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Goodbye, Georgia Dome – thanks for the memories!

As we say goodbye to the Georgia Dome after a quarter-century, it’s only fitting we look back at some it its most memorable moments.

The Atlanta landmark was demolished at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The last event was held in the 25-year-old building in March, and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened next door in August.

>> Watch a video of the implosion here

>> Head to WSBTV.com for complete coverage of the implosion 

From Super Bowls, to NCAA Men’s Final Fours, to the Summer Olympics, the dome has hosted some incredible sporting events

1996 Summer Olympics

The 70,000-seat Georgia Dome was basically divided into two separate arenas.

On one side, “The Magnificent Seven” captured America’s first victory ever in women’s team gymnastics.

The team – made up of Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps – is probably best known for Strug landing a vault on one foot to clinch the gold medal. She was famously helped off by coach Bela Karolyi.

>> On WSBTV.com: Crews make last-minute preps for Georgia Dome implosion

On the other side, “The Dream Team” won its second gold medal in men’s basketball.

The team – coached by Lenny Wilkens – defeated Yugoslavia 95-69 in the gold medal game.

Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton and David Robinson played on this team and the original 1992 Dream Team.

Super Bowl XXVIII

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13, earning their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.

After trailing 13-6 at halftime, the Cowboys closed the game with 24 unanswered points. Emmitt Smith scored twice and was named the game’s MVP.

The crowd of 72,817 saw Natalie Cole sing the national anthem, Joe Namath do the coin toss and a halftime show featuring The Judds, Clint Black, Travis Tritt and Tanya Tucker.

Super Bowl XXXIV

The second Super Bowl hosted by the Georgia Dome was one of the most memorable in history.

The St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16 when Mike Jones stopped Kevin Dyson just short of the goal-line on the game’s final play.Quarterback Kurt Warned threw for 414 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was named the game’s MVP.

>> Read more trending news 

The crowd of 72,625 saw Faith Hill sing the National Anthem and a halftime show featuring Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton and Edward James Olmos.

An ice storm hit Atlanta during the week of the game and many doubted the city’s ability to host the event. Despite the concerns, the Super Bowl will return to Atlanta in 2019.

Tornado hits downtown Atlanta

Thousands of basketball fans were inside the Georgia Dome when an EF-2 tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta in March 2008.

The 130 mph tornado killed one person near downtown, blew out dozens of windows from high-rise buildings, tossed trees and cars and damaged homes in the area.

Inside the Georgia Dome, fans were watching the Southeastern Conference college basketball tournament. The game between Mississippi State and Alabama was in overtime when the tornado struck around 9:40 p.m.

The storm ripped open a panel on the side of the dome, shearing bolts and causing insulation to fall into the arena.

The game was completed after the storm moved through. The rest of the tournament was postponed.

The dome, along with several other downtown buildings, underwent repairs while staying open for business in the years after the tornado.

Sugar Bowl moved to Georgia Dome

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and the West Virginia Mountaineers was played at the Georgia dome in January 2006. It was the first time the “South’s Biggest Bowl Game” was played outside of the state of Louisiana.

That week, within a four day period, the dome hosted three games. Along with the Sugar Bowl, the dome also hosted the Peach Bowl between LSU and Miami and an NFL game between the Falcons and the Panthers.

2012 NFC Championship game

The Georgia Dome has seen its share of Falcons successes and frustrations. The 2012 NFC Championship was one of the franchise's biggest accomplishments and toughest defeats. It was the first-ever NFC championship game in Atlanta. The Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 second-quarter lead over the San Francisco 49ers. The lead wouldn't last, and after failing to make a play at the end, the Falcons lost 28-24 and missed the Super Bowl. 

2017 NFC Championship game

In 2017, the Falcons would not squander a chance to return to the Super Bowl. In their final game at the Georgia Dome, the Falcons beat the Packers 44-21 to advance to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

In this game, the Falcons again jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but this time they never looked back. They took a 24-0 at halftime and held on for a convincing win to close out their time at the Dome. 

NCAA Tournaments

Atlanta has hosted 85 NCAA men's tournament games, fifth most of any city. Thirty of those games were played at the Georgia Dome. Six NCAA Regionals, three men's Final Fours (2002, 2007 and 2013) and one women's Final Four were played at the Dome. The Dome's final tournament in 2013 set records. A crowd of 74,326 beat the record for the largest ever for a final game. 

State Championships

The Dome has been home to the finals since 2008, but the stadium's 25-year history with Georgia high school football dates back to the building's opening in 1992. On Sept. 5, 1992, the Corky Kell Classic matchup between Brookwood and McEachern was the first regular season football game in the Dome. Until then, Georgia high school football rarely was played on such a big stage. 

In the 25 seasons, 169 Georgia high schools have participated in the Dome's 298 high school football games, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. 

Soccer at the dome

Eleven soccer games were played at the Georgia Dome since 2009. The first competitive soccer games were held during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The U.S. men's national team made its first appearance in Atlanta since 1977 in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals at the Dome. 

In all, the Dome hosted Mexico's "El Tri" four times, Mexico's Club America twice and the U.S. men's and women's national teams once each. Notable visitors also include European clubs A.C. Milan and Manchester City.

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch sits for U.S. national anthem, stands for Mexico's

Star NFL running back Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders was spotted sitting on the sidelines as the U.S. national anthem played before a Sunday afternoon game in Mexico against the New England Patriots.

>> Read more trending news

Lynch appeared to take his demonstration a step further by standing during the Mexican national anthem, according to reporters at the game:

Some social media users responded, claiming that this was “false news" and that Lynch was sitting because his equipment was being worked on.

According to Sports Illustrated, it’s not the first time Lynch chose to sit during the anthem. In fact, he’s been doing it all season.

 The Bleacher Report said over the summer that Lynch claimed he had been sitting during the anthem for 11 years, and his coach, Jack Del Rio, responded to that by saying, “It’s a non-issue for me.”

“On Marshawn, talked to Marshawn trying to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio said. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I’m going to respect you as a man, you do your thing. We’ll do ours.’ It’s a non-issue for me.”

Earlier on Sunday, Rare covered a retired NFL running back who strongly disagrees with the protests occurring during the national anthem.

Former NFL stand-out Herschel Walker blamed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing protests during the national anthem to become routine occurrences during the 2017 season and potentially beyond.

Walker said that he finds the protests “upsetting” and that they should have been stopped when they started.

“I absolutely think the protests are so upsetting, and I blame the commissioner,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I know people are going to be angry when I say it, but he should have stopped the protests at the very beginning.”

Walker said that if people want to protest they should do so in Washington, D.C.

“Our flag is very special, and black lives matter, but what we should do is go to Washington after the season and protest there instead. We have young men and women fighting for the flag. And we have to respect the White House,” he added.

Previously, Walker said that the NFL should make a rule that says players can only protest while “off the job.”

>> On Rare.us: NFL players take a knee on Veterans Day weekend

“I do, I think it means making a league-wide rule that if you want to protest, protest off the job. One of the things I want to say about the protests, where was everyone before the season started?” he asked. “I didn’t see anyone protesting in front of the White House, protesting in front of Congress or protesting in front of police officers. Why did we wait until football season started to start this again?”

Oklahoma quarterback apologizes for obscene actions on sidelines

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said he was caught up in the heat of the moment. After a chippy football game against Kansas, the Heisman Trophy front-runner apologized for his “unacceptable” and “disrespectful” actions toward the Jayhawks during the No. 4 Sooners’ 41-3 victory Saturday, ESPN reported. 

>> Read more trending news

During the game, Mayfield grabbed his crotch and yelled expletives toward the Kansas players. His actions were caught on camera and were criticized as “inappropiate” by broadcasters during the telecast.

“I got caught up in a competitive game, a chippy game, but what I did was unacceptable,” said Mayfield, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. “I apologize. It's disrespectful. It's not the example I want to set. It's not the legacy I want to leave at OU. I truly do apologize. Thinking about the kids that are watching this now, it's not something I want to do to the parents out there. I'm sorry.”

Mayfield also posted an apology on his Twitter account.

The tensions began before the kickoff, as Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. refused to shake hands with Mayfield before the coin toss. Mayfield scoffed and began clapping his hands as he walked back toward the Oklahoma bench.

Moments later he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr.

In the second quarter, Mayfield took a late hit to the head from Kansas cornerback Hasan Defense. Mayfield retaliated after throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews in the third quarter that gave the Sooners a 28-3 lead, grabbing his crotch and cursing at the Jayhawks, ESPN reported.

“You get caught up in the emotional stuff,” Mayfield said. “But when the coaches said something about it, that's when I realized I had really messed up. Cameras are always on me. You've got to be smart.”

Mayfield was also caught on camera turning around to a group of Kansas hecklers and apparently telling them, “You have one win! Stick to basketball,” ESPN reported.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said there was “no excuse” for Mayfield's actions and said he would consider disciplinary action after reviewing film of the game, ESPN reported.

“It was a chippy game, and it was chippy from the second their guys decided they didn't want to shake our hands at the coin toss,” Riley said. “The chippiness started there. ... Baker is a competitive guy and let his emotions get the best of him. We can't have that, he can't do that.”

“Football is a competitive game for a reason,” Mayfield said. “There's a lot of emotion. On the field, there's a lot of trash talk that goes on. Today I just took it too far.”

NFL investigating allegations Jameis Winston groped Uber driver in 2016, report says

Update 2:27 p.m. EDT Nov. 17: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston on Friday denied that he groped a female Uber driver in 2016, saying in a statement that he believes “the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.”

“The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately.”

BuzzFeed News reported Friday that the NFL is investigating the alleged incident, which happened in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The driver, who was not identified, told BuzzFeed that Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” as they were waiting for food in the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant.

“I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false,” Winston said. “While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.”

In response to the incident, Uber barred Winston from using the service.

Original report:The NFL is investigating an allegation that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston groped a female Uber driver in 2016, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Lisa Friel, a member of the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, sent a letter to the female Uber driver on Thursday confirming that the NFL is looking into the matter, according to the report.

The female Uber driver told BuzzFeed News that she picked up Winston in the early hours of the morning on March 13 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She said that Winston “behaved poorly” immediately when he entered her vehicle.

Later in the drive, when they waited for food at a Mexican restaurant drive-thru, Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” the woman told BuzzFeed.

Soon after the ride, the driver filed a formal complaint with the company, writing that “apparently a big athlete in the NFL” reached over “and put his fingers on my crotch.”

“It wasn’t my stomach or thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that,” she added in the complaint. “He is NOT safe for other drivers.”

Uber banned Winston from using the service in the future, according to BuzzFeed.

“The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong,” an Uber spokesperson said Friday in a statement. “The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.”

Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued a statement denying the allegations, saying the Uber driver “was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged in to this is that his Uber account was used to call the ride.”

While at Florida State, Winston was accused of raping a female student. The alleged assault, which occurred in 2012, was not made public until 2013 amid the controversy of a cover-up by the school and Tallahassee police.

The woman in the case, Erica Kinsman, sued the University. In 2016, she and Florida State reached a settlement that would pay her $950,000.

Winston is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Papa John's CEO apologizes for comments on NFL anthem protest controversy

The Papa John’s pizza CEO Twitter account issued an apology on Tuesday night for comments made about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

>> Read more trending news

The chain’s CEO, John Schnatter, had blamed slow pizza sales on the national anthem protests, saying in a Nov. 1 earnings call that “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders” and that the protests “should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

>> Related: Papa John’s says 'the NFL has hurt us,' cites declining sales

In a tweet, Papa John’s issued a statement Tuesday saying, “The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive. That definitely was not our intention.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the anthem last year to protest police violence against minorities. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players -- and players in other sports -- have since followed Kaepernick’s lead to protest inequality.

President Donald Trump in September suggested that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.”

Bar blackout: Tavern boycotts NFL, holds veterans fundraiser instead

A New Jersey bar held a self-imposed NFL blackout over Veterans Day weekend, instead holding a fundraiser for veterans and their families after players continue their silent, kneeling protests during the playing of the national anthem this season.

>> Read more trending news 

Rob Johnson, co-owner of Woody’s Roadside Tavern in Farmingdale, New Jersey, had the idea after one of his customers who is a Vietnam vet said that he felt disrespected by pro football players taking a knee to protest police brutality, NJ.com reported.

>>Related: 3 NFL players take a knee on Veterans Day weekend

So Johnson decided to turn off the games for Veterans Day weekend. He also gave 20 percent of food sales to the Green Beret Foundation and Special Forces Chapter 19 to help veterans and their families, NJ.com and The Asbury Park Press reported.

The bar was filled with supporters during Sunday’s event. One hour after it started, waiters had run out of glasses, with 300 to 400 customers, The Press reported.

Over the patriotic weekend, only three NFL players knelt before the games.

Related video:

3 NFL players take a knee on Veterans Day weekend

Although it was noticed during the early NFL games on Sunday that no players had as of then decided to take a knee during the national anthem this Veterans Day weekend, that changed later in the day.

>> On Rare.us: Miko Grimes is slammed for saying Raiders allowed Derek Carr’s injury

Before the 4 p.m. game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, players from both teams demonstrated. One of the Giants, Olivier Vernon, was seen kneeling behind a large American flag.

>> Read more trending news

Eric Reid and Marquise Goodwin with the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick's former team, also joined.

The NFL Players Association had asked all players to observe a two-minute moment of silence before games to honor veterans. Many players and teams did show support of the military.

Even players who have been protesting most of the season stood for the anthem this week, including the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who stood before Thursday night’s game. Titans receiver Rishard Matthews walked onto the field holding hands with soldiers and stood with teammates for the anthem for the first time since President Donald Trump criticized players for protesting.

Bennett in particular wanted to show that his participation in the protest was not about the military.

Regardless of how the players planned to act this week, many people were open about the fact that they would be boycotting the NFL this weekend, including Sarah Palin.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Report: 3 NFL owners to surrender emails, cell phones in Kaepernick case

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair are among the NFL team owners that will be deposed in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL, according to a Friday report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

>> Read more trending news

Schefter reported the owners will be asked to turn over all cell phone records and emails in relation to the collusion case.

Others owners, teams and league officials also will be deposed, but Schefter reported they have not been confirmed as of Friday.

On Oct. 15, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL accusing owners of collusion and preventing him from being signed to another team, according to ESPN. 

Kaepernick, a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, is one of the most accomplished free-agent quarterbacks on the market. The former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers led his team to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship in 2013 before opting out of his contract in March.

Kaepernick, who has not been re-signed by any NFL team, began taking a knee in protest of police brutality and social injustice during the playing of the national anthem last season.

Retired Navy officer refuses award from New Orleans Saints due to player protests

A retired U.S. Navy officer said he declined an award from the New Orleans Saints because of NFL players protesting the national anthem by taking a knee, WDSU reported.

>> Read more trending news

Cmdr. John Wells was selected for a Peoples Health Champion Award, which would have been presented at Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome. The award is given to Louisianans who have “significant accomplishments” and have reached "senior citizen status.”

Wells, who is the executive director of Military Veterans Advocacy in Slidell, said he declined the award because of the ongoing controversy with the NFL and some players protesting during the national anthem.

“I am unable, in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium while this discourtesy prevails,” Wells wrote to executives of Peoples Health and the Saints.

Wells said the award was “tainted with dishonorable actions” by the NFL and its players. He said accepting the award would be hypocritical, WDSU reported.

“I had hoped and prayed that the NFL would outlaw these disgraceful protests and wanted to give the commissioner and the owners a fair opportunity to do so” Wells told WDSU. “Their failure to act is a slap in the face to all of those who have served in uniform. Men and women have fought and died for the flag that the players are disrespecting.”

In a statement, the Saints said the team respects his decision and that “he has that right, and we thank him for his service to our country and his past efforts on behalf of the military and veterans.”

“We will not allow Mr. Wells’ decision and subsequent media appearances to distract our players and organization from continuing to honor and support our military and veterans. We, as an organization, have decided to move on from this sad and divisive discourse and focus our attention on supporting our military and veterans,” the statement said.

The Saints added that all of their players have stood for the national anthem for every game since their inception in 1967, with the exception of a few players during a game this season at Carolina.

The practice of players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem has grown since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing it last season to protest racial injustice and police brutality. 

Wells’ group is a national organization based out of Slidell. Military Veterans Advocacy works in the interest of veterans and active-duty military personnel.

During his career, Wells has testified before Congress in support of veterans' benefits and has litigated benefits issues in several federal courts. He was recently award the Distinguished Military Honor Award by Folds of Honor, WDSU reported.

Colin Kaepernick's lawyer says he will be signed in next 10 days

After being a free agent for over seven months, Colin Kaepernick could finally sign with an NFL team.

In an appearance on “The Adam Carolla Show” on Tuesday, Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said he expects the quarterback to be signed within the next 10 days.

>> Read more trending news

"I think within the next 10 days somebody will sign him," Geragos said. "I think somebody's going to sign him. I think the NFL has to come to their senses and realize every day that goes by just proves the collusion case even more."

Kaepernick, a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, is one of the most accomplished free-agent quarterbacks on the market after leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship in 2013.

>> Related: Colin Kaepernick not invited to annual owners and NFLPA meeting

Despite his accomplishments in the league, Kaepernick has been unsigned since he opted out of his contract in March. He began taking a knee in protest of police brutality and social injustice during the playing of the national anthem last season.

In response, Kaepernick filed a grievance on Oct. 15 accusing NFL owners of collusion and preventing him from being signed to another team, according to ESPN.

In six season with the 49ers, five as starter, the former Nevada quarterback threw for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns and rushed for 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns.

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