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23.07.2019 09:39
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BALTIMORE (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers‘ prize for dismantling the toughest defense in the NFL is a road game against a team that has long been a nemesis for Philip Rivers.Los Angeles advanced to the divisional round of the postseason by beating the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 on Sunday. Next up , a matchup against the New England Patriots (11-5) this Sunday.Since Rivers became a starter, the Chargers are 0-7 against Tom Brady and the Patriots, including 0-2 in playoff games. The last time they met, New England rolled to a 21-12 win in the AFC Championship game in January 2008.Fortunately for Rivers, past performances don’t necessarily mean that much. Just two weeks after being dominated by Baltimore in a loss that knocked them out of first place in the AFC West, the Chargers (13-4) bounced back with a resounding win to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014.Rivers went 22 of 32 for 160 yards, his longest completion a 28-yarder to Mike Williams.Going up against longtime Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and standout coach Bill Belichick is no easy task, but Rivers is up for the challenge.“I’m not playing Tom by any means. But is it special to go to New England against a Hall of Fame coach and arguably the best quarterback ever to play and get another shot at ’em? Heck, yeah,” Rivers said. “To get an opportunity again to go against them, 11 years after we had the opportunity in the 2007 season, yeah, it’s awesome. Looking forward to it.”The Chargers face a veteran quarterback after putting the clamps on a rookie, Lamar Jackson of the Ravens, who fumbled three times, threw an interception and was sacked seven times in his playoff debut.AFC North champion Baltimore (10-7) got to play a home playoff game for the first time since 2012, but its run ended there.Looking ahead, this much is clear: John Harbaugh figures he’ll be back as coach — even if nothing is set in stone yet — and he knows Jackson will be the team’s starting quarterback next season instead of past Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.While Flacco is “the best quarterback in the history of the Ravens,” as Harbaugh put it, Jackson’s 6-1 close to the regular season cemented the first-round draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner as the No. 1 quarterback.“Lamar’s our quarterback going forward. There’s no question about that,” Harbaugh said.And as for Harbaugh’s future?“We’ll see Sheldrick Redwine Jersey ,” he said. “I have every expectation and every plan to be here, as long as the Ravens want me here. And I believe they want me here. That’s been made clear by them to me.”Some other things we learned from the Ravens-Chargers matchup:STICK TO THE PLANIt would be easy for Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram to hog the spotlight after recording a team-leading seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on Sunday.But Ingram said his success was simply a byproduct of playing in a system that emphasizes staying in position and not over-pursuing a mobile quarterback and his hard-running backfield.Two weeks ago, the Ravens’ complicated offensive strategy wore down and puzzled the Chargers. Not this time.“We played assignment football,” Ingram said. “We were told to see what we were supposed to see. They do a lot to confuse us, but we stayed with it and it was a much better result for us.”SUGGS WANTS MORESixteen seasons of being an NFL linebacker evidently isn’t enough for Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs .Asked after the game if he intended to return, the 36-year-old Suggs said, “Absolutely.”With Baltimore?“I would love to be here. I would love to be a Raven life-timer,” Suggs said. “If it’s not, I’ll be playing lights out for somebody.”BOO BIRDSThe boos started in the second half, as the Ravens’ offense kept getting shut down and Jackson kept getting sacked. Then came the chants from the home fans for Flacco to replace Jackson.Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith was not surprised — but he was angered. So he told those spectators exactly what he thought.“I’m standing there, and they were just like chanting Flacco’s name. I love ‘Flac,’ but (Jackson) got us here,” Smith said. “So for the fact that you’re a fair-weather fan that quickly when things go rough — you turn your back on him? That just got under my skin a little bit.“So I just went to them and told them, like, ‘Yo, you either ride or die or you get … out of here.'”JOE TO GO?Although Flacco likely won’t throw another pass with the Ravens, Harbaugh clearly believes Flacco will be a starting quarterback for years to come.“Joe Flacco is going to play really well in this league. Joe can still play,” Harbaugh said. “Joe’s going to have a market. A lot of teams are going to want Joe because they understand that.”Asked if he can still be a starter in the NFL, Flacco replied Kaleb McGary Jersey , “Oh, there is no doubt about it.” NEW YORK (AP) — Eight years ago at this time, when the NFL was hitting a mere 91 and counting, discord between players and owners reached such a fevered state that the league locked out the union.Two years from now, when the NFL heads into its 102nd season, it could happen again.Yes, pro football as a business is healthy. Incredibly so, with revenues beyond $14 billion, TV ratings up and modern stadiums nearly everywhere. But the money-filled pot the league and its players share is beginning to heat up if not exactly boil. The boil could come in 2021, when the 10-year labor deal struck to end the 2011 lockout itself concludes.It’s difficult to argue that the current CBA hasn’t been profitable for the people who own the 32 clubs and the hundreds of guys who play for them and are earning seven — and for some, eight — figures a year. It’s also impossible to maintain that these are peaceful times overall, with the union and league at odds over nearly every issue, from players’ rights to protest, to disciplinary powers for the commissioner, to roster size, to length of schedule.The 2011 work stoppage seemed a certainty from the time in 2008 that the owners opted out of an agreement reached in 2006 — the final bargaining act between then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and union boss Gene Upshaw. Negotiations sputtered until just after midnight on March 12, 2011, when NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, in a simple text to The Associated Press, said “We are locked out.”And they were for 132 days into late July; there was a brief respite by court order that then was overturned. A deal probably could have been reached in a far shorter time, but the union complicated matters by decertifying so it could bring an antitrust lawsuit against the league.“The lockout Kendall Sheffield Jersey , it was not inevitable, it was likely,” says Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp, a Chicago-based consulting firm, and an adviser to several team owners. “All parties could demonstrate to their constituencies how strong their resolve was to fight for them. For the players, it became be careful what you wish for. They won the first round in a Minnesota court, then it was reversed. The original decision was flat-out wrong and that is why it was reversed. But all of that extended the period by which they were in court and not negotiating.”When there were negotiations, whether in Washington, New York, New England and points elsewhere, they tended to be contentious.Then, as Ganis notes, “The calendar came up.”The sides had moved into July with some but not enough progress toward an agreement. Training camps were scheduled to open in a few weeks, followed by preseason games that, while despised by veteran players and ignored by lots of fans, are extremely lucrative for owners.Both sides got serious, dropped the posturing and, by July 14, the parameters of a deal were reached. A week later, the owners voted 31-0 (Oakland abstained) to approve the 10-year CBA John Cominsky Jersey , and the players soon after ratified it.Why 10 years?“For the last five or six months, we’ve been talking about the business of football,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a key figure in the settlement. “But the end result is, we’ve been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade.”Business-wise, it certainly has. The average NFL team is worth $2.57 billion; the least valuable NFL franchise is Buffalo at $1.6 billion. The average NFL player salary — skewed somewhat by the high price of quarterbacks — is more than $2 million.Yet, the storm clouds are gathering. Each side is preparing funding — a war chest, if you will — for a potential labor stoppage.“It’s our job to prepare for wars we don’t want to fight,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said during Super Bowl week.“The NFLPA has a difficult job,” adds Don Yee, one of the top NFL player agents who represents, among many others, Tom Brady. “Irrespective of the leader, it has been historically difficult for football players to stick together during any kind of labor effort. If the players want change and progress, they will have to stick together and be willing to make the necessary sacrifices.“We all know the history of the strikes and stoppages and how many star players crossed picket lines. One of the strengths is that the current director, De Smith, no longer is a rookie. He now has the necessary experience. When he was selected, he had no experience, and that simply is a tough spot to be in.”The contentious issues will be many, of course. Yee, for one Qadree Ollison Jersey , lists these:—”creating an entity that will have a source of funding that is solely for the benefit of the lifetime health of the players;—”reforming the ‘fine’ and ‘punishment’ system;—”reforming all league policies that artificially hold down wages, e.g., internal league ‘funding rules’;—”reforming the entire free-agency system, including eliminating the salary cap and player ‘tags’;—”eliminating the draft;—reforming the entire system regarding PEDs, substance use.”Ganis is among those who believe there is plenty of room for agreement.“There are mutually beneficial deals that can be negotiated where fans get another game, players more money, players get a change in the disciplinary program,” Ganis explains. “Where the broadcasters get more inventory, where there are more roster spots and more union jobs. Where there is more attention to player health and safety if that is even possible; they are paying a lot of attention to that.“There is absolutely a compromise situation where everyone wins,” he added. “That doesn’t mean they will get there without the pain of negotiating.”Eric Winston, the union president, joked about any greed element, then also expressed optimism about the future.“Money always will be a major point,” he said. “We want 99 percent and they want us to have 0.1 percent. Where do we meet?“But there might not be as big a bridge to build,” he said.

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