Gonzalez to Serve as “Legends Captain” at 2017 NFL Pro Bowl

Tony Gonzalez is making a legend(s)dary return to the National Football League

The NFL has announced that the 40-year-old part-Mexican American former NFL tight end will serve as one of four “Legends Captains” at the 2017 Pro Bowl.

Tony Gonzalez

“Some of my favorite NFL memories were from my Pro Bowl trips,” said Gonzalez, via NFL.com. “One thing that made my Pro Bowl experiences so special was getting to share them with my family. Pro Bowl Week in Orlando brings that to a whole new level, and I’m excited to be a part of this event that brings together the entire football community — players, coaches, families and fans — to celebrate the game’s best.”

After a three-year switch to a draft format, the Pro Bowl will return to the traditional AFC vs. NFC style for 2017.

Each conference will be led by two “Legends Captains” — one offensive and one defensive. Jerome Bettis (offense) and Ray Lewis (defense) will lead the AFC, while Gonzalez (offense) and Charles Woodson (defense) will lead the NFC.

During Pro Bowl Week, the four “Legends Captains” will serve as mentors for the Pro Bowl players, coach practices and be present on the sidelines on game day.

In his 12 seasons (1997-2008) with the Kansas City Chiefs, Gonzalez compiled 916 receptions for 10,940 yards receiving and 76 touchdowns. Gonzalez still holds Chiefs franchise records in each of the three categories. The 6x First-team All-pro then played for the Atlanta Falcons from 2009-2013.

Gonzalez appeared in 14 Pro Bowls during his 17-year NFL career and ranks as the all-time leader in Pro Bowl receptions (42) and touchdowns (6).

Aguayo Drafted in the Second Round of the NFL Draft

Roberto Aguayo is headed to the National Football League

The 21-year-old Latino kicker, who played for Florida State, was picked in the second round of the NFL draft.

Roberto Aguayo

Aguayo, the 59th pick overall, was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming the highest-drafted kicker since Mike Nugent in 2005.

The NFL’s lengthened extra point has put new emphasis on the play, now effectively a 33-yard attempt. Aguayo was perfect on his 198 PATs in college. More pertinent, the 2013 Lou Groza Award winner was 69-for-78 (88.5%) on field-goal tries and didn’t miss on any of his 49 attempts inside 40 yards.

Aguayo, quarterback Jameis Winston‘s teammate at FSU, expressed a desire to play for the Bucs and seems likely to hold the job for years to come.

But Aguayo wasn’t the only Latino footballer picked during this year’s NFL draft…

Blake Martinez is headed to the Green Bay Packers

The Packers selected the Latino inside from Stanford with the 131st pick, which arrived late in the fourth round, and contained a bit of a premonition from his mother, Carrisa Martinez.

“The funny part of it was, (my mom) was always telling me throughout the process, she was like, ‘I believe you’re going to end up at the Packers,'” Martinez said on a conference call. “And obviously it was just a lucky guess type of thing, but it’s just funny. My mom said right after, ‘Moms are always right.’ And I’ll take it.”

When his moment arrived, Martinez donned a green Packers hat and matching gray T-shirt, and immediately posted a family photo on social media. His father, Marc, had bought the gear in a pre-draft shopping spree that accumulated gear from all 32 teams — just in case.

Martinez, who stands 6 feet 1 1/2 inches and weighs 240 pounds, earned All-American honors in 2015 and was also named first-team all-Pac-12.

He recorded a team-high 141 tackles last season, and his 10.1 tackles per game led the conference.

The Packers, according to director of football operations Eliot Wolf, were enamored of Martinez’s all-around game. He flashed the ability to blitz, evidenced by 13 1/2 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks over the last two years. He expressed confidence in his ability to cover, and Martinez said he served as the main coverage linebacker in nickel and dime packages last season. His 40-yard dash time of 4.67 seconds is far from blazing, but Wolf said the Packers have no qualms about his mobility or range.

“I felt like this last year I improved tremendously on that,” Martinez said. “I feel 100% confident to go out there and cover whoever I need to cover.”

Oklahoma’s Zack Sanchez was picked in Round 5 by the Carolina Panthers.

The 21-year-old Latino cornerback, picked 141st overall, is a ball-hawk who intercepted 13 passes over the past two seasons. His seven picks in 2015 tied for fifth nationally. Sanchez was not afraid to gamble, and sometimes paid for his mistakes. During his career at Oklahoma, he also recorded 134 tackles and three touchdowns.

“He’s instinctive. I think when you get into the fourth or fifth rounds, and find a cornerback with some instincts, this is a great pick,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.

Thomas Duarte is switching coasts…

The 21-year-old half-Mexican American receiver, who played for UCLA, was picked in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins.

The 231st pick overall, the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Duarte was drafted as a tight end.

Duarte turned pro with a season of eligibility remaining. He ranked second on the Bruins last season with 53 receptions for 872 yards and a team-best 10 touchdown receptions.

Gonzalez Named a Correspondent for CBS’ NFL Pre-Game Show “The NFL Today”

Tony Gonzalez may be retiring from professional football, but he isn’t leaving the National Football League completely…

The 37-year-old part-Mexican American pro footballer, a 14-time Pro Bowl selection during his nearly 20-year NFL career, has signed on to appear as a correspondent for CBS‘ NFL pre-game show, The NFL Today, next season.

Tony Gonzalez

Gonzalez, the ex-Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons tight end, will replace former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and former Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe on the panel.

Gonzalez, the first tight end to ever catch 1,000 passes, just retired from after the 2014 Pro Bowl.

“Having just stepped off the playing field, Tony brings a fresh and insightful perspective,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said in a statement Tuesday. “As a future Hall of Famer, we are excited for him to share his knowledge, experiences and opinions with our viewers. Tony was one of the most respected and hardworking players in the NFL and a tremendous teammate. We look forward to him bringing these attributes to CBS Sports.

“While we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe who have contributed greatly to the success of The NFL Today for more than a decade,” McManus continued. “Dan and Shannon are true Hall of Famers on the field and in front of the camera. As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank them for their hard work and dedication and wish them nothing but the best.”

The news comes two weeks after CBS acquired the rights to air Thursday Night Football beginning this fall.

Gonzalez joins returning correspondents James Brown, Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason. In addition to The NFL Today, he will also appear on Showtime‘s Inside the NFL and CBS Sports Network’s That Other Pregame Show.

Mars Named One of the Most Popular Artists in the World

It’s no wonder the National Football League picked Bruno Mars to perform the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl.

The 28-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer-songwriter, who just earned his second Grammy at this year’s awards show, has been named as one of the most popular artists in the world in the past year.

Bruno MarsBruno Mars

Mars ranks No. 4 – behind One Direction, Eminem and Justin Timberlake – on the IFPI’s Global Recording Artists of 2013 list.

The list, recently created by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, honors the most popular recording artists across music downloads, streaming and physical format sales

“This is a global IFPI award for a new era of music consumption, based on a new metric of global success. Our chart for the first time measures the popularity of artists across the many different ways in which fans choose their music,” said Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI.

The chart takes into account all the artist’s music sales – across digital, CD and vinyl formats; singles, both downloaded and physical; on-demand streams and music videos. And it’s been independently verified, according to the IFPI.

The IFPI’s Global Recording Artists Of 2013:

  1. One Direction
  2. Eminem
  3. Justin Timberlake
  4. Bruno Mars
  5. Katy Perry
  6. P!nk
  7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  8. Rihanna
  9. Michael Bublé
  10. Daft Punk

Vasquez: A First Time NFL Pro Bowl Selection

It’s an extra special National Football League first for Louis Vasquez

For the first time since joining the NFL four years ago, the 26-year-old Mexican American offensive guard has been selected for the 2014 Pro Bowl.

Louis Vasquez

Vasquez, currently playing for the Denver Broncos, was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of the NFL Draft in 2009. He joined the Broncos in March 2013 as part of a four-year deal.

The NFL combined votes from coaches, players and fans to determine 85 of 87 Pro Bowl selects; the other two players are long-snappers selected by Pro Bowl coaches.

While there were 86 Pro Bowl spots to be voted on, there are 85 players because Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver/kick returner Antonio Brown filled two spots in the voting, which ended Thursday.

Under a new format this year, NFL legends Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will divvy up the players in a two-day draft before the Jan. 26 game. Offensive and defensive players with the most votes who don’t make it past the divisional playoff round will serve as active player captains.

The schoolyard-style selections mean it’s likely teammates will be forced to play on opposite sides. Players on the winning team will earn $53,000 while the losers will get $26,000 under the collective bargaining agreement.

The 2014 Pro Bowl will be played on January 26 at 7:00 pm ET in Honolulu.

Here’s a look at the 2014 Pro Bowl Selections:

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks
Tom Brady, Patriots
Drew Brees, Saints
Peyton Manning, Broncos
Cam Newton, Panthers
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Wide receivers
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Josh Gordon, Browns
A.J. Green, Bengals
Andre Johnson, Texans
Calvin Johnson, Lions
Brandon Marshall, Bears
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

Tackles
Branden Albert, Chiefs
Jason Peters, Eagles
Tyron Smith, Cowboys
Joe Staley, 49ers
Joe Thomas, Browns
Trent Williams, Redskins

Guards
Jahri Evans, Saints
Ben Grubbs, Saints
Mike Iupati, 49ers
Logan Mankins, Patriots
Louis Vasquez, Broncos
Marshal Yanda, Ravens

Centers
Ryan Kalil, Panthers
Alex Mack, Browns
Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
Max Unger, Seahawks

Tight ends
Jordan Cameron, Browns
Vernon Davis, 49ers
Jimmy Graham, Saints
Julius Thomas, Broncos

Running backs
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Matt Forte, Bears
Frank Gore, 49ers
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Adrian Peterson, Vikings

Fullbacks
Marcel Reece, Raiders
Mike Tolbert, Panthers

DEFENSE

Defensive ends
Greg Hardy, Panthers
Cameron Jordan, Saints
Robert Quinn, Rams
Cameron Wake, Dolphins
J.J. Watt, Texans
Mario Williams, Bills

Interior linemen
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
Haloti Ngata, Ravens
Dontari Poe, Chiefs
Justin Smith, 49ers
Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Kyle Williams, Bills

Outside linebackers
John Abraham, Cardinals
Ahmad Brooks, 49ers
Tamba Hali, Chiefs
Justin Houston, Chiefs
Robert Mathis, Colts
Terrell Suggs, Ravens

 

Inside and middle linebackers
NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
Luke Kuechly, Panthers
Patrick Willis, 49ers

Cornerbacks
Brandon Flowers, Chiefs
Brent Grimes, Dolphins
Joe Haden, Browns
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
Darrelle Revis, Buccaneers
Richard Sherman, Seahawks
Aqib Talib, Patriot’s
Alterraun Verner, Titans

Free safeties
Jairus Byrd, Bills
Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Eric Weddle, Chargers

Strong safeties
Eric Berry, Chiefs
Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
Troy Polamalu, Steelers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punters
Brandon Fields, Dolphins
Johnny Hekker, Rams

Kickers
Matt Prater, Broncos
Justin Tucker, Ravens

Punt returners
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Dexter McCluster, Chiefs

Utility
Justin Bethel, Cardinals
Matthew Slater, Patriots

Fox Confirms Mars as Next Year’s Super Bowl Headline Act

It’s official… Bruno Mars will be bowling over an international audience of football fans this fall…

As previously reported, the 27-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer will perform at  next year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

Bruno Mars

Following the announcement on Fox NFL Sunday alongside co-hosts Curt Menefee and Terry Bradshaw and analysts Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Strahan and Jay Glazer, the Grammy-winning artist released a one-minute trailer on his headlining gig at the upcoming Super Bowl, taking place on February 2, 2014 at the Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Posting the video on his YouTube channel, Mars chronicles his rise to pop super stardom, from being a four-year-old child performer doing an Elvis Presley impersonation back in 1990 up to his Unorthodox Jukebox chart-topping days, using footage of his live performances with his Hooligans band and ending with the artwork for the 2014 Pepsi Halftime Show.

Mars himself confirmed the news on Times Square around 12:30 E.T. on Sunday, September 8 after it was reported that the “Locked Out of Heaven” singer had been booked for what annually is the most-watched television event in the U.S. His announcement on Fox NFL Sunday marks the earliest reveal of a Super Bowl Halftime Show performer, kicking off a fanfare-filled lead-up to the halftime show.

Mars will follow Beyonce‘s show-stopping halftime performance earlier this year, featuring a short reunion with Destiny’s Child. Beyonce’s set was watched by a whopping 110.5 million viewers, but it still fell short of Madonna‘s performance the year before that attracted 114 million viewers, making it the most-watched event in U.S. television history.

Mars to Reportedly Headline the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show

It appears that Bruno Mars will be having a super February…

The 27-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer will reportedly perform at the Super Bowl halftime show in February 2014, according to the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.

Bruno Mars

The National Football League is expected to make an official announcement on Sunday during Fox’s pregame show at noon ET.

Mars, currently on tour promoting his sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox, would be a strong choice. He’s known for giving high-octane performances at awards shows like the Grammys and MTV VMAs.

His hit songs include “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Grenade,” “Just the Way You Are” and “When I Was Your Man.”

Mars would join Madonna, Beyonce, the Black Eyed Peas with Usher and Slash, The Who and Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band.

Gonzalez Returns to the Atlanta Falcons’ Training Camp

It really is Tony Gonzalez’s last chance…

The 38-year-old part-Mexican pro football star is officially back with the Atlanta Falcons for one last opportunity to win a Super Bowl ring.

Tony Gonzalez

After considering retirement and ultimately deciding this spring to return, the tight end returned to the team for training camp but left shortly afterward. Gonzalez had made a promise to his 12-year-old son, Nikko, to be with him as he started his youth football career, meaning he was away from the Falcons for much of training camp.

But Gonzalez is now back with the team again, joining his teammates on Sunday and preparing to play in the Falcons next preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.

“It’s time for me to get back there,” Gonzalez told Fox Sports. “I need to get some work with [quarterback] Matt [Ryan] and the offense. I’m excited.”

The Atlanta Falcons are closing their training camp on Sunday, but Tony Gonzalez is expected to get some work in before it closes.

Even though he’s approaching 40, Gonzalez still has a lot left in the tank. Last year he caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns, making the Pro Bowl for the 13th time.

His return gives the Falcons one of the most unstoppable receiving corps in the National Football League. Gonzalez remains a dangerous player with a knack for getting open.

For Tony Gonzalez, 2013 represents the last chance to win a Super Bowl. Until last season he had never won a playoff game, but this year the Falcons are a favorite of many NFL observers to win it all.

Rivera to Return as Carolina Panthers Head Coach

It’s official… Ron Rivera won’t be leaving Panther Nation just yet…

The 51-year-old half-Puerto Rican/half-Mexican American NFL football coach will be back at the helm as head coach of the Carolina Panthers for the 2013, according to a team spokesperson.

Ron Rivera II

Rivera and team owner Jerry Richardson have agreed to keep working together for a third season, said Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton., after a meeting between the two.
The head coach is “going about normal preparations for next season,” said Dayton.

Rivera’s fate was up in the air after the Panthers went 7-9 this season, but Richardson decided the head coach had done a good job with the team.

Richardson fired general manager Marty Hurney after the Panthers got off to a 1-5 start. The Panthers went 6-4 from that point out, including four straight wins to close the season.

Rivera, the only Latino head coach in the NFL, has two years left on his contract.

Rivera Still the Carolina Panthers’ Head Coach…

Ron Rivera is still a panther

The 50-year-old half-Puerto Rican/half-Mexican American NFL football coach remains the head coach of the Carolina Panthers after several coaches throughout the National Football League lost their jobs on Monday.

Ron Rivera

Rivera’s future still remains uncertain as he’s scheduled to have a postseason meeting with owner Jerry Richardson in the near future. No word yet on when that meeting will take place.

Richardson remained mum on the second -year coach’s status one day after the Panthers won their fourth straight game to finish 7-9, a one-game improvement over 2011. He declined comment on Rivera’s job security through the public relations staff.

Rivera said Monday at a news conference he hasn’t spoken to Richardson about his future since Sunday’s 44-38 victory over the New Orleans Saints, but indicated that the meeting is upcoming.

“What I was told is Mr. Richardson and I will sit down and discuss things and we’ll go from there,” said Rivera. “I can’t tell you anything more than that. I do look forward to the opportunity to meet with him and discuss this.”

Rivera, the only Latino head coach in the NFL, has two years left on his contract.

Richardson might hire a general manager to get his input before deciding Rivera’s fate.He can now begin interviewing potential GM candidates from teams whose seasons are complete. And he’s hired former New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi to serve as a consultant for the GM search. Potential candidates include Giants college scouting director Marc Ross, Giants senior pro personnel analyst Dave Gettleman, and Panthers interim GM Brandon Beane.

Longtime Panthers GM Marty Hurney was fired after the team’s 1-5 start and the owner put Rivera on notice at that point. Richardson told Rivera at the time the Panthers needed to be “trending upward” the rest of the season. The Panthers went 6-4 the rest of the way.

They finished strong, winning five of their last six games, including a convincing 30-20 victory over the NFC’s top seeded Atlanta Falcons, despite the fact they had five starters and 14 players overall on injured reserve.

“I like where we are and I like the things that we have done,” said Rivera. “I believe we are better now than when I first got here. And it’s a job that I would like to have.”

Despite failing to reach the postseason, there were several bright spots for the Panthers. The offense finished in high gear after struggling in the early part of the season, while the defense was strong throughout despite losing four starters.

The Panthers saw the continued development of second-year quarterback Cam Newton, particularly in the final six games when he completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,474 yards with 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Newton also ran for 347 yards and four scores during that span.

Overall, Newton’s numbers were on par with his rookie year, throwing for 3,869 yards passing with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ran for 741 yards and eight touchdowns, down from his NFL-record of 14 TDs last season when he was voted Offensive Rookie of the Year.

“The biggest thing is he took a lot of the pressure off himself and we tried to help him take that pressure off,” Rivera said. “I think he got to the point where he realized he didn’t have to make every play. And upon that realization you just saw that development as far as understanding things schematically, understanding the opponent he was to attack, and working on his base fundamentals. His footwork improved and his pocket presence improved.”

Rivera said it’s been tough not knowing his future, but added, “it is part of the process we’re going through and we’ll see how this thing unfolds.”