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Thursday’s Sports in Brief

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

Thursday’s Sports in Brief


Sports

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

PRO FOOTBALL NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees now realizes he’d fallen out of touch. His contemporaries drove that home when they pilloried him this week for repeating a long-held conviction he’d always felt comfortable expressing. In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Brees repeated his opposition to kneeling during the national…

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees now realizes he’d fallen out of touch. His contemporaries drove that home when they pilloried him this week for repeating a long-held conviction he’d always felt comfortable expressing.

In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Brees repeated his opposition to kneeling during the national anthem. And the biting backlash that followed prompted the Saints’ star quarterback to issue a public apology in which he acknowledged he totally “missed the mark.”

When Brees expressed his position on the anthem three years ago, he was one of many voices in a crowded conversation. But when he repeated it Wednesday, he learned in humbling fashion how times have changed. The intensity and frequency of protests stemming from Floyd’s killing less than two weeks ago have signified that wider segments of the U.S. population view police brutality and racial injustice as matters of greater urgency.

“I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening,” Brees wrote in the apology posted on social media. “When the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.”

NEW YORK (AP) — Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.

The 70-second video was released on social media platforms and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.

The video closes with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.” They also demand the NFL state that it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people. … We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. … We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Jake Fromm apologized for using the phrase “elite white people” in a text conversation from more than a year ago, and posted on social media early.

The former Georgia starter posted his apology on his Twitter account, in which he wrote: “I’m truly sorry for my words and actions and humbly ask for forgiveness.” In saying he never meant to imply he was an elite white male, which he noted during the text conversation, Fromm added: “There’s no excuse for that word choice and sentiment. While it was poor, my heart is not.”

Fromm, selected in the fifth round of the draft in April, said he also apologized to his teammates and coaches in a team meeting.

NEW YORK (AP) — Coaches will be allowed to return beginning Friday to NFL team facilities closed because of the coronavirus pandemic as the league continues preparation for training camps and its season.

Commissioner Roger Goodell told the 32 clubs on Thursday in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that coaching staffs may work from team complexes starting Friday. Previously, only up to 75 people per day could be at the facilities, with coaches and players not seeking treatment for injuries barred.

All coaches will count toward the maximum number of club employees in the facility, but that number will be increased to 100 — also subject to governmental regulations and implementation of health protocols developed by the NFL’s medical staff.

PRO BASKETBALL

The NBA took a major step toward getting back on the court, with the league’s Board of Governors approving a 22-team format for restarting the league season next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

The vote was 29-1, with Portland casting the dissenting vote, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league did not publicly release voting details. The National Basketball Players Association has scheduled a meeting for Friday to vote on the plan.

Teams would arrive at Disney around July 7 and play an eight-game slate of games starting July 31 at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players reaffirmed their stance for full prorated pay, leaving a huge gap with teams that could scuttle plans to start the coronavirus-delayed season around the Fourth of July and may leave owners focusing on a schedule as short as 50 games.

More than 100 players, including the union’s executive board, held a two-hour digital meeting with officials of the Major League Baseball Players Association a day after the union’s offer was rejected by Major League Baseball.

Players originally were set to earn about $4 billion in 2020 salaries, exclusive of guaranteed money such as signing bonuses, termination pay and option buyouts. The union’s plan would cut that to around $2.8 billion and management to approximately $1.2 billion plus a $200 million bonus pool if the postseason is completed.

HOCKEY

The NHL cleared the way for players to return to practice rinks next week and firmed up its playoff format even as a ninth player tested positive for the coronavirus.

After unveiling the final details of its 24-team plan if the season is able to resume this summer, the league said teams could reopen facilities and players could take part in limited, voluntary workouts beginning Monday. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association must still iron out health and safety protocols before moving ahead with training camps and games.

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Players can skate in groups of up to six at a time under “phase 2,” which includes specific instructions on testing, mask-wearing and temperature checks. It’s another step closer to the ice after the league said every playoff series will be a best-of-seven format after the initial qualifying round and teams will be reseeded throughout.

AUTO RACING

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader on the July 4 weekend without fans.

Track officials had been optimistic IMS could be the first major sporting venue to have fans back in the stands this summer. Instead, the stands will be empty much like the rest of the tracks since major racing resumed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

IMS officials announced the decision after consulting with local and state officials.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Florida State’s Mike Norvell apologized after a star player accused the coach of lying about personally connecting with every football player to discuss the police killing of George Floyd and ensuing protests against racial injustice.

After a team meeting involving players and coaches, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who called out his first-year coach the night before on Twitter, took to social media again to declare the matter settled.

“Took a stand we got what we wanted & we are moving forward,” Wilson wrote on Instagram. He also posted a nearly four-minute video detailing how the team plans to register to vote and raise funds for organizations that help send young black people to college and aid poor children in the Tallahassee, Florida, area.

Wilson, who is black, said Wednesday night on Twitter that he and his teammates were “outraged” by Norvell’s characterization of having individually touched base with every player last weekend. Norvell released a statement saying that was a mistake.

SOCCER

Premier League club Tottenham is borrowing $220 million using the Bank of England’s emergency pandemic loan scheme to cope with the absence of spectators and the cancellation of two NFL games it was to stage this year.

The north London club revealed the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic as the Premier League advanced plans for the competition to end its 100-day shutdown in two weeks with games closed to supporters.

During a conference call, clubs agreed to adopt the temporary change in world football laws and raise the number of substitutes allowed in games from three to five, with the bench increasing from seven to nine players.

RUGBY

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Australia fullback James Tedesco is the first player to miss a game under the National Rugby League’s new health protocols in the coronavirus pandemic because he woke up with a high temperature.

Just a week after the league restarted following a two-month shutdown, Tedesco failed a test that prohibits anyone with a temperature above 37.2 from entering a stadium on game day or for practice.

He was ruled out of the Sydney Roosters’ lineup for Thursday’s 59-0 win over the Broncos in Brisbane.

WRESTLING

DÜSSELDORF, Germany (AP) — An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation has found doping cover-ups and millions of dollars in missing money, lead investigator Richard McLaren.

McLaren said 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records and that athletes whose cases were delayed or covered up went on to win medals at the world championships and other events. The cases will be referred to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The International Olympic Committee said it was studying the report “very carefully,” adding that “the content is deeply concerning.”

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Sports

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

AUTO RACING The Indianapolis 500 was postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic and won’t run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946. The race will instead be held Aug. 23, three months later than its May 24 scheduled date. The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 but did not run in…

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

AUTO RACING

The Indianapolis 500 was postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic and won’t run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946.

The race will instead be held Aug. 23, three months later than its May 24 scheduled date.

The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 but did not run in 1917, 1918 and from 1941-45 because of World Wars I and II. Tony Hulman bought the neglected speedway after the second war and the Indy 500 returned on Memorial Day weekend in 1946.

It has been scheduled for that weekend every year since, a familiar fixture for untold millions of fans over the years. Although inclement weather has occasionally disrupted the prestigious race, it had never been outright rescheduled until now.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL teams the draft will go on as originally scheduled for next month.

The draft will still take place April 23-25. It was originally scheduled for a big outdoor production in Las Vegas, but those plans were scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a memo obtained by The Associated Press, Goodell said that “public health conditions are highly uncertain” and there was no guarantee of significant improvement by moving it to a later date as reasons for not moving the date of the draft.

The draft, which has become a huge extravaganza since leaving New York in 2015, will be scaled down and “televised in a way that reflects current conditions.”

Prospects and their families will not be at the draft. It is possible the draft will more resemble a studio TV show.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The NCAA will distribute $225 million to its Division I members in June, a whopping $375 million less than had been budgeted after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the big-money men’s basketball tournament.

Ohio State President Michael Drake, chairman of the NCAA board of governors, said the association will undertake cost-cutting measures to be determined in the upcoming weeks.

The NCAA had been scheduled to distribute $600 million to more than 300 Division I schools from April to June. Instead, it will hand out far less.

The NCAA pulled in more than $1 billion in revenue last year, including $867.5 million from the television and marketing rights for the Division I men’s basketball tournament. But March Madness was canceled March 19, a week before the first round was scheduled to begin.

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BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Players agreed to a deal with Major League Baseball that would preserve service time in the event this season is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but left open details of what a configured schedule would look like.

As part of the agreement approved by the union, players will not challenge the loss of their salaries if no games are played.

Management will advance $170 million in salary payments over two stages, and that money does not have to be returned if the season is canceled. Player salaries this year are expected to total roughly $4 billion.

Management was given the right to cut the amateur draft in both 2020 and 2021, and to freeze the values of signing bonus money at 2019 levels.

Details were divulged to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the agreement who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Top NBA executives are having their base salaries reduced by 20% for the foreseeable future, a person with knowledge of the details said.

The reductions affect the roughly 100 highest-earning executives, as the NBA joins the NHL and NASCAR in cutting salaries while competitions are on hold because of the coronavirus.

The cuts are effective immediately and affect NBA employees both inside the league headquarters in New York, and in global offices, the person told The Associated Press. The person was granted anonymity because the reductions were not announced publicly.

UNDATED (AP) — Fred “Curly” Neal, the dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of three decades, has died. He was 77.

The Globetrotters said Neal died in his home outside of Houston.

“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement on Twitter. “Curly’s basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide.”

Neal played for the Globetrotters from 1963-85, appearing in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the exhibition team known for its combination of comedy and athleticism. He became one of five Globetrotters to have his jersey retired when his No. 22 was lifted to the rafters during a special ceremony at Madison Square Garden in 2008.

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Sports

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

OLYMPICS MOSCOW (AP) — Russia hardened its line on a doping issue which could threaten the country’s participation at next year’s Tokyo Olympics. The Russians, who handed over a vast archive of data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory to the World Anti-Doping Agency in January, denied that any of it was manipulated. Sports Minister Pavel…

Thursday’s Sports in Brief

OLYMPICS

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia hardened its line on a doping issue which could threaten the country’s participation at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The Russians, who handed over a vast archive of data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory to the World Anti-Doping Agency in January, denied that any of it was manipulated.

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said Russian experts have conducted an analysis which found no “deletions” or “manipulations.” He said they are sharing those findings with WADA.

“The experts consider that there were no deletions at all there. It’s a purely technical issue related to how the system itself works,” Kolobkov said. “All these issues will be discussed and I’m sure all these issues will be explained.”

WADA had its own copy of the database provided by a whistleblower in 2017. International sports officials have previously said there are signs that specific athletes’ test results were changed.

A report for track’s governing body in September said “these discrepancies are not random” and that the copy of the database handed over by Russia is missing positive doping-test findings that were in the earlier copy.

PRO BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA fined the Los Angeles Clippers $50,000 for statements made by coach Doc Rivers and others that were “inconsistent” about Kawhi Leonard’s heath status.

Leonard sat out the Clippers’ 129-124 home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, the second time he’s missed the nationally televised front end of a back-to-back this season. He was in the lineup against Portland on Thursday night.

The NBA initially confirmed the Clippers were compliant with league rules in deciding to rest Leonard because of a knee injury. It was what Rivers said before the game that triggered the fine.

“He feels great,” Rivers said Wednesday. “But he feels great because of what we’ve been doing, and we’re just going to continue to do it. There’s no concern here.”

Rivers cited “a lot of minutes” that Leonard racked up last season while leading Toronto to its first NBA championship.

Less than 24 hours later, the NBA fined the Clippers for statements, including those by Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard’s health while also detailing his knee injury. At the same time, the league reaffirmed the team was in line with NBA rules in sitting Leonard.

GOLF

U.S. captain Tiger Woods used one of his four wild-card selections on himself Thursday and will become the first playing captain in the Presidents Cup since Hale Irwin in the inaugural edition 25 years ago.

The decision was hardly a surprise.

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Woods is the Masters champion and two weeks ago tied the PGA Tour record with his 82nd career victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan. He is No. 6 in the world ranking.

He also took Tony Finau, U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed.

The Presidents Cup is Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne. Ernie Els filled out his International team on Wednesday and has six newcomers.

BASEBALL

HOUSTON (AP) — Astros president Reid Ryan is shifting to a lesser role in the organization and owner Jim Crane’s son is joining the executive team, moves announced 11 days after Crane apologized to a Sports Illustrated reporter and retracted a statement by the club accusing her of trying to “fabricate a story.”

Crane said Thursday he was bringing in his son, Jared, to get more experience and to help in the organization. Crane maintained the moves were not related to the incident with SI or the firing of an assistant general manager.

“It’s a family issue. I have an older son that’s very good, very bright, and has got some experience but he hasn’t been around it, and I want to start teaching him,” said Crane, who turns 66 in January and has owned the team for eight years. “I’ve been working a long time, and very hard a long time, and I have other stuff, and so he’s just coming in to lend a hand.”

The team said that Ryan’s new role as executive adviser of business relations will allow him “more opportunities to focus on his other business ventures while remaining an important part of the Astros organization.”

Ryan’s father, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, told Fox 26 of Houston on Thursday that he was leaving his role as executive adviser that he had held since 2014.

PRO FOOTBALL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The elusive black cat from “Monday Night Football” is still on the run.

MetLife Stadium officials said the search for the fleet feline that briefly delayed the nationally televised game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys on Monday night has been unsuccessful.

The search started on Tuesday morning with multiple humane traps being stationed in the stadium. After that came up empty, stadium officials asked PuppykittyNYCity — a trap, neuter, release and no-kill shelter — for help.

“We are hopeful that together we can find the black cat that we all fell in love with Monday night,” the stadium statement said.

PuppykittyNYCity said in a statement Thursday that if the cat is caught, it will be assessed for a home or relocation.

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