the ladies.


Cheers as NFL refs return: ‘It’s good to be back’ (Yahoo! Sports)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Referee Gene Steratore turned on his microphone to greet the captains of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens for the pre-game coin toss.

”Good evening, men,” Steratore said. ”It’s good to be back.”

The stadium erupted in a roar.

Yes, the real refs are back. Official harmony is restored to the NFL.

Steratore and his seven-man crew donned their familiar stripes for the first game of Week 4 after three weeks of replacement officials created moments of chaos throughout the league. The officials ran a mostly smooth and efficient game through three quarters Thursday night, with no headline-making calls as the Ravens took a 23-10 lead over the Browns.

”You know we always pride ourselves in being a face without a name,” Steratore, a 10-year league veteran, told The Associated Press about an hour before kickoff. ”This will be a little different, but I don’t expect it to last too long. And that’s the goal – is that we can let them get through that portion of this. It’s happy to be back, it’s happy to be appreciated. But then as soon as the game starts, it’s happy to disappear again and let the entertainers entertain.”

Everyone on all sides was happy to see the familiar faces they usually love to boo, and the welcome-back love began early. About an hour before kickoff, the officials walked on the field and heard cheers from the early arrivals. A few minutes later, Steratore was shaking hands with Browns coach Pat Shurmur near midfield and getting a hug from Ravens face-of-the-franchise Ray Lewis at the 30-yard line.

Later, when the crew returned, they walked on the field they received a standing ovation and doffed their caps to the crowd. One fan held up a sign that read: ”Finally! We get to yell at real refs! Welcome back!”

”The other refs just made dumb calls,” said Jessie Riley, a 15-year-old fan wearing an Ed Reed jersey. ”I couldn’t stand them. Now we won’t get robbed; everything will be fair – hopefully.”

A lockout of the league’s regular officials ended late Wednesday, two days after a disputed touchdown catch on the last play of ”Monday Night Football” brought debate over the use of the replacements to a fevered pitch nationwide. The Seattle Seahawks were awarded the score – and a 14-12 win – over the Green Bay Packers, a result that Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged ”may have pushed the parties further along” in the talks.

”Obviously when you go through something like this it is painful for everybody,” Goodell said. ”Most importantly, it is painful for our fans. We are sorry to have to put our fans through that, but it is something that in the short term you sometimes have to do to make sure you get the right kind of deal for the long term and make sure you continue to grow the game.”

The deal is only tentative – it must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members in a vote scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Dallas – but both sides nevertheless went forward with the plan to have the regulars back for Thursday’s game.

So Steratore hustled to Baltimore, making the 3 1/2-hour drive Thursday morning from his home in the Pittsburgh area. He’s usually in place the day before a game, but none of his regular pregame meetings had to be changed because the Browns-Ravens game was at night.

”Very elated to be back,” he said. ”It feels like being back home.”

Steratore, who is a basketball official in the Big East Conference among others, also was fully aware he would be jeered the first time he makes a questionable call – just like always.

”Without a question,” he said. ”I’ve been yelled at by my own children many times, so this won’t be any different.”

Sure enough, the same fans that cheered the coin toss let out a full round of boos when line judge Jeff Seeman toss his yellow flag some 20 yards to whistle Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard for a personal foul in the third quarter. Replays showed it was a good call: Pollard led with his helmet to make contact with a defenseless receiver, costing the Ravens 15 yards in a drive that led to a field goal for the Browns.

Steratore’s crew nearly made a misstep in the first quarter, incorrectly spotting the ball by 2 yards after a misapplication of the rules following a holding call on the Browns. But two members of the crew caught the mistake and notified the referee before the next snap. A brief huddle ensued, and the ball was moved to its correct spot.

The crew made it clear early that it wouldn’t tolerate the extra pushing and shoving after the whistle that had been frequently permitted by the replacements. Offsetting personal fouls were called on Cleveland’s Johnson Bademosi and Baltimore’s James Ihedigbo for extracurricular roughness on a punt return.

Steratore had to make a trip to the replay monitor for the same play to review a turnover. The replays clearly showed that Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs had fumbled, so Steratore confirmed the ruling on the field. Cribbs had his helmet knocked off and was injured on the play, creating the only lengthy delay in the first three quarters.

There were 12 penalties called through three quarters, mostly the familiar calls for holding and false start. There was a rare – and indisputable – whistle for fair catch interference on a punt return on Cleveland, and a hands-to-the-face call on Baltimore’s Mitchell Schwartz was so obvious that it drew three flags.

Steratore and his crew set up shop in the designated ”Officials Locker Room” in the bowels of the stadium. He emerged about 2 1/2 hours before kickoff to talk briefly to a stadium official about the wireless on-field microphone the referee wears. He later held a regular pregame meeting with stadium crew, telling them to ”make sure we run this thing as smoothly” as they had in his previous visits to Baltimore.

Steratore then walked down the tunnel and onto the field, pacing the sidelines with little fanfare because he was still wearing his coat and tie.

The lockout ended after marathon negotiations produced an eight-year agreement to end the lockout that began in June. However, for the Packers, Redskins, Lions and other teams who voiced their displeasure with calls that might have swayed games, the agreement doesn’t change their records.

The commissioner said he watched Monday night’s frenetic Packers-Seahawks finish at home.

”You never want to see a game end like that,” he said.

The new agreement will improve officiating in the future, Goodell asserted, reducing mistakes like those made Monday and making the strains of the last three weeks worthwhile.

Goodell acknowledged ”you’re always worried” about the perception of the league.

”Obviously, this has gotten a lot of attention,” he said. ”It hasn’t been positive, and it’s something that you have to fight through and get to the long term. … We always are going to have to work harder to make sure we get people’s trust and confidence in us.”

The dispute even made its way to the campaign trail, with President Barack Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, calling Thursday ”a great day for America.”

”The president’s very pleased that the two sides have come together,” Carney said.

AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington, and AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg in Baltimore, Larry Lage in Allen Park, Mich., Joe Kay in Cincinnati and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Regular refs to work Thursday game after agreement (Yahoo! Sports)

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL’s regular officiating crews are back. Their return couldn’t have come soon enough for many players, coaches and fans.

After two days of marathon negotiations – and mounting frustration throughout the league – the NFL and the officials’ union announced at midnight Thursday that a tentative eight-year agreement had been reached to end a lockout that began in June.

The deal came on the heels of Seattle’s chaotic last-second win over Green Bay on Monday night in which the replacement officials struggled. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was at the bargaining table Tuesday and Wednesday, said the regular officials would work the Browns-Ravens game at Baltimore on Thursday night.

”We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games,” NFL Referees Association president Scott Green said.

And plenty of players echoed that sentiment.

”Never thought I would be excited for the refs to come back to work but it’s about time it was definitely necessary!” Cleveland return specialist Josh Cribbs tweeted Thursday morning.

Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe chimed in, too.

”It was a noble experiment, but I think ultimately a failed experiment, from what we’ve seen. It’ll be good not to have to worry about that when we’re on the field,” he said. ”It’s good that it won’t be a distraction anymore.”

Shortly after the news broke, Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller tweeted, ”Welcome back REFS.”

The tentative deal must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members. They plan to vote Friday and Saturday in Dallas.

For the Packers, Redskins, Lions and other teams who voiced their displeasure with calls that might have swayed games, the agreement doesn’t change their records. But after having replacements for the first three weeks, triggering a wave of outrage that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season, Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck probably spoke for his peers by simply echoing Spiller: ”Welcome back.”

The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

Under the proposed deal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

”As you know, this has to be ratified and we know very little about it, but we’re excited to be back. And ready,” referee Ed Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”And I think that’s the most important message – that we’re ready.”

The longest contract with on-field officials in NFL history was reached with the assistance of two federal mediators.

Replacements have been used both to play and officiate NFL games before. In 1987, the players went on strike and three games were played with replacement players. In 2001, the first week of the regular season was officiated by replacements before a deal was worked out.

One big difference: The replacements 11 years ago generally came from the highest levels of college football. These officials were from lower college divisions or other leagues such as Arena Football.

After Seattle’s 14-12 victory against the Packers, their ability to call fast-moving NFL games drew mounting criticism, with ESPN analyst Jon Gruden calling their work ”tragic and comical.”

The Seahawks beat Green Bay on a desperation pass into the end zone on the final play. Packers safety M.D. Jennings had both hands on the ball in the end zone, and when he fell to the ground in a scrum, both Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had their arms on the ball.

The closest official to the play, at the back of the end zone, signaled for the clock to stop, while another official at the sideline ran in and then signaled touchdown.

The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned – but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.

That drew even louder howls of disbelief. Some coaches, including Miami’s Joe Philbin and Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, tried to restore some calm by instructing players not to speak publicly on the issue.

Fines against two coaches for incidents involving the replacements were handed out Wednesday.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was docked $50,000 for trying to grab an official’s arm Sunday to ask for an explanation of a call after his team lost at Baltimore. And Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was tagged for $25,000 for what the league called ”abuse of officials” in the Redskins’ loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. Two other coaches, Denver’s John Fox and assistant Jack Del Rio, were fined Monday for incidents involving the replacements the previous week.

”I accept the discipline and I apologize for the incident,” Belichick said.

Players were in no mood for apologies from anyone.

”I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but you have to have competent people,” Carolina receiver Steve Smith said. ”And if you’re incompetent, get them out of there.”

And now they are out.

AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds in Miami, Tom Withers in Cleveland, Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis, Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., and R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis contributed to this story.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL


Jay-Z’s Nephew Mel Carter Freestyles On ‘RapFix Live’

On Wednesday’s episode of “RapFix Live” Sway Calloway gave fans their first look inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, new home of the Brooklyn Nets–but you didn’t think we were gonna skip the freestyle segment of the show, right? Jay-Z’s nephew Mel Carter was on hand to take it away. Check out his freestyle above.

Watch full episodes of #RapFixLive at RapFixLive.MTV.com


Wellness Drink – Nopalea

Wellness Drink – Nopalea

Have you heard of the wellness drink called Nopalea? This drink has been getting a lot of positive reviews from those who have tried it. Being a health conscious person, I actually gathered some information about the drink myself. According to the maker’s of the product, Nopalea reduce pain caused by inflammation, improve joint health, and reduce muscle swelling.

For me, the most interesting thing about this product is that it reduces pain caused by inflammation. I have been experiencing inflammation in my elbow for a few months now. I strongly believe it was caused by lifting weights. I’ve used heat pads for temporary relief and even tried supplements such as fish oil capsules and calcium tablets. Unfortunately the pain still exist.

My father is in his late 60’s and he is very active. Recently he was diagnosed with gout. It started in his hands and fortunately it was treated at an early stage. Nopalea maybe an option for my dad as well. He will need something to help keep his joints healthy at his stage of life. He does a lot of physical work such as mowing the lawn and cleaning carpet and I don’t see him quitting anytime soon.

Most of us experience muscle swelling from time to time. Whether it is caused by extended hours of hard labor, running that extra mile, or trying to keep up with your workout partner, your muscles will respond in a painful way. Have you ever heard the saying “No pain no gain”? I am a firm believer of that phrase, however reducing the pain is always a plus in my book.

I’m going to be honest with you guys, I haven’t tried Nopalea yet. However I have placed an order for a free bottle. Once I try the product and determine whether it works for me or not, I will gladly share my experience with you. Thanks for reading this post.


Watch ‘RapFix Live’ From The Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center

On Friday, Jay-Z will officially open the doors, before Hov christens New York’s new entertainment arena with a whopping eight shows, “RapFix Live” will get the keys early. On Wednesday, MTV News’ Sway will take fans inside the house that Hovie built for an exclusive sneak peek.

Brooklyn Nets ballers Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks will appear in the special episode of “RapFix Live” as we give our dedicated viewers the grand tour, but that’s not all. Lupe Fiasco, Juicy J and Jay-Z’s nephew, Mel Carter, are also set to appear.

On September 19, the younger Carter dropped Popular Stranger, a 15-track mixtape that he hopes will set him up as a mainstay in rap. With some clever wordplay and a fluid delivery, the MC seems to have a bright future. Now, the youngster will have the chance to chop it up with Sway and spit a verse or two.

That’s not all, though. Lupe Fiasco will also make an appearance, returning to the show to break down his brand-new record, Food Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt.1 Lupe’s fourth album, which he released on Tuesday (September 25), is spearheaded by the singles “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)” and “Bitch Bad” and marks the return of one of rap’s most powerful voices.

If that isn’t enough for you, rap veteran and Three Six Mafia member Juicy J will also appear to talk about his upcoming debut solo album, which he’s recording alongside Wiz Khalifa and Dr. Luke. You’re not going to want to miss this.

Catch your exclusive first look at the Barclays Center when “RapFix Live” invades the home of the Brooklyn Nets, with appearances by Lupe Fiasco, Juicy J, Mel Carter and more on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET on RapFix.MTV.com. Be sure to join the Twitter conversation using the hashtag #RapFixLive!


Family Gets Grandma High (video)

There’s nothing like family right? RIGHT! Some families are more liberal than others. Like some grandmothers are more open to trying new things than the more tradition grandmothers. Shouts out to all the grandmothers in the world. R.I.P. Dorothy Hollingsworth and Mary Lou Freedman. And I’m sure when this grandmother is gone on the glory, this family is going to remember her in such a loving way as well, even though they did what I would have never done to my grandmothers. I’d definitely get the back hand and perhaps a tree branch too. Even in my 30s. hahahaha

See the video – Family Gets Grandma High for the 1st Time.

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Bryan Leach Will Serve Two-Year Prison Sentence For Gun Charge

(Leach signed A$AP Rocky last year)By Rob Markman

Hip-hop executive Bryan Leach is in hot water. On Monday (September 24), the heavyweight who once ran TVT Records and launched the careers of artists like Lil Jon, Ying Yang Twins and Pitbull pleaded guilty to attempted gun possession in New York and could face two years in prison the New York Post reports.

Leach, who most recently signed A$AP Rocky to Polo Grounds Music was arrested in 2010 after police reportedly observed his Bentley swerving erratically in Manhattan’s West Side. After searching Leach’s vehicle police found a Kel-Tech handgun, which was loaded with hollow-tip bullets.

Originally the record exec was charged with two counts of weapons possession, but plead guilty to a reduced count of attempted weapons possession in the second degree. In addition to his prison-bid Leach will also have to serve a year and a half of probation once he is released.

Leach hasn’t officially been sentenced and he is being allowed to remain free until his November 8 hearing. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lewis Bart Stone warned Leach that he could wind up in jail for a total of seven years if he fails to cooperate with probation officials or if he doesn’t return to court for sentencing.

What do you think of Byran Leach’s looming prison sentence?


Nicki Minaj Says ‘American Idol’ Gig Is A ‘Milestone’ For Hip-Hop

Nicki Minaj‘s new judging gig on “American Idol” came as a surprise to some fans, despite rumors that the deal was in the works for a few weeks, but initial reactions aside–Minaj maintains that it’s a huge leap forward for the hip-hop community.

Confirmation of the new position was met with mixed reaction — naturally — and while Nicki admits that she hears the criticism loud and clear, she’s also learned to look past it.

Minaj’s addition to the “Idol” judging panel was rumored for weeks, and finally confirmed a few days ago when she and Keith Urban joined Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson in New York to begin filming the new season. Most of her Barbz were thrilled with the move, while the naysayers had their own opinions, but in the end the Trinidad-born, Queens-bred rapper is looking at the bigger picture.

“It’s a milestone for me; it’s a milestone for hip-hop; it’s a milestone for young black women,” Nicki told MTV News, reflecting on the weight of her new gig. “Has there ever been a black woman [judging] on the show? This is a show that 20 million people watch so I feel like we should be represented on that show and I’m very proud of my decision to do it.”

Her decision to accept the “Idol” position wasn’t an instantaneous one, but in the end it was the right one. “Of course I had doubts but I had to realize that my fears of doing the show came a lot from what I thought people would say,” she explained. “I had to really think and [realize that] a lot of decisions I’ve made in my career, people thought I was f—ing crazy and I made them, and I continue to make the hard decisions. I continue to make the decisions that people don’t have the balls to make. And that’s what separates me from everybody else.”

Consider this another notch on Nicki’s million-dollar belt — one that will likely come with exponential bragging rights soon enough. “This is just gonna be another tough decision that Nicki Minaj makes,” she added. “Another thing that I’m gonna open the door and pave the way for people to do. And I think that’s where I am with it, just feeling with OK with me and my choices and not having to answer to anybody, because people will criticize you to the f—ing poorhouse. I’m very, very excited. I can’t wait for my Barbz to watch.”


Frank Ocean’s ‘Pyramids’ Video Director Breaks Down Visuals

By Rob Markman

Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” video is just as epic as the almost 10-minute long track, and director Nabil Elderkin guided MTV News through the stunning visuals.

Strolling through a desert strip-club on an acid-induced trip with John Mayer sounds like fun, but if you’re not that adventurous, maybe you’d rather just stay home and watch Frank Ocean’s “Pyramids” video.

“Basically we wanted something enjoyable to watch that compliments the song,” Nabil Elderkin told MTV News of the eight-minute “Pyramids” video that he and Frank Ocean released on September 16. “We just tried to come at it in that way that felt like he was on a trip, however you interpret it; an absinthe-induced journey.”

The Channel Orange single finds Ocean at a crossroads of sorts as he lyrically plays a love-struck lothario who is torn between his heart’s desires and getting money as his girl struts back and forth between home and her job at a go-go bar. Frank’s vocals are emotionally complex, but for the video, all Nabil wanted to do was entertain. “I just wanted to create something visually entertaining,” he said. “He told me two things: ‘I want to have a desert scene driving a car and I want John Mayer performing somewhere with florescent lights behind him.’ So I just interpreted it in my own way.”

Ocean eventually changed his mind and opted for a motorcycle, ditching the original car concept, but of course the Mayer guitar solo remained. “It was about two musicians coming together, working together,” the director explained of the chemistry that guitarist and Ocean exhibited on set.

“Pyramids” features beautiful panoramic desert shots and then of course there is the NSFW eye candy with the strippers. Still, Elderkin, who has worked with Ocean on his “Novacane” and “Swim Good” videos, applied some subtle, but serious after-effects in post-production, providing more of an artsy vibe.

In the desert scene, Frank rides at blazing speeds, while neon trails of lights follow him. The video’s dancers look pretty cool too, after Nabil added some computer generated body art. He was influenced a bit by the 1997 Al Pacino film “The Devil’s Advocate” and Johnny Depp’s 1998 cult classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

“My whole goal during the post was to achieve something that felt real and surreal without it being overdone,” he said. “I wanted to give the same kind of dark feeling that was achieved in both those films. I just did it in my own way.”

What’s your favorite scene in Frank Ocean and Nabil Elderkin’s “Pyramids” video? Let us know in the comments!


The Burger King visits McDonald’s and starts dancing and giving away free burgers to children

This has got to be embarrassing matters out of all the fast food franchise. Though the actual Burger King franchise had nothing to do with it, I’m sure the CEO’s of BK are having a party all across America.

Here’s the story:

A man dressed as The Burger King (BK’s famous mascot) went into a McDonald’s restaurant (which happens to be their #1 competition) dancing and handing out free burgers. Children in their innocence were so excited to see The King, posting and taking pictures with him, which is another embarrassment to McDonald’s. Perhaps they should now start having security guards dressed as Ronald McDonald posted in just about every McDonald’s restaurant in America.

Check out The Burger King at McDonald’s video below.


Kanye West’s Sex Tapes Stolen From His Computer

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Roscoe Dash Demands Credit For Kanye West, Wale Tracks

By Rob Markman

Roscoe Dash has quite the chip on his shoulder and on Thursday the “All the Way Turnt Up” spitter set his sights on Kanye West, Wale, Meek Mill and RB singer Miguel.

It all started when the Atlanta rapper/producer fired off a tweet claiming he wasn’t properly credited as a writer on G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer, LP which was released in stores on Tuesday. “Everybody go get the G.O.O.D album and listen to #1… tell me y I’m not on the credits,” he wrote.

“To the World,” the album opener to which Roscoe was referring, features Kanye West and R. Kelly. Both Kelly and West’s names appear in the credits as well as the track’s producer Pop Wansel, but Dash, whose real name is Jeffery Johnson Jr., does not. Though he doesn’t specifically say what his contribution to Cruel Summer was, Dash alludes that he did some writing for the song and says you can actually hear him on the track. ” as far as @KanyeWest ‘To The World’ if u listen close my adlibs are STILL in the song,” he tweeted before sending out an Instagram pic of his iTunes library with the track’s reference file appearing on his screen.

Seems like this isn’t the first time Dash has been short-changed either. After airing his grievance with Yeezy, he then focused on Wale, claiming that he wrote the hook for the Maybach Music rapper’s #1 single “Lotus Flower Bomb,” even though it was Miguel who actually appeared on the chorus. “the record went #1 I wasnt credited,” he wrote.

Dash seemed about done, until Miguel interviewed with Complex.com in which he called the situation “retarded.” Roscoe then retweeted a link to Miguel’s interview with the hashtag “#cornball.”

All of hip-hop seemingly took notice, and that’s when Meek Mill chimed in by tweeting: “Yo @Roscoedash u must not b getting no money b! Lol.”

Meek and Dash have gotten into it over the social networking site before. After the Philadelphia MC tossed his barb, Roscoe responded with an Instagram picture of Meek apologizing to him after their last tiff.

It was quite the spectacle, but at the end of the day, all Roscoe Dash wants is his just due. “Can’t do favors for n—as bcuz no matter how humble and generous u r to ppl n—as will take everything u have … Even n—as u look up to,” he wrote. “The most talented ppl get the least credit for everything and the crazy part is they put in the MOST work…”

 

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Big K.R.I.T. Brings ‘Live From The Underground’ To NYC With Slim Thug, Tito Lopez

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

The Big Apple received a dose of Southern hospitality last night when Big K.R.I.T. brought his Live from the Underground tour to Irving Plaza. A slew of openers set the stage including newcomer Tito Lopez and most notably, Houston’s Slim Thug. In addition to his own repertoire of songs like “Thug,” “Like a Boss” and the remix to “Draped Up,” Slim Thugga surprised the audience with Swishahouse associate Paul Wall, who joined him onstage for “Still Tippin'” (yet unfortunately, sans Mike Jones).

K.R.I.T. started his set with an energetic frenzy and although he said it was his fifth show in NYC, the Mississippi native rapped like he had something still to prove. He touched upon beloved mixtape cuts like “Just Touched Down,” “Hometown Hero” and “Moon Stars” as well as more recent album fare, “Money on the Floor” and “Pull Up” featuring Big Sant. He even sang, sometimes acapella at that, during “The Vent” and “Highs Lows.”

It was certainly not a short show and after some 20 or so odd songs, the length began to plague both the audience and artist. He ended on a high note, bringing out producer 9th Wonder and others onstage during “I Got This” which turned into an impromptu rager filled with chants of “F–k these haters and f—k these h–s.”

Live from the Underground is slated for several more dates including stops in Philadelphia, Montreal and Cleveland.

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Taylor J Readies Control Mixtape

Taylor J is gearing up to drop his new mixtape Control, and the ATL rapper sat down with Shaheem Reid for a candid interview about his music, explaining, “I feel like right now I’m taking my career and everything into my own hands more than ever.” Check out the full interview above. Taylor J recently dropped his video for “No Good” featuring Gucci Mane and Dose.

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’42’ Trailer Gives First Glimpse At Jackie Robinson Biopic

The trailer for “42,”  the upcoming film from director Brian Helgeland debuted on Thursday (September 20) giving fans a a first look at the true story, which will be based on the journey and struggle of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson. Robinson made history in 1947 becoming the first Major League Baseball player.

Actor Chadwick Boseman will play the groundbreaking slugger in “42.”  But what’s supposed to be an uplifting story starts on a tense note — appropriate enough given the climate of the times the movie is set in — as Robinson takes a long walk down a hall toward his team’s dugout, and eventually onto the field itself.

From there, the trailer shows a world steeped in segregation, where bathrooms and seating areas and more are assigned by skin color. It’s not a world that sits well with Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, played here by Harrison Ford. It’s a world that he wants to change.

Enter Robinson. The legendary athlete is seen in numerous scenes from his early childhood to his first days in the major leagues, while Jay-Z and Santigold’s “Brooklyn Go Hard” blares in the background. And the going is very hard indeed for Robinson, who finds himself beaned in the face by a deliberately aimed pitch, a clear signal that he’s unwanted in this game.

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