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‘The Plug’ podcast: ‘Black Panther’ details — plus ‘GLOW’s’ Sydelle Noel (Episode 9)

The Philadelphia Eagles make history — and Kevin Hart lives the dream

3:23 PM

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The pleasure is all ours as we welcome a very, very special guest in the ever-so-talented Sydelle Noel. You may have heard about this film she’s in that hits theaters next week — Black Panther? Noel gives us the inside scoop on the movie, including her experiences with members of the star-studded cast.

From there, the squad and I pay homage to the Philadelphia Eagles, who of course just captured their first Super Bowl in franchise history. This includes us saluting comedian Kevin Hart living any fan’s dream — even if that included him trying to get on stage to hoist the Lombardi trophy. We also chat about the latest NBA narratives, including the free fall of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! We’ll be back next week to celebrate all things Panther and NBA All-Star Weekend in the City of Angels!

Previously: The Plug, ‘Super Bowl Time: Who Ya Got?’ (Episode 8): Super Bowl Sunday is upon us

Baseball great and HBCU alumnus Andre Dawson gets tournament named after him

The Dawson Classic in New Orleans pays homage to this FAMU graduate and Hall of Famer

4:06 PMBeginning this year, the MLB Urban Invitational, originally created to highlight baseball programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), will be called the Andre Dawson Classic.

Dawson, who spent most of his 21-year major league career with the Chicago Cubs and the now-defunct Montreal Expos, is a graduate of Florida A&M University. Even with 12 knee surgeries, Dawson ended his career with a .279 batting average, 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases. His induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 makes Dawson one of only two HBCU alumni who have been enshrined.

“It is with the utmost appreciation that I take this opportunity to thank MLB for this honor,” Dawson said in a statement. “I am a product of an HBCU program that provided me an opportunity to pursue a college education while chasing a childhood dream. I am both honored and humbled to play a role in empowering students to be leaders in their communities and strive to improve and impact the lives of others.”

Since the invitational began 11 years ago, more than 25 HBCU players who have participated in the tournament have been selected in the MLB draft. This year’s classic will feature six HBCU teams, which is the highest number of participants since its inception in 2007. Participating schools include Alabama State, Alcorn State, Grambling State, Prairie View A&M, Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Classic, which runs from Feb. 16 to 18, will be split between the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy and the University of New Orleans’ Maestri Field. Two of the games on Feb. 17 will air live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. EST.

Jermaine Dupri makes history: He’s set to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame

The creative who has collaborated with Jay-Z, Usher, Mariah, Xscape and more gets his due

3:09 PMJermaine Dupri, the genius musical creative who soundtracked much of the 1990s and early 2000s, will be feted at this year’s Songwriters Hall of Fame. The producer, songwriter and MC becomes only the second rapper to be inducted into this prestigious group — Jay-Z, honored last year, was the first. Some of Dupri’s most indelible songs as songwriter/co-writer/producer/executive producer: Xscape’s “Just Kickin’ It,” Nelly’s “Grillz,” he and Jay-Z’s “Money Ain’t a Thang,” he and Mariah Carey’s “Sweetheart,” Jagged Edge’s “Where The Party At (Remix),” Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna” — and there are so many more. Dupri will join John Mellencamp, Alan Jackson and Kool & the Gang at the early-summer event.

Dupri is best known for igniting the Atlanta hip-hop and rhythm and blues scene — Kris Kross, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge and Xscape were all on his So So Def label. He dubbed the Def sound “The New Motown,” which was on point, considering that his artists were (and to a large degree still are) ubiquitous at barbecues, homecomings and urban and pop radio stations. The Songwriters Hall of Fame 49th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner will be held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 14 in New York.

Angela James: the first black woman in the Hockey Hall of Fame

The Canadian star followed NHL legend Grant Fuhr into Hall

7:28 AMAngela James is the second black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr. James was one of the first two women and the first openly gay player to enter the Hall in 2010, seven years after Fuhr’s induction.

Born: Dec. 22, 1964.

Her story: James was born in Toronto to a white Canadian mother and a black American father who moved to Canada from racially segregated Mississippi. James got her start in hockey in a boys house league. She played in a senior women’s league before moving on to Seneca College in Toronto, where she also starred in softball. She led the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association in scoring for three straight years despite transitioning to defense, and was dubbed “The Wayne Gretzky of Women’s Hockey” after scoring 50 goals and 73 points in a season. She went on to become an international star for Canada, winning four gold medals in four Women’s World Championships. James, however, was a controversial cut from the first women’s Olympic team in 1998. She played with the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League and the National Women’s Hockey League from 1993 until her retirement from competitive hockey in 2000. Along with the Hockey Hall of Fame, James also was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Fast fact: The highest-scoring player in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League has been awarded the Angela James Bowl since 2008.

Quotable: “Being a trailblazer is remarkable,” James told the Windy City Times. And hopefully I can help the hopes and dreams of other young girls in the game.”

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

Eldridge Dickey: the first black quarterback drafted in the first round

The Tennessee State star never played his position in the pros

2:23 PMEldridge Dickey became the first black quarterback selected in the first round of the AFL or NFL drafts when the Oakland Raiders drafted the Tennessee State product 25th overall in 1968.

Born: Dec. 24, 1945

Died: May 22, 2000

His story: Dickey quarterbacked Tennessee State to the National Black College Football Championship during an undefeated season in 1966. He was a three-time HBCU All-American. Despite Dickey’s high draft selection, he never played a game at quarterback in pros. The Raiders, who drafted Alabama’s Ken Stabler that same year in the second round, moved Dickey to wide receiver to start the season. He never got over the switch. He caught just one pass in 1968 and played on special teams in 11 games. He didn’t catch another pass until 1971, the same year the Raiders cut him for dropping a possible touchdown. He finished his career with five catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Dickey signed with the USFL’s Denver Gold in 1984 but never played in a game. He battled substance abuse before later becoming a minister. He died from a stroke at age 54.

Fast fact: African-Americans were often denied the chance to play quarterback because teams thought they lacked the intelligence needed to play the position. Eldridge never took a snap under center in the pros despite a high IQ in the 130s.

Quotable: “If someday I become a star, I’d like to know I had to do it just the way I did – so when they write the book they’ll say, ‘He came in an All-American quarterback and they switched him and he had to earn it,'” Dickey told the Oakland Tribune.

The Undefeated will profile an athlete each day during Black History Month.

On Super Bowl Sunday, The Fugees’ Pras Michel introduces Blacture

The Grammy winner is set to launch a haven for innovative minds

2:08 PMOn Super Bowl Sunday, Pras Michel’s message was simple: Be celebrated. Not tolerated. In a somewhat mysterious ad directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), the Grammy-winning artist introduced his new media platform, Blacture. The aim appears to be for Blacture to be “the epicenter for everything that is black — black excellence.” Michel wants the platform to be a safe space and creative haven for filmmakers, journalists and innovative minds. For now, a Facebook page is in place. An official launch date is set for next month.

The Super Bowl parties were very hot in ice-cold Minneapolis

J-Lo, Cardi B, Jamie Foxx and Shaq were among the guests and performers

9:56 AMMINNEAPOLIS — Despite freezing weather, football fans crisscrossed the Twin Cities for some spectacular nightlife. There were some dynamic and exclusive events, parties and concerts before what ended up being the Philadelphia Eagles upsetting the New England Patriots 41-33. If you were in the right places, you could catch Jamie Foxx playing waiter and Shaquille O’Neal doing his DJ thing. Justin Timberlake ended up drawing mixed reviews for his official halftime show, but Minneapolis, on the nights before the big game? Jennifer Lopez and Pink lit up the same venue, albeit it on different nights. And new superstar Cardi B graced the Super Bowl festivities. So much to do. Not enough time to do it all. I have no idea how my colleague and friend Kelley L. Carter maintains this pace. A quick look at some of what went down in these parts.


Leigh Steinberg’s 31st annual Super Bowl party – The longtime NFL agent who served as the model for Tom Cruise’s fictional character in Jerry Maguire was at it again, delivering one of the week’s best parties. Steinberg uses his platform to honor NFL professionals for their charitable work, as well as to introduce his upcoming draft class, which includes University of Southern California running back Ronald Jones II. The elusive runner could be a high pick. Rookie Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was in attendance. With the trade of veteran quarterback Alex Smith from Kansas City to the Washington Redskins last week, Mahomes will begin his second NFL season as Kansas City’s first-string passer. NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson was in the packed house as well.

EA Sports Bowl – The most interactive event of the week. Guests waited turns in front of massive screens to play the hottest games. It was a great way to get pumped before Imagine Dragons took the stage.

The 2018 Maxim party – Is there any performer on the planet hotter than Belcalis Almanzar? Just hearing that Cardi B is scheduled to perform is enough to get most people to jump into an Uber. Shoot, it was enough for me.

Pink – The lady is a trouper. Although battling the flu, Pink put on a good show earlier in the week and delivered a strong, efficient rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before kickoff. Props.

J. Lo – Lopez always has high-energy shows. Last week was no exception.

Bootsy Bellows Big Game Pop Up — Presented by American Airlines and Casper, the daylong festivities began with a luncheon and Q&A session about, among other topics, life in the sports media game. Hosted by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Samantha Ponder, the session also included Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis (a member of the 2018 Hall of Fame class) and Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Adam Thielen. Much later, after a dinner, Foxx jumped onstage and went to work. The Academy Award and Grammy winner handed out late-night snacks and drinks. Then O’Neal, the 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA champion, showed off his DJing skills.

Tiki Barber and Drew Rosenhaus – Barber, the former New York Giants Pro Bowl running back, teamed with Rosenhaus, among the NFL’s most successful agents, to throw a well-attended bash. Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden, Kansas City Chiefs star wideout Tyreek Hill and former NFL passer Charlie Batch were among those who joined in the fun.

 

Sneak peek: Enjoy some Super Bowl commercials that aired a bit early

Steven Tyler discovers his youth and Cardi B transforms into Alexa in some of Super Bowl LII’s top commercials

10:31 AMThe time has come.

As the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots gear up for Super Bowl LII, companies are vying equally as hard for a chance to be featured in one of the year’s most important (and expensive) ad slots.

This year, 30-second ads slots are going for an estimated $5 million — about the same as last year, but a slight increase from 2016’s $4.8 million price.

Commercials aren’t only effective advertising, but offer a distraction if your team is on the losing end. Social media have also taken advantage of the discussions surrounding Super Bowl ads by creating polls and hashtags for favorite commercials. If you aren’t a fan of either team playing in this year’s game, you can always peruse some of the advertisements below and anticipate the fun, serious, shocking and downright creative commercials in between the action.


Amazon Alexa

“Alexa Loses Her Voice”

In this hilarious commercial, Amazon’s favorite intelligent personal assistant has lost her voice. Before panic sets in, users are ensured that there are some suitable replacements, including Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins. The world isn’t ready.

Toyota

“One Team”

Toyota conveys the message that no matter what race, color, or religious creed, we’re all in this thing called life together … and, of course, united by football.

“Good Odds”

As a sponsor of the Olympics and Paralympics, Toyota’s second commercial features Paralympic athlete Lauren Woolstencroft, and the odds of winning a gold medal. Woolstencroft was born without legs below the knee and no left arm below the elbow. The odds continue to flash as Woolstencroft grows, and become even slimmer as an adult. Despite the odds being stacked against her, Woolstencroft has medaled 10 times in the Paralympics — eight of them gold — as an alpine skier.

Wix.com

“Rhett & Link”

Wix.com is back this year to show you how simple it is to create a website using its company. The strategic use of internet comedy stars Rhett & Link, the two handsome guys showing us the tutorial, is just a bonus.

Sprint

“Evelyn”

When artificial intelligence meets human brain power, which one wins? Sprint has found a way to use robots to help us see the light.

Pepsi

“This is the Pepsi”

This year’s commercial features Pepsi throwing it back through the generations. It features some of our favorite from the past: singers Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, retired NASCAR star Jeff Gordon and current basketball star Kyrie Irving as his character “Uncle Drew.” The slot also features model Cindy Crawford, who re-creates her Pepsi from her iconic 1992 commercial.

Bud Light

“Bud Knight”

In this campaign, Bud Light brings viewers into a medieval fight to the death — which looks like an awful scene from Game of Thrones. One fighter realizes his side is losing and awaits the arrival of “Bud Knight” to come and save them. He arrives. He’s a “Bud Knight” in shining armor who conveniently finds a store in the middle of nowhere and saves the day with a case of Bud Light. If only we could stop wars around the world with beer.

Coca-Cola

“The Wonder of Us”

Much like Toyota’s commercial, Coca-Cola reminds the world that although we may look think and act differently, we’re all the same. Oh, and of course there’s a Coke for everything, so enjoy the ice-cold beverage as we celebrate our differences and similarities.

Kia

“Feel Something Again”

This nostalgic ad features Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler all suited up for … a race? But he’s the only one on the track. He approaches a new Kia Stinger, and with freshly painted nails, puts the car in reverse and floors it. Tyler is going so fast around the track that time begins to move backward. By the time Tyler completes a lap around the track, he has rediscovered his youth. Even random fans appear out of nowhere to greet the star at the finish line.

Michelob Ultra

“I Like Beer”

Michelob Ultra gets straight to the point. There are several activities displayed from cycling to yoga. But what unites everyone in this sing-along? You guessed it: beer.

Looking for more ads? Check out the rest here.