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Deployed troops will be able to watch NFL playoff games

UPDATE, 10:03 a.m. 1/21/2018: Despite the shutdown of the United States government early Saturday, the NFL announced Sunday morning that the Armed Forces Network will  air the AFC and NFC Championship games.

>> Read more trending news 

The NFL also said it is providing free access to the games via NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

Meanwhile, Congress is back at work Sunday, attempting to create a deal to end the shutdown. 

ORIGINAL STORY: As a result of lawmakers failing to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending, the United States government has been shut down indefinitely – meaning everyone has been affected, including troops overseas.

>> Watch the news report here

There is a lot of fallout from the shutdown. From government employees who aren't being paid, including the Defense Department, to the Armed Forces Network being taken off the air, the effects of a standstill government can be felt across the board.

Since the AFN has been taken off the air, that means many of our troops overseas won't be able to watch the NFL playoffs Sunday

Surely it's not the biggest issue surrounding a government shutdown, but it's a big morale issue. 

>> Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Watching the Patriots on the Armed Forces Network has been a comforting piece of home for army Sgt. Matt Connolly, who's serving in South Korea.

"It's kind of the only thing we can do for fun over here," Connolly told WFXT.

For the first time since he's been stationed in Korea, his family came to visit him for the AFC Championship game.

"I'm actually on leave right now. My family from Boston is here right now and we were looking forward to watching the game," Connolly said.

With no one to run it, AFN is off the air. 

>> John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

The NFL says it is providing free access to Sunday's Championships via the NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

"No matter what, I'm going to watch them," Connolly said.

Sen. Ed Markey says he's in a holding pattern right now as he says he and most of his colleagues are preparing to negotiate through the night – but it's still unclear if that will be an option.

Immigration issues are at the center of the shutdown. Many Republicans don't want to negotiate on those issues until a spending bill is passed and the government re-opens.

However, those immigration issues – including the DREAMERS Act – are a priority for many Democrats. 

Markey told WFXT that he believes everyone needs to continue working to find some sort of compromise, and he wants President Donald Trump to take the lead.

"Bill Belichick is telling the New England Patriots for tomorrow, 'Do your job,' and we are saying to President Trump for tomorrow, 'Do your job, Mr. President. Make sure that the funding is there for our troops. Make sure that our defense is taken care of, but make sure that we also protect child health and the Dreamers,' but thus far he's been unwilling to do his job," Markey said.

Read more here.

Vikings seek trademark for 'Minneapolis Miracle’ nickname

The Minnesota Vikings are the owners of a remarkable victory in last weekend’s NFL divisional playoffs. Now, the team wants to own the nicknames that have been attached to it.

>> Read more trending news/

Stefon Diggs’ stunning 61-yard touchdown catch and run on the final play of the game gave the Vikings a 29-24 victory against New Orleans, giving birth to the nicknames “Minneapolis Miracle” or “Minnesota Miracle.” Monday, the Vikings filed for three trademarks for “Minneapolis Miracle” and one for “Minnesota Miracle,” according to filings published Friday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Vikings want to own the rights to the nickname on more than 100 items, including cell phone straps, football helmets, charge cards, computer game software, DVDs, compact discs and videotapes, according to the filings.

Already, the team is selling a T-shirt with the slogan, “Minneapolis Miracle 1-14-18,” ESPN reported. Diggs began selling shirts licensed by the NFL Players Association with his image and the words “Minneapolis Miracle,” on Wednesday and already has sold more than 1,000 of them online, ESPN reported.

It’s not the first sports nickname that has had a trademark application. For example, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris trademarked the phrase “Franco’s Immaculate Reception,” after his last-second catch-and-run for a touchdown off a deflected pass that gave Pittsburgh a 13-7 victory against Oakland in the 1972 playoffs.

Riles & Co., the corporate entity of former NBA basketball coach Pat Riley, trademarked the phrase “Three-Peat” in 1989.

The Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

No respect? NFL Facebook Super Bowl promo ignores Jaguars, Eagles

The Jacksonville Jaguars have complained this season about not receiving any respect. They reached the AFC playoffs but were written off as losers, but Jacksonville defeated Buffalo and then stunned Pittsburgh during the first two rounds of the postseason.

>> Read more trending news

The Jaguars are decided underdogs against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, which is not surprising. But the Jaguars believe they have a chance to win, even if it appears like the NFL does not share that sentiment.

The NFL’s official Facebook page began touting Super Bowl LII, which will be held Feb. 4 in Minneapolis, with a teaser noting that “your team is headed to Super Bowl LII.” The promo was adorned with photos of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, with no mention of the Jaguars or the Philadelphia Eagles, who are the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Well, the NFL had to pick someone, and Brady, who has played in seven Super Bowls already, is a natural candidate.

It makes for great bulletin board material for the Jaguars and Eagles. Whether that translates into victories on Sunday remains to be seen.

You can't buy the gloves Tom Brady is wearing

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady deflected questions about why he wore gloves to an indoor media conference Friday, but Under Armour answered a simple question about them.

>> Read more trending news

An attempt to locate the gloves on the Under Armour website proved fruitless, and a query to the athletic apparel company revealed why.

The brand Brady wears is not available to the general public. 

“Thank you for reaching out,” Under Armour said in an email. “The exact glove that Tom is wearing in the picture is a glove that is only offered to Under Armour's NFL players.”

>> Patriots’ Tom Brady ‘not talking about’ possible hand injury

The company explained a similar glove available for purchase contains “HeatGear back of hand for moisture management and a compression like feel.” 

A spokesman for Under Armour added, “we are hopeful the additional exposure of the gloves will lead to an uptick in sales.”

Patriots’ Tom Brady ‘not talking about’ possible hand injury

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke to the media Friday amid wild speculation about his status after a hand injury was listed earlier in the week. 

>> Read more trending news

“We'll see,” he said when asked about his status for Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Brady was spotted at practice Friday wearing red gloves on both of his hands, but it wasn't clear if he worked out with the team. 

The issues began Wednesday when Brady was included on the Patriots injury report. He met with medical staff while his teammates and coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media. 

When asked why he was wearing gloves, he responded, “I've worn them before.” 

He declined to discuss his injury or anything about practice. 

“Why are you wearing gloves inside?” one reporter asked. 

“She (reporter) already asked that,” Brady said.

Brady’s teammates, including center David Andrews and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, avoided the issue. 

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported Brady jammed his hand during practice and X-rays showed no structural damage.

Brady was listed on the Patriots’ injury report as non-participant at practice Thursday and canceled a second media availability later that day.

Brady has missed practices this season due to various minor injuries, but has not missed any games due to injury since 2008. 

New England, Jacksonville firms make whiskey wager for AFC title game

The "whiskey wagers" are flying back and forth between distilleries in New England and Northeast Florida ahead of Sunday's AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

>> Read more trending news

It began with Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits Co. of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, challenging the St. Augustine Distillery Company to a whiskey wager on Facebook. The stakes: The losing distillery has to send the winning distillery a case of its whiskey AND wear the winning team's gear while they're open for all their guests to see. The St. Augustine Distillery then accepted that wager in a Facebook video.

Then, Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits doubled down on the bet and challenged Manifest Distilling of Jacksonville and offered to throw in some lobsters with the help of Lobsters New England.

Manifest Distilling accepted the challenge and also pulled in Intuition Ale Works and Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, who, at the end of the Facebook video (see full video below), challenged the George Howell Coffee Company in Acton, Mass., to take part in the wager. No word yet on if George Howell accepted the challenge:

Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette involved in multicar crash

The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was involved in a three-car crash Tuesday on I-295 in Jacksonville. 

>> Read more trending news

Sgt. Dylan Bryan said Fournette was inside a vehicle involved in the collision. Fournette was able to drive home, a Jaguars spokesman said. 

There were no injuries and Fournette was not at fault, officials said. 

A driver of a black Buick in the crash was cited for careless driving. 

The crash occurred around 11:40 a.m. on I-295 southbound near Heckscher Drive and the Dames Point Bridge, according to FHP. 

The crash temporarily blocked a lane. 

Fournette and the Jaguars will be playing for a spot in the Super Bowl on Sunday when they travel to New England to face the Patriots in the AFC championship game.

NFL commissioner gives 99-year-old Vikings fan tickets to Super Bowl

When it comes to the Minnesota Vikings, Millie Wall has seen it all -- almost.

>> Read more trending news

The 99-year-old fan was there when the Vikings joined the NFL in 1961. She suffered through four Super Bowl losses in the 1970s, and agonized when Dallas’ Drew Pearson seemed to push off Vikings defender Nate Wright to catch a Hail Mary touchdown pass in a 1975 playoff game to give the Cowboys a shocking victory.

“You just had to bear it,”Wall told WCCO.

Sunday night, she witnessed her first playoff game in person and saw the Miracle of Minneapolis unfold, as the Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints 29-24 on the game’s final play to reach the NFC championship game.

And if the Vikings should defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Wall will be in the stands for Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, courtesy of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, WCCO reported.

Wall could be seen during the Vikings game Sunday drinking a screwdriver with her granddaughter, Ashley, WCCO reported. The team had given her two tickets to the playoff game against New Orleans to celebrate her upcoming 100th birthday in July.

How rabid a fan has Wall been? When angered or frustrated by the Vikings’ play, she would throw a foam brick at her television set, WCCO reported.

“There were years I got up all the time so I thought ‘Well, this is dumb,’” Wall told WCCO. “So now I put a string on (the brick) so I can retrieve it.”

If the Vikings reach the Super Bowl, it will be the first time a team will play pro football’s biggest game in its home stadium. And if Minnesota should win its first Vince Lombardi trophy, then Wall truly would have seen it all.

Cold? Snow? This Vikings fan is tailgating in flip-flops

It takes a special fan to weather the cold for an NFL playoff game. Five hours before the Vikings were to host the New Orleans Saints in an NFC divisional game Sunday, Minnesota fans were outside U.S. Bank Stadium tailgating.

>> Read more trending news

Never mind that as noon approached it was 11 degrees in Minneapolis and snow flurries were falling.

A fan named Josh was undaunted, telling a reporter that “it feels like 95 and sunny.”

Josh and friends were set up a half block from the stadium, WCCO reported, complete with a bloody mary bar and plenty of food to stay warm.

Josh, from Bay Lake, Minnesota, capped his tailgating experience by wearing flip-flops, with his toenails painted in Vikings purple and gold.

“It’s my self-expression,” he told WCCO.

Skol, Vikings.

Philadelphia Eagles’ bark has bite after NFC playoff victory

The Philadelphia Eagles let the dogs out after their NFC divisional-round victory Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

The Eagles, who were the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, were still rated as three-point underdogs in their game against sixth-seeded Atlanta, ESPN reported. So, after Philadelphia held on for a 15-10 victory, the dog masks came out.

Defensive end Chris Long and right tackle Lane Johnson, poking fun at the fact that the Eagles were the first top-seeded team to be an underdog in its first postseason game, had bought German shepherd masks earlier in the week. After a final goal-line stand that probably left the Eagles panting in anxiety, a relieved Long and Johnson donned their masks as Philadelphia advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

“Me and Chris Long were talking (at lunch), and everybody's calling us underdogs, so hey, let's go get us a dog mask,” Johnson said. “That's what we did.”

The Eagles will host next week’s conference title game against the winner of Sunday’s contest between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings. Even though the Eagles have home-field advantage, it is likely they will be underdogs as they try to advance to their third Super Bowl in franchise history, ESPN reported. The Eagles lost in their two other appearances, falling to the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in Super Bowl XV and losing 24-21 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

“I would imagine we're probably not going to be favored next week, either,” Johnson said. “At this point in the season, it really don't matter; it's anybody's game.”

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