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Less than 14 hours after Papa John’s announced it had prematurely ended its sponsorship as the official pizza of the NFL, the league announced its replacement: Pizza Hut.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but sources say it extends beyond the original Papa John’s deal. The Papa John’s deal was contracted to run through the 2020 season. The new deal with Pizza Hut now runs through the 2021 season.

Pizza Hut is the largest pizza chain in America, with more than 7,500 stores, more than double that of Papa John’s.

Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer Zipporah Allen said the company will engage consumers on the deal through new products and packaging, the company’s loyalty program and continue its push into beer delivery. The brand started a pilot program to deliver alcohol into homes in Phoenix late last year.

The partnership could eventually include a less traditional content play. More than half of Pizza Hut orders now take place without the customer calling on the phone — 70 percent of online orders are placed via mobile, an industry high.

“The NFL and pizza appeal to the same demographic, which is everyone,” said Renie Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of partnership and sponsorship management. “Fans watch our game and they do it around a pizza box. That’s why it’s one of the most important categories in sports sponsorship.”

Pizza Hut’s first opportunity to take advantage of the sponsorship will be the draft, which will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Pizza Hut’s headquarters are in nearby Plano.

Papa John’s has an official deal with the Cowboys, and team owner Jerry Jones is an investor of a franchisee that owns 94 Papa John’s, but the former NFL sponsor can no longer have a presence at league events.

Pizza Hut currently has no deal with NFL players. In the past, the company has used Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo and Terrell Owens to promote its product.

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Rockers Kings of Leon to perform on first night of NFL draft

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CLEVELAND — Kings of Leon will help kick off NFL draft activities on a stage close to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this month.

The Grammy Award-winning band will open the festivities on April 29 with a performance as the draft returns to a more normal state after being held virtually in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to being a top-selling act, lead singer Caleb Followill, his brothers Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew are also football fans and have closely followed Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s career since he was a star at Oklahoma.

Hall of Fame rock singer Ann Wilson of Heart will sing the national anthem before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell begins calling the names of the league’s newest players. Goodell hosted the event last year from his home.

A massive stage is under construction near the Rock Hall and FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns’ downtown home.

Cleveland will be represented by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s All-City Choir, which will sing a special rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The local cover band The Sunrise Jones will serve as the house band for the first two nights of the draft.

Headlining musical acts for the second and third days of the draft will be announced in the coming weeks.

The draft will be held from April 29-May 1.

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Browns banking on dominant Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett pairing – Cleveland Browns Blog

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BEREA, Ohio – Next season, the Cleveland Browns‘ defense will feature two former No. 1 overall picks off the edge. And they’re banking the All-Pro they drafted four years ago will help unlock the vast potential of the one they just signed.

Wednesday, Cleveland further bolstered its budding defense in free agency, inking Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.

Unlike Myles Garrett, Clowney has yet to live up to the billing of being the No. 1 pick. But now healthy again, he sees playing in Cleveland alongside Garrett as an opportunity to finally do so in his eighth season in the league.

“I just want to show that I’m still an elite player,” Clowney said Wednesday. “And prove to other people that I’m still out here and can dominate.”

Clowney is coming off a season with Tennessee during which he did anything but dominate. He played eight games with the Titans without notching a single sack, before missing the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Since becoming the first pick in the 2014 draft, injuries have continually hampered Clowney, beginning with his first career game, which ultimately led to a microfracture in his right knee. Clowney passed a physical in Cleveland on Wednesday on both knees, clearing the way for the Browns to finally sign him.

“I don’t think everybody (has gotten) to see the person they drafted yet,” said Clowney, who has still made three Pro Bowls. “I think I’m working back towards that – I’m well on my way now.

“With my potential and the way I play the game – if I can stay healthy – I shouldn’t be far away from being Defensive Player of the Year. I think I have that potential, and I can do it.”

The Browns already boast a player who was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation just last season in Garrett. Before contracting COVID-19 in late November, Garrett was leading the NFL with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Despite missing two games with the virus and laboring with his breathing after returning, Garrett still was named a first-team All-Pro.

Clowney, himself, has commanded plenty of attention from opposing offenses in the past, even with his injury history and inconsistent production. In fact, since 2018, according to ESPN Stats & Info, only Michael Bennett and Za’Darius Smith have been doubled-team more often.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Clowney, who, despite the constant double teams, still owns one of the five-best pass-rush win rates since 2018. “You game plan all week to go against one person, watch him all week to get pass-rush reps — and then you go into the game, and all of a sudden, it’s two people in front of you or somebody there to chip you the whole game.”

In Cleveland, however, Clowney could see the fewest double teams of his career, lining up opposite Garrett, who faced the third-highest rate of double teams last season.

“I’m looking forward to playing with somebody who is dominant on the opposite side like a Myles Garrett, who can draw a double team,” Clowney said. “Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”

Without a doubt, Clowney will see more one-on-one opportunities. And having already landed edge rusher Takkarist McKinley in free agency this offseason, Cleveland could deploy Clowney in the pass rush in a variety of creative ways.

“We love his relentless style of play,” general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line.

“The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”

Berry has been busy this offseason upgrading every level of a defense that ranked just 19th in efficiency in 2020 but for a team that still won 12 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Last month, the Browns landed arguably the top safety available in free agency in John Johnson III from the Rams. Berry also added three other potential defensive starters in linebacker Anthony Walker, nickelback Troy Hill and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

Clowney, however, has enough talent to elevate the Browns’ defense to yet another level. Especially if he, in his own words, proves that he can be a dominant player once again.

“That is all I am here to prove this year,” he said. “We’re going to see this season.”

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Seattle Seahawks extend team president Chuck Arnold through 2027

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SEATTLE — The Seahawks have extended team president Chuck Arnold through 2027, they announced Wednesday.

Arnold is entering his 28th season with the Seahawks and his fourth in his current role. As president of the Seahawks and First & Goal Inc., which operates Lumen Field, he oversees the organization’s business and financial operations, sales, marketing and administration.

“Chuck continues to do an exceptional job working with and supporting the football operation while assuring that the entire Seahawks organization remains an engaged and invested community leader unafraid to tackle tough challenges in our region,” Jody Allen, chair of the Seahawks, said in the team’s release. “Stability, quality, and consistency of leadership is a key ingredient to our continued success and winning culture. I remain excited for the future of this organization both on and off the field.”

Arnold’s extension means more stability at the top of the organization. In January, the Seahawks gave general manager John Schneider an extension through the 2027 draft. Coach Pete Carroll was previously extended through the 2025 season.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, and a graduate of Washington State University, Arnold began his career with the Seahawks as an intern in 1994. He was their COO from 2013 to 2018 before replacing Peter McLoughlin as team president.

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