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How Olympic flag football is supposed to help the NFL grow



If you put it in the Olympics, people will come. Or something.

If you put it in the Olympics, people will come. Or something.
Image: Getty Images

The NFL has been trying to expand its appeal overseas for decades. They’ve had several games hosted in London. They’re set to have a game in Germany next season. A few years ago, they even partnered with Pro Football Focus, a football data analytics company that was founded in the UK. Still, they have not had the overseas impact they were hoping for. That’s all right though. The NFL has a plan to grow its international business and bring in $1 billion annually. That plan revolves around… flag football? Huh?

According to the NFL’s Chief Operating Officer of International Football Damani Leech, flag football is going to play an integral part in the NFL’s goal of attracting 50 million new international consumers within the next ten years. How? By putting it in the Olympics, of course!

“If flag football becomes an Olympic sport, more countries will invest in playing that sport,” Leech said. That makes sense. Even if most consumers in foreign countries don’t latch onto football after seeing its inclusion in the Olympics, there may be a few million that do, and that would make its Olympic inclusion worthwhile for the NFL.

The NFL is specifically aiming for Olympic inclusion by 2028. With Los Angeles set to host the Olympics that year, the NFL is hoping that the International Olympic Committee will have time to admire just how prevalent football is in American culture and how, even if it’s only flag football, Americans will latch onto and support the inclusion of football in the Olympics. As Leech described, part of this plan involves the IOC watching and appreciating the intrigue and entertainment that an event like flag football’s 2022 World Games, being held July 7-17 in Alabama, can bring to the Olympic table. Said Leech, the World Games would be “a good opportunity to show the IOC what this sport looks like. That it is competitive and attractive.”

It’s a good idea, but there are still many questions concerning this plan. For one, is giving international consumers a safer, faster-paced alternative for tackle football really going to attract fans to the NFL? Sure, it will work for some viewers, but theoretically, it would take a very specific type of viewer to be intrigued by flag football in the Olympics and be even more interested in the slower NFL. Scoring doesn’t happen as often in 11-on-11 gridiron football as it does in 5-on-5 flag football. There is added strategy that NFL football brings to the table as well as hard-hitting action that flag football can’t match, but most people introduced to the sport through flag football in the Olympics would likely latch onto their first exposure to the sport rather than an Americanized alternative, no?

I guess the goal isn’t to attract everyone, just enough people to warrant the price of inclusion in the Olympics. However, if that’s the case, wouldn’t there be more efficient, cost-effective ways of achieving that same goal — such as investing more in their NFL Players Pathway Program to include all 32 teams rather than just eight. Without insider access to the league’s financial data, it’s hard to say for certain whether or not this would actually help.

While personally I’d never complain about having football in the Olympics, this effort to include flag football in the Summer Games by 2028 just seems like a desperate attempt to make waves in markets that the NFL has previously had little success entering. If the NFL’s Europa league lasted only 12 years before collapsing despite immense financial help from the NFL, Olympic flag football shouldn’t stand a chance of succeeding, right? That’s international appeal every four years at the most, it wouldn’t be a yearly occurrence for international fans to get invested in annually like the Europa league was supposed to be.

Updated marketing practices and technological improvements will surely play a factor in whether or not American football can draw a substantial audience internationally, and perhaps that’s all it will take to make flag football a popular Olympic sport and thus draw new crowds to watch NFL games. I’d have to see it first to believe it though. 

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Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms




helsea have not conceded a goal in the first 270 minutes that Benoit Badiashile has been on the pitch since his £35million move from Monaco.

His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.

The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.

After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.

Impressive start: Benoit Badiashile has formed a promising partnership with Thiago Silva

/ Getty Images

Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.

“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.

That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.

In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.

There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.

However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.

While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.

Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.

With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.

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Reporter’s notebook: Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side showed encouraging signs at times but lack of points cost him his job | Football News



Jesse Marsch was approaching his one-year anniversary as Leeds United head coach before the decision was taken on Monday to relieve him of his duties.

The defeat to Nottingham Forest a day earlier had been the final straw for the Leeds board, who were all aligned in the view that a change was necessary after almost three months without a Premier League win.

The recent statistics paint a grim picture for Leeds. Seven Premier League games without a win and just two wins in the last 17 league games. And against Forest, although they dominated in the first half and created the better chances, a worrying pattern had started to develop which had become a huge concern for fans. Leeds were producing performances with lots of positives, but not enough points.

There is little doubt that a large proportion of the fan base had lost patience with Marsch, and they made their frustrations clear at the full-time whistle on Sunday with calls for a change of head coach.

What is very evident is that Leeds have not kicked on this season. At times there have been really promising signs, but the fans and the board at Leeds wanted more. Marsch will feel that with time he could have delivered more, but he was also realistic enough to know that he was walking a tightrope.

I got to know Jesse well during his 12 months at Elland Road and it was abundantly clear he cared passionately about the club. He understood what it meant to be head coach of Leeds United and what the club meant to the city and the fans. And he has to be given great credit for keeping Leeds in the Premier League last season.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Leeds.

Although it hasn’t worked out for Marsch this season, there is a strong argument to suggest that the next Leeds boss will be in a great position to move the club forward.

Patrick Bamford and Luis Sinisterra are now fit, and the January additions should make the starting line-up stronger. The club has also invested heavily in young players and one of those, Willy Gnonto, has emerged as one of the shining lights of the season.

Those factors have created an expectation that Leeds are better than their current league position, and that means a reluctance to accept another season fighting to avoid the drop. It also means that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.

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Former Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Robinson believes sacking Jesse Marsch was the right decision as he was given enough time at the club.

The process of finding a replacement for Marsch is already underway and Leeds hope to make a swift appointment. A move for Marcelo Bielsa is highly unlikely, but West Brom boss Carlos Corberan, who worked under Bielsa, is a candidate, while Ange Postecoglou at Celtic has also been linked.

It is also worth noting Leeds have a track record of leftfield appointments, so as they work through their list of targets, there is a good chance that a candidate emerges that could surprise everybody.

In the meantime, Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will take training at Thorp Arch, and will be in the dugout for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Leeds’ next Premier League fixtures

February 8: Manchester United (A) – kick-off 8pm

February 12: Manchester United (H) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports

February 18: Everton (A) – kick-off 3pm

February 25: Southampton (H) – kick-off 3pm

March 4: Chelsea (A) – kick-off 3pm

March 11: Brighton (H) – kick-off 3pm

March 18: Wolves (A) – kick-off 3pm

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Tom Brady in his underwear is taking over Twitter



Um .. oh.

Um .. oh.
Screenshot: Twitter: Tom Brady

It’s Super Bowl week, and if you thought Tom Brady was going to let this week go by without being all up in your timeline…well. Just a week after announcing he’s retiring from football (you’ll never convince me he didn’t play an extra year just to stick it to Adam Schefter), Tom Brady has dropped his first thirst trap on Twitter. Or, attempted thirst trap. Actually, IS this a thirst trap?

As will many things Tom Brady, the attempt to be cool and edgy just winds up being sterile, boring, and kinda sad. A beige man in a beige room in beige underwear with a “pleass clap” look on his face.

And because OF COURSE:

Yes, Tom. We all knew the plug as coming. I’m not sure what color “heather crimson” is supposed to be, but I believe this is what we used to call “puce,” which… meh. The fact that there is something called the “Brady Boxer Brief” is enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven, because you know there are guys in New England burning up the internet right now to wear the same undies as their hero. And even more so because no amount of refusing to mask during COVID, vouching for Antonio Brown, stumping for Donald Trump, or getting a PPP loan during a nationwide pandemic is enough to get people to stop buying what this guy is selling. He’s even gotten to Jane Fonda, for crying out loud.

Of course, this entire thing was set up by Brady’s own brand:

So…whatever. It’s Super Bowl week and everyone is talking about Tom Brady, which is exactly how he wants it to be.

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