Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

The NFL sidelines are going to look a little different this year. For the first time, the cheerleading squads of two teams will include men.

The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints have added males cheerleaders, who will perform the same moves as the women on field. (Some teams already include stuntmen, but they are not considered part of the cheerleading squad.)

Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron will join the Rams squad, while Jesse Hernandez will become a member of the Saints Saintsations. Both men expressed their excitement and disbelief on Twitter.

“This week has been a whirlwind!,” said Peron. “But it’s still so surreal to me that I am one of the First Male cheerleaders to dance for a pro team.”

The move is certainly a step toward gender equality and inclusiveness, but how it will be received by NFL fans remains to be seen. The sport saw a schism form last year amid player protests during the national anthem. And the current divisive nature of the national political scene could embolden some to strongly express seeing men in roles that have historically been filled by scantily clad women.

The threat of that isn’t dampening the excitement for Jinnies, Peron, and Hernandez, though.

All three men will make their NFL debut this Thursday, August 9, when the NFL preseason begins.

http://fortune.com/2018/08/07/nfl-first-male-cheerleaders/

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Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) wears special contact lenses and a helmet shade to prevent migraines.

By ZACH SCHONBRUN

FWhen he woke last Sunday morning, Jeremy Kerley sensed trouble already coming on. Fitful sleep is often his trigger, he said. The migraine eventually hit him like an anvil late in last week’s game against the Giants.

His eyes grew blurry and he felt what he described as a “sharp, shooting, throbbing pain.” He wanted to sit down. He wanted to lie down. He knew he needed to leave the field.

Kerley, the Jets’ punt returner, departed to the locker room and did not return. As the Jets came from behind to beat the Giants in overtime, he was receiving intravenous fluids and oxygen to help relieve the anguish from a struggle that has afflicted him since high school.

For Kerley, migraines are the silent menace that constantly lurks. They ambush him almost once a month, even though he rarely talks about it. He knew his grandfather got them; only recently, he discovered that his dad did, too. He just never knows when they will affect him.

Though Kerley is one of approximately 38 million Americans who suffer from them, migraines are not something that is openly discussed in N.F.L. locker rooms. They are far more common in women, and often minimized as simply a headache, a stigma that Kerley acknowledged could make it difficult to pull himself out of a game.

But those who do struggle with migraines — which the Migraine Research Foundation considers a neurological disease, like epilepsy — understand the plight. When Kerley felt a severe headache coming on last season after a game at Minnesota, his teammate Percy Harvin patted him on the back.

“I know how you feel,” Harvin said quietly. He has struggled with migraines throughout his career.

Kerley did the same thing earlier this season, after linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin revealed that he had had migraines since adolescence. Kerley gave him recommendations about nutritional supplements that he found helpful, like fish oil and magnesium. Mauldin also now takes prescription medication to both relieve and prevent severe headaches.

He said that light could often trigger his migraine episodes, so Mauldin wears special contact lenses and a protective shade on his helmet.

“It hurts because it’s pulsating and you can’t really stop it,” Mauldin said. “With a bruise or something, you can put alcohol or peroxide over it and it’ll be fine. Or if you’ve hurt a muscle, you can ice it. But you can’t put ice over a migraine.”

In September, a migraine forced Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones to the emergency room, something that is not uncommon, said Dr. Melissa Leber, the director of emergency department sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She typically treats patients intravenously. But that often cannot relieve the crippling symptoms right away.

“Some people can’t even get out of bed,” Leber said. “Others can function just while not feeling well. It really runs the gamut for how debilitating it can be.”

Migraines are thought to be related to the brain’s trigeminal nerve, which can grow hypersensitive and cause pain signals to fire throughout the brain, typically concentrated around the eyes or temples. Though migraines are strongly hereditary, showing up in people who have had no sports history, they are often clinically similar to post-traumatic headaches, like the headaches that arise after a concussion, according to Dr. Tad Seifert, a neurologist at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky.

During the summer, Seifert led a study of 74 high school football players in the Louisville area and found that 33.8 percent of them suffered from migraines, a rate twice that of the normal population. The rate rose to 37.5 percent in players who reported having sustained a concussion once in their lives, and 40.7 percent in those who reported multiple concussions.

“The elephant in the room is whether there is some influence of contact sports and the development of frequent or chronic headache later in life,” Seifert said. “And if so, how much?”

Seifert, who also chairs an N.C.A.A. task force on headaches, said that he expected to publish a similar report involving 834 Division I athletes in the spring. Though he would not go into detail about the results, he said that it looked to be “very similar to what we’ve found in this sample of high school players.” Mauldin, it should be noted, sustained a concussion earlier this season.

There is no cure for migraines, and sufferers often go the rest of their lives “controlling” the issue, Seifert said, comparing it to those dealing with high blood pressure or diabetes. What concerns him, though, are the studies that have shown that people with migraines are more susceptible to concussions, and when they do sustain one, it takes them longer to recover.

“We know that the migraine brain is just wired differently,” Seifert said. “And we know that it’s a brain that is hypersensitive to external injury. And those pain receptors that are in overdrive — it takes that much longer to calm down and return to baseline.”

In the time it takes for the receptors to settle, though, the pain can bring a linebacker to his knees.

“When they pop up out of nowhere, you start to feel a sensation like in between the middle of your forehead,” Mauldin said. “But it’s in the back of your head as well. It’s like somebody’s punching you in the side of the head.”

Kerley said he had yet to receive a migraine disease diagnosis, but he thinks it could be related to difficulties he regularly has with sleeping, being someone who has sleep apnea. When he feels a headache coming on, he has a nasal spray that he said often cured his symptoms within a half-hour. But last Sunday, it was too late.

“If you don’t catch it while it’s early, it could get pretty bad,” Kerley said. “Mine got there.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/sports/football/migraine-headaches-a-lurking-malady-in-the-nfl.html?emc=edit_th_20151213&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=41412344&_r=0

NFL players are tough. But they’re also sensitive souls – and they care deeply about toilet paper.

The New York Jets are at Wembley on Sunday, and they have gone to great – some may say outré – lengths to make sure the players are looked after properly. They have their own clothes washer. Their own private chef. And – get this – they’ve imported 350 rolls of their own toilet paper to, as the New York Times puts it, “replace the thinner version used in England”.

The Times spoke to Aaron Degerness, the Jets’ senior manager of team operations, about what was required for the team’s arduous trek to one of the world’s most inhospitable environments for a few days in one of the world’s most easygoing cities. And people say professional sports stars are pampered.

The details are mind-boggling. Five thousand items – from cereal and extension cords to gauze pads and wrist – have been loaded on to a ship containing supplies for all six NFL teams playing in London this season. (Jacksonville play Buffalo in week seven, and Kansas City take on Detroit the following week. The ship left New York in August) The Jets have spent 11 months planning for about 65 hours overseas, an undertaking that Degerness said involved about 10 times the work that preparing to play in, say, Miami would have required.

An industrial launderer will pick up the players’ dirty practice clothing at one location and deliver it clean to another. A chef at the Jets’ London hotel will be flown in to observe how food is cooked and served at team headquarters.

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/oct/01/new-york-jets-toilet-paper-wembley

Some NFL players spend their offseason working out. Others travel around the world. Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel has done both while also getting an article published in a math journal.

Urschel, the Ravens’ 2014 fifth-round pick who graduated from Penn State with 4.0 GPA, also happens to be a brilliant mathematician. This week he and several co-authors published a piece titled “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians” in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. You can read the full piece here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.0565

Here’s the summary of the paper:

“In this paper, we develop a cascadic multigrid algorithm for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the second smallest eigenvalue. This vector has been found to have applications in fields such as graph partitioning and graph drawing. The algorithm is a purely algebraic approach based on a heavy edge coarsening scheme and pointwise smoothing for refinement. To gain theoretical insight, we also consider the related cascadic multigrid method in the geometric setting for elliptic eigenvalue problems and show its uniform convergence under certain assumptions. Numerical tests are presented for computing the Fiedler vector of several practical graphs, and numerical results show the efficiency and optimality of our proposed cascadic multigrid algorithm.”

When he’s not protecting Joe Flacco, the 23-year-old Urschel enjoys digging into extremely complicated mathematical models.

“I am a mathematical researcher in my spare time, continuing to do research in the areas of numerical linear algebra, multigrid methods, spectral graph theory and machine learning. I’m also an avid chess player, and I have aspirations of eventually being a titled player one day.”

– See more at: http://yahoo.thepostgame.com/blog/balancing-act/201503/john-urschel-baltimore-ravens-nfl-football-math#sthash.avUHj2Tm.dpuf

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.