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The Plug, ‘To All The Ladies In The Place’ (Episode 5): Shakyla Hill and Stephania Bell get right at home

For those with vested interest in this weekend’s NFL games, you might want to listen to Stephania

2:09 PM

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One week into 2018, the ladies have already officially taken over our airwaves. The Plug returns with NFL injury analyst Stephania Bell to chop it up about the status of key players heading into this second week of playoff action around the league. Bell also gives insight into the complexities of her job and how her background in physical therapy directly affects her career.

The squad then chops it up with Miss Quadruple-Double herself — Grambling’s own Shakyla Hill. The star guard talks about realizing the accomplishment was in reach and what she told her teammates in the moment. Her reaction to praise from LeBron James is priceless too. And you’ll never believe the role her mom played in making the historic quad-double happen.

From there, Chiney, Kayla, Tes and myself wax poetic on a variety of topics, including Serena’s pink slip at the Australian Open, LaVar Ball’s recent comments about Lakers head coach Luke Walton, what the first round of NBA All-Star Game votes mean and, yes, O.J. Simpson’s Las Vegas tailgate experience. You should know the deal by now, but tell a friend to tell a friend to subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! Pull up on us next week!

Previously: The Plug, ‘Happy New Year’ (Episode 4): with special guest co-host Mike Golic Jr.


Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine visit Warriors practice

Powerful duo meets with team for business of basketball meeting

9:24 PMThe Golden State Warriors hosted two special guests at Tuesday’s practice: entrepreneur Dr. Dre and his longtime friend and business partner Jimmy Iovine.

Director of player programs Jonnie West set up the visit as part of the Warriors’ annual business of basketball meeting.

Dr. Dre and Draymond Green chat at Warriors practice Tuesday.

Marc J. Spears

Dr. Dre and Iovine are the founders of Beats Electronics, which they sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014.

“I’m a big Dr. Dre fan, so we got a pretty good deal today,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “You saw these guys … Jimmy. We have our business of basketball meeting, which is an annual meeting. Usually it’s talk about the salary cap and stuff, so this is a little more interesting.

“They are going to talk about business, so it’s a different way of approaching it. The league approved it. It’s pretty exciting to have these guys in here. … It’s pretty awesome. Our guys are pumped up.”

Jimmy Iovine (left) at Warriors practice.

Marc J. Spears

The players were surprised when Dr. Dre and Iovine showed up at practice.

“When they walked in, I was tripping,” forward Kevin Durant said.

Forward Draymond Green was eager to learn from Dr. Dre and Iovine.

“No. 1, how they were able to work together,” Green said. “Two completely different people. Total opposite ends of the spectrum. How were they able to bring that together? And then some things about how they went about their business. They made a headphone company worth $3 billion. That’s special.”

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is the first Samoan QB to win the national title, and other things to know

His family is no stranger to football

4:13 PMFaced with a 13-0 halftime deficit, Alabama coach Nick Saban made the decision to switch from sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts to true freshman signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night.

Tagovailoa had never been brought into a game with the Crimson Tide losing, but in the battle of freshman quarterbacks, Tagovailoa outshone the Bulldogs’ Jake Fromm in front of what might as well have been a home game for Georgia playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Tagovailoa orchestrated a comeback that saw Alabama score 26 points in the second half and overtime to win, 26-23. At least Georgia wasn’t the first team from the state to blow a cushy lead in its championship game (I’m talking about you, Atlanta Falcons).

In one half of work, the Hawaii native went 14-of-24 for 166 yards with three touchdowns, including the game-winning 41-yarder, and one interception to help give Alabama its fifth national championship under Saban. When someone comes on the scene like that, well, it’s time to get to know them.

Here are six facts about Tagovailoa and what his performance means in historical context.

1. Tagovailoa is the first Samoan quarterback to win college football’s national championship game

In 2015, a Samoan was 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than an American non-Samoan. For the most part, Samoans have been given positions along the defensive and offensive lines, linebacker, safety and occasionally running back. Quarterback has been an elusive position for the group.

With Tagovailoa leading the Crimson Tide’s second-half comeback against SEC foe Georgia, he became the first Samoan quarterback to win the national championship. With three more years of eligibility and offensive MVP performance, the floodgates may open.

Tagovailoa is by no means the first quarterback to represent the Pacific Island community, though. Washington State’s Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson was in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy in 1978, was the highest-drafted Samoan (Cincinnati Bengals, third overall, 1979) and at the time only the fifth Samoan-born player to make it to the NFL.

Tennessee Titans signal-caller Marcus Mariota took over the distinction of highest-drafted Samoan in 2015 (second overall). Mariota had the best opportunity to become the first Samoan quarterback to win a national title, but his Oregon Ducks lost to Ohio State in the first CFP championship game. Mariota was the first Hawaiian-born player to win the Heisman.

Former Washington Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, who in 1999 became the first player to pass for 300 yards and run for 200 in a game, had the next best opportunity. Tuiasosopo led the fourth-ranked Huskies to a 34-24 victory over Drew Brees and Purdue in the 2001 Rose Bowl and was named the MVP of the game.

2. Winning is in his DNA

Tagovailoa is the nephew of Fano Tagovailoa, who in a 2002 ESPN.com article on Samoan football culture was regarded as “the best quarterback we’ve seen in Samoa,” according to a local coach. Fano was the backup quarterback for the undefeated Utah team that beat Pittsburgh in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.

And Tua’s brother, Taulia, the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, has already received an offer from Alabama. Their parents pumped the breaks on Taulia Tagovailoa committing in July 2016, but his brother’s success has probably dumped a whole bucket of gasoline on an already hot fire.

3. the recruiting gods love alabama

Per ESPN’s Stats & Information, DeVonta Smith, who hauled in the game-winning touchdown, was a Georgia commit for a stretch during high school, while Tagovailoa received an offer from Alabama after they lost the commitment of Fromm. Funny how those things work out.

4. your boy can sing and play ukulele

From the short clip that Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key tweeted out, Tagovailoa has a pretty amazing singing voice.

5. HE picked alabama because of the school’s faith-centric environment

In a 2016 interview with SB Nation, Tagovailoa explained that Alabama’s biggest selling point for him was how intertwined religion was with the top-notch program.

“First and foremost, it was their belief in God. Their belief in God was one of the biggest things that kind of struck me. That kind of lines up with everything in my life,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s not really structured, ‘There’s God, and there’s anything else.’ It’s more, ‘God’s so in the middle, and everything revolves around him.’ That’s the kind of atmosphere I want to surround myself with.”

On a side note: An Alabama fan questioned Tagovailoa’s ability to adapt … because the fan thought someone from Hawaii couldn’t speak English. 🤔 I’m going to let you read this one for yourself. Hawaii has been the 50th state in the United States for almost 60 years.

6. no situation was tua (pun intended) much for the true freshman

This was the first time Tagovailoa was inserted into a game in which Alabama wasn’t leading by double digits all season. Tagovailoa played in Crimson Tide blowouts. He finished the regular season completing 35 of 53 passes for 470 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. The last time he saw the field was a month and a half ago, when he went 7-of-11 for 85 yards and three scores in the Crimson Tide’s win over Mercer on Nov. 18.

Tagovailoa joined Ohio State’s Cardale Jones as the second quarterback in four years to lead their teams to a CFP national title victory without starting a game during the regular season.

N.C. A&T football coach Rod Broadway expected to retire Tuesday

Legendary coach won his second Celebration Bowl, and third national title, in December

5:30 PMI can count on one hand the number of times over the past year and a half when I’ve asked North Carolina A&T football coach Rod Broadway if retirement was on the horizon. And each time the man who has brought Aggie Pride to the sidelines at Aggie Stadium for seven years had answered the question, without flinching: “We’ll see what the future brings. … I’m just an old ball coach, thinking about the next game.”

After securing his second Celebration Bowl championship last month, Broadway is reportedly hanging up his clipboard. An 11 a.m. news conference to announce his retirement is set for Tuesday.

Broadway is walking away in Undefeated fashion, having finished last season 12-0 to give the Aggies their second black college national title in three seasons. Broadway, 62, coached the Aggies to a 59-22 record and retires as the only coach to win a black college football national championship at three different schools, including North Carolina Central and Grambling State. N.C. A&T was the only unbeaten team in the FCS this season.

Always a straight shooter, Broadway has been candid, sharing his thoughts with The Undefeated on player activism as well as the extra responsibility black coaches have as father figures at historically black colleges.

“When that time does come,” Broadway told me, “you can find me in Jamaica, where I like to go on vacation, with my feet up, doing some fishing.”

Well played, coach.

#Oprah2020 misses the point of her epic Golden Globes speech

The media mogul’s speech wasn’t about her at all

4:58 PMShortly after Oprah Winfrey delivered a galvanizing, inspiring speech about visibility and accountability while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, the internet started gushing over how presidential she sounded. “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” NBC (not NBC News) tweeted before deleting. Then people started speculating about whether she actually would run for president and arguing about her competence for the office.

But this conjecture unfortunately takes away from the power of Oprah’s speech as its own self-contained, and completely necessary, call to action. Her speech wasn’t about her at all, which is what made it so impactful. She, instead, used her platform and visibility to draw attention to exactly the kind of women who are often shunned and ignored in our society. The most vulnerable among us. The ones who can’t say #MeToo and #TimesUp and speak their truth without experiencing devastating consequences. She lifted those women up in her speech Sunday night, and she also asked men to take an active role in shutting down the cycle of abuse that happens in Hollywood, in media, in academia, in factories, in just about every part of society one can think of.

Before we breathlessly move on to The Next Big Thing in our news cycle, let’s make sure we take a moment to internalize what Oprah told us Sunday night and appreciate the moment for what it was: not the start of a run for the presidency but a night when a black woman, while being honored with a prestigious award, used her platform to tell vulnerable communities that they are seen.

H&M’s ‘coolest monkey’ hoodie and how racism wastes our precious time

As Toni Morrison taught us, the ongoing cycle of ignorance keeps us from our work

2:09 PMWhen I first saw the now-infamous H&M ad of a beautiful black child wearing a hoodie that reads “The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” my initial reaction was rage. Here we are, almost two full decades into the 21st century, and we are still seeing images that equate black people with monkeys, an ugly trope that has existed for hundreds of years. However, my rage was quickly followed by a deep weariness. I was reminded of the words of Toni Morrison when she addressed racism during a 1975 lecture on race and politics:

“[K]now the function, the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.”

Racism, and specifically anti-blackness, manifests itself in a myriad of ugly ways. We seem to be in an endless cycle of:

  • Person/company says/does something horribly offensive
  • Offers a half-baked apology
  • Waits for the outrage to die down
  • And then it starts up again.

H&M issued an apology today: “We sincerely apologize for this image. It has been now removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States.” Sadly, it isn’t the first company to release images with racist connotations and it won’t be the last. Nivea recently published an ad stating, I kid you not, “White is purity” and pulled it after white supremacists started sharing the image as a rallying cry. Dove came under fire a few months ago for an ad that showed an image of a black woman taking off a brown shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, as if blackness is something dirty and needs to be scrubbed off. And who could forget the recent Pepsi gaffe that treated the last few years of protests against police brutality, led primarily by black women, like a carefree day at Coachella?

What makes all of this so insidious to me, as someone who analyzes images for a living, is knowing the lasting impact that images can have on the psyches of people who consume them. Despite the apologies offered and the insistence by these companies of how much they believe in diversity and inclusion, the images are out there and the damage is done. And what I am also intimately familiar with is the energy and time wasted in fighting against this kind of messaging. What is lost when, instead of focusing that energy on ourselves, on elevating and lifting each other up, we are instead mired in a fight against the kind of messaging that tells us we’re not human.

Do I think everyone at H&M is a racist? Well, that is hard to say. But what I can tell you, as someone who has often been the only black woman in a room full of decision-makers, is that there probably aren’t enough people of color in their chain of command. There aren’t enough people in the room who have been on the receiving end of callous and insensitive remarks about their race or ethnicity. There aren’t enough people in the room who have believed they had to constantly prove their humanity time and time again. There aren’t enough people in the room who don’t have the privilege to feign ignorance about racist tropes that have existed for generations.

Jaguars’ Yannick Ngakoue: #Iaintjonathanmartin!

Defensive end accuses Bills guard Richie Incognito of racial slurs

9:20 AMJACKSONVILLE, Florida — Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito, suspended previously for his role in a bullying scandal, has been accused of making racial slurs during the team’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

After the Jaguars’ 10-3 AFC wild-card round victory here, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue tweeted:


Incognito wears No. 64. Ngakoue did not respond to a message seeking comment, but he spoke to reporters here Monday. He stopped short of saying Incognito used the N-word.

“No, I don’t remember, but, you know, he said what he said,” Ngakoue said. “He knows what he said. I don’t have to repeat it.”

Attempts to contact Incognito’s agent, David Dunn, were unsuccessful.

Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins, who lines up next to Incognito, came to his teammate’s defense:

In 2013, the Miami Dolphins suspended Incognito for the final eight games of the season after it was determined he was a central figure in the bullying of former NFL offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Ngakoue used the hashtag #Iaintjonathanmartin!

In a 2014 report on the Dolphins bullying scandal, Ted Wells, the NFL’s lead investigator, detailed “a pattern of harassment” against Martin by Incognito and other Dolphins players that included racial slurs. According to Incognito’s attorney, the report was “replete with errors.”

Incognito, 34, has revived his career with Buffalo after sitting out the 2014 season. In each of his three seasons since signing with the Bills in 2015, the 13-year veteran has been selected for the Pro Bowl.

In only his second season, Ngakoue, 22, has emerged as one of the NFL’s best edge rushers. He led the league with six forced fumbles and tied for eighth with 12 sacks. Ngakoue’s father is from Cameroon.

“I’ve been playing this game since I was a little kid. You hear all types of stuff,” Ngakoue said. “Stuff’s not going to bother you, but somebody says something about your ethnicity, that’s really kind of taking it a little bit too far.

“I’m all with trash talk. It’s part of the game, but you can’t say certain things.”

Erin Jackson makes history qualifying for U.S. Olympic team in long-track speedskating

First black woman to make long-track team, second ever on Team USA

12:06 PMErin Jackson, who took up speedskating just four months ago, qualified for an Olympic roster spot on Friday, becoming the first black woman on Team USA in long-track speedskating and the second ever to make an Olympic speedskating team.

Jackson, 25, came in third in the 500 meters at the U.S. speedskating trials in 39.04 seconds, a personal best. She finished behind veteran Olympians Brittany Bowe (38.18) and Heather Bergsma (38.42).

The Ocala, Florida, native was an inline skater for 15 years and started speedskating in March 2017, but she’s consistently trained on ice only since September. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Jackson will join 17-year-old Maame Biney, who in December became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. speedskating team when she won the 500 meters at the short-track trials.

Four-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Shani Davis qualified for the U.S. men’s team on Wednesday after he finished second in the 1,000-meter race at trials.

“I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” Jackson told reporters Friday. “I still don’t even know.”

Chef and entrepreneur Ayesha Curry says she won’t ever call herself an NBA wife

‘I don’t think my husband would call himself ‘chef’s wife’ ‘

12:16 PMAuthor, restaurant owner and Food Network personality Ayesha Curry holds many titles. But one she says she will not use is “NBA wife.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever call myself that,” she told Nightline co-anchor Juju Chang during an interview that aired on Wednesday. “I mean, I don’t think my husband would call himself ‘chef’s wife.’ ”

She’s married to Golden State Warriors star and two-time NBA champion Stephen Curry. She just opened her flagship restaurant International Smoke in San Francisco, her third location with chef Michael Mina.

The 28-year-old’s show Ayesha’s Home Kitchen was launched in July 2017, and she was also a co-host of ABC’s The Great American Baking Show. She’s an author and one of the new faces of CoverGirl, has a cookware line and a home cooking service and is the mother of two daughters, Riley and Ryan.

“Obviously, mom and wife first,” Curry said of the many titles she juggles. “Those are the two most important titles.”

Their courtship began in 2002 as a church friendship when they were 14. Curry’s family joined the Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina. Retired NBA player Dell Curry and his wife, Sonya, along with their three young children, Stephen, Seth and Sydel, were members of the church as well. The couple wed in 2011.

“One thing that my mom always told me was to never lose yourself inside of your marriage. I’m happy that I’ve been able to find that so-called balance and be able to pursue my passions and take care of my family,” Curry said during the Nightline interview.

“My family values are really, really important. When you’re a little more traditional, it’s almost shunned upon. Like, if you’re doing something wrong — and I feel really strongly about immigration because my mom is … from Jamaica. She still has a green card here,” Curry continued. “I just think about all the families that could be affected by these, you know, ill decisions that are being made, and it breaks my heart.”

According to ABC News, Mina says Curry is “really humble.” “Everything that she wants to get out of this industry, it’s all about this idea of how you continue to create just great food for your family, for your guests,” he told Nightline.

Aaron Maybin brings attention to Baltimore children in frigid schools

Former NFL linebacker posted video, helps raise money and collects winter gear

1:53 AMAs an African-American explorer in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Matthew Henson donned warm coats with fur collars while braving frigid temperatures during his journeys through the Arctic to the North Pole.

Many students in Baltimore’s Matthew Henson Elementary School are donning similar cold weather gear while attending class in 2018.

We know about the dilemma of those students thanks to former NFL linebacker Aaron Maybin, who teaches at the school through his work with Leaders of Tomorrow Youth Center. Maybin’s video of the frigid conditions experienced by students went viral after he posted it Wednesday. One of the students told Maybin that “yesterday I had frostbite” while sitting in a classroom with no heat, leaving the students wearing winter coats while attempting to learn in near-freezing temperatures.

That led Maybin to endorse a GoFundMe campaign that began with a goal of raising $20,000 to purchase 600 space heaters and outerwear for students. As of early Friday, that campaign, led by Coppin State University senior Samierra Jones, had raised more than $41,000 from more than 1,100 donors. Another group is raising money to provide Mylar blankets to students.

While outsiders make efforts to help the students, Baltimore officials and school administrators are pointing fingers about who is to blame for the burst pipes and broken boilers that have plagued the school system since students returned from break this week. Students got some relief on Thursday: Schools were closed because of the dusting of snow that hit the city.

As city and school officials bicker, Maybin, a Baltimore native and an author, is helping with an effort seeking donations of coats, gloves, hats, thermals and socks for students.

“I’m angry at a lot of people,” Maybin wrote on his Twitter page on Thursday. “But one cannot simply blame the mayor and do nothing to help. While we sit back and blame others OUR kids are freezing NOW. Someone has to fight for them.”

Serena: ‘I will need a little more time’

Williams won’t defend her title at the Australian Open

12:03 AMSerena Williams announced on Thursday that she’ll skip the 2018 Australian Open, just a year after she won the 2017 event while eight weeks pregnant.

And for tennis fans who expect dominance from the best women’s tennis player, that’s probably a good thing.

Based on Williams’ play during a three-set loss to Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last week, it was clear that she wasn’t ready to compete for a major title, and Williams admitted as much in a statement she released via the Australian Open:

After competing in Abu Dhabi I realized that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be. My coach and team said ‘only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ I can compete — but I don’t want to just compete. I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time.”

A loss to Ostapenko shouldn’t be a complete disappointment — the 20-year-old native of Latvia won the 2017 French Open and was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world last year. Williams looked a little sluggish as she played her first competitive match in nearly a year. She gave birth in September 2017 to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

“I don’t think I’m going to rate my performance,” the 36-year-old Williams said after the match last week. “I have plenty of comebacks, from injuries, from surgeries, but I’ve never had a comeback after actually giving birth to a human being.”

It would have been an incredible story for Williams to defend her Aussie championship just one year after winning it while pregnant. Williams said she spent part of the exhibition match against Ostapenko worried about her 4-month-old daughter.

“I was a little worried out there, and looked at my camp and I was like, ‘Is Olympia OK?’ But it’s really good,” Williams said during her postmatch interview.

There was already a sign that Williams might not play in Melbourne: It was announced in December 2017 that she was booked to be the closing keynote speaker at a conference in Florida on Jan. 23. That event is happening during the Australian Open quarterfinals.

The absence of Williams leaves yet another Grand Slam event wide-open. After Williams took a leave after winning the 2017 Australian Open, three women won the next three Grand Slam events, capped by Sloane Stephens winning the U.S. Open in September, her first major title.

Williams now gets to spend more time with her daughter and husband, Alexis, whom she married last November.

Her likely return: sometime before the French Open in May. Williams would be seeking her 24th career Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros.