Feb 6, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; A general view of the Super Bowl LV logo projected on the Sykes tower in downtown Tampa prior to the game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Vincent Jackson likely died days before death was confirmed

Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson likely died several days before he was confirmed dead in his Tampa-area hotel room, according to multiple reports Thursday night.

Jackson, 38, was found dead Monday in his room at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Fla. A cause of death has not been released.

ESPN and TMZ Sports obtained a death report from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The report noted that hotel staff entered the room on Saturday and Sunday but left after seeing Jackson slouched over on the couch and assuming he was asleep.

By Monday, after seeing Jackson in the same position, hotel staff called 911.

Jackson had been staying at the hotel since Jan. 11, according to ESPN. His family filed a missing-persons report Feb. 11, and deputies located him at the hotel Feb. 12 and spoke with him. The missing-persons case was canceled, and deputies deemed Jackson fit to stay at the hotel.

Both ESPN and TMZ noted that the death report mentioned Jackson having a history of alcohol use and smokeless tobacco use. The report said Jackson was not a known drug user.

Also Thursday, the New York Times first reported that Jackson’s family had donated his brain to Boston University’s CTU Center. Scientists will study Jackson’s brain for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Jackson played 155 games in an NFL career that spanned 2005-16.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) taunts Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bucs’ Antoine Winfield Jr. fined for SB taunting

The NFL has fined Tampa Bay defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. $7,815 for taunting Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill during Super Bowl LV last week, according to NFL Network.

Winfield held up two fingers in a peace sign directed at Hill with the Buccaneers comfortably ahead late in the game. It mimics the signature gesture Hill frequently uses against defenders that he left in his rearview mirror.

That includes a Week 12 meeting between the teams when Hill racked up 269 yards and three touchdowns. Hill flashed the peace sign at Winfield as he ran past him in that game and also embarrassed the Buccaneers by back-flipping into the end zone on one of his touchdowns.

That game apparently stuck with Winfield.

“He back-flipped in front of my face, gave me the peace sign. So it was only right that I gave the peace sign right back to him,” Winfield said after the Bucs’ 31-9 win last Sunday.

“It felt amazing to be able to do that, not even gonna lie.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 31, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; A general view of signage for Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs: Cannons to stay silent at Super Bowl

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not hear the familiar sounds of cannons firing at Raymond James Stadium when they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LV.

Tampa Bay is the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. But the Buccaneers announced Tuesday that they would keep the cannons silent during the upcoming big game.

“The firing of the cannons after big plays is a tradition that defines what it means to be a Buccaneer fan and serves as a signature element of our home game experience at Raymond James Stadium,” the team said in a statement. “However, we also acknowledge and understand the NFL’s position with regards to maintaining the integrity of a neutral site atmosphere for Super Bowl LV. While the cannons may not fire in their typical fashion, we look forward to showcasing parts of our tradition while working within the league’s guidelines.”

The cannons are located within a pirate ship in one of the stadium’s end zones. They typically fire every time the Buccaneers score.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid speaks to quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) in the first half against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid would join elite company by winning SB LV

The way Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes sees it, he and coach Andy Reid get a chance to check off two accomplishments with a win on Sunday in Super Bowl LV in Tampa.

“To go out there and get to have a chance to repeat and get to do it against the best, I mean, it’s something special and I’m excited for the opportunity,” he said.

Mahomes and Reid’s goal of winning the Super Bowl and denying Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady his seventh one in the process would put Mahomes and Reid in elite company.

Mahomes and Reid would be the first quarterback-coach duo to win consecutive Super Bowls since Brady and Bill Belichick led the New England Patriots to titles in 2003-04 seasons.

Mahomes would join Bart Starr, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and John Elway as quarterbacks who’ve back-to-back Super Bowl crowns. Each of them is enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

The comparisons between Mahomes and Brady really started heating up during the wintry night of Jan. 20, 2019. That’s when Brady rallied the Patriots to a 37-31 win over Mahomes’ Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium to advance to Super Bowl LIII.

Before leaving the stadium, Brady found Mahomes inside the Chiefs locker room and offered him encouragement.

“It kind of just re-emphasized that I was doing things the right way, that I was putting in the right work and that I would have more opportunities to be in these games,” Mahomes said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be in two more of them since and win both of those. So to get to go up against the great [Brady] and a great football team as well, I’m excited for the opportunity.

“The biggest thing Tom said to me was just to stay with the process and keep being who I am. That’s something that’s important. As a guy who’s had so much success every year he’s been in the NFL, he goes out there every single day and treats it like it’s the most important day. That’s something that I’ll try to do for my entire career.”

Reid appreciated the gesture.

“Well, I would say it was unique,” Reid said. “I mean, he didn’t have to do that. He is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game and he surely didn’t have to come over and say a word. But he did that, and I think for a young quarterback to have somebody of his stature do that, I think was a tremendous gesture and it was heartfelt.

“He didn’t have to do it and he wasn’t putting on a show. There was nobody there to really see it, so it was really just his respect for Pat and in return, Pat’s respect for him.”

Reid can also earn a lot of respect regarding his place among the NFL’s all-time great coaches with a win on Sunday, which likely won’t be possible unless Mahomes plays well.

If the Chiefs win on Sunday, Reid will have two Super Bowl wins, making him one of 10 coaches with exactly two Super Bowl titles. Of the nine men who have two titles, five – Don Shula, Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson and Vince Lombardi — received the call from Canton. The other four — Tom Flores, George Seifert, Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan — are on the outside looking in though Flores is the Coach Finalist and could earn induction on Saturday.

Mahomes said the Chiefs have been focused on winning Super Bowl LV since the season’s outset.

“Instead of soaking in all the glory of winning the Super Bowl last year,” Mahomes said, “we went back to work every single day to make ourselves better and to prepare ourselves for every single situation that could arise and it put us in this game.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 24, 2021, Green Bay, WI, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) exalts during the presentation off the George Halas Trophy after  their NFC Championship game Sunday, January 24, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers 31-26. Mandatory credit: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Super man at Super Bowl? Can Brady do it again?

Tom Brady will be trying to earn more than just his seventh Lombardi Trophy when he leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium: He’ll be trying to become his own dynasty.

At 43, Brady is one victory away from proving his ability to win titles isn’t tied to a single franchise or a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach. He’s a win from proving he’s strong enough to go anywhere and emerge triumphant.

After all, he has already proven he can lead fourth-quarter comebacks on the game’s grandest stage, and showed that being down by 25 points late in the third quarter of a Super Bowl means next to nothing.

Brady has turned Tampa — a professional football wasteland for decades — into the undisputed sports capital of the U.S. today. The city in western Florida is home to the reigning Stanley Cup champion Lightning and the American League champion Rays, and is a win away from filling the streets of Ybor City with confetti.

Tampa Bay is hosting the Super Bowl, the first one where a team will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy on its own home field.

Brady turned New England, which had never won a Super Bowl, from a mediocre franchise when he arrived in 2000 into a six-time champion worth $4.4 billion, second in the NFL behind the Cowboys, when he left, according to Forbes.

Now, he has taken a Buccaneers franchise that had gone 267-424-1 for a .387 winning percentage — the worst among North American pro sports teams — in the 44 seasons before he arrived to just their second Super Bowl and first since winning it in 2003. Since then, the Buccaneers didn’t win a playoff game — until their savior arrived.

Speaking after Sunday’s NFC title game, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians referred to the “belief (Brady) gave everybody in this organization that it could be done. It only took one man.”

But standing in Tampa Bay’s way is a quarterback who has won a Super Bowl more recently than Brady — Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. He’s looking to become the first quarterback to lead his team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles since you-know-who did it with the Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX in 2004 and 2005.

“We just have to be ourselves,” Mahomes said after beating Buffalo. “I trust my guys over everybody.”

The Super Bowl odds opened with Kansas City as a 3.5-point favorite and an over/under of 57.5 points at FanDuel, which has set money lines for Kansas City at -186 and Tampa at +145.

Between now and kickoff, expect a blitz of storylines and statistics to sift through before deciding where to focus your wagers.

Here are two things you need to know.

Any list of potential history-makers at Super Bowl LV must have Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill near the top, so take a close look at his over/under for receptions and yards for prop bets.

Hill will take the field at Raymond James Stadium seeking to become just the ninth receiver in league history to be named to The Associated Press’ All-Pro First Team and win the Super Bowl in the same season. It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison in 2006.

Of the eight players who have done it, five — Jerry Rice (1988, 1989, 1994), John Stallworth (1979), Lynn Swann (1978), Paul Warfield (1973) and Harrison — are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Gary Clark (1987), Drew Pearson (1977) and Cliff Branch (1976) had very, very good careers.

Tampa Bay gave up 346 passing yards to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in its win in the NFC title game.

Hill torched Tampa Bay for 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns on 15 targets in the teams’ regular-season meeting less than two months ago.

Hill made seven catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone, joining Qadry Ismail (210 in the third quarter on Dec. 12, 1999) and Lee Evans (205 in the first quarter on Nov. 19, 2006) as the only NFL receivers since 1980 to have 200 receiving yards in a quarter.

What does Kansas City’s 27-24 win at Tampa Bay in late November really mean as it relates to Super Bowl LV? Everything? Or nothing?

On four occasions, the eventual AFC and NFC champions met during the regular season.

In 1990, the Bills beat the Giants, 17-13, in Week 15, but then Scott Norwood happened in Super Bowl XXV.

In 1993, the Bills went to Dallas and won, 13-10, in Week 2, only to see the Cowboys crush Buffalo in the Super Bowl for the second straight season, 30-13.

And then there’s the Brady factor, of course.

In 2007, his undefeated Patriots beat the Giants, 38-35, in Week 17. A few weeks later, David Tyree’s catch happened and the Giants won Super Bowl XLII.

In 2011, Brady’s Patriots lost at home to the Giants, 24-20, in the regular season and fell to New York again, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI.

–Jon Gallo, Field Level Media

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers head to Super Bowl with NFC title win over Packers

Tom Brady passed for three touchdown passes and will be returning to the Super Bowl for the 10th time after helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the host Green Bay Packers 31-26 in the NFC Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Shaquil Barrett recorded three sacks and Jason Pierre-Paul added two as the Buccaneers built a 17-point lead en route to reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. Tampa Bay also reached the big game in the 2002 season and walloped the then-Oakland Raiders 48-21 for its only Super Bowl title.

The Buccaneers will become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium with the game set for Feb. 7 in Tampa, Fla.

Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards and survived three second-half interceptions. Cameron Brate, Mike Evans and Scotty Miller caught touchdown passes, Leonard Fournette rushed for a score and Jordan Whitehead forced two fumbles before departing with a left shoulder injury.

Aaron Rodgers completed 33 of 48 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for the Packers. Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Robert Tonyan caught touchdown passes and Jaire Alexander had two interceptions.

Green Bay reached the Tampa Bay 8-yard line late in the game but questionably settled for Mason Crosby’s 26-yard field goal with 2:05 left to move within five points. The Buccaneers got the ball back and picked up three first downs while running out the clock.

Brady improved to 10-4 in conference championship games, while Rodgers dropped his fourth straight to fall to 1-4.

Green Bay experienced a devastating sequence over the final 34 seconds of the first half to trail 21-10 at the break.

The Packers were down four and facing second-and-18 from their own 32-yard line when Rodgers was intercepted by Sean Murphy-Bunting.

The turnover became costly when Miller sped past Green Bay’s Kevin King and Brady connected with him from 39 yards out with one second left to account for the 11-point halftime advantage.

More misfortune occurred on the Packers’ initial possession of the third quarter. Aaron Jones caught a short pass, but Whitehead dislodged the ball at the Green Bay 32 and teammate Devin White (15 tackles) recovered it at the 29 and ran 21 yards to the 8.

On the ensuing play, Brady tossed an 8-yard scoring pass to Brate to make it 28-10 just 66 seconds into the second half.

Rodgers threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Tonyan with 9:28 left to cut the Tampa Bay lead to 11. Adrian Amos then intercepted Brady and the Packers cashed in with Rodgers hitting Adams on a 2-yard scoring pass to pull within 28-23 with 24 seconds left in the stanza.

Alexander picked off Brady twice in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Packers were forced to punt on both occasions.

Ryan Succop booted a 46-yard field goal to give Tampa Bay a 31-23 lead with 4:42 remaining.

The Buccaneers started strong by taking the opening kickoff 66 yards on nine plays with Brady tossing a 15-yard scoring pass to Evans. Green Bay tied the score in the opening minute of the second quarter when Rodgers threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Valdes-Scantling.

Tampa Bay moved ahead on Fournette’s 20-yard run with 12:24 left in the half. The Packers crept within 14-10 on Crosby’s 24-yard field goal with 4:59 left.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tramon Williams (29) tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) during the second half of an AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Packers activate DB Tramon Williams

The Green Bay Packers promoted recent defensive back signee Tramon Williams to their active roster ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, positioning the veteran to make NFL history.

Williams, whom Green Bay signed and placed on its practice squad after he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, could become the first player in NFL history to play for two teams in the same postseason.

Williams, who turns 38 in March, played in six games for the Ravens this season, and then also in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. He made 17 tackles in those seven games.

Williams played for the Packers most recently during the 2018-19 seasons before being let go in 2020.

Williams, who was used by the Packers to defend slot receivers last year, was a member of Green Bay’s Super Bowl champion squad in 2010. He has played in 15 playoff games with the Packers during his 10 seasons between 2007-2014 and 2018-2019.

“It’s special,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said when asked of the team’s signing of Williams this week. “He’s one of those teammates you just love playing with over the years. He’s such a professional. The way he takes care of himself, he looks amazing.”

Williams bolsters the team’s secondary and could return punts if needed against Tampa Bay.

Packers starting cornerback Kevin King is listed as questionable on the injury report after missing Friday’s practice due to “a little back issue,” according to coach Matt LaFleur.

“[Tramon] looks like he could go out and play 70 plays for us,” Rodgers said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to or not, I hope he does, because he’s still so talented. But he’s one of those special guys, special personalities.”

Williams’ signing marked the second time Green Bay has added a player who lost in the previous week of the playoffs this season. After the wild-card round, the Packers signed offensive tackle Jared Veldheer off the Colts’ practice squad. Indianapolis opened the playoffs with a loss to Buffalo.

Veldheer didn’t play against the Rams last week because he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list where he remains, meaning he won’t play on Sunday, according to the Packers.

–Field Level Media