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NFL Network’s live preseason schedule kicks off tonight at 7:30 p.m. when Carolina hosts Houston. Each team selected top prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft, with the Panthers drafting running back Christian McCaffrey and the Texans selecting national championship-winning quarterback Deshaun Watson.

In addition to Watson, NFL Network will broadcast the preseason debuts of two other first-round quarterbacks live when second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears plays Denver on Thursday, August 10 at 8 p.m. and when Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs face San Francisco on Friday, August 11 at 10 p.m.

Additional live Week 1 preseason games on NFL Network include Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams hosting 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, August 12 at 9 p.m. and the Chargers’ first game in Los Angeles since 1961 when they face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, August 13 at 8 p.m.

NFL Network airs six Week 2 preseason games live, beginning with Seattle hosting Minnesota Friday, August 18 at 10 p.m. On Saturday, August 19, NFL Network offers a triple-header of live Week 2 preseason games, with the Tennessee Titans hosting the Carolina Panthers at 3 p.m., the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Dallas Cowboys at 7 p.m. and the Denver Broncos playing the San Francisco 49ers at 10.

Week 2 concludes on Sunday, August 20 with the 2016 NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons visiting Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. and the Los Angeles Chargers hosting New Orleans at 8 p.m.

NFL Network will air one game during Week 3 on Thursday, August 24 at 7:00 PM ET between Philadelphia and Miami.

NFL Network’s live preseason schedule concludes with a Week 4 double-header on Thursday, August 31. At 7 p.m., the New York Jets hosting Philadelphia, followed by Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders playing Lynch’s former team, the Seattle Seahawks, at 10 p.m.

To view the entire 2017 preseason schedule on NFL Network, visit: http://www.nfl.com/network/preseason.

All NFL Network programming – including 16 LIVE preseason games and re-airs of all 65 preseason games – can also be streamed on the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile) and via Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Watch NFL Network access is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers. For more information, go to NFL.com/network..

NFL Game Pass provides fans in the United States with another opportunity to watch live out-of-market preseason games, as well as other exclusive content. Available for $99.99 for the 2017-2018 season, NFL Game Pass offers NFL fans the following:

•Live Preseason Games – Watch live out-of-market preseason games (blackout restrictions apply)

•NFL Game Replays – Watch full broadcasts of NFL games, available the same day the games are played. Additional features include condensed versions of NFL games and ‘All-22’ and ‘High Endzone’ angle coaches film footage

•Live Gameday Audio – Listen to the live home and away radio broadcast for every NFL game

•NFL Game & Show Archive – Full NFL game broadcasts from 2009-2017 are available through NFL Game Pass, as well as previous seasons of NFL shows such as Hard Knocks, A Football Life, SoundFX and America’s Game

NFL Game Pass is available at http://www.NFL.com/GamePass, as well as on Smartphones and Tablets via NFL Mobile, and Connected TVs (Xbox One, Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Windows 10) via the NFL app. New for this season, NFL Game Pass has undergone a complete website redesign and the search functionality
NFL NETWORK’S 2017 LIVE PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times are Eastern)

Week 1

Wednesday, August 9
Houston vs. Carolina, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 10
Denver vs. Chicago, 8 p.m.

Friday, August 11
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 7 p.m.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City, 10 p.m. (joined live in progress)

Saturday, August 12
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 9 p.m.

Sunday, August 13
Detroit vs. Indianapolis, 1:30 p.m.
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 8 p.m.

Week 2

Friday, August 18
Minnesota vs. Seattle, 10 p.m.

Saturday, August 19
Carolina vs. Tennessee, 3 p.m.
Indianapolis vs. Dallas, 7 p.m.
Denver vs. San Francisco, 10 p.m.

Sunday, August 20
ATLANTA at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m.
New Orleans vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 8 p.m.

Week 3

Thursday, August 24
Miami vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Week 4

Thursday, August 31
Philadelphia vs. New York Jets, 7 p.m.
Seattle vs. Oakland, 10 p.m.

* Live games on NFL Network will be blacked out in the participating teams’ over-the-air station markets.

ABOUT NFL MEDIA

NFL Media is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news. Launched in 2003, NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.

For fans on the go, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on smartphones through NFL Mobile from Verizon, as well as other digital platforms through Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Watch NFL Network access is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers. For more information, go to NFL.com/nflnetwork.

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) today jointly announced that the league will hire up to 24 full-time game officials from among the current 124-person roster of officials.

The NFL and NFLRA agreed to experiment with full-time officials as part of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The decision to hire up to 24 such officials for 2017 is a collaborative initiative intended to promote the common goal of enhancing all aspects of NFL officiating –  scouting, training and mentoring, better understanding of current game trends, game preparation and increased input on rules relating to player safety and game administration.

“We believe this is a great development for NFL officiating overall and ultimately the quality of our game,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincet told USA Today. “We share a common goal, which is to make our game as great as it can possibly be, and look forward to working together on this new effort.”

“NFL officials are always looking to improve. We believe that additional time, particularly in the offseason, will be positive,” said NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green. “We’re looking forward to working together with the league on this effort.”

The program will permit current officials who wish to transition to a full-time role the opportunity to apply. The full-time officials that are hired – between 21 and 24 – will play an important role in enhancing communication and the flow of information to and from on-field officials, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Alberto Riveron and the league’s officiating supervisors.

The implementation throughout the 2017 season will provide the NFL Officiating Department, in consultation with the NFLRA, the opportunity to identify the most effective ways to utilize the off-field time for full-time game officials throughout the calendar year.

Full-time officials will be hired at each of the seven officiating positions and may serve on each of the 17 officiating crews. They will work collaboratively with their assigned crews, the league officiating staff and the NFL’s football-related committees during the offseason.

 

 

It’s time to get ‘Back to Football’ and NFL Network remains the go-to destination to do so, with seven live games and re-airs of every Week 1 preseason game.

NFL Network’s Week 1 preseason live schedule begins tonight when Carolina hosts Houston at 7:30 p.m. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 7 p.m., during halftime of Texans-Panthers and postgame, with host Dan Hellie, David Carr and Heath Evans.

On Thursday, August 10, NFL Network’s Week 1 preseason live schedule continues with the Denver Broncos traveling to face the Chicago Bears at 8 p.m. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 7 p.m., during halftime of Broncos-Bears and postgame, with Hellie, Reggie Wayne and Willie McGinest.

On Friday, August 11, NFL Network provides a doubleheader of live preseason games, starting at 7 p.m. with the New York Giants hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 10 p.m., the Kansas City Chiefs host the San Francisco 49ers (joined live in progress). Editions of NFL Total Access on air at 6:30 p.m. during halftime of Steelers-Giants and 49ers-Chiefs and following the conclusion of 49ers-Chiefs with Wayne, Kurt Warner and Cole Wright.

NFL Network’s Week 1 live schedule continues Saturday, August 12 when Dallas travels to face the Los Angeles Rams at 9 p.m. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 7:30 p.m., during halftime of Cowboys-Rams and postgame with Wright, Evans, Warner and Terrell Davis.

NFL Network’s Week 1 live schedule concludes Sunday, August 13 with two games, starting at 1:30 p.m. with Indianapolis hosting Detroit. At 8 p.m., NFL Network carries the Los Angeles Chargers hosting Seattle live in the Chargers’ first game back in Los Angeles. Editions of NFL Total Access air at 1 p.m., during halftime of Lions-Colts and postgame, at 7:30 p.m., during halftime of Seahawks-Chargers and postgame, with Hellie, Wright, Evans and Davis

Additionally, NFL Network provides complete game re-airs of every Week 1 preseason game.

All NFL Network programming – including 16 LIVE preseason games and re-airs of all 64 preseason games – can also be streamed on the NFL Mobile from Verizon app (NFL.com/mobile) and via Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile and Watch NFL Network apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, Playstation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Access through Watch NFL Network is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers.

NFL Game Pass provides fans in the United States with another opportunity to watch live out-of-market preseason games, as well as other exclusive content, for $99.99 for the 2017 season. For complete information regarding NFL Game Pass, visit  http://www.NFL.com/GamePass.

***Please note that all live games on NFL Network are subject to local blackouts***

Below is NFL Network’s Week 1 broadcast schedule.

NFL NETWORK 2017 WEEK 1 PRESEASON GAMES SCHEDULE

(ALL TIMES EASTERN AND ALL GAMES IN HIGH DEFINITION)

Wednesday, August 9
Houston vs. Carolina, 7:30 p.m. (LIVE)
Arizona vs. Dallas, 11 p.m.
Houston vs. Carolina, 2 a.m.
Arizona vs. Dallas, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 10
Houston vs. Carolina, 10 a.m.
Arizona vs. Dallas, 1 p.m.
Houston vs. Carolina, 4 p.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, 8 p.m. (LIVE)
Jacksonville vs. New England, Midnight
Minnesota vs. Buffalo, 4 a.m.

Friday, August 11
New Orleans vs. Cleveland, 10 a.m.
Jacksonville vs. New England, 1 p.m.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay, 4 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 7 p.m. (LIVE)
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 10 p.m. (LIVE)
Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati, 1 a.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 4 a.m.

Saturday, August 12
Washington vs. Baltimore, 7 a.m.
ATLANTA vs. Miami, 9:30 a.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, Noon
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 2:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 5 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 9 p.m. (LIVE)
Oakland vs. Arizona, 1 a.m.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay, 4 a.m.

Sunday, August 13
Tennessee vs. New York Jets, 7 a.m.
Jacksonville vs. New England, 10 a.m.
Detroit vs. Indianapolis, 1:30 p.m. (LIVE)
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 5 p.m.
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 8 p.m. (LIVE)
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 11:30 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 2 a.m.
ATLANTA vs. Miami, 4:30 p.m.

Monday, August 14
Washington vs. Baltimore, 10 a.m.
New Orleans vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay, 4 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 8 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, Midnight
San Francisco vs. Kansas City, 4 a.m.

Tuesday, August 15
Tennessee vs. New York Jets, 10 a.m..
Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville vs. New England, 4 p.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, 8 p.m.
Oakland vs. Arizona, Midnight
Detroit vs. Indianapolis, 4 a.m.

Wednesday, August 16
Minnesota vs. Buffalo, 10 a.m.
ATLANTA vs. Miami, 1 p.m.
Houston vs. Carolina, 4 p.m.
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 8 p.m.
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Midnight
New Orleans vs. Cleveland, 4 a.m.

Thursday, August 17
Dallas vs. Los Angeles Rams, 10 a.m.
Denver vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.
Pittsburgh vs. New York Giants, 4 p.m.

(Please note that all live games on NFL Network are subject to local blackouts)

The following broadcast teams will be calling each Week 1 matchup on NFL Network:

Game  – Play-by-Play, Analyst (Sideline)
Texans vs. Panthers – Mick Mixon, Mike Rucker (Kevin Donnalley)
Vikings vs. Bills – Rob Stone, Steve Tasker (Mike Catalana)
Falcons vs. Dolphins – Dick Stockton, Bob Griese, Nat Moore (Kim Bokamper)
Redskins vs. Ravens – Gerry Sandusky, Brian Billick (Evan Washburn)
Jaguars vs. Patriots – Dan Roche, Christian Fauria (Matt Chatham & Steve Burton)
Broncos vs. Bears – Sam Rosen, Jim Miller (Lou Canellis)
Saints vs. Browns – Mike Patrick, Solomon Wilcots (Andy Baskin)
Eagles vs. Packers – Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon (Lance Allen)
Steelers vs. Giants Bob Papa Carl Banks Howard Cross & Bruce Beck
Buccaneers vs. Bengals Brad Johansen Anthony Munoz Mike Valpredo
49ers vs. Chiefs Carter Blackburn Trent Green BJ Kissel
Titans vs. Jets Ian Eagle Greg Buttle Otis Livingston
Cowboys vs. Rams Andrew Siciliano Marshall Faulk Jill Arrington & Dani Klupenger
Raiders vs. Cardinals Dave Pasch Ron Wolfley Paul Gerke
Lions vs. Colts Don Fischer Rick Venturi Caroline Cann
Seahawks vs. Chargers  Spero Dedes Dan Fouts Alex Flanagan

ABOUT NFL MEDIA

NFL Media is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news. Launched in 2003, NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.

For fans on the go, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on smartphones through NFL Mobile from Verizon, as well as other digital platforms such as TuneIn.com and through Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Watch NFL Network access is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers. For more information, go to NFL.com/nflnetwork.

They spend time on air talking aobut football. This week, NFL Network will be honoring them.

Honoring some of the NFL’s greatest legends, including three of their own analysts, NFL Network will provide seven hours of live Pro Football Hall of Fame coverage Saturday, August 5 from Canton, Ohio beginning at 4 p.m. (All times listed are Eastern)

Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls will be highlighted by the induction of three NFL Network analysts, LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis. With these inductions, NFL Network doubles its number of Hall of Famers to six total (Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin) – far surpassing the number of Hall of Fame analysts on staff at any other network in the industry.

Tomlinson, Warner and Davis will be welcomed to the hall alongside fellow inductees Kenny Easley, Jason Taylor, Morten Andersen and Jerry Jones during the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony which airs live on NFL Network at 7 p.m.

Coverage will kick off on Friday, August 4 at 8 p.m. with Players Only: Hall of Fame. The one-hour program features a discussion with NFL Network’s six Hall of Fame analysts – Tomlinson, Warner, Davis, Faulk, Sanders and Irvin – about their time in the NFL and what they are most looking forward to about the Enshrinement ceremony.

On Friday at 9 p.m., NFL Network will air the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket Ceremony, followed by a look back at the most iconic career moments of 2017’s Hall of Fame Class during a special edition of Eternal Red Zone at 10 p.m At 10:30 p.m., Tomlinson, Warner and Davis visit training camps of their former teams in Back 2 Camp, followed by a live edition of NFL Total Access at 11 p.m.

On Saturday, August 5, coverage begins at 4 p.m. with Hall of Fame Saturday from Canton, Ohio. Host Rich Eisen, Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin, Steve Mariucci and Steve Wyche anchor the three-hour show.

Featured on the three-hour show:

The moment Hall of Fame President David Baker knocked on the doors of LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis to welcome them to the Hall Tomlinson, Warner and Davis take an introspective look back at their careers

A live interview with the ‘Cowboys Triplets’ Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin as they reflect on the legacy of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

An in-depth look at how the football life of Jerry Jones intersected with history

Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre shares his memories about the Packers’ rookie quarterback who was cut from the practice squad in 1994, Kurt Warner

A debate on current players who could enter the Hall of Fame now and those that still have work to do

Discussion on the running back who deserves induction next

After the show, a special live edition of NFL Total Access airs recapping the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.

NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated morning show Good Morning Football will air live from Canton, Ohio Thursday, August 3 – Saturday, August 5 at 7 p.m., with Kay Adams, Nate Burleson, Peter Schrager and Kyle Brandt.

Fans can watch NFL Network’s Hall of Fame coverage on their smartphone through NFL Mobile from Verizon, as well as other digital platforms through Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV).

Digitally, VOD content of all eight enshrinements will be available, as well as a collection of the best Hall of Fame speeches from previous years. Additionally, Around the NFL writers will provide written pieces on each enshrinee.

Tomlinson played 11 seasons in the NFL (San Diego Chargers and New York Jets), amassing 13,684 career rushing list – fifth most in NFL history – as well as 145 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns. Tomlinson spent nine of his 11 seasons with the San Diego Chargers and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2006 after setting the NFL’s single-season rushing touchdown record (28).

A two-time league MVP, Warner played 12 seasons in the NFL (St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals), amassing 32,344 career passing yards and 208 passing touchdowns. In 1999, Warner led the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Davis played eight seasons with the Denver Broncos, amassing 7,607 career rushing yards and 60 rushing touchdowns. A two-time Super Bowl champion with the Broncos, Davis was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1998 after rushing for 2,008 yards.

2017 Pro Football Enshrinement Ceremony – Saturday, August 5 at 7 p.m. Eastern

At 7 p.m., NFL Network provides live coverage of the 2017 Pro Football Enshrinement Ceremony.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 presenters:

INDUCTEE (PRESENTER, RELATIONSHIP)
Morton Andersen (Sebastian Andersen, Son)
Terrell Davis (Neil Schwartz, Agent & Friend)
Kenny Easley  (Tommy Rhodes, High School Coach)
Jerry Jones (Gene Jones, Wife)
Jason Taylor (Jimmy Johnson, Dolphins Coach)
LaDainian Tomlinson (Lorenzo Neal, Chargers Teammate)
Kurt Warner (Brenda Warner, Wife)

ABOUT NFL MEDIA: NFL Media is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, NFL.com, NFL Now, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL RedZone.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the NFL is making news. Launched in 2003, NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.

For fans on the go, all NFL Network programming can also be streamed live on smartphones through NFL Mobile from Verizon, as well as other digital platforms such as TuneIn.com and through Watch NFL Network on tablet (NFL Mobile, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps), PC (NFL.com/watch), Xbox One and Xbox 360 (NFL on Xbox app) and other connected TV devices (NFL app on Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV). Watch NFL Network access is available for NFL Network subscribers of participating TV providers. For more information, go to NFL.com/nflnetwork.

They’ve kissed and made up.

And they put a ring on it. (Sorry, Beyonce fans!)

A long, dirty phase in Chicago Cubs history has come to an end.

For those of you that have been living under a rock, there was a young man named Steve Bartman, who attended Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series against the-then Florida Marlins. For years, Bartman was the most-hated person in the Windy City since Al Capone and made the mistake of reaching for a foul ball along the left field line, deflecting the ball that Moises Alou would have caught for the second out of the eighth inning. Had Alou caught the ball, the Cubs would have been in the World Series for the first time since 1945. As fate would have it, the Cubs gave up eight runs in that frame and lost the contest 8-3, giving the Marlins a trip to the World Series, where they went on to beat the New York Yankees.

Bartman became a scapegoat and was considered persona non grata in the Windy City and also became the targer of jokes, SNL skits and death threats. He went into hiding, almost into his own Witness Protection Program, as it were and never talked about the incident.

With the Cubs winning their first World Series since Taft was in the Oval Office last year, the team decided that enough was enough. They needed this to come to an end, not just for the team but for the city of Chicago. Bartman had been punished enough. (As for the baseball that he touched? It was on display at Harry Caray’s Restaurant in downtown Chicago until it was destroyed).

The Cubs decided that Bartman deserved a ring, the same one that the players got last April, the one with the 108 diamonds, representing each year they didn’t win the Fall Classic.

The Cubs issued the following statement regarding the ring:

“On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series championship ring to Mr. Steve Bartman,” the statement said. “We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series. While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”

Bartman, through his attorney issued his own statement:

“Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring. I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels.

“My family and I will cherish it for generations. Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying to me that I am welcomed back into the Cubs family and have their support going forward. I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over.

“I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society,” Bartman said in his statement. “My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.

“Moreover, I am hopeful this ring gesture will be the start of an important healing and reconciliation process for all involved,” he said. “To that end, I request the media please respect my privacy, and the privacy of my family. I will not participate in interviews or further public statements at this time.”

Bartman also thanked the Ricketts family, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and the entire organization for the gift and “for providing the City of Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere an unforgettable World Championship in 2016.”

Added Bartman: “I am happy to be reunited with the Cubs family and positively moving forward with my life.”

The Windy City has survived a fire that was at first started by a cow kicking over a lantern, a depression, Al Capone, winters that would have easily frozen Hell over 10 times and political corruption so bad Shakespeare would have been jealous. It celebrated when they won the World Series last October. They finally exhaled when they got their rings. Bartman and the Cubs have kissed and made up. They’re not quite Facebook friends yet but the wounds have finally healed.

A city that languished as to if they would ever win another World Series has forgiven a man that caused their fan base so much grief. The Cubs have moved on to become World Champs. Bartman has stepped out of the shadows and once again made himself visible, if only for a few minutes. They kissed. They made up.

They put a ring on it.

(photo credit the Chicago Sun-Times, the Associated Press and MLB)

Back to work!

Back to sweating in the summer heat, learning playbooks that are so big they make “War and Peace” look like a comic book.

Back to rookies fighting for their first NFL jobs, free agents fighting to stay on an NFL roster, fighting with teammates on the field as things get heated, along with the weather.

Back to sleeping in dorms for the first time since they were in college.

It’s back to work for all 32 NFL teams. For New England, it’s the hunter now becoming the hunted, as the defending Super Bowl champs. For the other 31 teams, it’s their chance to replace them as the NFL’s king of the mountain, so to speak.

NFL clubs will begin their on-field preparations for Kickoff 2017 this week, starting Wednesday, July 19 as rookies for the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints are scheduled to report.

The Arizona Cardinals, who will take on the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game (Thursday, August 3 on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern), will be the first team with a full squad in camp when their rookies and veterans report on Friday, July 21. By Saturday, July 29, every NFL team will be in camp.

This year, more than half the league (21 of 32, 66 percent) will be “staying home” for training camp. Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their respective practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters. In 2000, only 10 of 31 (32 percent) teams stayed close to home.

“Our entire organization is excited to be returning to hold training camp at our facility in Metairie in 2017,” Saints owner Tom Benson told the Mobile Register and WKRG-TV. “This will be a great opportunity for our passionate fans from throughout the Gulf South to be able to experience the fun, excitement and interaction of Saints training camp as our team prepares for what we expect to be a very exciting season.”

The numbers may prove that training at home is a popular league-wide trend but there are still teams employing the “old-time” philosophy of holding camp away from their facilities.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the teams that “come together” away from home, holding camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania for the 52nd consecutive year.

“There’s some intrinsic value to being here, some things that you can’t measure,” says Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on holding training camp at St. Vincent College. Tomlin told KDKA-TV, “Those are things that I think about when I think about training camp and those are the things that make me really excited about bringing a team to an environment like this.”

The NFL training camp longevity king? The Green Bay Packers, who return for their 60th consecutive summer at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Here’s a look at the number of NFL teams that stayed home for training camp since 2000:

YEAR – NFL TEAMS WITH HOME TRAINING CAMPS (PCT.)

2000 – 10 of 31 (32%)
2001 –  9 of 31 (29%)
2002 – 10 of 32 (31%)
2003 – 14 of 32 (44%)
2004 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2005 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2006 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2007 – 16 of 32 (50%)
2008 – 15 of 32 (47%)
2009 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2010 – 17 of 32 (53%)
2011 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2012 – 19 of 32 (59%)
2013 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2014 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2015 – 21 of 32 (66%)
2016 – 20 of 32 (63%)
2017 – 21 of 32 (66%)
Overall – 295 of 574 (52%)

*Teams considered to be “staying home” hold training camp at their practice facility, home stadium or at a site within 10 miles of their team headquarters.

The longest active NFL training camp tenures:

TEAM – TRAINING CAMP, CITY (YEARS)
Green Bay Packers – Saint Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin (60)
Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota (52)
Pittsburgh Steelers – Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania (52)

Veterans will be looking to keep their jobs, while rookies and free agents fight for that coveted roster spot. That spot means a paycheck. It’s going to be hot. They’ll be sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, they’ll fight heat, humidity, bugs and in some cases each other.

The playbooks will be bigger than the textbooks they used in college, making “War and Peace” look like a comic book. Meetings with coaches in their positions, pre-season games that will determine their futures will take place and in the end, they’ll either be on a roster or they’ll get that knock on the door from a coach or support staff member and the dreaded words “Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook.” That usually means you’re getting cut.

Some camps will have their rookies come in first to get used to being in camp, while others will have everyone come in at one time. For some, it will be like riding a bike. For others, it’s sort of like learning to walk again. It’s not easy. Most teams will play four pre-season contests (Dallas and Arizona will play five because they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game). Some say the pre-season is too long and needs to be cut back to one or two games, like our CFL neighbors to the north.

Below is the training camp list of sites and rookie and veteran reporting dates. Check with your team for dates and if practices will be open to the public. Hydrate, stock up on that bug spray (the mosquitoes in the South have been known to carry off small children) and mind your manners and watch out for your cousin Connie. She’s been known to wipe out a Super Bowl party.

AFC
Baltimore – Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Buffalo – St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Cleveland – Cleveland Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Denver – University of Colorado Health Training Center in Englewood, Colorado, (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
Houston – The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Indianapolis – Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Indiana (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Jacksonville – Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields in Jacksonville, Florida (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Kansas City – Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/27)
Los Angeles Chargers – Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Miami – Baptist Health Training Facility in Davie, Florida (Rookies report 7/20, Veterans report 7/26)
New England – Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Jets – Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)
Oakland – Napa Valley Marriott in Napa, California (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/28)
Pittsburgh – Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Tennessee – Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee (Rookies and Veterans report 7/28)

NFC
Arizona – University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (Rookies and Veterans report 7/21)
Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Carolina – Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Rookies and Veterans report 7/25)
Chicago – Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
Dallas – Marriott Residence Inn in Oxnard, California (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/22)
Detroit – Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan (Rookies report 7/24, Veterans report 7/29)
Green Bay – St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)
Los Angeles Rams – University of California at Irvine (Rookies report 7/26, Veterans report 7/28)
Minnesota – Minnesota State University at Mankato (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
New Orleans – New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Louisiana (Rookies report 7/19, Veterans report 7/26)
New York Giants – Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Philadelphia – NovaCare Training Complex in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Rookies report 7/23, Veterans report 7/26)
San Francisco – SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara, California (Rookies and Veterans report 7/27)
Seattle – Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington (Rookies and Veterans report 7/29)
Tampa Bay – One Buccaneer Place on Tampa, Florida (Rookies report 7/25, Veterans report 7/27)
Washington – Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Virginia (Rookies and Veterans report 7/26)

Note: The first official practice of training camp for each club at the site designated above is generally held the day after the veteran reporting date.

Hi, Casey.

It’s me again.

Your voice of reason.

You thought I had forgotten, right?

Wrong.

It’s on this date six years ago in an Orlando courtroom, in front of people you didn’t know from Adam’s housecat told the world that you didn’t kill your daughter Caylee.

When you got out of the Orange County Jail, with Jose Baez behind you, it was the end of a trial that divided a community and almost earned you a trip to Florida’s death row.

There were some things that we discussed that you needed to take care of. Think of it as your Herculean Labors, so to speak.

First, get rid of the tat. “La Vida Loca” doesn’t quite work for you. Let’s get to a dermotologist and have that taken care of. It makes you a target, whether you know it or not.

Second, get right with George and Cindy and Lee. Remember them, your parents and your brother, the same people that almost threw you under the bus? Get that taken care of, please. They’re not getting any younger, you know. Beside, if Lee has kids, it would be nice to know they have an aunt.

Third, get the tubes tied. You’re not exactly “mother of the year” material. You having another child? BAD idea, given what you’ve gone through.

Fourth, that book that we hope you’re going to write and or that interview you’re going to eventually give one day? Please do it. The world needs to hear your side of the story and you deserve to tell it. Just be truthful, be honest and be forthcoming. You can profit from it as well, since you’ve been found not guilty.

Fifth, the issues you’ve been having with Jose Baez? Enough. Please. Stop biting the hand that kept you out of death row. It’s bad for business.

We’re not asking you to turn water into wine, Casey. We’re not even going to ask you to walk on water. Those two tasks have already been done by someone else.

Six years, Casey. America watched a trial that was better than most soap operas. It was a case that showcased our American justice system. Was it perfect? No. There was some chippiness between the state and Baez. There were some concern that the trial would even have a jury that would be fair and impartial and had to go to Pinellas County (Clearwater) to select that jury. As stated earlier, those people didn’t know you from Adam’s housecat. They did a job that no one in your community was willing to do fairly.

Casey, if you do even one of these things (assuming you haven’t already), it’s a win for you. You’ve been called cold, callous, aloof, a liar and the word that rhymes with witch. You’re not perfect and then again, none of us are. Caylee’s dead and that’s not going to change. Just tell us what happened. There’s not going to be a retrial of any kind because you’re protected by the Constitution.

So celebrate your freedom, love. Just remember that if you’ve started on some of these tasks, great; if not, get moving. The clock is ticking. Your parents aren’t getting any younger and for that matter, neither are you.

To paraphrase Hanibal Lecter, “tick, tock, Casey.”