Patriots get their sixth
New England overcomes Rams in lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever. SPORTS, B1
In 2004, Greg Zuerlein won a state championship with Lincoln Pius X in a 14-9 victory over McCook to complete an undefeated season. Fifteen years later, dozens of friends and former teammates of Zuerlein gathered at Dino’s on Sunday night in southeast Lincoln to watch him play for a Super Bowl title with the Los Angeles Rams.
Tim Aylward, who is now the athletic director at Pius, coached the Thunderbolts for 31 years and led them to six state championships. The win in 2004 was their last.
“It was nice to have that sort of insurance in a kicker,” Aylward said of Zuerlein.
That cold November night in 2004 was not Zuerlein’s best game. During that junior season, he set the state record for field goals in a season, converting 12-of-15 attempts, including a long of 52 yards.
In the state title game, with Kevin Kugler and Scott Frost in the broadcast booth, he went 2-for-2 on extra points and had a tackle, but he missed a crucial 33-yard field goal with 8 minutes, 47 seconds to go that would have put Pius ahead by seven points. The Thunderbolts still squeaked out the victory, though.
Sunday night, Zuerlein and the Rams had a quiet first half. The Los Angeles kicker was only on the field for the game’s opening kickoff, and he made the tackle on New England returner Cordarrelle Patterson.
The only collective cheer of the opening half from the crowd of Zuerlein fans came when New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 46-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.
But in the second quarter, Gostkowski made up for it with a 40-yard attempt that put the Patriots up 3-0 before halftime.
For some, watching their friend in the Super Bowl was a surreal experience. Zuerlein’s former teammates said they used to joke about the NFL with him. It wasn’t until a few years after Zuerlein’s first football game that they began to notice a change in their friend.
“He was kind of cocky when it came to sports in high school, but he always backed it up,” said Anthony Kohel, a high school soccer teammate of Zuerlein’s. “When he got to college I think is when he really started to be more humble and realize he had a real gift.”
Zuerlein plays perhaps the most psychologically tormenting position in all of sports. But he’s proved before that he can step up in the clutch under the brightest lights.
In 2006, he led the Thunderbolts to a state soccer championship. It was an overtime win over Omaha Skutt that gave the school its first ever soccer title and Zuerlein scored the winning goal.
“It was funny because it was a headed goal that gave us the win,” said Dan Gonnerman, a former soccer teammate of Zuerlein’s. “He didn’t even use his leg. But it just shows that he does well under pressure.”
Sunday night was no different. Late in the third quarter, Zuerlein drilled a 53-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. It was the second-longest kick in Super Bowl history, only trailing a 54-yarder by Steve Christie in Super Bowl XXVIII in the Buffalo Bills’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He attempted one more kick, a 48-yarder, but missed it wide left. By then, however, his team was down 10 points with under 15 seconds remaining, leaving little chance for Los Angeles even if the kick had split the uprights.
The 13-3 Patriots win left the once raucous atmosphere at Dino’s in stunned silence. The final score was not what Zuerlein or his friends wanted, but in times like this, Aylward believes reflection is the most important thing.
“I know it’s hard after a loss, but you have to look back at the body of work they had as a team,” Aylward said. “He’s one of the biggest reasons they are there. There are a lot of teams that wish they could have been in that position and they were.”
Win or lose, his friends and family would tell you that Zuerlein does things the right way.
“He never seeks the spotlight,” said family friend and former neighbor Brian Kohel. “If any kids out there are looking for a professional athlete role model, Greg is your guy.”
The redevelopment agreement for the 20-story Lied Place, a skinny skyscraper that will fit between Q Street and the city's Que Place parking garage, is expected to get City Council approval Monday.
Lied Place Residences will have 40 condos on the top 16 floors, with a restaurant and lobby on the street level and three floors of office space. It will be the second-tallest building in downtown Lincoln, next to the Capitol.
Construction is expected to begin this spring with anticipated completion in the summer of 2020, according to Tom Huston, a Lincoln attorney working with developers.
Lied Place will use about $5 million in tax-increment financing funds as part of the $31 million project.
Lied Place will have many windows on all four sides, and much of the city’s TIF funding, about $3.3 million, will be used to help with that expensive façade, said David Landis, director of the city's Department of Urban Development.
"It is a lot of glass; it’s high end; it is expensive," Landis said.
One of the five traffic lanes on that block of Q Street will be used for a wider sidewalk with more landscaping, and a loading zone, according to information provided to the council last week.
The wider sidewalk will allow the city to create bulb-outs at the intersections for greater pedestrian safety, Landis said.
The landscaping will also allow the city to come up with a common theme for the design of Q Street sidewalks, Huston said.
About $450,000 of TIF funding is earmarked for sidewalk and right-of-way improvements.
About $1.2 million in TIF will be used for site acquisition. The rest of the TIF will be used for administration fees and the cost of issuing the bond.
TIF draws from the property tax payments made by the owner on the increased value of the property created by the redevelopment.
Lied Place property is valued at $1.1 million and its value is expected to rise to more than $26 million when the redevelopment project is finished.
The developer promises not to protest any value less than $26,279,640 in the first tax year, as part of the redevelopment agreement.
The agreement also provides Lied Place with 100 parking spaces in the adjacent Que Place parking garage, 40 for retail and 60 for the condo owners. The spaces will be leased at the city's rental rate, based on the agreement.
There is lots of interest in this project, which will not be rental apartments but will provide home ownership opportunities, Huston said.
SEOUL, South Korea — Senior U.S. and South Korean officials met Sunday to discuss an expected second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump's special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, arrived in South Korea earlier amid reports that he'll meet North Korean officials soon to work out details for the summit.
Trump told CBS' "Face the Nation" that "the meeting is set" with Kim, but he provided no further details about the meeting expected around the end of February. The president said there was "a very good chance that we will make a deal."
With the North under economic penalties and the U.S. unwilling to ease them under the North denuclearizes, Trump said Kim "has a chance to have North Korea be a tremendous economic behemoth. It has a chance to be one of the great economic countries in the world. He can't do that with nuclear weapons and he can't do that on the path they're on now."
Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Biegun and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, held consultations about working-level U.S.-North Korea talks ahead of the summit.
South Korean media reported Biegun and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Hyok Chol, will likely meet at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom or in the North's capital of Pyongyang early this week.
Little progress has been made toward ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons since Trump and Kim held their first summit in Singapore last June. During that summit, Kim pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, though he did not provide a timetable or roadmap for his disarmament steps.
Last year, North Korea suspended nuclear and missile tests, dismantled its nuclear test site and parts of its rocket launch facility and released American detainees. The North demanded the United States to take corresponding measurers such as sanctions relief.
U.S. officials want North Korea to take more significant steps, saying sanctions will stay in place until North Korea denuclearizes.
Satellite footage taken since the June summit has indicated North Korea has been continuing to produce nuclear materials at its weapons factories. Last Tuesday, U.S. intelligence chiefs told Congress they believe there is little likelihood Kim will voluntarily give up his nuclear weapons or missiles capable of carrying them.
Biegun said last week that Kim committed to "the dismantlement and destruction of North Korea's plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities" during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September and at a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in October.
During the second summit, some experts say North Korea will likely seek to trade the destruction of its main Yongbyon nuclear complex for a U.S. promise to formally declare the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, open a liaison office in Pyongyang and allow the North to resume some lucrative economic projects with South Korea.