Ronaldinho retires from professional football

Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho has retired from football, according to his agent and brother Roberto Assis. The 37-year-old has not played for a professional team since leaving Brazilian side Fluminense in July 2015. “He has stopped, it is ended,” Assis wrote in a column for Brazilian newspaper O Globo. “Let’s do something pretty big and nice after the Russia World Cup, probably in August. We will do various events in Brazil, Europe and Asia and, of course, we are arranging something with the Brazilian team as well.” Ronaldinho began his career with Gremio in Brazil before joining PSG in 2001.  It was his time at Barcelona that came to define his career, winning two La Liga titles ,one Champions League trophy and one Ballon d'Or in a five-year stay at the Nou Camp.  Lionel Messi recently identified Ronaldinho as the one person who helped him adjust to playing for the senior Barcelona team.  "Everyone welcomed me into the dressing room, and [Ronaldinho] welcomed me in a spectacular way," he said. "To go into that dressing room was not easy but he made it all so much easier." #Ronaldinho, the man who enchanted San Siro and every football fan has officially retired 🇧🇷@10Ronaldinho si ritira, dopo aver illuminato i campi di tutto il mondo con le sue magie! 🤙🏻— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 16, 2018 Ronaldinho then spent three years  with AC Milan, winning one Serie A title in an illustrious team that included David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  He returned to his native Brazil in  2011 with a spell at Atletico Mineiro before rounding off his career with Queretaro in Mexico and finally Fluminense. Continue Reading

XFL returns: ‘Professional football re-imagined’

World Wrestling Entertainment founder Vince McMahon on Thursday announced the return of the XFL in 2020.Like the first rendition of the XFL, the league will consist of eight teams that will play games with a two-round playoff. McMahon said the location of the teams, the team names or the precise format of games has not been determined. "We will present a shorter, faster-paced, family friendly and easier to understand game," McMahon said in a news conference. "Don't get me wrong, it's still football, but it's professional football re-imagined."  McMahon said that the XFL will place teams "where fans want us to go"  and added that league was "nowhere near" selecting any of the cities what will be home to franchises. Each franchise will be owned by the league. The rules in the original XFL didn't include the ability to call a fair catch, leading to massive hits (and injuries). This time around, McMahon said player safety will be a priority.  McMahon didn't come right out and guarantee that players would be required to stand for the national anthem, but said the rules will be made public and players will know the XFL's rules if a mandate to stand during the anthem is included. "I think, it's a time-honored tradition to stand and appreciate the national anthem for any sport here in America, for that matter in any country," McMahon said. "I think it would be appropriate to do that."McMahon was given the names of three quarterbacks not currently on NFL rosters and asked if he'd like to see them be part of the XFL: Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick. "We want someone who does not have any criminality associated with them whatsoever. In the XFL, even if you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL," McMahon said. "If Tim Tebow wants to play, he could very well play."None of the players listed were arrested for driving under the influence and only one (Manziel) has a known criminal Continue Reading

Peyton Manning to receive Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football

Two-time Super Bowl champion and former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was selected as the winner of the 2018 Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football “for his positive impact to the game, both on and off the field.” Manning, the 10th recipient of the award, will be honored at a Feb. 24 banquet in Kansas City, Mo., and will be joined by AFC and NFC player and coach of the year honorees at a gala to benefit the University of Kansas Health System. “In addition to being one of the greatest to ever play the game, Peyton Manning reshaped the way the quarterback position is played and transcended the sport to become one of the most popular athletes of his generation,” said Clark Hunt, the Chiefs’ chairman and CEO, and the son of the award’s namesake. “Throughout his career and into retirement, he has handled the many demands of a superstar with class, respect and dignity. Our family is thrilled to add Peyton’s name to the outstanding list of previous recipients over this first decade of the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football.” The Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football was established in 2008 by the 101 Awards to honor the life and legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ founder. The selection committee focuses on five criteria — vision, humble leadership, integrity, fan dedication and innovation — and its group of past honorees include broadcaster Al Michaels, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy. Continue Reading

Former Brown Deer standout Jake Schimenz starring as professional football player in Brazil

Jake Schimenz has long had a goal to play professional sports overseas.He figured if an opportunity arose, it would be through baseball, the sport he played in college. But conversations with fellow athletes at Sterling College led the former Brown Deer High School standout to realize there could be opportunities to play professional football. Schimenz began emailing highlight film and a sales pitch to teams across the world.A Brazilian football team was the first to express interest, and Schimenz was soon off to begin his professional career with Tomahawk in the town of Limeira. "I really had no expectations," Schimenz said. "I had no idea what to think of football overseas. I didn't know what the competition would be like." Schimenz was a multi-sport standout in baseball, basketball, football and track and field at Brown Deer. He was a two-time All-State infielder for the baseball team, a four-year letterwinner on the basketball team and qualified for the state track meet on four different occasions, including winning the 800-meter state title as a sophomore in 2011.Schimenz took over as Brown Deer's starting quarterback five games into the 2010 season after Brett Youngbeck went down with an injury.He threw for 533 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 423 yards and 10 scores in just five games, leading the Falcons to an 8-2 record and the Woodland Conference title before a Level 1 playoff loss to Milwaukee Lutheran. Schimenz helped Brown Deer to a 5-5 mark and a playoff berth during his junior season of 2011, throwing for 740 yards and 10 touchdowns and running for two more touchdowns.A shoulder injury limited him to just one game during his senior year of football and also caused him to miss two-thirds of the following basketball season. Schimenz went on to pursue baseball at the next level, playing four years at Sterling College in Kansas. After hitting .350 in 40 games as a senior, Schimenz talked to former Sterling Continue Reading

It’s the 65th anniversary of the Browns upsetting the Eagles in ‘World Series of Professional Football’

Sixty five years ago, in 1950, the Philadelphia Eagles played the Cleveland Browns in what was called the "World Series of Professional Football."It was the biggest game in the history of the NFL at the time because it pitted an Eagles team that was the NFL champion in 1948 and 1949, against a Browns team that was the All-American Football Conference champion all four years — 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949 — of the league's existence. Although technically not a championship game, the contest had all the anticipation and hype of this era's Super Bowl.On Saturday night, Sept. 16, 1950, the Cleveland Browns upset the Philadelphia Eagles, 35-10, in the opening game of the 31st National Football League season before 71,237 fans in Philadelphia's Municipal Stadium (later JFK Stadium).The Otto Graham-led Cleveland victory over the Eagles in 1950 had the same shock value among football fans of that era as when the Joe Namath-led New York Jets upset of the 18-point favorite Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, 19 years later, in January 1969.The Browns' victory sealed the merging of three AAFC teams — Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts — into the gridiron establishment of the NFL.The EaglesPhiladelphia, coached by Earle "Greasy" Neale played in three straight NFL championship games from 1947 to 1949 and won the title the last two. The 1950 Eagles were paced by quarterback Tommy Thompson and four future Pro Football Hall of Famers in Steve Van Buren, the NFL's greatest runner at that time, end Pete Pihos, center/linebacker Alex Wojciechowicz, and center/linebacker Chuck Bednarik, who was only in his second NFL season after starring at Bethlehem High School and earning All-American honors in 1947 and 1948 at the University of Pennsylvania.The Eagles also had two other Lehigh Valley connections in Bethlehem's John "Bull" Schweder and Allentown's Ray Dini.Like Bednarik before him, Schweder was also a Bethlehem Red Hurricane star and a Penn Continue Reading

‘It’s Bigger Than Professional Football’: Talking With NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith

This past week, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross showed why many owners choose to let National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell do their talking for them.  Ross spoke out for the logic of extending the current 16 game season to 18 games, saying, "The additional games, the studies show will not really increase injuries. We’re still playing 20 games, we’re eliminating two preseason games and adding two regular-season games, which is really what helps with the revenues, and make the fans a lot happier and those games will be a lot more meaningful. But in terms of the players, they’re still playing 20 games." The idiocy of this argument is dizzying. Of course more games will mean more injuries. Of course even someone who wouldn’t know Tom Brady from Tommy Tune could surmise the differences in intensity between preseason and an actual football game. It’s like comparing a tofurky to the real deal. These comments were especially galling coming from Ross, whose Dolphins are injury depleted to the point where their starting quarterback is third stringer Tyler Thigpen. NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith wasted no time striking back at Ross. "Comments like that tell me that they just don’t get it,” he said. “Their teammates lost two franchise quarterbacks in the same game … and the message is we shouldn’t worry about adding two more games? Men are not expendable and neither are their families." This question about whether to extend the season by two extra games has become one of the great sticking points in the ongoing negotiations aimed at avoiding a 2010 lockout in the country’s most popular sport. I asked Smith two weeks ago about the owners’ push for an 18 game season and whether it was a deal-breaker in the current negotiations. He said, "Our only strong stance is about signing a new collective bargaining agreement. That’s it.  I’m willing to Continue Reading

The rich get richer: college football will feel more like professional football than it ever has

There have been so many games called the Game of the Century in college football you lose count sometimes, going back to Notre Dame and Michigan State and that 10-10 tie in the 1960s, when Dan Jenkins got them to burn copies of Sports Illustrated at Notre Dame because he had written about the Fighting Irish tying one for the Gipper. And there was Nebraska vs. Oklahoma later. And in the last 10 years, we got one of the best games ever played for a national championship, the night Vince Young and Texas beat Pete Carroll’s Southern Cal team, regarded as one of the great college football teams of all time. But this game on Monday night between Ohio State and Oregon, because it ends the sport’s first Division I postseason tournament — even if it was just a four-team tournament — feels like the biggest game of college football ever played. It isn’t because these are the two best teams of all time. They’re not. Are you kidding? Neither one of them would have even gotten to the big game last year. It is because of all the excitement the tournament has generated, the way the season began to build all the way back in September, and just kept building. The ratings for the two semifinal games, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, went through the roof, as everybody knows. The ratings for Monday night’s game will do the same, as Oregon and Ohio State play for what has started to feel like a Super Bowl for the EFL, which means the ESPN Football League. What this really means, because this will feel more like a Super Bowl than any college football game ever played, because of the ratings and the money and all the rest of it, is that college football on this night will feel more like professional football than it ever has. It will produce a huge score for a television network, and for the two schools. Maybe the coaches will score even bigger deals for themselves than they already have. The only ones who don’t get paid are the ones Continue Reading

Texas woman aspires to make men’s professional football league

A Texas woman will try to blaze the path for all girls to compete in professional football. Jennifer Welter is training to compete for a spot on the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League. The team said if she makes the cut as a running back, she would be the first female non-kicker to play professional football on a men’s squad. Though she always loved the sport she told the Daily News Wednesday she never had an opportunity to play organized football as a child. Welter, 36, played on the women’s rugby team at Boston College.“It was the closest I could come to playing football," said Welter, who lives in Addison, Tex. She’s played in women’s leagues for the past 14 years, and won titles for Team USA in 2010 and 2013 at the Women’s World (football) Championship. The 2013 team was featured in a documentary “The Tackle Girls,” which premieres Thursday night in New York City. It was her play as a linebacker on the team that drew the attention of the Revolution - which offered her an opportunity to train for a day with the team. Welter promptly rejected it. “I said ‘if you want me to train with them I want to do everything they do,’” she said. “I wouldn’t respect myself any other way.” So the team instead offered her an invitation to training camp on Feb. 8 where she will compete for a roster spot. The team, which plays its home games at Allen Event Center in Allen, Tex., opens its season on Feb. 15. The indoor league has smaller rosters than the NFL so Welter knows if she makes the team or practice squad she would be counted on to produce a lot during games. She couldn’t be used a few plays per game as a specialty role. “It’s a tough competition,” she said. Welter, who has a Ph.D. in psychology and works as a sports psychologist and personal trainer, is Continue Reading

Stephen Johnson building case to be ranked among Kentucky football’s best quarterbacks

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Stephen Johnson is not a perfect quarterback.Entering Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, his UK career completion percentage is 56.7. He has lost seven fumbles and thrown 10 interceptions at Kentucky.But Johnson wins.“He’s just unique in his own way and special,” UK coach Mark Stoops said. “He’s a winner and I think everybody knows that.”On Saturday, Johnson became the first Kentucky quarterback to start wins over the team’s two biggest rivals, Louisville and Tennessee, since 1924. He is just the sixth Kentucky quarterback to serve as the primary quarterback for multiple bowl teams.But where does Johnson rank among Kentucky’s best players at the position? Maybe higher than you think. MORE: Kentucky vs. Ole Miss: 3 keys and a prediction ahead of Saturday's game MORE: Mitch Barnhart wants more stability in Kentucky football program. Mark Stoops contract could help Here’s a look at how his record stacks up against some of the best quarterbacks in program history.Stephen Johnson — Johnson has won 13 times in 19 games as UK’s primary quarterback. He ranks 10th in program history in total offense (4,047 yards) and 11th in passing yards (3,438). He could finish his career as high as fifth and seventh in those categories respectively despite playing just two seasons at Kentucky. Johnson led UK to the TaxSlayer Bowl last season and has already clinched his second bowl appearance this year.Babe Parilli — The most successful quarterback in program history, Parilli led UK to the 1950 Orange Bowl, 1951 Sugar Bowl and 1952 Cotton Bowl. He ranks ninth in program history in total offense (4,103 yards) and eighth in passing yards (4,351). A College Football Hall of Famer, Parilli ranks fourth at UK in passing touchdowns (50). A two-time first-team All-American in 1950 and 1951, Parilli finished third and fourth in Heisman Trophy voting his junior and senior Continue Reading

Robert Durst talks neurological condition, love of football and opera in letter to Los Angeles Times, but doesn’t discuss murders

Robert Durst has gone postal. The real estate scion apparently sent a recent handwritten letter from his correctional facility in Louisiana to The Los Angeles Times that discusses his battle with a neurological condition and his love of opera. In the rambling letter postmarked April 1 and received Wednesday, Durst reportedly said he decided to leave Los Angeles for Texas several years ago due to medical issues. "As my minor balance (problem) expanded into full blow Hydrocephalus, requiring a shunt, I knew that if I was going to let some guy drill into my head, there was no place I would be willing to go ahead other than the Houston Medical Center," the letter published on The Times' website reads. Hydrocephalus is a condition where fluid accumulates in the brain, and can cause pressure and symptoms such a balance problems, headaches and double vision. Durst, now being held on weapons charges in Louisiana before his extradition to Los Angeles for a murder charge, also breezily discussed his hobbies. "My interests are opera and pro football," he wrote in blue ink. He criticized Los Angeles for its traffic and lack of a professional football team — and also took aim at the arts scene. "Liked L.A. Opera except for Wagners ring cycle with the absurd costumes and sloped stage," he wrote. "A true example of Hollywood gone berserk." Durst's lead lawyer in his pending criminal cases told The Times that the letter appeared authentic. "Bob is his own person and he's writing letters to people. As long as they're not discussing the facts or legal plans or strategy, I don't have any problem with it," lawyer Dick DeGuerin told The Times after seeing Durst in court Thursday and later reviewing the letter. Durst, meanwhile, appeared frail and confused during the court appearance in New Orleans on Thursday. He had to be prompted multiple times to enter a not guilty plea in the felony weapons case stemming from the .38 Continue Reading