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Defending Super Bowl Champion Rams Open NFL Season Against The Bills

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 8, 2022

The Los Angeles Rams will kickoff the 2022 NFL Season against the Buffalo Bills Thursday night at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams will raise their Super Bowl banner Thursday night before kicking off the NFL season at home where they became the second straight team to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in their own stadium.

Somehow, they’re underdogs against the Buffalo Bills.

“It’s going to be fun,” Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to be loud. … We definitely got to go out there and play a good team and try to find a way to win.”

The Bills are preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl after falling short in the AFC divisional round against the Kansas City Chiefs last January. Josh Allen leads a dynamic offense and the Bills had the league’s stingiest defense in 2021.

“Going to play the defending Super Bowl champs and watching them raise their banner, that’ll be an interesting feeling for sure,” Allen said. “And I’ve talked to a few people who have played and coached in this game before, and just really the unanimous thing that they were talking about was it feels like playoff atmosphere. So, we got to understand that going in, not get too high, not get too low. Understand the flow of the game and just try to put our best foot forward.”

Under Sean McVay, the Rams are 5-0 in season openers. Defending champions are 19-3 in Week 1 since 2000.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

: newsy.com

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Report: Chris Rock Said He Denied Offer To Host 2023 Oscars

Rock said at one of his stand-up shows that he won’t be hosting the 2023 Academy Awards, according to a report by the Arizona Republic.

Actor and comedian Chris Rock told the crowd at one of his stand-up shows that he was asked to return to host the 2023 Oscars, according to a report by the Arizona Republic. Less than six months ago, Rock was on the receiving end of the infamous slap by actor Will Smith at this year’s Oscars; Smith took exception to a joke Rock made about his wife before storming on stage and smacking Rock across the face.

Rock said at his show Sunday in Phoenix that returning to host the Oscars would be like asking O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson “to go back to the restaurant” on the night she was fatally stabbed.

For reference, Ron Goldman was a waiter at the restaurant and had offered to return a pair of eyeglasses Simpson had left behind on the night her and Goldman’s bodies were found mutilated at her Los Angeles residence. 

Some say the glasses were the metaphorical beginning of the high-profile murders.

In other words, Rock won’t be hosting next year’s award show.

The comedian also reportedly said he turned down an offer to do a Super Bowl commercial centered around the slap.

: newsy.com

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Chiefs Hall Of Fame Quarterback Len Dawson Dies At 87

Dawson’s family announced his death in a statement through KMBC, the Kansas City-based TV station where he worked as a broadcaster.

Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, whose unmistakable swagger in helping the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title earned him the nickname “Lenny the Cool,” died Wednesday. He was 87.

Dawson’s family announced his death in a statement through KMBC, the Kansas City-based television station where he starred in his second career as a broadcaster. No cause was given, though Dawson had been in declining health for years.

AP / File

“With wife Linda at his side, it is with much sadness that we inform you of the passing of our beloved Len Dawson,” the family’s statement read. “He was a wonderful husband, father, brother and friend. Len was always grateful and many times overwhelmed by the countless bonds he made during his football and broadcast careers.”

The MVP of the Chiefs’ victory over the Vikings in January 1970, Dawson had entered hospice care on Aug. 12.

“He loved Kansas City,” his family said, “and no matter where his travels took him he could not wait to return home.”

Dawson personified the Chiefs almost from the start, when the suave standout from Purdue lost out on starting jobs in Pittsburgh and Cleveland and landed with the nascent franchise, then located in Dallas. There, Dawson reunited with Hank Stram, who had been an assistant with the Boilermakers, and together they forever changed the franchise.

The coach and quarterback won the AFL championship together in 1962, their first year together, and became bona fide stars the following year, when club founder Lamar Hunt moved the team to Kansas City and rechristened it the Chiefs.

AP

They proceeded to win two more AFL titles, one in 1966 when they lost to the Packers in the first Super Bowl, and the other in ’69, when Dawson came back from an injury to help beat the Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

“Looking back on my career, I’ve been blessed for what I had the opportunity to do,” Dawson told The Associated Press in 2017, shortly after he announced his retirement from his second career as a Hall of Fame broadcaster.

“I could not have accomplished so much without my teammates and colleagues, and I’m grateful for each of them.”

Dawson always remained a beloved figure in Kansas City, even though he cut back on public appearances several years ago when his health began to fail him. But he always had time for fans, whether it be a photograph or signature, the latter often on an iconic black-and-white photo from halftime of that first Super Bowl: the exhausted quarterback, white uniform caked with mud, sitting on a folding chair with a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of Fresca at his feet.

It perfectly captured a time and place. And it perfectly captured a man who embodied poise and self-assurance.

“Next to my father, few people have had a more lasting impact on the Kansas City Chiefs than Len Dawson,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said a few years ago. “Over the course of a legendary career, first as a player and later as a broadcaster, Len has been a part of every major moment in franchise history.”

Dawson was born June 20, 1935, the ninth of 11 children who filled the house of James and Annie Dawson in the blue-collar manufacturing town of Alliance, Ohio. He was a three-sport athlete at Alliance High School, setting records in both football and basketball, and turned his success on the gridiron into a scholarship offer from Purdue.

There, Dawson led the NCAA in passing efficiency as a sophomore while also playing defense and kicking, and he helped lead a memorable upset of Notre Dame during that 1954 season. By the end of his college career, Dawson had thrown for more than 3,000 yards, despite playing in an era that favored ground-and-pound football.

Dawson was chosen by the Steelers in the first round of the 1957 draft, but he wound up riding the bench behind Earl Morrall as a rookie and then failed to beat out Bobby Layne for the starting job the following season. The Steelers ultimately traded him to the Browns, where Dawson was unable to beat out Milt Plum for the job and was released.

One of the great disappointments of Dawson’s career wound up being one of the best things to ever happen to him.

Robert Scott / AP

With newfound freedom to sign anywhere, Dawson jumped to the upstart AFL and the Texans, lured in part by the chance to play for one of his old coaches at Purdue. Stram was able to finally tap into his talent, helping Dawson to quickly become one of the league’s prolific passers as the Texans went 11-3 and won the first of three championships.

The second came in 1966, when Dawson led the Chiefs to an 11-2-1 record and a 31-7 blowout of the Bills in the AFL title game. That earned the Chiefs the chance to face the powerhouse Green Bay Packers — and coach Vince Lombardi — in the inaugural Super Bowl, where Dawson threw for 210 yards and a touchdown in a 35-10 defeat.

It was the 1969 season that proved to be the most memorable of Dawson’s career, though. He sustained a serious knee injury against the Patriots in Week 2, forcing him to miss the next five games, but went on a tear once he returned to the field. Dawson led the Chiefs to victories over the defending champion Jets and bitter rival Raiders to reach what would be the final Super Bowl before the AFL-NFL merger, where he threw for 142 yards and a score in a 23-7 triumph.

“It was overwhelming,” Dawson said afterward. “It’s just, you know how that relief comes with you know it’s over with, and we’ve been successful? That’s the feeling that I had when I came off the field.”

Dawson continued to play for six more seasons in Kansas City, setting many franchise records that stood until a youngster named Patrick Mahomes came along, before hanging up his helmet after the 1975 season.

Along the way, Dawson parlayed what began as a publicity stunt into a second career in broadcasting.

In 1966, then-Chiefs general manager Jack Steadman wanted to drum up support for the franchise in Kansas City and convinced Dawson to anchor a sports segment on the nightly news. His natural charisma and folksy style made Dawson a natural, he turned his attention to TV and radio on a full-time basis after his playing career had finished.

Dawson continued to work in local TV for several decades, adding game analysis for NBC from 1977-82 and hosting HBO’s iconic “Inside the NFL” from 1977-2001. He also served more than three decades on the Chiefs’ radio broadcast team.

After going into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1987, Dawson was inducted as a broadcaster in 2012.

“It’s been a true privilege and honor to have Len at the center of our broadcast team for the last 33 years,” said Dan Israel, the executive producer of the Chiefs’ radio network, upon his retirement a few years ago. “His contributions to not only this sport, but our industry, are incredibly profound.”

Dawson was married to his high school sweetheart, Jackie, from 1954 until her death in 1978, and together they had two children. His second wife, Linda, remained by his side even when Dawson was forced to enter hospice care.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

: newsy.com

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Bitcoin Plummets Below $20,000 for First Time Since Late 2020

Square, another payments company, bought $50 million of Bitcoin and changed its name to Block, in part to signify its work with blockchain technology. Tesla bought $1.5 billion of it. The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz raised $4.5 billion for a fourth cryptocurrency-focused fund, doubling its previous one.

Excitement hit a peak in April last year when Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, went public at an $85 billion valuation, a coming-out party for the industry. Bitcoin topped $60,000 for the first time.

Last summer, El Salvador announced that it would become the first country to classify Bitcoin as legal tender, alongside the U.S. dollar. The country’s president updated his Twitter profile picture to include laser eyes, a calling card of Bitcoin believers. The value of El Salvador’s $105 million investment in Bitcoin has been slashed in half as the price has fallen.

Senators and mayors around the United States began touting cryptocurrency, as the industry spent heavily on lobbying. Mayor Eric Adams of New York, who was elected in November, said he would take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin. Senators Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, proposed legislation that would create a regulatory framework for the industry, giving more authority to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, an agency that crypto companies have openly courted.

Through the frenzy, celebrities fueled the fear of missing out, flogging their NFTs on talk shows and talking up blockchain projects on social media. This year, the Super Bowl featured four ads for crypto companies, including Matt Damon warning viewers that “fortune favors the brave.”

That swaggering optimism faltered this spring as the stock market plummeted, inflation soared and layoffs hit the tech sector. Investors began losing confidence in their crypto investments, moving money to less risky assets. Several high-profile projects crashed amid withdrawals. TerraForm Labs, which created TerraUSD, a so-called stablecoin, and Celsius, an experimental crypto bank, both collapsed, wiping out billions in value and sending the broader market into a tailspin.

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Gun in Texas Shooting Came From Company Known for Pushing Boundaries

He has said that his gun company was born out of his poor golf game. Instead of puttering around the course, Mr. Daniel started using an AR-15 — the type of gun he would later go on to make — for target practice. “Every shot he fired filled him with a satisfaction he’d never before experienced,” the company’s website says.

At the time, Mr. Daniel had trouble finding a way to mount a scope onto his rifle. He began designing and selling his own accessory that allowed gun owners to add lights, a range finder and lasers onto the rifle.

He got his break in 2002 at a gun show in Orlando, Fla., where he was approached by a representative of the U.S. Special Forces. He ultimately won a $20 million contract to produce the accessories for combat rifles. More deals followed. In 2008, he won a contract with the British military, according to Daniel Defense’s website.

By 2009, the company had expanded to making guns for consumers. Its military ties were the basis of its marketing, which often featured heavily armed fighters. “Use what they use,” one ad says. Another shows a military-style scope aimed at passing cars on what looks like a regular city street. Others include references — using hashtags and catchphrases — to the “Call of Duty” video game.

Before the 2000s, most gun makers did not market military-style assault weapons to civilians. At the largest industry trade shows, tactical military gear and guns were cordoned off, away from the general public. That started to change around 2004, industry experts say, with the expiration of the federal assault weapon ban.

“Companies like Daniel Defense glorify violence and war in their marketing to consumers,” said Nick Suplina, a senior vice president at Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that supports gun control.

In 2012, the Sandy Hook shooting led to an industrywide surge in gun sales, as firearm enthusiasts stocked up, fearing a government crackdown. In an interview with Forbes, Mr. Daniel said the shooting “drove a lot of sales.” (Forbes reported that Daniel Defense had sales of $73 million in 2016.)

After the shooting, Daniel Defense offered employees extra overtime to meet skyrocketing demand, according to Christopher Powell, who worked for the company at the time. “They kept people focused on the task at hand,” he said.

But in the late 2010s, some colleagues started to worry that Mr. Daniel had become distracted by the glamour of marketing the brand and rubbing shoulders with celebrities and politicians, according to a former Daniel Defense manager. They voiced concerns that some of the marketing materials were inappropriate for a company that manufactures deadly weapons, said the manager and a former executive, who didn’t want their names used because they feared legal or professional repercussions.

Some ads featured children carrying and firing guns. In another, posted on Instagram two days after Christmas last year, a man dressed as Santa Claus and wearing a military helmet is smoking a cigar and holding a Daniel Defense rifle. “After a long weekend, Santa is enjoying MK18 Monday,” the caption states, referring to the gun’s model.

The industry’s aggressive marketing has landed some companies in trouble. Earlier this year, the gun maker Remington reached a $73 million settlement with families of children killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn. The families had claimed that Remington improperly marketed its assault rifles, including with its weapons appearing in “Call of Duty,” which the killer at Sandy Hook had frequently played.

A year after Sandy Hook, with the Super Bowl approaching, Daniel Defense deployed a new marketing stunt.

The National Football League had a policy prohibiting ads for weapons on its telecasts. But Daniel Defense tried to buy a 60-second spot that depicted a soldier returning home to his family, with ominous music in the background. “I am responsible for their protection,” the ad’s narrator intones. “And no one has the right to tell me how to defend them.”

Given the N.F.L.’s ban on gun ads, it was no surprise that the ad was rejected. (Daniel Defense claimed that the ad complied with the policy because the company sells products besides guns.) But Mr. Daniel turned the rejection into a rallying cry, and the conservative media lapped it up. Appearing on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” he urged viewers to “call the N.F.L. and say, ‘C’mon, man, run my ad.’”

“That is Marty Daniel at work,” Mr. Powell said. “He’s not one of those typical C.E.O.s that you see.”

Mr. Daniel and his wife, Cindy, have worked hand-in-hand with the National Rifle Association to raise money for the group, sell weapons to its members and beat back calls for gun control.

In recent years, Mr. Daniel and Ms. Daniel, the company’s chief operating officer, became outspoken supporters of Donald J. Trump, contributing $300,000 to a group aligned with Mr. Trump. Mr. Daniel joined the “Second Amendment Coalition,” a group of gun industry heavyweights who advised Mr. Trump on gun policy.

Mr. Daniel told Breitbart News in 2017 that Mr. Trump’s election saved “our Second Amendment rights.” He and his wife have also donated to other Republican candidates and groups, including in their home state of Georgia. So far in the 2022 election cycle, they’ve given more than $70,000 to Republicans.

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Prepare Yourself for This Weekend’s ‘Crypto Bowl’

The crypto industry, which struggles with a reputation for being volatile, bad for the environment and overrun by wealthy tech guys, has tried to demystify itself for the general public in part by pouring money into marketing. Several ad experts said they had déjà vu, noting similarities to the gush of money dedicated to marketing the dot-com boom more than 20 years ago.

The number of crypto companies advertising more than tripled last year, and their spending more than quintupled, according to a sample of 200 companies reviewed by the research firm MediaRadar. The National Football League star Tom Brady signed on as a brand ambassador for FTX. Crypto.com paid $700 million to rename the Staples Center arena in Los Angeles. Celebrities including Spike Lee, Matt Damon and Neil Patrick Harris appeared in crypto commercials.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, loosened a ban on crypto ads that had been in place at the social network since 2018, explaining in December that “the cryptocurrency landscape has continued to mature and stabilize in recent years.” Google also relaxed its crypto advertising guidelines over the summer.

Not everyone is sold. The Monetary Authority of Singapore, a financial regulator, said this year that crypto companies should stop advertising to retail investors because trading digital currencies is “highly risky and not suitable for the general public.” The Athletic, the sports news site recently bought by The New York Times, reported last year that the N.F.L. does not allow teams to sell sponsorships to cryptocurrency trading firms.

“The Super Bowl is low-effort — it’s fun, you’re in a relaxed mode, and then a crypto commercial comes on and it seems friendly and accessible and people might be more likely to give it a shot,” said Demetra Andrews, a clinical associate professor of marketing at Indiana University. “But it does present real risk, certainly more than trying out a new flavor of beverage or Uber Eats.”

Other technology ads will feature heavily in the Super Bowl, including sports betting ads (Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings) and ads about the metaverse (Meta and Salesforce). Google has an ad centered on its Pixel 6 camera and diversity in photography. A commercial from the financial app and Super Bowl first-timer Greenlight shows the “Modern Family” actor Ty Burrell impulse-buying a Fabergé egg, a jetpack and a Pegasus.

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Instagram Struggles With Fears of Losing Its ‘Pipeline’: Young Users

Facebook knew that an ad intended for a 13-year-old was likely to capture younger children who wanted to mimic their older siblings and friends, one person said. Managers told employees that Facebook did everything it could to stop underage users from joining Instagram, but that it could not be helped if they signed up anyway.

In September 2018, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram’s founders, left Facebook after clashing with Mr. Zuckerberg. Mr. Mosseri, a longtime Facebook executive, was appointed to helm Instagram.

With the leadership changes, Facebook went all out to turn Instagram into a main attraction for young audiences, four former employees said. That coincided with the realization that Facebook itself, which was grappling with data privacy and other scandals, would never be a teen destination, the people said.

Instagram began concentrating on the “teen time spent” data point, three former employees said. The goal was to drive up the amount of time that teenagers were on the app with features including Instagram Live, a broadcasting tool, and Instagram TV, where people upload videos that run as long as an hour.

Instagram also increased its global marketing budget. In 2018, it allocated $67.2 million to marketing. In 2019, that increased to a planned $127.3 million, then to $186.3 million last year and $390 million this year, according to the internal documents. Most of the budgets were designated to wooing teens, the documents show. Mr. Mosseri approved the budgets, two employees said.

The money was slated for marketing categories like “establishing Instagram as the favorite place for teens to express themselves” and cultural programs for events like the Super Bowl, according to the documents.

Many of the resulting ads were digital, featuring some of the platform’s top influencers, such as Donté Colley, a Canadian dancer and creator. The marketing, when put into action, also targeted parents of teenagers and people up to the age of 34.

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