Antelope Valley Press



Raheem Morris hired as head coach by Atlanta Falcons, who pass on Bill Belichick

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons have hired Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinato­r Raheem Morris as their head coach after an exhaustive search that included six-time Super Bowl winner Bill Belichick, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made the announceme­nt.

Morris is a familiar name in Atlanta, having served as the Falcons’ interim head coach for the final 11 games of the 2020 season after the firing of Dan Quinn. He previously coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for three seasons.

The Titans and Brian Callahan agree this is a perfect match for his coaching debut

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Brian Callahan felt an immediate connection with the Tennessee Titans, so much so he wanted their job as head coach as he wrapped up his first Zoom interview.

The feeling was mutual.

That’s why Callahan didn’t leave Tennessee’s headquarte­rs Monday without agreeing to be their next coach after his in-person interview.

“This is the place that I wanted to be,” Callahan said Thursday when introduced as the sixth coach since this franchise moved to Tennessee in 1997 and 20th all time. “And again, I’m very thankful that they felt the same way.”

Titans controllin­g owner Amy Adams Strunk noted both she and Callahan shared a connection of fathers who worked in the NFL and passed down their love of the game.

The late Bud Adams, founded this team in 1960 as the Houston Oilers in the AFL. Her new coach grew up around the league with his father, Bill, a longtime NFL coach currently coaching Cleveland’s offensive line and who coached the then-Oakland Raiders to an AFC championsh­ip by beating the Titans in January 2003.

The NWSL releases its upcoming season schedule with broadcast details under new media deal

The National Women’s Soccer League announced its schedule for the upcoming season, including broadcast plans under the league’s new $60 million per year media rights deal.

The Challenge Cup game will be played between 2023 NWSL champions Gotham FC and last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners, the San Diego Wave, on March 15 at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena.

The regular season

opens the next day with the Portland Thorns visiting the Kansas City Current at the new CPKC Stadium, the first built specifical­ly for a profession­al women’s team. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.

“It’s where we belong,” Portland Thorns midfielder Sam Coffey said about the increased exposure. “Honestly, every team in this league, every female athlete, it’s where we belong. And it’s so exciting to know we have that platform, we’re on national television. It’s taken a while for us to get here, but it’s happening slowly but surely.”

The league’s new media rights agreement with CBS Sports, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps Sports was announced last November. Combined, those platforms will broadcast 113 regular-season games, seven postseason games and the Challenge Cup.

The San Francisco Bay Area’s new expansion team, Bay FC, will play its inaugural match on March 16 at Angel City in Los Angeles. The Utah Royals, also joining the league this season, host the Chicago Red Stars on opening day.

The league’s 14 teams will compete in 26 regular-season matches, split between home and away. The regular season will end on Nov. 3. The playoffs, with an expanded field of eight teams, will start on Nov. 9 and the title game is scheduled for Nov. 23. The championsh­ip will be broadcast on CBS during primetime.

During the regular season, Friday matches will air on Prime Video. Every Saturday two games will be broadcast on Scripps’ ION network. CBS and its sports channels, as well as Paramount+, will air a package of matches, as will ESPN’s networks, including ABC and ESPN Deportes.

Matches that aren’t included on the broadcast schedule will be available on NWSL+, the league’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.

New England Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte charged in illegal sports gaming scheme

BATON ROUGE, La. — New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was arrested Thursday on charges related to illegal online gaming while he was under age and played at Louisiana State University, authoritie­s said.

Boutte is accused of creating an online betting account under a fake name and then placing more than 8,900 illegal bets. State police said in a news release that at least 17 of the bets were on NCAA football games. Six were wagers on LSU football, according to a state police news release.

Baton Rouge news outlets reported that an arrest affidavit alleges that two bets are believed to have been placed on an LSU game that Boutte played in. Bets were made while he was still under the age of 21 and not legally allowed to gamble, according to Louisiana State Police.

Investigat­ors said the efforts led to more than $500,000 in winnings, with most of that money being used to place additional bets.

Boutte, who is now 21, is currently listed on the Patriots’ roster. He played in five games last season.

Boutte surrendere­d to authoritie­s Thursday on a felony charge of computer fraud and a misdemeano­r count of Gaming Prohibited for Persons under 21. He was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison after posting a $6,000 bond. Jail records did not indicate whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Computer fraud is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of five years or less. Illegal gambling carries maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Chan and Howe lead at US Figure Skating Championsh­ip after pairs short program

Emily Chan and Spencer Howe overcame their short preparatio­n to the U.S. Figure Skating Championsh­ips to score 65.86 points and take a narrow lead over the duo of Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea after the pairs short program Thursday.

Chan and Howe were competing for the first time since his shoulder forced the reigning silver medalists to miss the majority of the season. And Howe’s still-recovering shoulder may have had something to do with their biggest mistake, when Chan failed to get enough amplitude on their throw triple loop and she had to put her hand down for the landing.

Otherwise, Chan and Howe appeared to be pleased with their program inside Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Kam and O’Shea were second with 64.57 points after his two-footed landing on their triple salchow and her mistake on their throw triple loop. Katie McBeath and Daniil Parkman were a surprising third with 64.21 points.

The U.S. championsh­ips continued later Thursday with the rhythm dance, where Madison Chock and Evan Bates are favored to win their fifth title, and the women’s short program, where Isabeau Levito will attempt to defend her gold medal.

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilov­a urge women’s tennis to stay out of Saudi Arabia

Hall of Famers Chris Evert and Martina Navratilov­a are calling on the women’s tennis tour to stay out of Saudi Arabia, saying that holding the WTA Finals there “would represent not progress, but significan­t regression.”

“There should be a healthy debate over whether ‘progress’ and ‘engagement’ is really possible,” the two star players, who were on-court rivals decades ago, wrote in an op-ed piece printed in The Washington Post on Thursday, “or whether staging a Saudi crown-jewel tournament would involve players in an act of sportswash­ing merely for the sake of a cash influx.”

Tennis has been consumed lately by the debate over whether the sport should follow golf and others in making deals with the wealthy kingdom, where rights groups say women continue to face discrimina­tion in most aspects of family life and homosexual­ity is a major taboo, as it is in much of the rest of the Middle East.

“Taking a tournament there would represent a significan­t step backward, to the detriment not just of women’s sport, but women,” said Evert and Navratilov­a, who each won 18 Grand Slam singles titles. “We hope this changes someday, hopefully within the next five years. If so, we would endorse engagement there.”

Saudi Arabia began hosting the men’s tour’s Next Gen ATP Finals for top 21-and-under players in Jedda last year in a deal that runs through 2027. Just this month, 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal announced that he would serve as an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation, a role that involves plans for a Rafael Nadal Academy there.

The WTA has been in talks to place its season-ending WTA Finals in Saudi Arabia.

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