Update on the latest sports
Goodell: NFL committed to finishing regular season on time
UNDATED (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league remains committed to finishing the regular season as scheduled. Goodell also said on a conference call that while the NFL is considering a bubble format for the playoffs, although it wouldn’t necessarily resemble what the NHL and NBA used successfully in completing their seasons.
The league’s chief football administrative officer, stressed that the NFL plans to finish the schedule within the original 17-week format.
In other NFL news:
— Quarterbacks Drew Lock and Brett Rypien (RIH’-pihn) returned to the Denver Broncos’ practice Wednesday after coming off the reserve/COVID-19 list while the Broncos isolated practice squad veteran Blake Bortles. All three quarterbacks were banned from last weekend’s game against the New Orleans Saints after failing to wear their masks around quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Thanksgiving. The Broncos returned rookie receiver Kendall Hinton to their practice squad. Hinton filled in for Lock on Sunday when he completed just one of nine passes and was intercepted twice. Lock praised Hinton for his emergency QB work Sunday.
— The Green Bay Packers have activated rookie linebacker Krys Barnes from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Barnes has missed three straight games since getting placed on that list Nov. 6. The undrafted free agent from UCLA has 48 tackles.
— The Cleveland Browns are dealing with another COVID-19 case after an unidentified staff member tested positive. The team closed its facility Wednesday to conduct contact tracing, which has become routine the past two weeks because of several other positive tests. The Browns are expected to practice indoors after heavy snow in the Cleveland area. They activated star defensive end Myles Garrett from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday and expect him to practice as they get ready to play at Tennessee on Sunday. Garrett missed two games after becoming infected.
— Quarterback Mike Glennon is getting another start for the Jacksonville Jaguars even though Gardner Minshew is healthy. Coach Doug Marrone says Minshew has been cleared to practice in full after recovering from a sprained thumb on his throwing hand, but he’s sticking with Glennon at Minnesota on Sunday. Glennon was solid in his first start since Week 4 of the 2017 season.
— The Buffalo Bills are in position to get healthier for their stretch run with linebackers Matt Milano and Tyrel Dodson designated to return to practice after spending time on injured reserve. Buffalo also signed receiver Jake Kumerow off its practice squad, adding depth at the position with starter John Brown placed on IR due to an ankle injury last weekend.
— The Detroit Lions put cornerback Desmond Trufant and defensive tackle Danny Shelton on injured reserve. The Lions also activated tight end Hunter Bryant from IR and signed defensive tackle Kevin Strong to the active roster from the practice squad and signed cornerback Alex Myres to the practice squad. Defensive end Julian Okwara and cornerback Darryl Roberts returned to practice from IR today. Detroit plays at Chicago this weekend in its first game since coach Matt Patricia was fired.
— Anthony Lynn and the Los Angeles Chargers has publicly acknowledged it would take a miracle for his team to make the playoffs even if the Chargers win their final five games to finish 8-8. The Chargers go into Sunday’s game against New England four games behind Miami and Indianapolis for the final AFC spots.
— Harvey Langi is thriving while starting at inside linebacker for the New York Jets. He has 29 tackles since moving into the lineup in Week 9 following the trade of Avery Williamson to Pittsburgh. Langi has become a fan favorite with the Jets for his high energy approach on defense.
— A 12th former NFL player has pleaded guilty in Kentucky in a multimillion-dollar health-fraud scheme. Former Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers pleaded guilty Monday to one charge of conspiring to defraud a program set up to reimburse former players for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Coleman, No. 17 Texas beat No. 14 UNC 69-67 for Maui title
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Matt Coleman III hit a stepback jumper with 0.1 seconds left to help No. 17 Texas beat No. 14 North Carolina 69-67 for the championship of the relocated Maui Invitational. Coleman finished with 22 points and was the tournament’s most valuable player for the Longhorns. Texas won despite blowing a 16-point first-half lead and falling behind in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Garrison Brooks had 18 points to lead the Tar Heels despite playing through an ankle injury that had him spend time in the locker room at least twice.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE SPORTS
Virus continues to scramble college sports schedules
UNDATED (AP) —Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel is rebuking any suggestion the Wolverines would try to avoid facing rival Ohio State in the regular-season finale. He calls the notion ridiculous and infuriating. Michigan’s game against Maryland this weekend was canceled after the Wolverines suspended team activities because of an outbreak of COVID-19. It could also threaten their rivalry game against Ohio State on Dec. 12. A cancellation there could leave the Buckeyes with not enough games to be eligible for the Big Ten championship game.
In other virus-related college sports news:
— The Las Vegas Bowl has been canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Executive director John Saccenti says it was a difficult decision but the right one considering the game was founded to help drive tourism to the gambling mecca. The decision comes as Nevada state officials ordered a statewide pause that includes smaller public and private gatherings. The game was slated to be the first bowl game played in Allegiant Stadium and was to feature a new matchup between the Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference as part of a rotating cycle that also includes the Big Ten.
— Mississippi has suspended team activities in football during the Rebels’ open date after COVID-19 test results came back. He says the team would wait on results from Wednesday’s retesting. The Rebels are off this week after the SEC shuffled the schedule. They still have games to make up against Texas A&M and LSU.
— Middle Tennessee has canceled Sunday’s home football game with UAB because of COVID-19, contact tracing and injuries inside the Blue Raiders’ program. It’s the second straight week Middle Tennessee has canceled a game. Athletic director Chris Massaro says they’re down to 49 scholarship players and would’ve been forced to play some players coming off injuries.
— Kent State’s football game at Miami of Ohio scheduled for Saturday has been canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Golden Flashes’ program. The Mid-American Conference issued a statement saying the game has been declared a no contest. It’s the second cancellation for Miami, which had its Nov. 17 game against Ohio wiped out.
— George Mason has called off its men’s basketball game at Maryland scheduled for Friday because of what the Virginia school says is a positive COVID-19 test during routine testing, which happens three times a week.
— No. 17 Texas Tech has replaced a men’s basketball game that was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. The Red Raiders will now play Troy at home in a non-conference game Friday night.
— No. 19 Richmond’s men’s basketball is pausing all activities and its game at College of Charleston on Wednesday night has been called off due to COVID-19 concerns within the Spiders program. Charleston said Tuesday it will look to reschedule with Richmond or find another opponent to make up the lost game.
— College basketball is returning to Madison Square Garden this month for The Holiday Hoops Classic. In a matchup between the past two NCAA champions, Villanova and Virginia are scheduled to square off Dec. 19 in the heart of New York City. It will be the first college game at The Garden since the Big East Tournament was stopped at halftime of a March 12 quarterfinal between St. John’s and Creighton. Not long after that, the rest of the 2019-20 season was scuttled and the NCAA Tournament was canceled.
Lakers-Clippers, Durant-Warriors set for NBA opening night
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant is scheduled to make his Brooklyn debut against his former Golden State teammates before the Lakers begin their title defense in an all-Los Angeles matchup with the Clippers in the NBA’s Dec. 22 opening-night doubleheader.
The Lakers will be back in action against the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 25 as one of five games on the Christmas lineup.
The NBA announced the national TV schedule for the first three nights of the season on Wednesday. The complete schedule for the first half of the season, shortened to 72 games because of the coronavirus, will be announced Friday.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
— LeBron James has agreed to a contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers. James’ previous deal ran only through the upcoming season with a player option for 2021-22, allowing him to leave the NBA champions as a free agent next summer if he chose. Instead, the four-time NBA champion committed to play through his 20th NBA season with the Lakers, his third club after title-winning runs in Cleveland and Miami.
— Zion Williamson expects to unleash a version of himself that is healthier, more demonstrative and less restrained in his second NBA season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Williamson says Year 1 was “a lot mentally and physically” for him. But he says he needed that experience. Williamson also says he was not able to showcase a lot of his game last season because he was more focused on fitting in with the team and “trying not to be the rookie to mess up.” Williamson says he now feels great physically and understands much more about playing in the NBA.
— Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker says his left knee has responded well to a stem cell injection that is expected to keep him out until at least January. Walker says he wasn’t himself during the playoffs, when the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference finals. He says he won’t rush back to play until he is back at his best.
Royals sign lefty starter Mike Minor to 2 year, $18M deal
UNDATED (AP) — Left-hander Mike Minor and the Kansas City Royals have finalized an $18 million, two-year deal, reuniting the 32-year-old starter with the club that helped him revive his career.
The contract includes a club option for 2023 for $13 million with a $1 million buyout. The 32-year-old Minor split 2020 between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, going 1-6 with a 5.56 ERA and diminished velocity after posting the best numbers of his career a year earlier.
In other MLB news:
The Minnesota Twins have agreed to a $2.2 million, one-year contract with reliever Tyler Duffey, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Duffey was one of seven Twins players eligible for salary arbitration for the 2021 season, joining left fielder Eddie Rosario, starting pitcher José Berríos, center fielder Byron Buxton, closer Taylor Rogers, catcher Mitch Garver and relief pitcher Matt Wisler.
—The Chicago White Sox have declined to offer 2021 contracts to right fielder Nomar Mazara and pitcher Carlos Rodón, sending the pair into free agency. Meanwhile, Jace Fry gets a one-year deal worth $862,500.
— The most recent first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays has undergone surgery on his right shoulder. Pitcher Nick Bitsko had the operation Tuesday to repair a labrum issue. The 18-year-old from Pennsylvania has displayed a fastball that reached just under 100 mph. The Rays have not ruled out Bitsko being able to pitch at some point during the 2021 season.
— The Milwaukee Brewers are taking a step to shore up their catching situation after getting little production from that position last season. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the Brewers have agreed to terms on a major league deal with Luke Maile. Maile was with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season but missed the entire abbreviated season due to a fractured right index finger.
— The Chicago Cubs have claimed reliever Robert Stock off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Stock appeared in 10 games with Boston during the pandemic-shortened season, going 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA. The 31-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment last week.
Bettman: NHL players have to decide to pay now or later
UNDATED (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says players are likely going to have to pay one way or another to make up for lost league revenue whenever the 2020-21 season gets underway. Bettman says the pandemic will affect revenue and that is expected to affect the 50-50 revenue-sharing split between owners and players.
Players will have to bear the brunt of any shortfall to owners. Bettman says the question is whether players should defer a higher percentage of their salaries now or face the potential of having the salary cap stay flat for several years.
Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic decathlon champion, dies at 86
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rafer Johnson, who won the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and helped subdue Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin in 1968, died Wednesday. He was 86.
He died at his home in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, according to family friend Michael Roth. No cause of death was announced.
Johnson was among the world’s greatest athletes from 1955 through his Olympic triumph in 1960, winning a national decathlon championship in 1956 and a silver medal at the Melbourne Olympics that same year.
On June 5, 1968, Johnson was working on Kennedy’s presidential campaign when the Democratic candidate was shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Johnson joined former NFL star Rosey Grier and journalist George Plimpton in apprehending Sirhan Sirhan moments after he shot Kennedy, who died the next day.