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Shirtless flag-bearer from 2016 Olympics qualifies for 2018 Games

The flag-bearer from Tonga who walked shirtless in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics will need to pack some warm shirts for the South Korean games.

>> Read more trending news

Saying that “a miracle happened,” Pita Taufatofua qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics in cross-country skiing Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Taufatofua had failed in two previous attempts to qualify for the Winter Olympics, but on Saturday, he met the standards in five races to qualify, ESPN reported.

“I gave it absolutely everything,” he told the Journal. “I died at the end.”

Taufatofua qualified in taekwondo at the Rio de Janeiro Games, ESPN reported. He was eliminated in his first bout.

Jim Johannson, GM of USA Hockey, dead at 53

Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director of USA Hockey and general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, died in his sleep Sunday morning, USA Hockey said in a statement. He was 53.

>> Read more trending news

USA Hockey said Johannson died at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said in the statement. “As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet. His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s death comes a few weeks before the United States competes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The Games begin Feb. 9.

Johannson has been with USA Hockey since 2000. This season was going to be a challenge for the American team, as it would be competing without NHL players for the first time since 1994.

Johannson played college hockey at Wisconsin from 1982 to 1986 and led the Badgers to an NCAA title as a freshman. He played for the U.S. men’s hockey team in the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics.

This year’s U.S. hockey squad is coached by Tony Granato, who was Johannson’s teammate on the 1988 squad.

Michael Phelps reveals he considered suicide after 2012 Olympics

Swimmer Michael Phelps has revealed that after the 2012 Olympics, he considered suicide.

>> Michael Phelps and wife Nicole expecting second child

“Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” he told David Axelrod at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, an organization for mental health advocacy, according to CNN. Phelps revealed that after winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the 2012 Olympics, the depression got worse, and he couldn’t leave his room for days.

“I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore … I didn’t want to be alive anymore,” he said.

Eventually, Phelps decided he needed to seek help.

>> Read more trending news 

“I remember going to treatment my very first day. I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was coming up,” Phelps said. “I needed to figure out what was going on.”

After getting his life back on track, Phelps started the Michael Phelps Foundation, which works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He also has been open about his struggles with mental health and depression.

>> WATCH: Michael Phelps races great white shark ... sort of

“I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it, and I think this is the only way that it can change,” he said. “That’s the reason why suicide rates are going up; people are afraid to talk and open up.”

Phelps said that now, he is thankful to be alive. He is now married to his longtime love, Nicole Johnson, and has a son, Boomer, with another on the way, due later this year.

“I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life,” he said.

Deployed troops will be able to watch NFL playoff games

UPDATE, 10:03 a.m. 1/21/2018: Despite the shutdown of the United States government early Saturday, the NFL announced Sunday morning that the Armed Forces Network will  air the AFC and NFC Championship games.

>> Read more trending news 

The NFL also said it is providing free access to the games via NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

Meanwhile, Congress is back at work Sunday, attempting to create a deal to end the shutdown. 

ORIGINAL STORY: As a result of lawmakers failing to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending, the United States government has been shut down indefinitely – meaning everyone has been affected, including troops overseas.

>> Watch the news report here

There is a lot of fallout from the shutdown. From government employees who aren't being paid, including the Defense Department, to the Armed Forces Network being taken off the air, the effects of a standstill government can be felt across the board.

Since the AFN has been taken off the air, that means many of our troops overseas won't be able to watch the NFL playoffs Sunday

Surely it's not the biggest issue surrounding a government shutdown, but it's a big morale issue. 

>> Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Watching the Patriots on the Armed Forces Network has been a comforting piece of home for army Sgt. Matt Connolly, who's serving in South Korea.

"It's kind of the only thing we can do for fun over here," Connolly told WFXT.

For the first time since he's been stationed in Korea, his family came to visit him for the AFC Championship game.

"I'm actually on leave right now. My family from Boston is here right now and we were looking forward to watching the game," Connolly said.

With no one to run it, AFN is off the air. 

>> John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

The NFL says it is providing free access to Sunday's Championships via the NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

"No matter what, I'm going to watch them," Connolly said.

Sen. Ed Markey says he's in a holding pattern right now as he says he and most of his colleagues are preparing to negotiate through the night – but it's still unclear if that will be an option.

Immigration issues are at the center of the shutdown. Many Republicans don't want to negotiate on those issues until a spending bill is passed and the government re-opens.

However, those immigration issues – including the DREAMERS Act – are a priority for many Democrats. 

Markey told WFXT that he believes everyone needs to continue working to find some sort of compromise, and he wants President Donald Trump to take the lead.

"Bill Belichick is telling the New England Patriots for tomorrow, 'Do your job,' and we are saying to President Trump for tomorrow, 'Do your job, Mr. President. Make sure that the funding is there for our troops. Make sure that our defense is taken care of, but make sure that we also protect child health and the Dreamers,' but thus far he's been unwilling to do his job," Markey said.

Read more here.

Vikings seek trademark for 'Minneapolis Miracle’ nickname

The Minnesota Vikings are the owners of a remarkable victory in last weekend’s NFL divisional playoffs. Now, the team wants to own the nicknames that have been attached to it.

>> Read more trending news/

Stefon Diggs’ stunning 61-yard touchdown catch and run on the final play of the game gave the Vikings a 29-24 victory against New Orleans, giving birth to the nicknames “Minneapolis Miracle” or “Minnesota Miracle.” Monday, the Vikings filed for three trademarks for “Minneapolis Miracle” and one for “Minnesota Miracle,” according to filings published Friday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Vikings want to own the rights to the nickname on more than 100 items, including cell phone straps, football helmets, charge cards, computer game software, DVDs, compact discs and videotapes, according to the filings.

Already, the team is selling a T-shirt with the slogan, “Minneapolis Miracle 1-14-18,” ESPN reported. Diggs began selling shirts licensed by the NFL Players Association with his image and the words “Minneapolis Miracle,” on Wednesday and already has sold more than 1,000 of them online, ESPN reported.

It’s not the first sports nickname that has had a trademark application. For example, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris trademarked the phrase “Franco’s Immaculate Reception,” after his last-second catch-and-run for a touchdown off a deflected pass that gave Pittsburgh a 13-7 victory against Oakland in the 1972 playoffs.

Riles & Co., the corporate entity of former NBA basketball coach Pat Riley, trademarked the phrase “Three-Peat” in 1989.

The Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

No respect? NFL Facebook Super Bowl promo ignores Jaguars, Eagles

The Jacksonville Jaguars have complained this season about not receiving any respect. They reached the AFC playoffs but were written off as losers, but Jacksonville defeated Buffalo and then stunned Pittsburgh during the first two rounds of the postseason.

>> Read more trending news

The Jaguars are decided underdogs against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, which is not surprising. But the Jaguars believe they have a chance to win, even if it appears like the NFL does not share that sentiment.

The NFL’s official Facebook page began touting Super Bowl LII, which will be held Feb. 4 in Minneapolis, with a teaser noting that “your team is headed to Super Bowl LII.” The promo was adorned with photos of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, with no mention of the Jaguars or the Philadelphia Eagles, who are the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Well, the NFL had to pick someone, and Brady, who has played in seven Super Bowls already, is a natural candidate.

It makes for great bulletin board material for the Jaguars and Eagles. Whether that translates into victories on Sunday remains to be seen.

You can't buy the gloves Tom Brady is wearing

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady deflected questions about why he wore gloves to an indoor media conference Friday, but Under Armour answered a simple question about them.

>> Read more trending news

An attempt to locate the gloves on the Under Armour website proved fruitless, and a query to the athletic apparel company revealed why.

The brand Brady wears is not available to the general public. 

“Thank you for reaching out,” Under Armour said in an email. “The exact glove that Tom is wearing in the picture is a glove that is only offered to Under Armour's NFL players.”

>> Patriots’ Tom Brady ‘not talking about’ possible hand injury

The company explained a similar glove available for purchase contains “HeatGear back of hand for moisture management and a compression like feel.” 

A spokesman for Under Armour added, “we are hopeful the additional exposure of the gloves will lead to an uptick in sales.”

Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was flying his personal plane -- an ICON A5, which is an amphibious two-seat plane with foldable wings -- when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near New Port Richey, the Times reported. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the case.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a pathologist and director of the University of Florida’s Health Forensic Medicine center, said the drugs found in Halladay’s system were a concern, the Times reported.

>> Former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay killed in plane crash

“The drugs are particularly important in the assessment of the impairment of Mr. Halladay while operating the plane,” Goldberger told the Times. “The NTSB will take this evidence under consideration during their investigation of this accident.”

The autopsy did not say whether Halladay had prescriptions for the medications found in his system, the Times reported.

Halladay, a father of two, was an All-Star during his 16-year major-league career with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. He had a 203-105 record and won the Cy Young Award in 2003 with Toronto and in 2010 with Philadelphia.

Patriots’ Tom Brady ‘not talking about’ possible hand injury

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke to the media Friday amid wild speculation about his status after a hand injury was listed earlier in the week. 

>> Read more trending news

“We'll see,” he said when asked about his status for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Brady was spotted at practice Friday wearing red gloves on both of his hands, but it wasn't clear if he worked out with the team. 

The issues began Wednesday when Brady was included on the Patriots injury report. He met with medical staff while his teammates and coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media. 

When asked why he was wearing gloves, he responded, “I've worn them before.” 

He declined to discuss his injury or anything about practice. 

“Why are you wearing gloves inside?” one reporter asked. 

“She (reporter) already asked that,” Brady said.

Brady’s teammates, including center David Andrews and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, avoided the issue. 

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported Brady jammed his hand during practice and X-rays showed no structural damage.

Brady was listed on the Patriots’ injury report as non-participant at practice Thursday and canceled a second media availability later that day.

Brady has missed practices this season due to various minor injuries, but has not missed any games due to injury since 2008. 

New England, Jacksonville firms make whiskey wager for AFC title game

The "whiskey wagers" are flying back and forth between distilleries in New England and Northeast Florida ahead of Sunday's AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

>> Read more trending news

It began with Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits Co. of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, challenging the St. Augustine Distillery Company to a whiskey wager on Facebook. The stakes: The losing distillery has to send the winning distillery a case of its whiskey AND wear the winning team's gear while they're open for all their guests to see. The St. Augustine Distillery then accepted that wager in a Facebook video.

Then, Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits doubled down on the bet and challenged Manifest Distilling of Jacksonville and offered to throw in some lobsters with the help of Lobsters New England.

Manifest Distilling accepted the challenge and also pulled in Intuition Ale Works and Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, who, at the end of the Facebook video (see full video below), challenged the George Howell Coffee Company in Acton, Mass., to take part in the wager. No word yet on if George Howell accepted the challenge:

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