NFL opening temporary store in Manhattan

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NFL opening temporary store in Manhattan

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL is setting up shop in midtown Manhattan -- literally. Eight blocks from Radio City Music Hall, where the draft will be held April 22-28, the league is establishing a temporary facility with a theme: NFL Shop at Draft. It's the first such endeavor, a chance to not only unveil products from the league's new partners, including Nike, New Era and Under Armour, but to whet fans' appetite for the NFL's biggest event that doesn't actually involve football. The draft has become an industry unto itself. Analysts, personal trainers and broadcasters make a living solely from the buildup, which actually begins with the kickoff of the college season in late summer, and ends with the selections. Radio City is packed with die-hards, dressed in their team colors, perhaps even painted thusly. Every early pick is cheered or jeered -- often both. That fervor helped spark the NFL's decision to open up shop across from New York's landmark Bryant Park, beginning on April 2. The official presentation of Nike's new jerseys for all 32 teams and New Era's headgear will come at what the league is calling a "huge NFL energy space" where Commissioner Roger Goodell is planning to man one of the cash registers on opening day. "We're looking at marketing opportunies anytime we have an event," said Leo Kane, the league's senior vice president of consumer products. "We will have a kickoff event in the New York metropolitan area with the Giants having won the Super Bowl. We look at our international season focused in London and at Wembley. We moved into (merchandising at) the Super Bowl and were thrilled with what we were able to do in Indianapolis. Now we are showing what we can do before and at the draft. We want to have a year-round footprint." Certainly the NFL has done that on the news side with one of the busiest headline-grabbing offseasons. Much of that was concencerned bounties and salary cap reductions. But the fans' interest displayed emphatically the fervor they carry for pro football. So, of course, does spending their money on merchandise. In many cases, that involves online purchases. But for one month, New Yorkers and visitors to the Big Apple -- including those who come in for the draft -- will have a place to set foot in and pick out apparel and the like. "I've been 19 years at the NFL, and I don't think there's been a year we have not talked about (building) a store," Kane said. "We're not sure it makes sense. We did a pop-up in New Orleans when the season kickoff was there the year the Saints won the Super Bowl and it was dedicated to products for women and phenomenally successful. "Anytime you do a pop-up store, you are testing. One of the things we like is testing in New York. There's a Super Bowl here in 22 months and we will get a good indication if makes sense along these lines for Super Bowl 48. If we are successful in doing this for the draft this year and the draft next year and then Super Bowl 48, will it make sense? We don't know that yet." What the NFL does know is that Nike will unveil its jerseys for the 32 teams and New Era will present caps specifically for the draft that are sure to get noticed. Those caps will be given not only to the Andrew Lucks of the world but all the other draftees at the music hall. "It's a city-based theme," New Era President Pete Augustine said. "All these guys coming through the draft are getting a new hometown. "What we like for the draft this year is we have a level of fashion that should be appealing to die-hard fans and one allowing the look and feel of the logo on the front. We have a variety of products that have the same look and feel beyond what the drafted athlete can wear." New Era, Nike and Under Armour are among seven marketing partners that are replacing Reebok, whose 10-year deal with the league concludes at the end of March. The other companies are Gill, VF, Outerstuff and '47 Brand. Kane said it was time for a change. "Reebok was a great partner for 10 years, the right partner 10 years ago, and we're very proud of some of the things we have done with them," he said. "We now have a more flexible model for our fans. It is difficult to be the best jersey guy and headwear guy, to provide (merchandise or equipment) for the field and the NFL combine. The business is still segmented, but we looked to put world-class leaders in each category. I think it will bring more innovation."

Saturday on CSN: Fire go for second straight win with Timbers in town

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Saturday on CSN: Fire go for second straight win with Timbers in town

The beginning of the season was not very good for the Chicago Fire, just ask general manager Nelson Rodriguez.

However, a win against Portland on Saturday would put the Fire, currently last in Major League Soccer with 10 points, back within range of the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. That’s how quickly things can turn around in Major League Soccer, especially in the weaker of the two conferences.

The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on CSN and coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live. There will also be a Spanish language simulcast on CSN+.

The Fire (2-5-4, 10 points) are coming off a 1-0 win against Houston. The last time the Fire had back-to-back wins was April of last year.

Portland (4-6-3, 15 points) is the defending MLS Cup champs, but the Timbers have not looked like it so far this season. Portland is the only team in the league without a shutout and is tied for the most goals allowed in the league.

Fire coach Veljko Paunovic mentioned the preseason meeting between the two teams as something to use as a reference. The Fire won 2-0 in Portland on Feb. 27, but a preseason win didn’t do the Fire any good against Vancouver, which beat the Fire on May 11.

“We had a great performance in Portland,” Paunovic said. “We learned a lot about them in that game.

“They play as a team. They are very good in transition. They are very good on set pieces, too. A lot of important, individually very good players.”

Fanendo Adi is certainly one of those very good players. The Nigerian is tied for the league lead with eight goals. Diego Valeri and Jack McInerney also have four goals each, with McInerney mostly coming off the bench.

When asked if the Fire and Timbers have similar styles, Paunovic detailed a few of the tactical differences.

“They play very narrow at times, but we are looking for something different,” Paunovic said. “When we have Gilberto, Kennedy (Igboananike), (David) Accam switch positions to create superiority on a different part of the field and especially being in the final third it can give us a lot of advantage. We have very fast, very offensive guys up in front and I believe that can help.”

This will be the first time since the season opener that Accam will be available to play at home. He came back from injury with two appearances on the road and was suspended for the win against Houston. Paunovic could have all three aforementioned forwards play together for the first time since the season opener.

As for who won’t be available, John Goossens and Michael Harrington are out while Collin Fernandez is listed as questionable while still nursing an ankle sprain.

Meanwhile, Portland is short two players who are prepping for the Copa America before MLS goes on break after the weekend. Key playmaker Darlington Nagbe is with the U.S. while defender Jermaine Taylor is away with Jamaica.

Maddon, Cubs giving Iron Man Anthony Rizzo his own 'mini All-Star break'

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Maddon, Cubs giving Iron Man Anthony Rizzo his own 'mini All-Star break'

Joe Maddon took full advantage of the off-day Thursday.

"I rested my butt off," the Cubs manager said.

Maddon wants Anthony Rizzo to do the same, giving the Iron Man first baseman the day off Friday to kick off a holiday-weekend series against the Phillies at Wrigley Field.

Rizzo has played every game for the Cubs so far, appearing in 399.1 innings at first base out of a possible 407.1.

He led the National League in games played (160) and plate appearances (701) last season and has missed only 26 games since the start of 2013.

"This is something I was looking forward to doing," Maddon said before Friday's game. "When I was with Tampa Bay, I used to do this with Carl [Crawford] all the time to try to take advantage of either the front or back side of a day off to give him two days off.

"I think it's great the way it all played out with the left-hander today (Adam Morgan) for them. And then we play consecutively after this — hopefully, barring any rainouts.

"It was a good time to just give him his little mini All-Star break. And then just have him come back fresh tomorrow."

Friday's game began a stretch of 13 straight for the Cubs, who don't have their next off-day until June 9.

Maddon said he wouldn't hesitate to use Rizzo off the bench if the Cubs needed it Friday.

The All-Star first baseman and perennial MVP candidate is mired in a 3-for-38 slump with his last extra-base hit coming May 14 against the Pirates.

Maddon is hoping this day off will help Rizzo recharge mentally, too.

"I'm anticipating a good result, so that moving forward later in the season, maybe do the same thing again," Maddon said. "'Cause it really does rest those guys up."

Maddon is also giving Jason Heyward his own "mini All-Star Break" Friday after playing two straight games coming out of the scary-looking injury in San Francisco last week.

Heyward left in the first inning of last Friday's game and then missed the next three before playing every inning of the final two games against the Cardinals this week.

Maddon said Heyward is feeling OK, but the Cubs just want to play things safe.

"I wanna be a little cautious," Maddon said. "We had a significant moment in San Francisco. We were more worried that it was going to be even worse and it turned out to be good, so why press our luck right now?

"Let's take advantage of the moment. And a lot of times, the schedule tells you what to do, you just gotta pay attention."

In place of Heyward and Rizzo, Maddon inserted Matt Szczur in right field and Kris Bryant at first base.

Maddon forecasted his backup plan at first base last week in Milwaukee the day after Rizzo was removed in the ninth for a pinch-runner in a game that ultimately went to 13 innings. 

Javy Baez was the option then at first base, but Bryant did shift over there for an out. 

Friday, Maddon opted for Baez at third and Bryant at first.

"KB's been really good at third base. Just a little bit more agility there with Javy," Maddon said. "I still like how large KB is at first base, for lack of a better word. I mean, he's big. He's a great target.

"Moving forward, it's kind of interesting to give him an opportunity to do it. This is something when he's 10 years from now, he's probably going to be able to do very easily. For right now, I like the agility of third base with Javy and I like the target at first base with KB."

Bryant has continued his evolution into Mr. Versatility this season, moving to right field in a tough ballpark when Heyward got hurt last week and regularly seeing time in left field and third base.

When asked how he will handle the transition to first base, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year had the same reaction he does to most things — a simple shrug of the shoulders.

"I think I have good instincts on the field, so I'm gonna go with those and hopefully my glove's broken in," he said through a smile. "That's all I'm worried about, really. I think just playing the infield and throwing the ball across the diamond a lot, I kinda see how it works over there and the bunt defenses and stuff like that. I think it should be alright."

Bryant said he's not worried about making scoops or stretches, relying on his hands and instincts and acknowledging that those are both actions in the moment.

Bryant — who has 6.1 innings under his belt at first base in his professional career — also said he feels comfortable wherever he plays and has talked in the past about being seen as a "baseball player" rather than a "third baseman" or "outfielder."

"I've played some first before," he said. "I played my freshman year in college. I actually worked out mostly at first base my whole fall leading up to the season and then I played third base the whole year there.

"I've had some experience there working around the bag, turning double plays, throwing from a different arm slot over there. I feel comfortable with it.

"I like to be a baseball player and I guess this is another one of those situations where I get to kinda show that."

91 Days to Kickoff: New Trier

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91 Days to Kickoff: New Trier

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.

School: New Trier Trevians

Head coach: Brian Doll

Assistant coaches: Jason Dane (DC), Tom Hessling, Mike Napoleon, Bob Spagnoli, Bill Morrison, Bob Bollweg, Pete Collins

How they fared in 2015: 9-2 (4-1) Central Suburban South. The Trevians made the Class 8A IHSA playoff field. New Trier defeated Lyons Township then lost to Homewood-Flossmoor in second-round action.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Trevians finally find a way to wrestle away the Central Suburban South conference crown from Maine South (75 straight conference wins and counting)?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Max Rosenthall, QB Clay Czyzynski, RB/DB Francis Fay

Biggest holes to fill: The Trevians will look to add some depth this fall. New Trier welcomes back 14 returning starters, but five are also two-way starters.

EDGY's early take: Doll didn't need long to get the Trevians program up to speed.  New Trier has experience and talent back this fall, and remains a team the could easily push into the Top 25 team polls.