NFL heads to Twitter Spaces to produce content for the 2021 season

The NFL is taking to Twitter Spaces to talk football throughout the 2021 season and beyond.

“The commitment to Twitter Spaces represents another innovative step forward in the longstanding partnership between the NFL and Twitter,” said Blake Stuchin, the NFL’s vice president of digital media business development. “We’re excited to bring NFL fans a new way to engage with live audio ahead of our biggest events of the year and every week throughout the NFL season.”

The news comes on the heels of the NFL’s previous partnership with the Twitter Spaces rival Clubhouse, which saw the league host live audio content on the platform during the 2021 NFL draft in May. Moving forward, the league says to expect to see live audio content like that, including during upcoming drafts, exclusively on Twitter Spaces.

England vs. Italy at Euro 2020: How to watch, start time, prediction

It’s England vs. Italy for all the marbles. Here’s what you need to know…

Raheem Sterling has been England’s star performer during Euro 2020.

The Euro 2020 final featuring England vs. Italy takes place on July 11 at 3 p.m. ET (noon PT).

In the UK, that means 8 p.m. on July 11.

In Australia, it’ll be an early start at 5 a.m. on July 12.

In the US, ESPN and Univision have the rights to the UEFA European Championships. ESPN is televising 39 matches from the tournament and ESPN 2 is televising seven.

In the UK, you can watch for free on BBC and ITV, providing you have a TV license. Fans in the UK have become increasingly accustomed to having to pay Sky or BT Sport to watch soccer, not so with the UEFA European Championships.

In Australia, your best bet is to subscribe to Optus Sport. Personally, as a person living in Australia, I subscribe to Optus Sport. It not only gives you access to the UEFA European Championships, it gives you full access to the English Premier League, the Champions League and the Europa League. It’s a great, simple service. I love it.

It’s hard to call. Both teams have looked extremely solid all tournament. Italy are the most battle tested. They’ve had a rougher run to the final, having just beat Belgium and Spain — but England have looked extremely solid in defence. They’ve only conceded one goal in the tournament — a direct free kick against Denmark in the semi-final — and they’ve grown into the tournament in leaps and bounds.

According to the odds, England are very slight favourites, but it is razor close.

If you pushed me, I’m picking England, based on how strong their defence has looked. They have a lot of firepower and options on the bench as well, if things are tight. The ability to bring on a Jack Grealish, a Marcus Rashford or a Phil Foden has been a huge strength for England.

Just in case you missed the whole event and you’re coming in late!

The UEFA European Championships is similar to a World Cup, but only European teams can enter it. It’s a tournament where international teams — Italy, France, England, Spain and so forth — compete for a month in a competition that starts out in group stages, but progresses to a knockout phase and, ultimately, a final to decide the best team in Europe.

Like the World Cup it takes place every four years, so the stakes are high.

Baseball NFTs are coming from Topps

These trading cards don’t come with any bubble gum.

Baseball cards are going digital.

Each token will use the WAX blockchain to keep a record of the ownership of each card, which can also be sold or traded on a global marketplace. Those who want to start collecting will need to open a free WAX Cloud Wallet.

For those unfamiliar, NFTs are unique digital tokens tied with certain digital assets such as a highlight video, a tweet or a picture. What takes a bit of open-mindedness is understanding that the token acts as a certificate of authenticity for the digital asset, but it doesn’t mean that picture or video is yours as you won’t own the intellectual rights. However, NFTs can be worth big bucks, such as the first-ever tweet going for $2.9 million, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski trading cards going for $1.8 million and even one guy making $85 selling his farts.

T-Mobile’s free MLB.TV offer is now available ahead of 2021 Opening Day

The carrier’s wireless customers will get free baseball as the long-running promotion continues.

Read more: MLB 2021: How to watch the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees and more baseball without cable

From there you will log into or create an MLB.com account that will link to the free MLB.TV offer and allow you to watch baseball on the MLB app on phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and smart TVs.

T-Mobile has offered the MLB promotion for years. Last year, alongside a pandemic-shortened baseball season, it also included a free one-year subscription to sports publication The Athletic.

Those interested in the free MLB.TV offer will need to sign up for the perk before it expires at 1:59 a.m. PT (4:59 a.m. ET) on Tuesday, April 6.

The Staples Center will be renamed Crypto.com Arena

Crypto continues to elbow its way into major-league sponsorships.

With just 16% of the US population using or investing in cryptocurrency, the name change may come as a shock to many sports fans — and players. When Clippers point guard Reggie Jackson was told of the change, he responded, “What?”

But this name change is only the most recent example of a cryptocurrency exchange launching the type of high-profile promotional effort previously undertaken by traditional financial services and Fortune 500 corporations. The Miami Heat now play in FTX Arena, named for another crypto exchange (that is also the official cryptocurrency exchange of Major League Baseball). And FTX has purchased ad time during the upcoming Super Bowl.

The new logo for the Crypto.com Arena will debut on Christmas Day this year, when the Lakers face off against the Brooklyn Nets. The arena’s signage is scheduled to be completely replaced with the new name by June 2022.

NFL 2021: How to watch Packers vs. Ravens, Saints vs. Buccaneers, RedZone and Week 15 on Sunday

The NFL action continues on Sunday.

Here’s how to watch Sunday’s games, as well as the rest of the NFL season, with or without cable.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on Sunday Night Football tonight.

Major streaming providers such as YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream offer nearly all the major channels you will need for football. This includes CBS, NBC and Fox, as well as ESPN, which is needed for Monday Night Football.

Sling TV offers NBC and Fox in some markets with its Blue package, but it lacks CBS. It’s also worth noting that to get ESPN you will either need to switch to its Orange package or go for its Blue and Orange bundle.

Those who are fine with watching on phones or tablets, meanwhile, can also use the Yahoo Sports app to stream the games that are broadcast on your local stations for free.

All of those services above, with the exception of DirecTV Stream, offer the option to get RedZone and the NFL Network. RedZone will usually require you to spend another $10 or $11 per month as an add-on.

If RedZone is all you care about, the cheapest option is getting Sling TV Blue for $35 a month and adding the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on. This gets you all the football channels with the exception of ESPN and CBS.

If you do have cable or satellite, here is where you can find the NFL Network on a few of the bigger providers. Note: The exact channel numbers may change depending on your area, so for best results check your channel guide.

Most Thursday Night Football games will be broadcast on Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video. Check out the full Thursday Night Football schedule here and our recommendations for the best ways to watch NFL without cable throughout the season.

Paramount Plus offers live CBS feeds with its Premium tier for $10 a month. Depending on where you live, however, your local CBS station (and those NFL games) might not be available. CBS offers livestreaming services in many markets; you can check if your area has live CBS streaming here.

All of NBC’s regular-season NFL games will be available to stream on its Peacock streaming service, so long as you pay for one of its Premium subscriptions.

There are two of these tiers, a $5-a-month Premium option that has ads (when watching nonlive content) and a $10-per-month Premium Plus option that will stream nonlive content ad-free (and let you download some content to watch offline).

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $11 a month. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Note that YouTube TV is offering a $15 discount, bringing the price down to $50 per month, during its contract dispute with Disney.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $10 a month. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and has all the major NFL channels with RedZone available as an $11-per-month add-on. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, Fox and the NFL Network. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.

Note: This version of Sling TV does not include ESPN. For that, you’ll need to switch to the similarly priced Orange plan or go for the combined $50-per-month Orange and Blue bundle. RedZone is also available for an extra $11 a month.

Read our Sling TV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream’s basic $70-a-month package includes nearly all the major channels for football with the notable exceptions of RedZone and the NFL Network. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

Those looking for CBS games will be able to stream them on Paramount Plus with its $10 per month Premium tier. You can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.

Peacock will show NBC’s full slate of Sunday Night Football games. You will, however, need one of the service’s Premium plans to watch Sunday Night Football live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier.

The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium Plus plan costs $10 a month.

Read our Peacock review.

Most Thursday Night games will be available on Amazon Prime Video. For millions of Amazon Prime subscribers, the Prime Video channel is already included at no extra cost. But if you’re not a subscriber, it might be worth it to shell out the $9 a month for the stand-alone TV service fee.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials (except Peacock, which just has a free tier that doesn’t stream live NFL games), allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

WWE Survivor Series 2021: Start time, how to watch, full card

Survivor Series is live right now.

But of course, it woudln’t be Survivor Series without 5-on-5 elimination matches. We’ll have two such eliminator matches, one that pits Raw men against SmackDown men and another featuring Raw women facing a team of women from SmackDown. True, the whole “brand versus brand” thing is a bit contrived and definitely lacks stakes. But in spite of that, the wrestling in these champion versus champion matches is usually a bunch of fun.

The show also marks 25 years since The Rock’s debut, and to celebrate there’s a 25-man battle royale — one person for every year of Rock, I suppose. Who knows, maybe we’ll even catch a glimpse of The Great One on Sunday.

As you probably know by now, Peacock is the new home of WWE’s pay-per-views. The WWE Network has in essence migrated to NBC’s Peacock streaming service and that’s where you’ll go to watch Survivor Series 2021. Peacock has three tiers: Free, Premium and Premium Plus. To watch WWE content, you’ll need a Premium subscription. The good news is that’ll set you back $5 a month, less than the $10 for WWE Network.

If you’re outside of the US, you’ll watch Survivor Series 2021 on the WWE Network as usual.

Survivor Series 2021 takes place at New York’s, Barclay’s Arena on Nov. 21. For those without a live ticket, it starts at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m ET. Grappling fans across the pond will have to stay up late, as the show starts at 1 a.m. UK time. In Australia, Survivor Series begins at 12 a.m. AEDT on Monday.

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

Wide-eyed kid from Popeye’s meme is now a state football champ

You might know Dieunerst Collin’s wide-eyed expression from a legendary meme, but he’s moved on to win a New Jersey high school football title.

Collin is a member of the East Orange High School team, which won the New Jersey state title in triple overtime on Sunday. Its meme-famous player didn’t go unnoticed.

“Dieunerst from the legendary meme is a state champion!” tweeted the official SportsCenter account.

Collin was just nine when the video of him was taken, and he didn’t ask for the viral fame.

“When it first happened, I kind of felt sad about it,” Collin told Sports Illustrated. “It was somebody randomly recording me, and I’ve never been viral before.”

The video shows someone mistaking Collin for another child who was then famous on Vine, TerRio. Collin’s confused and wary reaction struck a chord with many meme-makers, who snatched the image and captioned it with such phrases as, “When I see my teacher at a store.”

His viral fame led to bullying, Collin told Sports Illustrated, saying, “I did get to a place where it was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to go out any more.'” But eventually things became easier.

“People in my class found it very funny, so then I just continued being myself,” he said. “I got over it once everybody who would randomly come up to me and call me Terio actually met me and learned my actual name and got to know me.”

And now he has a new claim to fame. On Sunday, Collin shared an Instagram photo of himself with the team’s new trophy, writing, “IMAGINE NOT BEING A STATE CHAMP:I CANT RELATE‼️”

Amazon’s NFL Thursday Night Football exclusive now starts in 2022

The technology giant and the NFL are bumping up the start date for their new agreement.

As per the earlier announcement, Amazon will carry 15 Thursday Night Football games as one well as one preseason NFL game. The deal runs through the 2032 NFL season.

Although Amazon has been streaming Thursday Night Football games on its Prime Video platform for the past few seasons, it was doing so in conjunction with a traditional broadcaster like Fox. The NFL’s new deal marked the first time a streaming platform would be the sole home for the games without a traditional TV partner, with Amazon saying Monday that additional production details will be shared “in the coming months.”