Friday, April 03, 2020

February 3, 2020  MIAMI (AP) — It took the Chiefs five full decades to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Kansas City. They don’t intend to wait that long again. With confetti still swirling and their thrilling Super Bowl triumph over the San Francisco 49ers mere minutes old, most of the Chiefs were already talking about next season. They got a taste of reaching

the AFC title game last season and it drove them to make it back this season, and now that they’ve had a taste of winning the championship, the organization’s mindset is quite simple: Why stop at just one?

“Next year we’re coming back,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “We’re coming back for a repeat.”

There’s plenty of reasons to believe they can do it. The Chiefs will return just about every key piece that delivered the city its first championship in 50 years, including Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, breakout star Damien Williams and the core of their rebuilt defense, along with a coaching staff that’s gotten plenty of interest for head coaching jobs elsewhere.

So perhaps it was no surprise that most Las Vegas sports books already have installed the Chiefs as 6-to-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl next season. The Baltimore Ravens and NFC champion Niners were close behind.

“I’m really excited about it. You get one, you want to get another,” said Andy Reid, who finally got to bask in his first Super Bowl championship after 21 years of coaching. “But we’ve got to backpedal a minute and enjoy this one, and then we’ll get busy on the next one.”

There certainly will be plenty of time to celebrate. The Chiefs wrapped up some media obligations in Miami on Monday, then were to head back to Kansas City, where an entire city was prepping for a victory parade Wednesday.

Not long after that, though, expect Reid and general manager Brett Veach to get down to business.

The Chiefs are likely to make Mahomes the NFL’s highest-paid player this offseason, the first opportunity he will have to sign a contract extension. The Chiefs also must decide what to do with Jones, one of the league’s premier defensive linemen, who is eligible for free agency but has expressed his desire to remain with the team on a long-term deal.

“Why wouldn’t I want to be here?” he asked. “We have a chance to be a dynasty.”

The Chiefs also had a number of role players whose deals are expiring, and bringing them back or unearthing replacements will be crucial during free agency. Among them are defensive linemen Terrell Suggs, Emmanuel Ogbah and Xavier Williams, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, and cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller.

Another question facing the Chiefs: What will they do with Sammy Watkins, who proved his worth with a massive playoff run capped by five catches for 98 yards in the Super Bowl. He is due to count $21 million against the salary cap next year, so the Chiefs are likely to ask him to take a pay cut or restructure his contract or be forced to release him.

“If we keep going the way we’re going, the sky is the limit for this team,” said Watkins, who contradicted reports he might even sit out next season by insisting he’d return. “Why not? We’ll come back and win next year.”

But even with all those holes to fill, the Chiefs are still in enviable shape. They have arguably the league’s best quarterback and one of its most electrifying pass-catchers in Tyreek Hill. They have one of its premier tight ends in Travis Kelce and a running back in Damien Williams, who gashed the 49ers for 104 yards rushing with TDs on the ground and through the air.

On defense, they have elite pass rusher Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu — the prize acquisitions last offseason who came up big in the Super Bowl — signed to contracts that will keep them in Kansas City at least two more years.

“It will be important to keep a couple of those other guys and obviously continue to get better, whether that’s through the draft or free agency,” Mathieu said. “The most important thing is our core is intact. We’ve got a hell of a football team, so we are looking forward to next season already.”

There have been seven franchises that have won back-to-back Super Bowls, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, who did the trick twice in the 1970s. That now becomes the goal for a team that sees a window of dominance opening in the AFC, where the Chiefs and Ravens already have begun to replace the New England Patriots as the gold standard.

“I think as long as we keep the people that we have in this organization on this team, with the coach that we have, I think we have a chance to be good year-in and year-out,” Mahomes said. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re sitting here right now, and I know that going back, we’re going to have next year to play a lot of great football teams. There’s a lot of great teams in this league, so you understand that. But at the same time, just try to get better every year.”

Not just to reach the pinnacle of the game. At long last, the Chiefs finally have accomplished that.

The task facing them now is staying there.

February 23, 2020 PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Lizzo was named entertainer of the year and “Just Mercy” won best motion picture, best actor and best supporting actor Saturday at the NAACP Image Awards, as the show that recognizes entertainers of color ladled honors on the film that was snubbed by bigger shows throughout awards season. “We are such a beautiful people, this is just a reminder of all the beautiful things that we can do,” said Lizzo as she accepted the night’s last and biggest award, leaping and dancing off the stage at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium as the show ended.

February 21, 2020  LOS ANGELES (AP) — WarnerMedia’s new streaming service will debut with some extra “Friends.” The company announced Friday that the entire original “Friends” cast will reunite for an unscripted special that will be available on HBO Max when the service debuts in May. A reunion has been long-sought by fans of the NBC series, which ended its 236-episode run in 2004. HBO Max will also carry every episode of the sitcom, which has proved enduringly popular, including with young audiences who discovered the show when it was available on Netflix. The show made Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer into household names and won six Emmy Awards.

February 23, 2020 SAO PAULO (AP) — When dancer Camila Prins entered Sao Paulo’s Carnival parade grounds, a costume of feathers clinging to her sinuous body, she fulfilled a dream of feminine beauty nearly three decades old.  Prins says she first realized she wanted to be a woman at a Carnival party at age 11, when, like the other boys, she was allowed to dress like a girl as part of the burlesque festivities. Now, in the final minutes of Saturday, she became the first transgender woman to lead the drum section of a top samba school in either of the renowned Carnival parades put in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.  Prins, 40, was hand-picked to be “godmother” of the Colorado do Brás samba school’s drum section, an iconic role fought over by dozens of models and TV celebrities. Her duty was to dance infectiously for 65 minutes in front of the drummers, using her legs to drive their rhythm while judges assessed the school’s parade.

MIAMI (AP) — Vin Diesel says it’s the spirit of Paul Walker that motivates him to continue starring in the “Fast and Furious” saga. Diesel and the cast spoke of the memory of their late screen partner at a special event surrounding the upcoming release of the franchise’s ninth chapter, “F9: Fast and Furious 9.” The recent death of Kobe Bryant reminded Diesel of the loss of his friend. “I can’t make a ‘Fast’ without Pablo in my thoughts, in my everyday activity, in my approach to every scene,” Diesel said, invoking his affectionate nickname for Walker. “His spirit must live in this saga, because his spirit, in so many ways, is what drives me to continue the saga.”