Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 19 hrs ago
Late Saturday afternoon, just minutes after the 2015 NFL draft concluded, Nate Boyer's cell phone lit up with a number that made no sense … except it fit perfectly into the story of the NFL's most improbable rookie prospect.
Boyer, a former Green Beret who less than a year ago was involved in combat in the mountains of Afghanistan. It was part of his summer job, if you will, in the Army Reserves. The rest of the year he was the starting long snapper for the University of Texas.
He is also 34 years old – self described as "too old and too slow." And oh, he never played high school football. He walked on at UT only five years ago on sort of a lark after he was enrolled following repeated frontline tours in the Iraq War.
So after Texas' 2014 season ended, he decided to try out for the NFL, no matter how unlikely it seemed.
And now the phone was buzzing with a strange number.
Seattle. The Seattle Seahawks. How many workouts or conversations had Nate Boyer had with them?
"None," he said before laughing.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago
LAS VEGAS – Across nearly two decades, 46 different men have stepped into the ring with Floyd Mayweather, a couple of them twice.
No one ever really hit him. No one ever cornered him into a brawl. No one was able to match his boxing talent and turn him into a desperate brawler in a desperate brawl … the kind fans understandably want to watch.
Saturday was no different. Ultimately, Manny Pacquiao was no different, left chasing and swinging and getting popped in the face and in the end ... failing. Maybe it would’ve been different five years go, or even three, but who knows. Mayweather may have figured it out then too.
Floyd Mayweather once again won handily here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, taking the megafight with a unanimous decision, 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112.
For the 16,507 who paid big bucks to be here in person and the even bigger audience that tuned in on pay-per-view, the ones that pay attention to boxing only so often, this may have been a boring fight.
There is a wizard-like quality to what the man has accomplished in the ring.
He may be too boring.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Whether Floyd Mayweather or his promotion company is/was/isn't/wasn't banning journalists from covering Saturday's fightagainst Manny Pacquiao remains to be sorted out.
CNN's Rachel Nichols and ESPN's Michelle Beadle both said as much on Twitter on Saturday morning, only to have a Mayweather spokesperson dispute that and say both are credentialed and blaming the issue mostly to confusion. Beadle, for instance, never applied under ESPN and was part of a block from HBO, which is a business partner of Pacquiao’s.
As with everything in boxing, things are tribal and confusing. We'll see what's the truth eventually. Personally, I'm taking whatever Rachel Nichols, in particular, says to the bank.
Also uncertain is the fate of USA Today writer Martin Rogers, whose credential situation has likewise been up in the air this week, although there were procedural and deadline issues with his request.
Absent a government actor, this isn't a First Amendment issue.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – This was an unprecedented frenzy, something boxing had never quite seen before – 11,500 hyped-up fans jamming the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the middle of a Vegas afternoon to watch a weigh-in … a boring old weigh-in of all things.
Of course, this was no ordinary weigh-in. There were hype videos and a DJ and Doug E. Fresh as MC and dueling ring announcers and the Tecate Girls (the apparent fabric shortage at the Tecate uniform plant continues unabated) and, naturally, plenty of Tecate itself, to make it all festive.
Ten bucks got you in. The hoarse voice and ringing ears upon departure were free.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have won a combined 13 world championships across 39 years in the sport, yet both looked a little shell-shocked at the scene, wide-eyed and snapping selfies at being in the middle of this circus.
Which didn't mean either man lost the focus they'll need to win when they return here Saturday night. Or that either wasn't still sticking with what was clearly their game plan for the weigh-in.
Each man raced to go put on a pair of shoes.
"I'm the bigger, strong fighter," Mayweather reminded the other day.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Freddie Roach stands at a press conference in a giant tent out behind the MGM Grand. He grips the podium in an effort to stop his hands from shaking. He can’t help his head from crunching down onto his right shoulder. His voice is halting. It’s all a reminder of the Parkinson’s that plagues him.
He’d rather be in a gym somewhere, preferably back at the Wild Card in Hollywood, preferably across from Manny Pacquiao, wearing mitts and working the grind because the ease that comes from doing hard things makes him forget how hard it can be to do easy things.
Roach is 55, and his slew of Trainer of the Year awards and his stable of past, current and future champions are signs of immense success. His constant presence at the biggest fights in boxing overshadow the stark reality that there is nothing else like this in America, someone of his stature dealing with such an unrelenting, crushing disease.
He’s at his best even as illness tries to anchor him down.
“With Parkinson’s, sometimes you wake up and think: ‘Why the [expletive] did they pick me?' " Roach told the London Telegraph. "But, you know, that’s part of life.”
This is everything.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
LAS VEGAS – For the low, low price of $797 you can purchase via StubHub.com a pretty good seat – Section 13, Row W in the MGM Grand Garden Arena – to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Not to see them fight, mind you, since they won't even be in the ring or wearing gloves. About $800 will merely get you a chance to watch each man climb up on a scale at Friday afternoon's weigh-in before engaging in a brief stare down as cameras flash. If it's really exciting, someone will need to take their shirt off to make weight.
Oh, you want to see the actual fight on May 2? Well, on Thursday afternoon you could buy what is essentially a front-row seat on StubHub for $351,005.25. If that's too much, four front-row seats were available on RazorGator.com for $294,552 per ticket.
"I've never seen nothing like it," said Floyd Mayweather Sr., the 62-year-old former fighter and trainer.
No one has seen anything like this. More than $350,000 for one ticket? You could also just buy a four-bedroom, three-bath, 2,700 square-foot house in Vegas.
Right now the $351,005.25 is merely an offer and is unlikely to sell at that amount. Then again, there's no harm in trying.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Eight years ago, in the nascent days of "Money" Mayweather and his plan to make a defensive-oriented 140-pounder into boxing's (or all of sport's, actually) richest draw, you couldn't shut up Floyd Mayweather.
He came to the MGM Grand to not just beat Oscar De La Hoya (as he would via split decision) but to ride the Golden Boy's marketing power into superstardom. That meant, Mayweather believed, playing the heel. He was a vulgar, trash-talking buffoon, never missing an opportunity to say something look-at-me outlandish.
It worked, of course. The part perfectly played. And, let's face it: the act wasn't much of a stretch.
Mayweather has made hundreds of millions since then, reliably pulling in seven-figure pay-per-view buys as he's run his record to 47-0 heading into Saturday's megafight with Manny Pacquiao.
Now the money has grown absurd; Mayweather may pull in $180 million alone for this fight. Ringside seats are going for six figures. The production will net $130 million from global television and marketing, even if no one in North America buys a pay-per-view.
The bravado, however, has all but disappeared, replaced by a soft tone.
FALL RIVER, Mass. – Lesa Strachan stands a little over 5-feet tall, wears her hair short and works as an area operations manager here in the small towns of southeastern Massachusetts. She is everyone. She is no one.
She is not, for sure, rich or famous or celebrated, like Aaron Hernandez, the NFL star turned murder defendant who was standing across a Bristol County courtroom from her Wednesday morning.
Lesa Strachan was the forewoman in Hernandez's murder case, personally selected by the judge because her intelligence and seriousness and leadership were easy to identify. As part of her job, Strachan had to rise up, look at Hernandez and read the verdict. She had to do something for perhaps the first time ever.
She had to hold Aaron Hernandez accountable for his actions.
"Guilty of murder in the first degree," Strachan said to the court.
Moments later, Hernandez was forced by a court officer to sit down, no longer afforded the right to stand like the presumed innocent. He was just another convict now, just another prisoner, just another punk … life without parole at age 25.
FALL RIVER, Mass. – A few hours before he would eventually be murdered, his body riddled with bullets and left to rot in a field behind an industrial park, Odin Lloyd went to his mother, Ursula Ward, and wished her a Happy Father's Day.
Odin Lloyd didn't have a father in his life, but as he'd grown and matured, now 27 years old, he'd come to realize he had something better: a mother who somehow pulled off the task of being both. So Father's Day, 2013, wasn't going without recognition.
He had a mom, an immigrant mom, who despite financial hardships and a lifetime of setbacks, had stressed the straight and narrow, had pushed him through high school and into community college, who managed to shepherd him past the street gangs and corner violence that dominate his neighborhood in Boston. Odin Lloyd never was in trouble.
He had a mom who taught him about the value of professionalism and hard work, to the point where when he went to apply for a landscaper's job out in the suburbs, he arrived in a shirt and tie, carrying a résumé.
"Unusual," his boss acknowledged.
Odin Lloyd was late, they realized. And Odin Lloyd was never late.
FALL RIVER, Mass. – A jury found Aaron Hernandez guilty of murder in the first degree for the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd, ending forever his life of NFL fame and fortune.
A Bristol County jury of seven women and five men deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before reaching a unanimous verdict on the former New England Patriots star. They said the murder rose to first degree due to Hernandez acting with extreme atrocity or cruelty. The conviction carries a sentence of automatic life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Hernandez, 25, stood stone-faced as the verdict was read, only to collapse into a chair as the guilty charges piled on. Behind him, his fiancée Shayanna Jenkins wept uncontrollably on the shoulder of Teri Hernandez, Aaron's mother. Lloyd's family, who during the trial made a daily pilgrimage to this old mill town 50 miles south of Boston, wept and embraced as the verdict was read.
"Stay strong, stay strong," Hernandez mouthed to his mother and Jenkins. Moments later, he was placed in handcuffs.
The jury explained afterwards they did not buy the PCP theory, nor anything the defense put forth.
It didn't matter.