Defending champ North Carolina knocked out in second round of March Madness

It was “Black Sunday” redux for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Texas A&M turned the game around with a 15-0 first-half run that turned a 20-13 deficit into a 28-20 lead.

Texas A&M turned the game around with a 15-0 first-half run that turned a 20-13 deficit into a 28-20 lead. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

It was “Black Sunday” redux for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The defending NCAA men’s basketball champions had no answer for Texas A&M on either end of the floor and the Aggies blew out UNC, 86-65 Sunday afternoon in Charlotte.

Texas A&M advances to play Michigan on Thursday in the West Regional semifinals in Los Angeles. North Carolina’s loss marks the second year in a row that the defending March Madness winner will miss the Sweet 16.

T.J. Starks led the way for A&M with 21 points, while Robert Williams added 13 rebounds, helping the Aggies take a 50-36 edge on the glass while shooting 52 percent — including 10 of 24 from 3-point range.

Joel Berry II scored 21 points in his final game for the second-seeded Tar Heels (26-11), who were trying to reach their third straight Final Four. North Carolina shot just 33 percent, including 6 of 31 (.194) on 3-pointers after entering the game shooting nearly 37 percent from behind the arc.

The Tar Heels were a very different team than last year’s title winner, namely in the way they leaned on a small-ball lineup. But expectations grew that they could make a third straight Final Four run as UNC found a final-month groove, including two wins against Duke and a trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game.

Instead — after a heartbreaking title-game loss to Villanova in 2016 followed by last year’s title win against Gonzaga — the Tar Heels found themselves eliminated on the tournament’s opening weekend for the first time since 2014.

UNC led 20-13 early only to see the Aggies go on a 15-0 run to change the entire dynamic of the game. Tyler Davis (18 points, nine rebounds) got loose for three baskets inside as the Aggies asserted themselves in the paint, while UNC started missing shot after shot.

By halftime, the Aggies had pushed to a 42-28 lead, then got 3-pointers from Admon Gilder and D.J. Hogg to open the second half and push the margin to a stunning 20 points.

Amazingly enough, the Tar Heels got no closer than 17 again to stun a crowd that was wearing a lot of blue and expecting the Tar Heels to advance.

The loss was just the second time the Tar Heels had lost an NCAA Tournament game in their home state. The first time happened on March 11, 1979, when No. 1-seeded UNC — led by the legendary Dean Smith — was stunned by Ivy League champions Penn in Raleigh. Two hours later, No. 2 seed Duke fell to St. John’s, forever immortalizing that day as “Black Sunday” in North Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

French beauty talks of night with Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. may not speak French, but he knows how to get his message across to the femmes.
February 18, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Giants football player Odell Beckham Jr. in attendance during the 2018 NBA All Star Game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports - 10629809

February 18, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Giants football player Odell Beckham Jr. in attendance during the 2018 NBA All Star Game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports – 10629809 (USA TODAY Sports)

Odell Beckham Jr. may not speak French, but he knows how to get his message across to the femmes.

The Giants wide receiver found himself in a scandal last weekend when a Parisian beauty posted to social media a seven-second video of Beckham in bed, smoking what looks to be a blunt and hanging out near a suspicious-looking white powder. And it turns out that he romanced the woman, Laura Cuenca — who does not speak English — without uttering a word of the language of love.

But when Cuenca first noticed Beckham making eyes at her across a jam-packed Paris nightclub, she had no idea who he was.

The football player was sitting at a big table in the VIP area of Le Queen club on March 8, surrounded by friends and security guards, but his attention was laser-focused on the raven-haired beauty at a nearby table.

“I saw this beautiful-looking man [who] looked like a Saudi prince,” Cuenca, a 21-year-old Instagram model, exclusively told The Post in her native French. “He was looking at me . . . and he seemed to want to talk to me.”

“One note said, ‘I want you.’ I understood what he wanted, and my friend left.”

– Laura Cuenca

“I don’t know anything about American culture or celebrities,” admitted Cuenca, who racked up over 3,000 new Instagram followers after The Post revealed her identity last week.

Her naiveté may be why she had the courage to make the first move on Beckham, 25.

“I asked my friend, who speaks perfect English, to talk to him for me,” she said. “He told her he was leaving with his friends and asked for my number.”

Around 4 a.m., Beckham texted her and asked if she’d come to his suite at the exclusive Four Seasons George V hotel off the Champs-Élysées, where rooms go for $1,000 and up.

She replied “yes,” and told him her friend would come along to translate.

He texted back “no problem,” and the two made their way to the luxurious hotel in the heart of Paris’ Golden Triangle, home to upscale boutiques and restaurants.

The women had to show identification to be let up to Beckham’s room, but Cuenca still thought it was because he was royalty. The athlete greeted them in a black T-shirt and basketball shorts.

Soon, the threesome cozied up on Beckham’s plush bed next to a pepperoni pizza he had previously ordered. Then, Cuenca said, she began filming the scene with her phone. In the video, which Cuenca later posted to Snapchat, her pal can be seen holding what appears to be a plastic card in front of a small pile of white powder.

Beckham, who is seemingly unaware he is being filmed, can be heard uttering, “trying to get you to sleep with someone” in the clip.

A one-second-long video of Cuenca lying on the bed is tacked on at the end.

Although she refused to elaborate on what transpired in the video, Cuenca adamantly denied that the trio was using illicit drugs.

“People say that we did drugs, but no way. No way,” she said. “[Beckham] was completely against that.”

Instead of a marijuana-enhanced cigar, the Giants star was holding “a piece of pizza,” she said.

The Gallic temptress said she posted the video because “I always Snap everything.”

It was only after she uploaded the clip that “my friends [replied and] told me who he was . . . that he was a really famous sports personality,” Cuenca said.

Although the two lovebirds couldn’t communicate with spoken words, Beckham nonetheless wrote her notes, in English, on the hotel stationery.

“One note said, ‘I want you,’ ” said Cuenca, who could make out the words herself. “I understood what he wanted, and my friend left.

Click to read the entire Exclusive NY Post story.

No. 16 UMBC stuns No. 1 Virginia in NCAA upset

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, upsetting Virginia 74-54.
UMBC players celebrate a teammate's basket against Virginia during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., March 16, 2018.

UMBC players celebrate a teammate’s basket against Virginia during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., March 16, 2018. (Associated Press)

It’s time for many basketball fans to tear up their brackets.

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, upsetting Virginia 74-54.

UMBC senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points to lead the Retrievers’ victory.

Virginia entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.

But the Cavaliers couldn’t get anything generated on offense and the nation’s top-ranked defense couldn’t contain American East Conference champions.

The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.

Whose your daddy? 👍 💵💰 #UMBCpic.twitter.com/8YHdGkGwMK

— Slick Sweaty (@allsweaty) March 17, 2018

Lyles was the catalyst. He diced up Virginia’s defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.

Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.

The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.

Little Caesar’s CEO: “You sure about this?”

Little Caesar’s marketing guy: “I guarantee we won’t pay a dime.” #UMBCpic.twitter.com/AHzW6ER2Hz

— Luke Arthur (@lja_14) March 17, 2018

Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.

A timeout called by Virginia coach Tony Bennett couldn’t stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3’s and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC’s lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.

A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of “UMBC” rang through the arena.

I love march madness and the fact that they put up this statistic #UMBC#USApic.twitter.com/4CXXXJphuh

— Josh Kast (@OutKastua) March 17, 2018

It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.

This wasn’t the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.

Next up: UMBC will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Ex-baseball prospect Danry Vasquez speaks out after video allegedly shows him beating then-girlfriend: ‘I’ve truly changed’

A former Major League Baseball prospect said he has “truly changed” after a video from two years ago resurfaced allegedly showing him striking his then-girlfriend a few times.
Danry Vasquez, a former MLB prospect, said he is a different person following a resurfaced video from two years ago that appears to show a violent incident between him and his then-girlfriend Fabiana Perez.

Danry Vasquez, a former MLB prospect, said he is a different person following a resurfaced video from two years ago that appears to show a violent incident between him and his then-girlfriend Fabiana Perez. (Nueces County Sheriff’s Dept)

A former Major League Baseball prospect said he has “truly changed” after a video from two years ago resurfaced allegedly showing him striking his then-girlfriend a few times.

WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT

Danry Vasquez, 24, a former Houston Astros prospect from Venezuela, has asked for forgiveness after the video from 2016 appeared to show him hitting Fabiana Perez several times in a stairwell at Whataburger Field, home to the Double-A Hooks in Corpus Christi, Texas, the New York Post reported. A report by KRIS TV said police identified the man in the video as Vasquez.

He was 22 at the time of the video and later arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Perez was 19 at the time.

Vasquez told El Emergente he has changed following the incident and is now married to a different woman.

SURVEILLANCE VIDEO THAT REPORTEDLY SHOWS VIOLENT INCIDENT INVOLVING FORMER BASEBALL PROSPECT IS RELEASED

“This incident happened almost two years ago,” Vasquez said. “I’ve truly changed. I’m engaging in activities that have helped me change. I’ve matured as a person and I know what I did, or at least what was seen, which shouldn’t be seen as an example or anything that can be amended.”

Vasquez said the video is hard to watch.

“I also realize that scenes from this incident were powerful,” he said. “As a public figure, I should be setting a better example. Today, I ask for forgiveness and want to show that this will not happen again. I understand there will be more backlash and I’m leaving everything in God’s hands.”

fabiana perez

Fabiana Perez said she wished she pressed charges at the time of the incident. (Facebook)

Perez, however, has a different opinion. She spoke with Univision about the video and said she wished she pressed charges at the time.

“Now, when I watch the video, I remember things and I say, ‘How could this have happened, why did I not do anything, why did I not react?’” Perez said.

KAEPERNICK EX-TEAMMATE SAYS ANTHEM PROTESTS HAMPERING ABILITY TO FIND NEW TEAM

She said she dated Vasquez for six years and even got engaged but broke it off months after the incident.

“May God forgive him, only he knows what he did,” Perez said. “If I had the conscience I have now, I would have made another decision.”

Vasquez was once a potential star. The leftfielder signed a contract with a $1.2 million signing bonus with the Detroit Tigers when he was 16 years old, before being traded to the Astros in 2013. But he was out of the Houston organization three seasons later, hooking on with independent and winter league teams. He was released from the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers following the resurfaced video.

“There is no choice but to sever the relationship,” the Barnstormers’ manager Ross Peeples said in a statement. “Neither I, nor the Barnstormers’ organization as a whole, can condone or associate with that behavior.”

Fox News’ Benjamin Brown and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaepernick ex-teammate says anthem protests hampering ability to find new team

Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid expressed his frustration with NFL free agency Thursday, accusing teams of blackballing him because he partiicpated in protests during the national anthem.
Eric Reid, left, kneels before the national anthem alongside Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Eric Reid, left, kneels before the national anthem alongside Colin Kaepernick in 2016. (Associated Press)

Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid expressed his frustration with NFL free agency Thursday, accusing teams of blackballing him because he partiicpated in protests during the national anthem.

Reid was the first 49ers player to join then-teammate Colin Kaepernick, who initiated kneeling during the anthem to draw attention to abusive police actions against black people.

Dec 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (57), strong safety Eric Reid (35), and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (11) kneel for the national anthem prior to the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports - 10472668

Eric Reid (35) kneels during the national anthem with San Francisco 49ers teammates. (USA Today Sports via Reuters)

Now, three days into free agency, Reid is not on an NFL roster nor has he been linked to any teams. Pro Football Rumors listed him as one of the top players available on the market.

“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous,” Reid tweeted. “If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.”

The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.

— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) March 15, 2018

Reid then clarified that it is owners – not general managers – preventing him from being signed.

“GMs aren’t the hold up broski (sic). It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character,” he said.

GMs aren’t the hold up broski. It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character. https://t.co/M9ULziZg5V

— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) March 16, 2018

Reid previously acknowledged that he might be blacklisted because of his protests, telling ESPN in December that he knew it was possible he wouldn’t land with a team.

“I wouldn’t use the word concerned,” he said. “I would say I understand that’s a possibility. And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”

The former Louisiana State standout recorded 66 total tackles last season and two interceptions.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.

Sister Jean Schmidt, 98, sees Loyola-Chicago win first NCAA Tournament game in 33 years

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt was on hand Thursday as her beloved Loyola-Chicago men’s basketball team upset Miami in the school’s first NCAA Tournament game in 33 years.
Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, left, greets the Loyola-Chicago basketball team as they walk off the court after their win over Miami in a first-round game at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Dallas, March 15, 2018.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, left, greets the Loyola-Chicago basketball team as they walk off the court after their win over Miami in a first-round game at the NCAA college basketball tournament in Dallas, March 15, 2018. (Associated Press)

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt was on hand Thursday as her beloved Loyola-Chicago men’s basketball team upset Miami in the school’s first NCAA Tournament game in 33 years.

Schmidt, 98, is the team chaplain who prays with players before games and gives them scouting reports the next day. She got to see Donte Ingram hit a last-second three-point shot to win.

“Thank God,” she said in an interview after the game. “Thank God you did it because we knew we would do it. And when we were in the locker room ahead of the game, we just knew that we would do this. Our team is so great, and they don’t care who makes the points, as long as we win the game. And I said, ‘We’re gonna get the big W up there,’ and we did.”

At 98 years old, Sr. Jean Dolores-Schmidt is Loyola-Chicago’s biggest fan.

She couldn’t be happier after @RamblersMBB‘s win. pic.twitter.com/CKdz3T4MLj

— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 15, 2018

Schmidt is set to lead the pregame prayer again Saturday as Loyola-Chicago plays Tennessee. The Ramblers reached the Sweet 16 in 1985 before losing to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown.

Schmidt, who has served as the team’s chaplain since the early 1990s, is an institution at home games. However, she suffered a hip injury early in the season and was forced to miss some games.

“Where I was for rehab, I couldn’t get the picture so I watched play-by-play for every game I missed,” she said.

Ingram’s shot wasn’t exactly a Hail Mary, but it was from the March Madness logo several feet behind the 3-point line. The Ramblers will choose to believe Schmidt had something to do with it going in.

DONTE INGRAM WINS THE GAME FOR LOYOLA!! #MarchMadness#OnwardLUpic.twitter.com/pUJa32nITS

— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) March 15, 2018

“For her to be doing what she’s doing at her age, it’s amazing, and it’s inspiring,” guard Clayton Custer said. “And I think, I mean, I think her prayers definitely mean a little bit extra when she prays for us.”

The Ramblers get at least one more pregame prayer this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.

Unfortunate celebrity ink

When seeding one’s skin with permanent ink, one should think through all of the possible consequences.

Amanda Seyfried

“Letters to Juliet” star Amanda recently revealed the story behind her foot tattoo, which reads “minge.” 

“It means vagina and I’m kind of proud of it,” the star said during a “Chelsea Lately” appearance. “It’s my nickname.”

Amanda has reportedly said that her “Mamma Mia!” co-star Colin Firth introduced her to the English slang word, and she thought it was so funny, she got it inked! “It’s to make me laugh.”

Whatever floats your boat, Amanda!

Go to X17Online.com for more pics of stars behaving badly (and politely, too, but those aren’t as fun).

Longtime New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson dies at age 90

Tom Benson, a New Orleans native who owned his hometown Saints for more than three decades and oversaw their rise from lovable losers to Super Bowl champions, died Thursday at a local hospital.
Tom Benson, pictured with wife Gayle in 2012, bought the Saints in 1985 -- when they were better known as the 'Aints.'

Tom Benson, pictured with wife Gayle in 2012, bought the Saints in 1985 — when they were better known as the ‘Aints.’ (REUTERS/Sean Gardner)

Tom Benson, a New Orleans native who owned his hometown Saints for more than three decades and oversaw their rise from lovable losers to Super Bowl champions, died Thursday at a local hospital. He was 90.

Benson, who also owned the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, had been hospitalized with the flu on Feb. 16, according to a statement from the teams.

A successful auto dealer, Benson bought the Saints in 1985 when it appeared the club would be sold to out-of-state interests and perhaps moved out of Louisiana. He paid $70 million for the team, which is now worth more than $1 billion.

Benson’s business acumen helped turn the Saints from a perennial also-ran nicknamed the “Aints” into a contender — and ultimately, the 2009 NFL championship. Yet his ownership also was less flatteringly marked by the 2012 bounty scandal and by rumors Benson did not want to bring the team back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.

Saints Owner Tom Benson, 90, passed away peacefully today at Ochsner Medical Center with his wife Gayle Marie Benson at his side https://t.co/gjAIQYKdDwpic.twitter.com/BK5aS2vj0v

— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) March 15, 2018

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described Benson as “a generous and caring philanthropist” and “a true leader among NFL owners.” Former President George H.W. Bush mourned him as “a brilliant businessman” with “a genuine passion for his city and his state.”

“To us, he really was ‘Mr. New Orleans’ and we have no doubt Tom Benson is dancing in heaven tonight,” Bush said in a statement.

Statement by former President @GeorgeHWBush on the passing of Tom Benson, owner of the @Saints and @PelicansNBA. cc: @NOLAnews@theadvocatenopic.twitter.com/HCAUUiQi2p

— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) March 15, 2018

Benson’s death comes on the heels of an acrimonious family split that has caused some uncertainty about the future of his clubs. Benson made it known in January 2015 that he wants his third wife, Gayle, to inherit complete control of the Saints and Pelicans, but Benson’s disowned daughter, Renee, and her two children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc — who had long been in line to take over his businesses — have vowed to prove their patriarch was manipulated against them while in a mentally enfeebled state. The estranged heirs, who still inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from irrevocable trusts set up before the family split, sued after their ouster from family business to have Benson declared mentally incompetent to run his own affairs and have a receiver other than Gayle Benson appointed to oversee them. The heirs lost that case, but still could contest the will.

Rest easy Mr.B! Thank you for all you have done for me, our great organization, and the entire city of New Orleans! We love you Mr.B! 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 https://t.co/0SLvdVPYr1

— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) March 15, 2018

In the meantime, the clubs will be run by Gayle Benson — who married Tom Benson in 2004 — and a trusted circle of executives installed by her husband, including Dennis Lauscha, the president of business operations for both clubs, and Mickey Loomis, an executive vice president overseeing football and basketball operations, and also serving as general manager for the Saints.

With his heavy New Orleans accent and parasol dances along the sideline after victories, Benson cut quite the figure among NFL owners when he first joined the league.

RIP Mr. Benson you will be missed pic.twitter.com/1ksdRMy7ob

— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) March 15, 2018

His jovial game-day persona turned hardheaded, however, when it came to business matters. In 2001, he negotiated an unprecedented $187 million in concessions and state subsidies to keep his team playing in the Louisiana Superdome through 2010 — a deal Benson said was necessary to succeed in small-market New Orleans. That lease was followed by another unusual arrangement in which the state stopped paying direct subsidies to Benson, but committed to relocate numerous state offices in a Katrina-damaged office high-rise next to the Superdome — at above-market rents — if Benson rehabilitated the building, which is now called Benson Tower.

Until recent years, fans often questioned whether Benson’s desire for profit outweighed his loyalty to his native city. With the Superdome and much of the city wrecked by Katrina, the Saints temporarily relocated to San Antonio, where Benson had many business holdings.

Thanks for everything, Mr. B.

Much love & appreciation from the whole Fujita family. https://t.co/xypgPQ2naM

— Scott Fujita (@sfujita55) March 15, 2018

When officials there said they were talking to Benson about what it would take to keep the team, Katrina-weary residents in New Orleans reacted angrily. Graffiti reading, “Warning, Tom Benson inside,” was scrawled on numerous foul-smelling, discarded refrigerators that lined sidewalks around the city.

During that season of uncertainty, the mounting stress on Benson was obvious. He argued with a heckling Saints fan after a game hosted by LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, then lunged at a television crew that filmed the altercation.

But when he brought the Saints back to a still-reeling New Orleans in early 2006 — or was forced to by the league, which would not allow Benson to abandon the Big Easy — the region’s fans rewarded him with more than a decade of consecutive sellouts.

So sad to hear the news of the passing of Mr. Benson. @nflcommish statement pic.twitter.com/E7lsWnJXkn

— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) March 15, 2018

Only months after the Saints came back to New Orleans, Benson was greeted like a conquering hero at a team-sponsored fan event when the club drafted USC star Reggie Bush.

The Saints became a source of inspiration during the tough early days of post-Katrina rebuilding. In storybook style, they improved from 3-13 in 2005 to 10-6 under new coach Sean Payton, then advanced to the franchise’s first NFC championship game.

The Saints remained competitive under Payton and with Drew Brees at quarterback. In 2009, a dynamic offense carried them to a 13-3 record. They beat Minnesota in overtime at the Superdome for the conference title, then defeated Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.

Benson’s franchise was embarrassed two years after that victory when the NFL uncovered a bounty system in which Saints players earned improper, off-the-books cash bonuses for hits that hurt or sidelined opponents. Payton wound up serving an unprecedented full-season suspension in 2012 and the Saints were fined $500,000 — even though Benson had ordered general manager Mickey Loomis to shut down the bounty program when the owner was told of it.

One of four children, Benson grew up in the hard-scrabble Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

In 1945, Benson served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS South Dakota. Then he studied business and accounting at Loyola University in New Orleans, went to work as a bookkeeper for Cathey Chevrolet Co., and was sent to San Antonio as a 29-year-old in 1956 to manage a Chevrolet dealership as a junior partner. Six years later, he took full control of the company and established his own dealership.

He built his fortune in the automobile business. He also built a banking empire, Benson Financial World.

But his passion later in life was the Saints. He kept an office at the training facility and was frequently seen there and at training camp in a golf cart watching practices.

Benson drew chuckles with his Benson Boogie — and with his malaprops. When Jim Mora quit as coach halfway through the 1996 season, Benson sent out applications used by his dealerships to coaches around the league. They asked, among other things, if the applicant was willing to work on weekends and was willing to travel.

Still, many fans respected Benson because he was the first Saints owner to field a winning squad. New Orleans joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1967, but failed to finish above .500 in any of its first 20 seasons.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the passing of @PelicansNBA owner Tom Benson pic.twitter.com/BMu9FodxRr

— NBA (@NBA) March 15, 2018

Upon buying the team, Benson hired Jim Finks as general manager. Finks hired Mora, and two years later the Saints went 12-3 for their first winning record and first playoff appearance.

The Saints sank back into decline after Finks died in 1994. Even the 1997 hiring of Mike Ditka as coach didn’t help. His three-year tenure is remembered most for trading away an entire year of draft picks for running back Ricky Williams.

The Saints finally returned to the playoffs after Benson replaced Ditka with Jim Haslett in 2000.

A supporter of the NFL’s expansion that brought franchises to Charlotte and Jacksonville, Benson also founded the Arena League’s New Orleans VooDoo. He folded the club after the 2008 season because he did not agree with the arena league’s plans to bring in new investors and give them partial control over all teams. Benson was not involved in the VooDoo’s brief return to New Orleans in 2010.

When the NBA took over the financially troubled New Orleans Hornets in late 2010 and spent more than a year trying to find a suitable, permanent owner, Benson finally stepped in and bought the club, now called the Pelicans, for $338 million. The estimated value of the Pelicans now exceeds $1 billion.

Tom Benson and his first wife, Shirley, had three children, two of whom preceded their father in death. He also had several step children from his marriage to his second wife, Grace, who died in 2003. In addition to his wife, estranged daughter and her two children, Tom Benson is survived by grandchild Dawn Jones, the daughter of Tom Benson’s late son, Robert.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

‘Willy Wonka’ child star appears on ‘Jeopardy!’ and delights social media fans

“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” star Paris Themmen made an appearance on “Jeopardy!” Tuesday, surprising social media users.

‘Willy Wonka’ child star appears on ‘Jeopardy!’

Social media users were quick to point out that a ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant on Tuesday night’s episode was ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ star Paris Themmen, better known as Mike Teevee.

Social media users were quick to point out that a “Jeopardy!” contestant on Tuesday night’s episode was “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” star, Paris Themmen.

Themmen, now 58, played Mike Teevee in the classic 1971 film based on Roald Dahl’s novel. His character was one of the lucky winners who was granted a visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

During each episode, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek interviews the contestants following a commercial break, asking basic questions such as their hobbies and vocations. Themmen described himself as an “entrepreneur” and “avid backpacker.” He told Trebek he liked to travel and has been to 61 countries.

ARIELLE KEBBEL’S SISTER SUFFERED ‘PSYCHOTIC BREAK’ BEFORE GOING MISSING

The former actor did not make any mention of his role in the classic children’s film, but Themmen told TMZ that Trebek purposedly did not want to bring up his role in the film.

Themmen said Trebek is given three fun facts about each contestant to bring up during the interview segment.

“Alex looks at [the contestant’s fact card], he looks at what interests him, and that’s what he talks about,” Themmen told TMZ.

The “Jeopardy!” host was more opted to discuss Themmen’s backpacking hobbies.

“Alex loves to travel… so he asked me about that.”

He also said his wife on “Jeopardy!” at one point and told Trebek about her husband’s early fame, but Trebek ignored it then too.

Social media users had no problem mentioning the fun fact that Themmen was indeed the little boy from “Willy Wonka.”

“WBZ interrupted the opening of ‘Jeopardy!’ so I didn’t get his name until Alex Trebek repeated it – it’s Paris Themmen, Mike Teevee from ‘Willy Wonka!’” one person tweeted.

WBZ interrupted the opening of Jeopardy! so I didn’t get his name until Alex Trebek repeated it – it’s @ParisThemmen, Mike Teevee from Willy Wonka! pic.twitter.com/NNPUQ09hV0

— Tim Colby (@timjcolby) March 13, 2018

“A contestant on Wednesday’s ‘Jeopardy!’ played Mike Teevee in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory…and his interesting fact about himself was about backpacking,” another person wrote.

“Mike Teevee got on ‘Jeopardy!’ This is the world we live in,” a social media user tweeted.

Mike Teevee got on Jeopardy. This is the world we live in. pic.twitter.com/uYf83CgMY2

— Hobbes Youngblood (@LogoCornerTiger) March 14, 2018

“I was making dinner in the kitchen, listening to ‘Jeopardy!’ when Alex Trebek started introducing the contestants at the break. He said Paris Themmen and I ran out saying MIKE TEEVEE!! My wife thought I was nuts. Great job Paris!” another person wrote.

I was making dinner in the kitchen, listening to Jeopardy when Alex Trebek started introducing contestants at the break. He said @ParisThemmen and I ran out saying MIKE TEEVEE !!! My wife thought I was nuts. Great job Paris!

— Wildbill (@wildbill77) March 13, 2018

Themmen did not end up winning, but he did come in second place.

In a 2015 reunion with the “Willy Wonka” cast, Themmen told the “Today” show that the actors still keep in touch after all these years.

“We think of ourselves as a family, maybe a bit of a dysfunctional family, but a family really,” Themmen said.

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 finale and ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Season 4 premiere get theater treatment

As if anticipation for the Season 8 finale of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” wasn’t high enough, the network is partnering with Fathom events to make the crossover event extra special.
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Garret Dillahunt as John, Maggie Grace as Althea - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Garret Dillahunt as John, Maggie Grace as Althea – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC (© 2017 AMC Film Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

As if anticipation for the Season 8 finale of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” wasn’t high enough, the network is partnering with Fathom events to make the crossover event extra special.

The network announced on Thursday that it will not only bring “The Walking Dead” finale to the big screen, but the subsequent Season 4 premiere of the spinoff series “Fear the Walking Dead,” where the first crossover character, Morgan, will make his grand appearance.

In a special one-night-only screening on April 15, “Dead” fans can enjoy the “Survival Sunday” event at more than 750 participating movie theaters across the nation. The last episode of the flagship series’ eighth season will air, followed immediately by “Fear the Walking Dead” Season 4. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to grab your favorite walker fan and rush to get tickets, the cinema event will also feature exclusive bonus content that will be announced in the coming weeks. So even if you’re completely committed to your weekly viewing party, there’s extra content worth the ticket price for die-hard fans.

Tickets can be purchased through Fathom Events starting March 16 or at participating theater box offices. However, if you’re a TWD Fan Rewards Club member, you can get your tickets ASAP. Screenings begin live at 8:30 p.m. ET with a tape delay for fans in Alaska and Hawaii.

“Sunday, April 15 marks an epic and highly-anticipated moment for these series, as worlds collide when Morgan crosses over from ‘The Walking Dead’ and into the new world of ‘Fear,’” Theresa Beyer, SVP of Brand Activation for AMC said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with our terrific partners at Fathom to provide fans from across the country the opportunity to experience this crossover moment in such a special way and among other members of one of television’s most passionate fan communities.”

For those unfamiliar, “Fear the Walking Dead” takes place years before the events of “The Walking Dead.” Details about Morgan’s involvment with the earlier storyline have been kept under wraps, but fans will remember that he spent a great portion of the early storyline on his own solo journey. It seems that solo journey allowed him to cross paths with the survivors on “Fear.”