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Pro Sports

    World Wrestling Entertainment’s bullying culture, led by alleged management enforcer, former wrestler and TV announcer John Layfield, extends 20 years according to an article by Brandon Howard of Fightful.com, the popular MMA, boxing and wrestling website.  >> Read more trending news  Some of the quotes are sexually explicit and use foul language, and paint a picture of a company led by Vince McMahon, which allowed a hostile culture to continue that other wrestlers said doesn’t occur in contemporary companies other than WWE.  The most surprising of quotes come from Layfield, who admits to his behavior in several instances, referring to it as hazing. Another surprising admission came from Jonathan Coachman in a quote found by David Bixenspan of Deadspin, where the ESPN anchor said he was once left crying for 10 minutes after being “pranked' by management into thinking he was arrested.  Layfield admits in one quote to enjoy his bullying, saying he sees it as a test of toughness and trust between wrestlers when asked if he hazed wrestler Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. “Did I haze The Miz? Hell yeah I did,” Layfield is quoted in the article. “A lot of people want to talk about me and did I haze people? Yes. Absolutely. I make no apologies whatsoever.”  Deadspin unearthed an interview Coachman did with BackSportsPage.com in 2014 where he said he was set up by WWE’s top management - Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Jerry Briscoe and Paul “Triple H” Levesque - to believe he was arrested for running an illegal football pool in the locker room. He said he was berated by McMahon for shaming the company for 45 minutes then driven off by police, before being being returned to the arena. “Greatest rip in the history of the business,” Coachman said. “And for about 10 minutes I literally walked to a place in the building and started crying.”  One quote from Brian “The Blue Meanie” Heffron said a tag match with Layfield and his partner Ron Simmons led to Heffron’s partner Duane Gill blacking out twice from the severity of the unchoreographed blows.  Mike Bucci, who wrestled in WWE as Nova and Simon Dean said Layfield’s antics often occurred while he was drunk, and were excused as “seeing what he’s made of” when making life and work difficult for a WWE employee. WWE and ESPN have come under fire over the last week. The controversy started over the unannounced absence of lead TV announcer Mauro Ranallo due to a bout of depression. Layfield blasted Ranallo for not being on TV while on-air and during a non-character segment on WWE’s streaming service. Ranallo’s absence timed with the publication of the book “Best Seat in the House” by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who detailed harassment he took from Layfield. ESPN began a weekly segment with WWE wrestlers a year ago, but is now canceled as of this weekend after Coachman began blasting people on Twitter who called for ESPN to cover the pro wrestling company like it would any other story. 
  • Amanda Nunes made short work of Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 on Friday night, needing just 48 seconds to retain her mixed martial arts bantamweight title with a first-round technical knockout of the former champion. >> Read more trending stories The 135-pound championship fight was the main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It was Rousey’s first bout since a stunning knockout loss to Holly Holm in November 2015 at UFC 193, and Friday night’s fight was even more lopsided as Nunes (14-4) connected solidly with right hands to stagger Rousey (12-2). Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight 48 seconds into the first round; it was the fastest knockout finish for Nunes, nicknamed “The Lioness.” 'I'm stopping everybody like that,' Nunes said, according to ESPN. 'When I asked for this fight, I knew everything. I was preparing my mind, spirit, body. I know Ronda Rousey is big. They know and love Ronda Rousey, But no one is going to take this belt from me.' It was the second straight loss for Rousey, who earned $3 million for fighting Nunes. That tied the richest disclosed fight purse in MMA history, tying Conor McGregor’s payday in a non-title welterweight fight against Nate Diaz in August, ESPN reported.
  • A 17-year-old Texas man was arrested and charged with the murder of a young woman in what prosecutors say was a car burglary gone wrong, KTRK reported. >> Read more trending stories Police arrested Broderick Delance Knight on Dec. 27 and charged him with capital murder in the Dec. 14 death of 22-year-old Carla Carias in southeast Houston. 'I just hope that God does what he needs to do and he pays for what he did,' Jose Ochoa-Carias, Carla’s younger brother, told KTRK. 'The pain he's causing to our family is very strong, we all miss my sister.' Investigators say the botched car burglary that ended Carias' life was the second crime Knight committed that night. They allege on Dec. 13, Knight and a friend approached a man parked near Hobby Airport. They said Knight coaxed the man out of his black Nissan, then tried to rob him. During that robbery, a language barrier prompted the victim to literally remove his pants, give it to Knight, and then run for his life. Shortly after midnight on Dec. 14, police said, Knight and his friend traveled a few miles south and burglarized Carias’ Camaro. The car was parked outside her boyfriend's apartment, also located near Hobby Airport.  Investigators said the ensuing confrontation led to Carias being shot and killed. 'It was senseless, there was no point in it,' neighbor Rudy Rios told KTRK. 'Over a car?' Investigators said they got a break on Dec. 27 when they spotted the black Nissan on the road and pulled it over for a traffic stop. Knight was allegedly behind the wheel. Investigators said that during the stop, Knight confessed to his role in Carias' murder. 'We're all mad, but they caught him and we just got to wait for the law to take care of it,' Ochoa-Carias told KTRK.
  • When India and New Zealand clashed in Saturday’s One Day International, 5th Series, the Indian cricket team decided to honor their mothers.  >> Read more trending stories  Every member of the squad was wearing jerseys bearing their mothers’ names, rather than their  own, the Indian Express reported.  The final ODI – in Visakhapatnam, India – will decide the outcome of the series.  This gesture was part of a new campaign started by Star India media company, highlighting the role of mothers.  The Board of Cricket Control in India Chairman Anurag Thakur said the display by the Indian cricketers was done with “the intent to thank all the mothers for their efforts and sacrifices.”
  • Atlanta United unveiled its plans for a $60-million “world-class” training complex on Franklin Gateway in Cobb County on Monday. Team owner Arthur Blank said the complex, in combination with Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will make Atlanta the soccer capital of the southeast and nation. Construction on the 30,000-square foot center will be completed by April 2017. The six fields — three grass and three artificial — are scheduled to be finished by January 2017. The team’s training camp for its inaugural season will start near the end of January. Because of the construction schedule, the team will likely attend MLS preseason training camps out of town until things are finished. “I’m really excited about what we will build,” team president Darren Eales said. Eales said there were three philosophies that helped determine the center’s design: To continue Blank’s vision of building a world-class club; To increase the team’s credibility and visibility in global soccer; To continue its commitment to youth development.   The training center will house the team, the academy and the front office. It won’t be as large as what was proposed when the center was going to be constructed in DeKalb. The footprint in Cobb isn’t as big and the topography is slightly different. However, the philosophy behind the training center will be similar. “Everyone feels connected to the team the whole way through,” Eales said. That goes for the supporters as well. Blank said that training and practices will be open to the public. The rooms in the center will be interconnected so that focus should be on what’s happening on the fields. One of the artificial fields, described by Eales as the show field, will have the same dimensions and same turf as what will be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It will be sunk into the ground with berms on the side so the team’s supporters can watch select practices and any games that are hosted there. There will also be an observation deck from which people can watch. The first team will practice on the grass fields that will face the southeast side of the building, which will be composed of glass. The front of the building will also be made of glass so that people walking in can see the training grounds. There is one door through which everyone, from those who work in the cafeteria to the players on the first-team, must walk through to enter the center. Eales said he and technical director Carlos Bocanegra thought that one door will help foster the unity the club wants. The first-team locker room will be round, centrally located and with a high ceiling that will allow natural light. The Atlanta United logo will feature in the center of the room. The academy will be in a wing, with the size of the locker rooms increasing by age group as the players are promoted and get a step closer to the first team. A first-team player will mentor a U18 player, with that cascading through the ranks. “We want the kids to get glimpses of their first-team heroes,” Eales said. “We want everyone to prepare to be professionals. It’s about getting academy players to the first team and the matches.” Continuing with the goal of the focus being on the fields, there will be a gym with a large door on one side of the building that can be raised to allow indoor/outdoor practice possibilities. Also facing the fields will be the tactics room and the physical therapy room. “The idea is it’s a football training ground,” Eales said. “You want it to be about the pitch and the training.” Because soccer players have the whole world as a marketplace, Blank said they tried very hard to listen to players, coaches and learn from other team’s best practices when the complex was being designed. Eales said the training center and Mercedes-Benz Stadium should help he and Bocanegra as they recruit players for their first team. “‘You’d have to be made of stone to not be impressed,” Eales said.
  • A professional surfer was injured while surfing at an event Thursday near the San Francisco bay area. KTVU reported  that Garrett McNamara dislocated a shoulder when he fell off his board and disappeared into a large wave. >> Read more trending stories McNamara was competing at Titans of Mavericks, a professional surfing competition. He is expected to recover. The wipeout can be seen in the video below.
  • The Atlanta Silverbacks pro soccer team has ceased operations. The NASL, which was running the franchise while it looked for new owners, announced the fate of the team on Monday. “The goal all along has been to secure committed local ownership in Atlanta, but despite significant conversations with a number of interested parties, we were unable to identify a group that could lead the Silverbacks in a direction consistent with the rest of our clubs,” NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said in a statement emailed to the media. “It’s unfortunate, and particularly sad for the Silverbacks’ passionate fan base, which has supported the club tremendously throughout the years.” The franchise has stopped and started under different names several times, most recently when owner Boris Jekunica re-started the team in 2011. The team joined the North American Soccer League but was never able to enjoy sustained success. Its best season came in 2013 under technical director Eric Wynalda when it finished first in the league’s 2013 spring season. The team never finished higher than sixth in any other season in the past five years. Jerkunica brought in additional partners in 2013, but began to try to sell the franchise in 2014.That was the same year that Atlanta United came online as an expansion franchise in MLS. The NASL took over the Silverbacks as stewards for the 2015 season. “This is obviously a disappointing day for anyone that has been involved with the club over the years,” Silverbacks President Andy Smith said in a statement released to the media. “The organization created some great memories for the city of Atlanta and its soccer fans, but as we all know, you need ownership to continue on. We appreciate all of the time and effort the league and its owners have invested in their search for long-term Silverbacks ownership - they truly turned over every rock in the process. On behalf of the organization, I want to thank all of our staff members, players, coaches, partners, and most importantly fans for their loyal support.”
  • Another Mexico win. Another controversial penalty. A few scuffles between players, coaches and staffs. Trash on the field. It was either one of the more interesting games in the Gold Cup or one of the worst in the event’s history when Mexico used two penalty kicks — one that even Mexico said wasn’t a penalty — to defeat Panama 2-1 in the semifinals of the tournament on Wednesday at the Georgia Dome. More than 70,000 tickets were sold for the game, a new record for soccer in the city. Not that the new mark mattered after the game. “Happiness in the tournament was lost tonight,” Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez said through a translator. Mexico will face Jamaica, which upset the U.S. 2-1 in the first semifinal, in Sunday’s championship game in Philadelphia. The U.S. will play Panama on Saturday in the third-place game. But rehashing the second semifinal and not previewing the championship may dominate soccer conversations for the next 24 hours. Trailing 10-man Panama 1-0 in the 88th minute, Mexico was awarded a penalty when U.S. referee Mark Geiger judged that Roman Torres handled the ball in the penalty box. Torres, who scored the goal to give Panama the lead early in the second half, was trying to kick the ball back over his head in the goalie box to snuff out what may have been Mexico’s last gasp. The ball didn’t go far and Torres fell backward onto it. The ball appeared to be trapped under his side as he raised his arms to avoid touching it. Instead, the penalty was awarded. Infuriated by the call, goalkeeper Jaime Penedo booted the ball into the second deck. “It wasn’t a penalty,” Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said through a translator. “The refereeing wasn’t good. We feel bad for Panama.” Gomez described it as a stolen goal. Panama was already aggravated after Geiger showed Luis Tejada a straight red card in the first half. The penalty call proved too much. Some members of both teams began pointing fingers and getting into each other’s faces until they were forcibly separated by security as trash rained onto the field, thrown by fans. After order was restored and the teams separated, Andres Guardado stepped up and buried the penalty to tie the game and send it into extra time. The call immediately brought out cries of conspiracy because Mexico only advanced to the semifinal after a “phantom” foul and converted penalty kick by Guardado in its quarterfinal win over Costa Rica on Sunday. In that 1-0 win, it appeared that Oribe Peralta threw himself down in the final minutes. The game-winning penalty on Wednesday wasn’t controversial. In the 13th minute of extra time, Panama’s Harold Cummings hip-checked Javier Orozco in the penalty box. Guardado slammed the penalty into the corner to give Mexico a 2-1 lead. As soon as the final whistle sounded, some of Panama’s players again charged at Guardado. This time, the anger diffused quickly. “This is not the ideal way to win,” Herrera said. “We aren’t happy.”
  • It might be another 38 years before the U.S. men’s national team returns to Atlanta after Wednesday’s result in the semifinals of the Gold Cup at the Georgia Dome. Playing in Atlanta for the first time since 1977, the U.S. played some very good soccer, but was upset by Jamaica 2-1 on set-piece goals in the first half by Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes, whose free kick was the result of one of soccer’s rare calls: a handball against the goalkeeper. Michael Bradley scored for the U.S. in the opening minutes of the second half, but it wasn’t enough. A new record for soccer in the city of 70,511 tickets were sold to watch what some soccer journalists said is the worse U.S. upset loss ever. It was also the United State’s first loss in the Gold Cup on home soil to a team from the Caribbean since 1969. “The team is disappointed, the fans are disappointed because you wanted to play in the finals in Philadelphia,” U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said. The loss ends the United States’ hopes of defending its title and winning its sixth Gold Cup. Mexico defeated Panama 2-1 in the second semifinal Wednesday night, helped by a game-tying controversial penalty kick in the final minutes of regulation. Jamaica, 42 spots below the U.S. in FIFA’s world rankings, will make its first appearance, and the first for a team from the Caribbean, in the championship game Sunday in Philadelphia. The U.S. will meet the loser of the second semifinal in the third-place game Saturday in Chester, Pa. “What we did today was over the limit,” Jamaica manager Winfried Schafer said. “I’m very happy for this.” The loss also denied the U.S. an opportunity to clinch a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup, a tournament that Klinsmann stressed the importance of in his pregame remarks Tuesday. Instead, the U.S. will play the winner of the Gold Cup for the right to go to the Confederations Cup. The U.S. was left to rue not converting numerous corner kicks and free kicks — some of them created by nervous Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson — throughout the game. The U.S. outshot Jamaica 20-8 (10-3 on goal) and enjoyed a 16-percent margin in possession. “We had enough chances to put three, four, five in there,” Klinsmann said. “But we didn’t do that. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.” Jamaica took the lead when Mattocks stepped in front of John Brooks and flicked a header over goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The ball hit one post, rolled all the way across the goal and hit the opposite post before trickling in in the 30th minute. The header came from a perfectly placed throw by Kemar Lawrence to the center of the penalty box. Jamaica quickly doubled its lead to 2-0 on a rocket of a free kick by Barnes from just outside the penalty box in the 35th minute. His right-footed shot curled over the wall and into the corner of Guzan’s goal. The kick was awarded because Guzan’s arm extended past the penalty box as he threw the ball up the field. It’s a call that is not often made in the sport. Barnes said he didn’t know what had happened until he saw the replay. “The feeling right now is insane,” said Barnes, who plays for Houston in MLS. “We’ve come here and defeated a great side with a great manager.” The U.S. had work to do considering Jamaica had allowed two goals in a game once in the tournament, and those came in its opening game against Costa Rica. It hadn’t allowed any goals in three games since. But it didn’t take the U.S. long to respond. Aron Johannsson turned at the top of the box and hit a shot right at Thompson, who couldn’t hold onto the ball as Clint Dempsey rushed in to apply pressure. The ball bounced to Bradley, who poked it into the goal in the 47th minute. The U.S. continued to apply pressure, but couldn’t find the tying goal against a disciplined and compact Jamaica defense. “We had enough chances to put this game away,” Klinsmann said. “The luck was not with us maybe, but also we weren’t clinical enough to put it in there. It’s the goals that matter.”
  • Darren Eales will lead Atlanta’s MLS franchise as its president after his hiring late last year.But as a boy he dreamed of playing on the pitch, rather than sitting in the boardroom. Atlanta’s MLS team will start in 2017 and play in owner Arthur Blank’s new stadium downtown.But Eales made sure that if soccer didn’t work out he would have a career.Q: When did you realize your future in soccer was in the boardroom, and not on the field?A: I pretty much realized it when I was in England. I played on the youth level in Cambridge United, which at the time were in the Championship. Even then, I carried on doing my A levels. I must have been one of the handful of people who carried on at school voluntarily. I realized it’s very competitive and I was quite a small player. Cambridge, the manger was famous for the long ball. He brought Cambridge up the through the divisions playing through the channels.For me, as a little midfielder, I didn’t really fit his profile anyway. I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t be a player.Then I came to university in America.The coach was there to watch me in a youth game against West Ham. I knew this guy was there. I was running around like crazy, taking every throw in. We lost 4-nil. I can remember my teammates after saying, “What’s up with you?”He offered me a scholarship to West Virginia. I was going to take a gap year – you tend to do that in England, you have a gap year before you go to university — that’s how I sold it to my parents.Had a great time, as you can imagine, as an 18-year-old in America.To be honest the level of detail in the soccer preparation, because we used the American football facilities, the gym was miles better than Cambridge United, the preparation we did, the video analysis, which we weren’t doing in Cambridge. From preparation it was light years ahead of England.I had such a good time, I wanted to see if I could stay in the States. I realized I had to go to a university that taxed me a little bit more. I got lucky to go to Brown with a good coach.I then ended up playing a little bit more once I graduated. Again, I wasn’t thinking long term. I had the opportunity to play in New York. I was thinking short term. I wasn’t under any illusions it would be a long-term career.Then I hurt my hamstring quite badly. All I really had was pace. Once I lost that I had nothing to fall back on. I had no skills. Once I couldn’t chase that ball over the top it was like, ‘Ummm, OK.’Starlet news: If you missed it last week, Gedion Zelalem received U.S. citizenship and is expected to pledge his future to playing for the red, white and blue. Zelalem is a creative midfielder who plays for Arsenal, though he has yet to make an appearance with the senior squad in a Premier League game (he has played in tournament games).It will be fascinating to watch the hype that will inevitably accompany the decision made by the 17-year old because young starlets in this country are usually overhyped.Freddy Adu, who is now once again without a club and future in the sport, went through it. Julian Green, who is a member of Bayern Munich, experienced it early last year. He has yet to crack through a regular spot on Munich’s first team, was loaned out and isn’t doing much for Hamburg.If Zelalem can break into Arsenal’s first team it would be very important for the future of the U.S. men’s team, which badly needs a creative force in the midfield.MLS and designated players: MLS and its Designated Players were in the news for good and bad reasons last week.The good: Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard revealed that he is leaving the Reds, the club he has been with since he was an 8-year-old and has led to numerous trophies, to join MLS. Reportedly, the midfielder will be hooking up with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Gerrard is a legend at Liverpool and, though 34 years old, will be an asset for the league when he arrives during the summer.The bad: Frank Lampard will not be joining expansion club New York City FC in a couple of months, as originally thought. Instead, he will join the team during the summer.Lampard, a midfielder now with Manchester City, means almost as much to Chelsea fans as Gerrard as does to Liverpool’s.A few months may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme, but there are issues regarding transparency and fairness that are being raised.New York FC is owned by the same group that owns Manchester City FC. The two teams also share the same colors, the kits look similar, etc.When the deal for Lampard was announced last year, he was going to start with New York in March. He was then sent out on loan to Manchester City. But he is playing so well for the Citizens, who are in the thick of trying to defend their Premier League title, it was decided that he would stay in England for a few more months.The result makes MLS looks like a feeder league, or at least one that is viewed as second class.Commissioner Don Garber defended the team and the league to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl: “I don’t think it is a farm team for Man City. With this decision, while I can understand people will try to think that, the level of investment that this ownership group is making with the club is massive, and it rivals some of the bigger clubs around the world. This kind of decision is not something in my view that in any way says this is a farm team for Man City. I don’t believe in all my dealings with them that they have led us to believe that’s true.”