New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts as Tom Brady  looks on before the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photograph: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New England Patriots’ remarkable coach is closing in on a sixth Super Bowl success

Senator Orrin Hatch speaks at the memorial service for Muhammad Ali after his death in 2016. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Late boxer befriended and campaigned for Orrin Hatch despite their clear differences

 A Buffalo Bills fan shows his enthusiasm  during the game against the Indianapolis Colts last month  at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Photograph:  Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Dave Hannigan: First NFL play-off spot in 18 years beckons in Florida for die-hard fans

San Francisco Demons in action against Los Angeles Extreme in 2001. A league then that will mandate blind patriotism and ignore the possibility of brain trauma could just work in Donald Trump-era USA. Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP

America at Large: Man behind failed XFL wants another go at cashing in on national obsession

Former NBA basketball player Charles Barkley campaigning in support  of Democratic Alabama senate candidate Doug Jones during a rally at Old Car Heaven in Birmingham, Alabama. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/Reuters

America at Large: Former NBA star helps Doug Jones turn the tables in senate race

George Chuvalo taking on Muhammad Ali in Vancouver in a 1972 rematch. The Canadian pushed Ali the distance for a second time. Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Fighting Ali is nothing compared to the battles the ‘toughest man in Canada’ has faced

Baker Mayfield of the Oklahoma Sooners tries on the Golden Hat Trophy after a win over the Texas Longhorns in October. Photograph: Richard W Rodriguez/Getty Images

College football’s best quarterback is special, but maybe not special enough for the NFL

Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in Miami Beach, Florida in 2014. Photo: Uri Schanker/GC Images

America at Large: Golfers queuing up to be extras in the president’s tragi-comic farce

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media after the NFL owners meeting at the Conrad Hotel. Photo: Catalina Fragoso/USA TODAY Sports

Despite plenty of reasons to leave the NFL commissioner is set to extend his contract

Aaron Hernandez stood in Attleboro District Court in 2013. Photo: Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Hernandez was found to have one of worst cases of CTE ever seen in someone so young

 Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots and trainer Alex Guerrero.  Guerrero became godfather to one of Brady’s children, and is regarded as a member of his and his wife’s  extended family. Photograph:   Getty Images

Patriots star has very close relationship with sinister character and questionable concoctions

Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines celebrates a knockout win against Fadhili Majiha of Tanzania during their bantamweight fight at The Venetian in Macau in 2015. Ancajas will fight Jamie Conlan in Belfast next month. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

‘Head Knucklehead’ Sean Gibbons has lined up Jerwin Ancajas to fight Jamie Conlan

McKayla Maroney pulls “that face” after receiving her silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Photo: Thomas Coex/Getty Images

Olympic silver medalist was abused by USA team doctor Larry Nassar from the age of 13

 Soviet Georgian chess player Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian playing American Bobby Fischer in in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1971. Photograph:  Keystone/Getty Images

Former New York priest played a huge role in Bobby Fischer’s rise to world champion

Billie Jean King was ferried to the court on a throne fit for Cleopatra, carried by four shirtless hunks from Rice University. She defeated Riggs in three sets to claim the $100,000 winner-takes-all purse.

Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs showdown in 1973 a bizarre interlude in a turbulent time

 Tiger Woods  and his son Charlie Axel Woods  attending the US Open  at Flushing Meadows in New York. in New York. Photograph: Elsa/Getty

Bizarre odyssey from icon to ignominy a cautionary tale for our times

Carl Pownall shows off his impressive Subbuteo set and stadium. Photograph: Getty Images

In an extract from his new book, Boy Wonder, Dave Hannigan reflects on his Subbuteo love affair

A protest at  efforts by the Trump administration to phase out DACA, which gives certain rights to immigrants who arrived in the US  as children without proper papers before January 1st, 2007. Photograph: Getty Images

Repatriation has already begun of those brought to live in the US as children

This is the NFL. Pills, thrills and headaches. For the rest of your truncated life.  Photograph:  Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Passion for the game so fervent it’s capable of warping the mores of an entire nation

 Gennady Golovkin training for his forthcoming showdown with Canelo Alvarez on September 16th. Photograph:  Harry How/Getty Images

Top Rank’s agreement with USA’s top sports channel will raise profile of boxing’s best

Conor McGregor’s brash attitude and hyperbole perfectly capture the current generation of youth in Ireland. Photo: Getty Images

Like Christy Ring, Roy Keane and Brian O’Driscoll before him, he captures imagination

Fans enter Yawkey Way before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Photograph: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Shadow of racism surrounding former owner leads to bid to change club’s address

Jockey Mary Bacon   in 1978.

Pioneering jockey’s career fell apart after her appearance at a Ku Klux Klan rally

“Within minutes of bouncing it around, he beseeched his grandfather to lower the hoop in his driveway from 10 feet to seven and a half, and began taking pot shots” Photograph: Inpho

Bitten by the basketball bug, it’s almost time to enter the fraught world of the local league

New Jersey governor Chris Christie confronts a Chicago Cubs baseball fan during a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee. Photograph: WISN-TV/ABC/handout via Reuters

With a huge ego and ‘always right’ attitude, New Jersey governor may have found a calling

Kike Tyson, Milan Tyson and  Mike Tyson enjoying the tennis at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

One-time ‘baddest man on the planet’ surviving and thriving after all the wild years

Audie Attar stands sentry in the background as Floyd Mayweather jibes Conor McGregor during their final press tour stop in London. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Audie Attar has swapped battling prejudice for smiling benignly at McGregor’s racist jibes

 Dom Dwyer  celebrates scores on his debut for the  US against Ghana on July 1st in East Hartford, Connecticut. Photograph:  Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Sporting Kansas striker marks a new era in the US pursuit of dual nationality players

Pete Flynn prepares the field for the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets during the last home match at Shea Stadium on April 8th, 2008. Photograph: Photograph:  Nick Laham/Getty Images

Leitrim native’s lifetime of service to New York Mets made him a much-loved figure

Commissioner Don Garber, David Beckham and Mayor Carlos Gimenez attend a press conference in 2014 to announce their plans to launch a new Major League Soccer franchise at Pamm Art Museum in Miami, Florida. Photo: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

Former Manchester United player’s proposed franchise has faced numerous problems

Aaron Judge: added 30lbs of muscle to his frame since being drafted in 2013.

New York agog as muscle-bound newcomer rips up the record book with relish

Tiger Woods: like some child actor, preparing him for every feasible challenge on the course often involved neglecting his life off it. Photograph:  Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Basketball icon seems to have coped better with the pressures of fame and celebrity

Members of the Shamrock Rovers squad of the 1960s at a commemoration lunch in 2007. Their US adventure is chronicled in ‘Summer of ’67: Flower Power, Race Riots, Vietnam and the Greatest Soccer Final Played on American Soil’ by Ian Thomson. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

In 1967, the US hosted its first and only soccer season, and Irish players met the stars

 PK Subban  against the Anaheim Ducks  in  the  Stanley Cup playoffs  in Anaheim, California. Photograph: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Those who love him enjoy his antics, others say he doesn’t take hockey seriously enough

Former  Republican presidential hopeful and ex-Florida governor  Jeb Bush who has bid  $1.3bn for the Miami Marlins as part of a consortium including iconic former New York Yankee Derek Jeter. Photograph:  Justin Sullivan/Getty

Iconic ex-New York Yankee joined by Jeb Bush as consortium bid for baseball club

With revenues way down and expenses going up, around 100 high-profile employees were let go last week by the network. Photograph:  Mike Windle/Getty Images

Cable sports network loses 10m subscribers as technological revolution bites

Clubs take a bizarrely comprehensive approach each April when trying to figure out which of the best college prospects may be able to cut it in the more demanding professional game. Photograph:  Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Twelve-minute 50-question multiple choice test still used as aid in choosing draft players

BIG3: In a league of thier own.

Game’s marquee names come out of retirment to play new leagues’s half-court format

 Carli Lloyd   lifts the trophy as the USA celebrate winning the Women’s World Cup in 2015. Photograph: Ben Nelms/EPA

Irish women’s team receive same level of annual funding as girls’ U-15 squad in US

 Lonzo Ball (right) is expected to be a top three pick in this summer’s NBA draft unless clubs are scared off by his father’s antics. Photograph:  Andy Lyons/Getty Images

America at Large: Father of basketball prodigy Lonzo Ball shouts loud to get attention

 Christian Pulisic (right) is the youngest player to score for the USA in a World Cup qualifying match. Photograph: Getty.

Borussia Dortmund’s 18-year-old prodigy living with a nation’s high level of expectation

“When you live in fires and funerals and strikes and rats and crowds and people screaming in the night,” Jimmy Breslin once wrote, “sports is the only thing that makes any sense”

Pulitzer prize winning journalist and writer fell foul of conservative New York GAA mafia

 Trainer Lou Duva talks to to Pernell Whitaker during a fight against Oscar De La Hoya  in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Al Bello/Allsport

New Yorker was corner man, trainer, manager and promoter with 19 world champions

PJ Conlon during a Spring Training game between the Houston Astros and New York Mets in February. Photograph: Getty Images

PJ Conlon is a 23-year-old native of Belfast who has high hopes at the New York Mets

 Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson: “It’s not about what I did when I played. It’s about the new Lakers.”  Photograph:  Elsa/Getty Images

Legendary figure returns as president with the aim of returning the club to NBA heights

Connecticut Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma celebrates with the team’s supporters after victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA Women’s Final Four National Championship   in 2015. Photograph: Mike Carlson/Getty Images

University of Connecticut women’s basketball team have won 100 games win in row

Jordan Speith: said  he didn’t sign for professional autograph hunters who collect stuff just so they can later sell it online for profit. Photograph: Tyle Terada/USA Today Sports

Sports memorabilia remains a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the USA

Golden State Warriors head coach  Steve Kerr.  “You want to solve terror, you want to solve crime. This is not the way to do it.” Photograph:  Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Personal history lends fitting weight to the words of Golden State Warriors’ coach

Bill Belichick: the New England Patriots head coach has formed a very successful partnership with his iconic quarterback Tom Brady. Photograph: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots coach aiming to make history by claiming a fifth Super Bowl

Johnny Manziel’s contrite public statements  indicate he may just have started to realise how much he has squandered in his career. Photograph: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Quarterback who has squandered so many chances has embarked on rehabilitation tour

Green Bay Packers quarterback has family issues but has brought the game to another level

Linda McMahon was a failed Republican candidate for the US Senate in 2010 and 2012. Photograph: Abigail Pheiffer-Pool/Getty Images.

Forensic examination of professional wrestling magnate’s resume raises many troubling questions

Martha Firestone Ford: Detroit Lions have come a long way since the owner called the players together and told them she was sick of losing. Photo:  Diane Weiss/Getty Images

Remarkable 91-year-old owner has overseen a transformation in NFL team’s fortunes

George Karl: “I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs – like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping.” Photograph: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Veteran coach points to major drugs issue within “cleanest” of USA’s big three sports

Conor McGregor  celebrates his KO victory over Eddie Alvarez  in their lightweight championship bout  at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photograph:  Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sports review of 2016: Dave Hannigan on the Irish phenomenon’s seemingly unstoppable ascent to fame

Muhammad Ali goads Antonio Inoki at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan during their mixed bout in 1976. Photo: Getty Images

Muhammad Ali one of a number of boxers to dabble in bizarre mixed combat sport bouts

Boxer Bernard Hopkins fights for the 65th and last time at The Forum  in California on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters

On Saturday the ex-con from North Philly will fight for the 65th and final time, aged 51

High school players will incur between 500 to 1,000 hits to the head during  a season, the true cumulative impact of which may not be known or felt for decades

Brain damage from tackling by high school players is not incidental, it is inevitable

 Minnesota Vikings’ Blair Walsh  misses a crucial  27-yard field goal in last January’s 10-9 play-off defeat to  the Seattle Seahawks. Photograph:  Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Blair Walsh the latest to discover you can be one poor attempt away from the sack

Jürgen Klinsmann was sacked as manager of USA after two World Cup qualifier defeats. Photograph: Getty Images.

US soccer failed to attain the self identity it craves under former German manager

 Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant celebrates a  touchdown against the Washington Redskins. Going into last weekend, TV audiences had declined by 15 per cent compared to 2015. Photo: Ray Carlin/ Getty Images

Most powerful ratings juggernaut in American sport has mysteriously slowed down

Conor McGregor during the post fight press conference of UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, New York. Photo: Tom Hogan/Inpho

The Dubliner’s New York history-making was more of a coronation than a real contest

Conor McGregor celebrates his KO victory over Eddie Alvarez in their lightweight championship bout during the UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Dubliner becomes first person in UFC history to hold two world title belts at same time

Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, UFC president Dana White and  featherweight champion Conor McGregor interact with the media and fans during a press event at Madison Square Garden in September. Photograph: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Saturday night’s New York card shows how far the sport has travelled this last 20 years

 Art Briles during his time in charge of the Baylor Bears  in Waco, Texas. Photograph: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Art Briles unlikely to coach again as sexual assault scandal engulfs West Texas college

Bill Lee: On different days, he took to the field wearing a gas mask, a Daniel Boone coonskin cap, and a hat with a helicopter propeller whizzing around on top.

Former Boston Red Sox hero presents his alternative world view to Vermont electorate

Sonny Liston when he was the reigning world heavyweight champion in 1963. Photograph: Jim Gray/Getty Images.

Former heavyweight world champion boxer left questions that will remain unanswered

WWE chairman Vince McMahon prepares to have his head shaved by Donald Trump and Bobby Lashley while being held down by ‘’Stone Cold’’ Steve Austin after losing a bet in the Battle of the Billionaires at the 2007 WWE’s Wrestlemania at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The US presidential candidate has already been inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame

Joakim Noah: “I love America but I just don’t understand kids killing kids around the world.” Photograph:  Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

But New York Knicks player backs up his rhetoric with actions in troubled Chigago

 A fan with Ryder Cup sunglasses looks on during the 2016 Ryder Cup Celebrity Matches at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Photograph:  Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Clash between USA and Europe far down the list of priorities for general sports fans

The house in Dyersville, Iowa where the  character Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) lived in  the movie Field of Dreams, which was based on WP Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe.  Photograph:  Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

Canadian author exquisitely captured game’s brew of nostalgia, ritual and romance

Tim Tebow: “My goal has always been to make a difference in the biggest way possible. And one day if that’s a political route, that’s what I’ll do”

Former NFL quarter-back has signed for the New York Mets in a move raising eyebrows

Trevor Berbick backs away from a punch thrown by Mohammad Ali during their heavyweight fight in the Bahamas in 1981. Berbick won the fight in a 10-round unanimous decision. Photograph: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

In an extract from his new book Dave Hannigan details Muhammad Ali’s last fight

Trent Richardson was giving five-figure handouts to friends and family after he signed a $20.5 million contract with the Cleveland Browns. Photograph: Getty

Average careers last just over three seasons meaning healthy wages often don’t last

USA goalkeeper Hope Solo:  one of a quintet of high-profile stars who have filed a discrimination case against the USSF. Photograph:  Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Other factors in play as long-serving goalkeeper subjected to draconian punishment

Notre Dame used to style themselves a cut above schools where arrests and perp walks were as common as excessive touchdown celebrations. Not anymore. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

More than 1,300 college footballers have been arrested since 2010

Aside from aping Flair’s tired old egomaniacal act (right down to wearing Aviator sunglasses indoors just like the superannuated grappler), a lot of McGregor’s professional career has reeked of the WWE. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Irishman’s UFC career has always had more than a touch of the Ric Flairs about it

As soon as returning home, the USA gymnastics team will embark on a now traditional 36-city nationwide tour to cash in on the sport’s popularity. Photograph: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

USA Gymnastics coming under the spotlight for ignoring sex abuse allegations

American footballer and athlete Jim Thorpe  competing for Carlisle Indian Industrial School at the US Olympic trials in Celtic Park, New York, in  1912. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Native American’s sons and tribe still seeking to bring him home to a fitting resting place

Silhouetted horses galloping in morning sunrise at Saratoga Race Course. Photograph: Getty Images

John Morrissey was, among many things, America’s bareknuckle boxing champion

 Lenny Dykstra pictured in March 1998 during his time with the Philadelphia Phillies. Photograph: Rick Stewart/Allsport

Former baseball star’s recounting of his colourful life leaves some gaping holes

 USA international DeAndre Yedlin with Sunderland team-mate Patrick van Aanholt at the end of last season. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Most families can expect little change out of $7,000 for their nine-year-old to play game

 Donald Trump with new New Jersey Generals  signing Herschel Walker in 1983. Photograph:  Sporting News via Getty Images

US presidential candidate’s move into pro sport largely an attention-seeking exercise

A supporter of the use of cannabis as a painkiller for NFL players, Eugene Monroe was recently released by the Baltimore Ravens. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty.

Rather than using presciption painkillers many are now advocating marijuana

Muhammad Ali, a few weeks shy of his 40th birthday, takes on Trevor Berbick in his last ever fight on  December 11th, 1981 in the Bahamas. Berbick won the fight in a ten-round unanimous decision. Photograph: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Such is wealth of material you never know what gems the journey has in store

Muhammad Ali during training for his fight with Al “Blue” Lewis in Croke Park. Photograph: Getty Images

The fascinating story behind Muhammad Ali’s fight against Al ‘Blue’ Lewis in Dublin

Muhammad Ali in October 1974, 11 days before the “ Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight world championship fight in Kinshasa, Zaire, against George Foreman.   Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Boxing legend was one of world’s most-loved sportsmen

 LeBron James with Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: “The organisation gave us everything we need. There are no more excuses,” said James.  Photograph: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Cavaliers face a best-of-seven NBA series with current holders Golden State Warriors

A New York Red Bulls supporter holds a sign before a MLS game against   New York City FC. Photograph: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Defeat to Red Bulls reflective of crass marketing attempts that do MLS no favours

Penn State University head coach Joe Paterno: According to court documents pertaining to a lawsuit between Penn State and an insurance company, one boy informed Jpe Paterno about an attack in 1976. Photograph: Jeff Haynes/Reuters

Refusal to accept their hero did anything wrong by not reporting child molester Jerry Sandusky to police

‘I’m living under a series of mantras from The Grateful Dead right now,’ says Bill Walton, ‘I learned from them about how to become a champion.’ Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Bastketball great’s musing makes for compelling television entertainment

For all the puerile trash-talking and braggadocio, both men now find themselves in remarkably similar, awkward situations.

New Yorker born into riches and former apprentice appeal to same demographic

Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox: “There’s no grey area. If you do it and you don’t stop, you are going to eventually get cancer of the mouth.” Photo:  Nick Laham/Getty Images)

American municipalities now starting to outlaw the vile habit from sports venues

D’Brickashaw Ferguson (in green) of the New York Jets in action against the New England Patriots. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Numerous big-name players are taking matters into own hands and quitting game

Augusta National Golf Club is spoken about in hushed tones but the vast majority of the city’s residents could not care less about blushing azaleas or stately loblolly pines. Photograph: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Masters aside, this is a city of meth labs and pawn shops, strip joints and gang culture

Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully acknowledges applause from fans in front of wife Sandi , and sons Kevin  and Todd  before the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on September 23, 2015. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

The voice of baseball’s LA Dodgers will call time on his commentary career at the end of this season

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has won the favour of a number of current and former US sports stars. Photograph: Ralph Fresco/Getty Images.

Dave Hannigan’s America at Large: John Daly the latest to row in behind presidential candidate

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning speaks during his retirement announcement. He left many in the room in tears. Photograph:  David Zalubowski/AP Photo

Tawdry allegations and crass commercialisation made this a strange farewell

Steven Gerrard of Los Angeles Galaxy and  Andrea Pirlo  of New York City FC make all the right noises about the standard of play. Photograph: Getty Images

Pirlo shows why real progress is difficult to quantify for US soccer league

Mike Francesa (left) and Chris Russo: their relationship is to be the subject of a forthcoming ESPN documentary. Photograph: Andrew H Walker/Getty Images

Mike Francesa, New York’s most popular sports talk show host, is bowing out

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