Monday Night Football makes a major change

506886.jpg

Monday Night Football makes a major change

From Comcast SportsNet
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) -- "Monday Night Football" is switching to a two-man booth. Analyst Ron Jaworski has signed a five-year contract extension to appear on other programming on ESPN and will no longer join play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico and color commentator Jon Gruden on Monday nights, the network said Wednesday. Jaworski, the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, will work various ESPN studio shows year-round, often focusing on his specialty of breaking down video. "With him doing one game each week, we don't necessarily believe we were getting the best Ron Jaworski had to offer to the network," executive vice president Norby Williamson said. Jaworski called "Monday Night Football" games the past five seasons. Gruden, the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach, joined MNF in 2009 and agreed to a five-year extension in October. This is the first time in 15 years ESPN has used a two-person lead team on its NFL game coverage. "There was nothing broken about Monday Night Football,'" Williamson said. He said network executives believed Tirico and Gruden worked well as a two-man booth and there was no need to add a third person. "I fully expect Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden to be together for the foreseeable future," Williamson said.

Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

solder-gallery.jpg

Solder, Patriots training staff earn Ed Block Courage Awards

FOXBORO -- Patriots left tackle Nate Solder has been through a lot over the last few years. 

He battled and beat testicular cancer before the 2014 offseason and then went on to help the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl title. In 2015, he tore his biceps in Week 5 and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. Just weeks later after suffering that season-ending injury, Solder's son, Hudson, was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor in his kidneys. 

A quiet leader in the Patriots locker room, Solder has used his platform with the team to spread awareness stemming from personal hardships in addition to serving as a prominent supporter of the Hockomock Area YMCA. For his devotion to helping those in need, and for the example he sets at his job and in the community, he has been named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2016. 

Solder also participated in the NFL's My Cause My Cleats initiative wearing cleats to raise awareness for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which gives financial aid to cancer patients and their families. He also supports The Fresh Truck, which describes itself as a mobile food market on a mission to radically improve community health.

Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Jerod Mayo, Logan Mankins, Wes Welker and Tedy Bruschi have also recently been named Ed Block Courage Awards-winners for the Patriots. 

The team's training staff, led by head trainer Jim Whalen and assistant trainer and director of rehabilitation Joe Van Allen, was also honored on Tuesday as it was named the 2016 Ed Block Courage Award NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year.

"The annual award, named for the longtime head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts who demonstrated an untiring dedication to helping others, recognizes an NFL staff for their distinguished service to their club, community and athletic training profession," the Patriots announced in a statement. 

In the release, trainer Daryl Nelson and physical therapist Michael Akinbola are also credited with helping keep the Patriots healthy. 

Others, including head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and team nutritionist Ted Harper, have a hand in keeping players at their physical peak. Combined, given the overall health of the roster this season, they've all had a hand in keep the team humming as it heads into its sixth consecutive AFC title game.