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CFL Ferguson’s Five Draft

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TORONTO — The 2020 CFL Draft has come and gone and 73 individuals have been welcomed into the league.

There was a shock start to the draft followed up by eight exciting rounds of picks.

Following the conclusion of the draft, CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson took the time to chat about some of the biggest talking points from Thursday night.

1. Leos make a move

The 2020 Draft opened up with a bang, as the Calgary Stampeders shipped the first overall pick and the 15th pick to the BC Lions in exchange for the third and 12th picks, respectively.

With that, the Leos were able to address their defensive needs, selecting East Carolina linebacker Jordan Williams with the first overall pick.

After Carter O’Donnell made the move to the NFL, the rankings were jumbled, leaving Williams and defensive lineman Isaac Adeyemi Berglund as the presumptive top candidates to be taken at No. 1.

“I loved that BC was aggressive with the move. I think it was awesome way to kind of start off the draft with fireworks,” Ferguson. “So the aggression of BC and the self-awareness of Calgary and what they actually wanted to accomplish kind of stuck out to me.”

Calgary was able to move down to No. 3 and nab Adeyemi-Berglund at that spot. The Dartmouth, NS., native has shown tremendous ability as a pass-rusher during his time at Southeastern Louisiana and can step in right away and provide a solid National option on the defensive line for Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson.

“I thought that Calgary had a chance to be able to pair Nate Holly with Jordan Williams at middle and weakside linebacker,” Ferguson said. “That was something that I personally wouldn’t have been able to pass up but I’m not John Hufnagel, so he obviously knows what he wants to design and he knows what he needs to win in the Canadian Football League so he made the move down.”

With their swapped second-rounders, the Stamps were able to land UBC receiver Trivel Pinto while the Lions added a backup quarterback, taking Ohio’s Nathan Rourke at No. 15.

2. Surprises in the second round

Speaking of Pinto, he was projected to land in the fourth round, 24th overall, in Ferguson’s last mock draft. He went just outside the first round instead.

The standout from UBC served a suspension in 2019 for a banned substance. Despite that, his talent as a pass-catcher is undeniable. He can make people miss after the catch and his sub-4.5 40 time makes him one of the speediest receivers in the draft.

“I’m just really happy for him honestly,” Ferguson said. “Everybody makes mistakes but I don’t think that a mistake you make should mar your draft decision. I’m glad that CFl teams could see through that and see the person he is, the player he is and the calibre of athlete they were getting. It was good that he didn’t slide down the draft and I thought that it was really cool to see his reaction to getting picked and just how genuinely excited he was to have a home and to be a priority selection.”

Possibly the biggest surprise in the top half of the draft came a pick later when the Eskimos selected University of Ottawa defensive lineman Alain Pae.

During his post-draft availability, Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland mentioned that three teams were hoping to invite the native of Prague, Czech Republic to their mini-camps and another wanted to sign him to their 90-man roster.

Because he obtained his National status at the beginning of April, he was able to enter the draft. He only played one year with the Gee-Gees, but Pae proved enough to be among the top 20 selections this year.

“He’s already developed a lot in a short period of time since coming over from the Czech Republic,” Ferguson said. “The one season of U SPORTS football — it was his baseline and not even close to his ceiling — and he was excellent. He can be a ratio-changer as a defensive end.”

Defensive lineman Alain Pae was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2020 CFL Draft. (University of Ottawa Athletics)

3. Standout Draft Classes

While it’s way too early to look at winners and losers from this class, there were a few teams that did stick out to Ferguson with solid classes.

The Double Blue were able to add early and often in the draft, holding the No. 2, 9 and 11 picks in the draft along with a territorial selection at 20.

They added to their new stable of National receivers, adding Virginia’s Dejon Brissett with the second selection. They bookended the round by addressing their offensive line, adding Regina blocker Theren Churchill. Toronto flipped to the defensive side of the ball in the second round, adding Carleton linebacker Jack Cassar and Laurier defensive lineman Sam Acheampong.

“The identified a need and they dealt with it at number two, then they get a big, angry, finishing offensive lineman at number nine,” Ferguson said. “They get a dominant special teamer and tackling machine with great size as a linebacker which is a bit rare national draft to get a linebacker with great size but jack Cassar has that at 11.

“Then they go and address another need which is definitely defensive line with a big long lanky defensive lineman with the territorial pick. Then they get even more size on the offensive line. It seemed like they kind of piled on and on and on and on, and accomplished things they wanted.”

Along with the Williams pick, the Lions were also able to land Rourke and running back Kayden Johnson with their later picks, which impressed Ferguson.

Lastly, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were standouts on draft night. They were able to land offensive lineman Coulter Woodmansey and double that up with defensive lineman Mason Bennett. They also added Tyler Ternowski and Acadia linebacker Bailey Feltmate to add to their depth.

“You can just see when they grab someone, it’s like ‘OK, that’s why they got them and that’s how they’re filling the need,’” Ferguson said. “Hamilton did a really good job — like Toronto — of identifying the needs and taking care of them with really talented players.”

4. Offensive linemen slide down the board

While the 2018 CFL Draft set a record for offensive lineman taken, this year was a bit of a different story.

Only four offensive linemen were selected in the first 20 picks, matching a 10-year low dating back to 2010.

There were still 15 individuals taken in total at the position, but the expected run of offensive linemen early in the draft never came.

Instead, teams opted to hold off on blocking talent through the first few rounds, leaving some big names for the taking at the back end.

“I don’t think it’s a terrible thing for the offensive line class. I think the defensive line and the athleticism of Canadians,” Ferguson said. “If they don’t pop off the tape and scream ‘I need to be drafted’ like Coulter Woodmansey did, then you wind up getting guys like Dylan Giffen, who’s a monster and top-rated in the scouting bureau, slides and slides because I think it’s easier to appreciate a defensive lineman on game tape.”

Names like Giffen and Chris Gangarossa wound up lasting longer than their initial draft projections, leaving teams with some solid choices near the end. They certainly won’t be complaining about their luck, however.

Ketel Asse was taken by the Ottawa REDBLACKS with the 65th overall pick in the 2020 CFL Draft. (Laval University)

5. Who was the biggest steal of the draft?

When it comes to late-round selections, there were a few head-scratching individuals that manage to slide down the board into the back half of the selections.

One of those individuals was Laval offensive lineman Ketel Asse. Considered to be one of the best linemen available by draft pundits, he managed to fall all the way into the final round. The Ottawa REDBLACKS jumped at the opportunity to select the talented tackle, swooping in to take him with the 65th overall pick.

The collective eyes of fans were also planted on Chase Claypool and Neville Gallimore. The pair of NFL draftees were expected to go late in the draft — if at all. The Saskatchewan Roughriders were in a position they couldn’t pass up and nabbed Gallimore with the 71st pick in the draft.

The pair of teams were able to find some great value at the tail end of the draft and it could pay off in spades if Asse works out and Gallimore makes his way to Riderville at some point.

But who offered the better value?

“I don’t know why he slid; I don’t get it,” Ferguson said of Asse. “But if he turns into the player that I thought he was at Laval, then he’s the steal of the draft. …In terms of a steal with value, Ketel Asse would probably be the one. For whatever reason, he fell and Ottawa took the chance.

“That being said, if Neville Gallimore ever shows up in the CFL and plays, he’s going to dominate.”

Roughriders fans will be hoping to see the standout from Oklahoma don the Green and White at some point down the road.

Source: cfl.ca

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Amanda Nunes on possible COVID-19 infection: ‘I never felt like that before’ – Bloody Elbow

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Amanda Nunes feels she won’t have any problems fighting amidst the coronavirus pandemic at her UFC 250. That is because the UFC’s female bantamweight and featherweight champion believes she already had a mild case of COVID-19 and is now completely recovered from it.

In an interview with Combate, Nunes talked about a trip to Las Vegas she took back in the beginning of the pandemic, where she was in contact with several people at once. Afterwards, Nunes described coming down with a strong sickness, which left her bedridden and feverish for a few days. Although she was never tested, the ‘Lioness’ feels like it was a case of COVID-19.

“I was at a convention in Vegas. There were people from all over the world. I was exposed to a lot of people while I was there. When I got home, I was sick. I had the same symptoms as the coronavirus. Now that I’m headed to a UFC card, I’ll know for sure. When I got back from the trip, I went straight to bed, I had a fever, my body really ached. I never felt like that before.”

“I’ve been sick before, but I never felt the way I did when I got back from Vegas after the convention.” Nunes continued. “Then I got sick, I was bedridden for two, three days, and later on Nina (Ansaroff, Amanda’s wife) caught it and got sick, too. So I believe I had a fast case of coronavirus, but now I’ll know if I really had it. I should be immune now, right? Once you get it, you’re immune, I read something along those lines. Then I’ll really know.”

Although there are no well documented cases of reinfection, scientists remain unsure as to whether or not you can be reinfected with COVID-19. There were cases of reinfection reported in South Korea. However, it was determined that those patients’ second positive tests for the virus were because they still had genetic material connected to COVID-19 in their body left over from their initial infection. These patients were also determined to not be secretors of the virus.

Currently on a 10-fight winning streak in the UFC, Amanda Nunes (19-4), will try to defend her featherweight title for the first time since taking it from Cris Cyborg, back in December 2018. After the win, the 32-year-old successfully defended the bantamweight title twice, against Holly Holm and, most recently, against Germaine de Randamie, in December 2019. The Brazilian’s last and sole loss in the Octagon dates back to September 2014, when she was TKO’d by Cat Zingano.

Now, Amanda Nunes is expected to meet Felicia Spencer at UFC 250’s main event, on June 6, at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Drew Brees issues apology for comments on kneeling during anthem – Sportsnet.ca

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After facing widespread and immediate backlash Wednesday for his comments about peaceful protest during NFL games, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has issued a public apology.

“I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused,” Brees said in an Instagram post. “In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country.

“They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.”

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I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy. Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character. This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference. I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement. I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on Jun 4, 2020 at 5:22am PDT

On Wednesday, in an interview with Yahoo Finance‘s Daniel Roberts, Brees was asked how the NFL should respond if players decide to once again kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality in the United States — as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did in 2016 — particularly in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Brees did not offer his support, saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America, or our country,” and describing his own experience of hearing the anthems:

“Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played or when I look at the flag of the United States,” he told Roberts. “I envision my two grandfathers — who fought for this country during World War II — one in the army and one in the marine corps, both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So every time I stand with my hand over my heart and looking at that flag and singing the national anthem — that’s what I think about,” said Brees.

“And in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed, not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and show respect to the flag with your hand over your heart is it shows unity. It shows we are all in this together. We can all do better. And we are all part of the solution.”

In his apology Thursday, Brees said the following of his support for the Black community:

“This is where I stand: I stand with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality and support the creation of real policy change that will make a difference,” his post read. “I condemn the years of oppression that have taken place throughout our black communities and still exists today. I acknowledge that we as Americans, including myself, have not done enough to fight for that equality or to truly understand the struggles and plight of the black community. I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement.

“I will never know what it’s like to be a black man or raise black children in America but I will work every day to put myself in those shoes and fight for what is right. I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy. I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening… and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen.

“For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

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MLS close on Orlando tournament with CBA – TSN

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Major League Soccer and its players’ union reached an agreement that paves the way for a summer tournament in Florida after the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deal was announced by the MLS Players Association on Wednesday following tense talks and the league threatening a lockout. Players from Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps and other markets skipped training the last two days as the two sides remained at odds.

“Although I’m relieved and excited that a deal has finally been made to get us back to play, the tactics that were used by the league were very unfortunate and upsetting,” said Whitecaps fullback Jake Nerwinski.

“I’m proud that even though at some points the players had their back against the wall, we never gave in. We stood in solidarity and remained a unified coalition to get a deal done.”

MLS and the union agreed Feb. 6 to a five-year labour contract, but the deal had not been ratified when the season was stopped on March 12 after only two matches had been played by each team.

The players agreed to a 7.5 per cent pay cut dating back to their last paycheque of May 31, said Nerwinski.

The ratified collective-bargaining agreement was announced in the midst of protests over police brutality and injustice against African Americans sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. Both sides noted the unrest in announcing the contract.

“There are problems we face collectively that are both more urgent, and more important, than competing on the field,” the union said in a statement. “We hope our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and a semblance of normalcy.”

FC Cincinnati defender Nick Hagglund, a former Toronto FC player, said there was no winner.

“Both sides are conceding. But ultimately it’s moving forward and soccer’s going to be back and I think that’s the important thing,” he said.

Nashville SC defender Daniel Lovitz, formerly of both Toronto and Montreal, said players were “excited and relieved” to get back to action at the Florida tournament “pending the resolution of a lot of important details that I’m sure will be communicated rather soon.”

MLS commissioner Don Garber vowed the league will go further with its public stance for equality.

“We’ve tried to create programs that would address some of the things that are important to our core values. I have to say that it’s not enough to produce ads, it’s not enough just to have programs that talk about these issues,” he said.

Garber said the league expects to take a US$1-billion revenue hit because of the coronavirus.

The revised CBA, a six-year deal through 2025, includes across-the-board pay cuts and reduced bonuses.

One of the sticking points was a clause that allows either side to opt out of the deal because of unforeseen circumstances, like a pandemic. The agreement does not tie the clause to attendance, something the league had sought.

The agreement also changes the players’ share of media rights negotiated in the original CBA. The share will drop from 25 per cent to 12.5 per cent in 2023, but will be restored to 25 per cent in 2024.

Details of the Florida tournament were still being finalized. The league’s 26 teams and limited staff would be based in the Orlando area and matches played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

Whitecaps midfielder Andy Rose, who has diabetes and whose wife is due to give birth in July, said he will have to review details of the tournament to decide on his participation.

“My personal situation is a tricky one,” he said. “I know there’s other guys around the league in the same spot.”

Garber said the tournament would last no longer than 35 days but he would not reveal additional details.

The union announced Sunday night that players had voted for an agreement but MLS pushed back on the terms and imposed a deadline for a lockout.

Garber said it was his decision to threaten the lockout, a move that was criticized.

“It’s not something that I did without a lot of thought and without a lot of concern and a lot of understanding as to what impact that would have on our players and on the negotiation,” Garber said. “But it was something, as the leader of this league that I believed was necessary in order for us to get to the point today.”

Nashville defender Eric Miller, a member of the MLSPA executive board, said on social media that he was proud of the players, “although the process and tactics used by MLS left a mark.”

“Players showed commitment and strength throughout this entire process,” Miller said. “We are all excited to get back on the field and be a positive force for change in our communities.”

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