Let The Game Begin, Super Bowl LI Starts With Massive Opening Night

(Houston, TX) – Super Bowl LI officially kicked off in Houston Monday with a mass media opening night featuring both the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, fans and broadcasting networks from all over the world. Each team had an hour to entertain the press. Here are some of the highlights from opening night from both QBs, top receiver Julio Jones and Coach Belichick
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 Falcons QB Matt Ryan
(on how he feels) “I feel good. We had a good practice, walkthrough today and to get here and see this deal tonight, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun to be apart of with my teammates.”
(on following an 8-8 season in 2015 with a MVP-caliber campaign and Super Bowl appearance the next year) “I think we’ve come a long way. We’ve gotten better, and that was one of the things we focused on this offseason, trying to find ways to improve as a team, as an offense. I think the addition of some of the players that we picked up – guys like Taylor (Gabriel), Alex Mack, Aldrick Robinson, Mohamed Sanu – just have added to our team and made us a better offense.”
(on the Falcons’ top-ranked offense competing with the Patriots’ defense) “New England has a great defense and watching them on film, their ability to keep people out of the end zone has been unbelievable all year. So we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us, but I think everybody’s looking forward to Sunday.”
(on combating New England’s attempts to take Julio Jones out of the game plan) “We’ve got to move him around a little bit and try to make it difficult for them to tee off on where he’s going to be. Even when he gets double teamed he has made plays for us all year. So we’ve got a lot of guys who can do it and I know Julio is going to have a great game for us.”
Falcons WR Julio Jones
(on the best part about making it to the Super Bowl) “The hard work paid off. That’s the best part of being here for us. It’s any other day for us. We just have to continue to keep putting that work in. There’s nothing spectacular for us that we need to go out here and make stuff up.
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(on what a win on Sunday will mean to him) “It’ll be great. It’ll be great. Just looking to celebrate after the game but now just staying in it. The process – don’t want to overlook anything. It’s just one day at a time for me.”
(on the bracelet he wears) “Friends of the family for about nine years now. Christina Jones is a good friend of mine. Through my recruiting process and everything, we became friends going to the University of Alabama. Obviously, you know her brother passed away in a basketball game with no meaning behind it. We didn’t know the cause of it so I wear the bracelet every game now. After the Chiefs game, the family came down and they gave me the bracelet so this signifies just him, me going out there and just playing and leaving it all out on the line.”
Patriots QB Tom Brady
(on how long he can play) “I think as long as I’m willing to make the commitment to taking good care of myself. I got a good routine. It has gotten better as the years have gone on. You (Willie McGinest) taught me. 2004, you said this is what you got to do, and I listened. It’s nice to feel better as the season goes. To be an older player and have the mental experience and then to also feel great physically, I think it’s a great benefit for me. Hopefully I can keep going. I don’t see any end in sight.”
Super Bowl Opening Night at Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 30: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots speaks with the media during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(on playing in his seventh Super Bowl) “It hit me today (at) the pep rally. When I saw those fans out there, you realize this is different and this just is special. It’s a special experience. Getting on the plane was great and landing, seeing all the cameras and then getting to the hotel. It has been a long day for us, but I think everyone is excited to be here, get in a little bit of a routine and then focus on playing some football.”
Patriots Coach Dan Belichick
(on best coaching advice he has received) “I have received a lot. I would say probably most of the best advice I have ever received was from my dad. Either what he told me or watching him coach. I would be here all night talking about that. A lot of life lessons. I would say my dad and the things he told me.”
Super Bowl Opening Night at Minute Maid Park
HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 30: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots speaks with the media during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(on advice for Brady) “I think for the entire team we all understand we need to play our best game. We need to do a great job in our execution and in all of the things that are important fundamentally to having good plays no matter what the plays are. Hopefully we can do that as a team. That goes for everybody.”
(on players willing to take less money to play in New England) “We can’t control what the other 31 teams do. We don’t try to control that. We just try to do what we can do. Sometimes that works in the negotiations, sometimes it doesn’t. Each one is different. If a player and a team can agree on a contract, then they sign it. If they can’t they don’t. We don’t really know what anyone else does. We can’t control that anyways. We just do what we can do. Some work out. Some don’t.”
(on his coaching career without Tom Brady) “Tom missed the 2008 season.”
(on the partnership between Brady and himself) “I have been very fortunate to coach Tom. Tom is a tremendous player. He is a tremendous competitor. He prepares extremely hard. He comes to work every day and gives his very best effort. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to coach Tom for these years. I think I have a lot of respect for him. There is a mutual respect there. We each have a job to do. It is very different. All the jobs are important, but we try to find a way to do our jobs and help the team win the best that we can. I think he does a great job of that. That is what I try to do. From that standpoint we have a great relationship. We both want to win. We both want to do what it takes to win. That is our focus pretty much every game. It is not always the same game plan, but trying to get to the same end point.”
Opening night was the kickoff to a long week of several activities for fans to enjoy. There will be one more media event with the coaches and players today. The last one until Super Bowl Sunday. Another highlight of the week will be the NFL Honors Show scheduled for Saturday night and hosted by Keegan-Michael Key. Super Bowl LI Kickoff is Sunday at 6:30 pm.

SytonniaLIVE: Episode 6 Trumpet Awards Red Carpet Special


(SL) – Sytonnia LIVE was back on the Red Carpet for the 25th anniversary of the Trumpet Awards. We caught up with a lot of your favorites on the red carpet including Clifton Powell, Xernona Clayton, Cast of Saints and Sinners, Bounce TV Execs, Dorien Wilson, Peabo Bryson and more!

 

Shady Files: As Expected Trump’s Muslim Ban Excludes Countries Linked To His Businesses

(SL) – It’s pretty clear at this point why Donald Trump still refuses to share his tax returns. All of the countries that he’s got business dealings with or debt will disclosed. His latest executive order exasperates the start of what will probably end up being the shadiest presidency in history. The New York Daily News broke it down best!

The  President Trump’s most recent executive order effectively bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days — but some Muslim countries were spared from the order’s blacklist, even though they have deep-seated ties to terrorism.

Conspicuously, Trump doesn’t hold any business interests in any of the countries on the list, but holds major stakes in several of those excluded from it, records show.

Friday’s executive order, signed at the Pentagon, suspends the issuing of U.S. visas or travel permits to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Not a single American was killed on U.S. soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015, according to statistics tallied by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.

However, the same set of statistics show that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in the same time period — with the bulk of those killed being victims of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, people from those three countries are still welcome to apply for U.S. visas and travel permits.

In a striking parallel, Trump’s sprawling business empire — which he has refused to rescind ownership of — holds multi-million dollar licensing and development deals in all of those countries, raising potential conflict of interest concerns and alarming questions over what actually went into the decision process behind Friday’s executive order.

SAUDI ARABIA

Not much is known about Trump’s connection to the Saudis. Yet, the little bit of information that is available raises a number of questions.

U.N. agencies urge Trump to allow refugees entry

Trump registered eight companies tied to hotel interests in the country shortly after launching his campaign in August 2015, according to The Washington Post. The companies were registered under such names as THC Jeddah Hotel and DT Jeddah Technical Services; company names The Post reported bore striking resemblance to ones Trump has registered in other foreign countries.

During a campaign rally in Alabama last year, Trump expressed his admiration for the Saudis.

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Trump is seen at the July 1995 ceremony for the sale of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel to Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

(ADAM NADEL/AP)

“They buy apartment from me,” he said. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

Those comments could cock a few eyebrows, since most of the 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia.

Trump’s order already blocks green card, visa holders at airports

Further, a declassified U.S. intelligence report known as the “28 pages” claims the Saudi government and its wealthy citizens actively funded Muslim radicalism through mosques and charities in the U.S. around the time of 9/11 attacks. The 19 hijackers were in close contact with Saudi nationals before carrying out the terror attack, which became the worst one in U.S. history.

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Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, attend the opening of Trump Towers in the Sisli district of Istanbul, Turkey, in April 2012.

(EMRAH GUREL/AP)

In total, Saudi citizens killed 2,369 Americans between 1975 and 2015, according to CATO.

EGYPT

In Egypt, Trump’s business holdings are characteristically vague. His latest Federal Election Commission filing lists two companies in the country, Trump Marks Egypt and Trump Marks Egypt LLC, both of which are most likely connected to a development venture.

Trump to sign executive order on ‘voter fraud,’ White House says

The Trump Towers are seen in the Sisli district of Istanbul, Turkey.

The Trump Towers are seen in the Sisli district of Istanbul, Turkey.

(EMRAH GUREL/AP)

The State Department, meanwhile, strongly discourages Americans from traveling to Egypt since “terrorist attacks can occur anywhere” due to the presence of ISIS-affiliated groups.

Egyptian citizens killed a total of 162 Americans between 1975 and 2015.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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Trump is seen playing golf on an advertising billboard for the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai. Daughter Ivanka is also pictured in the ad for the course, which was developed by Dubai-based luxury real estate company Damac Properties.

(KARIM SAHIB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The Trump Organization has a licensing and management deal in Dubai for two golf courses and a whole neighborhood of luxury villas currently under construction. The second golf course was designed by Tiger Woods.

Trump has bad day in office as he scraps his schedule

Trump has traveled frequently to the Middle Eastern nation with his daughter, Ivanka, and the two have been seen in numerous photographs over the years, playing golf and shaking hands with affluent sheiks.

While the UAE ranks as the sixth richest country in the world, a widespread presence of ISIS- and Al Qaeda- affiliated groups persists in the area and poses a serious threat to American citizens, according to the State Department.

The executive order made the cover of Saturday's edition of the Daily News.

The executive order made the cover of Saturday’s edition of the Daily News.

(NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

“Both historical and current information suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Qaida, and affiliated organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets,” states a safety notice on the department’s website, using alternate spellings for the groups.

A total of 314 Americans were killed by UAE citizens between 1975 and 2015, according to CATO.

Mexican President cancels meeting with Trump after wall order

TURKEY

Trump also currently licenses his name to two luxury towers in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul.

https://twitter.com/Hary_Tanoe/status/822711255651655681

Trump is seen with his Indonesian business partner Hary Tanoesoedibjo and his wife Liliana in a recent Twitter photo. The couple was also pictured in a tweet with Damac Properties chairman Hussain Sajwani at a post-inauguration party at the Trump Hotel in Washington.

(HARY TANOESOEDIBJO VIA TWITTER)

He received as much as $5 million from the deals last year, according to his latest financial disclosures. Furthermore, since the election, Trump’s development partner, Dogan Sirketler Grubu Holding, has seen its shares surge by nearly 11%.

Meanwhile, Turkey is a hotbed for terrorist activities, with the State Department issuing a travel alert advising U.S. citizens not to travel to the country because of “increased threats from terrorist groups” just this Wednesday.

“An increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against U.S. citizens,” the alert states.

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The Trump Tower is seen in Baku, Azerbaijan.

(MICHAEL STEELE/GETTY IMAGES)

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, President Trump holds extensive business interests in the Muslim majority nations of Indonesia and Azerbaijan. Both have documented ties to Islamic terrorism — yet neither is included on the executive order’s blacklist.

White House press aides did not immediately return a request for comment from The News.

Immediately after the Pentagon signing ceremony on Friday, Trump was harshly rebuked by people of varying political persuasions from across the world.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight” upon learning of the order.

“This is one of the most backward and nasty executive orders that the President has issued,” he added.

Trita Parsi, the co-founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, told The News early Saturday that he’s been bombarded with phone calls from concerned friends and family in his home country.

“This has been a nightmare,” he said. “We knew something was coming, but we did not expect this…We definitely did not expect this.”

Trump, meanwhile, claimed before signing the order that the “new vetting measures” will make it much harder for terrorists to enter the country.

“We don’t want them here,” he said. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

Trumpet Awards Honor New Edition With Lifetime Achievement Award After Monster Biopic And Hollywood Blvd Star

(Atlanta, GA) – New Edition has been riding high for the past couple of weeks after finally receiving a star on Hollywood Blvd, the pinnacle was capped with a highly rated series about the multi-platinum group.  And now, Bounce TV will honor the guys with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Black-ishAngie Tribeca star and two-time EMMY® nominated writer and actor Deon Cole and RosewoodThe Real Husbands of Hollywood and seven-time NAACP Image Award nominated actress Nicole Ari Parker host the exciting night of inspiration, history and crowd-rousing performances. As the 25th Annual Trumpet Awards, the prestigious annual event celebrating African-American achievements and contributions, is set to world premiere on Sunday, January 29 at 9:00pm ET on Bounce.

trumpet_hostsBounce recently acquired all assets of The Trumpet Awards and now owns, produces and exclusively premieres the star-studded ceremony, this year held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday, January 21, 2017.

trumpet_caesar1Highlights from the show include:

  • A show-stopping all-star Gospel Music Tribute featuring Shirley CaesarErica CampbellJekalyn CarrLe’Andria JohnsonTravis Greene and Canton Jones.
  • Lifetime Achievement Trumpet Award-winning New Edition being saluted by R&B bands Jagged EdgeSilk and The Transitions with a medley of the iconic group’s hits including “Candy Girl,” Mr. Telephone Man” and “Cool It Now” that had the audience dancing in the aisles.
  • Regina BelleBJ The Chicago Kid and Kenny Lattimore performing “A Whole New World,” “Feel the Fire” and “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again” to honor Trumpet Legend Award recipient Peabo Bryson.

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  • Tamela Mann, Lalah Hathaway and Keke Wyatt bringing the house down in individual performances.
  • A memorable spoken-word presentation by Iman Cezanne and Javon Johnson which elicited thunderous applause and brought the audience to their feet.

Honorees at this year’s ceremony also included: Daytime EMMY® nominee Wendy Williams, who was presented with the Trumpet Award for Entertainment; former NBA great Dikembe Mutombo, recognized with the Humanitarian Trumpet Award;Martin Luther King III, presented with the Impact Trumpet Award and fashion blogger Gabi Gregg who was given the Trailblazer Trumpet Award.trumpet_jaggededgeAmong the presenters and special guests: Vanessa Bell CallowayLou Gossett, Jr., David MannBill WithersEd Lover, Ed GordonGary OwenErica Ash and Willie Moore, Jr.

 In a very special tribute, civil rights icon and founder of the Trumpet Awards Xernona Clayton was presented with the distinguished Golden Trumpet Award in recognition of her unparalleled leadership, ability to affect change and steadfast work in building the legacy of the awards.  

Photos Courtesy Of: Trumpet Awards/Bounce TV

{Video}The Road To Houston, Falcons Ready For Super Bowl LI

(Flowery Branch) – The Atlanta Falcons are preparing to return to the Super Bowl for just the 2nd time and it was almost 20 years ago when they made their first visit. As the big game approaches throngs of media have been camped out in Atlanta documenting the road to Super Bowl LI, Sports Wire included. We participated in one of the Falcons’ media days and got the latest from Head Coach Dan Quinn and a few of the players.

{Video} Paul Millsap Absorbs Miserable Loss To The Wizards While Markieff Morris Talks Momentum

(SL) – The Atlanta Hawks struggled out of the gate against the Washington Wizards. The end result wasn’t pretty. 112-86. Post Game I talked to Paul Millsap about their difficulties.

Wizards’ Forward Markieff Morris helped lead Washington over the Hawks who before this game had led the Wizards by a game and a half in the East. Post game, Markeiff explained the importance of winning this game and how the offense clicked.

Photo and Video: Christopher London

{Video} Kent Bazemore And The Hawks Fight Back From a 20 Point Deficit But Not Enough To Outplay Deep Clippers Team

It look liked a guaranteed win considering Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were out. But Atlanta struggled out the gate against a Clippers Team that’s loaded with shooters. The Hawks at one point were down by 20 but fought back and dropped their deficit to 9 at one point. It was a battle that they would eventually lose 115-105. Post Game Guard Kent Bazemore who led Atlanta with 25 points talks about being outplayed, not capitalizing on 2nd chance points and other disconnects that kept them from the W.

 

Car Crash Claims Life Of Royal’s Pitcher Yordano Ventura

(SL) – Devastating news for the sports world and fans all over. It was announced mid Sunday, that Yordano Ventura was no longer with us. Gone at the tender age of 25, a car crash in the Dominican Republic  took his life — just hours after an unrelated accident in the same country claimed the life of a former major leaguer.

crashVentura  was killed on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. Authorities said it wasn’t clear if the Dominican Republic native was driving, but that speeding may have been a factor.

The New York Daily News reports, Ventura, a right handed flamethrower with a 100-mph fastball and a fiery temper, played his entire four-year Major League Baseball career in Kansas City after signing with the team as an amateur free agent in 2008.

He went 13-8 in 2015, when the Royals won their first championship in 30 years, and was 11-12 in 2016.

Ventura blossomed as a starter in his rookie year of 2014. His 14-10 record and 3.20 ERA earned him a five-year, $24 million contract he signed before the 2015 season.

baseballThe most memorable moment of Ventura’s career came in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. The pitcher took the mound and dedicated his outing to his late friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals outfielder who died in a car accident two days before the game.

Ventura is the second promising young starter to die in the last six months after 24-year-old Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in September in a boating accident. Ventura also honored Fernandez during a game, adding “R.I.P. JF #16” on his cap next to his tribute for Taveras.

For his career, Ventura recorded a solid 38-31 record with a 3.89 ERA in 94 regular-season games, but he will also be remembered as a fierce competitor

Party Like It’s 1999, Almost 20 Years Later Falcons Make Their Way Back To Super Bowl

(By Kennan Johnson) – It’s been a long time coming, but things have finally changed for the better in the Atlanta sports world.

After defeating the Green Bay Packers in the final game at the Georgia Dome the Atlanta Falcons are on their way to the Super Bowl for the 2nd time in the franchises’ 51 year history. Personally for me this was the most exciting NFL game I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, even though Green Bay barely put up a fight.

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The Falcons came out and scored on their opening drive for the 8th straight time and set the tone early. The Packers had been on a tear since week 12 of the regular season, but unfortunately for them that all came to an abrupt ending the moment Mason Crosby missed a 41 yard field goal on Green Bay’s opening drive. This field goal would have put Green Bay on the board and made the score 7-3, but instead it let us all know that the Packers would been in for a long day in the Dome.

The Falcons started the game 4-4 on 3rd down and ended it 10-13, while the Packers weren’t efficient at all, converting only 4 of their 10 3rd down attempts throughout the game.

nfc-championship-green-bay-packers-v-atlanta-falcons-2By the time halftime rolled around fans in the Dome were already prepared to celebrate. This young Falcons defense didn’t allow Aaron Rodgers to put up any points the entire 1st half, so the score was 24-0 at halftime.

Atlanta dominated the 2nd half as well, but the Falcons took their foot off the pedal just a bit and finally allowed Green Bay to get on the board. Nonetheless Matt Ryan and the Falcons would cruise their way to a 44-21 NFC Championship victory!

Things just didn’t go Green Bay’s way the entire game. Aaron Rodgers threw his first interception in what seems like forever, Aaron Ripkowski fumbled on the goal line when Green Bay desperately needed points, and Crosby missed the early field goal. Mix these things together along with some key missed opportunities and you have the recipe for disaster in a championship game.

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Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones catches a touchdown pass during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

On top of the mistakes the Packers kept making they had to deal with a Falcons team that was playing absolutely outstanding. Matt Ryan led his team to the Super Bowl with 392 yards and 4 passing touchdowns. At one point in the 3rd quarter Ryan led everyone in rushing yards and also had a rushing touchdown to show for it. He will be the NFL MVP soon, and for good reason, he definitely deserves any awards he gets for how terrific he has played this season.

Ryan connected with 8 different receivers, but Julio Jones was the star receiver of the game. Julio showed up and showed why he is the best receiver in the NFL grabbing 9 catches for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Falcons are on their way to Super Bowl 51 in the franchises’ 51st year. I don’t think this is a coincidence, but we’ll see a couple weeks from now when they take on the New England Patriots in Houston!