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Raiders to hire former NFL MVP Randall Cunningham as team chaplain

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July 10 (UPI) — The Las Vegas Raiders are hiring College Football Hall of Fame quarterback and former NFL MVP Randall Cunningham as the team’s chaplain.

“I’m elated, flabbergasted,” Cunningham told ESPN on Friday. “I’ve already been in on some [Zoom] meetings with the team. I plan on spending a lot of time with the guys when it’s OK. I’ve talked with Marcus Mariota, Nelson Agholor. What an amazing group of people [Raiders owner] Mark Davis and [head coach] Jon Gruden have put together.

“… Gruden asked me to be the team chaplain. I have a responsibility to look after these guys in this town. And I accept that responsibility.”

Cunningham, 57, played college football at UNLV from 1982-84 and was a two-time All-American before the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the second round of the 1985 NFL Draft. The four-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro choice was named league MVP in 1990 by the Pro Football Writers Association.

Cunningham spent the final years of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings (1997-99), Dallas Cowboys (2000) and Baltimore Ravens (2001).

Cunningham, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016, currently resides in Las Vegas and established his own church — Remnant Ministries — as its pastor.

“He’s going to take care of the guys in Las Vegas,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said. “Jon had him address the team in a team Zoom [recently] and he did a really good job of setting the stage for the team in Las Vegas. When you talk to anyone in the community, everybody always talks about Randall. It’s pretty special.”

Cunningham will replace former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman in the role.



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Kings to sign center Hassan Whiteside

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Nov. 26 (UPI) — The Sacramento Kings have agreed to a one-year contact with veteran center Hassan Whiteside.

Sources informed ESPN, The Athletic and the Sacramento Bee of the pact Wednesday. Whiteside spent last season with the Portland Trail Blazers after he was traded from the Miami Heat before his 2019-2020 campaign.

The 7-foot, 265-pound center averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and a league-best 2.9 blocks per game in 67 appearances last season. Whiteside has averaged 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for his career.

He led the NBA with 14.1 rebounds per game in 2016-2017 and posted a league-best 3.7 blocks per game in 2015-2016.

Whiteside entered the league as a second-round pick by the Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was released in 2012 before he spent the 2014-2015 season with the Heat. Whiteside emerged as a dominant defender before he signed a four-year, $98.4 million contract extension with Miami.

The Heat traded Whiteside to Portland as part of a four-team deal on July 6, 2019.



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Coach Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool ‘deserved’ Champions League loss

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Nov. 26 (UPI) — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the Reds “deserved” their shutout loss to Italian Serie A foe Atalanta in the group stage of the 2020-2021 UEFA Champions League.

Atalanta beat Liverpool 2-0 on Wednesday at Anfield in Liverpool, England. The Reds must now beat Ajax in their next Champions League match to advance to the knockout stages.

“Rhythm, we didn’t have rhythm,” Klopp told reporters. “We made five changes and that obviously gives you a few problems with rhythm, but we usually get through a game.

“Atalanta was good — Atalanta fought, Atalanta defended well. That’s why we didn’t have a shot on target. My defense was completely fine apart from two situations. That’s how it is. Atalanta did well in those moments and we have to admit [that].

“It is a deserved defeat. I have said that a couple of times. It doesn’t sound nice, but it’s the truth. So congratulations to Atalanta.”

The Reds and Atalanta played a scoreless first half in the Group D match up before striker Josip Ilicic drew first blood in the 60th minute. Fellow striker Alejandro Gomez collected a pass on the left flank to spark the sequence.

The Atalanta forward then curled a pass toward the far post. The feed dropped down onto the foot of Illic, who darted through the box before he tapped a shot past Reds keeper Alisson.

Gomez also helped set up the final goal about five minutes later. The Atalanta striker received a pass at the top of the Liverpool box at the start of that play. He eyed the defense before he chipped a ball toward the far post.

Atalanta’s Hans Hateboer then put his head on the ball to send a pass to fellow winger Robin Gosens, who smacked a left-footed shot into the left side of the net to beat Alisson.

Liverpool battles Brighton in a Premier League game at 7:30 a.m. EST on Saturday in Brighton, England. The Reds then host Ajax in the Champions League group stage at 3 p.m. EST on Tuesday at Anfield.

“With all the challenges we face in this country on top of the normal challenges already, my concern and what I think about in the moment is not Ajax, sorry,” Klopp said.

“We go in a few hours to Brighton and play there. That’s the first thing we have to think about and when this game is over, then we start thinking about Ajax.”



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Fantasy football: Hunter Henry, Travis Kelce lead Week 12 tight end rankings

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Nov. 26 (UPI) — Hunter Henry, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson and Evan Engram lead my Week 12 fantasy football tight end rankings for 2020.

Rob Gronkowski, Eric Ebron, Austin Hooper, Mark Andrews and Jonnu Smith round out my Top 10 options at the position. Robert Tonyan and Trey Burton are among my favorite sleepers this week.

Monitor the status for each of your players’ games this week as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the NFL schedule and player availability. No teams have Week 12 byes, so you should have more options when it comes to finding good defensive matchups for tight ends.

Check out my weekly waiver wire article for candidates to add to your roster before your Week 12 matchup.

Here are some of my favorite players in this week’s Top 20 rankings:

TOP SHELF

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry has scored in two consecutive games as he heads into a Week 12 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. He is my top option at the position.

The Bills have allowed a league-high 642 yards and the sixth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Start Henry in your league, even if you aren’t required to start the position.

Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders has scored in two of his last three games and has five scores on the season. He is my No. 3 tight end for Week 12 as he heads into a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons have allowed the most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. Start Waller in all leagues in Week 12.

SNEAKY PLAYS

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram lands at No. 5 in my Week 12 rankings. He should be started in all leagues that require starting a tight end.

The Giants pass catcher has just one score on the season, but has been targeted 32 times over his last four games. I expect Engram to continue to get looks in Week 12, when the Giants face a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends.

I expect Engram to pull in at least six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper is my No. 8 option for Week 12. Hooper pulled in just three catches for 33 yards in Week 11, but I expect him to have much more impact this week.

He heads into a matchup against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to tight ends.

Start Hooper in leagues that require starting a tight end and have at least 12 teams.

LONGSHOTS

Robert Tonyan of the Green Bay Packers scored his sixth touchdown of the season in Week 11 and has a great chance to reach the end zone again in Week 12.

The Packers face a Chicago Bears defense that is tied for allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends on Sunday in Green Bay, Wis. I expect Tonyan — my No. 11 option — to snag at least five catches for 50 yards and a score.

Indianapolis Colts tight end Trey Burton only has two scores this season, but I expect him to draw more red zone looks down the stretch.

Burton and the Colts face the Tennessee Titans in an import AFC South divisional matchup in Week 12. The Titans have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends.

Burton has a great shot to secure at least three catches for 30 yards on Sunday in Indianapolis. He could end up as a Top 5 play if he gets into the end zone. Burton is my No. 15 option for Week 12 and can be used as a streamer in leagues that require starting tight ends.

Week 12 fantasy football tight end rankings

1. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers at BUF

2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs at TB

3. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders at ATL

4. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions vs. HOU

5. Evan Engram, New York Giants at CIN

6. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. KC

7. Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. BAL

8. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns at JAX

9. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens at PIT

10. Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans at IND

11. Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers vs. CHI

12. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons vs. LV

13. Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears at GB

14. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins at NYJ

15. Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts vs. TEN

16. Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys vs. WAS

17. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos vs. NO

18. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints at DEN

19. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team at DAL

20. Irv Smith Jr. Minnesota Vikings vs. CAR

This week in the National Football League

Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry (C) breaks away from Baltimore Ravens’ Patrick Queen (L) on a 29-yard touchdown run to win the game 30-24 during overtime in Baltimore on Sunday. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo



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