Yes, Justin Timberlake will headline the halftime performance at the Super Bowl in 2018.

No, there is no word on whether Janet Jackson will make an appearance. The incident in Houston 14 years ago has been referenced often since Timberlake was announced as the halftime performer, but don’t expect history to repeat itself in Minneapolis.

P!nk’s performance of the national anthem in Minneapolis will be her first time appearing on the Super Bowl stage.

P!nk joins the ranks of many performers who have sung the Super Bowl national anthem, including Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel, Renée Fleming, Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston, Harry Connick, Jr., Garth Brooks, Natalie Cole, Vanessa Williams, Luther Vandross, Cher, Faith Hill, Mariah Carey, Dixie Chicks, Beyoncé Knowles, Christina Aguilera and many more. (A complete list of national anthem performers from past Super Bowls is listed below.)

In addition, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), actor and director Alexandria Wailes will perform in American sign language both the national anthem and “America The Beautiful.”

The opening song in this halftime performance features young girls in cheerleading costumes singing:

“You’ve got to be a football hero, to get along with the beautiful girls. You’ve got to be a touchdown getter you bet, if you want to get, a cutie to pet.”

The 1995 Super Bowl halftime show, produced by Disney, was meant to help build a buzz around the new Indiana Jones Adventure ride at Disneyland. With the random addition of Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett, it ended up being one of the most strange, confusing and hilarious halftime performances of all time.

We can thank this halftime show for pushing the NFL to become more of a halftime concert than a Broadway production. Michael Jackson performed his halftime show the following year.
bills_048

In April, the NFL figured these two games would be important and feature at least two big-draw QBs, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck.

That he disrobed Janet Jackson, violently yanking at her leather jacket to expose one of her breasts during 2004’s halftime, clearly doesn’t strike the NFL as a deterrent from an encore engagement. More likely, it seems a marketing ploy to create a buzz then to stick with this halftime show in anticipation of, well, you never know.

The NFL’s high-bar is so low that after Seattle’s Doug Baldwin scored in the 2015 Super Bowl, his sense of “spontaneous fun” was to use the football to mime an end-zone defecation. He remained in the game.

The NFL will now pay Goodell in excess of $40 million per year to keep on keeping on, as if big-business folks — team owners — are blissfully unaware that there has never been a graph with a growth line that points straight up.

As if the NFL isn’t now bleeding from the abandonment of clear-headed folks who can no longer suffer what the NFL has become, from foresight-barren replay rules, to mindlessly excessive, remorseless brutality that incites ritual group joy among teammates — mostly full scholarship college men who behave, on and off the clock, like incorrigible, self-entitled, immodest, undignified adolescents, though frequently charged as adults.

Rodgers, out with shoulder surgery since Oct. 15, was back but didn’t play because the Packers were eliminated. Luck, injured, hasn’t played all season for the now-3-12 Colts.

The 49ers were dreadful on defense in 2016 and have no answer at safety opposite former LSU product Eric Reid. New GM John Lynch might see a little of himself in Adams, who will infuse this defense with some life and energy and become an immediate leader on that side of the ball. Not to mention, he will aid both the league’s worst pass defense and the 14th-ranked run defense from his safety position.

“Tarik Cohen just returned a punt 132 yards for a touchdown!” Siciliano proclaims on the air. On his next check of Twitter, a viewer tells him he was close, that Cohen had run 127 yards, prompting Siciliano to ask Thibault if any advanced metrics had been released for the play. When CBS finally shows the comet-trail replay, Siciliano shouts, “C.mon, get to 132, get to 132!” The yardage counter stops at 127.bills_028

Just 1 in 39 NFL players was born in a foreign country.

It turns out that the league with the most native-born players is also the league with the most protests. Maybe — just maybe — the NFL is a hub of political and social expression not because it is full of players who don’t love or care about the country but because it is full of players who do.

And maybe — just maybe — hockey players have abstained from demonstrations (save for J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning) not because they are more patriotic than their counterparts on the gridiron but because they are somewhat detached from the politics of a country they did not grow up in and, in many cases, they live in on a part-time basis or not at all. (Seven of the NHL’s 31 teams are based in Canada.)

Jones: Inside linebacker’s a definite need. They could use another guy with range and playmaking ability both against the run and pass rush. But I don’t know that there’s really a position on defense they shouldn’t consider. I’d even take a long look at Southern California cornerback Adoree’ Jackson if he’s there and the others are not. Some believe he’s the best cornerback in the draft. He’s a little smaller at 5 feet 10, 186 pounds, but he’d do well covering slot receivers, and nickelback certainly was an area where Washington struggled to find consistency last year.

A redshirt-junior, Lee is a 6-4 pocket-passer who transferred to Nebraska after starting his career at Tulane. Arriving to the Senior Bowl to replace Mason Rudolph, Lee has the body type, arm talent, and college flash to impress in the practice setting.

Still, Lee has struggled to consistently finish in the midfield as a passer, too often throwing off balance and struggling to adjust off his first read. His inconsistency in one offense seems to have hurt him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if NFL teams consider his potential as a developmental Day 3 prospect — based on his Senior Bowl play.

A three-year starter at Richmond, Lauletta was a lightly recruiting high school quarterback who, after playing some as a freshman, earned his starting role as a redshirt-sophomore. Despite four different offensive coordinators during his time in college, Lauletta has proven adaptable to multiple systems and has still shown next-level mental aptitude and processing. As a 6-2 passer, Lauletta has a well-built frame to stand tall and deliver throws with poise and adequate vision.cowboys_102

Down 24-7 at the half, Vikings fans were left wondering what happened to the team’s stellar defense.

After shutting out New Orleans in the first half of last week’s Minneapolis Miracle classic, the Vikings finished the season allowing 62 points over their final six quarters — after allowing just 17 points over their previous 14 periods of play. Sunday’s 38 points, 456 total yards and 346 passing yards allowed all marked season-highs for a Vikings defense that seemed magical just a fortnight ago.

While Malcolm Jenkins and the Eagles put on a clinic in open-field tackling, the Vikings were a seething mess in pass protection. After allowing a third-down conversion rate of only 25.2 percent this season — tops in the NFL and the lowest third-down conversion rate allowed since at least 1991 — the Vikings gave way as Minnesota converted an outrageous 10-of-14 third-down snaps.

It has been 18 years since Brady first arrived in New England, and there is an end of days feel to this season. Brady is 40, and the Patriots are going to have to replace two coordinators and perhaps more of their staff in the coming weeks. They have churned through players and coaches before — Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour, Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis — and survived, but in 2016, when the Patriots and Brady overcame his four-game suspension, there was a hard edge of vengeance about the season. On Sunday, Brady was more relaxed and reflective, unburdened by controversy and understandably relieved. His physical and mental toughness is unquestioned, but as much as Brady is currently winning the battle against time, it eventually comes for all athletes.

Among the vast records maintained by Sports Reference are the birthplaces of virtually every athlete ever to play in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association (and, pre-merger, the American Basketball Association). A Fix review of the data shows that the overwhelming majority, 84.5 percent, of hockey players who have appeared in NHL games were foreign-born. Additionally, 1 in 9 MLB players was foreign-born, and the rate in pro basketball is 1 in 10.

And while there are rumblings that the reason Miami soured on him involve his personality, as a player I really like him: he’s a big man who can cut and run over people. This will wind up a strong move for his fantasy value.cowboys_092

The Chargers wasted no time Thursday unveiling a new logo depicting an interlocking L and A with a lightning bolt.

Last month, the New York Times’ Upshot blog found that the NFL has become one of the most divisive brands in the United States as it seeks common ground between a player population that is predominantly black and a fan base that is mostly white. In addition to the league’s other negative headlines, TV ratings have dropped and were not helped by lackluster games on Thanksgiving Day.

It was promptly skewered on social media, including by the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

That trend continued with this year’s first hire, as the Jacksonville Jaguars promoted interim coach and former offensive assistant Doug Marrone.

Joseph spent this season as Gase’s defensive coordinator in Miami. The Dolphins ranked only 29th in the NFL in total defense. And Joseph’s defense did not fare particularly well in Sunday’s 30-12 defeat at Pittsburgh in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

But Joseph’s reputation as a rising star in the coaching ranks went mostly unaffected. Broncos front office chief John Elway seemed to zero in on Joseph and Shanahan after also interviewing Kansas City’s special teams coordinator, Dave Toub. When Joseph did not leave for a planned interview with the Chargers, it was clear that Elway had settled on his man.

Even though CTE can only be diagnosed after death, Baez, the attorney, said Thursday he wished Hernandez had undergone more extensive testing while still alive.

“I will say for lawyers representing athletes of contact sports, that this is something that you should definitely consider having your clients take some of the presumptive tests that are available,” he said. “It is something that we considered as a team, but did not pursue simply because his defense was one of actual innocence and not one of mitigation. It’s something I deeply regret.”
cowboys_054

The Cavaliers were blowing out the Orlando Magic, winning by 22 at the half, before blowing the lead and barely holding on for a one-point win.

As expected, Isaiah Thomas had his best game in a Cavaliers uniform on Thursday, scoring 21 points with 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 3-pointers and 2 steals in 30 minutes of action. Derrick Rose also got back on the court for the first time since early November, scoring 9 points with 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot in 13 minutes off the bench.

The entire perimeter unit of the Lakers are on the injury report for Friday. Lonzo Ball (knee) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Achilles) are both listed as out, and Brandon Ingram (ankle) and Kyle Kuzma (finger) are listed as questionable. Players like Josh Hart, Jordan Clarkson or Tyler Ennis could be in for bigger roles. If either/both of the forwards sit, players like Larry Nance Jr. or Julius Randle could also see more action than usual.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Bengals: He’s coming off his best game of the season, and while the consensus is to temper expectations when facing the Broncos’ defense, it’s time to accept that Denver is not playing that great defensively. The Broncos have lost five straight (including at home vs. the Giants) and have surrendered at least 21 points in all of those contests. If you’re in a jam, LaFell is not a great option, but he’s starting for a decent enough offense and should be given consideration.

It was another distressing Sunday in an NFL season whose disturbance and cruelty has managed consistently to overshadow thrills and fun. The big headline was the feared loss of Carson Wentz to a torn anterior cruciate ligament for the remainder of the season. The lasting, unshakable image was Tom Savage lying prone, his hands vibrating in an involuntary fashion, before somehow reentering the game minutes later. Elsewhere, a Seattle Seahawks player attempted to climb into the stands in Jacksonville to fight a fan who had thrown a drink at him.

Underneath another serving of misery, hope for a more enjoyable future pulsed. While injuries and controversies have dominated the season, the NFL still may be partially redeemed by a showcase hinted at Sunday. The rain clouds over the season may be able to ruin anything, but right now the NFC playoffs appear to be as can’t-miss as can’t-miss could be. Barring a letdown, they are going to be great.cowboys_030