NFL Alumni CEO Beasley Reece on ESPN Radio

Beasley Reece and Beyonce’s Homecoming

This week on the Rhoden Fellows Podcast, Bill, Janae and Tucker speak with the CEO of NFL Alumni, Beasley Reece about the work he’s doing to improve healthcare for retired NFL players. They also speak with Taryn Finley, editor for Huffington Post Black Voices about Beyonce’s Netflix film, “Homecoming.”

Listen here.

Chris Silva Signs with IPZ

COLUMBIA, S.C. + WARREN, N.J., April 4, 2019 – Chris Silva, two-time First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team selection at the University of South Carolina, has signed with IPZ, Silva and the company announced today.

The six-foot-nine forward hails from Libreville, Gabon and his journey to America has been well-chronicled. He played high school basketball in the United States for Roselle Catholic in New Jersey and won the 2013 Tournament of Champions with the Lions.

The South Carolina Gamecocks made a historic NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in 2017, due, in large part, to Chris Silva. As a sophomore, Silva had a breakout season: he started all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a team-high 1.4 blocks in 21.0 minutes per game. In the matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga, in South Carolina’s first ever Final Four appearance, Silva scored 13 points and secured 13 rebounds.

Silva continued to improve as an upperclassman and was crowned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, he was selected to the First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team in back-to-back seasons.

He also led the Gamecocks in multiple categories in his junior and senior years with, in his junior year, 14.3 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and he shot 46.7% from the field. In his senior year, Silva’s team leading figures included averaging 15.2 points/game, 7.6 rebounds/game, 1.9 blocks/game, with a field goal percentage of 50.8%, including 50% from three-point range.

Silva was recently named to the NABC All-District Second Team for his final season as a Gamecock.

“It was clear to all those who watched South Carolina’s games this season that Chris was the emotional and physical leader of the team, and one of the best players in the SEC,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ. “His relationship with his coach and teammates as a student, leader, and teammate was evident.”

Silva is the only player in the history of South Carolina’s program to record at least 700 rebounds and 500 free throws in his career. He earned multiple academic honors as a student-athlete and will graduate this year with a degree in IT.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity the coaching staffs in high school and college – and all my teammates – gave me and I look forward to the road ahead with the team at IPZ,” said Silva.

“In 34 years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve had a player work as hard as Chris Silva to get better,” said Frank Martin, Head Basketball Coach at South Carolina. “He is an unbelievable young man of tremendous character who is a really really good basketball player.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

MMA + MJ etf

N.J.-based marijuana ETF finds unusual spokesman in MMA heavyweight

By Tom Bergeron

Apr 4, 2019

 

At first glance, a mixed martial arts star promoting an exchange-traded fund for cannabis may not seem like the most logical fit.

Especially one based in New Jersey, where proponents of legalizing recreational use of marijuana suffered another setback last week.

Sam Masucci doesn’t see it that way.

Masucci is the CEO of the Summit-based ETF Managers Group, which created MJ, the country’s first ETF dedicated to stocks in cannabis-related companies, in December 2017. He said the hiring last week of MMA heavyweight Alexey Oleynik to promote it is a perfect fit, for a number of reasons.

Starting with the fact that Masucci, a former Penn State wrestler who competed scholastically at the now-closed Bayley Ellard High School in Madison, loves the sport.

“I have been a big MMA fan for 20 years,” he said. “I’ve actually been a martial artist for 20 years. I like to watch these fighters really show the value of mixed martial arts — meaning it’s everything from punching and kicking and submissions.

“I love it, and I always hoped that there’d be an opportunity for me to somehow be involved. This is a great way to do it.”

Read the rest here: http://www.roi-nj.com/2019/04/04/finance/mma-mj-n-j-based-marijuana-etf-finds-unusual-spokesman-in-mma-heavyweight/

ETFMG teams up with UFC heavyweight

ETFMG teams up with UFC heavyweight

Summit-based ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF MJ – issued by ETF Managers Group, a group family of exchange traded funds – announced it will sponsor Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Alexey Oleynik.

“The Boa Constrictor” Oleynik is one of the top heavyweights in the world and is a career mixed martial artist. He takes on Walt Harris in UFC Fight Night 150 on May 4, in Ottawa, Canada.

MJ is the largest cannabis exchange-traded fund in the world and the first and only U.S. listed ETF to target the global cannabis industry directly. MJ joined the “billion-dollar club” on Feb. 4, surpassing $1 billion in assets under management.

“MJ is a heavyweight in the ETF industry,” said Oleynik. “It has had a great deal of success and I look forward to watching it continue to knock out its competition. My wife and I are excited to be able to represent a world-class financial group like ETFMG and a product like MJ.”

Lou Fusz Athletic To Offer Naming Rights For Complex

ST. LOUIS, March 14, 2019 – Lou Fusz Athletic (LFA) will offer the naming rights to its complex, one of the most visited athletic facilities in the Midwest, the organization announced today.

Approximately 1.2 million people visit LFA’s facilities annually and this number is continually growing. LFA is home to hundreds of teams and thousands of camp participants, between the ages of five and 18, across multiple sports, with family members of all ages in attendance to watch. LFA also hosts numerous soccer and lacrosse tournaments throughout the year which bring nearly 100,000 families from the greater St. Louis area to its facilities.

The Lou Fusz Athletic Training Center at Rams Park, the former home of the St. Louis Rams, is a 300,000 square foot facility and acts as the hub for all LFA teams, tournaments, and camps. With its state-of-the-art indoor fields, outdoor fields, and amenities, such as strength/speed/agility training rooms, a weight room, a rehab and physical therapy room, and an auditorium for presentations, the LFA Training Center receives visitors year-round.

“As a club, this facility reminds us every day of the professional nature of our approach,” said Dan Gargan, Managing Director of LFA, and a 10-year MLS veteran. “It has been home to world class athletes who showed up every day to better their craft. We connect our core values to that approach and work every day to enhance the lives of the athletes and families we serve.”

“This facility offers one of the most attractive family environments in the country,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ, who will manage the marketing process. “There is a tremendous opportunity here for a local or national brand to build equity, as the continued growth of Lou Fusz Athletic and its exciting vision for the future of the club and facility will only add to its attractiveness.”

About Lou Fusz Athletic 

Lou Fusz Athletic (“LFA”) is a 501(c)3 youth sports club and the charitable arm of the Lou Fusz Automotive Network. LFA’s objective is to align you with unique touch-points of the club’s family of players and fans through various branding opportunities and events.

About IPZ

IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

Luis Da Silva Jr. Talks New Project: Sole Searchers

From a Backyard in Elizabeth, Chatham Man Shoots for the Stars

By Mark Di Ionno

Luis Da Silva, Jr., says he got his start in a “two by four” backyard in Elizabeth, where he would spend hours with just a basketball.

“It was a rough neighborhood and my mother didn’t want me down at the basketball courts,” Da Silva said.

In those lonely hours of dribbling and inventing basketball tricks, Da Silva learned to command the giant orange orb as if it were at the end of a yo-yo string.

This was the beginning of a journey Da Silva said “kids like him never dreamed of.”

He’s joined the ranks of some of New Jersey’s great character actors, a Frank Vincent or Phil Bosco incarnate. Even a James Gandolfini, before he became Tony Soprano.

The stars he has worked with are household names: John Travolta, Jodie Foster, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Adrien Brody, Sam Rockwell, and Brie Larson.

He’s played a doctor in “The Life and Death of John Gotti,” a satanic basketball player in “The Devil Goes Down,” a Brazilian race car driver in “Fast Five” and an MS-13 gang leader in “Triple 9.”

His film and TV credits are continuing to pile up, even though he foregoes a Hollywood address for a place in Chatham. Not exactly where you find an actor, who is inked up on every available square inch of arms and upper body, and who stars in urban dramas where blood flows by the buckets.

It is indeed remarkable that the same man, who can play a violent, drug-dealing, sociopathic gang leader with prison-movie menace has written two books called “A Boy Named Boo” and “Zoe and Toby and the Alphabet Adventures.”

Da Silva is 36 now and the father of a preschool daughter, the inspiration of the two children’s books.

“It’s just how we evolve in life,” he said.

His first act came in 2001, when he was 18 and working in a sneaker store — a passion always connected with basketball. A friend told him about an audition for a Nike commercial.

“I asked for the day off and my boss said, ‘No,’ so I quit,” he said. “My father took me into midtown to this auditorium. I was nervous. There were 3,000 people there; NBA stars, New York playground legends.”

Those nerves built as the auditions wore on. Da Silva, at 5-11, didn’t tower over anybody, and the half-Portuguese, half-Italian kid from Jersey was an unknown.

That lasted only as long as his audition. He killed it. Next was the actual shoot of the Nike commercial in a series called “Freestyle” and Da Silva was one of the stars.

“It was the first Nike commercial where they weren’t featuring shoes or apparel, just the culture of basketball,” he said.

In the commercial, the lighting makes him look a little ghostly and he is doing otherworldly things with a basketball that fall somewhere between magician, gymnast and Harlem Globetrotter, which he eventually became.

But that was after he became the youngest and first non-professional athlete to be given an endorsement contract by Nike. What followed were likenesses of him in NBA video games and other basketball feats that made him one of the street legends he beat out for the commercial.

“Basketball is a culture, it’s a big fraternity,” he said. His nickname “Trikz” was synonymous with his skills and he began to create his own legend.

“Back when I was playing in high school (St. Patrick’s and Linden High), let’s just say the coaches didn’t appreciate the kind of flashy ball handling,” he said. “But we influenced the next generation of players.”

That first success in front of the camera and subsequent offers for “Trikz” Da Silva to be the animated star of basketball video games and led him to his acting career.

His first stint was as “an angry ex-boyfriend” in “America’s Most Wanted” in 2002. He would return to the popular series in various episodes over the next decade. He also had roles in the critically acclaimed “Breaking Bad,” “Treme” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

It’s a career that is still building. He will be in four movies that will be released in 2019.

But he also has an idea that brings him back to his very beginnings of basketball and sneakers.

He has filmed a season’s worth of a show called “Sole Searchers” where Da Silva travels the country finding people in the culture of collecting, designing and constructing basketball shoes. There are eight episodes from New York to Los Angeles, where Da Silva seeks out different characters who view sneakers as art.

“I see it as the ‘Parts Unknown’ of the sneaker culture and hip-hop fashion,” said Da Silva, referring to the exotic food travels of the late Anthony Bourdain.

“There’s a real fraternity out there of people where their Jordans and a fresh cut are their identity,” he said. “We explore that world.”

Of course, one of the episodes centers on his hometown and barber Pedro Antunes of Klippers, known as the “Wolf of Broad Street.”

“He’s known all over the country for his cuts. Rap stars, other celebrities fly him in for a cut,” said Da Silva, who is represented by IPZ, a sports and entertainment management firm in Warren.

Another Elizabeth segment revolves around a man named Freddy, who was a collector of “Michael Jordan 9s,” Da Silva said. “He had hundreds of pairs, and then his house burned down.

“His wife then secretly starts to collect them and we see her surprise him with 20 pairs to restart his collection.”

Da Silva said he had the backing of Affleck “who understands the culture” and hopes to land a TV deal soon.

The show is just another step in Da Silva’s self-described “amazing journey.”

“Where I grew up, expectations weren’t that high,” he said. “If you graduated high school, and stayed out of trouble and got a job you were considered a success. College was out of the question. So to end up to be able to do what I do is such a blessing, it is such as blessing.”

View the story on Tapinto.

Savitsky: Fighting Alexey Oleynik Is The Best Decision For Cain Velasquez

If Velasquez is looking for redemption, he needs to fight Oleynik, writes Oleg ‘Alec’ Savitsky

By Oleg ‘Alec’ Savitsky

In the recent ESPN analysis of Cain Velasquez’ loss to Francis Ngannou, while discussing what the future holds for the former champion once considered the best heavyweight ever, Brett Okamoto suggested Alexey Oleynik would be the best option. The truth is — this matchup is a necessary fight for everyone – the UFC, MMA fans, and Velasquez himself.

Okamoto suggested that Velasquez should fight Oleynik because he will be a “manageable” opponent. I hold the opinion that if Velasquez wants to redeem himself, he must fight Oleynik. But not because Oleynik is “manageable” or easier, but precisely because Oleynik is dangerous. Alexey is well-rounded and the most experienced in the division. It’s a live or die situation for Velasquez and the fight against Alexey will reveal to Velasquez and the MMA world if he still has the skills and determination to become the dominant heavyweight he once was.

Perhaps, Cain was out of competition for too long, and shouldn’t have taken the fight against Ngannou, the most dangerous striker in the division. Perhaps, it was a combination of nagging injuries, lost confidence, poor fight strategy or the famous “cage rust” caused by prolonged inactivity that caused Velasquez, once known for his heavy hands, superior wrestling, and conditioning, to lose the fight in under 30 seconds. But they are not the reasons why now Velasquez should “step back” and take a fight with someone like Alexey Oleynik.

Fighting anyone in the top 10 of the division is risky business. A fight against Oleynik is the fight Velasquez must have, but for totally different reasons.

Previously, Velasquez lost to Fabricio Werdum and showed his vulnerability in the grappling game. He needs a fight that will display to his fans the “old” dominant Velasquez who was able to dismantle any type of fighter. To do that, the UFC needs to provide him with a well-rounded and credible opponent. Since Werdum is suspended and a rematch is out of the question, it would be a great opportunity for the No. 7 ranked Velasquez to fight Oleynik, currently ranked No. 9, to prove his relevance and ability to compete against an exceptional grappler. It’s no secret that all top fighters in the heavyweight division are avoiding Oleynik and don’t want to risk their chart position by losing to the superior submission artist. Oleynik, next to Werdum, Frank Mir, and Antonio Nogueira, belongs to the grappling elite of MMA heavyweights.

Alexey has 69 professional fights, with a record of 57 wins, 11 losses, and one tie, and is 6-2-0 in the UFC. He has more wins than majority of fighters, including Velasquez (14-3-0), have fights in their entire MMA careers. Oleynik fought around the world for every top promotion and won against the most notable names in the business. Facing another heavy-handed striker like Velasquez will be nothing new for Oleynik. He fought and submitted some of the best and most feared strikers like Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt. Alexey demonstrated his durability and multi-dimensional skills by out-striking former contender and heavy puncher Travis Browne and by knocking out the brawler Jared Rosholt.

Both Velasquez and Oleynik are well-rounded fighters and pinning them against each other would give MMA fans an exciting fight they deserve to see. It will also test Velasquez and reveal if he still has what it takes or if it’s time for him to stop fighting. For Oleynik, it’s either an opportunity to move closer to his long overdue title shot, continue to fight as a “gatekeeper” for younger talent, or perhaps contemplate a well-deserved retirement.

View the story on MMA Crossfire.

NFLA CEO on Fox’s Sports Xtra

New NFLA CEO and former NFL player Beasley Reece discusses what the NFLA does, the Super Bowl of Golf, and more on Fox 5 NY’s Sports Xtra with Tina Cervasio.

Beasley Reece Named CEO of NFL Alumni

Beasley Reece Named CEO of NFL Alumni

Former NFL Player to Lead the Organization

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., Dec. 7, 2018 – NFL Alumni (NFLA) has named Beasley Reece Chief Executive Officer, the organization announced today.

Reece, the popular former NFL player, network broadcaster and member of the NFL Alumni Executive Board of Directors, succeeds Elvis Gooden who had been with the organization since 2013 as Chief Financial Officer and later Chief Executive Officer.

Three-time Super Bowl Champion Bart Oates (Giants, 49ers; 1985-95) will continue as NFLA President.

Reece, the former defensive back, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1976 and later played for the New York Giants (1977-83) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1983-84). After his playing career, Reece was a network analyst on NFL games for both NBC and CBS. He also worked as sports anchor for local stations in Hartford and Tampa before he became Sports Director at KYW-TV in Philadelphia in 1998. He was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2012 and left the Philadelphia station in 2015.

Reece has been an active member of NFL Alumni serving as President of the local Philadelphia Chapter before joining the NFLA Executive Board.

“We thank Elvis for his dedicated years of service to our retired players and appreciate his contributions to our national office,” the NFLA Board of Directors said. “We look forward to continued success under Beasley Reece who is very familiar with our NFLA on both a local and national level.”

About NFL Alumni
NFL Alumni is comprised of former NFL players, coaches, staffers, cheerleaders, spouses, and associate members whose mission is to serve, assist and inform former players and their families. The Alumni offers a variety of medical, financial, and social programs to help members lead healthy, productive and connected lives, as well as community initiatives under its “Caring for Kids” programs. Pro Football Legends is the commercial marketing arm of the NFL Alumni. For more information, please visit www.nflalumni.org.

New GM? Dave Weighs In

Time will tell.

OK – you’ve heard that one before.

But it’s especially fitting when taking a look at Brodie Van Wagenen being named the New York Mets’ new General Manager.

So we decided to talk with our baseball guy, Dave Pepe, about his thoughts.

Dave is no slouch to baseball. His dad was the lead baseball writer for the Daily News. Dave grew up in ballparks.

His partner is Billy Martin…JR. Yes, son of the former Yankee…and Yankee manager.

Van Wagenen made his name in baseball as an MLB agent and, prior to accepting the role as GM with the Mets, was a co-head of Creative Artist Agency’s Baseball Division. The 44-year old built his career on relationships.

While the MLB has a significant population of young GMs that are analytics driven, the Mets decided to hire someone who the organization has established a strong relationship with over the years: Van Wagenen. Maybe the pendulum is swinging back??

There’s no question that Van Wagenen formed a robust rapport with the Mets, as six of the players on the team’s 2018 25-man roster were represented by him.

Two of the six are 2014 NL Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star pitcher Jacob DeGrom and 2016 All-Star pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Much of the controversy surrounding Van Wagenen being named GM has to do with these two guys.

As DeGrom enters his third year of arbitration and Syndergaard goes into his second, Van Wagenen and the Mets will be scrutinized about the appearance of impropriety.

They’ll have to build a “Chinese Wall” around Brodie, just as banks and law firms have done for years to guard against conflicts.

This will undoubtedly be tricky territory for all parties involved, as the role of GM encompasses overseeing these hearings. But we’re told the organization is steadfast that it will work.

Whether or not Van Wagenen stays away from the cases dealing with two of the Mets’ best players and his former clients is going to be something to keep an eye on.

Another element to keep in mind is that Van Wagenen has always been known as an agent that gets really good deals for his clients and less-so for the clubs. It will be interesting to see how – forgive us for another cliché, but – the tables will turn.

Kudos to the Mets for going outside of the box. And per Dave Pepe, Brodie’s experience in building relationships will be paramount to his success.

And oh yes…we and Dave have some players we think you might be interested in.