NEW YORK (AFP) — Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown apologized to National Football League (NFL) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Wednesday, more than a year after their relationship collapsed in Brown’s final Steelers campaign.
Roethlisberger called out Brown for running a bad route in a 2018 loss to Denver and their friendship deteriorated from there. Brown posting in February 2019 that he felt “Big Ben” had disrespected him.
“No conflict just a matter of respect. Mutual respect,” Brown tweeted a year ago. “He has an owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches.”
“Players know but they can’t say anything about it, otherwise, their meal ticket is gone. It’s a dirty game within a game.”
But on Wednesday, Brown posted a photo of Roethlisberger smiling and slapping the back of Brown’s helmet.
“Mostly you a little bit of me! Yee yee!!” Brown wrote.
“I never realized how good I had it, got caught up in my emotion with everyone coming after me I really apologize for my actions sincerely man! It’s never been another connection like what we done in the past decade. I appreciate you. Sincerely, AB.”
Since being arrested in January in Florida on charges of attacking a delivery truck driver, Brown has apologized to the NFL, the Steelers and the Hollywood, Florida, Police Department.
“I think I owe the whole NFL an apology,” Brown told ESPN.
“I think I could have done a lot of things better.”
Brown was twice the NFL receptions season leader and twice the leader in receiving yardage. He has made 841 career catches for 11,263 yards and 75 touchdowns over nine seasons with the Steelers and one game with New England last year.
The Patriots dropped him last September following allegations of sexual and personal misconduct.
PFL seeks IATF nod
The Philippine Football League (PFL) had already plotted its calendar and is now seeking the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to kick off its fourth season.
PFL commissioner Coco Torre said they have already finalized their proposed schedule in which they would start their scrimmages on 1 October before ushering the new season 15 days later at the Philippine Football Federation training center in Carmona, Cavite.
He said they are looking to stage the tournament season within 45 days while following strict health and safety protocols by the IATF.
“We have already drafted the letter. We are planning to submit the letter to the IATF about the start of the season as well as our proposal to start the scrimmages,” Torre said, adding that they are hopeful of the government approval since they have been successfully observing all protocols in their training and conditioning sessions.
“Since the start of the training season, nothing unfortunate has happened within the teams. That’s why we think the scrimmages can start soon.”
So far, the league is ready to roll out its new season with six teams in reigning champion United City FC, Kaya Iloilo FC, Stallion Laguna FC, Mendiola FC, Maharlika FC and the Azkals Development Team.
Torre said everybody has been cooperative, giving the IATF a reason to approve their opening, similar to what it gave to the Philippine Basketball Association last Thursday.
“We are really strict when it comes to training protocols, and we really appreciate that all the teams are following it,” Torre said.
“Little by little, we can see that football is improving in the country again. It shows that we really have to continue pursuing this season.”
Fitzpatrick keeps Dolphins afloat
MIAMI (AFP) — Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for two touchdowns (TD) and ran for another as the Miami Dolphins grabbed their first victory of the National Football League (NFL) season Thursday, 31-13 over the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Florida.
Fitzpatrick, the gray-bearded 37-year-old, connected on his first 12 pass attempts, and the Dolphins scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives on the way to a 21-7 halftime lead.
Miami seized an early lead on Fitzpatrick’s three-yard TD pass to receiver Preston Williams on the first drive of the game.
Running back Jordan Howard capped the Dolphins’ next drive with a one-yard scoring run to put Miami up 14-0 and Fitzpatrick hit tight end Mike Gesicki with a 15-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Fitzpatrick’s rushing touchdown in the third quarter came after Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy forced a fumble from Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew and later recovered the ball at the Jags’ five-yard line.
Jacksonville’s rookie running back James Robinson scored two rushing touchdowns, but Minshew and the potentially explosive Jaguars defense struggled to build momentum against a Dolphins defense that last week allowed Buffalo’s Josh Allen to throw for 417 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to the Bills.
Minshew, who was sacked four times, completed 30 of 42 passes for 274 yards with zero touchdowns and one late-game interception — reeled in by cornerback Xavien Howard for Miami’s first interception of 2020.
Minshew clearly felt the absence of receiver D.J. Clark, who was ruled out by injury.
The Jags also saw linebacker Leon Jacobs carted off the field on the opening drive with a right knee injury, and Jacksonville’s Cam Robinson was ejected for making contact with an official as he rose from a pile of players at the end of a play.
The 18-point win was the Dolphins’ first double-digit victory since December of 2017.
Suarez stays in La Liga
MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Atletico Madrid announced the signing of Barcelona forward Luis Suarez, confirming the Uruguayan striker is set to continue playing in La Liga rather than joining Juventus in Italy.
Barcelona said Atletico had agreed to pay six million euros for Suarez, who left his last training session in tears having been told over the summer that he was no longer required by new coach Ronald Koeman.
Since joining Barca from Liverpool in 2014, Suarez has won a host of trophies, including the 2015 Champions League and four Liga titles.
He leaves as the club’s third highest scorer with 198 goals behind Cesar Rodriguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634).
The move to Barcelona’s La Liga rivals follows a failed attempt to join Juventus.
Juve coach Andrea Pirlo disclosed last week a deal was unlikely because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.
On Tuesday, prosecutors in Perugia said they suspected Suarez of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the aid of examiners suspected of helping him.
The exit of the 33-year-old from Camp Nou comes as Koeman attempts to reshape Barcelona.
As well as Suarez, the Dutchman has shown the exit to Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic, while French defender Samuel Umtiti is also set to leave.
Spanish television channel Gol showed Suarez wiping away tears with his sleeve as he drove off after saying his last goodbyes to teammates at Barcelona’s Sant Joan Despi training center.
Saudi squad bombs out
DOHA, Qatar (AFP) — The coronavirus-hit holders Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia was kicked out of the Asian Champions League after being unable to field a sufficient number of players against Shabab Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates.
Al Hilal was “deemed to have withdrawn from the competition” after failing to name the required 13 players for their AFC Champions League (West) Group B match in Doha.
The Asian Football Confederation said in a statement that under the “special rules applicable to AFC Competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic” the Saudi giants, which had already qualified for the Last 16, will not be able to take any further part in the competition.
“All matches played by Al Hilal, who named only 11 players, are considered null and void” the AFC said.
As a result, Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai progress to the Round of 16 from Group B.
Competition regulations allowed for 35 players to be registered by each club, but Al Hilal registered 30 of which only 27 travelled to Doha in the beginning of the competition.
Al Hilal and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) had asked for the postponement of the match against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, citing an AFC rule allowing for a delay “in exceptional circumstances.”
But their request was turned down as a postponement “would have a huge negative impact on the current match schedule of the AFC Champions League (West).”
Al Hilal played Iran’s Shahr Khodro on Sunday despite 15 of their players testing positive for coronavirus, after Asia’s football body refused to postpone the game.
The Saudi team had “asked the Asian Football Confederation to postpone” the match at Qatar’s Al Janoub stadium after tests showed that ten players had “been infected with Covid-19,” adding to five players who had already tested positive.
According to AFC rules, Al Hilal was still able to play the match as 14 of its players were available, including two goalkeepers.
For the record, Pakhtakor defeated Iran’s Shahr Khodro 1-0 and topped the group with 10 points while Shabab Al Ahli were second on seven.
Shahr Khodro lost all their matches while Al Hilal also finished pointless following the AFC’s decision to void their results.
Al Hilal won the title beating Uruwa Red Diamonds of Japan in the final last year.
Earlier, Iran’s Esteghlal booked their last-16 spot with a 3-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli.
The convincing win saw Esteghlal finish second ahead of Iraq’s Al Shorta on goal difference in Group A after both teams were level on five points.
Al Ahli had qualified for the knockouts earlier and ended up Group A winners with six points despite their defeat.
Teams in the group played only four matches each instead of the usual six after the UAE’s Al Wahda were considered withdrawn following several Covid-19 positive tests before they travelled to Qatar.
Esteghlal required a two-goal victory margin to make the cut and they did so with some flair at the Al Janoub Stadium, one of the new venues in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
PFL respects Global FC ban
We fully understand their decision and we appreciate their stand for the cause of the players.
The Philippine Football League (PFL) respects the decision of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) backlisting Global FC due to its failure to settle its contractual obligations to its players and staff.
PFL commissioner Coco Torre said they fully understand GAB’s decision that bars Global FC from renewing its professional license or transacting with the government sports licensing body.
In a memorandum released Wednesday, GAB laid down its blacklist order after the club failed to respond to the show cause order addressed to its team manager, Mark Jarvis, in August.
Global, which used to rule the United Football League, has yet to settle its obligation to 15 of its players, including skipper Jerry Barbaso and Jorrel Aristorenas, who still haven’t received their salaries amounting to P1.6 million and P1.02 million, respectively.
Torre said GAB’s decision to blacklist Global is a testament to its support to the athletes, who are seeking to collect what the club owes them.
“We respect the decision of GAB. They are there to protect the interest of the professional players,” Torre said.
Prior to GAB’s action, the PFL and the Philippine Football Federation had also sent their respective show cause orders to seek the side of the Global management.
Torre said the banning would serve as a warning to other professional clubs to be more careful and responsible in dealing with their athletes.
“It will also serve as a deterrent for the future of other clubs to be careful with their management, and be careful and responsible on their duties,” said Torre, who will roll out the fourth season of the PFL with six participating teams in United City FC, alongside Kaya Iloilo FC, Stallion Laguna FC, Mendiola FC, Maharlika FC and Azkals Development Team.
“We fully understand their decision and we appreciate their stand for the cause of the players.”
Brady recovers powers Bucs
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Tom Brady bounced back with his first victory with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday as Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to a thrilling overtime victory against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Brady, who suffered a mauling in a debut loss to the New Orleans Saints last week, showed flashes of his old self in a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers at the Raymond James Stadium.
The six-time Super Bowl champion, who joined Tampa Bay in March after ending a 20-year career with the New England Patriots, threw for 217 yards with one touchdown from 23 completions.
“It feels good to win,” Brady said.
“It’s going to feel good to watch the film and learn.”
“There was a lot of good things and definitely things we can be better at. So it was fun to win and we’ve worked hard at winning. We’re going to take it and we’re going to try to be better next week.”
The Buccaneers had taken control of the contest in the first half, racing into a 14-0 first quarter lead with a close-range rushing touchdown from Ronald Jones before Brady connected with Mike Evans from 23 yards for a second score.
Solid showing for Etheridge
Azkals star goalkeeper Neil Etheridge came up with an impressive debut performance as Birmingham City FC battled Swansea City FC on Sunday to a rare nil-nil draw in the second match day of the English Football League.
Etheridge pulled off his first clean sheet of the season, highlighted by his last minute heroics against the heavily-powered Swansea team, regarded as one of the powerhouse teams.
Despite the goalless encounter between the squads, the Filipino stopper expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance in the early stage of their season.
With an additional point on their end, the 30-year-old goalkeeper said that their performance will definitely boost their momentum for their upcoming matches.
“Great feeling to make my Birmingham City FC debut! A good point away from home, keeping the momentum,” said Etheridge, who is the first Filipino to ever play in the prestigious Premier League with his former club Cardiff City FC.
“The boys worked hard for 90 minutes, with the bonus clean sheet on the road.” Birmingham manager Aitor Karanka also agreed with Etheridge and said that the squad’s collective effort really countered the Spurs’ fiery offense.
Birmingham is currently seated in the middle of the league rankings, with one win and one draw on their card. The club is next scheduled to battle the visiting Rotherham United FC at their home turf on 26 September.
“I’m really pleased because it’s a second game against another team that was in the playoffs last year and this was another really good performance,” said Karanka.
Barca: Messi our leader, captain
MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said he does not want to argue with Lionel Messi and believes the Argentinian is excited to play under new coach Ronald Koeman.
Bartomeu also said he has no intention of resigning, despite a petition to oust him as president gathering more than 20,000 signatures last week.
Messi has reintegrated with the team since admitting he had been forced to stay at Barcelona and claiming Bartomeu had broken his word over a clause in his contract allowing him to leave.
The 33-year-old could still depart for free when his contract expires next summer.
“As president I will not enter into any conflict with Messi,” Bartomeu said on Saturday in an interview with Catalan television channel TV3.
“Messi is our captain, the leader. We have seen him in recent days and does his talking on the field as we have seen. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.
“I couldn’t allow, like anyone on the board or coaching staff, to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.
“We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about Koeman. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club and to start a project with Messi.”
The chaos surrounding Messi’s future prompted a motion of censure against Bartomeu, who will face a vote of no confidence if more than 16,520 of the 20,867 signatures against him are approved.
A vote will then be held and if two thirds of voting members go against Bartomeu, he will have to step down, with an election held perhaps as early as January.
Neil banks on experience
Neil Etheridge will use his experience to his advantage when he sees action for Birmingham City FC in the English Football League.
Speaking at the CPT Crossover Podcast late Thursday, Etheridge, the star goalkeeper of the Philippine Azkals, said he is ready to play for his new club using the experience he gained after becoming the first Filipino to play in the Premier League.
“It’s all about Birmingham’s consistency over the season. There would be bumps in the road and the championship would change so quickly,” said the 30-year-old stopper, who is the remaining active member of the Azkals squad that essayed the “Miracle of Hanoi” back in 2010.
“Hopefully, I can bring that experience here at Birmingham together with the senior players that I am joining in the dressing room.”
Etheridge played a key role in the success of Cardiff City FC in recent years, guarding the post with authority in its promotion-winning season in 2017 and in its Premier League campaign in 2018 to clinch the club’s Best Player of the Year honor.
But his performance took a dive this year as he lost his spot in the rotation due to hamstring injury.
Still, the Filipino was considered as one of the best goalkeepers in the Championship League and a major part of Cardiff City’s rebuilding effort.
Aside from him, Birmingham City also acquired the services of veteran Aston Villa and top striker Scott Hogan to fire up its offensive arsenal.
Birmingham finished the season at the bottom of the standings with only 12 wins in 46 matches and Etheridge is looking forward to turn things around.
“I’m ready for it actually. It will be a new experience and a new challenge. I don’t think anyone could argue that I’ve never faced tough challenges in my career,” he said