In this most unique of drafts, filled with technological concerns and even uncertainty when real football might return, there was one constant Thursday night: Joe Burrow.
For months, the national champion quarterback from LSU was linked with the Bengals. Cincinnati began the draft by sending the name of the Heisman Trophy winner to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the basement of his home.
This digital/remote/virtual draft — take your choice — was up and running. With no apparent glitches.
The NFL cancelled all draft activities in Las Vegas when the national shutdown of large gatherings began. The league had gone full-bore into free agency last month and, now, seven rounds of the draft through Saturday.
“I do believe this draft is going to be the most memorable we have ever had,” said Goodell, noting that it is accompanied by a “Draft-A-Thon” to benefit six organizations on the front lines battling the pandemic.
“I just believe that our job is to continue on and operate within whatever guidelines are necessary to keep our personnel safe, whether it’s players or coaches or their executives or league personnel. We need to make sure that we’re doing things safely and put public safety No. 1, but we also need to carry on. We need to move toward the future. We need to make sure that we’re prepared when we come out of this to be in a position to start our season on time and play our season. That’s our role.”
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Normalcy, at least among the picks, was the order of the early evening, though.
First came Burrow: In his spectacular senior season, he threw for 60 — yes, 60 — touchdowns with only six interceptions. The Tigers beat six top 10 teams on their way to the national title.
“To jump up to No. 1 overall is crazy to me,” Burrow said. “But it’s a dream come true. I wasn’t very good my junior year. I worked really hard to get better, my guys worked really hard to get better, and we jelled as a team.”
Bengals coach Zac Taylor was confident Burrow could turn the franchise around after a 2-14 season.
“We will never pick at No. 1 again,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to pick in the top 10 again. We’re looking at this as the only time you’re going to get this calibre player to add him to the program, so obviously this is a big deal.”
The second overall selection, Ohio State All-America edge rusher Chase Young, also was predictable. Washington fielded several offers for that spot, but many scouts and personnel executives felt Young was the best player in this crop.
At 6-foot-5, 264 pounds, Young led the nation with 16 1/2 sacks and forced fumbles with six last season. The All-American won the prestigious Bednarik and Nagurski awards in 2019, leading the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title.
He joins a Redskins team that went 3-13 and allowed 435 points.
If not for the NFL’s obsession with finding the latest, greatest quarterback prospect, Young might have been the top overall selection. That QB infatuation saw three passers taken in the first six picks.
Dolphins land Tua Tagovailoa
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa went fifth to Miami, followed in the next spot by Oregon’s Justin Herbert to the Los Angeles Chargers. They were preceded by Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, the highest-rated cornerback, to Detroit, and Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas to the Giants.
Tagovailoa’s health issues didn’t turn off the Dolphins.
The Alabama quarterback went to a team that was accused going into last season of “Tanking for Tua.” Tagovailoa comes off major hip surgery, which made his landing spot one of the first round’s biggest uncertainties.
Blessed with a quick release, excellent mid-range accuracy and nimble feet, Tagovailoa threw 76 touchdown passes in 24 starts the past two seasons. He helped the Crimson Tide to the 2017 national title.
Herbert had a strong post-season, including a terrific Senior Bowl week that raised his stock. At 6-foot-6, 236 pounds, he has the size the pros like, and he’s a good athlete. But he also is not as accurate passing as he’ll need to be.
Los Angeles had a burning hole at quarterback after letting go of longtime starter Philip Rivers. Plus, the Chargers plan to move into a new stadium and could use someone to help sell tickets.
Bucs trade up one spot, secure pass blocker
It took until the 13th spot before a trade was made: Tompa, oops, Tampa Bay moving up one spot to get tackle Tristan Wirfs of Iowa to help protect new/old QB Tom Brady. The Buccaneers got that pick from NFC champion San Francisco.
Wide receiver is the deepest position in this draft, but it took until the 12th selection for one to go. Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, perhaps the fastest man in this group (4.27 in the 40), was the first-ever draftee by the Las Vegas Raiders. Coach Jon Gruden loves speed, and he got a burner who scored 24 touchdowns among 98 career receptions.
Cowboys grab touted receiver
The Dallas Cowboys selected Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb with the 17th pick, giving Dak Prescott another weapon not long after handing Amari Cooper a $100 million contract.
Receiver wasn’t the biggest need for the Cowboys, but they went with the breakaway threat from the Sooners when they also could have taken LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson.
Lamb was projected to go slightly higher, so his availability was a bit of a surprise. The Cowboys appeared to go best available over biggest need in their first draft with new coach Mike McCarthy. They have the 51st overall pick in the second round and the 82nd choice in the third round Friday night.
An All-American at OU, Lamb skipped his final season and left as the school’s career leader with catches of at least 40 yards (24). His 19-yard-per-catch average was the highest among Sooners with at least 130 receptions.
Poll: Canadians OK with being benched as NHL playoff venue – Sports – Castanet.net
It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.
Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.
The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn’t important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.
The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.
Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.
The survey was conducted May 29 to 31 among 1,536 Canadians and 1,002 Americans, 18 or older, who were randomly recruited from an online panel.
The hockey question, limited to Canadian respondents, revealed 24 per cent felt it was very important for a Canadian city to play host, while 20 per cent said it was somewhat important.
Thirty-five per cent said it was not important at all, 12 per cent felt it was somewhat unimportant and nine per cent didn’t know.
The fact the NHL plans to bar spectators from the stands during playoff games due to COVID-19 “probably cooled off a few respondents,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.
FIFA calls on organizers not to sanction in-game gestures supporting George Floyd – CBC.ca
FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players for solidarity with George Floyd during matches.
The recognition of the “depth of sentiment” over Floyd’s death came in a rare statement by FIFA telling the global game to show flexibility and not enforce laws of soccer it helps to set.
Players used weekend games in Germany to reveal messages demanding justice for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after he pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck in Minneapolis.
Germany’s soccer federation announced earlier Monday that it was assessing whether to sanction the players for breaking laws of the game that prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.
WATCH | German league players show support for George Floyd:
“FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” the governing body said in a statement.
FIFA controls half of the eight votes on the International Football Association Board, with the other four held by England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A law change in 2014 — proposed by England — led to players being banned from revealing personal statements on undergarments.
England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey — a yellow-card offence — only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a “Justice for George Floyd” message.
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Borussia Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi displayed the same message on a T-shirt after scoring in the same game on Sunday but was not booked because he did not lift his jersey over his head.
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. Three other officers were also at the scene. Chauvin has been charged with murder and all four were fired.
On Monday, after the Deutscher Fussball-Bund said it was assessing the players’ actions, Cologne forward Anthony Modeste became the latest to make a gesture after scoring against Leipzig. He stood briefly with his right palm facing out and his left palm facing in to display the darker skin on the back of his hand.
Cologne said it was “a clear signal” against racism from Modeste.
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DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for McKennie, Thuram, Sancho and Hakimi’s gestures.
“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”
The expressions of protest are being investigated by the German soccer federation’s control body.
“As is the case internationally,” federation vice-president Rainer Koch said, “the game itself should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind.”
FIFA’s awareness of the depth of feeling over the racial inequalities highlighted by Floyd’s death comes amid ongoing criticism soccer is not doing enough to eradicate or punish racism.
“FIFA had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind and recently strengthened its own disciplinary rules with a view to helping to eradicate such behaviours,” the Zurich-based governing body said. “FIFA itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices.”
UFC star Jon Jones confronts vandals during George Floyd protest in Albuquerque – GIVEMESPORT
UFC star Jon Jones took to the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday night to confront vandals at a Black Lives Matter protest.
Jones has made news in the UFC world recently by vacating the light heavyweight belt but turned his attentions to more pressing matters at the weekend.
The 32-year-old shared footage on his Instagram account that shows him approaching vandals who were spray painting the city.
The protests were sparked by the death of American George Floyd while in police custody last week.
The clip of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes shocked the world and has led to people challenging the injustice towards black people.
But Jones was eager for the protests to be peaceful and he was seen asking the vandals to hand over their spray cans.
He added a caption that read: “Is this s*** even about George Floyd anymore?!? Why the f*** are you punk ass teenagers destroying our cities!??
“As a young black man trust me I’m frustrated as well but this is not the way, we are starting to make a bad situation worse.
“If you really got love for your city (505), protect your s***. All you old heads need to speak up, call your young family members and tell them to come home tonight.”
Several sports stars have paid tribute to Floyd, with Bundesliga football players making gestures in support of the American at the weekend.
On Saturday, Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie wore a ‘Justice for George armband’.
And on Sunday, both Marcus Thuram and Jadon Sancho honoured Floyd after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
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