Sports

Bird, ‘The Wire,’ a life sentence paroled and a Colts game 40 years in the making
Sports

Bird, ‘The Wire,’ a life sentence paroled and a Colts game 40 years in the making

Bleary-eyed from 16 hours on a Greyhound bus, he strolled into the stadium running on fumes. He’d barely slept in two days. The ride he was supposed to hitch from Charlotte to Indianapolis canceled at the last minute, and for a few nervy hours, Antonio Barnes started to have his doubts. The trip he’d waited 40 years for looked like it wasn’t going to happen.But as he moved through the concourse at Lucas Oil Stadium an hour before the Colts faced the Raiders, it started to sink in. His pace quickened. His eyes widened. His voice picked up.“I got chills right now,” he said. “Chills.”Barnes, 57, is a lifer, a Colts fan since the Baltimore days. He wore No. 25 on his pee wee football team because that’s the number Nesby Glasgow wore on Sundays. He was a talent in his own right, too: one of his...
Behind the scenes with Curt Menefee, ‘leader’ and ‘therapist’ for ‘Fox NFL Sunday’
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Behind the scenes with Curt Menefee, ‘leader’ and ‘therapist’ for ‘Fox NFL Sunday’

LOS ANGELES — Terry Bradshaw spills a cup of coffee, but Curt Menefee doesn’t flinch. Menefee leans toward a tray not visible on television for some tissue to help clean up as Bradshaw continues to make a point about the Cincinnati Bengals.Howie Long helps with the cleanup, and Bradshaw keeps talking. Jimmy Johnson listens intently.Menefee then ribs Bradshaw about needing another cup of coffee, and Johnson uses coffee as a transition to talk about the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.“So Terry spills coffee on live TV … now, how do you react?” Menefee said shortly after while sitting in a dressing room at Fox Studios. “Instead of going into panic mode, we made it part of the show, and we laughed it off and had some fun with it.”It’s a funny moment in the studio. And Menefee, the longt...
Valencia’s Nou Mestalla ‘ghost ground’: After 15-year delay, will it finally be built?
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Valencia’s Nou Mestalla ‘ghost ground’: After 15-year delay, will it finally be built?

The cheers rang long and loud around Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium as fans celebrated Hugo Guillamon’s late equaliser against Barcelona in their final home match before La Liga’s Christmas break.Four kilometres away, on the other side of Valencia’s old city centre, all was quiet around the site of the Nou Mestalla — where the club’s half-built new home has sat untouched for the past 15 years.Through all that time, one of La Liga’s most storied clubs has found itself stuck in this bizarre situation — unable to raise the money to finish a modern new ground, unable to sell its historic home.Meanwhile, a team used to competing at the highest level in national and European competition has found itself fighting relegation, with the club’s historic debts becoming ever more difficult to deal with.On...
Professional tennis is broken. Here’s how to fix it
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Professional tennis is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Tennis is doing what it does every 10-15 years or so — having a reckoning with its endless schedule, its nonsensical governing structure, and a competitive format that even devout fans struggle to understand.The sport is played across the world, with countries on every continent except Antarctica producing top players. No major sport integrates men and women more successfully, or has come as close to pay equality, though there is work to be done on those fronts. Nearly every day of the year, an enticing professional match unfolds somewhere on the planet.And yet, the nearly unanimous opinion of everyone involved in the game — its leaders, its players, tournament organizers, sponsors, media executives, coaches — is that professional tennis is broken, a structural mess that exhausts its playe...
Israeli sisters find strength, support and safe place in college basketball
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Israeli sisters find strength, support and safe place in college basketball

In the days after Oct. 7, in which Hamas militants killed around 1,200 people, Yarden Garzon struggled to eat and sleep. The outbreak of war in Israel and the Gaza Strip was all-consuming to her, as she watched the news from Bloomington, Ind., where she’s a sophomore guard. Yarden, who was born and raised in Israel, worried about her friends, her family, her country. “I think I was more nervous than my mom,” Garzon said. “It was really scary the first week.”Garzon’s parents have been half a world away from her, staying put in their home in Ra’anana, Israel, an affluent suburb north of Tel Aviv about 50 miles from the war’s epicenter. Still, over the last two months as the death toll has risen, her family has spent time in the house’s bomb shelter. Sirens warning of air strikes pierced the ...
The football stadiums that never were
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The football stadiums that never were

Peter Storrie can remember visiting the London studio of Herzog & de Meuron, the renowned Swiss architects, and being shown a striking vision of Portsmouth’s future.“It was something else,” he tells The Athletic. “They put it up on the screen for us and it certainly had the wow factor.”This was 2007 and the ambitious plans were for a new 36,000-capacity stadium on the city’s docks. Storrie, then chief executive, had accepted that Portsmouth would need to leave Fratton Park, the club’s home since 1899, and a proposed relocation could hardly have been more impressive.Located in between the Spinnaker Tower and the historic naval base, a £600million waterfront project that would include apartments and restaurants promised a transformational impact.“This will be the most spectacular stadium...
First World War Christmas truce: How much football was actually played?
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First World War Christmas truce: How much football was actually played?

It’s one of the best-known stories about the First World War: the Christmas truce of 1914, when soldiers from both sides spontaneously laid down their guns and, for a few hours at least, acted as if they weren’t trying to wipe each other out in a cruelly pointless war.Part of the story was the football match that broke out in No Man’s land. The image of the two sides uniting, in a manner of speaking, over the common language of sport became incredibly evocative, a slice of normality amidst the horror.It’s gone down in English mythology, encouraged by appearances in various elements of culture, from art to history books to things such as the TV comedy Blackadder. “Remember it? I was never offside, I could not believe that decision…” the titular character says when asked if he recalled the m...
NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Ravens close in on AFC’s top seed; NFC up for grabs
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NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Ravens close in on AFC’s top seed; NFC up for grabs

The Baltimore Ravens scored their most impressive victory of the season Monday night, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 33-19. Along with making them look like worthy Super Bowl contenders, the victory puts them in a fantastic position in the AFC. At 12-3, they’re a game ahead of Miami and have a chance to clinch the top spot next week in a game against those very Dolphins.Meanwhile, the 49ers’ loss sends them to 11-4 and a three-way tie atop the NFC with the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions. The 49ers own the tiebreaker over both, but with two games to go, there’s still time for the Eagles or Lions to make a move.As for the rest of the NFL, Week 16 saw plenty of movement in the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at where things stand as we enter Week 17.Listed odds to make the playof...
Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different
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Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s lunchtime on a mid-November Saturday afternoon and the word of the day is eclectic. I’ve just finished my morning round at The Park with a three-putt for par on the forgiving 18th hole, and I saddle up at the cabana, the bar/small bites stand strategically located at the front of the property.A foursome that was a few holes ahead of me is heading off to their vehicles — while allowing for their anonymity, let’s just say they can be members anywhere they want to be in the golf-rich West Palm Beach/Jupiter area. Making the turn to the back nine are the bros wanting to chase down their transfusions with High Noons. Though they represent very different ends of the Saturday golfer spectrum, you recognize both groups as what a golfer “looks” like.But the cabana occup...
No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL
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No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL

Seventeen years and more than 1,200 games ago, Andrew Cogliano remembers how difficult it was to traverse the state of California.The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks were three of the biggest, heaviest teams in the league. If you had to play all three in succession? Well, good luck. Not only were those teams willing to play a punishing brand of hockey, but they were all highly skilled and generally successful, too.After a few years in Edmonton where he broke into the league, Cogliano was dealt to the Ducks as a free agent in the summer of 2011 and was part of a team that qualified for the playoffs in six straight seasons from 2012-13 through 2017-18. Those California road trips became regular intrastate battles. And they were vicious.“My first couple years in Anaheim, ...