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Panthers sign former Morgan TE Bryant

Posted on 12 June 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. – Former Morgan State tight end Lamont Bryant has been signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Carolina Panthers and will take part in Carolina’s minicamp that begins today.
The 6-5, 225-pound Bryant started 11 games in 2012 and ranked as the team’s leading receiver with 21 receptions (371 yards) and two TDs. He capped the season by being selected to the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First-Team.
Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.
In 2010, he recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10 games.
The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts.
The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was as if there were some in the sports broadcasting universe that wanted to remind me that the Baltimore Orioles have been struggling mightily as of late.

Sure, they’re just one game out of first place at the time I type this, but the Birds sadly appear to be in a downward spiral that unfortunately most of us expected.

I’ve been a regular “Baltimore expert” for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio since the channel’s inception, and I rotate having conversations with hosts about the O’s and the Baltimore Ravens. When I received a call last week asking me to appear on the channel, I assumed the conversation would go in the direction of the O’s, as I’ve made about four Orioles-related guest spots already this season.

But when the producer asked me if I’d be interested in talking some Ravens football, I was admittedly caught off guard. “It’s still baseball season” I thought. Just one night later I received a call from another producer on the channel, also asking me to make an appearance to discuss the Purple & Black.

So on both Friday & Saturday night of this past weekend I found myself talking Ravens football across the country on SXM. It was perhaps the single greatest reminder that in Charm City, a “June Swoon” is a great reminder that Training Camp isn’t particularly far away.

As the 2011 football season ended, there were two main narratives surrounding the defending AFC North Champs. One was surrounding the pending free agency of RB Ray Rice. The other surrounded the future of QB Joe Flacco, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens’ season ended 132 days ago in Foxborough (at least as of the time I wrote this) and yet seemingly little progress has been made regarding either situation.

It leads to the question (at least for me), “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?”

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in a recent appearance on “The Reality Check” (an excellent afternoon radio program on AM1570 WNST.net) that Rice’s agent Todd France was dead set on getting a deal similar to contracts given to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million with $36 million guaranteed) or Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (four years, $53 million with $30 million guaranteed). The Ravens are believed to be more interested in a deal similar to those recently given to Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed) or Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 guaranteed).

On top of that, a source with knowledge of talks revealed to me in recent weeks the Rice camp has a desire to see the running back’s deal exceed the overall value of Flacco’s.

A Carroll County Times report this weekend indicated the Ravens “aren’t anywhere close” to getting a deal done with Flacco. Flacco’s negotiating ability has been limited by the fact that contracts signed by quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning this offseason have been less than overwhelming financially. Manning landed a five year, $96 million deal, but if he’s healthy the Denver Broncos believe him capable of being Peyton Manning. The highlights of other QB contracts this offseason have been San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (three years, worth up to $33 million with with $16.5 million guaranteed) and Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed).

Neither deal is helpful to Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, although despite all of the goofy conversation nationally about Flacco’s standing against other National Football League quarterbacks, there simply could not be any argument either of those two quarterbacks have accomplished as much as Flacco. Humorously, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s deal is up a season after Flacco’s. There had been rumors the Chicago Bears were interested in getting a new deal done with QB Jay Cutler, a decision that could have been helpful in figuring out the parameters of a Flacco contract.

Remember when I asked “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?” Yeah, I’m aware that I’ve essentially answered my own question.

In both of my chats on SiriusXM this weekend I was asked what expected would ultimately happen with these situations. It was remarkably difficult to answer.

(Continued on Page 2)

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Strong Pro Day Helped Morgan TE Bryant Get to Baltimore

Posted on 29 April 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. – Morgan State tight Lamont Bryant has been selected by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent shortly after the conclusion of the three-day draft Saturday evening.

Bryant was the second of 12 undrafted free agent selections by the Ravens so far, joining North Carolina cornerback Charles Brown; Mississippi State offensive lineman James Carmon; Clemson fullback Chad Diehl; Georgia fullback Bruce Figgins; Slippery Rock wide receiver Devin Goda; UAB defensive tackle Elliott Henigan; Baylor defensive tackle Nick Jean-Baptiste; Tennessee fullback/linebacker Austin Johnson; Kent State defensive tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen; Alabama offensive lineman Alfred McCullough; and Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey.

The 6-5, 225-pound Bryant started 11 games in 2012 and ranked as the team’s leading receiver with 21 receptions (371 yards) and two TDs. He capped the season by being selected to the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First-Team.

Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.

In 2010, he recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10 games.

The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts.

The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Perhaps Trade Good Business, But Ravens Need Good Players

Posted on 27 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — I almost thought about just re-posting the column I wrote two years ago.

I DEFINITELY thought about writing nothing at all.

But after the Baltimore Ravens traded their first round pick in the NFL Draft to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the Vikes’ 2nd and 4th round picks Thursday night, I had a few thoughts cross my mind.

After making the trade, General Manager Ozzie Newsome described the decision as “good business” for the Ravens. He might very well be correct. According to the famous Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Ravens’ 29th overall pick was worth 640 points. The two picks acquired by the Ravens (35th and 98th overall) are worth a combined 658 points. Based on the chart alone, the trade really does appear to be “good business.”

Let’s drag this out a little bit though. The combined value of having the 129th-160th picks in the Draft (or ROUGHLY the entire 5th round) is 1,093.5 points. The 14th pick in the first round of the draft is 1,100 points. The value is almost exactly the same.

So with that in mind-which would you rather have? Would you rather have the 14th pick in the NFL Draft or the entire 5th round in the NFL Draft?

Don’t think about this TOO much. I don’t think there’s really a correct answer here.

The point I’m trying to drive home is that the acquisition of an additional pick or the breakdown of picks based on a numerical chart does not guarantee a selection in the draft is necessarily “good business.”

The last time the Ravens traded out of the first round was in 2010, when the team famously dealt the 25th overall pick in the first round of the Draft to the Denver Broncos for the 43rd, 70th and 114th overall picks in the Draft. The team would go on to select LB Sergio Kindle with the 43rd pick, TE Ed Dickson with the 70th and TE Dennis Pitta with the 114th. While Kindle has been almost a complete non-factor in the two seasons since the deal (and it is hard to imagine him becoming much more than that), Dickson and Pitta have established themselves as capable contributors at the pro level.

The player selected in the 25th spot was now New York Jets QB (and Special Teamer?) Tim Tebow. At first blush, the deal appears to have been “good business” indeed for the Baltimore Ravens.

But if we step back even a bit more, it’s worth identifying some of the players selected between the 25th and 43rd spot in the 2010 Draft. The list includes New England Patriots Pro Bowl CB Devin McCourty and TE Rob Gronkowski, as well as players like New Orleans Saints CB Patrick Robinson (4 interceptions in 2011), Miami Dolphins DL Jared Odrick (6 sacks in 2011), Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best (over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 6 combined TD’s in 2010 before an injury shortened 2011 campaign) and other promising young players.

The Ravens picked up Kindle, Dickson and Pitta but could have had Gronkowski.

This “which would you rather?” argument is nearly as compelling as the earlier one presented. In the spirit of full disclosure, the Ravens have said Gronkowski failed a physical before the 2010 Draft that took him off their board.

The 2010 deal could perhaps prove to ultimately be known as “good business” or it could ultimately be known as the year the Ravens missed on a chance to get one of the more dynamic players in the National Football League. Moreover, two of the players selected between the time the Ravens traded out of the 25th pick and ultimately selected with the 43rd pick in 2010 went on to help a Pats team eliminate the Ravens in the 2012 AFC Championship Game and prevent the Purple & Black from reaching their first Super Bowl in over a decade.

So while we’re quick to accept the idea that trading out of the first round with talented players still on the board like LB Courtney Upshaw, WR Stephen Hill, OL Peter Konz and OT Jonathan Martin was “good business” for the Ravens Thursday night, let’s tell the whole story and paint the entire picture. Trading out of the first round MIGHT have been good business for the Ravens.

It MIGHT be looked upon as the time the Ravens missed out on a future superstar like Vikings S Harrison Smith, San Francisco 49ers WR AJ Jenkins, New York Giants RB David Wilson or (perhaps) Indianapolis Colts LB Upshaw.

As the headline of this column suggested, the Baltimore Ravens may have pulled off “good business” by dealing out of the first round, but the more important need for the team is to acquire good players. If the Ravens acquire good players with the 35th and 98th picks this year, the deal will ultimately prove to truly be good business.

If the Ravens instead miss out on those picks, the deal will be known more as the year where a team looking to make the next step towards a Super Bowl title failed to acquire good players.

You’ll probably tell me I’m being negative. I’d like to think I’m just being realistic.

-G

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Ravens trade first-round pick to Minnesota Vikings for 35th and 98th picks

Posted on 26 April 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite a number of rumored targets still available when the 29th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft came around, the Ravens elected to trade out of the first round entirely.

Baltimore traded its first-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for their second-rounder (35th overall) and a fourth-round selection (98th overall). It’s the second time in three years the Ravens have traded their first-round pick.

“We had a couple teams call us, and we had several players that we liked that are still available for us tomorrow,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said following the end of the first round. “To be able to pick up that 98th pick from Minnesota, we think is just going to be another good player or we can take that pick to move up in the second or the third to get another good player.”

The Vikings used the 29th pick to select Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith while the Ravens passed on such available names as Alabama defensive end Courtney Upshaw, Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Georgia guard Cordy Glenn, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, and Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill.

The good news for Baltimore is none of those names came off the board in the final four picks of the first round, meaning the Ravens will be guaranteed a choice of at least three of those five — assuming they don’t have their eyes on someone else — when they pick at No. 35 on Friday.

Baltimore discussed the possibility of trading up for a couple players, but the price proved too costly, according to Newsome. One of the Ravens’ top targets, Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower, was selected by the New England Patriots with the 25th overall pick after a trade with Denver.

“You can’t control what’s going to happen, and as long as I’m here, hopefully I’m picking 29, 30, 31, or 32,” Newsome said. “Then, when you watch the board come off the way it did today, to have the ability to go back and acquire another player and still get a player that you probably would have taken at your [original] pick is good business for us.”

The Ravens now have nine total picks in the final two days of the draft, including two in the second, fourth, and fifth rounds.

In 2010, Newsome traded the 25th overall pick to Denver in exchange for three draft picks that were used on linebacker Sergio Kindle and tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. The Broncos used the first-round selection on quarterback Tim Tebow, who is now with the New York Jets.

The second and third rounds of the draft will be held on Friday night, beginning at 7 p.m.

Analysis: There are a couple basic ways of viewing the Ravens’ decision to move out of the first round. On one hand, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta described this as a “depth draft” earlier this month and the Ravens clearly haves several needs, both for 2012 and over the next few seasons. The trade adds a second fourth-round pick to the equation and another lottery ticket to hit in the middle rounds as Newsome did with Dickson and Pitta following the 2010 trade.

The five names mentioned about were all considered legitimate possibilities for the Ravens at the 29th pick, meaning they would get good value for any of those selections.

On the other hand, the skeptics can say Newsome and the front office didn’t think highly enough of any of the aforementioned names to fear the possibility of losing them, meaning they’re not really getting a “great” player. If you subscribe to the idea that the Ravens coveted Hightower or one of the other pass rushers such as Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, it’s fair to say they failed to secure one of “their guys” when they really wanted them.

As is always the case with the draft, we simply won’t know until all the picks are in and these players take the field for the 2012 season and beyond.

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Former Morgan TE Bryant Hopes to Join Shiancoe at NFL Level

Posted on 24 April 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. — Keep an eye out for a Bear this week in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Former Morgan State Bear Lamont Bryant is ranked among the top prospected tight ends in the 2012 NFL Draft.
For Bryant, it is one more step after completing a solid collegiate career.
The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10
games.
In 2010, Bryant recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. He then led the Bears with 21 catches for 371 yards (17.7 avg) and two touchdowns and was selected to the First-Team All-MEAC Team last season.
Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.
Bryant is expected to be a late-round to priority free agent prospect, but that’s only a prediction. He most recently had workouts for the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks.
The first round of the draft is Thursday, April 26.
*The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Ray Rice Advances To Final Eight in Madden Cover Voting

Posted on 04 April 2012 by WNST Staff

April 4, 2012 – Fans have come out in force to support their favorite Madden NFL 13 cover athlete candidates, casting 16 million votes to date. This year’s vote tally has already eclipsed last year’s 13 million votes, with three rounds still to go. Voting continues at ESPN.com/MaddenVote through April 25 when the next Madden NFL 13 cover athlete will be announced on ESPN’s SportsNation at 5 p.m. ET.

ROUND 3 BREAKDOWN OF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER VOTE CAMPAIGN 

§  Cam Newton vs. Larry Fitzgerald
§  Patrick Willis vs. Victor Cruz
§  Aaron Rodgers vs. Ray Rice

§  Calvin Johnson vs. Rob Gronkowski

 

 

Second round voting highlights include:

 

§  Upset of the Week

§      No. 6 seed Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions) over No. 3 seed Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)

 

§  Largest Voting Differential

§      No. 1 seed Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers) over No. 8 seed Antonio Gates (WR, San Diego Chargers)

§      No. 2 seed Rob Gronkowski (TE, New England Patriots) over No. 7 seed Jared Allen (DE, Minnesota Vikings)

§  Closest Matchups

§      No. 5 seed Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore Ravens) over No. 4 seed Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints)

§      No. 4 seed Larry Fitzgerald over No. 5 seed LeSean McCoy

 

Round 3 voting is now open and fans can make their selections exclusively atwww.ESPN.com/MaddenVote to determine which of the eight NFL players advance to the next round of the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete voting campaign. Every Wednesday throughout the campaign, fans can tune in to SportsNation at 5 p.m. ET for analysis and commentary on the competition.

Fans can visit the Madden NFL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EASPORTSMaddenNFL) orSportsNation page (www.facebook.com/SportsNation) to join discussions surrounding the Cover Vote.  Fans are also encouraged to tweet their Cover Vote picks using the hashtag #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.

To view or download assets* for the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete voting campaign including player screenshots, b-roll, and renders, please visit: http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com/cover-vote.html 

NOTE – All player assets are taken from Madden NFL 12.

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Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie inducted into University of Miami Hall of Fame

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Members of the 2001 national championship team before moving on to successful NFL careers, Ravens safety Ed Reed and left tackle Bryant McKinnie were inducted into the University of Miami Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Reed was named a consensus first-team All-America in 2000 and 2001. The ball-hawking safety led the nation with nine interceptions for 209 return yards and three touchdowns in his senior season. The Big East named Reed as a co-winner of its Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2001, and the free safety was named National Defensive Player of the Year by Football News. Reed set multiple records at Miami, including interceptions (21), interception return yards (389), and interceptions returned for a touchdown (five). He also participated in track and field at Miami and was a Big East champion in the javelin.

McKinnie received first-team All-America honors in 2000 and was a consensus first-team All-America in 2001 in being recognized as the nation’s most dominant left tackle. The mammoth left tackle was the 2001 Outland Trophy winner, awarded to the nation’s best offensive lineman.

Both entering their 11th season in the NFL, Reed was selected by the Ravens with the 24th overall pick of the 2002 draft and is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection as well as the 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year. The Vikings drafted McKinnie with the seventh overall pick in 2001, and the left tackle spent nine years in Minnesota before being cut last summer.

The Ravens signed McKinnie to a two-year contract last August to make him their left tackle, and he started 16 games for the 2011 AFC North champions.

The two Ravens join current teammate Ray Lewis as members of Miami’s Hall of Fame. The future Hall of Fame linebacker was inducted in 2006.

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Broncos SB Odds Improve, Ravens Drop After Start of Free Agency

Posted on 19 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Peyton Manning Odds

Peyton Manning – Total Passing Yards in the 2012 Regular Season? 

Over/Under                    4000    

Peyton Manning – Total TD Passes in the 2012 Regular Season?       

Over/Under                    28½

Peyton Manning – Completion % in the 2012 Regular Season?          

Over/Under                    65%

Peyton Manning – Total Interceptions in the 2012 Regular Season?   

Over/Under                    16½

Peyton Manning – Will his first pass of the season be complete, incomplete, or an Interception?

Complete                      -180     (5/9)

Incomplete                    +150     (3/2)

Interception                   +1000   (10/1)

Peyton Manning – Will he win 2012 NFL MVP?           

Yes                              7/1       

Peyton Manning – Will he win 2012 Comeback Player of the Year?   

Yes                              1/1       

Tim Tebow Odds

Tim Tebow – Which team will he be on for Week 1 of the Regular Season?     

Jacksonville Jaguars                  3/2

Denver Broncos                         7/4

Miami Dolphins                          7/4

New England Patriots                 7/1

Cleveland Browns                       12/1

Tim Tebow – Will he start as a QB in the NFL Week 1 of the Regular Season?          

Yes                  EVEN  

No                    -140     

Broncos Odds

Denver Broncos – Regular Season Wins         

Over                              10        

Will the Denver Broncos play against The New York Giants in the 2013 Super Bowl?           

Yes                              50/1     

Will the Denver Broncos win the AFC?

Yes                              6/1

Will the Denver Broncos win the AFC West?

Yes                              2/3

2013 SUPER BOWL XLVII ODDS  (odds current, 3/19/2012)                  (odds on 2/6/2012)

Green Bay Packers                                13/2                                          6/1

New England Patriots                             15/2                                          7/1

New Orleans Saints                               10/1                                          8/1

Denver Broncos                                     12/1                                          50/1

Houston Texans                                     12/1                                          12/1

San Francisco 49ers                              14/1                                          18/1

Baltimore Ravens                                   15/1                                          14/1

Philadelphia Eagles                                15/1                                          12/1

New York Giants                                    16/1                                          15/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                                18/1                                          12/1

Dallas Cowboys                                     20/1                                          18/1

San Diego Chargers                               22/1                                          16/1

Chicago Bears                                       25/1                                          30/1

Detroit Lions                                          25/1                                          18/1

Atlanta Falcons                                     28/1                                          22/1

New York Jets                                       30/1                                          16/1

Carolina Panthers                                  40/1                                          50/1

Cincinnati Bengals                                 40/1                                          40/1

Miami Dolphins                                      40/1                                          35/1

Seattle Seahawks                                  40/1                                          60/1

Arizona Cardinals                                   50/1                                          30/1

Kansas City Chiefs                                50/1                                          50/1

Oakland Raiders                                    50/1                                          50/1

Tennessee Titans                                   50/1                                          40/1

Washington Redskins                            50/1                                          60/1

Buffalo Bills                                           75/1                                          60/1

St. Louis Rams                                      75/1                                          75/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers                         75/1                                          75/1

Indianapolis Colts                                   100/1                                        50/1

Jacksonville Jaguars                               100/1                                        100/1

Minnesota Vikings                                 100/1                                        75/1

Cleveland Browns                                   150/1                                        100/1

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv,  Twitter: @BovadaLV).

“Our Super Bowl odds have been down for a couple weeks until we knew where Peyton would go since this signing would have such a huge impact on every team’s odds.  Denver who we had at 50-1 before we closed the odds have dropped to 12-1 and as I expected the public is taking them regardless as soon as we opened this morning.  We were a bit lucky that Denver came out of nowhere in the Manning Sweepstakes so not too many people bet them at 50-1.”

-Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager

 

 

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Rice, Suggs In Running For Madden 13 Cover

Posted on 08 March 2012 by WNST Staff

EA SPORTS AND ESPN’S SPORTSNATION KICK OFF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER ATHLETE FAN VOTE

This Year’s Campaign Expands to 64 Players – With Play-In Round Featuring Two Athletes

From Each NFL Team Represented in Head-to-Head Matchups

March 7, 2012 – EA SPORTS™ and ESPN announced today the return of the award-winning Madden NFL Cover Vote campaign, where fans can cast their vote for the next athlete to grace the cover of one of the highest-selling videogame franchises in North America. Last year, nearly 13 million votes were cast through ESPNSportsNation.com and ESPN mobile in both companies’ most successful cross-platform activation. Tenth-seeded Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis, trucked through the six week competition all the way to the ultimate end zone – the Madden NFL 12 cover.

This year’s competition will incorporate more athletes and more chances to vote as the field has been expanded to 64 NFL players, putting even more control in the hands of the fans. Beginning today through March 21, fans can visit the SportsNation Facebook page to choose among the 64 candidates in a play-in round (each matchup features two players from the same NFL team) to advance to the official 32-player, seeded tournament.  The winners of the play-in round will be unveiled with the official seeded, 32-player bracket on March 21 on ESPN’s “Madden Cover Vote Special” from 5-6p.m. EST.  To ensure their favorite player advances to the next round, fans are encouraged to vote daily and tweet their picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.  Every Wednesday between March 21 and April 25, fans can tune into SportsNation on ESPN2at 5p.m. EST to check out the latest Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote standings.

In addition to the SportsNation Facebook page, fans will be able to vote in the play-in round via the open Web through widgets embedded on blogs, websites and more.  Each widget features an individual match-up for each of the 32 total teams in the league.  For the cover vote from March 21-April 25, all voting must be cast at ESPN.com/MaddenVote.

The star-studded list of candidates participating in the play-in round features past Super Bowl winners, perennial Pro Bowlers and some of the most popular players in the NFL including Drew Brees, Arian Foster and Rob Gronkowski. The full list of matchups featured in the play-in round are:

AFC

Ravens Terrell Suggs vs. Ray Rice Jets Mark Sanchez vs. Darrelle Revis
Steelers Troy Polamalu vs. Ben Roethlisberger Bills Stevie Johnson vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Browns Joe Thomas vs. Joe Haden Dolphins Reggie Bush vs. Brandon Marshall
Bengals Andy Dalton vs. AJ Green Patriots Wes Welker vs. Rob Gronkowski
Texans Arian Foster vs. Andre Johnson Chargers Phillip Rivers vs. Antonio Gates
Colts Dwight Freeney vs. Robert Mathis Broncos Tim Tebow vs. Von Miller
Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Blaine Gabbert Chiefs Dwayne Bowe vs. Derrick Johnson
Titans Jake Locker vs. Chris Johnson Raiders Sebastian Janikowski vs. Shane Lechler

NFC

Bears Jay Cutler vs. Matt Forte Rams Chris Long vs. Brandon Lloyd
Lions Calvin Johnson vs. Matt Stafford 49ers Vernon Davis vs. Patrick Willis
Vikings Percy Harvin vs. Jared Allen Seahawks Marshawn Lynch vs. Earl Thomas
Packers Aaron Rodgers vs. Clay Matthews Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patrick Peterson
Falcons Matt Ryan vs. Julio Jones Eagles Michael Vick vs. LeSean McCoy
Saints Drew Brees vs. Jimmy Graham Giants Victor Cruz vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
Panthers Cam Newton vs. Steve Smith Cowboys Jason Witten vs. DeMarcus Ware
Buccaneers Josh Freeman vs. LeGarrette Blount Redskins Brian Orakpo vs. Ryan Kerrigan

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote marks the third-consecutive year that EA SPORTS has asked fans to help shape the face of the Madden NFL franchise through a cover athlete voting campaign.  It also marks the second year of its collaboration with ESPN’s SportsNation.

Madden NFL 13 is developed in Orlando, Florida by EA Tiburon.  For more information about Madden NFL 13, please visit: http://www.ea.com/madden-nfl. To download assets pertaining to the Madden NFL 13 please visit http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com.

All player participation has been facilitated by National Football League Players Incorporated, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers experiences that ignite the emotions of sport through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company’s game franchises are offered as both packaged goods products and online services delivered through Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. EA has more than 100 million registered players and operates in 75 countries.

In fiscal 2011, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.6 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, EA is recognized for critically acclaimed, high-quality blockbuster franchises such as The Sims™, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed™, Battlefield™, and Mass Effect™. More information about EA is available at http://info.ea.com.

EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS Active, The Sims and Need for Speed are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. Mass Effect is a trademark of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd.  Battlefield is a trademark of EA Digital Illusions CE AB.  John Madden, NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA, NCAA, Tiger Woods, and PGA TOUR are trademarks of their respective owners and used with permission.  Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Officially Licensed Product of National Football League Players Incorporated.

About SportsNation

SportsNation is a live sports television show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun.  The show, which has the youngest and most male audience on the ESPN network, features discussions of the day’s hottest sports topics but also smaller stories that generate buzz on the Web but are overlooked by other shows.  Feeding off the theory that if two heads are better than one, 200,000 heads are better than two, SportsNation engages hundreds of thousands of sports fans across the country via ESPN.com’s SportsNation page (http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/).

About ESPN Games and EA

ESPN’s long-standing relationship with EA produces deep brand integrations into console gaming titles such as EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12 and Fight Night Champion.  Additionally, the relationship in 2011 produced the biggest ESPN poll vote ever for the Madden NFL 12 cover vote, logging nearly 13 million votes, the most ESPN votes ever for a joint collaboration.  The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also most recently extended to boxing and golf in 2011.

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PLAY-IN ROUND VOTING THRU FACEBOOK & OPEN WEB

Thanks for your interest in SportsNation’s Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote.

EA Sports and ESPN’s SportsNation have chosen two players from each NFL team to be included in a social play-in round for the Madden NFL 13 cover.

Starting March 7th on SportsNation’s Facebook page and on voting matchups called ‘sapplets’ or ‘widgets’ embedded across open web (info below), fans will be able to vote on matchups from each NFL team to send one representative into the final bracket of 32 players at ESPN.com/MaddenVote on March 21st.

If you choose to embed one of the 32 individual voting ‘sapplets’, you can use the next page that includes all 32 embed codes for all 32 NFL teams. They post to your site much like a YouTube clip and can increase time spent on your site as well as traffic by generating debate about matchups.

The social Play-in vote launches on Wednesday, March 7th and closes two week later on Wednesday, March 21st. The Facebook tab and voting ‘sapplets’ will be live during those two weeks.

CHEAT SHEET:

WAY TO EMBED:

  • Go to page 2. Find your team.
  • Copy the embed code.
  • Paste the embed code onto your website where you would embed a YouTube clip.
  • The voting platform is ready and interactive on your page!
  • Please Note: do NOT embed on Tumblr and do NOT change the height & width

Canvas

NEW embed Code

49ers Vote

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Chiefs Vote

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Broncos Vote

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Chargers Vote

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Raiders Vote

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Cardinals Vote

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Rams Vote

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Seahawks Vote

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Dolphins Vote

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Jets Vote

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Bills Vote

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Patriots Vote

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Giants Vote

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Redskins Vote

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Eagles Vote

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Cowboys Vote

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Texans Vote

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Colts Vote

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Titans Vote

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Jaguars Vote

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Falcons Vote

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Panthers Vote

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Buccaneers Vote

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Saints Vote

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Browns Vote

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Ravens Vote

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Bengals Vote

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Steelers Vote

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Vikings Vote

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Lions Vote

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Bears Vote

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Packers Vote

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