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Brees ‘passes torch’ to Zion with signed jersey

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Drew Brees welcomed Zion Williamson to New Orleans with a framed jersey from the quarterback on which he wrote, “Passing the torch to you!”

The New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday tweeted video of Williamson’s reaction to receiving the gift that was waiting for him when he arrived in New Orleans.

“Wow, passing the torch. Am I ready to take that on? The city of New Orleans,” Williamson says in the video.

The jersey was accompanied by a card that read, “Zion, welcome to the family. Let’s dance.”

Williamson, who was selected No. 1 overall by the Pelicans in last week’s draft, says with excitement that it was the first jersey he had ever received from a professional athlete.

Williamson had previously posted a picture on his Instagram Story of himself in the room with the jersey, but video wasn’t released until Tuesday.

The 2019 season will be Brees’ 14th with the Saints. He is the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader with 74,437 yards and led New Orleans to its only Super Bowl win in the 2009 season.



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Mike Ditka, Rob Gronkowski and Gene Upshaw make NFL’s All-Time Team

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Hall of Fame tight ends Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow, John Mackey and Tony Gonzalez have been selected to the NFL’s All-Time Team.

Joining them on the squad is recent retiree Rob Gronkowski.

The league revealed the tight ends and offensive linemen for the squad on Friday night. A 26-member panel is making the selections as part of the NFL’s celebration of its centennial season.

Tackles on the team are Hall of Famers Anthony Munoz, Forrest Gregg, Art Shell, Roosevelt Brown, Jonathan Ogden, Cal Hubbard and Walter Jones.

The guards are Jim Parker, John Hannah, Larry Allen, Gene Upshaw, Dan Fortmann, Randall McDaniel and Bruce Matthews. Again, all are enshrined in Canton, Ohio.

At center, players chosen include Mike Webster, Dwight Stephenson, Jim Otto and Mel Hein, all Hall of Famers.

Indeed, Gronk, who won’t be eligible for another four years, is the only non-Hall of Famer selected.

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Seahawks rule out Jadeveon Clowney vs. Panthers

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RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks have ruled out defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Already dealing with a core-muscle injury since Week 10, Clowney missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an illness and returned Friday as a limited participant. The team initially listed him as questionable before downgrading him to out.

The Seahawks (10-3) could be down a pair of pass-rushers against the Panthers (5-8). Ezekiel Ansah, who missed the Seahawks’ Sunday night loss to the Rams with a neck injury, is questionable to play at Carolina and will be a game-time decision.

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and tight end Luke Willson (hamstring) are also questionable and will be game-time decisions.

With Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) out again, rookie third-round pick Cody Barton will make his second straight start at strongside linebacker.

Prior to Clowney being ruled out, coach Pete Carroll said the defensive end had been “pretty sick” this week but sounded hopeful he’d be OK by Sunday. Several Seahawks players have gotten sick since the week of Thanksgiving.

Clowney is tied for the team lead with three sacks this season and ranks fifth in the NFL in ESPN’s pass rush win rate at 25.1%. He missed the team’s win over Philadelphia in Week 12 because of his core-muscle injury, which is something he said he’ll have to manage for the remainder of the season after deciding to put off surgery.

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett (shin) was listed as a full participant Wednesday and Thursday.

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Dolphins sign WR DeVante Parker to 4-year contract extension

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DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins have signed receiver DeVante Parker to a four-year extension through the 2023 season, the team announced Friday evening.

Parker’s four-extension is worth up to $40 million with an $8 million signing bonus and more than $20 million guaranteed, according to a source.

In his fifth year in the league, Parker is in the midst of his breakout season. He has a career-high 882 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season, and maybe most importantly he hasn’t missed a game yet for the first time in his NFL career.

“My desire was to have DeVante remain a member of the Dolphin family and we are excited for the future in Miami,” agent Jimmy Gould said in a statement.

The Dolphins’ offense has centered around Parker since Preston Williams went on injured reserve in early November. Parker has established a strong connection with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has called him the “most consistent part of our offense.”

Playing 16 games and reaching 1,000 receiving yards were two of Parker’s individual goals this season. Parker is 118 receiving yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season, something that is important to him.

“It would be amazing to get it. I’ve never had it since high school,” Parker said. “The team is No. 1, but everybody has goals, and that definitely is one of mine.”

In March, Parker signed a new two-year deal with a team option for 2020. It was essentially a prove-it deal coming off the worst season of his career in 2018. He responded by taking care of his body with better eating and hydration, acupuncture and weekly massages.

The Dolphins’ coaching staff, led by Brian Flores, gave Parker a clean slate. Receivers coach Karl Dorrell told him stories of his experience with Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and challenged Parker to be the player he was coming out of Louisville.

Parker did that, and he’s felt more comfortable than ever in the Dolphins’ new scheme.

“Staying healthy was my top goal,” Parker told ESPN last week. “That has helped change everything. These coaches believed in me. They gave me a second chance when they didn’t have to. I hope I can be here a long time.”

Parker, Miami’s first-round pick in 2015 (14th overall), is rewriting his narrative after four seasons full of injuries and inconsistency. He’s finally showing the potential that made him so tantalizing and the Dolphins rewarded him for it.

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