Larry Fitzgerald hits hole-in-one while golfing with Obama

They were a long way from the White House.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, an avid golfer, hit a hole-in-one during a round with former President Barack Obama in Florida.

The 11-time Pro Bowler’s shot came on the 13th hole of the famed Seminole Golf Club, where Fitzgerald is a member. Obama’s tee shot also found the green on the par-3 hole.

“I’m playing with the President of the United States and I just made a hole in one!” Fitzgerald shouted, according to the Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte. “This is unbelievable!”

Obama and Fitzgerald were playing in a foursome that also included Glen Hutchins, a part owner of the Celtics and board member of the Obama Foundation, and Seminole Golf Club president Jimmy Dunne, Rosaforte tweeted.

Fitzgerald won the 2018 AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach by seven shots alongside partner Ted Potter Jr.

The 15-year veteran NFLer has said he will decide whether or not he’ll return to the Cardinals sometime this offseason, indicating that retirement is a possibility.

“I have a checklist I always got to go through and sometimes I’m able to get to my conclusion faster than others,” Fitzgerald said on SiriusXM, according to Sporting News. “I have to do my due diligence in terms of just taking some time to let your body heal because when you’re sore and your fingers are broken it’s easy to say, ‘I just don’t want to do this anymore, my body is hurting.’”

It’s been 10 years to the day since Fitzgerald caught three passes to help clinch the Cardinals’ first trip to the Super Bowl.

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Cowboys fire Scott Linehan days after Jason Garrett’s assurances

Scott Linehan went from seemingly safe to out of work in the span of three days.

Welcome to Jerry Jones’ world, where his head coach, Jason Garrett, says he isn’t expecting any major changes to his staff, and then loses his offensive coordinator later in the week.

“This was not an easy decision because of how highly we regard Scott Linehan as a football coach and as a person,” Garrett said in a statement.. “He and I had some really positive, substantive and open discussions which took place in the latter part of this week, and we ultimately agreed that it would be in the best interest of all parties involved if we were to make a change at this (offensive coordinator) position.

“This was very much a mutual decision, and there was a great deal of common ground and shared understanding between both of us during our meetings. Scott has had an incredibly positive impact on our football team. He has been instrumental in the development and success of a significant number of our veteran and younger players. He is an outstanding football coach, a great friend and we wish him and his family nothing but the absolute best going forward.”

Linehan, 55, had been the Cowboys offensive coordinator since 2015. But Dallas, despite winning the NFC East and a playoff game, finished 22nd in the NFL this season in total yards of offense (343.8 yards per game), and 22nd in points per game (20.1). The NFL Network reported the Cowboys had been meeting with offensive coordinator candidates in recent days, splashing cold water on the mutual decision idea Garrett floated.

It didn’t take long for Linehan’s former charges to weigh in, with ex-Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant tweeting out the popular Kermit-sipping-tea meme and then retweeted current Dallas wideout Allan Hurns’ not-so-vague posting of “Count those blessings daily 🙏🏾”

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Egypt's Salah wins African Footballer of the Year prize

Salah, 25, was awarded the Confederation of African Football Player of the Year accolade at a ceremony in Accra, Ghana.

    Accra, Ghana – Egypt forward Mohamed Salah has capped the most successful period of his career by winning the 2017 African player of the year award.

    Following a record number of votes, the Liverpool star was awarded the Confederation of African Football Player of the Year accolade on Thursday at a ceremony in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, ahead of fellow Liverpool star Sadio Mane of Senegal and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    “It’s never easy to win a big award like that,” Salah said on Thursday.

    “It’s an honour for me to be nominated with these two great players tonight.”

    The 25-year-old described winning the award as a “dream come true”, before dedicating the accolade to “the children in Egypt and Africa … to remind them to never stop dreaming and never stop believing in themselves.”

    Salah was the favourite to win the award having made an incredible impact at Liverpool since joining the club from Italian side AS Roma over the summer.

    He is currently the Premier League’s second top scorer with 17 goals, and has enjoyed a stellar year for both club and country.

    In early 2017, the forward was the central figure for Egypt as they finished runners-up at the Africa Cup of Nations.

    He also had a hand in all seven of the goals that took the Pharaohs to qualification for their first World Cup since 1990.

    Salah made two assists and scored five goals, including the stoppage-time penalty against Congo that sealed their ticket to the event in Russia, which is due to be held later this year.

    Salah is the first Egyptian and third North African – after last year’s Algerian winner Ryad Mahrez, and Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji in 1998 – to win the prestigious individual honour since its inception by CAF in 1992.

    RedBull Salzburg of Austria and Zambia forward Patson Daka, 19, won the young player award after enjoying a breakout season for loan club FC Liefering and country.

    Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala, 23, was named female player of the year.

    It was Oshoala’s third title after winning in 2014 and in 2016.

    A very emotional Oshoala, who plays for Chinese side Dalian Quanjian FC, admitted at the ceremony that it has been a tough year for her.

    “When I left Arsenal for China, people said I was finished but I’m happy to end the year with this,” she said.

    Argentine Coach Hector Cuper was named coach of the year for his role in Egypt’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup after a 28-year wait.

    Cuper also led the Pharaohs to the final of the 2017 African Cup of Nations final.

    More recognition followed for Cuper and his team as seven-time African Cup of Nations champions Egypt received the national Team of the year award.

    Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca, winner of the 2017 African Champions League, was named Club of the year.

    Ahmed Yahya, president of Mauritania Football Federation was named football leader of the year – a reward for his country’s tremendous improvement and progress in African Club competitions.

    The Platinium Awards went to president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo and the president-elect of Liberia George Opong Weah – the 1995 African Footballer of the year winner.

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    Jets win fight for controversial coordinator Gregg Williams

    It seems the Jets have gotten their man.

    Adam Gase said he wanted a head coach of the defense, and it appears Gregg Williams is going to be joining him in Florham Park, ESPN reported Tuesday. The Jets are finalizing a deal to hire Williams, according to the report, as he was believed to be picking between the Jets and Redskins.

    Williams would be a somewhat controversial hire, considering his role in the Bountygate scandal with the Saints. He’s an aggressive, in-your-face coach who is known for his attacking style of defense. He served as the Browns’ interim head coach this past season and went 5-3 after the team went 2-5-1 with Hue Jackson.

    Williams’ defenses have finished in the top 10 in total defense on seven different occasions.

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    High school football player dies during ACL surgery

    A high school football standout in South Carolina died during surgery a day after he committed to play in college, according to reports.

    Nick Dixon, a senior at Spartanburg High School, suffered complications Friday during a surgical procedure to repair his ACL and Meniscus, news station WLTX reported.

    The night before, the 18-year-old athlete accepted an offer to join the Wingate University team next fall on a four-year scholarship, according to the school district.

    School officials said Dixon — who played linebacker, defensive line and running back — was “one of the most elite athletes,” WLTV reported.

    “He excelled on the turf and off, contributing to the team and to his community,” the district said in a Facebook post. “Anyone who knows Nick describes him as everyone’s best friend. A talented and highly respected student-athlete.”

    Spartanburg County Coroner said an autopsy will be performed to determine the teen’s cause of death, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

    A GoFundMe page was created to raise money for Dixon’s funeral arrangements.

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    Rams-Cowboys proof demise of RBs is greatly exaggerated

    LOS ANGELES — There were rumors going around the NFL in recent years that running backs weren’t that valuable in today’s era of spread offenses and pass-happy schemes. We heard some of that discussion when the Giants selected Saquon Barkley, instead of a quarterback, in the first round of the 2018 draft.

    Those who still believe running backs matter need only point to Saturday night’s NFC divisional playoff game between the Rams (13-3) and Cowboys (11-6) at Los Angeles Coliseum. The game features young franchise quarterbacks in Jared Goff for the Rams and Dak Prescott for the Cowboys and the NFL’s most popular young head coach in Los Angeles’ Sean McVay.

    But make no mistake: The centerpieces of this crucial playoff game are the running backs, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott. Real recognizes real.

    “Two top running backs,” the Rams’ Gurley said earlier this week. “It’s not really about us, but obviously we have to hype it up: Zeke versus Gurley. He’s a great back. I guess I’m not too bad myself.”

    Elliott is in just his third season and claimed his second career rushing title in 2018. He’s an old-school style back who feasts on multiple carriers that wear down teams in the fourth quarter. He enters Saturday’s game with 1,571 rushing yards after gaining 137 yards on 26 carries in last weekend’s 24-22 wild-card win over the Seahawks at AT&T Stadium. Perhaps more impressive are the 77 passes he caught during the regular season for 567 yards and three touchdowns, nearly doubling his output as a receiver over the previous seasons.

    With Le’Veon Bell sitting out the entire year, Gurley is the league’s best all-around back, accounting for 135 yards from scrimmage per game over the past two seasons. The two-time All-Pro spent the final two regular-season games and the bye week resting a sore left knee, but is expected to be ready for Saturday.

    “I think we both go in with the same mindset,” Elliott said. “It’s playoff football. It’s about the team. It’s about trying to go get that Super Bowl. Yes, it’s going to be great facing off against him. But I’m not going to put too much emphasis on that.”

    Gurley figures to have a tougher time running against the Cowboys’ defense than Elliott will against the Rams’ defense. Led by linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys held the Seahawks and the league’s top rushing offense to just 73 yards on the ground last week. Dallas has allowed just two teams to run for more than 100 yards in their past nine games.

    “I’ve got the five best linemen in the world,” Gurley said of his offensive front. “So I have confidence in them and myself. We’re just going to go out there and give it our all.”

    The Rams’ run defense has been the team’s weak link. They have allowed at least 100 yards rushing in 11 games and more than 140 yards five times. The Rams believe the rushing yardage is negated by their ability to create turnovers (30 on the year) and make key stops in critical situations.

    “Stopping the run is going to always be a priority,” McVay said, “especially when you’re talking about playing against a team like this. We’ve got to play good football down-in and down-out. Stopping the run will be one of those things that will dictate that. But it’s also going to be stopping the pass and getting them off on third downs.”

    The Rams, winners of the NFC West, were beaten by the Falcons, 26-13, in the wild-card round a year ago. They are looking for their first playoff win since 2005.

    “We have a lot of respect for the Dallas Cowboys, but we expect to win this game,” McVay said. “We know it’s going to take a great effort, but we’re going in with a mindset and mentality that we expect to win.”

    They’ll need a big game from Gurley to do that.

    Three keys to the game

    Cowboys need to keep it close: The Rams would love to use their explosive offense to create a big lead and make the Cowboys one dimensional. They could then unleash their pass rush led by Aaron Donald, who has 20.5 sacks on the season. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times this year, but dropped only once last week as Dallas controlled the game against the Seahawks with a solid ground attack. Given time, Prescott can beat anybody. The Rams, who generated 41 sacks in 2018, can’t afford that.

    Which Jared Goff shows up? The Rams quarterback slumped in December, when he threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted six times over a four-game stretch. Goff lost at home in the wild-card round last year and doesn’t want to go 0-2 in the playoffs. “Winning is the most important stat, and that’s no different in the playoffs,” he said.

    Special teams could decide game: Poor special teams play hurt the Rams in last year’s wild-card loss to the Falcons. A Rams first-quarter punt bounced off the leg of one of their players while he was blocking. The fumble was recovered by Atlanta. Later in the quarter, return man Pharoh Cooper fumbled a kickoff that was also recovered by the Falcons. Atlanta cashed the turnovers into 10 quick first-quarter points en route to a 26-13 win.

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    Kyler Murray a Giants answer? Opinions vary on QB’s NFL future

    He can see it now.

    Danny Kanell, former regular-sized NFL quarterback, can envision Kyler Murray standing in a T-shirt and shorts with the other players at his position at the NFL Scouting Combine, looking very much like someone who does not belong.

    “He’ll look tiny,” Kanell told The Post on Thursday. “I’m sure he could walk in and out of the combine and nobody would even know he was partaking in the drills. He would get his ID double-checked at the door trying to get in.”

    This is one of the major hurdles Murray must overcome if he is to take a swing at an NFL career as a quarterback after a hugely successful season at Oklahoma, as he beat out fellow quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskins to win the Heisman Trophy. If Murray makes good on his vow to enter the NFL draft — even though as a baseball prospect, he was a first-round pick of the Oakland A’s — it will be a frenzy as NFL talent evaluators try to determine whether this dynamic, diminutive player can make it in professional football.

    It is an evaluation the Giants will have to make, as they hold the No. 6 pick in the draft and might use it to find the eventual successor to Eli Manning.

    “I would not waste a first-round pick on him,” Dan Shonka, national scout and general manager of Ourlads, an NFL scouting service, told The Post.

    It remains to be seen if this is the consensus opinion once Murray is studied more carefully and assigned a grade on draft boards around the league. A three-time Texas high school state champion, Murray started his college career at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma.

    He sat out the 2016 season and served as the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield in 2017. Murray made his one year as a Sooners starter count in a big way, completing 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. A bona fide threat as a runner, he rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    A fleet center fielder, Murray was taken by the A’s with the No. 9-overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft and received a signing bonus of $4.66 million. He will have to return that bonus if he in fact does not report to the A’s and eschews baseball for the NFL.

    In his list of the top 50 prospects in this year’s draft, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com lists Murray at No. 48, assigning a second-round grade. Pauline calls Murray a “rare athlete who beats opponents with his arm or legs. Built more like a third-down back rather than a quarterback.” Murray is the fourth quarterback on Pauline’s value board, behind Dwayne Haskins (No. 11), Daniel Jones (17) and Drew Lock (34).

    Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys vice president of player personnel who hosts a show on SiriusXM NFL radio, said Murray has “a big-league arm’’ and called him “a big-league athlete.’’

    Brandt said he is anxious to see how Murray stacks up working alongside Haskins at the scouting combine, which takes place in late February in Indianapolis.

    “The guy is fast, he’s athletic, and he’s a quality individual,’’ Brandt said. “ … I think Kyler Murray can take a team and win with a team in the NFL with him at quarterback.’’

    Before any of that can take place, Murray must show he is big enough to compete with the big boys. He is listed at 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, but no one really believes that.

    “I’m telling you, this kid is 5-7,” Shonka said.

    To find out, Shonka said he called scouts in football and baseball to see exactly how Murray measures up. A baseball scout listed Murray at 6-1. “I asked those guys if they were drunk,” Shonka said.

    “I talked to some people who saw him up close … and they said he’s not even 5-8.”

    Kanell, a fourth-round pick out of Florida State in 1996, started 10 games for the Giants and lasted six years in the NFL at 6-3. He wonders if Murray is big enough.

    “He’s listed at 5-11, he’s probably closer to 5-10, but I think there’s a chance he could be 5-9 ¹/₂,” said Kanell, a host on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel. “If he’s 5-9, scouts will run the other way.”

    Murray’s weight of 195 is also probably a generous listing. Michael Vick survived in the NFL at 6-foot and enjoyed some considerable success, but he was taller and, at 215 pounds, much more solidly built than Murray.

    “He’s just gonna get beat up,’’ Shonka said. “A guy that small, he can throw to the seams once in a while, but man, you can’t throw over the top of those towers that are coming at you. First thing you got to worry about is durability and his strength.”

    He’s competitive and he’s productive, but that’s in college and it’s hard to project a little guy like that.”

    As a pure talent, though, Murray stacks up.

    “The kid is a very good athlete and he’s an explosive runner,’’ Shonka said. “Until this kid can throw from the pocket, you don’t have a quarterback.’’

    Kanell called him “a stud,” but with a caveat.

    “I think he’s an incredible talent, but he does have more significant hurdles to overcome than Baker Mayfield because he is about 2 inches shorter than Baker and more on the slight side,” Kanell said. “Not as strong as Baker Mayfield, or not as strong as Russell Wilson, who he’s getting compared to a lot.”

    NFL teams must also worry Murray will convert to baseball, a gamble for any team taking him high in the draft.

    “With all the issues Kyler Murray has to get past with … his diminutive stature, he’s got another problem because in the back of every GM’s mind, they’re probably thinking, ‘Is there a guarantee this guy is going to play football, or is he going to use it for leverage?’ ” Kanell said. “Those questions are very real.’’

    Shonka said: “I would not touch the guy, no matter what, before the second round.’’

    Kanell envisions a team with an established quarterback in place taking a shot on Murray late in the first round or in the second round. He would not advise that for the Giants, who at some point have to address life after Manning.

    “If I’m the New York Giants I’m probably looking at Dwayne Haskins as their best option,’’ Kanell said. “It’s a lot safer.’’

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    Jets find way to interview Kliff Kingsbury after initial blocking

    After initially being denied permission to speak to USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, the Jets reportedly have interviewed him.

    The Athletic reported the Jets and Kingsbury were meeting Monday afternoon. This comes after he was blocked from talking to NFL teams last week by USC, where he was hired a month ago. It is unclear whether Kingsbury resigned from USC or the school relented and gave teams permission.

    A school spokesman would only say, “He’s still listed on our website’s Athletic Department staff directory.”

    The 39-year-old former Texas Tech coach has become a hot name during this coaching cycle.

    The Cardinals reportedly are also interested in interviewing Kingsbury. ESPN reported that Kingsbury is the prime candidate for the Cardinals’ job.

    Kingsbury went 35-40 in six seasons at Texas Tech before he was fired in November. He was hired by USC a few weeks later after flirting with a few NFL teams.

    Kingsbury is seen as an offensive coach on the rise. His offenses at Texas Tech were high scoring. He coached NFL quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb with the Red Raiders. Jets safety Jamal Adams celebrated the interview news on Twitter.

    “Yessssssssssiiiiiiirrrrr *Quavo voice,” he wrote. “I’m just happy that my guy gets an opportunity, that’s all! I support him no matter what! LUV.”

    Kingsbury actually was on the Jets briefly in 2005. He played in his only NFL game with the team, completing one pass.

    If Kingsbury does not wind up with a head-coaching job, he should have opportunities to become an offensive coordinator. Pro Football Talk reported Sunday night that the Patriots would have interest in him replacing Josh McDaniels if McDaniels becomes a head coach.

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    Duke Williams signs with NFL’s Buffalo Bills 3 days after Edmonton Eskimos release him

    Three days after the Edmonton Eskimos released the team’s standout receiver so he could pursue employment in the National Football League, D’haquille (Duke) Williams, signed with the Buffalo Bills.

    The Associated Press reported Monday that the 25-year-old football player signed a “reserve-future contract” with the Bills. In his brief but impressive Canadian Football League career, Williams amassed 135 catches for 2,294 yards and 15 touchdowns in 31 games. Last season, he led the CFL with 1,579 receiving yards to go along with his 88 catches and 11 touchdowns.

    On Jan. 4, the Eskimos tweeted that they “wish Duke the best and thank him for his time in the Green and Gold,” shortly after releasing him.

    Williams tweeted that “without God and the opportunity Edmonton gave me, [there’s] no telling where I’ll be.”

    “I just wanna say thank you to the Eskimos for allowing me to play the game I love… next stop NFL.”

    Williams was a fan favourite during his time in Alberta’s capital, not just excelling during plays but also at celebrating after. After the CFL announced last season that it would relax its rules regarding touchdown celebrations, Williams expressed his excitement over the development.

    “I was the only receiver getting penalties so I guess I played a big part in it,” he said in August. “I’m glad they passed that rule, so we can really have fun with it.”

    Prior to joining the Eskimos, Williams had a tumultuous college career at Alabama’s Auburn University. He was kicked off the team after an altercation in 2015. Months earlier, he was suspended from playing in the Outback Bowl for breaking team rules.

    –With files from The Associated Press

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    ESPN’s Booger Mobile is dying a slow death

    Monday Night Football’s Booger Mobile will rest in peace next to Fox’s glowing puck in the dreaded “Oops” Sports TV Hall of Fame.

    ESPN will not use the Booger Mobile on the sideline for its wild-card game broadcast of Colts-Texans on Saturday. Booger McFarland will be in the booth with Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten. ESPN is saying it will re-evaluate after the season if it will bring the Booger Mobile back for next year.

    After citing weather to bench the Booger Mobile last Monday and now forsaking it for the playoffs, which combines with the previous plan to leave it parked for the Pro Bowl and ESPN’s international broadcast of the Super Bowl, it is not hard to predict how that postseason meeting will go.

    Meeting leader: Should we bring back the Booger Mobile?

    Everyone in meeting: No!

    Next topic.

    We were not a proponent of the Booger Mobile from the second it was announced. It overcomplicated the broadcast; especially since ESPN sold the new MNF team as built on fun and great chemistry.

    MNF lead producer Jay Rothman compared Tessitore to a “young Brent Musburger/Frank Sinatra combo,” while Witten was “Captain America” and McFarland “football’s Charles Barkley,” which, if true, always made the Booger Mobile feel like Rothman was attempting to be a combo of a young Martin Scorsese and John DeLorean.

    While putting McFarland in a high chair on the sideline was an injustice to him, it actually made Tessitore’s and Witten’s jobs much harder. McFarland could just try to analyze the game, while Tessitore and Witten in the booth had to try to figure out how to incorporate McFarland from the sideline. It added another variable, which made it so Witten infamously had to “pull a rabbit out of his head.”

    Next up for ESPN to decide, is if it wants this trio together next year. While this playoff look might stick, that question will be genuinely discussed in the postseason meeting.

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