Significant Digits For Monday Feb 2 2015

One more plea for the newsletter: Sign up for it now and be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news. And, as always, if you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey. $921Many speculators use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to make a quick buck. In recent years, people who sold short tickets on secondary sites could profit from an average price fall of $921 in the two weeks prior to the delivery date to buyers. That did not happen this year, leading to substantial chaos on the secondary markets for tickets. [The Atlantic]$12 billionCounting all the booze, food, electronics and merchandise, the National Retail Federation estimates Americans spent more than $12 billion on the game. [The Week] You’re reading the special Super Bowl edition of Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, subscribe.4 cents per viewerWith an estimated cost of $4.5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement and more than 112 million people projected to watch the broadcast, advertisers with a 30-second spot paid about 4 cents per viewer — far more than the 2.5 cents per viewer that advertisers pay for a typical TV spot. [The Washington Post]$12Cost of a draft beer at University of Phoenix Stadium. Knowing that, I’m OK with Nate’s decision not to bring me along to the game. [SB Nation]37 completionsNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a banner night (other than those two interceptions), completing 37 of 50 attempted passes and throwing for 328 yards, four touchdowns and the game’s MVP award. [The New York Times]44 percentOne of the most talked-about TV ads — besides the one in which Nationwide gamed out all the ways to accidentally kill a kid — was the one Budweiser used to distance itself from the namby-pamby world of craft beer and play up its roots as the crappy beer of the common man. This creative direction shouldn’t be shocking for a brewer that recently learned 44 percent of drinkers aged 21 to 27 have never tried Budweiser. [Business Insider]57.5 percentThe game effectively ended when the Seahawks — with a yard to go for a go-ahead touchdown — threw a pass that the Patriots intercepted. Many slightly-later-on-Sunday-evening quarterbacks second-guessed this play call, suggesting that a run would have been a safer option. During the regular season, 57.5 percent of rushing plays from the opponent’s 1-yard line resulted in a touchdown. [FiveThirtyEight]71 adsPerhaps you or someone you know was the person at the party who was there only to take in TV commercials. That’s cool: to each their own. NBC aired 71 unique national ads. [Business Insider]73-45Final score of the Puppy Bowl, the annual (sham) event aired by Animal Planet, which I really need to stop gambling on at this point. Cara, a Shih Tzu puppy, was named game MVP. Presumably many specialized vacuums were sold. [IGN]98 secondsRemember Ballghazi? As a person who dislikes the New England Patriots, I sure do. It turns out the attempts to reconstruct events are getting rather serious: Investigators are focusing on a 98-second window during which a worker took 24 game-day footballs into a restroom. Has this story gone on too long? Yes. Is the evidence conspiratorial and absurd? Of course. Is it funny, in a juvenile way, that grown adults are arguing over the size of balls? Probably. But is there a long offseason coming up? Damn right, and we’ll all need something to talk about. [NFL.com] read more

Team USA Isnt Getting Better — World Basketball Is Getting Worse

1994World Cup+9.5+37.8 2000Olympics+12.0+21.6 We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here.Despite trailing much of the first half, the U.S. men’s basketball team defeated Australia 98-88 on Wednesday, moving to 3-0 in Olympic pool play. Over those three games, the Americans have won by an average of 37 points, the third-best mark of any U.S. team through three games of a major international tournament1Including both the Olympics and FIBA world championships. since the Dream Team era began in 1992.The other two teams — the original ’92 wrecking squad and their ridiculously stacked 2012 heirs — dominated en route to Olympic gold. But if this year’s team ends up pulling the same trick, it might not be so much a testament to U.S. dominance as a signal that the rest of the world has gotten weaker in recent years after a long run of improvement.We can measure the progress of international competition over time using Team USA as a reference point. Since American Olympic and FIBA World Cup teams are made up entirely of NBA players (save for the U.S.’s 1998 FIBA Worlds squad, which featured zero stars due to that summer’s NBA lockout), we can estimate the total talent on those rosters using Box Plus/Minus (BPM).2Specifically, I built a multiyear projection model that estimates a player’s talent level in a given year using both the seasons leading up to and following the season in question, when available. Since these tournaments take place in the summer, I averaged a player’s talent estimate between the previous and next season; e.g., Michael Jordan’s rating for the 1992 Dream Team was an average of his 1992 and 1993 BPM talent ratings. In regular NBA competition, there’s a steady relationship between a team’s underlying talent, its per-game margin of victory and the strength of schedule it faced. Therefore, we can estimate the strength of Team USA’s opposition in international tournaments (such as the Olympics) by comparing its margin of victory to that which we’d expect based on the talent level of the U.S. roster. 2002World Cup+10.0+16.9 Team USA’s greatest basketball rosters (on paper) 1992Olympics+23.1+43.8 2010World Cup+9.4+24.6 2016Olympics+13.1— 2004Olympics+12.7+4.6 2014World Cup+11.4+33.0 1996Olympics+20.8+32.5 YEARTOURNAMENTROSTER TALENTPPG MARGIN 2008Olympics+19.0+27.9 No matter whether we look at the Olympics or the World Cup, the level of competition faced by the U.S. peaked with the surprise upsets of 2004 and 2006, and has been zooming back down ever since — even after controlling for changes in talent on America’s rosters. Yes, USA Basketball improved its team selections after its mid-2000s wake-up call, but the U.S. is also winning by wider margins than we’d expect from its talent improvements alone.And in many ways, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will put this trend to the ultimate test. This year’s American roster is, according to BPM, the weakest U.S. Olympic squad since 2004, and the third-weakest since ’92. On the spectrum between America’s strongest Olympic teams (1992) and its weakest World Cup teams (2010), the 2016 version sits near the middle, but it also bears more resemblance to the average U.S. World Cup squad than the average Olympics entry. Without Steph Curry, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul (and so forth), this is just the kind of depleted roster that could have been poised to disappoint in years past.Instead, the U.S. is 3-0 — albeit shakily so after Wednesday’s unconvincing victory over the 11th-best team in the world. If the Americans can iron out the shooting woes of the Australia game and keep winning, it might mean this roster is better than the numbers thought. But it could also be further evidence that the U.S.’s competition is less of a threat than in years past. Based on multiyear Box Plus/Minus talent ratings, weighted by each player’s minutes played in the tournament.Source: Basketball-Reference.com, RealGM.com 2012Olympics+19.8+32.1 Unsurprisingly, the 1992 Dream Team was the most talented group the U.S. ever sent to a major international tournament. Weighting by each player’s minutes played — and putting aside the complicated relationship between projection and reality for superteams — that ’92 squad had +23.1 points per 100 possessions of BPM talent on its hands. (By comparison, the most talented NBA team ever, the 1995-96 Bulls, boasted a +10.8 mark; the 2015-16 Warriors were +8.5.) Against average NBA competition, we’d have expected them to win by a margin of 25.9 points per game, so the fact that they won by 43.8 instead implies they were playing competition about 17.8 points per game worse than the NBA average. (As another point of comparison, the Denver Nuggets were the NBA’s worst team during the 1991-92 season, and they were “only” 7.6 points per game worse than average after adjusting for schedule, earning a 24-58 record.) Yes, the Dream Team was really good, but the competition was also pretty weak.That wouldn’t stay the case for long. Although the U.S. won the 1994 World Championship by an average of 38 points per game despite fielding a far weaker roster than they’d sent to Barcelona in ’92, the landslide victory margins would quickly taper off. In 1996, the second iteration of the Dream Team carried an impressive +20.8 BPM talent rating (10 points/100 possessions better than any team in NBA history), yet it won by 32.5 points per game — only 9 more than would be expected vs. average NBA competition. In just four years, America’s international competition had begun closing the gap.The U.S. advantage would be steadily chipped away every few years, in concert with USA Basketball assembling its own squads of ever-decreasing talent. The two trends came to a head at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, when America was stunned with a bronze-medal finish. Despite its disappointing performance, that team wasn’t exactly barren — it starred the already legendary Tim Duncan, plus a still-in-his-prime Allen Iverson, the perpetually underrated Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom, and even young versions of budding superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. On the other hand, it also prominently featured Stephon Marbury, whose reputation for killing NBA teams might be overstated, but was definitely not at his best in Athens.American fans quickly attributed the loss to toxic chemistry and poor fit — a fair criticism, if you peruse this wacky roster — but it was also apparent the world had improved greatly since the Dream Team’s debut. According to the numbers, Team USA’s competition at the 2004 Olympics played to a level about 9.8 points per game better than NBA average. Even granting that our method is only a proxy (and should have some give built in to it to allow for things like badly constructed rosters and questionable coaching), that’s still a quantum leap forward for U.S. opponents, compared with Barcelona 12 years earlier.Athens was a high point for international parity, but it may also have been a bit of a mirage. In response to the debacle of 2004, the U.S. assembled a more talented roster for the 2006 FIBA Worlds, and although America was held to the bronze again, it did post an average scoring margin 15.8 points per game greater than in Athens. Two years later, the Redeem Team won gold with a +27.9 PPG margin; then America easily won the 2010 World Championship with the least talent the U.S. had sent to a major tournament in the post-’92 era. Tack on two more golds after that (at the 2012 Olympics and 2014 FIBA Worlds) with growing victory margins, and the U.S.’s international foes are trending in the wrong direction: 2006World Cup+15.4+20.4 read more

Back in the Game Derrick Rose Drops 13 Points

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is officially back. After missing 17 months of basketball because of knee surgery, the superstar player returned to the court Saturday night. In the Bulls’ preseason opener, he scored 13 points in 20 minutes in an 82-76 win over the Indiana Pacers.Rose looked good in his return and appeared to be enjoying the moment. He exhibited his speed and quickness thoughout his 20 mins of play. He also had a breakaway jam in the third quarter.The former MVP, Rose did turn the ball over four times, but showed no hesitation while attacking the rim. He went to the basket as if he never was injured, even taking it to Pacers center Roy Hibbert at times.Back in April of 2012, Rose injured his left knee by tearing his ACL in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs. read more

The Thunders Big Men Could Stop The Warriors Lineups Of Death

9Paul | Redick | Crawford | Griffin | JordanLAC+0.21 8Curry | Livingston | Barnes | Thompson | GreenGSW+0.22 As you may have heard, the NBA’s most unstoppable units reside in the Bay Area, in the form of Golden State’s small-ball “Lineups of Death.” Assuming those lineups are intact for the Western Conference finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder will have an interesting matchup on their hands in a series being billed as a battle of big versus small. In contrast to the Warriors’ small-ball lineups, OKC’s two most common postseason units have contained the hulking frontcourt pairing of 6-foot-10 Serge Ibaka and 7-foot Steven Adams.When on the court together for the Warriors this season, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green scored the most points per offensive chance (1.26) of any five-man unit in the NBA,1Minimum 200 chances, averaged between offense and defense. allowed the 13th-fewest points (0.83), and had the best per-chance scoring margin (+0.43).And that’s only the deadliest variation of the Death Lineup. Golden State also owned five of the next 10 best lineups by per-chance point differential, all of which contained a variation of Curry, Green and either Thompson or Iguodala or both. Four of those additional lineups featured one of Golden State’s traditional centers, Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli, as the lone conventional big; the other was a small lineup that swaps out Iguodala for guard Shaun Livingston. 2Lowry | Ross | Patterson | DeRozan | ValanciunasTOR+0.37 11Curry | Thompson | Green | Rush | BogutGSW+0.21 With Curry injured for most of the first two rounds, those Lineups of Death haven’t spent much time fully assembled in the postseason. The Warriors’ most crucial three-man combos — Curry, Green and Thompson, and Curry, Green and Iguodala — have logged only 94 total minutes together in 10 playoff games thus far. (They still outscored opponents by 61 points in that limited playing time!) But after Curry returned for the closing two games of Golden State’s series against Portland, at least one of those trios was on the floor for 62 minutes — a total in line with the 27.7 minutes per game they spent on-court together during the regular season.All this is bad news for the Thunder because the Warriors have a history of going small to combat good teams with lumbering big men: According to the Lineup of Death’s origin story, the tactic was only fully realized last year when head coach Steve Kerr had an epiphany during the NBA Finals and moved Iguodala into the starting lineup. That’s when the record-setting Warriors really took off, first against Cleveland and then against the rest of the league. An inability to match up with the same strategy could end up being Oklahoma City’s undoing as well.But we shouldn’t assume the Thunder’s big lineup won’t be able to hold its own. During the regular season, only 19 five-man units2With a minimum of 20 chances, averaged between offense and defense. broke even against Warrior lineups containing both Curry and Green. OKC had two of them — No. 7 and No. 13 — and both were of the big variety that the team has been using extensively during the playoffs: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Ibaka and Adams, with either Andre Roberson or Dion Waiters on the wing. So in the matchup of preferred lineups, the Thunder might not be quite as outgunned as it seems at first glance.Of course, there are a bunch of caveats to tack on here. We’re talking about only 60 to 70 chances of track record from the regular season, and lineup data is notoriously noisy anyway. Plus, even though the Thunder’s big lineup did stick with the Warriors, the Dubs swept the regular-season series anyway.But as an exercise in figuring out how a 31 percent underdog could fight those odds, things might begin with Oklahoma City’s ability to slow down Golden State’s Lineups of Death. And what extremely limited data we have right now suggests that they could fare better than most.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 3Curry | Thompson | Green | Iguodala | BogutGSW+0.34 Minimum 200 average chances between offense and defense.Source: NBA Player-Tracking Data 6Curry | Green | Livingston | Iguodala | EzeliGSW+0.27 1Curry | Thompson | Barnes | Iguodala | GreenGSW+0.43 LINEUPTEAMPTS/CHANCE DIFF 10Lin | Lamb | Kaminsky | Williams | HawesCHA+0.21 7Paul | Redick | Griffin | Stephenson | JordanLAC+0.22 5Curry | Thompson | Green | Iguodala | EzeliGSW+0.30 4Lin | Walker | Williams | Batum | JeffersonCHA+0.31 The NBA’s best regular-season lineups in 2015-16 read more

Ohio State insists offense still has room to improve moving forward

OSU sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown (80) celebrates his first half touchdown with OSU fifth-year wide receiver Corey Smith (5) during the first game of the 2016 season against Bowling Green on Sept. 3 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 77-10. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorFollowing Ohio State’s 77-10 victory over Bowling Green at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, coach Urban Meyer surpassed his ideal 250-250 rushing and passing yard game and was more than pleased when looking over the numbers for the first time at the postgame press conference. But before he made any judgments on the offense, he said he and his staff would go back to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and analyze the offensive production. During Monday’s media session, Meyer delivered his overall takeaways.“I think it was good, it wasn’t great,” Meyer said regarding the performance of the offense. “There were some disappointments.”Against the Falcons, the Buckeyes broke an 86-year-old program record with 776 total yards of offense, tied a team school record of seven touchdown passes in a single game, had nine players catch a pass and accumulated 11 touchdowns from six different players. Despite all that, Meyer revealed an opinion on his offense that didn’t reflect the final score.According to Meyer, the technique of the wideouts has to improve despite making “some very good plays.” He said sixth-year senior Corey Smith should be better than he played even though he’s still coming back from last season’s season-ending leg injury. Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett echoed Meyer’s sentiment about the high standards the wide receivers need to play at for an even more efficient offense.“There was some times where we had some missed assignments out there, which we could’ve scored,” Barrett said. “I guess it was bad timing.”OSU’s offense accounted for six penalties for 40 yards, three of which came from redshirt junior right guard Billy Price. Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein was the only member of the offensive line that was named a champion on offense — a weekly honor from the coaching staff given to those who performed beyond expectations. Price, being the other returning starter on the unit known as “The Slobs” from a season ago, said that he and the rest of the offensive line have to fine-tune some fundamentals.“I think we’re going to be a little more calm,” Price said about OSU’s upcoming game versus Tulsa. “We all have things to improve on. Maybe we missed a route or a block, but those are some things that we can fix in the next couple of weeks and clean up.”Junior H-back Curtis Samuel and Barrett were obvious standouts to Meyer, who named them co-offensive players of the week. Other than the pick-six at the beginning of the game, Barrett played an almost flawless game throwing 21-for-31, 349 yards and six touchdowns through the air. However, a couple newcomers also stood above the rest on the receiving core.Redshirt freshman wide receiver K.J. Hill and redshirt sophomore wideout Terry McLaurin were named two of the five offensive champions against Bowling Green. Hill opened up the scoring for OSU with a 47-yard touchdown reception from Barrett, and McLaurin — who Meyer said will play more moving forward — had just one catch for 12 yards, but made an impact in the blocking game.Meyer and Co. are looking for more performances like Hill’s and McLaurin’s to become the normal on OSU’s offense.“We always try to critique ourselves and make sure we try to get better. So the positives, you kind of flip through those rather quickly, and look at the plays that need work on still,” Barrett said. “I think that’s how any team should look at it. Especially we had a good day, but there was still things we could improve on.” read more

Urban Meyer on Big Ten Good teams will surface

The No. 16-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0) will close out their non-conference schedule this Saturday, Sept. 22, when they host the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Coach Urban Meyer discussed his team’s upcoming opponent and Big Ten conference woes during the Big Ten coaches weekly teleconference Tuesday. Blazing Downfield Through two games, UAB (0-2) has been anything but prolific on offense. The Blazers rank 110th of 124 teams nationally in points scored, and failed to find the end zone last weekend against South Carolina. Nonetheless, Meyer said UAB poses concerns for his defense, particularly in the passing game. “They just throw it down the field a lot,” Meyer said. The Buckeyes have struggled defending aerial attacks so far this season, allowing an average of more than 283 passing yards per game. “We’ve seen enough big plays for a season, yet alone just three games,” Meyer said. “And this team is willing to launch it down the field. That’s an issue.” Big Problem for the Big Ten? In recent years Big Ten teams have struggled to compete nationally, consistently losing high-profile non-conference games and struggling during bowl season. The trend has continued this season. Only three teams in the conference remain undefeated, and at No. 16, Ohio State is the conference’s highest ranked team in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll. Meyer said there is only one way for Big Ten teams to silence the criticism and prove that they are among the nation’s elite conferences. “There’s one answer, go win those non-conference games,” Meyer said. “It’s not because of a lack of players or lack of coaching, they just have to find a way to close the deal. And I think they will.” Meyer said he hasn’t had a chance to watch much Big Ten football yet this season, but believes that there is still plenty of talent in the conference. “It’s a long season,” Meyer said. “There are a lot of things that will happen. I think there are a lot of great football teams in the Big Ten conference and I’m sure they will start to surface here real soon.” read more

Sunday Morning Quarterback Evaluating Ohio States win against Illinois

Ohio State improved to 10-0 Saturday with a convincing win against Illinois, 52-22. While the result shouldn’t shock anyone – Illinois is likely the worst team in the Big Ten – this is an OSU team that has struggled against the likes of Indiana and Purdue. But everything was clicking for the Scarlet-and-Gray on Saturday, and OSU is now just two wins away from a perfect season. More than just Miller Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller will continue to receive Heisman hype, but it was a collective effort on the ground for the Buckeyes, who piled up 330 yards rushing against the Illini. Carlos Hyde has been a revelation this season. The junior running back rushed for 137 yards and three scores, while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. It’s fairly easy to move the chains when your running back averages nearly a first down, and thanks to Hyde, the Buckeyes had no problem doing so against Illinois. All told OSU converted 32 first downs, a team best for the season. Defenses have to respect Hyde, and they occasionally over-commit when it looks like the physical running back is about to tote the rock through the middle. When the defense does, Miller is able to keep the ball on read-option plays, and scamper toward the undefended outside for big gains. Hyde’s power complements Miller’s speed and elusiveness and the duo have become one of the nation’s most lethal combinations on the ground. It should be comforting for Buckeye fans to know that each has eligibility to return next season, though Hyde potentially could flirt with an early departure for the NFL. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore running back Rod Smith is piecing together a respectable season in his own right. Smith was ranked by ESPN as the seventh best running back prospect in 2010 coming out of Paul Harding High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., but it’s taken some time for him to live up to that billing. After redshirting in 2010, Smith opened the 2011 season as a potential breakout star. Instead he struggled with ball security, and was eventually buried on the depth chart. This year, Smith has quietly emerged as a solid backup option, and the coaching staff seems intent on getting him more touches. Smith caught his first career touchdown reception against Illinois, a 51-yard strike off a wheel route. The play featured a formation that the Buckeyes used a lot on Saturday, lining both Hyde and Smith in the backfield on either side of Miller. “It’s a great look,” coach Urban Meyer said. “That has always been in the playbook, but we never had enough confidence. Now we do. I think it was a productive set and I think you’ll see more of that.” Looking past the bye week OSU is off with a bye next weekend, and will return to action on Nov. 17 against Wisconsin in the team’s final road test. Wisconsin was a preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, but has been an up-and-down team all season. They will likely be on the down turn against the Buckeyes, playing without starting freshman quarterback Joel Stave, who was injured for the season last weekend. Wisconsin is a run-first football team, and without its starting quarterback it will rely even more on its ground attack. This plays right into OSU’s strength – though the Silver Bullets have struggled against spread offenses, power-run teams haven’t fared well against the Buckeye’s defense. The most comparable opponent to Wisconsin is Michigan State, and OSU held its run game in check earlier this year. OSU will have to overcome one of the Big Ten’s most ruthless road environments in Camp Randall Stadium, but it fared well in a similar test at Penn State on Oct. 27. With an extra week to prepare, OSU will be favored to do the same at Wisconsin. Then there is The Game, the finale against Michigan. With a potentially perfect record on the line, in Meyer’s first game against the Wolverines, expect to see a fired-up ball club on Nov. 24 in Ohio Stadium. Both games will likely be close contests, and OSU could very well be facing its two most talented opponents in the coming weeks. But the bottom line is, with two games remaining, OSU is in a favorable position to complete a perfect season. Give an extra helmet sticker to … Sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier. Shazier led the team with 14 tackles, and he continues to assert himself as one of the team’s leaders on defense. Aside from Miller, there may not be a more valuable player on this team than Shazier. He has almost single-handedly legitimized the Buckeyes’ linebackers, which seemed to be the weak-link of the defense not too long ago. Because of a lack of depth and injuries, OSU features senior Zach Boren, a converted full back, next to Shazier at linebacker. Shazier has elevated his play the past three weeks, allowing Boren to settle within the defense. OSU’s defense as a whole has also looked improved the past three weeks, and that, by no means, is a coincidence. read more

Commentary NFL playoffs divisional round has potential for great games and lopsided

The NFL’s divisional round playoff games this weekend are likely to range from close fought slugging matches between evenly matched teams, to complete and utter blowouts as some of the best and most overrated teams take to the field. Ravens at Broncos Saturday 4:30 p.m. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will square off Saturday as the Ravens travel to Mile High Stadium in Denver. There’s a long list of statistics that point to the Ravens having no shot whatsoever in this game. The Broncos have won 11 straight games. Manning has won nine in a row against the Ravens, including playoff games. Last week Baltimore gave up almost 300 passing yards Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck who was without his offensive coordinator, and the Ravens gave up those numbers at home. The Ravens are operating on a short week of rest against a Broncos team that has been off since late December, and when these two teams met less than a month ago the Broncos won 34-17. All these factors combined with an aging team could spell disaster for Baltimore, but there is some hope. Manning has never won a playoff game when the temperature at kickoff time was below 40 degrees. His numbers in those games are very un-Manning like, a combined 64 for 120 for 612 yards with one touchdown, seven interceptions and a record of 0-3. That being said, he’s still Peyton Manning and he’s had all season to get used to playing in Denver. The Broncos will probably roll over the Ravens and make it look fairly easy. Broncos win by 12. Packers at 49ers Saturday 8 p.m. This game contains some of the more interesting storylines of the weekend: two starting quarterbacks with roots in the opposing team’s area, and the classic matchup between explosive offense and hard-nosed defense. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is from the northern California city of Chico and grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers. Conversely, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is from Milwaukee, Wis., and grew up rooting for the Packers. Now the two will go to war against their childhood teams for a shot at the NFC Championship.  Green Bay’s offense, which finished the regular season ranked fifth in the league in points scored, will face a San Francisco defense that was second in points allowed. The Packers’ offensive output is even more impressive considering the injury problems they have faced throughout the season. They lost their top wide receiver, Greg Jennings, for half the season due to an abdominal tear, and starting running back Cedric Benson went down earlier in the year with a sprained left foot that required surgery. With Jennings back in the offense, Green Bay is even better than their top five rank would indicate. If the Packers can grab an early lead they will win this game easily. They have the fourth-most sacks in the league, and the 49ers allow the ninth-most sacks. If Kaepernick has to drop back a lot, the 49ers are in trouble. It’s also worth noting this is his first-ever NFL playoff game. However, if the 49ers can jump out in front early and let their elite running game and defense take over, then the Packers could struggle since their rushing defense is ranked in the bottom half of the league and allows an average of 118.5 yards a game. It’s either going to be a close 49ers win, or a solid Green Bay victory. I’m picking the upset and going with Rodgers’ experience and the Packers’ offense for this one. Green Bay wins by nine. Seahawks at Falcons Sunday 1:00 p.m.  This will almost certainly be the most competitive and exciting game to watch as the high-scoring Atlanta Falcons take a shot at the stingy Seattle Seahawks defense. Atlanta’s sixth-ranked passing offense will be hard-pressed to duplicate their regular season success against the Seahawks sixth-ranked passing defense. The two big questions in this game are, will the Falcons be able to get their passing game going and can Atlanta contain the Seattle running game? Seattle has two of the league’s biggest and most physical cornerbacks in Richard Sherman (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and Brandon Browner (6-foot-4, 221 pounds). They will be a handful for the Falcons’ top receivers Julio Jones (6-foot-3, 220 lbs) and Roddy White (6 feet, 211 lbs). Add in Seattle’s Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan could have his hands full trying to find open receivers. Atlanta will need to find a way to get the ball downfield and get a lead early or the Seahawks third ranked running attack will chew up the weak Falcons’ rushing defense. If Atlanta can get out to a big early lead it’ll likely handle Seattle with no problem and win comfortably. However, in a close game look for the Falcons’ defense to get worn down against the run and give up big yardage in a Seahawk win. I don’t think the big plays will be there for Atlanta this week so getting an early advantage will be difficult. Seahawks win by six. Texans at Patriots Sunday 4:30 p.m.  This game can be summed up in one word. Yawn. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has had weeks to prepare for this game, and will throw wrinkles at Houston that they’ve likely never seen before. New England has the league’s best tight end in Rob Gronkowski back after he missed the Patriots blowout win against the Texans in Week 14. That game, which was in Houston, saw the Patriots embarrass the Texans and win by 28. While Houston will probably respond with some pride and lose by less than four touchdowns this time around, they simply don’t have much of a chance to win. The only way the Texans can even make it competitive is to control the ball and eat up clock by handing the ball off to running back Arian Foster a lot. If Foster has a huge game then there is a glimmer of hope for the Texans. However, it’s far more likely that Houston will be so far behind that Foster will not get a chance to have much of an impact on the game. Patriots win a snoozer by 14 or more. read more

Former Ohio State linebacker Jordan Whiting still chasing NFL dreams

Jordan Whiting could be playing for an Ohio State football team that won all 12 of its games last season, or playing for a Louisville team that upset Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Formerly an OSU linebacker, Whiting transferred to Louisville prior to the 2012 season. He was not eligible to play for the Cardinals last season, due to NCAA rules requiring players who transfer between Football Bowl Subdivision schools to sit out one year before playing for their new school. His career at Louisville, however, ended before it even began because of a failed drug test. “When I first got here, I was hanging out with a buddy of mine, and unfortunately, hanging out with him, not really thinking too clearly, I decided to take a few hits of marijuana,” Whiting told The Lantern in January. “I failed my first drug test of my college career.” This wasn’t the first time Whiting made a mistake that affected his college football career. On Dec. 23, 2010, Whiting received a one-game ban as one of six OSU football players suspended for receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor. Those violations, dubbed “Tattoo-Gate” by many, eventually resulted in the Buckeyes vacating the results of their 2010 season, being banned from postseason play in 2012 and losing nine scholarships over a three-year period. Whiting said his violation came as a result of accepting a discount on a tattoo and said he did not realize he was receiving a discount at the time. “It’s a learning experience and unfortunately some rules, even though we don’t necessarily agree with them, they still are rules,” Whiting said. Whiting said the hardest part of the situation was dealing with the criticism he and his suspended teammates received. “I learned that some people can be very cruel,” Whiting said. “A lot of the guys, not necessarily me, but some guys were getting death wishes via email. “None of those athletes, including myself, ever would bring harm to any other person out here,” Whiting added. Whiting has tattoos on both of his arms, his chest and his back, which he said “mean everything” to him. “My tattoos are all religion and family,” Whiting said. “I don’t have one tattoo that you could look at and be like, ‘What does that mean?’ or ‘Why would you get that tatted on you?’ or anything like that. “I love tattoos,” Whiting added. “I guess you could say it’s somewhat of an addiction.” Whiting remained with the Buckeyes in 2011 after serving his suspension but transferred to Louisville that spring. His three-year career at OSU consisted of one redshirt year and two playing seasons, but only one career tackle. Whiting said he became more mature as a result of his experience at OSU. “It was a growing pain that I had to go through,” Whiting said. “I think me being at Ohio State, it wasn’t for me to shine as an athlete, it was for me to grow up as a man.” By blowing his opportunity to play at Louisville with his failed drug test, Whiting said he disappointed himself and his family. “I made a bad decision, and unfortunately that bad decision did lead to me not being a part of the team anymore,” Whiting said. “I don’t blame them for that decision, I don’t blame anybody else but myself, but you live and you learn and you move on, and that’s the only thing you can do.” Whiting hasn’t given up on his football dreams quite yet. He said he is continuing to pursue a career in professional football. He told The Lantern earlier this month that he had not yet received interest from NFL teams leading up to the 2013 NFL draft. “I’m not ready to tell the game goodbye, and not under these circumstances,” Whiting said. “I’d rather tell the game goodbye under circumstances that I cannot control. Whether it be because I got hurt, or whether it be because I got cut from a team, or retirement … I can accept that, but I cannot accept telling the game goodbye off of my bad decisions. I feel like I have a lot to bring to a team.” OSU assistant coach Luke Fickell said it is critical for Whiting to take advantage of any opportunity he gets if he is going to make it at the next level. “He’s a guy that’s got some physical tools and ability, and you know, anybody that finds the right place and the right situation and at the right time has a chance to be successful,” Fickell said. “You have a chance and you get an opportunity, the window is slight and you got to take advantage of all those opportunities.” Etienne Sabino, who is pursuing his own NFL dreams and could be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft as an outside linebacker, played with Whiting at OSU from 2009-2011. He said Whiting “looked good in drills,” although Whiting did not get much chance to play. “He definitely had a lot of ability,” Sabino said. “He has a lot of potential, and I know he’s a strong kid so I wish him the best of luck.” Whiting said it would mean “the world” to him if he gets a chance to play in the NFL, but he is also working on other pursuits. He is enrolled to resume classes at OSU this summer and work toward completing his degree in marketing. He is also a founder of a marketing consulting company (J. Infinity LLC) and is writing a book, which he said is titled “A Developing Man.” Whiting said he also wants to start a foundation to benefit and mentor low-income children. Whiting said he “would never make the same mistake twice,” has learned from his mistakes and hopes young athletes can also learn from his story. “I’ve played over 17 years of football and I’ve been a part of five different organizations,” Whiting said. “I’ve earned 12 championship rings, 10 in high school, 2 in college. I’ve been to three BCS bowl games and I was one season away from what I would like to see as my blowout season. But one thing that prevented all that from happening was one bad decision. And that’s all it takes.” read more

Womens lacrosse Ohio State looking to right the ship against perennial powerhouse

Ohio State freshman midfielder Sage Darling receives a pass in the offensive zone against Rutgers on March 25. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (6-8) have not had the easiest path to get where it is at this point in the season, and it is not going to get any easier. The Buckeyes have three games remaining against three of the best teams in the country: No. 17 Northwestern, No. 1 Maryland and Johns Hopkins, who sits just outside the 20th spot in the Inside Lacrosse Poll.While OSU began to get its offense back on track against No. 6 Penn State — scoring 12 goals for the first time since March 7 — they will need to summon even more production in the remainder of their games. “I thought we had some good chemistry on the attack,” coach Alexis Venechanos said of the team’s loss to the Nittany Lions. “I thought we limited our turnovers in the midfield, and when you’re playing these conference games, those little details are going to matter.”Northwestern has, historically, been dominant against the Buckeyes, winning 13 of the 16 previous matchups, with OSU’s most recent win coming in a 2014 overtime game. Venechanos spent three years on the Wildcats’ staff (2004 to 2006) as an assistant, so it means a lot to her for them to be one of the big rivals in their conference. “It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot on the field and off the field,” Venechanos said. “(Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller) is a great competitor. She taught me how to compete, and I’m glad we have an opportunity to play them every year.”Hiller has led the Wildcats to seven NCAA championships, with last season being the first year that they had not reached at least the NCAA quarterfinals in 14 years. While Northwestern’s record at first glance is similar to the Buckeyes at 6-6, the Wildcats’ schedule has been stacked with great competition. The Buckeyes will still be without freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez, but they can still be capable of generating offense. Junior attacker Molly Wood and sophomore midfielder Baley Parrott have both stepped up to lead their team in scoring.“We’re working on ourselves right now,” Wood said. “We’re working on the little things, the fundamentals and to see those getting better is huge for our team.”OSU will be looking to continue its development as the season winds down, but Venechanos said they are most excited for the present. “We’ve challenged our players to get a little bit better from the previous week, the previous day and even in the drill we are doing — let’s get better this time,” Venechanos said. “We’re moving some people around, they’re stepping up.”The game is set for a 7 p.m. start time on Thursday, in what will be OSU’s first game of the season at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Baseball Ohio State makes NCAA Tournament to play South Carolina in regional

Ohio State baseball players mob Noah McGowan following his walk-off double Sunday to give Ohio State the 6-5 win against Indiana. Credit: Mac Connor | Ohio State AthleticsGreg Beals was not worried about Ohio State’s chances of making the NCAA baseball tournament.Ending the season with a No. 37 RPI ranking, navigating through the loser’s bracket to get to a semifinal game against No. 1 Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament, the Buckeyes were in a prime position to earn its first national tournament bid since 2016.However, without any control over whether a tournament bid was in his team’s future, there was a level of anticipation as the names on the bracket were being read.“I felt really good about our chances coming into today, but your destiny is in the hands of a committee. So you are not 100 percent, you don’t feel great,” Beals said. “So, when you see your name up on the board, a pretty good fist pump went out and then I went into immediate competitive mode.”Ohio State will travel to Greenville, North Carolina, as a No. 3 seed to take on No. 2 South Carolina in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes will join No. 1 East Carolina and No. 4 University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Greenville regional.Right-handed pitcher Seth Kinker said there was a collective excitement between him and his teammates when Ohio State’s name popped up on the bracket.“There were a lot of different projections and you look at those projections and you don’t really know where you are going to go,” Kinker said. “Then you finally see it and you are like yeah, that is satisfying and now you can take the weight off your shoulders.”After losing in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to Purdue, the Buckeyes, much like their 2016 conference tournament run, eliminated both Iowa and Michigan in the loser’s bracket before eventually falling to the Golden Gophers in the semifinals.Even though the team came out of Omaha without a conference championship, the mentality stays the same for Ohio State heading into its regional.“After we lost our last game in the Big Ten Tournament, [Beals] said, ‘Look, this season is over now. This is a start of a new season,’” senior infielder Noah McGowan said. “Everyone is starting out 0-0 basically and the goal is to end your season with a win, so that is our mindset going into the regional.”McGowan said the two wins against the Hawkeyes and the Wolverines created a belief in the Ohio State locker room that they can play with anyone in the nation, a confidence that whichever team the Buckeyes face in the NCAA tournament will be one they can keep up with.That is where Beals’ mind went as soon as he saw his team’s name on the screen. Amidst the cheers and celebration by his players and coaches, Ohio State’s head coach delegated game plans to each of his assistant coaches for the potential opponents in the regional.For Beals, he is excited to be in the NCAA tournament. Now, he knows he and his team have a job to do.“We are certainly very, very happy to be in the tournament, but, make no mistake about it, we are going to East Carolina to win a regional,” Beals said. “That’s our mission.”No. 3 Ohio State will open up tournament play at 2 p.m. Friday against No. 2 South Carolina. read more

Mens Basketball Jake Diebler named as Ohio State assistant coach

Chris Holtmann celebrates during a timeout in the second half of the game against Penn State on Feb. 7. Ohio State won 74-70. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Senior Lantern ReporterHead coach Chris Holtmann has officially re-filled his coaching staff.Ohio State confirmed Monday that Jake Diebler will replace former assistant coach Mike Schrage for the 2019-20 basketball season. Schrage left the Buckeyes on April 5 for a head coaching job at Elon.“We are excited about the addition of Jake Diebler to our staff,” Holtmann said in a statement. “Jake has shown the ability to recruit at a high level, teach and develop players and his work ethic is highly regarded.”Diebler is the brother of former Ohio State guard Jon Diebler, and played four years with Valparaiso from 2005-09. Jake Diebler then took a student assistant role at Diebler before becoming an assistant coach there in 2012.Jake Diebler was at Ohio State as a video coordinator from 2014-16, and was more recently an assistant coach at Vanderbilt for the past two seasons. read more

Pair appear in court over £40m gem heist plot at celebrity jewellery

first_imgGeorge and Amal Clooney arrive in Venice for their September 2014 wedding Two alleged burglars have appeared in court accused of plotting a £40million gem heist on a branch of the exclusive jewellery store that made the earrings worn by Amal Clooney at her wedding.Danny Jones, 59, and Terry Perkins, 68, are charged over a raid on Chatila’s flagship store in London’s Mayfair.The pair are accused of a failed attempt to target a safe containing jewellery and precious stones worth about £40m, over the 2010 summer bank holiday weekend, between August 27 and 31.They are also accused of stealing jewellery, precious stones and watches worth around £1m from the shop’s display cabinets in Old Bond Street, as well as £45,000 in cash.The family-owned firm owns a collection of rare and expensive gems and is popular with the world’s rich and famous.International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, 38, wore a pair of Chatila-crafted pearl and diamond earrings when she married Hollywood actor George Clooney, 55, in 2014. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Westminster Magistrates' Court Jones and Perkins appeared in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with non-residential burglary.The charge states that “having entered as a trespasser part of a building, namely Chatila… stole a quantity of jewellery, precious stones and watches.”They both spoke to confirm their names and dates of birth before prosecutor Kevin Christie outlined the case to magistrates.The pair appeared alongside Charles Matthews, 53, who is charged with receiving stolen goods.center_img The three defendants appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday morningCredit:Alamy Chief magistrates Paul Brooks said the case would be sent to Southwark Crown Court.All three defendants are due to appear for a plea and trial preparation hearing on November 7.Jones and Perkins, both of Enfield, north London, were remanded in custody. Matthews, of Virginia Water, Surrey, was released on conditional bail. George and Amal Clooney arrive in Venice for their September 2014 weddingCredit:ALESSANDRO DI MEO/EPAlast_img read more

Claire Foy battled broken elbow to film The Crown

first_imgAll actors may claim they suffer for their art, but Claire Foy has a greater reason to complain than most.The actress, who plays the Queen in an upcoming Netflix drama, has disclosed she broke her elbow at a wedding shortly before key scenes, but had to plough on for fear of delaying filming.Foy, 32, said she had sought the help of a doctor, who drained fluid off her elbow to reduce swelling enough to fit into a wedding dress to shoot at Ely Cathedral. The actress removed the sling in time for filming Foy battled through a swollen arm to squeeze into her wedding dress “I was in a lot of pain until I went to see this amazing doctor who syringed all the blood off my elbow and reduced the swelling.“But getting into the costumes was tricky for quite a while.”The first series of the big-budget Netflix drama follows the Queen from her marriage to Philip Mountbatten in 1947 to the resignation of her first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in 1955.Foy, who previously played Anne Boleyn in the BBC’s Wolf Hall, said her part became more difficult as shooting went on. The finished programme shows no sign of her injuryCredit:Netflix The actress removed the sling in time for filming The actress was photographed during filming with a blue sling on her left arm, but final scenes see her arm covered by the long-sleeved wedding gown.She told the Radio Times she had fallen over at a wedding three months into shooting The Crown.”I wasn’t even drunk!” she said. “It was so embarrassing phoning the producer to tell him.“I had to go back to work because we had these huge scenes to shoot of the Royal Wedding and the Coronation at Ely Cathedral. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.center_img Writer Peter Morgan and producer Andy Harries discuss the series “In the first two episodes, before she becomes Queen, I could be a lot freer with my emotions, but as the series goes on she develops an armour in order to cope with her circumstances,” she said.”She has to be a sphinx, which must be so hard. Imagine never being able to shout ‘shut up’ or cry, even in front of your own family.”Peter Morgan, the writer, said he had initially seen the Queen as an “empty vessel”, but had come to learn “you can tell what she thinks from what she hasn’t said and hasn’t done”. Writer Peter Morgan and producer Andy Harries discuss the series The finished programme shows no sign of her injury “I suspect there’s a million times she curses under her breath,” he said. “I imagine her natural sympathies are with the Commonwealth, rather than Europe, and one of the reasons the country was able to contemplate Brexit was because the grandmother of our nation thinks that way.”He disclosed Netflix had been particularly keen on taking the series, despite interest from the BBC, because it was seeking to expand from 60 countries to 190, many of which were in the Commonwealth where, Morgan said, “the Queen is their grandmother”.“I hope never to meet her,” the writer said. “I’ve spent so long thinking and writing about the woman it would feel unnatural and uncomfortable. I’d just be embarrassed.” Foy battled through a swollen arm to squeeze into her wedding dresslast_img read more

Genetic test can tell age a person is likely to develop Alzheimers

first_imgA new genetic test which calculates the age that a person is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, has been developed by scientists.The technique involves checking for mutations in 26 genes which were found in tens of thousands of dementia patients and which can be used to calculate an individual ‘hazard score.’Previous genetic testing for Alzheimer’s has largely relied on looking for defects in the APOE gene, which is known to raise the risk of disease 15 fold. Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Being able to detect who is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s could revolutionise the way we evaluate potential new drugs.“While these genetic risk scores hold promise as valuable research tools, they will need to be thoroughly evaluated, tested and refined before they could ever be used to help doctors diagnose or treat the disease.“This study does not suggest that having a high polygenic hazard score means you will definitely develop Alzheimer’s, nor does a low score mean you are immune from the disease. Genetics is only part of the story.”Dr James Pickett, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Society, added: “Preventing the development of dementia symptoms is the holy grail of Alzheimer’s research but to succeed we first need accurate methods to predict who is most likely to develop the condition.”This study’s approach was fairly successful at predicting the likelihood of someone developing dementia over the coming year, but needs to be tested further in mixed, non US populations.”This genetic risk score could help identify people to take part in research studies, but is not opening a door to genetic testing for dementia risk in the clinic.”For anyone concerned about dementia the first step is to visit your GP. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk, remember what’s good for your heart is good for your head, and it may be possible to lower your risk by staying active, eating well, and learning new skills.” The research was published in the journal PLOS Medicine. Preventing the development of dementia symptoms is the holy grail of Alzheimer’s research but to succeed we first need accurate methods to predict who is most likely to develop the condition.Dr James Pickett, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Society, Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. But even in people without the APOE mutation those with the highest scores could expect to develop Alzheimer’s disease by 84 years old, 10 years earlier than those who tested low on the scale.”From a clinical perspective, the provides a novel way not just to assess an individual’s lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but also to predict the age of disease onset,” said senior author Dr Anders Dale, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.”Equally important, testing of Alzheimer’s genetic risk can better inform prevention and therapeutic trials and be useful in determining which individuals are most likely to respond to therapy.”center_img The test could help doctors know who to target with preventative drugs or advise to improve their lifestyle  Around 500,000 people in Britain are living with Alzheimer’s disease and there is currently no treatment for the condition.Experts believe that when drugs are eventually found, they will need to be given early before the disease has progressed as there is little chance that the brain damage can be reversed and memories brought back once they have gone.So developing a test that can give an individual’s risk of dementia will help doctors target the right patients, who could also be encouraged to improve their lifestyles to cut their chance of developing disease. The test could help doctors know who to target with preventative drugs or advise to improve their lifestyle Credit:Alamy  The test, which could use DNA from blood or saliva, was developed using genetic information from more than 70,000 patients with Alzheimer’s disease.last_img read more

Is he coming MP David Davies films panic inside Parliament during Westminster

first_imgScenes of panic around Westminster Scenes of panic around Westminster Video shot by an MP shows the initial panic that ensued inside the building on Wednesday as word got out of an attack outside.David Davies was in Portcullis House in Westminster when, what appears to be a security warden, shouts for people to get “straight back” repeatedly. Mr Davies asks ‘is he coming?’ before running inside along with several others.  A knife-wielding attacker driving a vehicle on Wednesday mowed down pedestrians, killing two on Westminster Bridge before breaching Parliament’s grounds and fatally stabbing a police officer. A 75-year-old victim on the bridge died late on Thursday of his wounds, police said. At least 30 people were injured. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Theresa May announces full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire

first_imgPrime Minister Theresa May announces a full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire after visiting the scene of the blaze earlier today. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img

Abandoned dog shot dead by police after being tied to telegraph pole

first_imgAssistant chief constable Jason Harwin of Cleveland Police said: “We are always saddened by the death of an animal, but the difficult decision to destroy the dog was taken in partnership with animal welfare experts. “The decision was made at the end of a six-hour operation after we had exhausted all other options, including attempting to trace the owner and re-homing. “Veterinary professionals told us that, even if the dog could have been successfully sedated, they couldn’t have rehomed the dog due to its aggressive behaviour and that this was the kindest course of action. If the dog couldn’t be rehomed then the likely outcome would have been that it would have been euthanised by a vet.  Animal lovers have hit out at police for shooting an abandoned dog that was tied to a telegraph pole after officers were too scared to approach it.The dog, believed to be a Caucasian shepherd, was shot by a marksman after the decision was taken by police and the RSPCA to kill the animal.  The news that the dog had been shot sparked outrage with many asking why the animal was not sedated first after it was found in Hartlepool on Sunday.  A photograph of the shaggy-coated shepherd is being circulated with the caption “you did not deserve to die” on social media.Clare Pittman who was at the scene described it as a “travesty” adding that onlookers made attempts to stop Cleveland Police from killing the animal. “We also took on board advice from specially-trained officers at the scene and engaged with vets to try to attempt to resolve the issue long-term, however, sadly the only safe decision was to destroy the dog.  “The dog wasn’t aggressive, it was scared. The dog barked once while I was there, the other time the dog barked was when it saw the rifle getting passed over the fence.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The dog was found on Sunday morning, tied to a pole The dog was found on Sunday morning, tied to a pole Pictures of the dog circulated social media following the incident Pictures of the dog circulated social media following the incidentcenter_img Police tried to find the owners of the dog Credit: Ian Cooper/Evening Gazette Witnesses pleaded with authorities not to shoot the dogCredit: Ian Cooper/ Evening Gazette “It was a difficult balance, we were in fear that the dog could have got loose and potentially injured someone and the dogs’ welfare was a serious concern whilst it was tied up. If there could have been any other alternative ending, then of course we would have taken it. “We would fully support the RSPCA in appealing for any information with regards to the owner of the dog to come forward.”A petition has since been launched asking for justice for the dog. It has reached over 4,500 signatures of it’s 5,000 target. Witnesses said that the dog looked to be only 18 months old. Caucasian shepherd dogs are very popular in Russia and are known to need specific training. The breed has earned a reputation for being extremely reliable watchdogs and companions thanks to their loyal yet gentle and nature She told the Daily Telegraph: “Myself and several others offered to re-home the dog. A man who used to be in the navy turned up with a specialised suit and had previous experience with dangerous dogs. He offered to deal with the dog but police shut him down.”Paul White added: “I think it was handled in the complete wrong way. I tried to get over the fence to get the dog but the police officers would not let us. Witnesses pleaded with authorities not to shoot the dog Police tried to find the owners of the dog  Another witness said: “It will stay with me forever, they handled it horribly and it was wrong that dog was murdered.”Hundreds of comments have also been left on Dog Theft Awareness North East UK – where the incident was first reported.The police worked with the RSPCA and veterinary professionals in order to calm the dog down, but to no avail. The dog reportedly became increasingly aggressive as time went on and attempts to find the dog’s owner were unsuccessful.last_img read more

Church of England rejects heartshaped gravestone for stillborn baby as it would

She also added that her husband no longer feels able to visit his son’s grave until it has a head stone in place.But Chancellor Tattersall said the headstone would not comply with the regulations relating to the church yard, adding: “Heart-shaped memorials have been historically discouraged and such memorials are liable to be trivialised by repetition.”He said that the previous erections in the graveyard were in breach of regulations and their existence did not justify allowing a fourth.Chancellor Tattersall permitted the couple permission to erect a gravestone with the words they requested, but the other decorative etchings would not be allowed. A church has banned a memorial to a stillborn baby which featured hand and footprints because they feared it would “over-sentimentalise” the graveyard.The Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester, Geoffrey Tattersall QC, turned down a request from Natasha and Benjamin Bibby for a blue granite gravestone in the shape of a heart, etched with personal prints, in memory of their son, Kai-Jay Bibby, who was stillborn four years ago.In his role as a judge of the Church’s Consistory Court, Chancellor Tattersall stuck to strict rules over the form of gravestones.He concluded: “It seems to me that the stars, heart, hand and footprints would over-sentimentalise the memorial in a way which is undesirable and unnecessary and would be inappropriate in this particular churchyard.“Further, I have never previously come across a case where it has ever been sought or permitted to include handprints or footprints on a memorial.”The couple, from Bolton, wanted the gravestone to be erected at the Grade II listed St Saviour’s church yard in Ringley where there are already three other heart shaped gravestones. One of them marks the grave of the Kai-Jay’s great aunt, Anne Goodier, who died in 2011.Writing to the Diocesan Advisory Committee to be granted permission to erect the gravestone, Mrs Bibby said: “The shape of the stone we have chosen is a heart shape. We wish to have this shape as a heart is a symbol of love.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Youth football coach accused of abusing young boys dies day before trial

Gareth Southgate (left) and Sam Allardyce (right)Credit:Action Images/AFP Carson worked with Dan Ashworth at Cambridge United, where the alleged offences took place. Ashworth, the former Football Association’s director of elite development, was instrumental in the appointment of both Sam Allardyce and Southgate as England manager.He quit in December to take up a role with Brighton and Hove Albion.  Ashworth, whose relationship with Carson dates back to when the latter brought him to Norwich City as a 12-year-old player, was among several high-profile figures listed as providing testimonials on his former coach and colleague’s website before it was taken down in 2017.Others include retired England defender Danny Mills and ex-Wales striker Craig Bellamy.The apparent testimonial from Ashworth, who joined the FA from West Bromwich Albion in 2012, read: “Having worked with you both as a player at Norwich City and as your assistant academy director at Peterborough United and Cambridge United I have no doubts that boys working under you can progress into the world of football. I was delighted that Kit Carson players were signed at West Bromwich Albion.” Cambridgeshire Police said the allegations involved 11 victims, all boys under the age of 16, between 1978 and 2009.In January 2017, The Telegraph exclusively revealed the link between Carson and one of the men responsible for appointing England manager Gareth Southgate.  Gareth Southgate (left) and Sam Allardyce (right) Former youth football coach and scout Michael “Kit” Carson has died in a car crash the day before he was due to stand trial accused of sexually abusing boys, Peterborough Crown Court has heard. Carson, 75, was scheduled to face the charges of historical sexual abuse of boys aged under 16 on Tuesday, but died when he drove his Mazda 3 into a tree on the A1303 at Bottisham in Cambridgeshire on Monday morning. Cambridgeshire Police said:  “Michael Carson, 75, of St Bartholomew’s Court, Cambridge, was driving his red Mazda 3 at about 9.45am when it left the road and crashed into a tree.”Emergency services attempted to save Mr Carson’s life but he was declared dead at the scene a short time later. No other vehicle or person was involved in the collision.”The victims have been informed and efforts are being made to contact all the witnesses.”Carson, 75, had denied 12 counts of indecent assault and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.He was bailed following an earlier hearing at Cambridge Crown Court, and was due to appear at Peterborough Crown Court on Tuesday for trial.Carson, of St Bartholomew’s Court, Riverside, Cambridge, worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United. There is no suggestion Ashworth or anyone named as having provided testimonials for Carson has any knowledge of the alleged offences for which he was arrested, which were said to date from the 1970s to the mid-2000s.Carson joined Norwich as youth manager in 1983, working with children aged nine to 16 and bringing through the likes of Premier League stars Chris Sutton and Ruel Fox, before moving to Peterborough as an academy director 10 years later. In 2001, he became head of youth development at Cambridge, leaving in 2006 to join Histon FC.Police said they were working with the FA, local children’s safeguarding boards and councils as part of their nationwide investigations.The FA, which in 2016 appointed an independent QC to investigate its handling of alleged historic abuse in the game, did not respond to requests for comment on the testimonial attributed to Ashworth. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more