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Around the NFL: Championship Game Sunday Features four Star QBs

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers, 3:05 p.m., WPGH-TV

It will be a Battle of the Bays in the early slot Sunday, as Tom Brady and the Buccaneers visit Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Tampa and their athletic defense got the better of Green Bay back in Week 6, winning handedly 38-10 and holding Rodgers to his worst performance of the season.

The Bucs’ relentless pass rush had Rodgers under constant duress, sacking to probable MVP four times and picking him off twice. Rodgers was also held without a touchdown pass for the only time in 2020.

As for Brady and the Bucs, he tossed for 166 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Tampa Bay running back Ronald Jones II had 113 yards and two scores on the ground.

Playing the best football of his career since that loss to Tampa Bay, Rodgers will assuredly be looking to avenge his poor performance back in October to reach his second Super Bowl. He carved up a stout Los Angeles Rams defense for 296 yards and three total touchdowns a week ago, and has tossed one interception over his last 210 pass attempts.

He will try to keep that unblemished streak alive against a Buccaneers defense that picked off New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees three times a week ago.

Tampa’s Tom Brady can reach his tenth Super Bowl with a win over the Packers. No stranger to performing in the elements, Brady will look to carve up the improving Green Bay defense with his patented surgical precision.

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs, 6:40 p.m., KDKA-TV

While two legends are squaring off in the NFC, a pair of rising stars will go toe-to-toe in the AFC Championship game, as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs welcome Josh Allen and the Bills.

Cleared from concussion protocol after leaving last week’s win over the Cleveland Browns, Mahomes is still battling a toe injury that could hamper his signature mobility. Luckily for Kansas City, Buffalo is 22nd in the league in pressure rate.

Even without his scrambling, Mahomes is still a threat from the pocket, coming off a season where he threw 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

The Chiefs offense will get a boost to take the heat off Mahomes on Sunday night as well, with rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire set to make his return from injury.

Turning to the Bills, they are here behind an MVP-caliber season from Allen, who has made tremendous strides in his third season. His 45 total touchdowns this year are the most ever by a Buffalo quarterback, while he improved his completion percentage by 10.4 percentage points, now at 69.2%.

Allen has protected the football well this season with just ten interceptions, but he will have to be extra cautious opposing the safety Tyrann Mathieu and the Chiefs defense. The “Honey Badger” has five interceptions in his last six games.

Kansas City is looking reach their second-straight Super Bowl, while Buffalo is pursuing their first appearance since 1993.

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Federal Judge Orders NFL, Class Counsel to Address Racial Concerns Brought by former Steelers in Concussion Settlement

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The federal judge who overseas the NFL’s concussion settlement program is sending class counsel Seeger Weiss and the league back to negotiations resolve to the racial concerns in the raised by former players.

Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, telling the two sides to “address the concerns relating to the race-norming issue.”

Henry and Davenport have accused the league of discriminating against Black players who have filed dementia-related claims. The lawsuit alleged that the NFL used separate criteria for judging mental degradation in black and white athletes, making it more likely for white players to receive benefits.

Brody dismissed their lawsuit as “an improper attack on the Settlement Agreement,” but added that “the Court, however, remains concerned” about the reservations they raised. The NFL and Weiss will now appear before Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge to reach a new agreement on the concerns.

Davenport, played with the Steelers from 2006-08 and also spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts in a seven-year NFL career. Henry spent eight seasons in Pittsburgh from 1993-2000 after being drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State and played in Super Bowl XXX with the team.

The NFL originally settled with its former players in 2013 and agreed to pay out over $750 million to players that suffer neurological conditions from playing professional football. The settlement has been regarded as controversial overall, and there have been several attempts from players to re-litigate portions of it.

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Maia Chaka Becomes First Black Female Official in NFL History

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Maia Chaka has been added as an NFL’s game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black female referee in league history.

Chaka previously served as an official at the college level in both the Pac-12 and Confederate USA.

Chaka was also selected to the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014, which “identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials, working to determine if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official.”

“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said in a league statement. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

When not officiating, Chaka is a health and physical education teacher from Virginia Beach. She graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s in education in 2006.

“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance – including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program – have earned her a position as an NFL official,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent Sr. said. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”

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Ryan Switzer Asks for Prayers for COVID-19 Positive Son

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Former Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer asked for prayers for his 9-month-old son Christian Saturday morning. Switzer’s son has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19.

In Switzer’s tweet, he asked everyone to say a prayer for the little guy. Thousands of fans have interacted with the tweet, with many voicing their prayers and well wishes.

The 26-year-old receiver signed a 1-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in January after spending time on their practice squad last season. Switzer was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He then spent both 2018 and 2019 in Pittsburgh before being released by the Steelers before the 2020 season.

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