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Prince Amukamara to re-sign with Chicago Bears



The Chicago Bears will re-sign cornerback Prince Amukamara, a source told ESPN.

For the most part, Amukamara, who was paid $7 million guaranteed by Chicago on a one-year deal in 2017, worked out for the Bears, playing adequately enough to start 12 games. He finished second on the Bears’ defense with seven pass breakups, behind only fellow free-agent cornerback Kyle Fuller (22).

However, Amukamara, 28, failed to intercept a pass for the second consecutive season, and his inability to take the ball away is probably his biggest downside.

Before joining the Bears, Amukamara spent five seasons with the New York Giants (2011-15) and one year in Jacksonville (2016). He missed 27 games with various injuries from 2011 to ’16, including 13 over the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

For his career, Amukamara has 7 interceptions, 58 pass breakups and 3 forced fumbles in 83 games.

ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson contributed to this report.

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Peyton Manning is No. 3 on our list of the most dominant athletes of the past 20 years



This story on No. 3 athlete Peyton Manning appears in the 20th anniversary issue of ESPN The Magazine. Subscribe today!

Just the cold, hard stats ought to give you some idea: two Super Bowl victories, 539 touchdown passes, seven TD completions in one game (at age 37), 55 scoring passes in a single season, 200 career NFL victories, five season MVPs. Peyton Manning is the only starting QB to win Super Bowls for two teams, the second time with a cracked neck, on his very last day as a player. Plus, all of those teeth-gnashing comebacks. I’m not sure it really takes an algorithm. You can tot up excellence like this on a napkin.

Still. Complex statistics don’t reveal all that interests us about No. 18’s superiority. They document who did this and who did that, but “who’s actually better” is left un-agreed-upon — as it should be. In my line of indoor work — and what you’re reading now is my line of indoor work — all I have to be is excellent, not better than Margaret Atwood. Admittedly, of course, my stakes are not the same as in football.

Thought of in this binary way, dominance takes on a slightly serio-comic gladiatorial spoofy-ness; visions of gleaming and greased muscle-bound Victor Matures, brandishing stubby swords at the bared necks of some poor guys who are being … well … dominated.

It’s also true that “dominance” doesn’t and probably can’t mean “dominant for all time.” Unless the NFL goes out of business soon (a different story), the future can’t effectively be dominated. Domination will always be an essentially nostalgic concept consigned to the present, and also (of course) to the past.

Stats likewise have a hard time being authoritative about the whys, hows and wherefores of a career such as Manning’s. I’m talking about the oft-invoked intangibles, the attributes that “can’t be taught,” which live in the DNA of any great performer, from Nureyev to Maria Callas. Manning was loaded with these. Archie and Olivia’s genes, for starters.

But so much was also just Peyton. For instance, a virtually unquenchable curiosity for the game itself, bordering on spooky reverence. Many observers noted that when Manning entered the league in ’98, it was his brain as much as his throwing prowess that the Colts saw assuring their future. He was also immensely competitive — a term of art in sport, signifying many things; from being a dirty player to being a win-at-all-costs nutter to being a selfish, infraction-prone daredevil. Or — in Manning’s case — being technically thorough at all phases of the game, being uncompromising regarding his own performance and everyone else’s, and being able to play through ridiculously painful injuries. All of which rendered him the nearly perfect role model, teammate and football savant, whose example made everyone around him play better — if only because if they failed, they’d have to answer to No. 18.

Beyond this high-quality skill set, he was likable, albeit bloody aggressive; was tall (6-foot-5) for his era; and possessed a laser memory for everything he ever did or saw, including offenses, defenses, coaching proclivities and the office personnel’s names at Colts headquarters on his first day in town.

Dominance in sport, when all the equipment is stored away, is probably a pseudo-measurement we have little practical use for. Which doesn’t make it a less integral part of the “sports brain,” thriving as that brain does on the nebulous and pleasingly unprovable. Why not add to Peyton’s dominance quotient the fact that younger players were starstruck just to be on the field with him; that veteran players hated losing to Peyton Manning more than they hated losing to any other QB; that not failing played such an inordinate role in his cognitive makeup; that putting the ball in Manning’s hands with a minute left became the equivalent of a psychic episode on opponents’ sidelines; that for all of his immense accomplishment there was still an aura of the unlikely about Peyton. And finally that he himself — so apparently outgoing, so likably goofy, so eminently skillful and football-savvy — was at the same time rather unknowable, almost enigmatic, up close.

These things count too. No? They contribute to the romantic notion that great athletic, if improbable, skill reflects a corresponding but unheralded inner greatness: a sense of moral heft. Of character. Which takes us just a bit further down the road toward believing that sport and our devotion to it has real significance, possesses consequence and means more than just being the sum of whatever we can dream up to say about it.

Richard Ford, a novelist and short-story writer, was the first author to win the PEN/Faulkner award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the same year, for his book “Independence Day.” His most recent release is his memoir, “Between Them: Remembering My Parents.”

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Running back Saquon Barkley doesn’t work out at Penn State’s Pro Day



STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Saquon Barkley didn’t work out at Penn State’s pro day after learning that no NFL running backs coaches would be in attendance, but the former Nittany Lions star will soon begin team visits.

Barkley had planned to participate in workouts for pro personnel on Tuesday but, like Penn State’s other participants at the NFL scouting combine, was not going to go through testing again.

“I woke up this morning and that was the game plan,” Barkley said, “but then when I realized there wasn’t a running backs coach here, I figured there was no point for me to run routes or do drills.”

Barkley added that he will likely just visit with NFL teams and might do “one or two” workouts, depending on advice he receives from his “team.”

“I’m over this stage, running in shorts and sweatshirts,” Barkley said. “That’s cool and all, but I’m not a combine guy. I want you to throw on the film and I want to show that I’m a football player.”

Barkley’s testing numbers at the NFL combine drew strong praise, but he said they didn’t meet his expectations. The All-America running back clocked a 4.4 flat in the 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical leap and 29 bench press repetitions at 225 pounds. Penn State head coach James Franklin told on Monday that Barkley’s combine performance was “very average,” compared to what he did at Penn State. Barkley rushed for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns, and he caught 102 passes for 1,195 yards at Penn State.

“I would agree with [Franklin], I would say it wasn’t my best, I feel like I could have done a lot better,” Barkley said. “But I’m not going to sit here and complain because a lot of guys wish they could have had the same numbers that I had that day, the performance I had that day. I was really happy with the off-field stuff, the interviews, and I think I did really well in the drills with catching the ball, running and looking smooth and fluid.”

Barkley called himself a “legit 4.3 guy” in the 40-yard dash and clocked a 4.29 during training. He has had a 42-inch vertical leap and typically records 30-35 repetitions on the bench press.

Barkley will be in Dallas for draft on April 26 after initially planning to stay home in Pennsylvania. He’s looking forward to the draft and also to the birth of his first child. On Saturday, Barkley’s girlfriend, Anna Congdon, announced on Instagram that she and Barkley are expecting a child next month.

“The baby’s due April 14, not sure the gender, that’s going to be a surprise,” Barkley said. “April’s going to be a big month for me. I tweeted out the other day a big blessing’s coming my way. A lot of people thought I was just talking about the draft. I was talking about my future kid.

“I’m excited. Some people aren’t even blessed with the opportunity to have kids, and I’m able to have one. I’m truly excited to be a father.”

Barkley said he would welcome a visit to the Cleveland Browns, who hold the No. 1 pick in April’s draft. He met with the Browns and New York Giants, among other teams, for informal interviews at the NFL combine.

“The draft is unpredictable, as you guys know,” Barkley said. “Whatever team drafts me, I’ll be truly excited. It’s an honor. I don’t think about getting my name called No. 1. I just think about getting my name called, period. That’s a moment that you think about for the rest of your life. Whether you play two years or 12 years in the league, no one can take that from you.”

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Don’t tell Tom Brady luck has anything to do with his NFL success



This story on No. 20 athlete Tom Brady appears in the 20th anniversary issue of ESPN The Magazine. Subscribe today!

My favorite Tom Brady pass didn’t result in a touchdown. It wasn’t even a completion. And yet, the throw became an exemplar of not only his entire career but his claim for immortality. It occurred with 19 seconds left in Super Bowl XLII against the Giants. The Patriots were technically still perfect, still 18-0, but now they trailed 17-14 and faced a third-and-20 from their own 16-yard line. Brady took the shotgun snap and rolled right.

The sight of Brady on the move with so much at stake showed how far he had come. Brady has always been a paradoxical athlete, at once stellar enough out of California’s Junipero Serra High to be both drafted by the Montreal Expos and awarded a football scholarship at Michigan, yet awkward when doing anything other than throwing a football. But Brady’s genius has always been his unwavering refusal to concede: to genetics, to reason and, mostly, to the popular notion that he collects scars. His motivation has always been internal. And to transcend his limitations, he first had to accept them — to understand, for instance, why he’d been a sixth-round pick rather than complain about it.

He knew this from a young age. In a high school interview, Brady admitted that he needed to get faster, so he adapted a drill and created something called the Five Dots — a hopscotch, of sorts — that Serra High still uses. That interview clip could easily have been in Tom vs. Time, the recent web-based reality show that testifies to his unending grind at age 40.

That grind wasn’t enough to pull off a miracle in Super Bowl XLII. Brady stopped his rollout and threw long to Randy Moss. It was an Elway throw, deep and diagonal, a throw nobody but Brady knew he had in him. And of course, the throw was no accident. There’s a YouTube video from years ago of Brady perfecting the art of turning over his deep throws, the ball’s nose rising before it drops into the receiver’s hands as though dropped down a flue instead of descending like an airplane. The throw to Moss traveled some 70 yards, and it seemed to stun him as much as it did the rest of us, sailing past his hands after cornerback Corey Webster got a finger on it. It was the greatest incomplete pass in NFL history. Even at 18-1, Brady was perfect until the end.

Years after that throw, I sat in Brady’s living room and asked whether he ever considered the randomness of his career — how, if he’d been drafted by another team or if the ball had bounced the other way, his life might be very different from the one in his beautiful Boston home, lined with beach pictures of his wife. His face tightened, and I realized I’d committed a cardinal sin: crediting luck to a man who built himself by refusing to allow for it.

“Did I insult you?” I asked.

Brady’s face unwound. “No,” he said, then looked me in the eye with that famously steely earnestness. “I’m never insulted by anything.”

Senior writer Seth Wickersham has written about Tom Brady many, many times in his 18 years at ESPN The Magazine.

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