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July 30, 2011

Sacobie Helps Rake in Football Silver

Filed under: Canada,Canadian First Nations,News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , — Sam Laskaris @ 11:30 am

It wasn’t just any old game. For Josh Sacobie, it meant the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

“That was special,” Sacobie said of his participation at the eight-nation world football championships in Austria. “Ever since I was a young kid I wanted to do two things. One was to play professionally and one was to represent my country. And I got to do that.”

The 27-year-old quarterback, a Maliseet from the St. Mary’s First Nation in New Brunswick, was a member of the Canadian squad that competed in the world tournament. He and his teammates were trounced 50–7 by the United States in the championship final, earning silver medals.

Sacobie was a star in the Canadian collegiate ranks, toiling with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees from 2004–08. He had hoped his performances with the Gee-Gees would translate into a training camp invitation from a professional Canadian Football League squad. But that never materialized.

He has, however, fielded offers over the past few years from various arena football teams in the U.S., as well as pro European squads, to attend training camps. But he opted not to, as he has since May 2009 worked as Football Canada’s technical coordinator, based in Ottawa.

“I enjoy what I’m doing,” Sacobie said. “I’m where it happens. I’m where the governance (for football) in Canada happens.”

Sacobie’s duties include overseeing player development and coaching programs. He’s also in charge of Football Canada’s aboriginal portfolio, which was established when he was hired. Sacobie is especially proud of his assistance in launching a six-per-side aboriginal league in northern Quebec, a league that’s entering its third season.

As for the world tournament, Canada played three other matches prior to its gold-medal battle versus the Americans. First, Canada defeated France 45–10. That was followed by a 36–14 victory over the host Austrians. And the Canadians concluded their round-round action with a slim 31–27 win over Japan.

No doubt many people would be surprised to discover Japan, which won the bronze medal thanks to a 17–14 triumph over Mexico, is also a world power when it comes to football.

“A lot of people don’t know they have 100 universities playing football in their country,” Sacobie said of the Japanese.

This marked Canada’s first entry into the senior men’s world tournament, for players aged 20 and up. The event is held every four years, and this was the fourth tournament.

Japan won the inaugural event in 1999 in Germany, then defended its crown at the 2003 championships in the same country. The U.S. also took top honors at the first tournament it entered, in 2007 in Japan.

Sacobie, one of three quarterbacks on the Canadian team, saw action in two games in Austria. He played the second half of the squad’s tournament opener against France. And he also played during the fourth quarter of the gold-medal match.

He was pleased to return with some hardware from the global tourney.

“It’s a deserving prize for the efforts we put in,” he said of the Canadian’s silver medals. “But unfortunately it’s not the ultimate prize. We wanted a gold medal.”

Sacobie said nothing seemed to go right for his side in its match against the U.S.

“One bad thing led to another,” he said.

But he also had plenty of praise for his opponents.

“I’ve got to give the Americans credit,” he said. “They were a strong team. They wowed us. They were big. They were strong. They were fast. And they were well coached.”

Prior to the world championships, Sacobie had not participated in an elite-level contest since his final university game, back in November 2008.

He managed to keep in shape partly by playing in an Ottawa touch football league.

The next world championships are scheduled to be held in 2015. A host location has yet to be announced. And Sacobie is uncertain at this point whether he would try and crack the Canadian roster for that event.

“It’s too far away to think about that right now,” he said. “I’ll be 31 then. Who knows where I’ll be.”

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August 16, 2011

Kiowa Chris Hummingbird Ready to Play Some Football

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Eric Baily of the Tulsa World reports that Chris Hummingbird, Kiowa, is back participating with his Tulsa University teammates on the football field, a welcome relief after a year spent on the sidelines.

Hummingbird, a 6’2″, 240-pound linebacker recruited from Tahlequah Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, had to sit out his freshmen year after the NCAA said he didn’t take the appropriate courses to get 16 core credits he needed for eligibility.  Hummingbird is a Gates Millennium Scholar, a minority scholarship program that funds his schooling through graduation through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I’ve been waiting to get back on the field and it feels good because I’m getting back on the flow of everything,” Hummingbird told Tulsa World. “It wasn’t fun to come out and watch everyone play. I had to sit on the sidelines and watched my position. Now I’m getting back in the groove of everything.”

Hummingbird got the requisite credits in his freshmen year, which he spent studying, and waiting, for his chance to get back out on the field.  Now that he’s eligible, Hummingbird is ready to play big time football for Tulsa U.

“I just motivated myself and didn’t want to give up,” Hummingbird told Tulsa World. “I wanted to play Division I college football. My parents and my family, they want me to be successful in this sport. I just thought of them every day and came and watched practices … that’s what I stuck to doing.”

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August 23, 2011

Are You Ready For Some Football? Sam Bradford Sure is

Filed under: Cherokee,News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Click here to view the embedded video.

As the 2011 NFL football season is only a few weeks away from the start of regular season, we thought we’d throw up this highlight reel of St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, Cherokee.  After being named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year last season, hopes (and expectations) are pretty high for the Heisman Trophy winning, Oklahoma City native.

Bradford’s first game of the season is on September 11, at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.  After setting the NFL record last year for most completions for a rookie, Bradford is hoping to help his teammates earn more hardware, like a NFC West Division Title.

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September 8, 2011

Is Sam Bradford About to Be the First American Indian Fantasy Football Star?

Filed under: Cherokee,News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Fantasy football is big business.  Conservative estimates put the number of people playing fantasy football in American at 30 million.  Leagues are hosted by everyone from Yahoo! to CBSSPorts.com to ESPN.com. There is an entire cottage industry of ‘fantasy’ sports writers who tell you who to pick in what round.

For the uninitiated, fantasy football works a little like how owning an actual football team does, only it costs a few hundred million dollars less.  A typical league consists of between eight and twelve owners.  A fantasy draft takes place in which, over the course of up to eighteen rounds, each team drafts their players.   The two types of most common drafts are the ‘serpentine’ draft, in which the owner who gets the first pick in round one picks last in even rounds, and an auction draft, in which owners bid money on players (each owner starts with a set amount of cash on hand.)

There are a number of different kinds of fantasy football leagues a person can join, which each league differing in their rules, point system, and means of calculating wins and losses. Two of the most common leagues are as follows:

  • Head-to-Head leagues — two teams square off each week, with the team generating the most points winning that week.  The teams that generate the most wins advance into the playoffs
  • Total points leagues — League standing each week is determined by the top point getters each week.  The teams that generate the most points throughout the season advance into the playoffs.

Okay, so now that we’ve got all that figured out, let’s talk about the St. Louis Rams’ Sam Bradford.  All fantasy drafts have to happen before the season, which begins tonight when the New Orleans Saints travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers.  In the past five to ten years, the list of high level fantasy quarterbacks has included a core group—Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.  Sam Bradford is now poised to rise to this level of ‘fantasy’ football star (editorial note; to be a fantasy football start, you have to also be a real football start, although you don’t necessarily have to be on a winning team.)

According to one of ESPN’s many fantasy football wizards, Brian Gramling, Bradford has a lot of things going for him coming into this season.  Gramling correctly points out that Bradford is a physical specimen (6-foot-4, 228 pounds), and he’s coming off a NFL record setting rookie season.   Gramling also points out that Bradford’s getting a helpful dose of quality receivers (his best receiver, Donnie Avery, was injured all of last season).  For a quarterback to rank highly in fantasy football, he needs to throw for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns, and minimize his interceptions (again, what is true for quality in fantasy is the same thing that’s true in the real game, it’s just unconnected to whether the player won his actual game for his actual team), and Bradford’s 3,512 yards passing with 18 TDs last season is a very good omen for a rookie QB playing without any real weapons.

The bad omens for Bradford are how he got worn down by the end of last season, and has his passer rating dropped between the first quarter and fourth of his games.  This can have a lot to do with a player not having a full arsenal of receivers to throw to, as well as the fact that Bradford was a rookie, playing arguably one of the toughest positions in any sport.

Does fantasy football even matter, you may ask?  Could 30 million Americans be wrong?  Wait, don’t answer that.   Fantasy football does matter for the sport in that it draws millions of people into each week’s games, making them care about match-ups they wouldn’t normally think twice about.  So when the St. Louis Rams take on the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, there will be millions of people who couldn’t care a whit about either team very interested in the outcome, and what Sam Bradford, the only Cherokee quarterback in the NFL, is doing on the field.

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September 13, 2011

Sam Bradford’s Injury Not Serious, Will Play Against Giants

Filed under: Cherokee,News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Sam Bradford and his St. Louis Rams had a rough game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and the final score of 31-13 was only a part of their concerns.  Their star running back, Stephen Jackson, left the game after only two carries (one of them was a 47-yard touchdown run) due to a strained right quadriceps,  cornerback Bradley Fletcher sprained his toe, offense tackle Jason Smith sprained his left ankle, receiver Danny Amendola was knocked out of the game with a dislocated left elbow, and worst of all, cornerback Ron Bartell is likely out for the season after being hit on the top of his helmet by an Eagles offensive lineman and suffering two breaks in his neck.

All of this would be enough to rank as one of the roughest opening games in Rams history, but it got worse — their star quarterback and NFL‘s Offensive  Rookie of the Year last season was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to an injury to his right hand.  Luckily, x-rays have shown he doesn’t have a broken bone or nerve damage in the injured throwing hand.

It was a hideous opening day for a team that, thanks in large part to the drafting of Bradford and the commitment to give him weapons, was looking to have a breakout year.  Our heart goes out to Bartell, who’s season is done, and we hope that Bradford can bounce back and lead his team against the Giants next week.  Playing with pain is one way he can do that, and he’s already proven he’s willing.

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September 17, 2011

Wild Weekend for the Chicago Bears’ Levi Horn

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 11:30 am

Levi Horn, Northern Cheynne, had a tumultuous start to his second NFL season with the Chicago Bears.  NativeNewsNetwork.com reported that over the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, September 3, Horn was cut by the Bears as the team was going through their roster, paring it down to the 53-man NFL requirement.  Then on Sunday, Horn was signed to their practice squad.

Every NFL team has a practice squad of up to eight players.  They practice with the team but they do not travel with them, and they don’t suit up for home games.  What they can do, however, is find themselves called upon by any other of the NFL’s 32-teams to join their active roster.  In a sport as brutal as football, injuries happen constantly, especially along the offensive line where Horn plays.  At 6’7” and 315 pounds,  and as young as he is, this is hardly the end of Horn’s career, let alone his season. He could easily find himself filling in for an injured player at any point in the season.

One could surmise that if anyone could take this turn of events well, it would be Horn, one of the NFL’s truly good guys.

Horn, who grew up in Spokane, Washington, took time off the field this past July to speak to a gymnasium filled with young American Indians at the Alex Sherwood Memorial Community Center.  The community center is sponsored by the Spokane Tribal Youth Council and Prevention Program, and the kids were all from the Spokane Reservation and surrounding areas.

Horn went there to help inspire these kids with his own life story, becoming an All-State athlete his senior year and gaining a scholarship to play football at the University of Oregon. He eventually transferred to the University of Montana and went on to get drafted into the NFL by the Chicago Bears.

Monica Peone of Rawhide Press wrote at the time, “Levi is an example for Native American Youth.  He is actively utilizing his successes in athletics as a source of inspiration for Native people everywhere.”

Horn told the kids that they had to remember to never be afraid to get off the reservation and go for their dreams, whatever they may be. “Home will be there for you,” he told them, “You’ll be back and be a better person.  Surround yourself with positive influences.  They helped me become who I am today.”

Hopefully tomorrow, or a day soon after, Horn will be back on the roster of an NFL team, where he belongs.

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September 20, 2011

Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Tyler Bray Making Waves in College Football

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports,Video — Tags: , , — ICTMN Staff @ 11:30 am

Click here to view the embedded video.

His Tennessee Volunteers may have just lost to their South Eastern Conference rivals Florida Gators 33-23, but quarterback Tyler Bray, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, did nothing in the game to diminish his status as one of college football‘s rising stars.   He threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the loss (he also threw two interceptions), and considering he’s only a sophomore, the sky’s the limit for him.

We’ll have a detailed profile of Bray in the next few days, and we’ll be tracking him throughout the year.  For now, we wanted to show you this highlight reel from Bray’s rookie season with the Volunteers.

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September 23, 2011

Super Sophomore Tyler Bray Leads the Tennessee Volunteers

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , — Ralph Richardson @ 11:30 am

Autumn is here and with the change of the leaves and the season comes college football, and with college football comes talk of the Heisman.  Who is on your Heisman watch? Is it Andrew Luck from Stanford?  Is it Kellen Moore from Boise State or Denard Robinson from Michigan?  Everyone knows the frontrunners, but what about the Dark horse, that brilliant talent that comes from out of nowhere like a shot in the dark?  For me it could be the 6’6”, 215 pound sophomore Tyler Bray, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Tyler, who is from Kingsburg, California, went to Kingsburg High School. He had an eye-popping senior year, throwing for 3,321 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading his team to a 13-0 season. Tyler was one of the best high school quarterbacks in the country and was heavily recruited by Fresno State, Louisville, and USC, but he choose to leave sunny California for the tough South Eastern Conference to play for Tennessee.

Last year, as a freshman for the Vols, Bray wasn’t an instant hit.  He didn’t start his first game until November 6 at Memphis. Bray’s stat line in his first ever game was impressive, throwing for 325 yards and five touchdowns in the 50-14 thrashing over the Tigers.  The craziest part?  He did the majority of this damage in one half of football.

That mind blowing game against Memphis ushered in the Tyler Bray era, and happily ended the Vols four game losing streak. Bray followed that game up with another outstanding performance against Ole Miss, finishing 18-34 for 323 yards and 5 Touchdowns in a 52-14 drubbing.  Ultimately Bray led the Vols to a 4-1 record as a starter. In his limited time as a starter, Tyler was able to throw for 1,849 yards (a new school record for freshmen), 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Tyler also managed to win the SEC Freshman of the Week three times (Nov. 6, 13 & 27, 2010).

This set the hype machine into overdrive for the start of this year’s season, as Bray was named to the 2011 preseason Manning, O’Brien, and Maxwell Award watch lists.  Bray and the Volunteers ripped apart the Montana Grizzlies in the first game, with Bray finishing 17-24 for 293 with 3 Touchdowns and no interceptions as The Vols won 42-16. In his second game of 2011, Bray had a monster day where he finished 34-41 for 405 with 4 Touchdowns and no interceptions. He broke Peyton Manning’s record of 7 consecutive games with at least 2 touchdowns, and also had the highest the completion percentage ever recorded in a game by a Tennessee QB of 82.9%,  breaking Manning’s record of 77.5% set as a senior against Georgia in 1997.  Bray was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 12, 2011)

To step up into the Heisman watch, the talented sophomore had a perfect opportunity playing against the highly favored #15 ranked Florida Gators down in the dreaded Swamp, where the Vols hadn’t won a against since 2004.

The Vols offensive line couldn’t protect Bray, giving up three sacks, and allowing constant pressure in his face all day.  Consistent bad snaps from the center had Bray scooping balls off the field like a short stop.

Despite having a lot of things go against him, Bray still played a decent game, going  26-48 for 288 yards with three TDs and two interceptions.  What we learned about Bray in this tough game against the rival Gators was that he can handle adversity with poise and composure, despite being only a sophomore.  He’s a mentally tough young man, and when the chips are down, he will continue to fight.  I am sure that his great cousin, Jim Thorpe (Tyler’s great grandfather’s cousin) would be proud.

Tyler’s next chance to show his Heisman metal against top flight opponents will be in back-to-back giant matchups, starting with the October 15 game against #3 LSU and followed by the October 22 game at #2 Alabama.  Two great games by Tyler and the Vols against two of the best college football teams will put Tyler right into the middle of the Heisman watch.

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September 30, 2011

Illinois High School Says Goodbye to Final Remnant of Native Mascot

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Better late then never.  According to Pantagraph.com, Illinois’ Bloomington High School Purple Raiders have put the last artifact from the school’s nearly 30-year use of an American Indian as their mascot up for sale.  A nearly life-sized statue of an American Indian that was a gift from the class of 1989 (each year, the senior class donates a gift to the school) and has stood in a glass cabinet in the school’s library will be auctioned off at the annual BHS Boosters steak fry tomorrow, reported Pantagraph.com. Apparently the school district looked into options for finding the statue a new home, which included the McLean County Museum of History, but ended up deciding to donate the statue to the booster club, which will share the proceeds from the auction with this year’s senior class.

The team will keep the name Purple Raiders, but they will have no visual connection to American Indians.  The school board voted in 2001 to retire the American Indian image from all aspects of the school, including a medallion that had an American Indian face in profile hung on the exterior wall. The medallion was also donated to the boosters in 2002 and sold at auction.

District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly, who was the school’s principal in the summer of 2001, said that the school board decided to discontinue the use of the American Indian image because of the increasing mood in Indian Country and the nation at large that the use of such mascots is racially and culturally insensitive.

“We weren’t pioneers,” Reilly told Pantagraph.com, “but [we] did it early on.”

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October 3, 2011

Another Big Game for Tennessee Quarterback Tyler Bray

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Click here to view the embedded video.

Tyler Bray, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, continues to impress in his sophomore year as starting quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers.  Bray threw four touchdowns for the Vols as they routed Buffalo, 41-10.

Bray finished 21 for 30 for 342 yards.  This marks the 10th consecutive game Bray’s thrown for multiple touchdowns, putting him second in the entire NCAA behind Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, who is currently working on a 16-game streak.

Bray has thrown for 1,328 yards and 14 touchdowns in only four games this season.

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