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Nation’s Soccer Star Tries the Nation’s Game

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The US Women’s National Soccer Team captivated many on their run to a historic fourth World Cup victory. Behind the feet of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, the squad had record setting 13-0 type of victories and nail biting 2-1 type of victories along the way and became a story of the summer in sports.

The success has created quite a buzz around the team. Leaders of the USWNT have been outspoken on social injustices, and not backed down when called out by politicians. Additionally, they have been involved in a law suit for several years now over equal compensation with their male counterparts. The popularity of the women on the team has soared, and resulted in several victory tour stops across America, both on the field and on parade routes. The most visible was in New York, which featured droves of fans crowding Manhattan streets and swarming the floats, and ultimately culminating in Megan Rapinoe’s inspirational victory speech.

But now, a USWNT player is eyeing, potentially, a new opportunity. On August 20th, the USWNT twitter profile sent out a video of forward Carli Lloyd hitting a 55-yard field goal at a Baltimore Ravens practice, on noticeably narrow goal posts (designed to make practicing harder than a game). The Philadelphia Eagles also tweeted out the video, confirming the 55-yard make and demonstrably impressed.

Lloyd has received an immense amount of positive feedback from folks around the league. She has commented that she’s “laughing about it, but the more [she] thinks about it, this has the chance to be a sort of a pioneering moment for women.”

“It could be a huge pivotal moment. There is no reason why a woman could not do this. And I actually invite the pressure. I love the pressure. When I have to nail something—shooting hoops, ax-throwing, kicking a field goal—that is the moment I live for and want. It comes down to the mind, training the mind.”

Lloyd commented that she has received some commentary from multiple NFL teams, we may see she (or another female soccer star) try it out one day.

While it may not be Lloyd, her pushing the gender line in the NFL is just the latest in a constant fight for equality out of the USWNT. As the representatives for a nation of “We the people,” no American national team has done as much to represent those people. While it sent shockwaves throughout the twitterverse, it is certainly not off brand for the USWNT to be pushing the present boundaries and speaking on equality.

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Football

Carolina Panthers Plan to Stick with Cam Newton as Starting Quarterback

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The Carolina Panthers are going to be entering a new era next season, with Matt Rhule taking over as their head coach after Ron Rivera was fired midseason.

Rivera was at the helm in Carolina dating back to 2011, taking the team to a Super Bowl in 2015.

There has been a lot of debate as to whether the Panthers may move on from the league MVP of that 2015 season as well.

Yet as of now, it appears that Cam Newton is staying put in Carolina.

Newton was limited to just two games played last season due to a foot injury, bringing a lot of concerns of his future health to the surface.

Dual-threat quarterbacks typically age a lot faster than others and no one has taken more hits from that position that Newton since being draft No. 1 overall back in 2011.

The vote of confidence from the Panthers on Newton now could be two-fold. They may feel his injury is rehabbing well, but they also don’t have a lot of options until he can prove healthy.

Other NFL teams are going to be hesitant to trade a significant package for a quarterback that is a huge question mark going into next season. Especially with the sheer depth of options in free agency.

It would also be foolish for Carolina to give Newton anything but a vote of confidence at this point, as any indication that they are ready to move on would only lessen his trade value.

Still, Newton could play a big role in the helping the Panthers remain competitive next season.

After going 5-11 without Newton last season, the Panthers find themselves in the top-10 of the NFL Draft for just the second time since 2012.

With the seventh overall pick, a quarterback like Justin Herbert may be on the table for Carolina to select.

It will be very interesting to see how the Panthers navigate this offseason and whether contingency plans begin to be put in place for life after Cam Newton.

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Everson Griffen Opts Out of Contract with the Minnesota Viking to Become Free Agent

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Over the past decade there has been few pass rushers more dynamic than Everson Griffen.

Griffen was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and has since turned into a four-time Pro Bowler.

Now he is set to maybe wear another jersey for the first time in his career, as Griffen has opted out of his contract with the Vikings.

Through 10 seasons in Minnesota, Griffen has 74.5 sacks, 176 quarterback hits, 86 tackles for a loss and 355 total tackles.

There have been few players in the league that are harder to block than Griffen and he now gets the chance to test free agency.

After voiding his lucrative $13.5 million salary for next season, Griffen is likely looking to sign a contract of similar value through free agency.

At 32 years old, Griffen could be looking for a three-year contract worth somewhere around $45 million.

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NFL May Change Playoff Structure to Seven Teams Per Conference

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Just last week it was reported that Major League Baseball was considering a change to their playoff format that would expand it from 10 teams to 14 that make the postseason each year.

Turns out the NFL is thinking about making a similar change, taking what is already a pool of 12 teams and adding two more.

Under the current playoff format, the top two seeds from each conference get a bye, while the two Wild Card teams play the two other division winners in the Wild Card round.

If this new rule is passed under the collective bargaining agreement, then only the top seed in the conference gets a bye, while another Wild Card team will be added.

The changes to the schedule don’t stop there when it comes to the proposed CBA, as a 17-game season could come into effect as well.

Really what all of this indicates is just how much money the owners make off of these televised games.

Adding another regular season game, in the place of a meaningless preseason game, will generate a ton of revenue in of itself.

Then you bring in two more lucrative playoff games to their postseason schedule and everyone comes away with a lot more money.

While most fans are not going to like these changes on the surface, those are going to be the same people that tune in to watch the NFL during the new Week 18 and for every Wild Card game under the new playoff format.

In the end, this new season structure makes too much financial sense for all the parties with a vested interest to not happen.

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