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Josh Norman reunites Carolina connections by signing with Bills, per report

Josh Norman reunites Carolina connections by signing with Bills, per report

Josh Norman signed a one-year deal with Buffalo in a move that will reunite him with former Panthers defensive coordinator and now Bills head coach Sean McDermott, according to a report from NFL Network. 

The Redskins released Norman in February as new head coach Ron Rivera worked to overhaul the roster. Norman was slated to make $15 million in 2020 in Washington; the last year of a five-year, $75 million contract he signed with the Burgundy and Gold in 2016. 

His new contract in Buffalo will be a one-year, $6 million deal worth possibly more with incentives that should put him back in the defense he excelled in with the Panthers. In 2015, playing for Rivera as head coach and McDermott as defensive coordinator in Charlotte, Norman made the NFL’s All Pro team and was considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league. 

In Washington, the scheme was not the same as Carolina and Norman never hit the same elite level of play. In fact, in four seasons with the Redskins Norman didn’t even get voted to a single Pro Bowl.

The Bills made the playoffs last season and have a swarming young defense. Norman won’t be asked to be the top corner, that’s TreDavious White and he’s cemented in that role. 

Buffalo could press New England for an AFC East title this season, and playoff football is what Norman long talked about wanting. 

Some that thought with Rivera running the Redskins and his long history with Norman, a reconciliation might be possible. That never happened.

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NFL, EA Sports agree to six year extension of Madden video game franchise

NFL, EA Sports agree to six year extension of Madden video game franchise

The Madden franchise will continue to be a part of the gaming universe for at least the next six years.

NFL owners on Thursday approved an extension of their deal with Electronic Arts, continuing a relationship that has existed for 30 years. It was also recently approved by the NFL Players Association.

The current contract was set to expire after the 2021 season. The extension means that EA Sports will continue to be the league's exclusive publisher of football simulation games through 2026.

EA Sports Executive Vice President Cam Weber said both sides had been talking for months. Many wondered what the future of the relationship might be after 2K Sports signed an agreement with the NFL in March to produce non-simulation games.

The current edition of Madden has seen a 30% increase in unique players. According to Electronic Arts, more than 330 million hours of the game have been played since it was released last August. The company has also seen large increases in gameplay during the past couple of months as people have been confined to their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic, with many tournaments taking place among friends and on television.

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Rachel Hoagland, the league's vice president and head of gaming and esports, said keeping the Madden franchise at the core of their video gaming strategy was important, especially with the emergence of new platforms and gaming systems. Sony and Microsoft have announced new generations of gaming consoles that are expected to debut by the end of the year.

"EA has done a nice job of ensuring the game matches the experience during a game week. The new technology will allow richer content and add more realism," she said.

Madden NFL 21 will come out in early August with the first looks at the game coming next week. 

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes was last year's cover athlete. Baltimore quarterback and reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson said in April that he would be on the cover this year, but EA Sports has not made an announcement.

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EVER WONDER: How John Madden helped turn Ron Rivera into Riverboat Ron

EVER WONDER: How John Madden helped turn Ron Rivera into Riverboat Ron

John Madden’s influence on professional football can hardly be measured. He won a Super Bowl with the Raiders in 1977 but for multiple generations he’s the name behind perhaps the most influential sports video game in the world.

For Redskins fans, however, Madden might mean something way more important.

After two decades of struggles and a disastrous 3-13 campaign in 2019, the Redskins hired Ron Rivera in January. The former Panthers coach has one of the best reputations in the NFL, and a helluva nickname in Riverboat Ron. 

The nickname has quite a backstory (see the video above) but it's not without merit. When Rivera first took over as head coach with the Panthers, his teams fought hard, but often came up short. 

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After meeting with Madden and reviewing game tape, Rivera decided to press the gas. The story is pretty incredible. 

"It was 4th and 1 and we kicked a field goal, he said. And I said it put us up by six. But then they came down, scored a touchdown. kicked the extra point and beat us what could you have done differently? He says, Well, I could have gone for it on fourth down. He said absolutely! So you’ve played enough football, you’ve got a good football team. Go with your gut instinct. I said, well, I was just going going by the book. He looked at me, said Ron, what book? So there’s a whole book about baking those types of decisions, those decisions are made by guys that have experience and understand the
game. The guys played the game because of coached the game just like you have. Use your gut experience. Use your intuition. You have enough of it. You know how to do it. And so I’ve kind of kept that mentality going into my third season and got into a couple of fourth down situations and said, you know what, if we can do it here, man, we can keep it rolling. And essentially, because when I did it for the first time with our offense and we converted, they came to the sideline and a bunch of em said man, thanks for believing in us, coach. And the realization that, OK, I got it. I got it."

As his profile grew across the NFL during his tenure with the Panthers, Rivera’s charitable work gained more and more coverage. That’s when the Riverboat Ron nickname came to matter most, and the best part was Rivera's daughter came up with the idea. 

"Everything that we do with this, we do it for charity with the proceeds going to a specific charity, whether it be the USO, the Veterans Bridge homes in Charlotte, the Humane Society or the Ronald McDonald House. We really try to take care of it, but we also try to use it for it for for good."

At multiple points this offseason the new Redskins boss has talked about how he’s better prepared to build his team, his staff and his organization the second time around. Much of his success the first time around came after meeting with Madden, and learning to be more aggressive when the situation calls for it.

The second time around?

Rivera is already Riverboat Ron.

Who knows what happens next. 

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