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Third NFL coach hospitalized this season

NFL head coaches have had a rough year, and not just on the field.

Jets head coach Todd Bowles is the third NFL coach to be hospitalized this season. Bowles was admitted to the hospital Friday after experiencing chest pains, abdominal pains and vomiting, the NFL reported. Bowles has since been released and is returning to the team in New England. He is expected to coach, though it is not known if he will be in the sideline or in the booth.

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Earlier this season, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak was hospitalized with a migraine condition and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had an eye condition that required emergency surgery. Both of those coaches had other coaches on the team fill in for them.

The Jets have a 4-10 record this season, leaving Bowles with a 14-16 record during two seasons with the team.

Vikings’ plane skids off runway at Wisconsin airport

When your football team is fighting for a playoff spot, the last thing a coach wants to see is a distraction on the eve of a key game.

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But the Minnesota Vikings were faced with a major distraction on a snowy Friday afternoon, as their plane’s rear wheel slipped off the runway as the Delta flight was approaching its arrival gate at Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin. The incident occurred at 5:15 p.m.

Nobody on the plane was injured, airport officials said. But players, coaches and team officials were stuck for several hours before fire officials at the scene used a truck's extension ladder to help the team off the aircraft, ESPN reported. The flight usually lasts an hour.

The Vikings (7-7) flew to Wisconsin to face Green Bay (8-6) on Saturday in a key NFC game with playoff implications. Minnesota needs a victory to remain in the hunt for a postseason berth, while the Packers need a victory to be no worse than the No. 5 seed in the conference as the teams head toward their final games of the regular season on New Year’s weekend.

For the most part, Vikings players were good-humored about the inconvenience. “How’s your day going?” Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway tweeted as he posted a video from the plane.

Two aerial platform fire trucks were needed to get the 150 passengers off the plane, WBAY reported. The Fox Crossing Fire Department and New London Fire Department worked together to deplane the players and staff.

“We didn’t have equipment large enough for that aircraft here, so we had to call a platform truck to deplane the passengers,” Abe Weber of Appleton International Airport told WBAY.

The team could only leave the plane in small groups; the entire team had disembarked by 11:30 p.m.

The Vikings and Packers meet Saturday in a 1 p.m. game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

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Vince Lombardi’s 1956 championship ring on auction block

A championship ring awarded to legendary National Football League coach Vince Lombardi in 1956 will be among seven lots featured in SCP Auctions’ Winter Premier online auction, which begins Jan. 4.

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Lombardi, who led the Green Bay Packers to a 98-30-4 record and five NFL titles from 1959 to 1968 — including victories in the first two Super Bowls — was an offensive assistant for the Giants in 1956 when New York defeated the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium.

The items were consigned by the late coach’s only son, Vince Lombardi Jr., Sports Collectors Daily reported. The ring is 10-karat gold and was given to Lombardi after coach Jim Lee Howell’s team added a championship win after an 8-3-1 season. It was New York’s first NFL title in 18 years; the Giants would not win another NFL title until Super Bowl XXI in January 1987.

The other items that will be auctioned include a congratulatory telegram to Lombardi from President John F. Kennedy in 1961; a Packers’ 14-karat gold and diamond cufflink; a Patek Philippe wristwatch presented to the Packers coach on “George Halas Night” in September 1968 by the Chicago Athletic Association; and a Bulova wristwatch given to Lombardi in August 1968 before the Bishop’s Charities Game against the Giants.

“It is truly an honor for SCP Auctions to put these items up for bid on behalf of the Lombardi Family,” SCP Auctions president David Kohler said in a news release.

"We are pleased to share some of these mementos with serious football collectors," Vince Lombardi Jr. said in an SCP Auctions release.

Bidding will end on Jan. 21.

Fans raise enough money for parade if Cleveland Browns go '0-16'

If the Cleveland Browns can finish off a historic season, should the town and its fans celebrate?

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That is the question percolating in northeast Ohio these days. At least cost won’t be a problem.

A GoFundMe started to raise $1,999 to cover the costs of putting on a parade in honor of the once-proud franchise going 0-16 (if it loses its last two games) has far surpassed that goal.

It is already over $5,000, and even those who think the move is misguided should be happy to know that any leftover money will be donated to the Cleveland Food Bank.

And if there is no parade at all and the Browns win a game, the food bank will get all the money raised.

 

Steelers, Penguins spread cheer in holiday videos

Tis the season for Pittsburgh sports teams to get into the holiday spirit. The Steelers and the Penguins have released videos that are sure to bring a smile to fans' faces.

Steelers players donned their best ugly team sweaters to give a performance of "Frosty the Snowman" like no other. 

The Penguins' holiday e-card features their re-enactment of "Elf."

Ex-Florida financial adviser charged with stealing millions from former athletes

A former Florida businesswoman is accused of stealing $6 million from 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and former pro football player Ricky Williams and more from three other pro athletes, according to court documents.

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Peggy Ann Fulford operated two management companies out of Florida, according to secretary of state records.

Fulford and Williams made an agreement in 2008 for her to manage his financial affairs free of charge, the former running back said in a lawsuit.

Fulford presented herself as a graduate of Harvard’s business and law schools who had made millions in the stock market buying and selling hospitals and “just wanted to protect (clients) from losing their money,” according to a media statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

There is no record of Fulford ever graduating from Harvard, officials said.

Williams and Fulford opened a joint bank account in 2008 in Orlando where the former football player deposited the $11 million that he made from 2007 to 2012, according to court documents.

While Williams and his family were living off a monthly stipend sent from Fulford, she was spending the rest on luxury cars, real estate, jewelry and airline tickets, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Fulford is listed as the head of King Management Group and Associates, LLC, and Dennis Rodman Group and Associates, LLC in Florida.

While he is not named in Fulford’s criminal indictment, TMZ reported in 2015 that former NBA star Dennis Rodman fired Fulford as his financial manager in 2015 and accused her of stealing millions of dollars from him.

At that point, Fulford was going by the name Peggy King, court documents said. 

Fulford, who is also known by the aliases, Peggy Williams, Peggy Simpson, Peggy Rivers, Peggy Barard, Devon Cole and Devon Barard, was arrested Friday in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reported.

Update: Ezekiel Elliott will not face NFL fine for Salvation Army kettle jump

Update: Ezekiel Elliot found out Monday morning that he will not be fined by the NFL for his after-touchdown stunt. He made the announcement on his Twitter page. But despite his pledge to match the fine with a donation to the Salvation Army, Elliott will still make a donation to the charity.

Original post: A Dallas Cowboys running back may have to plunk down some cash for an after-touchdown celebration.

Rookie Ezekiel Elliott made a franchise-record-setting 13th rushing touchdown during the game Sunday.

He broke Tony Dorsett's record in Dallas for the most touchdown runs by a rookie, ESPN reported.

Elliott didn't stop running at the back of the end zone, rather he kept going past the boundary and jumped into a large Salvation Army red kettle, hiding for a moment and quickly popping out.

Officials eventually gave the team an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

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"They're one of our biggest partners, so I had to show them a little bit of love," Elliott explained.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, "I think the Salvation Army should give him the highest award."

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He added, "My dream would be for the NFL to really fine me a lot of money and I'll take them to the Supreme Court and we'll get the Salvation Army more attention than anybody can get them. So, let's go."

But Elliott, who said it was a one-time happening, said head coach Jason Garrett and the special-teams coach were not happy with the stunt, ESPN reported.

"Well, he shouldn't have done it. I thought it was creative, but he shouldn't have done it. You know that's how the league is going to rule on those things."

Elliott says he will also use the kettle jump to help out the Salvation Army more than just giving them a little free advertising.

"I'm going to match whatever they fine me and donate it to the Salvation Army."

And while Elliott may face a fine, the stunt is shining a light on what is permitted and what isn't when it comes to celebrating.

After a touchdown, members of the Green Bay Packers traditionally jump into the stands at Lambeau Field without threat of fines or penalties, USA Today reported.

The Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-20.

Cam Newton expecting second child

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and longtime girlfriend Kia Proctor are expecting their second child together "any day now," WCNC reported.

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Newton's parents said the family is excited to welcome the new addition and that the couple hasn't settled on a name yet. 

"It's going to be a giddy time of the year for us," Jackie Newton, Cam's mother, told WCNC. "I have no idea what this one is going to be called, but we will be happy."

Proctor gave birth to the couple's first son, Chosen, less than a year ago on Dec. 24, 2015.

>> Cam Newton benched for dress code violation

Cam Newton said they intentionally chose a unique name for their firstborn.

"I wanted something that would be masculine, but yet unique," he said in January.  "I'm not a big fan of juniors, and every person that I've had this conversation when I say, 'I don't want to have the pressure of him being a junior,' they reply, 'What ... do you think Chosen's going to bring?'"

Newton said last year that he was initially quiet about his son's birth because he "didn't want to create a distraction" for his teammates. 

The 27-year-old NFL player was first spotted with Proctor at the Kentucky Derby in 2013. Procter, 28, has a daughter from a previous relationship.

A photo posted by Ms. Kia (@_k1a_) on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:00am PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Detroit Lions' Golden Tate to wear cleats honoring Craig Sager

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate will honor the late Craig Sager this weekend by wearing a pair of custom-designed cleats.

Tate revealed the custom cleats on his Facebook page. Sager, the beloved NBA sideline reporter, died Thursday at the age of 65 after a battle with leukemia. Sager was known for his flashy attire and positive attitude.

>>Reporter Craig Sager dead at 65

>>Photos: Remembering Craig Sager

In honor of Craig Sager I will be wearing these tmrw. #ripcraigsager🙏🏾🏀👔📺Posted by Golden Tate on Friday, December 16, 2016

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NFL players have taken to wearing cleats with custom artwork to share their passions or messages with fans, and some have run afoul of the league’s strict dress code policy. In week 13, the NFL sponsored a social campaign called “My Cause, My Cleats,” allowing players to wear cleats designed to promote awareness for worthy causes.

The Lions take on the Giants in New Jersey on Sunday. It was unclear from Tate's post whether he will wear the Sager tribute cleats during the game or just in practice.

Cam Newton benched for dress code violation

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said after the Panthers' loss Sunday that he was benched from starting the game because he didn't wear a tie while traveling with the team to Seattle -- a requirement of coach Ron Rivera.

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"It came down to a dress code matter," Newton said. "I didn't follow dress code, and coach told me I wasn't going to start. I stand by his decision. His position he's in, I follow it."

Newton has been criticized plenty of times for his wardrobe choices.

"Growing up in Atlanta, I always had a sense of what fashion was, a sense of style. My parents always talked about the importance of making a first impression, and that's stayed with me," Newton said in a 2013 Esquire interview. 

One of the most notable pieces in his outfits has been his hats. They have even spawned their own hashtag, #CamCaps.

These are some of his looks at the podium this season:

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