Sports

Valencia’s Nou Mestalla ‘ghost ground’: After 15-year delay, will it finally be built?
Sports

Valencia’s Nou Mestalla ‘ghost ground’: After 15-year delay, will it finally be built?

The cheers rang long and loud around Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium as fans celebrated Hugo Guillamon’s late equaliser against Barcelona in their final home match before La Liga’s Christmas break.Four kilometres away, on the other side of Valencia’s old city centre, all was quiet around the site of the Nou Mestalla — where the club’s half-built new home has sat untouched for the past 15 years.Through all that time, one of La Liga’s most storied clubs has found itself stuck in this bizarre situation — unable to raise the money to finish a modern new ground, unable to sell its historic home.Meanwhile, a team used to competing at the highest level in national and European competition has found itself fighting relegation, with the club’s historic debts becoming ever more difficult to deal with.On...
Michael Penix Jr. led Washington to soaring heights while overcoming deep lows: ‘I was scared to play’
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Michael Penix Jr. led Washington to soaring heights while overcoming deep lows: ‘I was scared to play’

The Athletic has live coverage of Texas vs. Washington in the College Football Playoff at the Sugar Bowl. He has come further than any star player in college football the last two years — 3,064 miles and from two wins to the College Football Playoff — but on a dreary Monday in Seattle in April, Michael Penix Jr. showed much more than tangible measurements of the depth of his journey. It’s one even his parents at the time didn’t fully realize. But now, days before Penix leads No. 2 Washington in the CFP Semifinal Sugar Bowl against No. 3 Texas, everyone can appreciate it.Penix had a spectacular debut season for the Huskies in 2022, leading the nation in passing and helping turn a 4-8 team into an 11-2 squad that finished No. 8. The lefty launching balls deep downfield didn’t just vex rival ...
The football stadiums that never were
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The football stadiums that never were

Peter Storrie can remember visiting the London studio of Herzog & de Meuron, the renowned Swiss architects, and being shown a striking vision of Portsmouth’s future.“It was something else,” he tells The Athletic. “They put it up on the screen for us and it certainly had the wow factor.”This was 2007 and the ambitious plans were for a new 36,000-capacity stadium on the city’s docks. Storrie, then chief executive, had accepted that Portsmouth would need to leave Fratton Park, the club’s home since 1899, and a proposed relocation could hardly have been more impressive.Located in between the Spinnaker Tower and the historic naval base, a £600million waterfront project that would include apartments and restaurants promised a transformational impact.“This will be the most spectacular stadium...
NFL’s best touchdown celebrations of 2023: A favorite from all 32 teams
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NFL’s best touchdown celebrations of 2023: A favorite from all 32 teams

Scoring touchdowns during each offensive possession is the unspoken goal for every NFL team. For decades, celebrations have been the norm in accompanying touchdowns. It goes back all the way to the 1960s with Homer Jones and his touchdown spike.Touchdown celebrations have become a choreographed production for some teams. Think back to the 1980s when Washington’s “Fun Bunch” made enemies after its group of players participated in a jumping high-five after a score. And think recently when the Seattle Seahawks did their best New Edition and *NSYNC impersonations, or when the Minnesota Vikings decided to play a game of Duck, Duck, Goose in the end zone.GO DEEPERThe NFL's most memorable TD celebrations: Deion Sanders' high-step, the Ickey Shuffle, moreThe 2023 NFL season has had its share of me...
NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Ravens close in on AFC’s top seed; NFC up for grabs
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NFL playoff picture after Week 16: Ravens close in on AFC’s top seed; NFC up for grabs

The Baltimore Ravens scored their most impressive victory of the season Monday night, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 33-19. Along with making them look like worthy Super Bowl contenders, the victory puts them in a fantastic position in the AFC. At 12-3, they’re a game ahead of Miami and have a chance to clinch the top spot next week in a game against those very Dolphins.Meanwhile, the 49ers’ loss sends them to 11-4 and a three-way tie atop the NFC with the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions. The 49ers own the tiebreaker over both, but with two games to go, there’s still time for the Eagles or Lions to make a move.As for the rest of the NFL, Week 16 saw plenty of movement in the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at where things stand as we enter Week 17.Listed odds to make the playof...
Dunking hurts: Why players hate — and love — the NBA’s greatest feat
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Dunking hurts: Why players hate — and love — the NBA’s greatest feat

The dunk is basketball’s most lionized play. The most iconic ones are canonized, referenced fondly and often, debated for their merits and significance. The sport’s language has created so many names for it: jam, yam, slam, poster, stuff, hammer. It’s a unique club that only few on this world can join. It’s marvelous.And it hurts like hell.“Can you think of any other concept where your hand swings at something metal?” 11-year NBA veteran Austin Rivers asks. “It’ll probably hurt, yeah?”When asked, players catalog the pain dunking has caused: broken nails; bent fingers; recent bruises; lasting scars; midair collisions; twisted necks; dangerous landings. Injuries that cost them games or even seasons.Derrick Jones Jr., a former NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest winner now with the Dallas Maver...
Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different
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Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s lunchtime on a mid-November Saturday afternoon and the word of the day is eclectic. I’ve just finished my morning round at The Park with a three-putt for par on the forgiving 18th hole, and I saddle up at the cabana, the bar/small bites stand strategically located at the front of the property.A foursome that was a few holes ahead of me is heading off to their vehicles — while allowing for their anonymity, let’s just say they can be members anywhere they want to be in the golf-rich West Palm Beach/Jupiter area. Making the turn to the back nine are the bros wanting to chase down their transfusions with High Noons. Though they represent very different ends of the Saturday golfer spectrum, you recognize both groups as what a golfer “looks” like.But the cabana occup...
No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL
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No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL

Seventeen years and more than 1,200 games ago, Andrew Cogliano remembers how difficult it was to traverse the state of California.The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks were three of the biggest, heaviest teams in the league. If you had to play all three in succession? Well, good luck. Not only were those teams willing to play a punishing brand of hockey, but they were all highly skilled and generally successful, too.After a few years in Edmonton where he broke into the league, Cogliano was dealt to the Ducks as a free agent in the summer of 2011 and was part of a team that qualified for the playoffs in six straight seasons from 2012-13 through 2017-18. Those California road trips became regular intrastate battles. And they were vicious.“My first couple years in Anaheim, ...
NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 49ers, Ravens on top, plus a surprise from every team
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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 49ers, Ravens on top, plus a surprise from every team

We’re coming down the stretch of the NFL season, and the playoff seedings and Power Rankings are starting to sort themselves out, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some surprises along the way. Today, we’re going to look at one surprising aspect of each team’s season.And then we’re going to start looking forward to a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Week 16 of the season.(Last week: 1)Sunday: Beat Arizona Cardinals 45-29Surprise: Brock PurdyWe’ve let all the talk about whether the second-year quarterback is a top-10 quarterback in the league or even possibly the MVP obscure what remains at its heart the most remarkable story in the league. Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 draft, is now 16-3 as a starting quarterback. His passer rating (119) and expected points added per dropback (.32) lea...
Sean Payton’s flare-up at Russell Wilson puts coach-QB relationship back in spotlight
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Sean Payton’s flare-up at Russell Wilson puts coach-QB relationship back in spotlight

(Editor’s note: This is excerpted from Mike Sando’s Pick Six of Dec. 18, 2023.)Sean Payton blasting quarterback Russell Wilson on the sideline, then suggesting he was merely upset about officiating, invited all sorts of speculation.It’s hard to fault Payton for losing his cool when officials wiped out a Broncos touchdown with an offensive offside call that seemed indefensible. As one former head coach put it, officials have “lost their minds” searching for penalties associated with Philadelphia’s tush-push plays.It’s just difficult to understand why Payton would funnel any of that rage toward his quarterback.GO DEEPERSean Payton downplays sideline flare up with Russell WilsonThe nature of Payton’s relationship with Wilson faded into the background during a five-game winning streak fueled b...