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Armed Forces

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BOSTON — Robert Kraft’s response to Tom Brady’s second retirement announcement was short, and to the point. The Patriots owner said there was no one like him, and that’s not about to change. “I don’t believe in the 100-year-old history of the NFL, there’s been a quarterback of Tom’s ilk,” the Patriots owner told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I would have trouble ever believing there would be another ...

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The opening of college football's traditional signing period for high school prospects brought an apparent end to two of the cycle's most notable recruitments. Blue-chip quarterback Jaden Rashada, who signed with Florida in December and then asked to be released from the commitment when a name, imagine and likeness deal fell through, announced he is going to Arizona State. Also in the Pac-12, Cormani McClain, previously committed to Miami, signed with Colorado to make it two straight years that coach Deion Sanders has landed a five-star cornerback.

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Max Abmas of Oral Roberts won the NCAA scoring title as a sophomore in 2020-21 and helped his team become just the second No. 15 seed in history to reach the Sweet 16. Abmas is among the national scoring leaders again — and one of the top college players with questions to answer before an NBA future beckons. The biggest one for him and other top scorers like Jake Stephens of Chattanooga, Drew Timme of Gonzaga and Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy seems to have a familiar theme? Can they defend at the next level?

It’s only fitting that the top two quarterbacks in the regular season based on All-Pro voting are the last two quarterbacks standing in the NFL this season. First-team All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes will take his Kansas City Chiefs into the Super Bowl against second-team All-Pro Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

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CHICAGO — If Ryan Poles has said it once, he has said it a thousand times. He’s not so much interested in seeking short-term satisfaction as he is eager to develop a formula for sustainable achievement. Thus as his second offseason as the Chicago Bears general manager gets rolling, Poles has made no promises of a 2023 playoff breakthrough, instead working to strengthen his roster with a longer ...

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Trey Lance stood at his locker on one side of the 49ers’ locker room, speaking for the first time to reporters since a Sept. 18 fracture to his right foot, which remains in an orthopedic boot. Down the way in a corner, Brock Purdy sat in front of his locker, waiting to update reporters on the injury to his right elbow. Lance, then Purdy. That could be how the 49ers’ ...

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The 49ers are in the market for a new defensive coordinator. DeMeco Ryans, who took over the 49ers’ defense under Kyle Shanahan in 2021, reportedly agreed to become the head coach of the Houston Texans on Tuesday — which means there will be a new coach running the defense for the third time in four seasons. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Texans have not yet announced ...

Olympic gold medalist Wladimir Klitschko has joined Ukraine's fight against IOC plans to let some Russians compete at the 2024 Paris Summer Games. The former heavyweight champion has suggested in a video message that sports leaders will be accomplices to the war if athletes from Russia and its military ally Belarus can compete at the next Olympics. The International Olympic Committee wants to let Russians and Belarusians who have not openly supported the war to try to qualify for Paris.

In the run-up to the midterms, the two top issues for Republicans - and, in turn, the media - were inflation and crime. We were told inflation was an Achilles' heel for President Biden and the Democrats. The crime problem was a headache for Democrats - "devastating" even!

But Republicans' election performance was historically poor. And, now, with the election in the rearview mirror, Republicans aren't talking much about either issue. They prefer to spend time trying to defund the Internal Revenue Service, criminalize abortion providers, threaten economic meltdown and beat the drum on "scandal" investigations. Instead of working to clamp down on crime, House Republicans want to investigate those prosecuting the Jan. 6, 2021, armed insurrectionists and ride to the rescue of the former president, the target of multiple criminal investigations.

As it turns out, inflation and crime were decreasing when the GOP was hyping both.

Inflation declined for the last six months of 2022 as gas prices returned to pre-Ukraine war levels. (Wages went up in December as prices and consumer spending went down.) Indeed, Republicans care so little about inflation, they passed a bill to roll back funding for the IRS, which would increase the deficit, and another to prevent Biden from taking steps to reduce gas prices (as he did last year).

Despite being hyped endlessly on right-wing media and featured in innumerable mainstream reports, crime rates fell, according to the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice. Its figures show "the number of homicides in 2022 was 4% lower than counts recorded in 2021, representing 242 fewer murders in the 27 cities that publicly report monthly homicide data." Although the homicide rate was higher than pre-pandemic levels, homicides are nevertheless at "about half the historical nationwide peaks in 1980 and 1991."

Other good news: Aggravated assaults are down, as are drug crimes. However, "Robberies (+5.5%), nonresidential burglaries (+11%), larcenies (+8%), and motor vehicle thefts (+21%) all increased from 2021 to 2022. Residential burglaries fell by 2%."

Quite plainly, the GOP (and media) hysteria surrounding crime does not correspond to reality. The real-world picture is at worst mixed, with violent crimes against people declining and property thefts rising - perhaps a sign of return to more normal work patterns and the end of shutdowns.

The GOP anti-crime rant, part of its decades-long "war on crime" rhetoric, has an insidious racial aspect. "In states as disparate as Wisconsin and New Mexico, ads have labeled a Black candidate as 'different' and 'dangerous' and darkened a white man's hands as they portrayed him as a criminal," Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times reported. He continued, "Appeals to white fears and resentments are an old strategy in American elections, etched into the country's political consciousness, with ads like George Bush's ad using the Black convict Willie Horton against Michael Dukakis in 1988, and Jesse Helms's 1990 commercial showing a white man's hands to denounce his Black opponent's support for 'quotas.' "

Let's not forget that racial bias throughout the criminal justice system and larger society itself results in crimes - disproportionately the murder and maiming of young Black people from George Floyd to Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to Jacob Blake to Tyre Nichols. The results of racially tinged anti-crime hysteria (including mass incarceration and horrific police violence of the type seen in the video of Nichols) have been devastating to many communities while the policies the rhetoric inspires have not made us safer.

But do not expect facts - either crime statistics, scenes of mass shootings or vivid, heart-wrenching evidence of police brutality disproportionately victimizing Black men - to prompt Republicans to rethink their tactics. For them, crime is an election crutch to gin up their base, instill fear in suburban voters and shout down any talk of racism as unacceptable "wokeism." (All the while, they pander to the gun lobby and mock police who defended our democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.)

While Republicans remain unserious about crime, Democrats should deploy an all-of-the-above and fact-driven approach. The White House and congressional Democrats would be wise to pursue police reform and additional funding for proven, successful crime-fighting measures and serious gun-safety measures.

If Republicans are really concerned about crime, they should sit down to discuss reasonable approaches without injecting more racism and its deadly consequences into the criminal justice system. Alas, as long as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) chairs the House Judiciary Committee, don't hold your breath.

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The paragraphs jumped off of page 253 of "Swagger," the terrific new book that examines the football life of Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson in Johnson's words. "You need a star quarterback to win in today's game. The second most important player on a roster? In another era, I'd say a dominant pass rusher or maybe a star receiver. It's the backup quarterback in today's game. "If you don't ...

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