But this year’s Week 1 results aren’t just close by Week 1 standards. The Broncos (over the Panthers), Bengals (Jets), Raiders (Saints) and Giants (Cowboys) all won by just 1 point: That’s the first time that four games in one week have been decided by a single point in 34 years.Since 1993, only one week has been as close on average as the 5.1-point margin tallied so far on opening weekend — Week 5 of the 2001 season. Since 1993, the standard deviation of from the previously mentioned 11.6-point average margin of victory was 2.3 points. That makes this season’s Week 1 a true outlier: At 5.1 points (pending tonight’s games), it is 2.3 standard deviations from average. The graph below shows the average margin in each week of the regular season since 1993: Of course, if you insist on having something to overreact to, your best bet for a hot take this morning is to look at the performance of the two NFC heavyweights, Seattle and Arizona. The Seahawks were favored by 10 points but needed a late touchdown to beat the Dolphins, 12-10. And Arizona, favored by 9 points against a New England squad without both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, missed a last-minute field goal and fell, 23-21. But given that Seattle and Arizona both rank in the top five in wins over the last three years, both teams have earned the benefit of the doubt after one mediocre performance. When a game takes an unexpected turn in Week 13 of an NFL season, it can easily be recognized for what it is: an outlier. But when a favorite is upset in Week 1, it’s harder to say whether the game is an aberration or a sign of how the rest of the season will unfold. Observers have such a tendency to overreact to the results in Week 1 that Football Outsiders has coined it National Jump to Conclusions Week.But this year, in a special Week 1 twist, there’s very little to overreact to, at least at a macro level. As usual, some games unfolded in fascinating ways — the Chargers blew a huge lead to the Chiefs, the Lions blew a huge lead but then still beat the Colts, the Raiders won on a 2-point conversion — but Week 1 should generate surprisingly few hot takes. In fact, the most notable result in Week 1 was how close the games were.Philadelphia beat Cleveland, arguably the worst team in the NFL, by 19 points. That otherwise tame result is notable for one reason: Of the 14 games played so far, this was the only game decided by double digits. That’s already tied for the single-week record, with two games (Washington/Pittsburgh and San Francisco/Los Angeles) still to play this evening.The NFL introduced free agency for the 1993 season, another in a long line of efforts by the league to create parity. From 1993 to 2015, the average margin of victory in Week 1 was 11.6 points; this year, pending the results of tonight’s games, the average margin of victory is a microscopic 5.1 points.
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This is Miami’s first Game 7 in the LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh era.The Heat’s three stars addressed reporters for the final time on Saturday before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with Chris Bosh saying he again expects to come off the bench, Dwyane Wade explaining the reason for his offensive struggles, and LeBron James asserting it’s absurd for anyone to suggest he could produce Thursday’s eye-popping numbers every game.Through six games, Wade had just 35 first-half points in this series on 12 for 46 shooting (26 percent). But he has 92 points in the second half.Wade said because he’s facing so many double teams, the Celtics are “taking me out of the game. So I’m trying to make as much of an impact as possible. I understand I have to affect the game other ways and wait for my opportunities to come.“It’s not the easiest thing to do. A double team doesn’t let you get good looks, and when you get looks, it gets you out of your rhythm. But I’ve got to stick with it, and that’s what I’ve done.“I’ve had better second halves than first halves, and if I can pick one, I’ll pick the second half, instead of playing great in the first half and not good in the second one. They put a game plan together, and there’s no question the game plan is to make sure I don’t see a lot of opportunities.”James said Saturday that “I would love to have another game like” Thursday’s 45-point, 15-rebound epic, but “no one can do that every single game. People say, ‘Why can’t I do that every game?’ That’s the craziest thing.”Mario Chalmers referred to James’ serious, piercing glare during Game 6 as “his ugly look.” James, informed of that, was amused. “I never had that look,” James said. “I never had that look in my life. It’s a focused look.”As for Bosh, he said he has no issue with coming off the bench for the third consecutive game since returning from an abdominal strain. “It’s irrelevant,” he said. “It will be irrelevant as long as we’re playing. As long as I get to play, it doesn’t matter. We have a good thing going right now. I will continue to come off the bench as long as it’s good. I’m going to have my time with certain lineups.”Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he would not announce his starting lineup until just before tipoff.Source: Miamiherald.com
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan dismissed Jonathan Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello announced by Twitter on Thursday.Goodell and the league sought to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the the league’s collective bargaining agreement prevents players from suing Goodell personally for claims of this nature. Vilma may be able to take other action against the commissioner under the CBA. He filed the suit in May.Vilma, a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, claimed Goodell tarnished his reputation by making false statements in connection with the league’s “bounty” investigation. Goodell tabbed Vilma as the ringleader of the program, claiming he offered cash to teammates to injure opponents.”Even though this matter has been pending only since May … it feels as protracted and painful as the Saints season itself, and calls for closure,” Berrigan wrote in her decision, according to Yahoo! Sports. ”The Court nonetheless believes that had this matter been handled in a less heavy-handed way, with greater fairness toward the players and the pressures they face, this litigation and the related cases would not have been necessary.”Vilma was initially suspended by Goodell for the entire 2012 season, but was allowed to play while his appeal was being heard. Saints defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove received lesser suspensions.Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue stepped into the proceedings after Goodell recused himself from the second round of appeals. Tagliabue heard the final appeals of the players and threw out their suspensions last month.Neither Aiello nor Goodell released a comment about Thursday’s ruling by Judge Berrigan.Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, wrote in an email to Yahoo! Sports: ”We are obviously disappointed, strongly believe that the CBA does not give anyone — including a commissioner — a license to misrepresent and to manufacture facts, especially at the expense of another person’s reputation — and are considering our options.”Vilma will have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.
Rocco Mediate said Tiger Woods cannot hit the shots he used to when he was at the peak of his game. Tiger Woods went out Friday in the second round at Torrey Pines and hit shots like he used to hit when he was at the top of his game. And so, he leads the Farmers Insurance Open at 11-under after crafting a beautiful 65 that included an eagle on No. 18.Now comes the hard part.With a lead going into the weekend, Woods was all but money during the height of his dominance. He had won 30 of 32 times that he held a 36-hole lead. But of the last six times he has held that advantage, he has won just twice. Not good, especially for him.“We have a long way to go,” Woods said. “It’s a pretty tough course.”Woods shot a first-round 4-under 68 on the harder South Course in Round 1. On the easier North Course, Woods was awesome, despite a steady rain. He leads over Graham DeLaet, Josh Teater and Ross Fisher, all who sit at eight under.The timing of Woods’ play was almost on purpose to counter Mediate.“Nothing he did ever surprised me,” Mediate said to USA TODAY. “He’s that good. But he can’t do it anymore because his golf swing is different. It doesn’t produce the shots he used to hit,” Mediate added. “Do I think he’s finished winning majors? No. Does he have as much desire? Yes. But you could ask him to hit any shot blindfolded back in the day and he could. Now he can’t. I know what I’m seeing. I know what I saw before. And it’s not the same.”Maybe not, but he sure looked like the old Woods Friday.He birdied the first two holes then closed out the front 9 by sandwiching birdies around a bogey on No. 8. He parred the first four holes on the back and then made birdie on the par 5 No. 14 and the 174-yard par 3 at No. 17. Finally, he closed the round by getting on the 516-yard par 5 closing hole and making the eagle putt to send him into the weekend looking as strong as he has in some time.
Photo by The Washington Post.A day after saying on a Dallas radio station that he could do anything Detroit record-setting receiver Calvin Johnson could do, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant backed off his statements like a cornerback trying to cover a deep route.On a conference call with Detroit writers, Bryant dismissed the comparison, saying: “I wasn’t comparing myself at all. I think a lot of people took it the wrong way. Clearly, I said there’s no comparison. That’s something that I do not do. I don’t compare myself with anybody.”Bryant’s explanation of his original comments was weak. He said he intended to say he and other receivers can catch the ball as Johnson does. Huh?“It’s just a pride thing, like I said,” Bryant added. “Calvin Johnson set the standard, set that bar high for every wide receiver in the league. I think it’s the respect, it’s really respect to him that he makes receivers like us go out there.“He broke Jerry Rice’s [single-season yards] record last year. That’s setting the bar. So for every receiver in the league, that’s what I’m saying.”Bryant said on the radio program: “I believe I can do whatever he can do. It’s just a pride thing. When it comes to football, just being on the field, it’s a mindset and having a mentality.”Lions receiver Nate Robinson scoffed at the notion that Bryant was on Johnson’s level.“Well, you know, Nate’s right — I’m not Calvin Johnson, I’m Dez Bryant,” Bryant said on SportsCenter. “I didn’t open up a can of worms. I wasn’t going out for nobody.“(The Cowboys) haven’t really said anything to me about it because they all heard what I said,” he added to ESPN. “I don’t take back anything I said because I didn’t say anything wrong. I think it’s how a lot of people are looking at it. I’m not lying about anything I’m saying. I take pride in my game. There’s a lot of stuff that I believe I can do, just besides football.”
42004AFC East41590 Passing offense-1.1+2.22720 92008NFC East41581 Rushing defense+2.5-0.5527 Rushing offense-1.6-1.82023 61976AFC Central41583 Passing defense+4.8+5.711 EXPECTED PTS ADDED/GAMERANK Offense-2.6+0.72518 How the 2015 and 2016 Broncos compare 71975AFC Central41581 Based on average Elo rating of the division’s teams.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com And the rest of the AFC West has improved — by leaps and bounds, in some cases. After Week 12 of the 2015 season, the Broncos’ division rivals — the Chiefs, Raiders and San Diego Chargers — had an average Elo rating of 1489, well below the NFL-wide average of 1505. K.C.’s Elo rating ranked seventh in the league, and the Chiefs were five victories into what would eventually be an 11-game winning streak. But the Raiders and Chargers were each in the league’s bottom third, and the AFC West was fourth among the NFL’s eight divisions in overall average Elo.This year’s AFC West, by contrast, easily ranks first in all of football in average Elo. The Chiefs’ Elo rating has improved by 32 points from where it was this time last season, the Chargers’ by 68 points and the Raiders’ by a stunning 139 points — that makes Oakland the league’s second-most-improved team over that span (trailing only the Dallas Cowboys). With an average Elo of 1578, the 2016 AFC West is on pace to be the NFL’s 10th-best division since the league merged with the AFL before the 1970 season. 12013NFC West41624 CATEGORY2015201620152016 2015 numbers are for the full season; 2016 numbers are as of Nov. 27.Offensive and defensive EPA won’t necessarily match the sum of rushing and passing EPA on each side of the ball because penalties are tracked in a separate category.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 22007AFC South41608 All of this has conspired to make the Broncos’ bid for a championship repeat far more daunting than it seemed before the season began. Only 12 teams with an Elo rating as high as Denver’s current mark have missed the playoffs since the merger,2Most recently, the 2008 New England Patriots. but right now, it’s basically a tossup as to whether the Broncos will become No. 13. And because the Broncos’ playoff odds would have been much higher if they’d won or tied Sunday night, their playoff fate might end up depending on — of all things — the few inches that determined where Santos’s kick went after glancing off the goalpost in overtime.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Share on Facebook For most of the season, the Denver Broncos’ bid to repeat as Super Bowl champs looked like it would be relatively smooth sailing. The Broncos opened the season as the best team in the NFL according to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings, and before this weekend, our playoff predictions (which are based on Elo) never gave the team less than a 74 percent chance of making it to the postseason. Going into Sunday night’s game against the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs, Denver had a healthy 76 percent chance of punching a return ticket to the playoffs.But after losing to K.C. when Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos banked in a game winner off the left upright as time expired, Denver unexpectedly finds itself in a precarious situation. The Broncos are in third place in the AFC West, a game behind the Chiefs and two behind the Oakland Raiders, and our model gives Denver only a 54 percent chance of returning to the playoffs. All of a sudden, the Broncos’ title defense is in doubt.How did Denver get into this predicament? For one thing, the team’s quality of play has slipped ever so slightly compared with last season. At this stage of the 2015 season, Denver ranked fourth in the NFL with a 1661 Elo rating, and our model assigned them a 10 percent probability of winning the Super Bowl. This year, despite competing with fewer great teams, the Broncos rank fifth with a 1606 Elo and a 4 percent Super Bowl probability. If they instead sported that 1661 rating from last season, this year’s Broncos would be second in the NFL, nipping at the New England Patriots’ heels for the right to be No. 1.For a while this season, the Broncos’ defense looked like it might be able to keep steady with the all-time great D the team assembled last season, and Denver still has the best defense in football according to expected points added. But like most of history’s dominant defenses, the Broncos’ D has experienced some reversion to the mean, and the team is now getting 4.8 EPA per game out of its defense rather than the 6.6 they got last season. As expected, Denver’s offense has improved under first-year starting QB Trevor Siemian (it would have been hard not to, given how poorly Peyton Manning played last season), but it hasn’t been enough to offset that defensive regression and a drop-off on special-teams after adjusting for strength of schedule.1If you add up Denver’s EPA on offense, defense and special teams, you’ll find that the Broncos have a better per-game point differential this seaon than they did in 2015. (By definition, EPA is designed to add up to a team’s points-per-game differential.) But the Broncos have also played an easier schedule this season; according to Pro-Football-Reference.com’s simple rating system, the 2016 Broncos (+5.4 SRS) are running slightly behind their 2015 form (+5.8) after adjusting for strength of schedule. As a result, the Broncos are no better off now than they were last year. The NFL’s strongest divisions, 1970-2016 Special teams-0.3-1.42526 102016AFC West41578 YEARDIVISIONTEAMSAVG. ELO 52014NFC West41588 81970NFC Central41581 31984AFC West51600 Defense+6.6+4.811
Washington3.627.92614 After more than a decade of tearing teams to shreds through the air, the New Orleans Saints made a stunning change this season to their offense: They grounded their arsenal. The 2017 Saints are the most dominant rushing team in football, comfortably leading the league in yards gained by running backs. So the obvious solution for the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s wild-card game is to stack the box with too many defenders for the Saints offensive line to block.But this won’t happen. And here’s what makes the New Orleans offense something that previously existed only in a defensive coordinator’s night terror: Drew Brees is still one of the NFL’s most effective passers, even when he’s leading the game’s best rushing attack. To put it another way, the Saints are winning because of their running game, and the Saints running game is winning because of Brees.Despite racking up more than 2,000 rushing yards by mostly Mark Ingram (1,124) and Alvin Kamara (728), the running backs and the team’s offensive line rarely had to account for eight or more defenders near the line of scrimmage. Saints’ opponents have been unwilling to commit to stopping the run — which is what you generally do against great running teams. To measure this fairly across the league, we first need to get rid of all the obvious pass or run scenarios based on down and distance or game situation.1We threw out any play where there were more than two wide receivers in the formation or an offense was down two or more scores because this suggests to a defense that a pass is coming. We also dumped all short-yardage plays (1 yard from a first down) and goal-line situations (3 or fewer yards from the end zone). Lastly, we ignored the final six minutes of the game because an offense’s intentions here are frequently obvious — whether it’s to play catch-up (pass) or to kill clock (run). Looking at what’s left, the Saints faced stacked fronts of eight or more defenders on just 37 of their 172 rushing plays, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group — a rate of 21.5 percent that’s 25th in the league. The average for all NFL teams is 28 percent. Miami4.128.01513 NY Giants4.033.9168 Houston3.824.82419 Minnesota4.028.31912 Cleveland4.123.21022 The Saints weren’t the only team that seemed to be preventing defenses from loading the box, but they had by far the most running success. Like the Saints, the Chiefs and Falcons ranked in the top five in yards per pass, which was enough to keep defenses from committing to stopping the run. While the Rams appear to fit this profile too, they played so many three-plus WR sets that teams simply could not commit that many defenders to the line of scrimmage.Playing against conventional fronts even when employing run-friendly personnel (no more than two WRs) is the key to the Saints’ success in generating yards before contact. Their running backs led the NFL in 2.85 yards on average before encountering a defender. Yes, a lot of this is good vision by the backs and effective offensive line blocking. But the fact that there weren’t often too many defenders at the line of scrimmage was Kamara and Ingram’s secret weapon.On paper, Brees’s role in the offense seems more minimized than ever: 23 touchdown passes after nine straight years of 30 or more, just 536 pass attempts after averaging 656 the prior seven seasons, and a Saints career low of 4,334 yards. But this isn’t 2015 Peyton Manning clearly wheezing to the finish line and needing the team to dominate in other areas in order to win. Brees, 38, led the NFL this year in yards per pass attempt, and his 103.9 passer rating was his best since 2013.Look no further than the Saints’ opponent on Sunday for an example of a team that has to deal with stacked fronts because defenses don’t fear the passing game. Carolina running backs had to face at least eight defenders in the box on 42 percent of the rushing plays in our sample, the second-highest rate in the league. And why not? Cam Newton ranks 21st in passing yards per attempt and 24th in passer rating, and he’s more a threat when he’s running himself.But even Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers (37.2 percent) and Tom Brady’s Patriots (27.7 percent) were forced to send running backs into defenses with extra run-stoppers at the line of scrimmage far more often than the Saints. Maybe defenses have been slow to adjust to the Saints’ new offensive model, but Brees’s presence helping the running game find room is no recent phenomenon. Since 2010, the Saints’ average of 4.5 yards per rush by their running backs is the third-best rate in football.The even worse news for Carolina on Sunday is that perhaps no team has been more flustered by the multidimensional Saints than these Panthers. In their two prior meetings, both Saints wins, Carolina allowed 149 and 148 rushing yards. Those are the two worst performances by the Panthers’ run defense all year. And it’s not like they’re stopping Brees either: The future Hall of Famer posted a 117.8 passer rating with four TD passes in those two contests. The Panthers seem to have been caught in between the new Saints and the old-model Saints — and able to stop neither.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Pittsburgh4.037.2174 LA Chargers3.924.12221 Denver4.021.21826 Philadelphia4.534.547 Seattle3.318.23230 Chicago4.119.51429 Arizona3.444.0301 Oakland4.137.5113 Detroit3.318.03131 San Francisco4.127.31316 Dallas4.336.665 NY Jets4.030.52010 Cincinnati3.719.62528 Excludes plays that are obvious passing or rushing situations: when a team is down by at least two scores, is in a short-yardage situation, is at the goal line or is showing three or more WRs; or when the game is in the final six minutes.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Kansas City4.722.9223 Buffalo4.028.92111 Green Bay4.124.61220 Indianapolis3.620.02727 LA Rams4.522.6324 New Orleans5.121.5%125 Carolina3.642.0282 RANK Teams don’t crowd the line to stop New OrleansNFL teams by rushing yards from running backs in 2017, with how often each offense faced at least eight defenders in the box Baltimore4.227.0817 Tennessee3.931.0239 Atlanta4.217.3732 Tampa Bay3.525.22918 Jacksonville4.236.296 New England4.427.7515 TeamYards/Rush8+ Box RateYards/Rush8+ Box
In 15 tries since the NBA adopted its modern playoff structure in 1984, only one team has gotten out of an 0-2 Finals hole: the 2006 Miami Heat. That team clawed its way back when Dwyane Wade put on maybe the greatest individual performance in Finals history, the kind of thing LeBron James is also capable of doing. But those Heat hadn’t played anywhere near as poorly as the Cavs have through two Finals games.It gets worse: If we expand our view to include all best-of-seven series since 1984, we find that 6 percent of teams with an 0-2 deficit have gone on to win the series, none of which were dominated as thoroughly as the Cavs. The smart money says it probably isn’t happening. Elo gives Cleveland a mere 11 percent chance of winning now, and it doesn’t even know that Kevin Love’s Game 3 status is up in the air after suffering a concussion in Game 2. But talk of a sweep might be premature. The same historical data that underscored the grim state of Cleveland’s title chances also shows that there’s little to no relationship between an 0-2 team’s margin of defeat in games 1-2 and the eventual length of the series. First and foremost among the exceptions: the 1995 Houston Rockets. Despite being defending champs, the Rockets went into their second-round series against the Phoenix Suns as underdogs, and were beaten by 46 combined points in games 1 and 2. Back in Houston for Game 3, they rolled over the Suns by 33. But they lost Game 4 at home and had to gut out three consecutive victories, the last of which was sealed with Mario Elie’s “Kiss of Death”: Never underestimate the heart of a champion, indeed.Cleveland needn’t go back so far in the history books for the other team to bounce back from a remotely comparable hole. This year’s Portland Trail Blazers were beaten by 41 combined by the Los Angeles Clippers in games 1 and 2 of their first-round series before storming back to win four straight. But it’s worth mentioning that the Clippers lost point god Chris Paul to a season-ending injury late in Game 4, significantly lowering the difficulty of a Portland comeback. By contrast, the Cavs would have to perform a revival the hard way — unless there’s another Steph Curry injury. Listen to the latest episode of our sports podcast Hot Takedown. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code By Neil Paine Before the NBA Finals tipped off last Thursday, I and others thought the Cleveland Cavaliers might give the Golden State Warriors a better fight this year than last. Unfortunately for Cleveland — as usual — that notion is quickly vanishing. Fresh off an easy 15-point victory in Game 1, the Warriors crushed the Cavs by 33 in Game 2 on Sunday night, burying the Cavs in the most demoralizing 0-2 hole in championship history. Before this year, no team had ever beaten an opponent by 48 combined points in the first two games of the Finals.If we account for the fact that the first two Finals games this year were played on the Warriors’ home court — meaning we subtract from the home team’s margin its built-in advantage of about 3.6 points per game, in accordance with our Elo ratings — the Cavs have been running about 20 points per game behind the Warriors in the series so far. Even among teams sporting 0-2 Finals deficits, that’s just embarrassing: Although no team that was dominated as utterly as the Cavs has gone on to win a series from an 0-2 deficit, just as many forced a sixth game as were swept. In fact, of the 30 teams in our 0-2 sample to be beaten by an average location-adjusted margin of at least 15 points in games 1-2, only a third were swept; 30 percent lost in five games, 23 percent lost in six, 7 percent bowed out in seven — and 7 percent went on to win the series.And if they’re looking for inspiration to avoid the brooms, the Cavs should look at themselves, but in reverse. Early in the Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland built a 2-0 lead, whipping the Toronto Raptors by an adjusted average of 21.4 points per contest. That was a start so dominant that it had us speculating on the Cavs’ place in history, and it made the idea of the Raptors winning even a single game feel remote. But the Raptors promptly won two straight to tie the series (before eventually being closed out in six games). Faint consolation for Cleveland, but in dire times, it may have to serve.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
3Kansas City4487719468.8 Distance from team’s stadium to St. Louis, in miles0.94 Top teams by Blythe’s most heavily weighted criteria More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code Suspensions of players since 2007; extra weight to crimes against women1.98 Not all of these are perfect — for instance, the NFL suspends players for all manner of benign behavior — but imperfections like that should wash out somewhat in the aggregate. When the dust settled on the data analysis, my 2016 team was unveiled: the Green Bay Packers. OK, I could deal with that. My football memory didn’t include a lot of anger toward the team or its fans (which always helps), and I don’t mind having the chance to cheer for a winner. Their appearance at the top wasn’t altogether surprising, partly because of their unique ownership structure. They also scored high in player likability, future wins and team tradition, with above-average marks in off-field behavior as well.Green Bay was followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. In dead last? The Tennessee Titans.5Oh, hey, former Oilers. (Check out our 2016 NFL predictions for every team.) Here were my top 10 rankings, along with each team’s score in the four categories I gave the most weight: Stylishness of uniform, according to Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas0.12 Players’ effort on the field and likability off it1.74 Projected wins over next five seasons1.62 Wins per fan dollars spent1.16 10Baltimore690904256.8 Courtesy toward fans; how well a team uses technology to reach them1.02 Thanks a lot, Kroenke, you’ve put my niece fully in the Packers’ camp. 7Seattle299410010062.8 Are the team’s next five years likely to be better than their previous five?1.28 Size of market in terms of population, where bigger is better0.04 Strength of on-field leadership0.42 Quality of venue; fan-friendliness; frequency of promotions0.46 By Blythe Terrell Blythe’s criteria for a perfect team Overall includes rankings from all criteria, not just those listed here. What do you do when your pro sports team goes away? It’s a question fans have had to ask again and again, when a Colts or an Oilers or a SuperSonics or an Expos team closes up shop and hits the road. This year, it was a question I had to ask myself.I’ve been a St. Louis Rams fan since they rolled into my hometown in 1995. I was 12 years old and knew next to nothing about football, but my mom, who loves the sport almost as much as she loves college basketball, was more than ready to board the Rams bus. My parents shelled out the cash for the personal seat licenses and then the tickets, and my siblings and I took turns eating nachos and learning the game in domed comfort1I was extremely jealous of all the teams with open-air stadiums. over the ensuing two decades. I was introduced to football by Jerome Bettis and Isaac Bruce, and was fully immersed by the time Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the Greatest Show on Turf rolled through town. After the boom times, we stuck it out through seasons of weak, sometimes atrocious, football (what’s up, 2009?). And we had a next-generation fan in the making: My toddler niece went to her first — and last — St. Louis Rams game last season.2My brother-in-law is a Packers fan, so don’t worry, she has a backup.So when hometown villain Stan Kroenke3Did you know his first name is Enos, and he was named after Cardinals baseball legends Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial? Fun fact that is in no way infuriating to St. Louisans. pulled the plug and hauled the Rams back to California — leaving behind some choice words that left fans fuming — my fellow fans and I were left to puzzle out what’s next. The way I saw it, these were my options:Support the Los Angeles Rams (nope).Give up the NFL, or, the lite version, be the person who watches solely to cheer for the dudes on her fantasy team but has no real loyalty.Back my husband’s team, the cross-state Kansas City Chiefs — the NFL equivalent of the nice Midwestern boy I knew as a kid but who went to a different high school.Pick the more appealing New York team, since I live in the city, and even bars with, like, two TVs would probably be showing the game.Turn it into a math problem.Since I’m an editor at FiveThirtyEight, the choice was clear.In search of the analysis, I went hat in hand to my colleague Neil Paine. Could we figure out the ideal team for me to support? A team with less terrible ownership that was unlikely to leave me (and a city full of supporters) feeling like a fool? And could I pick a team based also on other factors that matter to me, such as whether a team’s players are publicly known or suspected to have committed violent crimes against women?It was all possible, and Neil was on board. I pledged to support the team dictated by the data for at least one full season, even if it was the Seahawks or — deep breath — the Patriots.Neil’s analysis graded each team in 16 categories — some of which were taken from ESPN the Magazine’s long-running “ultimate standings” (which use surveys conducted by opinion research firms in a similar attempt to quantify the benefits of rooting for each pro franchise in the U.S. and Canada), and some we calculated ourselves. Each reflected a component of a team’s identity, including ownership, uniforms, the club’s fan-friendliness and winning tradition. Plugging those factors into the website All Our Ideas, he created a form that would be able to weight each category by its importance to my own fandom. 2Pittsburgh6997848172.9 6Carolina4474779064.0 Ownership honesty and loyalty to core players and the community1.92 Then it was my turn. I went through randomly generated head-to-head matchups among those 16, selecting the factor that mattered more to me in each case. For example, I might have to choose between player behavior and fan relations, and then uniforms versus ownership. I repeated this exercise with different randomly selected permutations until I had voted 3,352 times,4This took me most of six hours. There’s no significance to this number; we just wanted a big sample. at which point I had personalized rankings of — and weights for — each of the 16 factors. Here they are, sorted by the amount of influence each had on the team-picking process; you can find a sample version here. 8Indianapolis1648872660.1 1Green Bay69100977779.7 Price of tickets, parking and concessions0.62 Podcast: Listen to Blythe discuss how she discovered her new team. Size of market in terms of population, where smaller is better0.52 TEAM RATING CRITERIAWEIGHT Distance from team’s stadium to New York, in miles1.00 TEAMPLAYER SUSPENSIONSOWNERSHIPPLAYER EFFORT AND LIKABILITYPROJECTED WINSOVERALL Championships/division titles/wins in team’s entire history1.20 4New England7765948768.4 9Arizona5671818459.8 5Buffalo6977586866.5 (If you’d like to run this exercise yourself, you can find a list of every team’s rating in every category on GitHub.)So the data has spoken: I’m trading in the blue and gold for the green and gold. As for the fans in L.A., congratulations. I hope your experience with the Rams is a good one, and I’m sure many of you are excited to have them back. I’m just sorry they came attached to this guy.Neil Paine contributed data analysis.[VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team
Perhaps when kicker Aaron Pettrey strikes the ball off the tee around noon on Saturday, attention will be shifted to the opposition actually on the field that day.Despite the buzzing anticipation surrounding a certain adversary scheduled to trek to Columbus on Sept. 12, the Buckeyes must first handle their season-opening opponent, Navy. The Midshipmen are no walkovers either, having won at least eight games in each of the past six seasons.Coach Jim Tressel ensures that his squad isn’t looking past a solid Navy team.“The only distraction we have right now is Navy and figuring out how to stop that option,” he said.The option that Tressel refers to is Navy’s unique offensive attack, the triple-option. The Midshipmen led the nation in rushing thanks to a gameplan that calls for the quarterback, running back and fullback to all motion toward the line of scrimmage before one of the players carries the ball forward.Navy ran the ball 715 times last season, while only passing it on 93 occasions.Opposing defenses, struck with mass confusion, often find it difficult to determine which potential ball carrier to stop. Sprinkling in fake handoffs and infrequent passes make containing the attack even trickier. “[Our defense] will never have seen so many guys flying at them at the speed at which it happens here,” Tressel said.Few teams execute the triple-option, and perhaps none as efficiently as Navy. They averaged more than 27 points per game and finished the season with four players totaling at least 480 yards rushing.“I don’t think you know what you’re in for when you face this offense until you’re out on the field,” Tressel said. “It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. Our guys are going to have to stay on their feet, because if they’re not on their feet, they’re in trouble. But our guys are preparing hard- our defense, I think, has a good plan.”On the other side of the ball, Navy must sketch out a blueprint to contain Terrelle Pryor, the Big Ten Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. The sophomore quarterback has evolved into the leader of the Buckeye offense, an important factor since the team will rely on many inexperienced athletes to contribute.“We’ve got a lot of new guys that we’ve got high hopes for and they’ve been working hard and let’s see how they do,” an optimistic Tressel said. “Maybe you assume that they’ll progress, but still that’s a question. We have a lot of practice, but it’s different when you get over there.”As for Pryor, the first OSU freshman to start at quarterback in 30 years, Tressel expects a steady progression from his rookie campaign to his second year.“A year ago this time, he was getting 15, 20 percent of the snaps and just doing a very limited amount of things, trying to figure out what the formations meant,” Tressel said. “He’s still a sophomore but he’s got a tremendous amount more vantage point than he had a year ago.”The Buckeyes enter the season amid the typical high expectations. They’ll carry the nation’s No. 6 ranking into The Shoe on Saturday, and if they can contain the triple-option, then the team can finally focus on the contest against USC.
Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) hands the ball off to redshirt junior running back Mike Weber (25) in the third quarter of the game against TCU on Sept. 15. Ohio State won 40-28. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorIn head coach Urban Meyer’s first game back on the sideline, Ohio State returns home for a matchup against the Tulane Green Wave.The Buckeyes come in after their 40-28 victory over then-No. 15 TCU, led by two defensive touchdowns and a 344-yard effort by redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins.The Green Wave holds a 1-2 record in 2018 and is coming off a 31-24 loss to UAB. Tulane’s sole victory comes against FCS opponent Nicholls State, who lost 42-17.When redshirt senior offensive tackle Malcolm Pridgeon was asked about Tulane, he compared the Green Wave to a certain team the Buckeyes have already faced.“They’re kind of like Rutgers,” Pridgeon said. “They’re a talented team.”Tulane enters the matchup with an offense ranked No. 71 and a defense ranked No.109 in the nation in yards per game. In the running game, the Green Wave’s offense ranks No. 52 with 199.3 yards per game, while allowing the 25th-most.Senior quarterback Jonathan Banks leads the Tulane offense, completing 48.1 percent of his passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns, with one interception. Banks has also run 33 times, but for only 29 yards and a touchdown.Most of those lost yards are from sacks, with the Green Wave having allowed 12 this season. The four per game is tied for third-worst in the NCAA.Ohio State junior safety Jordan Fuller said he expects Banks to bring a style of offense similar to TCU sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson.“He could do it all,” Fuller said. “He’s definitely a threat with his feet, so, he has a strong arm as well.” Wide receivers Darnell Mooney and Terren Encalade are two major threats for Banks to use. The two have combined for 29 of Banks’ 37 completions, including all five of his touchdowns. Mooney’s 308 yards are good for No. 19 in the nation.In the run game, redshirt junior Corey Dauphine and junior Darius Bradwell offer Tulane two strong options at running back. Bradwell has been used more consistently, with 39 carries for 207 yards and a touchdown. But Dauphine has been dominant in 2018, averaging 12.4 yards per carry on 19 rushes, scoring three touchdowns on his own.Redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said the focus for Ohio State will remain on slowing down the run.“No matter the team, the focus never changes,” Jones said. “Our goal is to stop the run, eliminate big plays and create takeaways always.”The Green Wave has shined in the secondary, tied for No. 7 in the nation with six interceptions this season.“I feel like they’ve got aggressive defensive backs,” redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill said. “We expect a very aggressive game.”PredictionIf Tulane were to pull off the upset of a lifetime — Ohio State is a 37.5-point favorite according to Bovada — it needs Banks to go to Mooney and Encalade early and often to disrupt the Buckeyes’ weakest spot of the team at this point: the secondary.Dauphine and Bradwell could make a sizable impact and a big run, something Ohio State has struggled with, which could open up the passing game even more.Haskins has proved he can do anything but crack under the pressure up to this point, but Tulane’s secondary could make plays to get him off his game.In a perfect world, the Green Wave has a few opportunities to make a dent. But, Ohio State is far too deep and, even without redshirt junior defensive end Nick Bosa, its defensive front should look to dominate Tulane’s lackluster offensive line.Running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, respectively, each could have big days against a defense that has failed to cover the run well, and Haskins’ performance against TCU proved his ability to stay composed under pressure.Tulane offers more weapons and talent than both Oregon State and Rutgers, but Ohio State still dominates the Green Wave on paper, and adding Meyer’s return to the mix, the Buckeyes should easily handle anything Tulane has to offer.Wyatt Crosher: 56-17 Ohio StateColin Gay: 63-14 Ohio StateEdward Sutelan: 63-10 Ohio StateRachel Bules: 55-14 Ohio StateChase Ray: 63-17 Ohio State
A bisexual priest who took part in group sex and visited gay saunas has been sacked after his wife exposed his double life.A Church of England tribunal heard details of Reverend James Day’s sexual antics after his estranged wife amassed a cache of evidence against him and made a formal complaint.This included four memory sticks containing pornographic images and explicit emails Rev Day sent referring to gay liaisons. After hearing a damning statement from Birte Day, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Europe ruled his actions amounted to “conduct unbecoming and inappropriate” and banned him from ministry for life.The hearing found the dad-of-three had been violent towards his wife – tightening a scarf around her throat so she couldn’t breathe, spanking her as punishment for wearing shorts, and spitting in her face. Day’s wife found business cards suggesting her husband was visiting gay saunas Birte said one image she downloaded in 2011 was of her husband taking part in group sex.She also referenced an email she had found from Day to his friend in which he wrote:“You must never desist on account of my priesthood…It has nothing to do with my perfection and all to do with vocation…Perhaps I should send you photos from a gangbang I participated in…to assuage your guilt.”Birte also found business cards suggesting her husband was visiting gay saunas in Brussels, New York and Italy.She said he became increasingly open about his “sexual addiction”, adding: “He often said the two most important elements in his life were God and sex.”In order to remain anonymous, Day created email addresses for himself under different names and identities. It also heard how Day stored “a substantial amount” of “depraved and perverted” pornography and indecent material on his computer – including sketches of naked women being tortured and burned.There was also proof the priest – who is also a psychology professor – took part in group sex, sought out sex with prostitutes, visited gay saunas and used a fake name to meet new partners.Mrs Day told the tribunal she married her husband in 1999 and moved to Cambridge with him in 2001 while he completed his theological training at Westcott House.He then became a curate in a church in Ostend, Belgium and was ordained priest in 2004.Birte said she starting collecting material against him towards the end of their relationship when “James neglected me” and “used to speak badly of me”.She found “huge files” on his computer containing pornographic images and began storing them on memory sticks.She said: “I had to protect myself by gathering evidence to show that he was not normal, because to others outside the marriage he projected himself to be a successful and respectable person.”Between 2010 and 2011, she amassed four memory sticks of material.“There were about 50 short films of men and women in scenes of sexual pleasure and orgies, at least 100 sketches of naked women being tortured and burned, a scene of a gladiator being hit and tortured, many images of naked young men…and other sexually explicit material.” The hearing was set up after Birte lodged a formal complaint He often said the two most important elements in his life were God and sexBirte Day “He was trying to make it appear that his sexual practices and behaviour were normal. He was not embarrassed that I knew about his sexual activities outside our marriage, and he readily admitted to them.”Describing the moments Day was violent towards her, Birte said the “worst” incident was in 2012 when her husband grabbed a scarf she was wearing.“The grasp was strong, powerful and menacing,” she said. “He tried to pull the ends close together to the point where I had difficulties breathing.”She also described how he once “twisted” her arm and bit her hand and that their children came into their bedroom “very concerned”.In 2011, Birte said Day “spanked me on the bottom and denigrated me” after she was seen wearing shorts and a t-shirt in front of workmen who had come to pick up garden rubbish. She said: “He said that I had not to wear indecent clothes, in particular not in front of these men who would be looking at me.”The Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Europe concluded Day’s behaviour was not criminal — but that standards for the clergy “must be different”.It said: “We are satisfied that the possession of the material on his computers and the seeking of or taking part in sexual relations with others while married was conduct unbecoming and inappropriate.”The hearing said it was “satisfied” that assaults on Birte took place, adding the allegation against the priest was “proved in its entirety”.Day did not attend the tribunal but didn’t contest the proceedings.In an email he claimed he had collected “dozens of letters” that would “cast serious doubt on the credibility of his wife”.And he said “criminal charges” had been filed against complainants in Belgium. In order to remain anonymous, Day created email addresses for himself under different names and identities You must never desist on account of my priesthood…It has nothing to do with my perfection and all to do with vocation…Perhaps I should send you photos from a gangbang I participated in…to assuage your guiltRev Day In one email he used the alias ‘Henry Olsen’ to arrange a meeting with a woman known as Amanda in Brussels who charged €130 “for one hour”.When his wife confronted him about ‘Henry Olsen’, he did not deny using the fake name.“I think James wanted to hurt me with his sexual activities and was making me feel guilty as I was just ‘not good enough’” she said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
It is the first time the base has been closed for the winter Credit:BAS During the summer months the BAS could quickly airlift staff to safety should there by a sudden fracturing of the ice sheet. But, access to Halley by ship or aircraft is extremely difficult during the winter months of 24-hour darkness, extremely low temperatures and the frozen sea.There are currently 88 people on station including summer-only staff working on the relocation project and 16 who were scheduled to over-winter. Some staff may be deployed to other BAS teams.The BAS said every effort was being made to ensure the continuity of long-term scientific data capture.It is the latest problem to beset the base. In 2012, satellite monitoring of the ice shelf revealed the first signs of movement in the chasm that had lain dormant for at least 35 years and, by 2013, it began opening at an alarming pace of one mile per year. If the base does not move, it could be in danger of tumbling into the chasm by 2020.To make matters more time critical, in October, a new crack emerged 10 miles to the north of the research station across the route sometimes used to resupply the base. The team had just nine weeks to relocate operations, before the harsh winter begins, making it difficult to move the structure amid complete darkness, plummeting temperatures and gale-force winds.The base was to be broken up into its eight modules and driven further inland on the back of large tractors. But the exercise has been abandoned to allow staff to be taken to safety.The base is crucial to studies into global issues such as the impact of extreme space weather events, climate change, and atmospheric phenomena. Ozone measurements have also been made continuously at Halley since 1956 and it was scientific investigations from this location that led to the discovery of the Antarctic Ozone Hole in 1985.Space weather data captured at Halley VI contributes to the Space Environment Impacts Expert Group that provides advice to Government on the impact of space weather on UK infrastructure and business.The station is also home to an ongoing European Space Agency (ESA) experiment which is testing how well people can adapt to life in remote and isolated locations in preparations for long space flights, such as the first Mars landing. Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey are abandoning their research station for the first time ever this winter after a new worrying crack developed in the ice sheet.The renowned Halley VI ice base, from which the hole in the ozone layer was first detected, was already scheduled to be relocated 14 miles across the Brunt Ice Shelf because of an encroaching fissure in the ice.But a new crack has been steadily growing to the north of the base, and computer modelling suggests that it could cause a large iceberg to calve away from the sheet, which could destabalise the area.Although the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) says nobody is immediate danger, they cannot be sure that conditions would not worsen during the difficult conditions of the southern polar winter when an evacuation would be impossible.“We want to do the right thing for our people,” said Captain Tim Stockings, the Director of Operations at the base.“Bringing them home for winter is a prudent precaution given the changes that our glaciologists have seen in the ice shelf in recent months.“The Halley VI Research Station sits on a floating ice shelf. It was designed specifically to move inland if required. The current work to relocate our station is going very well. This challenging engineering project is scheduled to complete as planned by early March 2017. “Our goal is to winterise the station and leave it ready for re-occupation as soon as possible after the Antarctic winter.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Show more A survey of herds in 18 African countries last year estimated 27,000 elephants are being slaughtered annually – around eight per cent of the total population. Rhino numbers are also falling sharply. Maj Viney, who spent a year in the jungles of Sierra Leone in 2005, said he hoped the Army’s tracking skills could be revived.He said during the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns human tracking skills had focussed on trying to spot signs of activity and ‘patterns of life’ rather than finding and following people over long distances. A ranger inspects a rhino killed by poachers in the Kruger National Park, South AfricaCredit:James Oatway/Getty Images British soldiers have provided support to African park rangers in the past, with a recent deployment tackling elephant poachers in Gabon.Those deployments saw troops pass on basic infantry and intelligence skills.The new unit, taken from 1st (UK) Division, will eventually take over all anti-poaching missions.The Malawi deployment will see troops from the new team, part of 102 Logistic Brigade, embed with park rangers for three months in Liwonde National Park. The teams will conduct long-range patrols through the 225 square mile park. A Lance corporal from 2 Rifles with National Parks Agency guards on a jungle patrol in Gabon, in Central Africa.Credit:Graeme Main/British Army The counter poaching operators (CPOs), who have been chosen from all branches of the Army, have trained to track poachers through bush and forest over long distances for days at a time.Maj Tony Viney, a qualified jungle warfare instructor leading the unit, said: “If you look back over the years, having trackers right down to section level was a key point.“Your front men were always ones that could track and find where the enemy are. That got lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, because it was a skill set that wasn’t needed.”Conservationists warn that Africa is facing a poaching crisis, with the killing of animals for the ivory trade at its worst level for 30 or 40 years. Maj Viney, of The Yorkshire Regiment, said the CPOs would be working with park staff to stop poachers breaching the fence, killing animals and taking the ivory.But he said the soldiers were hoping to learn a lot from their partners.Soldiers were selected for the unit during a course at Catterick and then spent weeks training in Kenya. As well as learning tracking, they learnt survival skills such as how to catch, kill and butcher food in the wild, how to find water and make fire. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. He said: “Tracking is all about the brain and patience, it’s not necessarily about infantry skills.” The British Army is building a new team of counter poaching specialists to help allies tackle wildlife crime and try to revive tracking skills lost during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.Soldiers from the 20-strong group will fly to Malawi later this month for a pilot deployment working with local wildlife rangers hunting poachers through the bush.Commanders believe the project also offers an opportunity for the Army to rebuild tracking expertise that had been neglected in recent campaigns.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. I also suspect that some judges do not realise that what they say and how they behave affects those who appear before them long after they leave the courtroom Family law barrister Lucy Reed said lawyers who experience bullying feel “powerless, paralysed, silenced” in a similar way to victims of sexual harassment. In a post on her own blog, published last year, Ms Reed said: “I suspect that this issue is at least in part exacerbated by the immense pressure on our judges. “It is a tough job, and judges are only human. That doesn’t make bullying excusable but it’s important to say nonetheless. But here I’m more interested in the impact than the cause. “Because I also suspect that some judges do not realise that what they say and how they behave affects those who appear before them long after they leave the courtroom.”Angela Rafferty, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The Criminal Bar has a zero tolerance of bullying. The privilege of public service brings responsibility and on this the justice system is united.”Last week head of the family division of the High Court Sir James Munby said judges were “grotesquely overworked” and “tired” and so more likely to make errors. In a piece for lawyers’ magazine Counsel, she said she herself had been bullied and added: “I have received emails from members of the Bar at all levels of Call who have experienced judicial bullying and felt deskilled and humiliated as a result.”Last year barristers from London-based Garden Court chambers wrote a piece for the Law Society Gazette which reported numerous examples of bullying including a female barrister who was “driven to tears in the robing room” after being bullied for “standing up to the judge”. In another case a lawyer was told by a judge that they needed “to be very careful indeed”. The judge allegedly added: “If you come in front of me again with that kind of assertion (appearance of bias) with nothing to back it up then you will be in trouble”. The JCIO received 2,126 complaints in 2016/17, compared to 2,609 in 2015/16. The vast majority of complaints were rejected.When the figures were published last year Stephanie Hack, joint head of the JCIO, said the low number of disciplinary actions – just 42 in that year – was a “testament to the high standards of conduct maintained by judicial office holders”. Rude judges are “bullying” lawyers in courtrooms, a top QC has complained. Professor Jo Delahunty QC said barristers have told her how they had been humiliated by “judicial bullying”.She said some judges “abuse their position by being unjustifiably rude, hostile, unfairly critical of and abusive towards lawyers who appear before them”. The top barrister, who works in family law and specialises in child abuse and protection, said that lawyers were too afraid to raise the behaviour with watchdog the judicial conduct investigations office. She said the behaviour went “well beyond the grumpy, peeved or abrasive when an advocate’s conduct falls below that which could properly be expected by the Bench of them.”She added: “I am not talking of stern (even taciturn) judicial intervention and direction in a case to keep issues focused. “What was being reported from the Bar described conduct from some judges that was highly inappropriate such that it fell within the Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) definition of workplace bullying: ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied’. “And yet, it is rare that this kind of judicial behaviour is brought to light officially.” There are around 26,000 members of the judiciary. Some barristers have linked the alleged bullying with the #MeToo movement which encouraged women to speak up about sexual harassment at work.
We are genuinely happy for Yulia Skripal and wish her a further recovery and rehabilitation. We pay tribute to the professionalism of NHS staff. At the same time, media reports that Yulia has left hospital for a “secure location” cause concern. Read: https://t.co/HLuV8SgXj1 pic.twitter.com/IqisXZlyGv— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) April 10, 2018 The embassy followed this up with another request to see Ms Skripal, claiming Britain was “continuing its policy of isolating her from the public, concealing important evidence and blocking an impartial and independent investigation.” British officials have said it would make little sense to allow them access to the pair, given the suspected culpability. Sergei Skripal, is still recovering in Salisbury District Hospital. Yesterday in a statement hospital medical director Dr Christine Blanchard said: “Although (Sergei) is recovering more slowly, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course.” Dr Blanchard said that both had responded “exceptionally well” to treatment but had suffered “hallucinations and confusion” since emerging from comas.Because the long-term effects of novichok are not well understood, the Skripals are expected to continue to receive medical care for some time following their discharge. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Yulia Skripal has reportedly refused assistance from the Russians since waking up in hospital, as her home country claims Britain has “abducted” her.The daughter of Sergei Skripal, a Russian double agent spent weeks in a critical condition after being poisoned with nerve agent novichok, which is thought to have been smeared on the front door of Mr Skripal’s Salisbury home.The 33-year-old was taken to a ‘safe house’ on Monday after being discharged, and according to The Times has refused consular assistance from the Russian Embassy.After her release, the embassy tweeted: “We congratulate Yulia Skripal on her recovery.”Yet we need urgent proof that what is being done to her is done on her own free will. Secret resettlement of Mr and Ms Skripal, barred from any contact with their family, will be seen as an abduction or at least as their forced isolation.” She added that Yulia Skripal’s treatment is not yet over, but that her release marks a “significant milestone.”
A London drill rapper who was killed in a knife attack on Wednesday night recently admitted that the genre was contributing to violence in the capital.Moscow17 rapper Incognito, whose real name is believed to be Siddique Kamara, was stabbed to death in Warham Street in Camberwell in an incident which saw two other people taken to hospital by air ambulance.The attack happened on the same street where 17-year-old Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton – a member of the same music gang – was found with a fatal gunshot wound in May this year.Earlier this year, Incognito was interviewed about the effect of drill music on crime in the capital, during which he said “music does influence it” and admitted “you’ve got to put your hands up”.His group’s tracks fetch hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and some feature references to other groups in the capital, including long-running rivals Zone 2 from Peckham.In one track, Moscow17 tells Zone 2 to “check the scoreboard”, while another asks “How you gonna make it even?”. A Zone 2 lyric in response tells their rivals they would “roll up and burst them”. Today we have taken a very sad loss in our member @SK017_ /Incognito , we ask for all prayers be directed towards him & his family 💔— Moscow Music (@Moscow17Music) August 1, 2018 17-year-old Rhyhiem Ainsworth Barton was fatally shot in May Credit:AFP He added: “There (are) many ways to solve it – you can bring out youth clubs, you can bring out many other things, invest money in other things to help the community, but you don’t want to do that – you just want to use an excuse with drill music.”Moscow17 tweeted confirmation of Incognito’s death, describing it as a “very sad loss”. They linked to the rapper’s profile, which showed that just hours before he was knifed to death he tweeted about the weather “doing his nut in”. On July 31, he wrote a message: “My part of my (neighbour)hood is tragic right now. I walk with Allah daily. I’m blessed.” She said: “Let my son be the last and be an example to everyone. Just let it stop. What must be, must be.”Two men, aged 18 and 19, were arrested close to the scene on suspicion of murder, Scotland Yard said.Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard, who is leading the latest investigation, said: “Another young man has tragically and needlessly lost his life through an act of violence.”We are keeping an open mind about the positive motive for this attack, but at this early stage one line of enquiry is this being gang-related.”I’d like to reassure the community that we have made two arrests and we are working around the clock to establish what happened and bring those responsible to justice.”However, we cannot do this alone and I’d appeal to any witnesses or anyone with information to get in touch with us as a matter of urgency.” At the time of Incognitos’ band-member Rhyhiem’s death, his mother Pretana Morgan called for a halt in the wave of violence in the capital. Earlier this year, Kamara and another member of Moscow17 were cleared at the Old Bailey of murdering teenager Abdirahman Mohamed, a brother of a member of Zone 2. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The capital’s murder rate is on course for a 28 per cent rise in murders in 2018 after a wave of street killings. The detection rate is around 80% compared with 68.5% last year, Cressida Dick commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police said, with suspects charged in 74 cases, and 123 arrests made.Officers have seized 1,200 knives and 140 guns since April, and the use of stop-and-search powers has risen. This latest incident comes as the Met Police claims violent crime is starting to “stabilise” in London despite 87 people having been killed in the first seven months of the year. Forensic officers in Warham Street in Camberwell, south LondonCredit: Jonathan Brady/PA Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has called on social media platforms such as YouTube to take down videos that glamorised violence.And, in an interview with Link Up TV earlier this year, Incognito said: “You see with the crime that’s happening right now, music does influence it. You’ve got to put your hands up and say drill music does influence it,” he said.”But knife crime and gun crime has been going on way before drill music, so if you want to talk about 10 years, 20 years, people were still getting cheffed up (attacked with knifes).”
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The Duke stumbled briefly over his words at the end of his speech, appearing to begin to say “Matthew” before correcting himself to “Mayhew” as he told a small audience it gave him “enormous pleasure” to declare the room open.Lady Mayhew’s children said she would be “absolutely thrilled” to know the theatre had been named for her, adding she would have been encouraged to know the progress woman had made in the diplomatic service.Judy said: “We’re really proud of Mum. She battled quite hard though her life in a lot of ways and she would be over the moon to see this.” During the visit, the Duke was welcomed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Jeremy Hunt, and given a tour by Sir Simon MacDonald, Permanent Under-Secretary of State.The Mayhew Theatre allows staff to join sessions virtually from across the world, and will be used to support the delivery of the Diplomatic Academy curriculums.The new theatre will allow the Academy to improve their learning culture by bringing larger groups of people together, both physically and virtually, to share knowledge, expertise and skills, a spokesman said. The Duke of Cambridge has warned of the challenges facing diplomats in the digital age, as he opens a new Foreign and Commonwealth Office learning hub named for a British female pioneer.The Duke, who unveiled a plaque at the Mayhew Theatre, said FCO staff must now “adapt to the opportunities and threats of new technologies”.Urging them to “make time for learning and study hard”, he told them: “Your work is absolutely essential to the country.”The “state-of-the-art learning facility” in the Diplomatic Academy at the FCO in London is named after Lady Mayhew: the second woman to be appointed to the British Diplomatic Service and the very first to be sent overseas.Born Cicely Ludlam, she had a first in French and German from Oxford and was recruited to Bletchley Park decoding messages for naval intelligence.After the Second World War, she joined the Foreign Office and travelled behind the Iron Curtain to Belgrade where she met Christopher Mayhew, minister and Labour politician and accepted his proposal. Three of her children, David, Tessa and Judy, and granddaughter Emily attended the ceremony to officially open the theatre, speaking of their pride in its name.“I was reading up about her,” the Duke told them. “She was a remarkable woman.“It’s interesting how times have changed isn’t it? I was reading about how she got married and had to relinquish her role. That must have been quite difficult for her, having built those relationships [for her career].“Did she talk about it a lot to you? It’s very nice that she wrote it all down.“I hope you’re proud of her.”In a short speech delivered shortly before he declared the theatre open, the Duke said: “I know how invaluable the work of the FCO is. Tessa Mayhew and David Mayhew talk with Prince WilliamCredit:AFP “I can see what you do for myself when I travel around the world at the government’s request.“I meet members of your service and I’m always impressed by your dedication to projecting our values, to protecting our national security, to creating prosperity and to supporting our systems all around the world.“I recognise the challenges of modern diplomacy in a digital age, where we need to adapt to the opportunities and threats of new technologies. David added: “One of the things she said at the end of her life was that she hated domesticity. She was a wonderful mother, but she missed being able to contribute her considerable intellectual gifts to the Foreign Office.“She would be absolutely thrilled.”The family were consulted about the name of the Mayhew Theatre, readily agreeing after being told their mother had been selected as the inspirational person to honour. The Duke of Cambridge views a model of the Mayhew Theatre at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Diplomatic AcademyCredit:AFP “Investing in the people who make up the diplomatic service is vital, and so I’m pleased to be here to help mark the next step forward in that investment.“I wish everyone who uses these facilities the very best as they aim to equip themselves for the challenges they will face in their careers.“Your work is absolutely essential to the country, so make time for learning and study hard.“And take inspiration for the commitment to public service that Cicely Mayhew showed throughout her entire life “I’ve heard a great deal about Cicely from her family, and this theatre and its purpose are a fitting tribute to her memory.” The Duke of Cambridge with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt Credit:PA The decision meant she had to give up her career, going on to have four children, supporting her husband’s political career and, in later life, interviewing candidates for the Foreign Office. She died in 2016 aged 92.