The NFL is famous for its annual fall off-season exhibition season and the Super Bowl. But when the league hits the summer, it takes a vacation, too. The NFL Players Association announced today that Super Bowl XLVII, the 2012 championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, will be played in the City of New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 3, 2013.
The NFL has become a crowded field. For the past two seasons, the league has had over 50 active players, and the New England Patriots have assembled what has been considered the most talented team in the business. Yet, as the NFL transitions into a new season this weekend, a familiar face will be missing. That’s because 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick just recently chose to opt out of his contract, which means he won’t be taking part in the league’s new $1.9 billion-dollar contract extension they signed him to two years ago.
It’s been a tough off-season for the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco signed the first round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers, cornerback Cam Newton, to a six year, $103 million contract. The move would seem to be a no-brainer, as Carolina was a division rival of San Francisco. But, reports claim that the Panthers were reluctant to sign him. After all, Newton was just a rookie, and he had a habit of being late for team meetings, to say nothing of being late for evening practices. It was reported that Carolina officials were convinced that he would not be able to handle a demanding NFL schedule.
STATELINE, Nevada (AP) — Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, was seated at a table on the beaches of Lake Tahoe two years ago, engaged in a conversation he never imagined he’d be a part of.
Justin Timberlake sat across from him, regaling Kelce and others with tales from his famous musical career’s early days.
“As a youngster, I was sitting there watching this guy’s career develop and just being a fan of him in that respect,” Kelce said. “Just being in the vicinity of it was incredible. You don’t imagine it could happen when you’re a child.”
Kelce’s encounter with Timberlake was part of a five-day getaway to Lake Tahoe for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Golf Course, which has become a pre-training camp tradition for NFL players and coaches.
It’s a wonderful escape for all of the 80-plus annual participants to one of the country’s most beautiful locations. The invitation offers a much-needed last opportunity to unwind before the grind of the NFL season for the ever-growing number of current and past NFL players who are fortunate enough (and/or talented enough at golf) to receive it.
“This is just one-of-a-kind,” Kelce remarked. “And it’s those kinds of events and tales that keep you going back. That’s something you won’t find at any other event.”
At this month’s American Century Championship on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was partnered with singer Justin Timberlake. Getty Images/Jed Jacobsohn
The yearly competition is, without a doubt, unlike any other in the nation. This year’s tournament drew a total of 39 NFL players and coaches, with 17 of them being active players. The active players in this year’s field were Kelce, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, free-agent wide out Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson and receiver Adam Thielen, and Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The 32nd year of the competition, which comprises a number of practice rounds and three rounds of tournament play, was just concluded. However, it’s easy to understand why NFL players actively advocate for invites and look forward to returning.
The kind of cool, bright weather that may be tough to come by in early July and will be even more difficult to come by at different NFL training camps is at the top of the list.
One of the main reasons NBA great Charles Barkley has become a tournament fixture and de facto mayor of Edgewood is because of this. In South Lake Tahoe, there’s even a “Charles Barkley Day” in honor of Barkley’s philanthropic contributions and devotion to the town.
“Lake Tahoe is the first thing I arrange every year,” Barkley remarked. “I’m not sure how you do it. In the midst of the summer, Lake Tahoe is the only location that isn’t scorching hot. It’s a heat wave, regardless of where I’m coming from in the nation. The weather at Lake Tahoe is usually beautiful when I arrive.”
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Okay, so the weather and landscape are unavoidable, as is the chance to compete. In everything he does, Kelce says he’s “trying to beat someone.”
Kyle Fuller of the Denver Broncos stated, “A lot of folks out here, we take it extremely seriously.” “We want to do well in this game. One of the things I like about golf is the competitiveness it fosters.”
However, this isn’t the case for everyone in the industry. It’s really an opportunity for a self-aware type like New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph to step away from intense competition and simply enjoy himself. Of course, Rudolph’s attitude is influenced by where he typically ranks on the scoreboard.
Rudolph said, “My competition is between the lines, not between the ropes.” “It’s easy for someone who will be at the bottom of the scoreboard, maybe in the bottom ten or so, to say that, but I’m just out here to have a nice time…. I’d be a little bit more competitive if I was in the top ten.”
The annual trip to Tahoe also provides an opportunity for unexpected friendships to blossom. Kelce has become friends with Justin Timberlake and Rob Riggle, an actor/comedian/Chiefs fan who is also a tournament regular. Rudolph has formed a relationship with comic Larry the Cable Guy, with whom he shares a similar golfing philosophy.
“Who can say no to the chance to be among individuals who have made it to the top of their professions?” Sean McDermott, the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, said. “I just like being in the company of nice people. I’m fortunate enough to be able to bring my family out here for the first time and enjoy the pleasant weather and company.”
Unbelievable situations played out all over the country in the days leading up to this year’s event.
Boxer Canelo Alvarez, Fitzgerald, and Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan got into an impromptu driving battle during a post-practice-round range workout. Former All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Tuck and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young addressed how tough it is to transfer success on the range to the real golf course.
On the golf field, Steph Curry and Canelo Alvarez are having a sparring session.
Meanwhile, NBA star Stephen Curry kept a huge crowd of fans waiting for autographs on the practice green as he went through an elaborate, hour-long putting routine. For the second year in a row, Curry found himself shadow fighting Alvarez on the ninth hole. Curry, as one would imagine, did not do well.
Curry said, “Obviously, I have to become a lot better.” “I’ll have to make use of my reach and height a little more. I sank to my knees and walked right into his sweet spot. An amateur boxer is one of our close pals. So, late yesterday night, he texted me. He viewed and examined the footage. He told me everything I had done incorrectly. So I’ve got a year to do it perfect.”
When the competition starts, things tend to become a little more serious. But not much more, as it became clear after trailing the trio of Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, and former Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams for nine holes on Friday.
A spectator shouted “Bills Mafia” at Williams as he teed off on No. 11 just before he set up his shot. Rather of yelling at the fan, Williams replied with a resounding “Yeah, baby!” A fan wearing an Arizona Cardinals T-shirt approached Gould as he went between holes and begged for an autograph. As he gladly fulfilled the request, Gould made care to tell the fan that he needs to “buy a nicer shirt.”
Williams blasted a drive straight down the center on the 16th hole, a lengthy par 5 with a beautiful Lake Tahoe background, only to be halted in mid-flight by a cruelly positioned tree in the middle of the fairway. Williams, chuckling, remarked to no one in particular, “Every year, I hit that tree. For someone with a chainsaw, I received $10,000.”
At the American Century Championship in Tahoe, Andrew Whitworth and Kyle Williams take in the full party experience of No. 17. pic.twitter.com/dXmfNNZAfw
21 July 2021 — Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner)
The real fun starts when players reach the par-3 17th hole, the tournament’s hallmark hole that provides the kind of party atmosphere seen only at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix’s No. 16 hole. With music blasting and spectators lining up on both sides, the hole lies along the edge of Lake Tahoe.
Additional onlookers watch the action from their boats, and some even participate. Crowd threw footballs and markers onto the fairway in front of Williams and Whitworth, who each picked them up, signed them, and returned them to the fans. Rodgers delivered a beautiful throw from the tee box to supporters on a boat more than 50 yards distant as he went by on Saturday.
It’s the one hole on the course that every golfer, regardless of skill level, aspires to master.
Rudolph said, “Obviously, that’s the greatest pressure hole.” “Now that you’ve brought everyone over there, you need to make a decent shot.”
“This is the final hurrah,” remarked Larry Fitzgerald, who is seen with Steph Curry above. “… This is the final time your family comes together, and you have the opportunity to do something enjoyable. It’s a fantastic occasion, and the boys’ camaraderie is unrivaled.” Getty Images/Jed Jacobsohn
The event is seen by participants as an excellent opportunity to spend time with family and close friends. Rudolph’s college friend was his caddy, Fitzpatrick’s son Brady was on his bag, and 49ers right lineman Mike McGlinchey stepped in for Gould’s father, setting a tournament record for biggest caddy at 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds.
Even a 6.0 earthquake that struck nearby on Thursday and hotter-than-normal temperatures couldn’t dampen the spirits, as a small number of fans were able to return to watch in person after being barred from doing so in 2020 because to the epidemic. The event gave $600,000 in prize money this year, with all proceeds going to different charity.
The playful barbs and pleasant trash talk will eventually give way to the long, sweltering training camp days.
Fitzgerald remarked, “This is the final hurrah.” “That’s just how you see it. This is the final time your family comes together, and you have the opportunity to do something enjoyable. It’s a fantastic occasion, and the boys’ camaraderie is unrivaled.”
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