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NEWS REAL

• FIFA has postponed plans to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams for the 2022 event in Qatar. The plan is still being considered for the 2026 World Cup, which will be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. According to FIFA, “(There was not enough) time for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact.” The World Cup is scheduled for Nov. 21-Dec. 18, 2022.

• The NFL and NFL Players Association have unveiled two joint agreements that are intended to “support further resources directed to address pain management and behavioral health.” Full story here.

• The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and social impact education innovator EVERFI, Inc. have oined the students of Santee Elementary School in San Jose to launch The Compassion Project for the 2019-2020 school year, described as a “national nonprofit dedicated to providing compassion education to elementary school students across the U.S.”

• The U.S. Golf Association has aligned with Marvel Entertainment to create exclusive golf education products to “engage junior golfers on the essential elements to learning the game." Scheduled to launch in June at the 2019 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, the collaboration features printed and digital comic books with many of Marvel’s super heroes The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed (while supplies last) at the Junior Experience at the 2019 U.S. Open.

• Major League Lacrosse has signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch to have its Bud Light brand become the official beer partner for the 2019 MLL All-Star Game, being played in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD on July 27. The deal includes “prominent signage on the playing field, fan zone activation and various on-site promotions at several sports bars and retail locations in the Greater Annapolis area leading up to the All-Star Game.”

• Stating that “we are continually seeking opportunities to evolve our product offerings,’ Kohl’s has signed an exclusive long-term alliance with Fanatics, a global leader in licensed sports merchandise with the addition of “hundreds of thousands of items.” Full story here.

• Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, co-founders of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, have launched with The ALS Assn. the 5th anniversary of “Challenge Me” with a “new call to action to reignite the passion and generosity of the millions of people who dumped ice water on their heads in the summer of 2014.” 

POLL POSITION

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the U.S. in France and seek to defend their FIFA Women’s World Cup crown (July 7-Aug.7).

GOALKEEPERS

Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS
Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS
Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
FORWARDS
Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup

KEEPING SCORE

Luka Dončić, Trae Young Head NBA All-Rookie Team
Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young have been unanimously selected to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Dončić and Young both received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots to finish with 200 points each.  They are joined on the NBA All-Rookie First Team by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (195 points; 95 First Team votes), Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (159 points; 60 First Team votes) and Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (156 points; 56 First Team votes).

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team includes LA Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (138 points), Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (132), Clippers guard Landry Shamet (85), New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (77) and Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (45).

BUY SELL

Weekend Box Office May 17-19
1. John Wick 3 $57M
2. Avengers: Endgame $29.4M
3. Pokemon Detective Pikachu $24.8M
4. A Dog’s Journey $8M
5. The Hustle $6M
6. The Intruder $4M
7. Long Shot $3.4M
8,. The Sun Is Also A Star $2.6M
9. Poms $2M
10. Uglydolls $1.6M
Source: Box Office Mojo

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Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Channel Chasers

NFL UK 2019
• Oct. 6 Chicago Bears v Oakland Raiders Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 13 Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 27  Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Rams Wembley Stadium
• Nov. 3 Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Wembley Stadium

NFL Mexico 2019
• Nov. 18 Kansas City  Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Mexico City Estadio Azteca (ESPN Monday Night Football).

Monday
Apr242017

Q&A: As Rookies Start Their NFL Careers, Shawne Merriman Thrives In Life After NFL

By Barry Janoff

April 24, 2017: When the NFL Draft is held this week in Philadelphia, the more than 250 players selected by the league’s 32 teams will be thinking about their new careers and not about retirement or life after they leave pro football.

Shawn Merriman was not thinking about retirement in 2005 when he was drafted No. 12 overall by the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers out of Maryland.

At linebacker, he had ten sacks his first year, was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year and was runner-up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Despite missing the first four games in 2006 for violating the NFL’s PED policy, he led the league with 17 sacks. He had 39.5 sacks through his first three seasons, the most among all players from 2005-07, and was named to the Pro Bowl each season.

Sooner-than expected plans for post-NFL life became a reality in 2008 when he underwent reconstructive knee surgery to repair torn ligaments and played in just one game. He returned to play in 14 games in 2009, recording four sacks, but that was his last full season in the NFL.

Over the next three years, the final two with the Buffalo Bills, he appeared in a total of 18 games and recorded a total of two sacks.

It was during his rehab when Merriman seriously began to put into motion an idea he had been contemplating for years: Create an athletic sportswear line based on his long-time nickname, Lights Out, a reference to how quarterbacks and other opposing players felt when he tackled them.

Merriman, now 32, has made good on his goal to build Lights Out into a thriving business. As CEO, he has led the brand to success online, and now is moving the men’s and women’s apparel lines into more retail destinations nationwide.

But that growth has not been without its challenges. In 2014, Lights Out Holdings sued Nike for trademark infringement over the use of Lights Out, for which Merrirman said he acquired federal trademark rights in 2007 from its previous owners.

This past February, he sued Under Armour for the same reason.

The Nike suit was "amicably resolved" by both sides. The Under Armour situation is on-going.

Merriman is also fulfilling other dreams, including becoming involved with Nascar and also MMA, both of which trace back to his youth in Maryland, where he grew up in Prince George's County, graduating from Frederick Douglass HS  before attending the University of Maryland.

Merriman is a part owner for Patriot Motorsports Group, with driver Jesse Iwuji in the K&N Pro Series West. Working with Iwuji, who also is African American, Merriman is bringing the sport to a more diverse, multi-ethnic audience.

He also is associated with Bellator MMA as a spokesman, and has been in extensive training with the potential of climbing into the ring.

In addition, he devotes time to his "Lights On Foundation" in an effort to help children and families in need.

This week, he begins filming MTV’s The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros, a reality competition show that pits athletes and non-athletes in various skills for the opportunity to donate $50,000 to their favorite charity. It is hosted by NFL wide receiver Victor Cruz.

NYSportsJournalism spoke with Merriman about his on-going journey from football to MMA, Nascar and businessman, and his feelings about his former Chargers team moving to Los Angeles.

NYSportsJournalism.com: What has life been like post-NFL as far as facing challenges and meeting goals?

Shawne Merman: When you play in the NFL and play football for as long as I did, it was like living a dream that I had since I was a kid. I started playing when I was about ten. Then one day it stopped. And you have to find your next passion. Something that gets you up in the morning and gets you going. For me, it has been Lights Out. So even as much as I loved the game, the transition was pretty easy. I loved playing, but building Lights Out is as much a passion for me as football.

"When you play in the NFL and play football for as long as I did, it was like living a dream that I had since I was a kid. Then one day it stopped."

NYSJ: Not every player thinks during his playing days that he might need another passion or career after the game. Did you consider life after football even while you were playing?

SM: I actually bought Lights Out from another company in 2007. I knew what I wanted to do after the NFL, but at the time I couldn’t really commit the time and energy to it that I wanted because I was so engaged with football. Football was my job and my passion. But once I retired, I could make Lights Out and building the brand my top priority. And I have teamed with Bellator MMA and Nascar to build a race team with driver Jesse Iwuji.

NYSJ: Why are you putting your support behind Jesse Iwuji?

SM: He’s a great young African American driver and has a lot of great qualities: former football player, a lieutenant in the Navy, just an all-around great dude. Nascar has been dealing with the issue of bringing diversity to its sport and Jesse is someone who can do great things in Nascar.

NYSJ: Are you bringing the athlete mentality you had in the NFL of setting goals, facing challenges and continually raising the bar to your business and sports endeavors?

SM: One thing that has helped me as as former pro athlete is that I know how the process works. You don’t just wake up one day and have something great. It doesn’t work that way. You have to work hard, put yourself on the line and be willing to sacrifice. Nascar has welcomed Jesse and me and has given us great support, which has helped tremendously. So now I can put my efforts behind Jesse in helping him to climb the ladder in Nascar. And he is a great representative for Lights Out. So with all that going at once, You put your best foot forward every day and keep it going.

NYSJ: It seems as if you have been able to take your Lights Out brand and organically integrate it into other areas, such as MMA and Nascar, to get the message to consumers, which many businesses want to but never seem able to accomplish. Was that a challenge at first or did it always seem to you like a natural process?

SM: It’s a lot of work, but I don’t get involved in anything that I don’t know about. So I can tell you about Bellator MMA. I can tell you about Nascar. I get behind the scenes. I have done MMA training. I get to go in and spar with these guys. I still get my competitive fix, if you can call it that, from my days in the NFL. And with Nascar, I’ve spent a lot of time with Jesse on the track, with other team owners and drivers, learning as much as about the business, the cars, the competition as I can. I am an information retainer. (Laughs.) I retain as much information as possible. And you have to be there. You can watch on TV but there is nothing like actually being on the track, in the garage, to feel the energy, the intensity.

"I know I can’t help every kid. But there are kids who will listen to the information I share with them. There are kids whose futures I can impact."

NYSJ: Is that similar in any way to the intensity you felt in the NFL?

SM: It’s a lot like running out of the tunnel and onto the field before the game. There are 30,000 or 40,000 people at a race track. I remember the first time going down an alley (that led to the race track) with some of the best race car drivers in the world, and fans were screaming and yelling. And I said to myself, This feels exactly like coming out of the tunnel on a Sunday onto an NFL field.

NYSJ: Do you feel as if the projects to which you are dedicating yourself to have a long-term growth and upside?

SM: Definitely. Even if you look at how big Nascar already is — and it’s a huge sport — but to get into it and try to attract the demographics we want to, that is something that has tremendous growth potential. I trace this to my childhood. I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in a predominantly black neighborhood. We didn’t have the opportunity to experience Nascar when I was growing up. So my thinking is, What happens when you can make a great sport like Nascar available to an 11- or 12-year-old Shawne Merriman. Or any minority kid growing up in a neighborhood like the one in which I grew up. If you get them exposed to the sport early, imagine the potential growth of the fan base. I can see 11- and 12-year-old kids going to a Nascar race and having his interest sparked to be a long-time fan.

NYSJ: Do you spend time with kids and share your NFL experiences and talk about your life now as a successful businessman?

SM: I do that all the time. I speak to kids from broken homes, from troubled homes and kids who want to hear about life experiences beyond what they see every day. In Baltimore, I work with the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation (which is dedicated to supporting the well-being of abused, neglected and at-risk children). There is a reason I do this. I speak to as many kids as I can. I know I can’t help every kid. But there are kids who will listen to the information I share with them and turn their lives around. Or change their lives in some way. That’s why you do it. Because there are kids whose futures I can impact.

NYSJ: How has the Lights Out line been resonating with consumers?

SM: We are growing, expanding into more locations, really getting the word out there. People see me wearing Lights Out every day, unless I need to be in a sports jacket. We are reaching consumers and they are helping to spread the word. So I’m very confident that we are reaching the people. The line is not just for working out. You can wear them to go out, to hang out with friends. It’s activewear. The line is so hot I can’t even explain it. (Laughs.) So we are reaching more people every day.

NYSJ: Being a member of the San Diego Chargers all-time squad, and having played in San Diego for six years, how do you feel about the Chargers moving from San Diego to Los Angeles?

SM: Saying Los Angeles Chargers still hasn’t sunken in yet for me. I recently was at a race track in Fontana (Calif., about 50 miles east of Los Angeles) signing autographs and I jokingly yelled out, San Diego Chargers. It is starting to become a reality. I do have some friends on the team and I will support them. This is the organization that drafted me, so I will support them. They supported me and my family.

NYSJ: What do you think about the NFL over the past couple of years with three franchise moves, also including the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles and the Raiders planning to move from Oakland to Las Vegas?

SM: It certainly is a different time. But I believe you have to be able to move or change. You have to move with the times. The Chargers organization has to work to win back the fan base that is bitter about the move. What helps is if you win games, and you win early (in the season). If they do that, they will have a lot of success in the Los Angeles market.

NYSJ: It seems as if you will have a busy schedule for quite some time. What are you most looking forward to doing?

SM: I’m most excited about getting the Lights Out line into more stores. We have had a great demand over the past few months and we are expanding in retail. Also working with Jesse and Nascar is exciting. And seeing how far I want to take my MMA connections. I have to tell you, I am having so much fun. I wake up in the morning and I'm like a big-ass kid. (Laughs.) No joke. I feel as if I can do something new every day. It’s not like I have a Groundhog Day experience where every day is the same. It’s all good.

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