The Dallas Cowboys have gone 8-8 each of the past three seasons, and the Tony Romo-led team hasn't reached the NFL playoffs in four years. So season ticket holders will probably be a bit surprised when they open their envelopes this week and find not just the usual preseason and regular-season slips, but also a sheet of playoff tickets — along with a ticket to the NFC Championship game, which hasn't featured the Cowboys since 1995.
ESPN Dallas notes that the seemingly cocky move may actually just be smart business; NFL teams struggled to sell out playoff games last season, because season-ticket holders were understandably wary of paying for a slate of additional tickets up front. The league changed its policy following that debacle, so now season-ticket holders can buy playoff tickets after a team clinches a certain game. On the Dallas tickets, fans merely have to pay for the additional tickets if the team reaches the playoffs, at which point the barcodes on the extras will activate. And, the team is betting that since seat holders already have the physical ticket, they're more likely to pay for it in the event of a playoff game, leaving fewer open tickets for the team to move.
Logical, this plan is. But sports fans are not logical, and sending out playoff tickets before a single preseason game — let alone a regular season one — has been played may prove to rub Cowboys fans the wrong way. You don't talk about the no-hitter in progress, and you don't touch the Stanley Cup until you've earned it. The Cowboys may have just jinxed themselves into a fourth 8-8 season.
Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot believed to have deliberately crashed a Germanwings airliner last week, sought treatment for a vision problem that could have been psychosomatic and impacted his ability to fly, according to investigators. In addition, investigators on Saturday revealed they found antidepressants while searching Lubitz's home earlier in the week, though it was not clear whether the medication factored into the crash.
Also this weekend, a woman who identified herself as an ex-girlfriend of Lubitz told a German newspaper that the 27-year-old co-pilot once vowed to do something so dramatic that "everyone will know my name and remember."
The Kentucky Wildcats are back in the Final Four for a second straight year after holding off Notre Dame's upset bid on Saturday.
The undefeated Wildcats did not miss a shot in the final 12 minutes of the game, and then watched as a potential game-winning desperation three sailed over the rim. They now sit just two games away from a perfect season.
Also Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers punched their ticket to the Final Four with a convincing win over Arizona. On Sunday, Michigan State and Louisville will meet and Duke will take on Gonzaga to determine the final two teams in the national semifinal round.
A spokesman for Lufthansa, Germanwings' parent company, told NBC News on Saturday that the airline will distribute initial payments to families of up to $54,450 per victim in the tragic Tuesday crash of Flight 9525.
"This is to offer the families immediate support to help them in this major change in life," Boris Ogursky said. "They shouldn't have to face a financial problem, and they need not worry about paying it back."
Family members have been flying into France from more than a dozen countries; Lufthansa is also covering transportation and living accommodations for those affected. German investigators believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed the Germanwings plane into the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board. He appears to have hidden the fact that he had been receiving psychiatric treatment for more than a year from the airline; investigators searching his home found a ripped-up doctor's note authorizing Lubitz to take time off from work due to an illness.
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi directly blamed the Islamic Republic on Saturday for his country's current chaos, calling the Shiite rebels who have forced him to flee Yemen "puppets of Iran," The Associated Press reports.
"You have destroyed Yemen with your political adolescence and by manufacturing domestic and regional crises," Hadi said, speaking directly to the rebels and their backers.
Hadi fled the country and made his way to Saudi Arabia earlier this week, after the rebels, known as Houthis, pushed farther toward the southern Yemen city of Aden, where he had been staying. An Arab summit on Saturday addressed the Houthi advances, with one Gulf diplomat warning that Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen could continue for months. And while other leaders did not mention Iran by name, they criticized the Shiite power indirectly, which they claim is supporting the Houthi rebels in their advances on the Sunni nation.
It's a good thing Michigan State's men's basketball team pulled off a 62-58 win over Oklahoma on Friday night, or Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart might have been hearing from Tom Izzo.
The Spartans' coach joked with MLive.com that the team's slow start in the Sweet 16 game was probably due to his allowing the players to go see a movie earlier in the afternoon. And Izzo picked Get Hard, because, "I didn't want anything too deep," that might throw the team off mentally.
"This wasn't too deep," he added.
The No. 7 Spartans survived to take on Louisville Sunday, so a suggestion for Izzo if he needs another movie to keep his team occupied before warmups: Pick something else. Literally, anything else.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) may be readying an official start to his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Reuters reports.
The Tampa Bay Times reported on Friday that Rubio has reserved the Freedom Tower, in downtown Miami, for an "undisclosed event" on April 13. While Rubio staffers declined to comment on the reservation, the Tampa paper notes that the Freedom Tower was used to assist Cuban refugees who fled after Fidel Castro took over the country in 1959; and that Rubio could consider the Miami landmark to be "an ideal, postcard setting to kick off a presidential campaign promoting the promise and greatness of America by the son of Cuban immigrants."
Health officials got some rare good news in the fight against Ebola this week, thanks to new research published on Thursday in the journal Science. Virologists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases found that the current outbreak has not given rise to an even more virulent and contagious form of the virus, despite "extensive and prolonged human-to-human transmission," the researchers note.
The Los Angeles Times reports that earlier research suggested the virus was mutating at nearly double the rate as in past outbreaks; if that were the case, it could evolve past experimental tests and vaccines in progress. But researchers genetically sequenced samples of Ebola taken from patients in October and November of 2014, and found that the virus had not significantly mutated.
"Whereas from a public health perspective, the current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa continues to be an extremely pressing emergency, it is doubtful that either virulence or transmissibility has increased," the researchers added.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 10,000 people and infected another 24,907, according to the World Health Organization.