There are 107 days left before Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosts Super Bowl LIII, and massive preparations are ongoing in Atlanta.
Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman of Operations Brett Daniels is one of an army of local leaders who have spent more than two years preparing for the big game, which will be played Feb. 3.
The collaboration is unbelievable," Daniels said. "Every different scenario has been factored in. Everything you can imagine has been thought of."
At a media briefing Friday, Daniels announced specific downtown road closures.
All of Andrew Young International Boulevard through the Georgia World Congress Center Campus will be closed to traffic for 10 days.
On Saturday and Super Bowl Sunday, Northside Drive will be shut down between Ivan Allen Jr. and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. So will MLK and Mitchell streets from Northside Drive to Centennial Olympic Park Drive.
MARTA trains will run 24/7 from Friday through Sunday.
Jeffrey Parker, the CEO of MARTA, said the transit system expects some of the highest ridership the city has ever seen.
“I’m not going to be on who’s going to win the game, but I’ll bet that it’ll be the highest ridership, transit ridership, of any Super Bowl, so we have a lot of work to do," Parker said. "But we’ve also done a lot of work in preparation.”
Jon Barker, the vice president of event operations with the National Football League, said he has high confidence that the city is prepared.
“Without a doubt, (I have a) high level of confidence, especially with everything we’ve seen here, all the meetings that we’ve had, the years of planning that have gone into this," Barker said. "Yeah, confidence level is extraordinarily high for this Super Bowl.”
Public safety is also obviously a huge concern.
Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields won't release too many specifics of her department’s public safety plan, but said people can expect a huge police presence on the Georgia World Congress Center Campus and expanding security perimeters as you get close to the Super Bowl itself.
"We are in a good space," Shields said. "We are on point where we should be and it's good."
Shields said collaboration among the many organizations planning for the Super Bowl is essential.
"There's a lot of nuances you have to consider and anticipate, which is why it's imperative that we have so many diverse people," Shields said.
Daniels said there's always the unknown, but they are ready for it.
“You have to rely on your teammates and know that you can count on them," Daniels said. "And when something does change and you get that curve ball, they're ready for it.”
"We’re ramping up to that place where we’re ready to execute," Shields said. "We want to play our game.”
A former college football standout who briefly signed with the Atlanta Falcons was arrested Saturday by police in Columbus, Georgia, for allegedly having sex with a 12-year-old girl, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.
Justin Crawford, 23, who played running back at Georgia's Hardaway High School and West Virginia University, faces charges of incest, sodomy and enticing a child for indecent purposes, according to Muscogee County Jail records.
At a preliminary hearing on Monday, Columbus Detective Mark Scruggs said Crawford’s wife, Chakeya, woke up Saturday around 5 a.m. and walked into her living room to find her husband with an erection as he stood over the child, the newspaper reported.
However, she told the Ledger-Enquirer she objected to Scruggs’ account, saying her husband’s penis was exposed but not erect. She said she confronted her husband about it, that he denied any wrongdoing and she decided to go back to bed.
She took the 12-year-old to the child’s mother later, and that’s when the girl said she had been asleep in the living room when Crawford came in and had her perform oral sex on him before they had intercourse, Scruggs said.
The newspaper reported that Scruggs said Crawford initially denied any sexual contact with the girl to police, but he later admitted to having oral sex and intercourse with her but claimed it was her idea.
Crawford remains in the Muscogee County Jail without bond, according to jail records.
As a senior in high school, Crawford rushed for 825 yards and seven touchdowns, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.
He spent two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he rushed for over 3,000 yards and six touchdowns, putting him in the national spotlight. He then transferred to West Virginia, where he rushed for 2,237 yards and 11 touchdowns over two seasons.
Crawford signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent on May 1, but he was among 36 players released in September during the preseason.
He was on the roster for the Atlanta Legends in the new Alliance of American Football league but was suspended by the team after being arrested, according to The Associated Press.
The fan seen throwing beer on Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill moments after he scored his third touchdown against the Patriots during Sunday night’s overtime game has been banned from Gillette Stadium, team officials said.
It was clear through television replays that fans at Gillette Stadium were not saying nice things and were making obscene gestures to Hill, but it was also immediately clear one of them crossed the line by throwing beer directly into his face after his 75-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
Hill made seven catches for 142 yards Sunday night, and the 75-yard catch tied the game at 40 with slightly more than three minutes remaining in regulation.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the Patriots organization said it had turned over the fan's identify to local law enforcement and issued "a letter of disinvite to all future events at Gillette Stadium."
The Patriots (4-2) won 43-40 in overtime against the Chiefs (5-1).
Colin Kaepernick’s company, Inked Flash, filed for the trademark to a black-and-white image of the former NFL quarterback’s face and hair, ESPN reported Wednesday.
Inked Flash filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Friday, but it appeared for the first time on the patent office’s website Wednesday. The company’s intent is to use Kaepernick’s image on items such as shampoo, hairspray, jewelry and even lampshades.
Other items include mugs, plates, bowls, drinking glasses. water bottles, tins, afro picks, brushes and combs, coasters, pillowcases, blankets, towels and handkerchiefs, according to the patent office website.
The filing also says the image could be used in association with "providing classes, workshops, seminars and camps in the field of self-empowerment and awareness to properly interact with law enforcement"
Kaepernick became the face of Nike's “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign last month. He also has been marketing his own merchandise, including jerseys with the slogan #ImwithKap on them.
The decision to use Kaepernick as the face of its brand was a polarizing move for Nike. Some fans said they would shun the product, while others said they were more likely to buy Nike items as a result.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season.
Someone stole $80,000 and a handgun from Antonio Brown’s Florida apartment, a discovery the Steelers wide receiver made a day before he allegedly threw furniture from the 14th-floor balcony and nearly hit a toddler, a police report said.
A Sunny Isles Beach Police Department report on the theft, which was obtained by WPXI in Pittsburgh, said Brown called police on April 23 to report that the money, which had been in a backpack in his closet, was missing, as was a 9 mm pistol.
Brown had just returned from an 11-day trip out of town when he found the money and gun missing, according to the report. He had been living in the apartment alone since separating from his girlfriend two weeks earlier, he told police.
The money was put in the bag on April 11, he said, a day before he went out of town. When he returned, he found the apartment had been cleaned and laundry had been washed and put away in the closet, the report said.
Security footage showed three women entering and leaving the apartment on April 13, the report said.
The women were housekeepers who were allowed in by security officers after they called Brown, and someone other than Brown answered his phone and gave the women permission to enter the apartment.
The next day, April 24, police said they responded to a call from Brown, who was "agitated" and saying he believed security officials at the complex "set him up." He allegedly threw furniture over the balcony in anger, which prompted a lawsuit from a family saying he nearly hit a young child in the process, the lawsuit said.
The owner of the building also has filed suit against Brown to recoup the cost of the damages to the apartment and furniture.
The day after that, April 25, police responded to another call from Brown to say his black Rolls Royce had been stolen. When police arrived at his apartment to take the report, Brown opened the door, said, "I found the car," and closed the door, according to a police report obtained by WPXI.
Further attempts to speak to Brown were not successful, police said.
The Steelers have declined to comment on the lawsuits against Brown.
New England quarterback Tom Brady became the third NFL quarterback to throw 500 career touchdown passes Thursday night during the Patriots’ 38-24 victory against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady connected with Josh Gordon for a 39-yard scoring pass with 9:19 to play in the fourth quarter to reach the milestone. Only Peyton Manning, with 539 TD passes, and Brett Favre (508) have thrown more scoring strikes.
Brady’s record-setting touchdown was the 71st to a different receiver, breaking a tie with Vinny Testaverde for another NFL record.
"Things like that, milestones and so forth, there's so many people who contribute," Brady said. "I just think of all the people who have really worked hard. A quarterback doesn't throw them to himself. He needs people to catch, and block, and the defense to make plays, and coaches to coach. These are all great team awards. Pretty cool.
Brady became the first player to throw 500 touchdown passes for the same team.
"It's tremendous. It's a lot of touchdown passes to a lot of different guys, too. ... No quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
Brady completed 34 of 44 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns for the Patriots (3-2). The Colts fell to 1-4.
A Georgia high school football player has died after an injury suffered during a football game on Friday night, Atlanta's WSB-TV reports.
Witnesses said Pike County High School junior Dylan Thomas was taken by ambulance to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta for surgery. His uncle posted on Facebook that Thomas was in “very critical condition” and is suffering from brain swelling from the injury.
On Sunday night, Thomas' pastor confirmed to WSB-TV that Thomas had died.
Family and friends gathered for a vigil to pray for the high school football player on Sunday. The Pike County varsity football team carried his jersey onto their home field, where hundreds of fans joined them in prayer.
The community rallied in support of Thomas, sharing his photo with the hashtag #DylanStrong across social media.
“It meant the world for me. We got guys driving from like three hours away to come over just to see one kid and pray for him," said Thomas' teammate, Jake Patterson.
It is unclear where the 16-year-old was hit, but family members told WSB-TV that the defensive tackle seemed unfazed by the collision until the second half of the game.
“I heard that he was saying that, you know, he wasn’t really feeling right, and that’s when his left leg and left arm went numb and he pretty much fell off the bench," his uncle, Nick Burgess, told WSB-TV's Michael Seiden.
Another football player from Georgia was injured during a game this weekend.
Atlanta native Christion Abercrombie was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery after he was injured during a Tennessee State game Saturday.
The TSU Tigers middle linebacker was listed in critical condition.
"It was just a football play," said coach Rod Reed Sunday morning on his coach's radio show on WNSR. "He was taking on a block and it wasn't anything malicious or dirty or anything like that. Just an unfortunate situation."
Hearts are heavy in Nashville, Tennessee, after a Georgia native suffered a head injury in the second quarter during the Tennessee State vs. Vanderbilt football game Saturday afternoon.
TSU Tigers middle linebacker Christion Abercrombie, who remains in critical condition, was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center to undergo emergency surgery.
Players from Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University gathered at midfield when Saturday’s game was over to pray for the sophomore, according to the Tennessean.
Abercombie transferred to TSU from Illinois, according to the TSU Tigers official website.
Tennessee State Football released the following statement:
He graduated from Westlake High School in Atlanta in 2016. Abercombie helped lead WHS to a 10-3 record in 2015 and earned the title of Defensive Player of the Year for Georgia Region 3 (AAAAAA).
– Visit WSBTV.com for the latest on this developing story.
“When you’re in Atlanta, I don’t care if you’re a celebrity or on the ‘Avengers,’ you ain’t welcome,” the fan is heard screaming. “Rise up, baby!
But Mackie kept his cool as the insults continued, repeatedly telling the fan that his father “raised you to be better than this.”
Nothing like some (seemingly) well-meaning trash talk.
Mackie recently starred in Atlanta-filmed “Avengers: Infinity War” and will bring the action to the untitled fourth installment.
“Avengers 4” is currently undergoing reshoots and will hit theaters on May 3, 2019.
Amazon will make history with its "Thursday Night Football" stream tonight.
The company announced in a press release this week that broadcasters Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer will call the 11 NFL games that will air Thursdays on its Prime Video streaming service. According to The New York Times, the pair "will be the first all-woman booth to call any major men's team sport, not just football."
"NFL fans will hear history made this season – bringing two female announcers together to call an entire NFL game has never been done before,” Greg Hart, vice president of Prime Video, said in a statement. “Our customers around the world love to stream football – we are thrilled to have Andrea and Hannah bring their extensive knowledge of the game to fans on Prime Video.”
The first stream airs at 8:20 tonight, when the Los Angeles Rams host the Minnesota Vikings. Meanwhile, Fox will broadcast the game on traditional TV, featuring commentary from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
Amazon also will offer alternate audio streams featuring Spanish-language announcers and U.K. broadcasters.
"Prime members will be able to stream all 11 games via the Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices, and online at amazon.com/video/tnf," the news release said, adding that the games also will be available on NFL Network.
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