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Fresh Start: Reid and Chiefs agree to 5-year deal

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Fresh Start: Reid and Chiefs agree to 5-year deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Andy Reid didn't have to wait long to find a fresh start.

The longtime coach of the Eagles landed in Kansas City on Friday, signing a contract with the Chiefs just four days after he was fired by Philadelphia following 14 mostly successful seasons.

Reid's contract is for five years, a person familiar with the terms told The Associated Press. Reid also began to assemble his coaching staff, the person said on condition of anonymity because those details were not made public.

The Chiefs have scheduled an introductory news conference for Monday.

Reid's agreement was finalized shortly after the Chiefs parted ways with general manager Scott Pioli, whose four tumultuous seasons ended with a brief statement issued by the team.

It's expected that Reid will pursue longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey or former Browns GM Tom Heckert - or perhaps both of them - to work with him in the front office.

Reid inherits a team that went 2-14, matching the worst record in franchise history. But he'll also have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and with five players voted to the Pro Bowl this season, Kansas City has building blocks in place to make a quick turnaround.

``Overall the job is still attractive,'' Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt told the AP earlier this week. ``The franchise remains very well respected.''

Hunt promised to be thorough and efficient in finding a replacement for Romeo Crennel, who was fired Monday after one full season. The Chiefs interviewed Atlanta assistants Dirk Koetter and Keith Armstrong on Tuesday before flying to Philadelphia and meeting with Reid.

Nine hours of negotiations Wednesday went well enough that Reid called off interviews in Arizona and San Diego, and the two sides continued working out details Thursday.

When news broke that Pioli was out, Reid's agreement quickly followed.

Neither the Chiefs nor Reid issued a statement Friday - the team posted a short video that mentioned the hiring - but Eagles chief executive Jeffrey Lurie offered his ``congratulations to Clark Hunt for hiring a good man and a good coach.''

``Congrats Big Red on taking your talents to KC,'' former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb tweeted. ``Big Red fans get ready to cheer on your new boss and new team from 2013 and on.''

Reid arrived in Kansas City aboard a chartered jet Friday afternoon and drove with Hunt and other Chiefs officials to Arrowhead Stadium. He later visited the team's training complex while the final details on his contract were being worked out.

Reid will be getting a fresh start after enduring a difficult season on the field and away from it. His oldest son, Garrett, died during training camp after a battle with drug addiction, and then the Eagles - expected to contend for a division title - scuffled to a 4-12 finish.

Reid was fired by Lurie on Monday.

Long considered one of the NFL's bright offensive minds, Reid had a record of 130-93-1 in Philadelphia. He took a team that was 3-13 the year before his arrival and, in the space of only two years, finished 11-5 and second in the NFC East. That began a stretch of five straight years in which Reid won at least 11 games, including one trip to the Super Bowl.

During his tenure, the Eagles made nine playoff appearances while Kansas City made three, and won 10 playoff games - Kansas City hasn't won any since 1993. Meanwhile, the Chiefs went through five head coaches and are now on their third in three years.

One of Hunt's priorities was to find a coach who would bring stability to the franchise.

That's a big reason why Hunt decided to change the Chiefs' organizational structure, with the coach and general manager now reporting directly to him. Since his late father Lamar Hunt founded the team 53 years ago, the coach typically reported to the general manager.

That was the way it was under Pioli, whose two coaching hires ended badly.

That alone wasn't enough to force Pioli out, though. It was a combination of poor draft choices, ineffective free-agent moves and a growing fan rebellion that led the Chiefs to issue a statement Friday that said they had ``mutually parted ways'' with their general manager.

``There is no way to overstate the level of respect and admiration I have for Scott on a personal level,'' Hunt said in the statement. ``His character, loyalty, integrity and commitment to a team are extraordinary, and throughout the last four years, he has consistently put the best interests of the Chiefs ahead of his own.''

Still, those qualities failed to translate to success.

Most of the Chiefs' top stars were drafted by Pioli's predecessor, Carl Peterson. The former Patriots executive struggled to find impact players, particularly at quarterback, while cycling through coaches and fostering a climate of dread within the entire organization.

Numerous longtime staff members were fired upon Pioli's arrival, and his inability to connect with fans resulted in unprecedented unrest. Some of the fans even paid for multiple banners to be towed behind planes before home games asking that he be fired.

On Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. Belcher then drove to the team's practice facility and shot himself in the head as Pioli and Crennel watched in the parking lot.

Pioli hasn't spoken publicly since the incident.

``The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do,'' Pioli said in a statement released through by team. ``To the Hunt family - to the great fans of Kansas City - to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done.''

The three-time NFL executive of the year often spoke of putting together ``the right 53,'' but he failed to do so, and now it falls on Reid and his staff to finish the job.

The most glaring position of need is quarterback.

Matt Cassel has two years left on a $63 million, six-year deal, but he played so poorly this season he was benched in favor of Brady Quinn, who is now a free agent.

It's expected that the Chiefs will pursue a veteran quarterback while also choosing one in the draft, giving Reid options in training camp. Reid has a history of success working with young quarterbacks, including Brett Favre in Green Bay and Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.

Decisions will also have to be made about left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and even Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, all of whom can become free agents.

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AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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Ato Boldon, speakers stress accessibility of youth sports at hearing on Capitol Hill

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NBC Sports Washington

Ato Boldon, speakers stress accessibility of youth sports at hearing on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON -- About a dozen players from the Howard County TERPS 10U football team ran around Rayburn Lobby at the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning, their red, yellow and black jerseys darting around members of Congress and visitors as the players tossed footballs and swung plastic mini golf clubs.

Earlier that morning, the team sat in the seats of the Ways and Means Committee in Room 2020, a vast change from the suit-and tie-wearing politicians normally behind the microphones. 

The team wasn't there to wreak havoc on politicians but was instead present for the National Youth Sports Day hearing and expo, a joint effort by the National Council of Youth Sports and the Congressional Caucus on Youth Sports intended t0 start a dialogue around youth sports and the NCYS's policy platform. 

The main message: youth sports needs to be accessible to all children and prioritized by the federal and state governments and by coaches.

Youth sports are one of our most valuable assets and teaching tools, implored Clay Walker, the National Fitness Foundation executive director. He emphasized the need for persons at both the state and federal level to make youth sports a top priority. Walker added to four-time Olympic medalist Ato Boldon's message that right now, the most critical issues lawmakers face are those concerning today's youth.

For Boldon, who has served as the lead track and field analyst for NBC Sports' coverage of the Summer Olympics since 2007, his achievements in sports served as a "catalyst" for other opportunities, opportunities that he, and other panelists, said need to be accessible to everyone. 

A rising sophomore at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Nora Fairbanks-Lee was the youngest member of the panel. She explained how playing basketball and softball have helped her develop into a more confident person.

"Sports teaches unforgettable life lessons," Fairbanks-Lee said, adding that sports provide a safe space for children in the community to work through their problems. 

The final message of the main hearing came from Charles Elliot, who said that coaches "have to begin to invest in kids [and] put time in." Elliot, the president of the Maryland Football and Cheer Association, and former football coach, demonstrated the innate power coaches hold over children by blowing a whistle, at which point every Terps player jumped to their feet ready to go.

"Whatever coach says, that's what goes," Elliot explained. He argued that coaches should strive to be mentors and turn players into better human beings, not simply into better athletes.

Elliot's argument carried back to the necessary prioritizing of youth sports and the purpose of the conference as a whole: to greate that dialogue which continues to promote safe, healthy and accessible play for all children.

After the hearing, those in attendance retired to the lobby, where various organizations set up tables and some games to allow both Congressional staff and the children in attendance to play and learn about each organization.

Though only a few staffers and representatives participated in the activities, including a carpet golf set from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and inflatable basketball hoops from Monumental Sports, those few children filled the air with giggles as they frolicked amongst politicians and event organizers. 

Three Congress members-- Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX)--spoke over the course of the day about the positive impact of youth sports on their own lives. 

Both Armstrong and Davis coached little league baseball, which they discussed at the beginning of the hearing; Armstrong was elected to the North Dakota Dickinson Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017, while Davis remembed when he found out he was nominated to the caucus while he was coaching a little league game (he waited until after the game to address reporters, showing his players they were his priority in that moment). 

Davis and Veasey are two of the three co-chairs of the caucus, and Vesey made sure to address specifically the children in the room.

"Comfortable is the most dangerous word in sports," Boldon explained during the hearing. He tells all his athletes that phrase to warn against complacency in training. But that same saying holds true to the panelists' feelings toward the current state of youth sports in America.

"We've made progress," Trish Sylvia, co-founder of the National Center for Safety Initiatives said. "But there's more to be done." 

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Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott has said privately he will hold out from training camp, per report

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Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott has said privately he will hold out from training camp, per report

Since entering the NFL in 2016, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has established himself as one of the elite rushers in the NFL.

Now, he wants to be paid like it.

Elliott, who has two years remaining on his rookie deal, has privately said he plans on holding out from training camp until he receives a new deal, per ProFootballTalk.

Slated to make just $3.5 million in 2019, Elliott is one of the most underpaid players in all of football. He's set to make $9.09 million in 2020, the final year of his rookie deal.

Dallas has put off extension talks with Elliott simply because he's still under contract for two more seasons, per the report.

Quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are both free agents after the season, and the Cowboys would like to keep both at all costs, ProFootballTalk said. Additionally, Dallas just signed defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to a five-year, $105 million contract extension this offseason.

Should he not receive a contract extension, Elliott could face a situation similar to what Demarco Murray had with the Cowboys in 2014. Murray set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a season, yet Dallas still chose to let him walk in free agency.

Elliott's not the only star running back threatening to holdout this offseason. Los Angeles Chargers' Melvin Gordon has publicly stated he will skip training camp until he gets a new deal and is not afraid to miss regular-season games, similar to what Le'Veon Bell did last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Since entering the NFL in 2016, Elliott has led the NFL in rushing twice. His 4,048 total rushing yards over the past three seasons are the most in the NFL, and he has over 600 more rushing yards than Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley, the next most rushing yards over that span.

Whether he actually holds out or whether the Cowboys turn their attention to extending their star running back will be seen in the coming weeks.

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