Nationals

O'Neal: NCAA players should stay more than 1 year

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O'Neal: NCAA players should stay more than 1 year

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) After being introduced to the NCAA convention as Dr. Shaquille O'Neal, the four-time NBA champion jokingly asked that his scholarly resume be repeated before he opened with a public confession to the group's president.

``From 1989-92 I committed numerous NCAA infractions,'' O'Neal said, referencing his time as an LSU player. ``I used to get a free bowl of jambalaya right before every game.''

NCAA President Mark Emmert laughed, saying that the statute of limitations had run out on that.

That was the start of a more than 30-minute question-and-answer session Emmert conducted with O'Neal during the keynote luncheon Wednesday on the opening day of the NCAA convention.

O'Neal said earning his doctoral degree in education, which he received last May from Barry College in Florida, was harder than anything he ever did athletically. He also talked about the importance of education, saying in the age of one-and-done basketball players that they should have to stay in school at least three years before going pro, such as the rule for NCAA football players.

``A lot of guys do it because of their financial situation and they need to do it. That's the only way to provide a better means for their family. So when you look at it from that aspect, I understand it,'' said O'Neal, who then told Emmert that if up to him the rule would ``probably say three-and-done.''

For players who do leave early, O'Neal's advice is to make sure they go back and finish their education. He said it's not a matter of how much money they will make, but how much they're going to keep.

O'Neal, who called his three years as an LSU player the best time of his life, recalled spending ``$1 million in about 30 minutes'' after he got his first check as the NBA's first overall pick in 1992. He quickly realized he wasn't as smart as he thought about money despite a few business and accounting classes.

Emmert is the former LSU chancellor who in 2000 presented O'Neal with his diploma for general studies after the NBA player had gone back to complete his undergraduate work. O'Neal added an online MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2005, and soon after that began work on his doctoral degree.

O'Neal said he always promised his family he would get his degree from LSU. He then challenged himself more and kept educating himself to help with his business pursuits, which today include owning 42 health and fitness clubs and 155 hamburger restaurants.

``I'm sure the aura of doing business with Shaquille O'Neal was there,'' he said. ``I needed them to know that they were doing business with a businessman, not doing business with an athlete.''

He also thought it was good for his six children to ``see me educate and challenge myself.''

Having O'Neal as the keynote speaker was somewhat of a departure for the NCAA, coning a year after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was the speaker. The former basketball player was entertaining, insightful and humorous during his appearance.

Emmert will deliver his state of the NCAA remarks Thursday.

The NCAA Board of Directors meets Saturday, the convention's final day. The board is expected to approve a sweeping set of changes that will include eliminating rules about how coaches communicate with recruits, how often they communicate with recruits, and allow college and high school players to accept money for travel expenses and prize money at non-scholastic events.

Along with questions posed to O'Neal by Emmert, there were some submitted by student-athletes in attendance.

When asked about star athletes being role models, O'Neal said he preferred the term ``real'' model.

``A lot of people, they play roles. When you play a role, and it catches up with them, we all figure out they're not who we thought they were. So with me, what you see is what you get,'' O'Neal said. ``As we're seeing now, there's a lot of people out there selling a lot of fake products. You're hearing people confess. ... To me, image is reality.''

There were no direct references to anybody in particular, but O'Neal's comments came the same week disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey in an interview to air later this week that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. His confession comes after a decade of denial.

O'Neal went on to say that athletes have the responsibility to be good role models.

``I don't think you get a choice,'' O'Neal said. ``I think we do have a social responsibility to do the right things, say the right things and behave correctly.''

Asked about who he looked up to, O'Neal talked about Magic Johnson for ``what he did on and off the court'' and remembered being told by Johnson as an 18-year-old kid that sports wouldn't last forever and it was important to get the education to move into life after basketball. He mentioned Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Donald Trump as smart businessmen he watched.

Since earning his doctorate last year, O'Neal has mentioned going to law school and owning his own firm.

``That's my smart guy talking,'' he said, smiling. ``I thought about it, but probably not.''

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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