Canadian receiver Chase Claypool finally knows where his football future lies.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected the former Notre Dame star in the second round (49th overall) of the NFL draft Friday night.
Claypool is the highest Canadian taken since 2011 when Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins, a native of Kelowna, B.C., went in the first round (No. 23 overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles and Toronto native Orlando Franklin was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) by the Denver Broncos out of the University of Miami.
“There is no job too small. He will block. He volunteers for special teams. This guy is a football player. He has a lot of unique traits for the position. A lot of things to be really excited about. Gives you a potential red-zone threat. He is an outside position player first and gives you the option of playing in the slot as well.
“He wins an awful lot of one-on-ones. I have never seen him not win a one-on-one type play.”
Claypool, a six-foot-four, 238-pound native of Abbotsford, B.C., was Notre Dame’s leading receiver in 2019 with 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 TDs. He registered 150 career receptions for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“This man is a touchdown machine that will do well with Ben Roethlisberger and that receiving group,” former NFL star receiver Michael Irvin said on ESPN’s draft telecast.
Claypool raised eyebrows at the NFL combine, covering the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. He joined former Detroit star Calvin Johnson as the only receivers measuring six foot four and 235 pounds or bigger to run under 4.45 seconds at the combine.
Ottawa’s Neville Gallimore, a defensive tackle with the Oklahoma Sooners, was later drafted in the third round, 82nd overall, by the Dallas Cowboys.
The six-foot-two, 304-pound Gallimore had 30 tackles, four sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss last season. He appeared in 52 games — 38 as a starter — at Oklahoma, registering 148 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and five forced fumbles.
‘What a great pickup’
Both Claypool and Gallimore had been pegged as late first-round NFL picks in various mock drafts. They were also among 58 prospects who were invited to participate virtually in Thursday and Friday’s proceedings.
Draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Daniel Jeremiah saw both as Friday selections during the second and third rounds. The first round was Thursday and the draft wraps up Saturday.
The Steelers (8-8) missed the playoffs last year after finishing second in the AFC North. Veteran quarterback Roethlisberger, 38, missed most of the season with an elbow injury.
“What a great pickup with Ben Roethlisberger coming back to expand on that receiving group that they have,” Irvin said.
Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner also liked the selection.
“When you look at this team, they’re built around so many different things,” Warner said. “They’re good up front on defence, they’ve got the secondary, they’ve go the offensive line and so I love that they add another weapon on the outside.
“Some good, young receivers to build around JuJu Smith-Schuster. Big Ben is going to be happy. He gets healthy, I like where Pittsburgh is at.”
The addition of Claypool certainly gives Pittsburgh plenty of offensive options. He could combine with Jones-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson to give the Steelers four solid receivers on the field at one time.
Having Claypool and new tight end Eric Ebron (six foot four, 253 pounds) also gives the Steelers two big targets in the red zone, something they desperately need. Last year, Pittsburgh was last overall in red-zone TD production (35 per cent) and the NFL’s only team not to score 30 or more points in a game.
Claypool gives Pittsburgh versatility as he could play at either receiver or tight end. He also follows a trend for the Steelers, who took receivers in the second round in 2017 (Smith-Schuster) and ’18 (Washington) before selecting Johnson in the third round last year.
NBA Projects 2020 Finals To Be Completed By October 12th – RealGM.com
The NBA has created a timeline for its 22-team format with games resuming on July 31st in Orlando.
The proposed model would run through October 12th for a potential Game 7 of The Finals. The NFL also has a Monday Night Football Game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers scheduled for Monday October 12th
The NBA’s Board of Governors will meet on Thursday with a vote likely to finalize a plan to restart the season. The league continues to work through details of the plan with the NBPA.
The 20-21 NBA regular season is expected to start in late December.
Former tennis star James Blake still shaken by encounter with cop in 2015 – The Globe and Mail
Nearly five years later, former tennis star James Blake says he never suspected the large man running toward him was a plainclothes New York police officer.
Blake was in town that day for the U.S. Open and standing outside a Manhattan hotel.
“I thought someone was running at me that was a fan, someone that was going to say, `Hey I saw you play so and so, I was at this match, my kid plays tennis,’“ Blake recalled. “I’m smiling with my hands down.”
But Blake, who is black, had been mistakenly identified as a suspect in a credit card fraud scheme. Video showed the undercover officer grabbing him by the arm, throwing him to the sidewalk face down and handcuffing him.
All of which intensified Blake’s reaction to video of George Floyd’s death shortly after being detained by Minneapolis police last week.
“I went to bed very sad and very deflated, seeing this over and over again,” Blake said Tuesday from his home in San Diego. “I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop my mind from racing, thinking about the events that took place there, the events that took place with me in 2015. …
“It saddens me to see that kind of policing is still going on, that kind of brutality, particularly how often it is aimed at the black and brown community.”
Blake, a Harvard alum who reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 and is now tournament director of the Miami Open, said the 2015 episode transformed him into an “accidental activist.” He began using his celebrity to speak more openly about racism and police brutality.
Voting is one way forward, he said, including in local elections. He supports peaceful protest, and said it’s possible no arrest in the Floyd case would have been made without the recent demonstrations in Minneapolis and elsewhere.
He also favours police reform, including higher pay, better training and independent bodies to investigate wrongdoing by officers. As punishment in the Blake case, the policeman who tackled him was docked five vacation days.
“I don’t think someone like that should have a badge,” Blake said.
He said the scars from his experience probably can’t be erased, and he thinks about it often.
“I would love to change this, but for the rest of my life, I’m probably going to be more nervous about any encounter I have with a police officer,” he said.
Blake said Floyd’s death underscored how lucky he was to walk away from his own ordeal. He’s grateful no one was with him at the time, including his daughters, now 6 and 7.
“I haven’t shown them the video of me getting taken down, because I don’t know if they would understand it quite yet,” Blake said. “With what has been on the news the past week, my wife and I have started thinking about when we’re going to start talking with them about a lot of these issues – police brutality and racism and what goes on in this country.”
Wheeler says players 'can't be silent anymore' about racism – NHL.com
Blake Wheeler spoke from the heart Tuesday about racism, why more NHL players are sharing their thoughts about it now and how he hopes they can help effect change.
The Winnipeg Jets captain grew up 20 minutes outside Minneapolis, where a white police officer has been charged with third-degree murder after George Floyd, a black man, died in custody May 25, sparking protests in cities across the United States.
“Clearly, it’s hit home,” Wheeler said.
Calling the destruction caused by some heartbreaking, Wheeler said for the most part he’s proud of his hometown “for the people standing up and not tolerating this anymore and helping each other clean up the mess.”
Wheeler was one of the first NHL players to share his thoughts publicly when he wrote a post on his Twitter account Saturday. More NHL players and teams have made statements via social media since.
Why now? Especially for white players like Wheeler, when a black player like San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, who played with Wheeler in Winnipeg, has been speaking about it for a long time?
Wheeler cited the graphic video of the death of Floyd and the pause of the NHL the season since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“I think putting a visual to what’s being talked about, I think it’s changed for a lot of people,” the forward said. “I think you read about it and you hear about it and you know it’s injustice and you know how horrible it is, but then once you see it, you’re able to … It puts it in a new light.
“Being in a pandemic right now where people … You know, there’s no other distraction. We’re not preparing for a game tomorrow. Our minds don’t go elsewhere right now. Like, we’re able to really digest this, and I think that that has made it to the point where guys just … You can’t be silent anymore.”
Wheeler and his wife, Sam, have been showing news reports to their children: Louie, 7; Leni, 5; and Mase, almost 3.
“They watched George Floyd die on TV,” Wheeler said.
Though things don’t register as much for the younger children, they are challenging to explain to the 7-year-old.
“I mean, he’s asking, ‘Why won’t he get off his neck? Why won’t he get off his neck?'” Wheeler said.
The Wheelers have not been in Minnesota, self-quarantining at their offseason home in Florida.
“We would have loved to take our family out to the protest to show [the children] how powerful it can be and really what a beautiful thing it was, all the people coming together in our hometown,” Wheeler said. “So we’ve talked about it a lot and showed them as much as we can to just try to continue that education and try to show them and really have it be imprinted in their mind that this is what it should look like.”
Wheeler said white athletes have to be as involved as black athletes.
“It can’t just be their fight,” he said. “… I want to be real clear here: I look in the mirror about this before I look out at everyone else. I wish that I was more involved sooner than I was. I wish that it didn’t take me this long to get behind it in a meaningful way. But I guess what you can do is try to be better going forward. …
“As pro athletes, we have a platform. I think that in and of itself is a big step to put yourself out there and talk about it. It’s not an easy thing to do. … I think it’s something that over time we need to be more comfortable doing, but we need to be OK voicing our opinion on this.”
Wheeler, who has represented the United States in international competition, said he feels strongly this is has nothing to do with politics.
“I think we can all agree this is a problem, and human rights should apply to everyone,” he said. “Whether I’m voting Democrat or I’m voting Republican, I think I can find a candidate on either side that this is important to and agrees with the fact that this needs to stop.”
Asked if he was worried about his country, Wheeler said, “Yeah, terribly, honestly.” He talked about how he was a worrier by nature and the list of problems that seems never-ending.
“To have a country be going through this economically, socially, everything, and then we’re still, we’re still, treating each other like this, yeah, it’s worrisome,” he said. “But being American, growing up, though, I truly believe that better days are ahead, and through that anxiety and through that fear and through kind of that worry about the country, I’m optimistic and hopeful about the future.”
Wheeler’s father, Jim, grew up in Detroit, which went through racial unrest in the late 1960s.
“He just said, ‘My generation didn’t get it right, and hopefully yours does,'” Wheeler said. “So I’m hopeful my generation and my kids’ generation fix this and get this country so that there’s better days ahead.”
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