Update on the latest in sports:

NFL-PLAYOFFS

NFL owners vote to expand playoffs by one team per conference

UNDATED (AP) — NFL team owners have voted to expand the playoffs by one team in each conference for next season.

During a conference call to discuss league business after the annual meetings were canceled because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the owners also awarded one of those extra games to CBS and one to NBC.

Only the teams with the best record in the AFC and NFC will get a bye under the new format; the top two teams skipped wild-card weekend in the past. 

In other NFL news:

— The Chicago Bears have finalized a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars for 2018 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. The Bears are banking on the quarterback to bounce back from an injury-riddled season with Jacksonville. The Jaguars parted with the 31-year-old Foles just over a year after signing him to a four-year contract. He broke his left collarbone in the season opener, missed the next eight games and got benched in his third game back. Foles helped Philadelphia win a Super Bowl.

— Disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (yah-NEEK’ en-GAH’-kway) is making another public plea to be traded. This one comes on his 25th birthday. Ngakoue says in a Twitter post: “it’s obvious my time is up in my current situation. Let’s both move on.” The Jaguars placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Ngakoue, which guarantees him nearly $18 million in 2020.

— The Seattle Seahawks cleared a chunk of salary cap space by waiving safety Tedric Thompson and releasing veteran tight end Ed Dickson. Both moves were expected after each player seemed to fall out of favor with the Seahawks. The moves will clear more than $5 million worth of cap space for Seattle.

— The Cincinnati Bengals have released starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. It’s another move to overhaul the Bengals’ secondary after a 2-14 season. Kirkpatrick was a first-round pick in 2012 and started 67 games in eight seasons. He missed 10 games last season with a knee injury.

— The Chicago Bears have re-signed safety DeAndre Houston-Carson to a one-year contract. Houston-Carson has played primarily on special teams since the Bears drafted him out of William & Mary in the sixth round in 2016.

— A person familiar with the decision tells the AP the Cleveland Browns intend to sign free agent defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a two-year contract. Clayborn has agreed to a deal worth $6 million. He must pass a physical for the contract to be finalized. The 31-year-old had four sacks in 15 games last season with the Atlanta Falcons. He won a Super Bowl title with New England in 2018.

SPORTS-VIRUS OUTBREAK

NHL extends quarantine guidelines for players and staff

UNDATED (AP) — The NHL is extending its self-quarantine recommendation for players and staff to April 15.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the extension in an email to The Associated Press. The league had previously sent out a memo recommending self-quarantining until April 4.

So far, four NHL players have tested positive for COVID-19. The league and teams are hoping to get players together to skate in small groups once the isolation period is over. State, provincial and local lockdown regulations across the U.S. and Canada could push back the opening of team facilities.

In other sports-virus outbreak news:

— San Jose Sharks President Jonathan Becher says the team made the best decision with the information at the time when it played three home games following a recommendation by the county against large gatherings in early March. Becher says the team is continuing to pay full and part-time employees and anticipates a financial hit from the suspension of the season. He also says the team has delayed the Tuesday deadline for season-ticket holders to renew their packages.

— Former Oakland Athletics infielder and current minor league manager Webster Garrison is hospitalized in Louisiana and on a ventilator with the coronavirus. His fiancee posted an update on social media that the 54-year-old Garrison still required a ventilator to fight COVID-19 but hadn’t declined in his battle. Garrison managed the Class A Stockton Ports last season and was expected to manage in the Arizona Fall League this year.

— Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat says he is prepared to forgo his annual offseason move back to his native Slovenia if that is what the NBA schedule necessitates. Dragic, his wife and their two children are in Miami and have no plans to leave for Slovenia amid the global coronavirus pandemic. His parents recently left Miami to return home.

— FIFA is looking to use its vast financial reserves to provide assistance to a soccer industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport. Having amassed reserves it last reported to have swelled to $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to now provide much-needed financial help to the game at many levels.

— Hungarian Olympic swimmer Boglarka Kapas says she has tested positive for COVID-19. The 26-year-old writes in an Instagram post that she had to submit to testing in order to return to training. She is staying in quarantine at home for two weeks.

— Two-time mixed doubles champion Jamie Murray says he believes Wimbledon will be canceled. The All England Club board will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the fate of the 2020 tournament.

— The Santa Anita Derby is off, for now. The West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby was to be run this weekend. However, it will be postponed until later in the season while Santa Anita remains closed for live racing during the coronavirus pandemic on orders of the Los Angeles County Health Department.

— NASCAR star Joey Logano has established a $1 Million COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.The fund is from the Joey Logano Foundation in partnership with Elevation Church. The money will be used to address a variety of needs, including educational equity and access, medical supplies, food distribution, and financial shortages throughout the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area and communities across the United States.

— Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, died Tuesday in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus. It was the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death, according to the health ministry. He was 68. Diouf, who was president of Marseille from 2005-09, had been treated since Saturday in intensive care in Dakar.

MLB-NEWS

Veteran players to get $4,775 per day

UNDATED (AP) — Gerrit Cole, Mike Trout and other veteran major leaguers will receive $4,775 per day in advance pay for the first 60 days of the season during the stoppage caused by the coronavirus, a total of $286,500.

That’s just 2.5% percent of the $193,548 the New York Yankees pitcher and Los Angeles Angels outfielder were scheduled to earn each day from their $36 million salaries, tied for the major league high.  

The daily total was obtained by The Associated Press after it was confirmed by MLB and the players’ association following their agreement on how to proceed during the stoppage.

In other MLB news:

— Prominent orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews has temporarily halted Tommy John operations at his Florida medical center in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Some have questioned whether a reconstructive elbow surgery for a ballplayer is an essential procedure at this time. Stars Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard and Luis Severino are among the pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery since spring training started, performed by different doctors.

TOKYO-FLAME

Olympic flame to stay a month in Fukushima; next stop unsure

TOKYO (AP) — The Olympic flame will be on display until the end of April in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Tokyo Olympic and prefecture officials held an official “handover ceremony” Wednesday at the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima.

The public will have limited access to view the flame, and organizers hope to limit the crowd size because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus.

Olympic officials have postponed the Tokyo Games until next year with the opening now set for July 23, 2021.

Officials have not said where the flame will go at the end of the month.

Categories: National Sports

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