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Chiefs’ bad-luck fan to steer clear of Titans game



KANSAS CITY — Charles Penn wasn’t planning on going to the Kansas City Chiefs‘ divisional game against the Houston Texans this past Sunday.

Dating to the Chiefs’ collapse to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2013 wild-card game, the super fan didn’t have a great track record watching Chiefs’ games in public. He didn’t want to tempt fate this time around.

But by the end of the week, his desire to see a Chiefs playoff win in person was too much. He spent $258 on StubHub for a seat at Arrowhead Stadium. But he didn’t stay to see the Chiefs’ historic comeback. Hoping to reverse the course of his favorite team’s fortunes, Penn left when the Chiefs trailed by three scores in the first half.

“I realized things were going bad as soon as I got to the game, first quarter, so I decided to make the business decision for the betterment of them — and not just me, but for Kansas City,” Penn told Jay Harris on SportsCenter.

As he left, Penn filmed his exit and posted it to Twitter. The post quickly went viral, getting thousands of views.

“Can’t do it. I’ve got to leave, man,” he told the camera. “It’s the only hope.”

He followed the game on his phone as he headed home, and by the time he got to his couch, the Chiefs were in the midst of a comeback that saw them rattle off 41 unanswered points en route to a 51-31 win. “The rest is history,” he said. “The Chiefs went on the run and they got it done.”

Since the win, Penn has become somewhat of a cult hero, earning a shoutout from fellow super fan Eric Stonestreet and being sought after for local and national interviews. Penn’s friends teased him about being a bad-luck charm since he watched the 2013 playoff loss at a friend’s house, so he stayed home for the Chiefs’ divisional win against the Colts last season.

“It was some bad juju the Chiefs had with the Colts in the playoffs in the past, dating all the way back to Jim Harbaugh and Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck,” he said. “I just decided not to risk it, even though we had [quarterback Patrick] Mahomes at the time. I decided to stay home. They balled out and got the job done. So they had one opportunity to get to the Super Bowl and unfortunately came up short. But this year, I think it’s going to be different.”

Adding to the mystique of his bad-luck karma, Penn was at Arrowhead for the overtime AFC Championship Game loss to the New England Patriots.

“During the first quarter, people found out I was at the game and said, ‘Charles, leave the stadium now,’ when the Chiefs were down,” he said of last year’s AFC Championship Game. “I said, ‘No, you guys are crazy, we’re going to win this game. And then over time …”

Penn isn’t taking any chances this weekend. After the win, Mahomes was asked what he would say to Penn: “Watch the next game at home,” Mahomes said, drawing laughs.

Penn laughed when he saw Mahomes’ response and jokingly tweeted “just rude” at the QB. Mahomes responded, thanking him for leaving: “Appreciate you doing what was best for the Kingdom!”

“When he thanked me for making that sacrifice, it felt good,” Penn said. “I knew then it was the best decision.” Penn plans on listening to Mahomes for this weekend’s AFC Championship Game against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead.

“Well, Pat told me to stay home,” he said. “He’s the captain. He’s the MVP of the league. So I’m going to listen to him. I’m going to sit out. Plus, I’m still scared from the Titans game a few years ago when we were in the wild card.”

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Sources — NFL, NFLPA expected to meet Monday about return terms



Clarity is coming soon about whether NFL players will report to training camp and salvage a season.

Sources say the NFL and NFLPA management councils are expected to meet Monday in hopes of agreeing to terms on a return to work.

The players held a call Friday, during which leadership said they would have more answers early next week.

Negotiations and counterproposals between the league and players are happening frequently each week as training camp is a little more than two weeks away.

Players want frequent testing (every day) and no preseason games, while the league wants testing less frequently than the players (like every other day) and two preseason games.

A source told ESPN that players and the league were close on agreeing to working conditions and that momentum for at least some preseason action exists, with a one-game format also being discussed. The source added the players would likely get concessions as a result of preseason play.

But all that has not been finalized yet, and there are other issues to hash out.

  • Acclimation period: Players want a slow ramp-up from working out to taking the practice field to avoid unnecessary injuries and to get comfortable in the new working environment.

  • Opt-out clauses for players: What happens to a player’s contract if he decides to sit due to COVID-19 concerns, and does he get an accrued season?

  • Whether trimming the 90-man training camp rosters to avoid unnecessary contact is the right thing.

  • Equipment modifications: Players are lukewarm about wearing masks over their helmet bars, while the NFL has been working with Oakley on a yet-to-be-revealed design.

  • Economics: How to share lost revenue, with players knowing they have to take a loss somewhere to offset the lack of fans in the stands, but the league’s offer to place 35% of salaries in escrow is considered a non-starter.

Both sides want camp and want to play, so the goal is to get there and survive the probable initial wave of positive tests, then manage expectations from there.

“Get the 16 games on TV,” a source involved told ESPN. “That’s the main goal.”

If there are fans in the stands, the league standard for all 32 team will be for fans to wear face masks, while the league is hoping teams can have socially distanced fan days inside stadiums for training camp.

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16-0? Analytics and oddsmakers say Ravens on path to perfection – Baltimore Ravens Blog



At this time last year, the Baltimore Ravens were considered a middle-of-the pack team in the NFL, the third best in their division, and in coach John Harbaugh’s estimation, an iceberg.

“Ninety percent of what we were going to be capable of was still underwater and people hadn’t seen it yet,” he said.

As the start of this year’s training camp nears, titanic expectations await reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

Analytics and oddsmakers have the Ravens favored to win all 16 games this season. Baltimore looks just as strong or even better than last season, when it won its last 12 regular-season games to finish 14-2. The Ravens return all but one starter from the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and improved the front seven, the weakest part of the defense.

If that doesn’t set up the Ravens for success, they play teams whose combined 2019 winning percentage was .438 (worst in the NFL) and travel a total of 6,310 miles, the lowest of any team over the past four years. The Ravens play outside the Eastern time zone only once (a Week 2 game at Houston) and go a stretch of 47 days in which they won’t have to board a plane (three home games, short road trips to Washington and Philadelphia in addition to a bye).

As a result, Baltimore is projected to win 12 of its games by over a field goal, including eight by more than a touchdown, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. The easiest game on the Ravens’ schedule is home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom Baltimore is predicted to beat by 15.9 points.

What does Harbaugh think about all this 16-0 talk?

“It really is just noise — it’s static, it’s background,” Harbaugh said. “You can’t let other people define you. You define yourself.”

The 2007 New England Patriots are the only team to record a perfect regular season since the NFL expanded to its 16-game schedule in 1978. Only three other teams — the 1934 and 1942 Chicago Bears and the 1972 Miami Dolphins — have completed undefeated and untied regular seasons in the 101-year history of the league. Only six teams have finished 15-1 and just two of them (1984 49ers and 1985 Bears) won a Super Bowl.

“At the end of the day, the only expectations that matter are the ones that we have for ourselves,” Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin said. “If we go out there and say our expectation is to win a Super Bowl, we’ll have to start with Week 1. I think [Harbaugh] is great on talking about that and talking about how it starts at Week 1. It doesn’t start at Week 16; it doesn’t start at the Super Bowl. You have to build yourself a Super Bowl team.”

Jackson doesn’t lose many regular-season games that he’s expected to win, which is why Baltimore being favored in every game this season is so significant. The Ravens are 15-1 as the betting favorites with Jackson as their starting quarterback. Baltimore’s .938 win percentage as the favorite with Jackson is the best in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Ravens’ toughest games are home on Sept. 28 against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and at the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 18. Baltimore is listed as a 2.5-point favorite in both games.

“We have the Ravens and Chiefs pretty much dead even on a neutral field,” said Jeff Davis, the director of trading at Caesars Sportsbook.



Stephen A. Smith makes a case that Lamar Jackson hasn’t done enough yet to be considered one of the top two quarterbacks in the NFL.

Few saw Baltimore and Kansas City on equal footing last summer, when the Ravens were ranked No. 16 in ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index and had the third-best odds to win the AFC North, behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns.

Now, Jackson is on the cover of the Madden video game. The Ravens return a dozen Pro Bowl players. Baltimore is the consensus No. 2 team in the NFL, behind the Chiefs, in the Power Rankings.

There’s no ambushing teams this season.

“I think there’s always a challenge when you have a target on your back, and that just comes with the territory,” Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “Everyone’s going to bring their best game when they play you, so you just have to be ready for that. And, if you’re not ready for that, then you really don’t deserve to be the best. So, that just comes with the territory.”

ESPN’s David Bearman contributed to this article.

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Lawyers for Seahawks’ Quinton Dunbar, Giants’ DeAndre Baker deny report of cover-up



Lawyers for Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar and New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker are denying a report of a cover-up in the alleged robbery involving the two NFL players in May.

The New York Daily News, which obtained a search warrant that cited previous evidence gathered in the case, reported that a witness in the robbery, Dominic Johnson, oversaw a payout of $55,000 to the four alleged victims at the office of Dunbar’s attorney, Michael Grieco, in the days after the robbery occurred.

Grieco called the report false.

“Law enforcement, both local and federal, was advised from day one and beyond that the alleged ‘victims’ in this case were actively extorting Baker and Dunbar,” he told the Seattle Times. “These men fabricated a robbery story after waiting an hour to call police and then immediately began contacting the players demanding money.

“My office obtained accurate and truthful affidavits consistent with the independent witness and my client’s account. These ‘victims’ are seasoned career criminals who have been arrested and/or convicted of crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit murder, to human trafficking, to filing a false police report. Mr. Dunbar took and passed a polygraph confirming that he did not participate or witness any robbery.”

The alleged robbery took place May 13 in Miramar, Florida. Baker, a 2019 first-round pick, pleaded not guilty to eight charges; Dunbar also pleaded not guilty to four charges. Both players are out on bail ($200,000 for Baker, $100,000 for Dunbar).

The state attorney’s office has yet to decide whether to go forward toward trial in each player’s case.

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