December 24, 2015
By JOSH DUBOW
Charles Woodson’s return to Oakland began with hundreds of fans gathering at the team’s facility urging him to come back.
The second stint will come to an end following an emotional farewell at the Oakland Coliseum.
Woodson announced Monday he will retire following his 18th NFL season, ending a career that included a Heisman Trophy, a Super Bowl title and numerous other honors.
Woodson said he realized late last month that he couldn’t play another season and wanted to announce his decision before playing his final home game Thursday night against San Diego.
“I felt it was only right that Raiders fans, my fans, fans that have watched me play for a long time, I’d let them all know that this Thursday night would be the last time in the Coliseum I would be able to run out there in front of our fans at home,” Woodson said at a news conference.
Woodson is one of the most accomplished defensive backs to play the game, ranking fifth all-time with 65 interceptions and tied for first with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper with 13 defensive touchdowns.
He won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1998, AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and is a three-time, first-team All Pro selection.
“Charles Woodson is one of those players that comes along and reminds you why you love the game,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said.
“He is truly a one of a kind player that goes above and beyond his Heisman Trophy and future gold jacket. It has been an honor to have worked alongside Charles for so many years and have the confidence to call him what he truly is: the G.O.A.T. He is, without a doubt, the embodiment of what it means to be a Raider.”
Woodson is still playing at a high level at age 39, despite dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained in the season opener and forced him out for a few plays Sunday after a hard hit on former teammate Randall Cobb.
Woodson has played 965 defensive snaps this season and has five interceptions and three fumble recoveries, ranking second in the NFL with eight takeaways.
“There are so many players who play this sport and other sports who would like to go out that way, playing well, doing what they love to do,” he said. “I feel very good about the way I performed not only this year but my whole career.”
Despite dealing with several injuries early in his career, Woodson has played the second-most games of any defensive back in NFL history with 252.
Only Hall of Famer Darrell Green has more with 295 and Woodson will join Green in the Hall in Canton, Ohio, soon.
Woodson said he told owner Mark Davis, McKenzie and coach Jack Del Rio of his decision earlier Monday. He then told his teammates in an emotional meeting that he was retiring.
“Honestly, I think physically I could do it,” he said. “My body has responded. But mentally, it’s not there. It’s not going to happen.”
Those emotions will only be stronger Thursday night when Woodson takes the field at the Oakland Coliseum for the final time. The game might also be the final NFL contest in the Coliseum as the Raiders could move to the Los Angeles area after the season.
“Coming back here and playing for the second time we were able to rekindle something that we had years ago,” Woodson said. “It was really fun coming back here and playing. It will be a pretty emotional day.”
Woodson burst onto the football scene as a college star at Michigan when he won the Heisman Trophy and helped the Wolverines win a share of the national championship in 1997.
He was then picked fourth overall by the Raiders and immediately made an impact, winning the defensive rookie of the year. He helped revive the Raiders and lead them to three straight playoff berths capped by an AFC championship in the 2002 season.
But the Raiders couldn’t break through for a Super Bowl title, losing the AFC title game at home to Baltimore in the 2000 season, falling to New England in the “Tuck Rule” game the next season and then losing the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay the following year.
Injuries hampered Woodson the next three seasons and he left for Green Bay as a free agent in 2006. That revitalized his career as he had 37 interceptions his first six years with Green Bay, winning the Super Bowl following the 2010 season.
But the Packers cut him after the 2012 season and after getting little interest in free agency, he finally returned to Oakland. He arrived for a free-agent visit only to be greeted by fans begging him to come back.
“That day was pretty awesome to come here and pull up and see all of the Raider fans still having love for me,” he said. “That was really cool.”
The Raiders won just seven games his first two seasons before being competitive this season with a 6-8 mark heading into the final two games.
Woodson said he will miss standing on the field for the national anthem and traveling to road games with his teammates the most. But he decided he wanted to spend more time with his family, his winery and perhaps start a TV career.
December 17, 2015
By Amanda Scurlock
Dayvon Ross has been working hard to earn a roster spot for the Washington Redskins (6-4 conference, 6-7 overall).
He is currently under a small contract with the franchise, allowing him to practice alongside the team and practice squad. Ross mentioned the difficulty of getting attention and trust from the coaching staff.
“If you’re not drafted in like the first three rounds, then you have to really work your butt off [so] you can get looked at,” Ross said in regards to getting on the roster for the franchise. “I’ve done everything to get to a starting or even on the active roster. It’s more difficult than anything in my life.”
Ross’ performance has received compliments from NFL veterans, but making it to the Redskins roster has required Ross to work out and show his skill set during team practices.
“It’s been a couple times where I couldn’t even get out of bed because I was so sore because I was going so hard trying to get into [a] starting position,” Ross said. “I just have to wait for my chance.”
Ross has been fighting adversity after adversity since he played football for Manual Arts High School. The Toilers faced many losses, but Ross found ways to keep himself motivated.
At a game against Dorsey High School, Ross noticed recruiters from UCLA were there scouting a Dorsey football player. After that game, the Manual Arts coach told Ross that UCLA was interested. He verbally committed to the Bruins football program, but the NCAA considered him to be academically ineligible. Ross then enrolled in Southwest Community College and played for their football team.
Attending Southwest College and East LA College was difficult for Ross after being promised the platform of Division I football. Ross felt out of place during his junior college experience.
“The worst part about the whole situation was I did everything that I had to do on the football field to get a Division I scholarship,” said Ross. “If it wasn’t for football and my mom, I would have stopped at that point.”
Ross mentioned that the Southwest College football team had several losses while he played there. His efforts got Ross to Central State College in Ohio, Ross noted how hard the transition was.
“I had to get warmed up to it,” Ross said. “I didn’t start getting comfortable out there until up to the first game that I started scoring touchdowns.”
Ross stayed focused and set goals to be an All-American and a graduate from Central State. He entered the NFL Draft in 2014. The Greenbay Packers (7-3 conference, 9-4 overall) had showed interest in him throughout the draft process, noted Ross.
“They came to my Pro [Day] and they liked what they say saw,” said Ross.
Once the franchise looked at his medical records, they became unsure about giving Ross a draft pick.
“I had torn my MCL before,” Ross said. “They had records of me going to the doctor, but they didn’t have records of me getting treatment.”
At the fifth round of the NFL Draft, the Packers told Ross they would not draft him. The Seattle Seahawks (6-4 conf., 8-5 overall) invited him to their training camp.
After an injury, the Seahawks released him. Ross found a longer bond with the Redskins in 2015, according to iSports Web.
December 17, 2015
By SUMMER BALLENTINE
Two Missouri legislators propose that universities revoke the scholarships of athletes if they go on strike. Another proposes mandatory classes on free speech for all students. And state legislative leaders say funding for the University of Missouri could be cut.
Those are a few examples of the backlash after members of the university’s football team threatened to strike and joined protests over the administration’s handling of racial tensions on campus. Top university officials later resigned.
“The perception is that there’s a lot of things that went wrong, and there’s going to be a price to pay,” Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said Tuesday.
Last month a graduate student went on a hunger strike, the football team supported the student and the head football coach backed his players. The next day former university system President Tim Wolfe stepped down. The Missouri protests prompted demonstrations of support at universities around the country.
The upheaval shocked and embarrassed some alumni, as well as members of the state legislature. With weeks before the 2016 state legislative session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 6, some lawmakers, most of them Republicans, say the university will face consequences for how leaders handled the protests.
The university “coddled the students and gave them everything they wanted,” said Republican Rep. Kurt Bahr, who co-sponsored the bill on student athletes’ scholarships. He said the university should have revoked football players’ scholarships if they didn’t practice or play.
University of Missouri System spokesman John Fougere in an emailed statement said the university is “committed to working closely and rebuilding confidence with our state legislators in the upcoming session.”
The backlash comes at a time when the University of Missouri’s relationship with the Legislature already was tense. The school this past year faced criticism from some GOP lawmakers who questioned agreements between the Columbia campus and a local Planned Parenthood clinic that had offered medication-induced abortions. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
A major lever they could use to punish the state's flagship university is money.
Funding for the University of Missouri is “going to take a haircut,” Senate leader Richard said.
About 15 percent of the system's budget this fiscal year came from state appropriations.
Republican House Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot said lawmakers should be sensitive to the feelings of minority students protesting on campus but also need to stress the university’s mission to educate.
“They want to find out what’s going on and how we can get Missouri out of the headlines,” Cierpiot said, referring to national media attention.
Some of the proposals suggested by legislators are more symbolic that real. Bahr said his goal for the bill to punish student athletes was to show the university that some lawmakers disagree with how leadership handled the campus unrest.
The proposals have drawn criticism from some Democrats.
The bill to punish athletes “seeks to further solidify and legalize institutional racism by targeting black athletes for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and reducing them to the status of subjugated livestock,” Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Brandon Ellington said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Dean Dohrman said his bill to require students in public colleges to take a class on freedom of speech was in part motivated by a communications professor who tried to stop a student photographer from taking pictures of protesters. Her actions were widely criticized by advocates for freedom of the press and speech, and she later apologized.
Senate Democratic Leader Joe Keaveny said it’s not up to the Legislature to fix issues at the University of Missouri.
“I’m not about to begin to run that university, and I don’t think anybody in Jefferson City should begin to run that university,” he said.
Associated Press reporter David A. Lieb contributed to this report.
December 10, 2015
By Amanda Scurlock
The Crenshaw Cougars (9-5) could not surpass the Narbonne Gauchos (12-2) in the Division I city section title bout. The gauchos beat the cougars 57-21.
Although Crenshaw had moments of sound defense, the Narbonne offense completed key passes that led to touchdowns.
Crenshaw came into the game outnumbered; their 37-member squad went up against Narbonne’s 81 members, according to Max Preps. The gauchos were the first to score a touchdown early in the 1st quarter. Narbonne kept Crenshaw from scoring and earned another touchdown. Crenshaw would fumble the ball, allowing Narbonne to gain another possession.
The gauchos denied the Cougar defense by passing the ball, this tactic plagued Crenshaw throughout the night. Narbonne gained yards and 1st downs through plays made on their third or fourth down, pausing for extended periods of time before snapping the ball.
The Gauchos earned another touchdown late in the first quarter with a completed pass by wide receiver Devaughn Cooper. Crenshaw struggled to score, after losing possession due to a fumble. Narbonne fumbled also, giving the ball back to the Cougars.
Crenshaw created a 7-point play early in the second quarter. After Crenshaw punted, Cooper would commit a 53-yard return. With 8:28 left in the second quarter, Narbonne earned another touchdown and boosted their score up to 21-7 against the Cougars.
Narbonne intercepted Crenshaw’s ball twice; the second time resulted in the Gauchos earning a touchdown and a two point conversion, improving their score 29-7.
Crenshaw was unable to score for the rest of the quarter; however, Narbonne continued their offensive rampage by leading 36-7 over Crenshaw at halftime.
Early in the second half, Crenshaw did not earn points from their possessions. Narbonne made two more touchdowns. Running back Sean Riley scored a 46-yard touchdown and Kameron Denmark scored a 48-yard touchdown pass. Crenshaw quarterback Daiyan Henley refused to quit and scored two touchdowns, notching the Cougars up to their final score.
Narbonne will face the undefeated Ridgeview High School (13-0) on December 12. In Division II City Section finals, third seed Fairfax (8-6) gave Los Angeles High (12-1) their first loss of the season with a 31-16 victory. Running back Ramses Hernandez carried Fairfax on his back, giving the team four touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
Belmont (14-0) defeated Hollywood (12-2) in the Division III championship game 24-7. Running back Isaiah Chatman rushed 31 times for Belmont. Hollywood quarterback David Rothenberg completed nine passes. The Belmont squad made history by earning the high school’s first city title, according to the LA Times.