Bloomington, Minnesota (CNN)On Sunday, Tom Brady will play in his eighth Super Bowl. And this one is very special to the 40-year-old Patriots quarterback.
That’s because Brady, even though he grew up in California, says he’s “half Minnesotan.”
“I love coming back here,” Brady said in Minnesota this week. “I’ve got a lot of family here. It’s a great state. It’s pretty unbelievable to actually be playing here. I didn’t think about it at all until a couple weeks ago. I said, ‘Mom, you know where the Super Bowl is?’ She’s like, ‘Of course I do.'”
Brady’s mother, Galynn Brady, grew up in Browerville, a small town 135 miles away from US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home of Super Bowl LII. It’s a place Brady visited every summer, and sometimes in the winter, since he was a baby. It’s also where Brady’s parents got married in 1969.
“To be here and to be in Browerville, that really is my roots, and it’s very much a part of who I am,” Brady said.
Understandably, Brady has fielded several questions about his family ties. Standing out were the visits to his grandfather, who passed away last year.
“Some of the great memories I had as kid were coming here and milking cows with my grandpa,” Brady recalled of life on the farm. “Hanging out in the silos up in the haystack up above his barn, going out to where he would pasteurize the milk and pull a lot of the cream off the top of the milk in the morning, and shooting his .22 at targets in his backyard.”
There was also catching sunfish with his two uncles, who still live there, a process Brady gladly explained to reporters this week.
“The great part about catching sunfish was you just sit in the boat and you have a rod and you basically put a worm and a bobber,” Brady said. “And when the bobber goes under, you set the hook and then you’ve got the fish. So the kids would catch all the fish, and then we’d get home and we’d scale the fish. Then my uncles would fillet the fish, and my mom and my grandma would fry them in the frying pan.”
As he moved into adulthood, Brady had the opportunity to play in front of family members in his collegiate days, when he was at the University of Michigan, and in his professional career.
“Any time we’ve played in Minnesota it’s always been very cool,” Brady said. “I’ve always had a lot of family come to these games, 50 to 100 people. We played against the University of Minnesota, we played against the Vikings a few times here, and it’s been very special. I know there’s a lot of fans in Browerville rooting for the Patriots, which is pretty unique.”
This trip to Minnesota, however, is all business. Brady said he wouldn’t have a chance to get to Browerville this week as he prepares for the Super Bowl. As for tickets, they’re pretty tough to come by, Brady said, “but I’m trying the best I can to accommodate everybody.”
Someone who definitely will be there is his mom. Last year, Galynn was battling breast cancer when she was at Super Bowl LI in Houston. This year, Brady said, she’s doing well.
“To have my mom here last year — I had my whole family here — was very, very special,” Brady said. “Even all my kids here for the first time at the game, and we get a chance to do it a second time. I hope it’s a happy ending.”
Several firms trying to develop new methods to assess extent of damage to head and brain
In the second quarter of an NFL game on Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco slid to gain a first down. The 233lb Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso flew into him, ploughing shoulder-first into his head.
Such was the force of the hit, Flaccos helmet flew off. He walked from the field but he was dazed and bleeding from one ear. There was little doubt he had suffered a concussion.
It was an extreme example of the brutal reality of football. Many head injuries caused by the game, however, are harder to detect, the product of collisions repeated over time. Some researchers think a blood test may soon be one way of detecting such problems.
At this point there are probably as many as 20 to 25 incredibly insightful biomarkers for brain health, said Kevin Hrusovsky, chief executive of Quanterix, a startup that is one of a handful of companies seeking to develop standardized blood tests to detect concussions.
We are hopeful we will be able to transform brain health in the way weve transformed cardiac health and even cancer health.
Researchers at Quanterix and other companies hope blood tests will soon look for evidence of Alzheimers or dementia, much as standard cholesterol tests now help to assess heart problems.
I think about [such tests] every minute of every day, said Robert Stern, a researcher at Boston University who co-authored a landmark study that found the degenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of 110 of 111 dead NFL players.
Since the 1920s, researchers have known that repeated blows to the head can result in cognitive degeneration. Recent research has shown how severe such damage can be. However, because CTE in particular can only be diagnosed after death, it is almost impossible to know how many people have it.
Theres been tremendous advances over the last two years with regard to fluid biomarkers and Alzheimers disease, said Stern. We can then exploit whats being done in that area for CTE.
Blood tests for concussive injury could help manage neurodegenerative diseases, for example, answering with more certainty questions about how long an athlete should stay out of play; whether a person is predisposed for neurodegenerative disease; or whether disease is advancing. Stern and others hope the technology will eventually help ordinary people too, such as car accident victims.
There is still disagreement on how tests for concussion, and then neurodegeneration, might be applied. Stern sees a blood test as the first in a series of more specific panels, the way a breast cancer patient might first receive a mammogram, then a biopsy. Hrusovsky hopes degenerative diseases will be found in one blood test hopefully, of course, one developed by his company.
Neurologists currently rely on a series of cognitive tests to see whether symptoms of traumatic brain injury are present. Perhaps that is why Quanterixs work has caught the imagination of the public and the attention of the NFL. Through a partnership with General Electric, the league has given Quanterix $800,000 to continue the research, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported.
I did the math today, said Pete Cronan, a former linebacker with Washington and the Seattle Seahawks, when asked about his concussions. Ive got six I can remember through my life. The first was when he fell out of a bunk bed as a kid.
But those are the ones that I can remember, he said.
Researchers now consider blows that do not concuss but produce altered states to represent a cumulative danger.
There were thousands of those in my life, Cronan said.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Flaccos injury was the first reported concussion of his 10-year, Super Bowl-winning career.
Were 30-plus years into studying these fluid-based biomarkers, and the data definitely supports that they can be used to correlate quite nicely with injury severity, said Joshua Gaston, a researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern medical center who is also a football fan.
The work was now focused, he said, on making tests reproducible, sensitive, specific.
The contaminated straw that led a racehorse to fail a drugs test might raise a smile but events at the world athletics in London are no laughing matter
If there was a lighter side to a week in which doping dominated the sports headlines, it came in the discovery of O-desmethyltramadol in a sample taken from a horse called Wotadoll. Sitting in judgment, the British Horseracing Authoritys disciplinary committee accepted the explanation that the metabolite of the opioid tramadol detected after the three-year-old bay filly finished unplaced at Wolverhampton could be sourced to the urine of a groom who peed in the horses box after taking the medication for pain relief.
The Racing Post called it an embarrassing leak but peeing in a horses straw is apparently a common practice among Britains incontinent stable lads when they are supposed to be mucking out. The horses trainer, Dean Ivory, was fined 750. Later he announced his staff will be reminded of the proximity of the toilet block and, just to be on the safe side, encouraged to wear gloves.
There was also a four-legged animal involved in the announcement of Alberto Contadors retirement: the creature from which, according to the multiple winner of cyclings grand tours, a piece of meat had been taken and carried from Spain by a friend to provide him with a nourishing steak dinner during the 2010 Tour de France. Contadors explanation of the clenbuterol found by drug testers failed to avert a two-year suspension and an expunged third victory in the worlds biggest bike race. Some admirers of his attacking style wanted to give the Spaniard the benefit of the doubt but his departure will sever another link with the era of Operacin Puerto.
We ought to be beyond the stage of giggling at claims of cocaine traces picked up by a tennis player through kissing a girl in a Miami nightclub (Richard Gasquet in 2009, who was cleared of all charges by the court of arbitration for sport) or too much sex on his wifes birthday producing an unnaturally elevated level of testosterone in a sprinter (Dennis Mitchell in 1998). It was certainly easier to keep a straight face while reading about the two-month suspension handed this week to Sara Errani, formerly the worlds No5 female tennis player. A test had revealed traces of letrozole, a drug used to treat her mothers breast cancer and apparently picked up from a kitchen work surface.
But neither laughter nor compassion seemed an appropriate response to the soap opera of the mens 100m final in the world championships last weekend, when the two-time drugs cheatJustin Gatlin helped deprive Usain Bolt of a golden farewell to the event in which the Jamaican is a triple Olympic champion. That is because there is no appropriate single response. Gatlins case is an awkward one, exposing the layers of moral complexity that can defeat the human urge to make a clean separation between right and wrong.
Gatlins first offence, at the age of 19, was for traces of amphetamine, said to have been given to him since childhood as part of a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Non-medical people might be surprised to find amphetamine used as a remedy for ADHD but that is apparently the reality of it and the authorities reinstated him halfway through a two-year suspension, while warning that any further offence would trigger a life ban. But by the time he was pinged for testosterone in 2006, while being coached by the notorious Trevor Graham, the rules had changed and he was given an eight-year ban which his lawyers succeeded in getting halved on appeal. So now we have Bolt retiring when clearly past his best at 30 and Gatlin who is currently coached by none other than Mitchell running faster than anyone at 35.
An hour or so before Gatlin celebrated his victory by raising an admonitory finger to his lips in response to the London crowds boos, Almaz Ayana had surged away from her rivals with a solo attack a mere 4km into the womens 10,000m final. The Ethiopian ran the next 3km at a speed that would have won all but one of the womens 3,000m races run throughout the world this year. The last 3km were barely any slower. To anyone not taking that into consideration it was a beautiful sight like watching Michael Johnson in Atlanta in 1996, for instance. Such unanswerable dominance always takes the breath away until, as with Ayana, one is reminded of what it may mean.
Those who had read Martha Kelners investigation into drug testing in Ethiopian athletics or rather the inefficiency of it in these pages that very morning may have been rather less starry-eyed. They may even have wondered if this was a clear demonstration of the old maxim that, if something looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Ayana, of course, has previously declared herself crystal clear when answering inevitable questions in post-race press conferences. Only Jesus and training, she said, were responsible for her success.
And then there is Icarus, the documentary about the Russian governments involvement in doping made available on Netflix and given a limited cinema release in this of all weeks. Bryan Fogels two-hour film starts small, with an experiment to see if he can improve his own performance as a competitive amateur cyclist through following the full Lance Armstrong menu of performance-enhancing drugs. But his encounter with Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran Russias anti-doping lab while simultaneously helping the countrys athletes to give it the swerve, leads him down another path, one that exposes the biggest state-run PED programme since the Berlin Wall came down.
The film traces a line from Rodchenkov and his colleagues through Vitaly Mutko, then the countrys sports minister and now its deputy prime minister, all the way to Vladimir Putin, who has used sport to help build his image as the embodiment of a newly virile Russia. The all-shootin, all-fishin, all-ridin Putin flashes his pecs at the world to emphasise that dominance whether of an Olympic podium or in the annexation of neighbouring territory is his nations natural and rightful characteristic.
As it turned out, all the EPO and testosterone in the world could not make Fogel into a great bike racer. In fact they made him worse. In any other film that might have raised a laugh but not in this film, not in this week, not in this world.
Sara Errani, a former world No5, said she was extremely disappointed after being banned for two months after failing a doping test
The former world No5 Sara Errani has been banned for two months after failing a doping test. The 30-year-old Italian, a French Open finalist in 2012, tested positive for the cancer treatment drug letrozole, which can increase body mass, in February.
An independent tribunal set up by the International Tennis Federation accepted Erranis explanation she must have accidentally ingested drugs being used by her mother to treat breast cancer through contaminated food.
It was deemed a suspension was still necessary as Errani could have done more to prevent this happening but the maximum punishment of a two-year ban for an accidental violation of this type was considered excessive.
Following a hearing last month a suspension was imposed from 3 August and she will be eligible to compete again on 3 October.
All her results from the date of her positive out-of-competition test on 16 February until a negative test on 7 June have been annulled. All ranking points and prize money accrued in this period have had to be forfeited.
Errani, who is ranked 98 in the world, said in a statement released on Twitter: I feel very frustrated but I can only try to stand still and wait for this period to finish.
I am extremely disappointed but at the same time at peace with my conscience and aware I havent done anything wrong, neither have I committed any negligence against the anti-doping program.
Errani based her case for mitigation on the fact she had been visiting her parents shortly before her positive test. Her mother, who has suffered from breast cancer, stored her drugs close to an area used to prepare food. Contamination was possible because there had been times when pills had been dropped or spilled.
There is also no evidence letrozole would enhance the performance of an elite tennis player. It was banned because of World Anti-Doping Agency concerns it was being abused by bodybuilders.
The novel concept — the 12 entrants pay $1 million each for a starting stake, with $7 million going to the winner — ties in with the wagering side of the Stronach Group racing empire that created the event.
Stronach, the company’s president and chairman, wants to open up the sport to a newer generation of racegoers.
“We respect the history as well but we’re trying to modernize it and make it an even more fun experience,” she tells CNN.
However, the 50-year-old Stronach wants to shake up the race-going experience.
“At the end of the day, it’s entertainment and we’re competing against so many different forms of it,” she says.
“It should be cool and fun. If you, say, want a Vegas experience, that will be offered, but we’re also investing in technology to make it more accessible.”
Stronach is targeting a less traditional racing audience. Already, the company has trialed events, inviting 400 young people to a day at the races at Santa Anita capped with a gig at the end by top DJ Mark Ronson.
The Stronach Group is the largest thoroughbred racing operation in North America. It owns tracks such as California’s Santa Anita and Florida’s Gulfstream Park, where the Pegasus World Cup will take place.
It also runs Xpressbet, a wagering business, and Horse Racing TV, but the venture it knows will attract attention and the headlines is running the world’s richest horse race.
Stronach admits “it’s always a risk when you try something new,” but likens the “pay to enter” format to poker playing — and hopes it will provide an appeal that other prestigious racing events do not.
“With that $1 million, they become stakeholders, so they share in some of the revenues, plus they can sell their slots in the race if they want,” she adds.
The plan was to bring the world’s best racehorses to Gulfstream — and the top two will go head to head this weekend.
It will be another showdown between top-ranked newcomer Arrogate and the ever popular California Chrome, who will run his final race before retiring.
Arrogate won the 2016 Longines World’s Best Racehorse award after chasing down Chrome in a thrilling finish to November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
A total of 12,000 racegoers are expected to attend, with the hope being many more will be watching on TV as it is being televised in the United States on NBC.
“Maybe I’ve been influenced by them,” she says. “My daughter’s a very serious rider while my son plays to huge audiences. So they have some influences, they’re friends too. They make you see possibilities of fun.”
Fun is a buzzword for Stronach, the Pegasus World Cup and horse racing in general.
Recently retired driver did not rule out challenge for seat held by Democratic senator Claire McCaskill, whose second term expires in 2018
Carl Edwards, whose sudden retirement from Nascar earlier this month stunned the motor sports world, would not rule out a run for the US Senate in his home state of Missouri next year.
Terry Smith, a political science professor at Columbia College, speculated in a Wednesday piece for KBIAs Talking Politics that Edwards will challenge Democratic senator Claire McCaskill, whose second term expires in 2018.
Edwards, when reached by the Associated Press on Wednesday, did little to quell speculation.
I believe firmly in the principles that the US was founded upon, he said in a text message to the AP. If I could help, I definitely would consider it.
Edwards also stressed he has no such plans at the moment, but also quoted General Douglas MacArthur: No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation. He would almost surely face a difficult primary opponent should he decide to run, though he did not disclose any party affiliation to AP.
The 37-year-old, who came agonizingly close to winning his first Nascar premier series title before a late-race crash in Novembers season finale, announced his surprise retirement at a news conference in Charlotte on 11 January, saying he will not drive the No19 Toyota next season after 13 years in stock-car racings top circuit.
Im not prepared right now to participate in any public office or anything, but I am very open to helping that cause and helping the cause of liberty and freedom and what it is that America is about, Edwards said.
The abrupt decision to retire after coming so close to winning his first title left the Nascar world in confusion.
He had a shot to win the championship and then all of a sudden he just decides he doesnt want to do it anymore, Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Kyle Busch said. Thats kind of a shock to everyone, I would presume. Its his own decision to make and youve got to give (respect) to a guy when he says hes had enough and hes done and he walks away.
If that continues to hold true then more power to him but if theres something else waiting in the wings, well all have to wait to find out.
Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, while Democrats hold 46 seats and are typically supported by two independents.
McCaskill, Missouris senior senator, in 2014 actively pushed to end military sponsorship of Nascar. She spearheaded a campaign and told the Senate homeland security subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight that the armed forces were wasting a bunch of money on a very expensive sports sponsorship.
She narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Jim Talent in the 2006 election, then won handily in 2012 against an opponent who lost steam after making comments referring to legitimate rape. McCaskill confirmed in September that she intended to run again in 2018, even though she was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer earlier in the year. She would likely be considered vulnerable in a general election in a state that has increasingly backed conservatives.
Edwards, who lives in Missouri with his wife and two young children, was leading all championship contenders with 10 laps remaining at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November when a caution set up a restart that bunched the field. He tried to block Joey Loganos attempt to take the lead, but it caused a crash that ended Edwards title bid. The wreck left him with a fourth-place finish on the year.
Widely regarded as the best active driver to have never won a title when he retired, Edwards twice finished second in the overall standings: first in 2008, when he won nine races but a late crash at Talladega Superspeedway handed the title to Jimmie Johnson, then in 2011, when he finished in a tie with Tony Stewart but lost a tie-breaker on race victories for the season.
He first ascended to the Cup Series when he replaced Jeff Burton in the No99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in 2004, spent 13 years in Nascars top flight and recorded 28 race victories, 22 poles and 124 top-five finishes in 445 career starts.
This article was amended on 26 January 2017 to reflect the current composition of the US Senate. An earlier version said Republicans hold 54 seats, while Democrats hold 44 seats and are typically supported by two independents.
Families of the 96 who died in 1989 stadium tragedy are applauded at ceremony in city, which also honours manager Kenny Dalglish
The 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster have received the freedom of the city of Liverpool in an emotional ceremony.
Families of those who lost their lives in Britains worst sporting tragedy on 15 April 1989 collected a specially designed scroll and a medal with the name of their loved one inscribed on it. It was the first time the city has posthumously awarded its highest civic honour.
Also receiving the freedom of the city from the lord mayor of Liverpool, Roz Gladden, at St Georges Hall were Prof Phil Scraton, who led the research by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and the former Liverpool FC manager Kenny Dalglish and his wife, Marina.
As family members picked up their awards, they were greeted with rapturous applause, as were the Dalglishes, but the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for Scraton, whose tireless campaigning since the tragedy eventually led to the fresh inquests into the deaths, the unlawful killing verdicts from a jury in Warrington and the continuing criminal investigation.
Margaret Aspinall, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said she was delighted that Scraton had been honoured by his home city, while Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, died in the tragedy, said it was very deserving.