Katy Perry Dazzles, Sells During Super Bowl Halftime Show

After a costume and set change that looked more akin to “SpongeBob SquarePants” than the NFL thanks to dancing sharks and beach balls, Perry rolled out “Teenage Dream” and “California Gurls.

In addition to singing, Perry was also selling during the Super Bowl in what was the first shoppable halftime show. Limited edition products branded with Perry’s name were made available to viewers during the game and performance through a host of connected TV apps and Twitter.

Perry and Universal Music Group teamed up with tech firm Delivery Agent to make the items, including clothing and accessories, available for purchase via Twitter, YouTube, Shazam, Roku and on Samsung smart TVs. Visa handled the electronic payments and items will remain available through Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Perry also gave back Sunday, announcing that three Fender guitars used during the halftime performance would be auctioned off to benefit Break the Cycle, a national nonprofit organization working to empower youth to end domestic violence. The guitars will be available on NFL Auction through February 15, 2015.

Earlier Sunday evening, Idina Menzel kicked-off the Super Bowl performances with an impressive live rendition of the national anthem. The singer, widely known for the juggernaut “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” soared through the notes, laying to rest any concerns that may have lingered with fans after she was criticized for her performance of the hit song during “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”

John Legend followed Menzel, taking to the piano to deliver a soulful version of “America the Beautiful.”

The performance gained traction when Perry joined special guest Missy Elliott for body-shaking renditions of “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It” and “Lose Control.” Taking the spotlight, it was a brilliant showcase of the rapper’s hits.

Another glittering outfit switch, her fourth, proceeded the finale which saw Perry take to the air above center field, gliding over the crowd at Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium on a platform topped with a shooting star to end her halftime extravaganza with “Firework.” Accompanied by fireworks, natch.

While Perry may not have had the old school rock and soul feel Bruno Mars brought to the halftime performance in 2014, the glitzy, showy romp through her greatest hits was reminiscent of appearances by Beyoncé and Madonna in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

Katy Perry roared into Super Bowl 49 standing atop a giant human-operated metallic cat.

Her first song ahead of a dazzling, hit-filled Pepsi Halftime Show? “Roar,” of course.

Around 115 million viewers were expected to tune in to what became a lineup of Perry’s chart toppers. The 30-year-old pop singer moved on to “Dark Horse” before being joined by Lenny Kravitz for a guitar-laden riff on “I Kissed a Girl.” The halftime show began soon after the second quarter whistle with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks tied 14-14.

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Court Adjourned; Brady, Goodell to Meet With Judge

A federal judge put the NFL on the defensive over its four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Wednesday, demanding to know what evidence directly links Brady to deflating footballs and belittling the drama of the controversy.

Nash said there was “considerable evidence Mr. Brady clearly knew about this,” but he conceded there was no “smoking gun.”

At one point, Berman seemed to be trying to defuse the controversy, saying: “This Deflategate. I’m not sure where the ‘gate’ comes from.”

When the union got its chance to argue, the judge asked attorney Jeffrey L. Kessler why two Patriots employees would deflate balls without Brady’s knowledge.

Kessler said the union does not believe the balls were deflated, but, if they were, the employees believed it would help their quarterback.

Brady and Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t speak during the hearing, except to introduce themselves to Berman.

At the hearing’s start, Berman said he found “varying strengths to both sides here” and had not made up his mind as to how he might rule if the sides do not settle.
Goodell and Brady, along with their lawyers, met separately with the judge before the hearing started.

As Goodell arrived at the courthouse, he was greeted by a smattering of boos as he walked inside. Four minutes later, Brady arrived flanked by four security guards. Both men went through a security sweep like everyone else going to court.

He accused him of obstructing the NFL probe about a controversy that represented “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”

In court documents, the union’s lawyers said the suspension was unfair and violates the labor contract and complained that it would cause irreparable harm to Brady by forcing him to miss games.

They called a June appeal hearing before Goodell “a kangaroo court proceeding, bereft of fundamentally fair procedures.”

Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan repeatedly asked NFL lawyer Daniel L. Nash for direct evidence as he gave both sides a chance to state their case in the first hearing before him.

The public portion of the hearing ended at 12:45 p.m. EDT after about an hour, 20 minutes, and Berman began meeting individually with each side to continue settlement discussions in private.

The NFL sued two weeks ago asking for Berman to declare that its punishment of Brady was properly carried out. The players’ union countersued, asking him to nullify the suspension.

Berman noted that Brady’s statistics were better in the second half of the Patriots’ 45-7 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts in the Jan. 18 AFC championship game than in the first half, when the balls were found to have been underinflated.

“You might say (Brady) got no better advantage from the under-inflation,” the judge said.

Dozens of fans and journalists waited for two of the NFL’s most famous faces at the front entrance of the courthouse, including some fans wearing deflated football hats they were hoping to sell.

Goodell suspended Brady after concluding he “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to support a scheme in which a Patriots employee deflated balls on game day. Brady insists he knew nothing about it.

In a July 28 decision upholding the suspension, Goodell heavily criticized Brady for having an aide destroy a cellphone containing nearly 10,000 text messages from a four-month stretch including the AFC championship game.

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MLB Preview and Predictions: Who Wins the World Series?

All week long, we’ve been previewing the upcoming Major League Baseball season, and after picking our top teams, it’s time to crown a World Series champion.

For those that have missed an edition or two, here’s who we picked to be among the 10 playoff teams in MLB this season:

AL West Champion: Houston Astros

AL Central Champion:Kansas City Royals

AL East Champion: Toronto Blue Jays

AL Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels

NL West Champion:San Francisco Giants

NL Central Champion:Chicago Cubs

NL East Champion: New York Mets

NL Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals

Now, with our picks locked in, it’s time to go through the playoff picture.

Wild Card Games:Boston over Los Angeles, Pittsburgh over Washington

The Cubs are the most complete team in baseball.

Sure, the Mets likely have a better pitching staff. Sure, the Royals are incredible defensively. Heck, the Tigers have a lineup full of mashers.

The thing is that Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have seen numerous weaknesses in this club and have used free agency to shore them up. John Lackey is going to make the Cubs’ rotation really strong come playoff time. Zobrist and Heyward are the perfect guys to get on-base ahead of power hitters.

This team has everything they need to go far this season, and even though history suggests that picking the Cubs is a fool’s errand, it makes sense to crown them as the best team in baseball.

In the National League, the Cubs will be able to set their pitching staff and have home-field advantage over Pittsburgh, giving them two critical edges to go along with their potent lineup, which can score in a variety of ways. The Giants may not have the horses in the rotation that the Mets do, but they’re defensively sound and their pitching is good enough to overcome a Mets’ offense that has been weakened a bit by the departure of Daniel Murphy, and the Giants move on.

Championship Series:Kansas City over Houston, Chicago over San Francisco

Much like the Cubs in 2015, one gets the sense that the young Astros may have a tough time figuring out how to deal with their opponent in a really tough series. With home-field advantage, we’re giving Kansas City the edge here.

In the N.L., the Giants have some serious weapons to deal with, including Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, but the Cubs are absolutely built for a playoff series like this. Jason Heyward could go bonkers at the cavernous AT&T Park, and Ben Zobrist could also help set the table for the rest of the Cubs’ power hitters.

World Series: Chicago over Kansas City

The wild card contests are a total coin-flip, but we’ll try to take a stab at justifying the picks anyway. Boston will likely pitch David Price in a winner-take-all game, and although he hasn’t been able to really come through in the postseason during his career, the tide eventually has to turn for him.

As for Pittsburgh, they are one of the most complete teams in baseball, and even though we’re picking the Cubs to finish ahead of them in the Central race, a Gerrit Cole start in this game will be enough to knock off the Bryce Harper-led Nationals.

Division Series:Kansas City over Boston, Houston over Toronto, Chicago over Pittsburgh, San Francisco over New York

The Royals are a pesky bunch, and with Price throwing in the wild card game, they jump out to an early lead and bury the Red Sox. The Astros have a better pitching staff than the Blue Jays, and with the lineups closer in terms of ability, we’re picking Houston narrowly there.

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Celebrities Converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

The desert is great for stargazing, and that will certainly be the case as the Super Bowl takes over Phoenix and its suburbs.

The ESPN party on Friday will be a hub for some of the weekend’s biggest names in pro sports and entertainment. Also scheduled to make appearances at the show are “Frozen” star Idina Menzel, who will sing the national anthem at Sunday’s game and John Legend, who will sing “America the Beautiful” before kickoff.

GOOD TIMES FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Not all of the pre-game parties are simply for fun and games.

McHale will host a roast of NFL great Terry Bradshaw, a charity event that will benefit a program that brings entertainment to wounded veterans.

The Friars Club roast of Bradshaw is one of several charity events planned for this week, including the Big Game Big Give charity event. The gala is being hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg, director Michael Bay and Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams. The beneficiaries will be three charities, including Wahlberg’s foundation for inner city youth.

Gladys Knight headlines the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, which donates some of its proceeds to charity.

The evening, one of a handful of NFL-sanctioned events, will be hosted by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, retired NFL player Rodney Peete. The event will feature tributes to gospel performer Andrae Crouch and broadcaster Stuart Scott, who died earlier this month.

Rihanna headlines one of the weekend’s biggest private concerts, comedians Joel McHale and Kevin Hart will crack jokes for partygoers, newcomer Charli XCX will perform for troops and then revelers at ESPN’s party, and Jamie Foxx and Drake will hold court at a pair of lounges at a swanky Scottsdale hotel.

The events range from private, invite-only festivities to fan-friendly events that are open to anyone who buys a ticket.

Participants in this year’s Madden Bowl better bring their A game — or expect to be the brunt of jokes from Kevin Hart. “The Wedding Ringer” star will host and zero in on the action on the digital gridiron.

Electronic Arts is taking over a block of downtown Scottsdale for a party that will include performances by Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, and Hart hosting Madden matches between NFL players. Last year’s winner, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, will return to defend his title.

“This year typifies the peak of what Madden Bowl has been,” said Randy Chase, EA’s senior director of North American marketing.

Not all the games are for people — Animal Planet will also open its Puppy Bowl Cafe, which features puppies taking the field and canines available for adoptions.

Grammy-nominated singer Charli XCX is one of Super Bowl week’s most sought-after acts, with at least three performances scheduled.

The pop singer is singing for troops Friday night at Luke Air Force base and performing a set at ESPN’s bash later that night. On Saturday, she’ll perform for partygoers at Rolling Stone’s bash.

Performances by top artists aren’t just for invitees of a gala or party — several paid concerts are scheduled for the days before the game.

DirecTV hosts a three-day music festival that culminates with a Friday night show featuring Snoop Dogg and Imagine Dragons. Performers on other days include the Zac Brown Band, Calvin Harris and Jason Derulo.

Twelve blocks of downtown Phoenix are being transformed into the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a free area with NFL-themed attractions and nightly fireworks shows. Pepsi has set up its “Hyped for Halftime Stage” which will feature performances by The Roots, Walk the Moon and other acts daily.

For many Super Bowl parties, you’ve got to know someone to get inside.

Rihanna headlines one of the weekend’s biggest private concerts, DirecTV’s Super Saturday Night, which has previously featured performances by Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and this year’s halftime performer, Katy Perry.

Rolling Stone, Maxim and Playboy magazines are among the invite-only parties this week.

Some celebrities and athletes will also get to indulge their inner-child at Neon Carnival, a star-friendly event that features rides, games and dance music — and a stringent guest list.

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Villanova Tops North Carolina 77-74 on Jenkins’ Buzzer-Beater

Kris Jenkins is one of those players who believes every shot is going in.

Sometimes, it feels so right to be right.

The Villanova junior answered a double-clutch, game-tying 3-pointer by North Carolina’s Marcus Paige with a buzzer-beating 3 of his own Monday night to lift the Wildcats to a 77-74 victory and the national championship Monday night.

One good shot deserved another.

And Jenkins wasn’t about to be outdone.

“I think every shot’s going in,” he said, “and this one was no different.”

“I didn’t have to say anything in the huddle,” he said. “We have a name for it, that’s what we’re going to do. Just put everybody in their spots.”

He knew the shot was going in, too.

Oh yes, they could.

This adds to the title Villanova won in 1985, when Rollie Massimino, who was on hand Monday night, coaxed a miracle out of his eighth-seeded underdogs for a victory over star-studded Georgetown.

Hard to top this one, though.

“Bang,” Wright said as he watched it fall, then calmly walked to shake Carolina coach Roy Williams’ hand.

Jenkins finished with 14 points — the last three as memorable as any that have been scored in the history of this tournament.

After being thrown to the floor by his teammates, he got up, leaped over press row, hugged his birth mom — a college basketball coach who helped him hone his shot — and shouted, “They said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t.”

Jenkins, who was adopted by the family of North Carolina guard Nate Britt when his mother moved to take a coaching job, now has a spot alongside — and probably above — Keith Smart, Lorenzo Charles, Christian Laettner and everyone else who ever made a late game-winner to win a big one in March Madness.

2016 NCAA Tournament: Best Moments2016 NCAA Tournament: Best Moments

Paige finished with 21 and Joel Berry II had 20 for the Heels (33-7), the only No. 1 seed to make the Final Four. They came one agonizing shot short of giving Williams his third national title.

Not surprisingly, the tears flowed from the 65-year-old coach who, some speculate, could have worked his last game on the sideline; the entire sports program at Chapel Hill is under NCAA scrutiny and awaiting possible penalties for a long-running academic-fraud case.

“I’m not very good because I can’t take away the hurt,” Williams said. “I told them I loved them. I told them I wish I could have helped them more.”

His thought when he saw the last shot fly: “It was helpless. It was not a good feeling.”

Even MJ felt the pain. In the stands with the thousands of Carolina Blue-wearing fans, Michael Jordan simply nodded, smiled, looked at his buddy Ahmad Rashad and said, “Good shot, good shot.”

March Madness Courtside: Fans, Mascots, CheerleadersMarch Madness Courtside: Fans, Mascots, Cheerleaders

Not this time.

Before Jenkins did his thing, it was unheralded sophomore Phil Booth — who isn’t unheralded on that Villanova squad? — pouring in a career high 20 points to give the Cats their late six-point lead.

Booth forced a turnaround jumper with the shot-clock blaring to give ‘Nova a 69-64 lead at the 3:03 mark. With 1:52 left, a free throw from Josh Hart pushed the lead to six.

High praise from the Great One. And what a night for Villanova (35-5) — a second-seeded team full of scrappers, grinders and also-rans, who proved you don’t have to have a roster full of NBA-bound one-and-doners to win a title. More people in the ESPN bracket contest picked ‘Nova to lose to a No. 15 seed in the first round than to win the whole thing. This team flamed out early in the last two tournaments despite big expectations.

But Carolina never quits. Paige sandwiched a 3-pointer and a putback around a bucket from Brice Johnson (14 points, eight rebounds) to help the Tar Heels stay within striking range. Then, he took a bounce pass, scooted by the diving Ochefu, twisted past Arcidiacono and hit his double-clutch.

Carolina fans went wild, and it looked like overtime.

This time, the senior point guard made an underhanded flip to Jenkins, who spotted up a pace or two behind the arc and swished it with Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks running at him. Or, as Jenkins put it: “One, two step, shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets.”

Jenkins had to come up big after Paige collected a pass on the top right side of the arc and, with Arcidiacono running at him, double clutched and pumped it in to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left.

Only, it wasn’t.

“If I could get a shot, I was going to shoot it,” said Arcidiacono, who finished with 16 points and two assists, one more memorable than the other. “But I heard someone screaming in the back of my head. It was Kris. I just gave it to him and he let it go with confidence.”

The shot came on a play Villanova works on every day in practice: Jenkins inbounds the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono, he works it up court and forward Daniel Ochefu sets a pick near halfcourt to clutter things up, then Arcidiacono creates.

It completed a Carolina comeback from six points down with 1:52 left.

Coach Jay Wright called timeout and called the play the Wildcats have worked on all season.

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College Student Found Dead After Watching NCAA Game

Mikey McGinley went out to watch the Villanova Men’s Basketball Team defeat Oklahoma Saturday night. Hours later, the Drexel student and former star athlete at Malvern Prep was found dead at a friend’s home in Northern Liberties.

The 22-year old’s death was accidental and caused by “drug intoxication,” Jeff Moran with the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

McGinley was small, muscular, lean, Schiller remembers. Tenacious.

Schiller recounted what he’d pieced together about McGinley’s weekend:

When friends returned from breakfast, McGinley wasn’t breathing.

Friends shared their grief and memories of McGinley on Facebook.

Drexel sent LeBow students a notice of McGinley’s passing “at an off-campus apartment in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia” and offered counseling services to students and condolences to McGinley’s family and friends.

A funeral Mass is being held for relatives and friends Saturday, April 9 at Mother of Divine Providence Church, 333 Allendale Rd., King of Prussia, Pa. at 11:00 am. Viewings for Mikey McGinely are at the church Friday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday morning from 9:00 to 10:50 a.m.

In McGinley’s obituary, in lieu of flowers, the family encouraged people to make memorial contributions in Mikey’s memory to Malvern Prep Water Polo c/o Malvern Prep Development Dept., 418 S. Warren Ave., Malvern, Pa. 29355-2707 or online via the Malvern Prep Friar Club.

“He was a bulldog once he got in the water,” Schiller said. “He holds our single season school records for blocked shots (28 — an average of one per game) and steals (116 or about 4 per game). These key defensive statistics for a young man who was 5′ 7″ and weighed about 130 pounds speak to his tenacity as a player. His peers who have gone on to play water polo at the collegiate level are 6′ 3″ to 6′ 6″ and easily weigh 200+ pounds. However, he also scored 81 goals his senior season so he was certainly not a one dimensional player.”

McGinley, who was studying at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, went out with friends Saturday night to watch the Villanova game. He slept over at a friend’s apartment with some other folks. In the morning, the others went out for breakfast. Mikey stayed in. He was still sleeping. Snoring.

“Just a fun kid, the kind you would love to have on your team, love to have as a friend,” Schiller said. “Almost everyone I have spoken to over the last 24 hours or so are crushed by the news of his passing but are quick to smile with a memory of him as a student or as an athlete.”

McGinley’s death left friends and family devastated, according to Jay Schiller who coached McGinley in a stellar water polo career at Malvern Prep.

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Ziggy Hood Joins Chicago Bears’ Defensive Line

The Chicago Bears returned from their bye weekend with a different player wearing the No. 90 jersey and a defensive line in a state of flux.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was signed last week after the team cut Jeremiah Ratliff, and he took his jersey number. Hood is getting a crash course on the Bears defense for a team short on defensive line help.

“Everything’s concerning,” coach John Fox said. “We haven’t been healthy all season. We lost our quarterback for a game and a half. We’ve been through a variety of offensive linemen, a variety of receivers. I like where we are right now as far as our depth and the people we have available.”

The Bears (2-4) host Minnesota (4-2) on Sunday.

Hood was cut by Jacksonville due to a foot injury last year following five seasons with Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t have the luxury of coming in, OTAs, training camp and mandatory workouts to meet the guys,” Hood said. “I’m just thrown into the fire with the guys. I’ve got to build their confidence, build their trust and basically earn it all.”

Hood had experience in the Bears’ 3-4 style of defense with the Steelers, but Jacksonville had a different approach.

“It’s going to be a lot of work because I played at a 4-3 get-up-the-field-type of team and stuff so it’s going to be another working process getting back into that 3-4,” Hood said.

Fox expressed confidence that Hood will fit in with the team.

“He’s got a lot of skins on the wall,” Fox said. “He’s played a lot in this league at a high level. I did him coming out way back when he was a rookie. Once healthy – I think he’s pretty far along in that process — I think he’s a front-line defensive lineman.”

The Bears two weeks ago placed defensive lineman Ego Ferguson on injured reserve. In the last month, they have added linemen Bruce Gaston from Green Bay’s practice squad and former Denver Bronco Mitch Unrein.

They also have Will Sutton back from an elbow injury.

Fox did not want to elaborate on the reasons for cutting Ratliff, who was seen Wednesday having an animated discussion with general manager Ryan Pace before leaving. Team security had been alerted to the situation and were monitoring it, and Lake Forest police reportedly were dispatched to Halas Hall.

Asked why the extra security was needed, Fox said, “That’s why you have security. That’s why things are in place.”

Asked why police were needed, Fox said. “Sometimes if you think you need that, that’s what you do for the safety of your building.”

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