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Detroit Sports

D-2 Player Of The Year Detroit Edison’s Gabrielle Elliott

 

Division 2 All-State

The 2020 Associated Press Division 2 girls basketball All-State team as selected by a panel of Michigan sports writers.

 

 

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

 

Player of the Year

Gabrielle Elliott, Detroit Edison, Sr.

First-Team All-State

Gabrielle Elliott, Detroit Edison, Sr.

Damiya Hagemann, Detroit Edison, Jr.

Kadyn Blanchard, Freeland, Sr.

Sara Miller, Birch Run, Sr.

Hadley Miller, Three Rivers, Sr.

AJ Ediger, Hamilton, Jr.

Abbey Kimball, Grand Rapids West Catholic, So.

Molly Anderson, Cadillac, Jr.

Kenzie Lewis, Williamston, Sr.

Emma Anderson, Menominee, Jr.

Maddie Voelker, Goodrich, Sr.

Coach of the Year

Matt Hirschenberger, Freeland

Second-Team All-State

Maddie Alexander, Battle Creek Harper Creek, Sr.

Ciara Hardy, Romulus, Jr.

Shaulana Wagner, Detroit Edison, Sr.

Taylor Wegener, Ida, Sr.

Ellen Bretzke, Benzie Central, Jr.

Nicole Kamin, Escanaba, Jr.

Coach of the Year

Jay Riley, Caro

Honorable Mention

 

 

(Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)

 

 

Abi Tarrant, Bay City John Glenn; Lexi Boyke, Frankenmuth; Kali Heivilin, Three Rivers; Alison Bishop, Allegan; Emaia O’Brien, Harper Woods Chandler Park; Eshawanda Smith, Detroit Denby; McKenna Bent, Comstock Park; Emma Witte, Grand Rapids Christian; Faith Mulder, Holland Christian; Sydney Vis, Grand Rapids South Christian; Katie Tate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central; Stephanie Ainsworth, Wayland; Trayana Starr-Thurman, Kelloggsville; Kayla Giroux, Flat Rock; Hadley Gratz, Carleton Airport; Mya Hiram, Onsted; Alycia Patterson, Niles; Claire Bartz, Edwardsburg; Jaxi Long, Newaygo; Brittany Bowman, Kingsley; Makenna Bryant, Cadillac; Margaret Stosio, Kalkaska; Ashley Bower, Portland; Ellie Toney, Corunna; Megan Crow, Gladstone; Julia Beaumont, Sault Ste. Marie; Adelyn Moore, Caro; Lily Connelly, Croswell-Lexington; Alex Long, Flushing; Caroline Vance, Flint Powers; Gabby Fogarty, Marysville; Morgan McConnell, Marine City; Taylor Sas, Saginaw Swan Valley; Carly McCrum, Bay City John Glenn; Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling; Bailey Taylor, Clare; Catarina Juarez, Bridgeport; Zoey Pearsails, Frankenmuth; Sidnee Struck, Chesaning; Alyssa Leister, Alma; Annaliese Lamontange, St. Clair; Christina Bohm, St. Clair; Lauren Barton, Ovid-Elsie; Lauren Hanes, Lansing Catholic; Peyton Benjamin, Eaton Rapids; Taylor Kirby, Ionia; Olivia Green, Haslett; Lyndsey Kelley, Manistee; Hillary Griffin, Parma Western.

Coach of the Year

Jill VanderEnde, Grand Rapids West Catholic

Gina Fortress, Parma Western

Monique Brown, Detroit Edison

Dave Maxwell, Clare

Mike McLaurin, Cadillac

 

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Lions Archive: Lions Lose To Bears Without Stafford 20-13

No pads for Matthew Stafford on this Sunday. No helmet, either. Dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and black pants, he watched from the sideline as the Detroit Lions lost again.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 10: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions speaks with Jeff Driskel #2 during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

This time, there was nothing he could do.

Playing without its starting quarterback for the first time in almost a decade, Detroit rallied in the fourth quarter before falling 20-13 to the Chicago Bears for its fifth loss in six games since its bye week.

Jeff Driskel tried to connect with Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone on the final play, but his pass was long, and it would have been waived off anyway because of a penalty. Subbing for Stafford, Driskel was 27 for 46 for 269 yards and a touchdown in his sixth career start, but he also threw a costly interception.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 10: Jeff Driskel #2 of the Detroit Lions passes against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at Soldier Field on November 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

“Definitely made some plays,” Driskel said. “There’s a lot of opportunity to improve, when we look back at the tape, but overall made some plays, but not enough to get it done today.”

The 31-year-old Stafford was sidelined by hip and back issues, stopping his streak of 139 consecutive starts counting the playoffs. He was listed as questionable coming into the day.

Stafford had been working on another terrific year for Detroit (3-5-1), throwing for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in the first half of the season.

“For him to not be out there, we know it’s just a really serious situation,” left tackle Taylor Decker said. “As much as we all want him out there, he wants to be out there with us probably even more.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 10: Kyle Fuller #23 of the Chicago Bears gets a penalty for this hit on Jeff Driskel #2 of the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Soldier Field on November 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

There was no sign of Stafford as workers packed up his locker after the loss. It was unclear when exactly he was ruled out; Decker said they found out Saturday, Driskel said he learned he was starting when he arrived at Soldier Field for the game, and coach Matt Patricia said they made the decision Sunday morning.

“We were hoping by the time we got to today, he would be able to do it,” Patricia said. “Unfortunately, like I said, it just wasn’t safe to put him in that situation. So, the information that we got talking with the doctors, just it wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m more concerned about him than I am anything else.”

Before Driskel stepped in, the last player other than Stafford to start at quarterback for the Lions was Shaun Hill in the finale of the 2010 season.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 10: Brent Urban #92 of the Chicago Bears blocks a pass by Jeff Driskel #2 of the Detroit Lions during the second half at Soldier Field on November 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Patricia declined to get into any specifics about Stafford’s health or his status for next weekend’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“We take it week by week or day by day from that standpoint,” he said.

After the Bears (4-5) scored on three consecutive drives to open a 20-6 lead, Driskel found Kenny Golladay for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter.

The Lions had one last chance when they got the ball back with 1:41 remaining, and they drove down to the Bears 25 before Driskel came up empty as the last few seconds ticked off.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 10: Jeff Driskel #2 of the Detroit Lions runs for a few yards during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

“We got down there; we just fell a little short today,” Driskel said.

Driskel also directed Detroit to two Matt Prater field goals in the first half. But he was intercepted by Nick Kwiatkoski on the Lions’ first possession of the second half.

The Bears capitalized on the only turnover of the game, with Mitchell Trubisky throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel for a 20-6 lead with 9:38 left in the third.

Driskel “has a little bit of a different element to him and I thought he was put in a really hard situation and I think he played really tough,” Patricia said. “Obviously, the mistakes, but the rest of that poised, went in, did everything he could to try to help the team win.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


CBS To Air Final Rounds Of 2004 & 2019 The Masters Tournaments

(CBS Local)- The 2020 Masters tournament has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic leaving golf fans a little blue heading into next weekend without golf to watch from Augusta National Golf Club.

To help, CBS Sports is set to fill that void by airing three classic finishes from the tournament’s history on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12. The network will air the final rounds of both the 2004 and 2019 tournaments as well as a one hour special on the 1975 tournament.

For golf fans, all three of these years stand out for the finishes by some of the game’s greatest players. In 1975 it was Jack Nicklaus securing his fifth green jacket by one stroke over Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf. It was also notable because Lee Elder, who at 40 years of age, became the first African American to compete at the tournament.

2004 was the year that Phil Mickelson finally got his first career major win. And in 2019, Tiger Woods completed his comeback with his fifth green jacket and first major title since 2008.

Relive the entirety of those moments with CBS’ broadcast schedule next weekend that begins on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EST with the one hour “The Masters: 1975” special. That will be followed by the 2004 final round from 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. EST. Then on Sunday, it’s back to 2019 from 12:30 p.m.- 6 p.m. EST.

The coverage will also be available to stream through CBS All Access and additional content will be spaced out throughout the week leading up on CBS Sports HQ, CBSSports.com and The First Cut Podcast.


MLS Cutting Pay; Follows NBA, NHL And NASCAR

Major League Soccer plans to cut the pay of some executives and front office personnel while the season is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Deputy Commissioners Mark Abbott and Gary Stevenson will take 25% cuts in salary starting April 16, the person said on the condition of anonymity because the reductions were not announced publicly.

CARSON, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: MLS Commissioner Don Garber speaks at the unveiling of the David Beckham statue at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 02, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Other cuts would range from 20% to 10% for managerial staff. Lower salaried employees, like entry-level hires, would see no reduction in pay. The cuts were first reported by Yahoo Sports.

MLS does not plan to furlough or layoff staff at this time, although a hiring freeze is in place. The league employs some 300 people at its New York headquarters.

The MLS move comes after the NBA cut the salaries of some 100 top executives by 20% while the season is on hold. The NHL is cutting salaries for league employees 25% starting next month. NASCAR officers will have a 25% reduction in salary, while all other employees will have their salaries reduced by 20%.

CARSON, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: MLS Commissioner Don Garber speaks at the unveiling of the David Beckham statue at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 02, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

The MLS season was suspended on March 12 after teams had played two matches.

The Philadelphia Union announced Wednesday that a player had tested positive for the novel coronavirus after experiencing mild symptoms.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


‘Top 50 Singles Is My Next Marker I Want To Hit’: Taylor Townsend On World Team Tennis All Star Event On CBS

(CBS Local Sports)– Everyone is dying to watch sports these days and on Saturday April 4, CBS will air a World Team Tennis All Star event featuring some of the biggest names in tennis.

Maria Sharapova, Sam Querrey, Taylor Towsend, James Blake and Mardy Fish are just a few of the competitors fans will see on Saturday at 1:30pm EST/PST. The 23-year-old Townsend is one of the best young stars in tennis and is coming off a 2019 season when she made it to the 4th round of the U.S. Open and beat Simona Halep. This event was one of the last Townsend played in before the outbreak of coronavirus shut down sports around the world and she’s excited for people to check out the event this weekend.

“It was really fun and that was one of the last real live events that anyone played,” said Townsend in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I love playing World Team Tennis and it’s obviously something different with a different format and different style. There were some really great players on the court and they always do a really great job in San Diego. The crowd was amazing and it was sold out. It was really fun to participate in something like that.”

FULL INTERVIEW:

Townsend has played the last few years in the WTT for the Philadelphia Freedoms. The southpaw has won 158 matches in her career and is currently ranked just outside of the top 70. Townsend was a former #1 player in the world on the junior circuit and won singles and double titles as a junior at the Australian Open. While she’s accomplished a lot, Townsend still has big goals in mind for her career.

“The climb has been tougher and I’m still not where I want to be at all,” said Towsend. “That [the U.S. Open] was just a stepping stone. The climb has been really tough because there were lots of ups and downs along the way. I’m not too far from the top 50, I was at 73 when the ranking froze. Top 50 singles is my next marker I want to hit for myself. I think that I can do it.”

Watch Townsend compete in the World Team Tennis All Star Match Saturday, April 4 at 1:30pm EST on CBS.


‘I’m Preparing For No Season At All’: MLB Insider Jared Diamond Admits Grim Outlook For 2020 MLB Season

(CBS Local)- Major League Baseball, like the NBA, NHL, MLS and many other sports leagues, is still trying to figure out how to go about having their 2020 season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But what if there isn’t a season at all? Sadly, some experts believe this reality appears more and more likely by the day.

Late last week, the league announced it had come to an agreement with the MLB Player’s Association on stipulations for the return of the league. Among the stipulations included in the agreement were three main conditions.

  • “There are no bans on mass gatherings that would limit the ability to play in front of fans. However, the commissioner could still consider the “use of appropriate substitute neutral sites where economically feasible”;
  • There are no travel restrictions throughout the United States and Canada;
  • Medical experts determine that there would be no health risks for players, staff or fans, with the commissioners and union still able to revisit the idea of playing in empty stadiums.”

However, just five days later, it seems unlikely that any of the above conditions allowing for games to be played in front of fans will come to pass anytime soon. In recent days, the speculation has turned to a return of baseball in time for Opening Day to happen on July 4th, long seen as one of the premiere days on the sport’s calendar.

In talking to Wall Street Journal national MLB writer Jared Diamond, as part of the promotion for his new book Swing Kings: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Homerun Revolution, even that date seems optimistic.

“If we have a July 4th Opening Day, I think that means everything actually went really well,” said Diamond. “If I’m a baseball fan, at this point, I’m preparing for there to be no season at all. And if there is any kind of season it’s a bonus. Given the way things have gone, given the changes in tone, hearing the changes in tone in the government in the last 24 hours, I think we all have to be ready for the possibility that there’s no season.”

While it may be a bleak outlook to consider, it is something that seems more likely with each passing day as the number of cases of coronavirus continue to increase nationwide and, in Canada. But, if the league is to have a season, Diamond says one thing is clear, there won’t be fans in the stands.

“One thing that is clear to me is that if there is going to be any sort of season, it will be at least for much of it, without fans in the stadium. I see absolutely no way that there will be baseball anytime soon in a normal setting with teams flying around the country and fans in the ballpark,” said Diamond. “Could we get to a place where you find some neutral sites and empty the stadiums out and do something that way? That would seem to be the best case scenario at this point.”

In that best case scenario, what kind of season would we even be looking at? Again, in the reporting late last week, the league appeared to be aiming for 140 games. That would appear to be an overestimate by a decent amount. For Diamond, he expects any season that happens to be closer to the 80-100 game range with a postseason that could kick off in the beginning of November.

“Baseball is going to have to get very creative to do it,” said Diamond. “You’re going to see doubleheaders, fewer off days, assuming all of this could happen at all, you’re going to see the postseason maybe start as late as November and the regular season go through October. There’s going to be some weirdness just to get 80-100 games in.”

With that type of schedule, the weirdness would come not just from the smaller number of games, but also in how teams look. As Diamond points out, with fewer off days, teams are likely to need more pitchers. More pitchers likely means larger rosters.

Then, you get to the on field product. In a shortened season, teams that we would normally consider “locks” for the playoffs may not be. On the flip side, teams considered on the fringes could make a postseason push. Everything would be on the table.

“If you look back to just the last few years, there are some really good teams that had bad first halfs or mediocre first halfs that might not have been in the playoffs if the season had ended at the All-Star Break,” said Diamond. “These teams we see as locks like the Dodgers or the Yankees, there’s no such thing as a lock if you’re talking about an 80 game season. If you’re a fan of the Padres, Diamondbacks or Red Sox, you’re like, ‘Well hey, maybe in an 80-game season we can catch fire at the right time and win the division. Anything is possible.'”

Diamond’s new book, Swing Kings, is available now through the publisher Harper Collins, on Amazon, and anywhere books are sold.


NASCAR Steps Up In Crisis To Produce PPE’s In COVID-19 Crisis

The five 3D printers at NASCAR’s Research & Technology center – two delivered in February and installed less than two weeks ago — are typically focused on composite parts and working on an updated stock car.

But when racing came to a stop March 13 amid the coronavirus pandemic, a handful of NASCAR engineers wondered if the printers could be used to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers. They contacted suppliers and came up with designs for face shields the printers could make. They met with Novant Health, which serves medical facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Now the printers are running 18 hours a day with approximately eight engineers volunteering their time to oversee production from approximately 7 a.m. until midnight every day. The newest printer, about the size of an outdoor shed, can print three face shields every 2½ hours.

“That’s the one we try to keep running almost nonstop,” Eric Jacuzzi, senior director of NASCAR’s aerodynamics and vehicle performance, told The Associated Press. “We have people that are actually having their teenage children help with cutting the clear facial part as part of their volunteer work at home, six of us running the machines, and more people reaching out to help.”

NASCAR is donating the face shields as part of the charitable community acts the series does every year. The sanctioning body has followed Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota — NASCAR’s three manufacturers — as companies from the automotive industry that have pivoted production to PPE during the global crisis.

(Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Ford this week said beginning in April it will work with GE Healthcare to build air-pressured ventilators, with a target of manufacturing 50,000 units in the next 100 days from a Michigan components plant. Ford is also providing engineers and facilities to assist 3M’s production or air-purifying respirators.

General Motors partnered with Ventec Life Systems to build ventilators and has vowed to produce more than 50,000 face masks per day. Ventec and GM said the FDA-cleared ventilators are scheduled to ship “as soon as” April, they can raise production to 10,000 critical care ventilators per month and have the capability to increase output. GM also said it was donating resources at cost.

Toyota is building face shields and collaborating with medical device companies to speed the manufacturing of ventilators.

Others across motorsports have also stepped up.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski last year started Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, which is equipped with a combination of 3D printers and CNC machining. Keselowski said he has “joined forces with groups endeavoring to meet the face shield production needs of those in healthcare.”

Joey Logano, Keselowski’s teammate at Team Penske, has established a $1 million Response and Recovery Fund through his foundation.

“Right now, the world is experiencing a situation like we’ve never seen before,” Logano said, noting the foundation “will help provide funding and necessary supplies for organizations in need during this scary time.”

Across the street from NASCAR’s R&D Center at Roush Fenway Racing, the organization is manufacturing open-sourced plastic aerosol boxes to protect medical professionals as they treat COVID-19 patients. Roush Fenway also donated N95 masks to two North Carolina hospitals. Steve Newmark, president of Roush, told AP some employees are now working with Roush Industries on additional PPE designs and needs.

(Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)

CORE Autosport, a sports car team in IMSA, retooled its race shop to manufacture face masks for medical professionals. It had sold thousands of emergency medical masks by Tuesday.

Technique, which supplies chassis kits for NASCAR teams, retooled its Michigan factory to double its production to 20,000 face shields by the end of this week.

NHRA’s Don Schumacher Racing and its manufacturing arm have teamed with 3D printer Stratasys to produce headbands to be used with medical face shields. DSR has committed both of its 3D printers to round-the-clock production.

“We have the capability, so of course we wanted to do whatever we could to support vulnerable medical personnel that are working so hard during these unprecedented times,” Schumacher said.

(Photo by ORLANDO SIERRA / AFP) (Photo by ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP via Getty Images)

Jacuzzi said NASCAR quickly realized it had the equipment to help.

“Having that capability and just letting it sit seemed like not the right thing,” said Jacuzzi, who is producing 200 face shields for Novant and another 40 for a pediatric center in Georgia.

Jacuzzi is also working with a group at North Carolina State University that can guide hospitals to 3D printers producing PPE’s.

“Just being around the industry and recognizing the needs, and NASCAR does do a good amount of charitable work,” Jacuzzi said. “When you get a chance to breathe, you are sitting around watching the news and you think, ‘We just put this big, beautiful new machine in, let’s see what we can do and use it for something good.'”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


‘Things Are Going To Hurt More’ Without Fans For NXT Superstar Keith Lee

(CBSNewYork) — A month ago, when NXT Superstar Keith Lee thought about what this weekend would look like, he was envisioning feeding off the energy of tens of thousands of screaming fans who had converged from all corners of the world to celebrate the biggest sports entertainment party of the year. Not in a million years could he have predicted things would turn out so differently.

Rather than defend the North American championship at NXT TakeOver: Tampa on Saturday, he will be putting the belt on the line Wednesday night in front of a live audience of exactly no one. There will be no roar of the crowd when he steps into the ring to face Dominik Dijakovic and Damian Priest in a triple threat match. The deafening silence will continue until the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has passed, and it’s unclear when that will be.

The fact that there will still be hundreds of thousands watching from afar as they adhere to mandatory stay-at-home orders is a major victory for WWE. The global leader in sports entertainment has long maintained a “show must go on” mentality, and these unprecedented circumstances would not cause the company to waiver now.

WWE is one of the few sporting groups not on an indefinite hiatus. Since the outbreak began, the company has transformed its training facility in Orlando into a makeshift broadcast center. Rather than serve as the headquarters for the next generation of WWE Superstars, it is now the home to all Raw and SmackDown broadcasts where established giants like Seth Rollins, the Undertaker, and John Cena are gearing up for WrestleMania.

NXT has also used the Performance Center for broadcasts, but will reportedly move back to its television studio at nearby Full Sail University, where they will continue to tape weekly episodes on closed sets.

For Lee, this means relying on his opponents for the adrenaline rush normally received from the crowd. However, for fans, this means an interesting viewing experience and the opportunity to hear things their collective cheers would drown out.

“Being able to hear the way we hit each other will be something different from them,” Lee said. “I’m kind of looking forward to people seeing that but I also hoping they don’t think we’re just a bunch of brutes because of how hard we hit each other.”

The shots should be quite audible given the physical style that the 6-foot-2, 320-pound Texas-native has employed to become one of the most popular stars on the NXT roster.

I had an opportunity to catch up with Lee ahead of Wednesday night’s massive NXT broadcast that includes the triple threat match for the North American Championship. He opened up about adjusting to a new normal during the coronavirus pandemic and how the outbreak is altering the way he performs. The thought of not competing and erring on the side of caution as others in WWE have chosen to do did briefly cross his mind, but he is confident in the steps the company has taken to ensure performer safety and minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

>>READ: Latest from the world of Pro Wrestling

There was very much a wait-and-see approach with the entirety of WrestleMania weekend in Tampa. From a talent perspective, were you guys really holding out hope, having your fingers crossed that somehow, some way the show will still go on even as we saw these cancellations elsewhere?

For me personally, I just wanted to see what would happen, and I made sure that I was going to be prepared regardless of the circumstance, whether there was a cancellation or postponed, whether it went through. However it was going to happen, I wanted to be prepared for it, and so that’s all I did was mentally prepare myself for either case.

We’ve seen a number of people reportedly step aside and not compete right now [because of the coronavirus]. Was that ever a consideration for you?

It probably has been a consideration for any and everyone, but with the protocols that we’ve had, it’s kind of made it possible for us to get it done. I think that for me, it never was really a thought because I knew of what the protocol would be and the things necessary in order to even be okay and cleared to enter the building and things of that sort. So I was fairly confident in the circumstances that were set forth before us.

Even though TakeOver isn’t going on as planned, you still get this match on NXT Wednesday night. Theoretically, you could even be performing in front of a bigger audience. There’s still a level of excitement there I would assume.

There’s always excitement. When you’re thinking about the fact that I get to defend this championship, regardless of the circumstances right now, and I get to step into the ring with two hyper athletes like Dominik Dijakovic and Damian Priest, that competition itself, that’s something that excites me. So I’m more than ready in order to get it done and make the most of the circumstances and continue to be there for the people and give them what they’re looking for.

Speaking of Dijakovic, the chemistry between the two of you is really apparent. How long did it take for that chemistry to develop, or was this always something that came naturally for you guys?

Every time we step into the ring, it’s a spectacular competition from the very first time we’ve ever beat each other up. I think when you have two guys that want to make statements as much as we do, we tend to push the envelope a little bit and push each other past what I would consider to be normal. And as much as I would like to hold back from time to time, it’s almost impossible because the type of competitor that he is, and it’s just the same with Damian Priest. Those guys, they’ll push you, and they’ll make you do things that you don’t normally do because if you don’t, they’re going to stand out.

There’s a saying that you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. And so in terms of having fans in the crowd, what have you learned about having them there? Did they provide anything that you really miss but didn’t think about until now you’re performing in front of zero people?

Yes, there is definitely a certain level of adrenaline that the crowd offers, and I feel like it makes things hurt a little bit less when they’re there. I feel like there’s a very natural, like as soon as you come out of the back and you hear them, right away you’re in the zone. But I feel like just based on last week’s episode and there being nobody there, the first punch to my ear really rocked me, and that’s not a normal thing for me. So that’s something that I’ve taken note of, and I’ve tried to prepare myself going forward. Things are going to hurt more and that’s okay. All I can do is absorb those and use those instead to hopefully reset adrenaline level where I can push forward.

One of the things that is really fascinating to watch right now are the entrances. You talked about the adrenaline rush that you get when you hear the roar of the crowd when you come through the curtain. Obviously it’s not there, but you still have to carry yourself with that same amount of charisma and play up almost as if the crowd is there as you’re walking to the ring. The first time that you had to do that, how awkward was that, and is it still awkward for you, or are you just kind of getting used to it?

Honestly, I’m a little different because of the fact that I sang my own song. I come to the ring, and I’m in my song mode. Regardless if there’s people or not, I’m vibing, I’m jamming, I’m having a good time, and I’m feeling myself because it’s myself singing myself to the ring. Not to be redundant, but I’m already into it in terms of that. There’s just nobody for me to play with or yell “Keith Lee” when my song does, and that’s the only difference for me.

WWE is moving heaven and earth to continue putting out fresh content when you see virtually every other league just shut down right now. Do you feel any added pressure to continue to go out there and entertain knowing that so many people now are counting on you for a distraction, or do you consider this to be a privilege, and you take pride in that?

100% the latter. Privilege, honor, opportunity, those three words are the things that come to mind when I think about this. And at the end of the day, I’m happy that I can be there for the people that wish to have wrestling still and not at the expense of everything else. I understand that it’s sad times for people that want other sports to be back and things of that sort, but I am very happy that I have the opportunity and that privilege to continue to do what I do and provide what I can for our fans.

There’s no doubt that it is extremely physical and for a gentleman of your size, it is really just kind of a marvel to watch. Do you realize what a hero you are for big guys everywhere?

I get a lot of messages from larger gents and no, I did not realize it because to me a lot of people will spout this, “For a big guy, you move really well.” There’s a lot of things I do that small guys can’t do. So I feel like trying to wrap me in a box like that is not really hindering, but I don’t think that it’s the case.

I lost close to 300 pounds 10 years ago, and thinking back to the guy I was at 420 pounds, there is no way I could come close to doing anything about what you’re doing in the ring right now. That’s why this is really, really impressive from a guy who’s actually been that heavy as well.

I appreciate it. I really do. I think that for me, it’s really cool to know that I’ve touched so many people in such a way, and it’s an honor. Some people will reach out, and they’ll say, “Hey, you’re an inspiration to me and because of you, I believe I can do this,” or, “Because of you, I’ve gotten stronger. I’ve gotten in better shape, I’ve gotten faster. I’ve gotten my wind up.” A lot of different things have changed for people. And at the end of the day, regardless of how it comes about, I’m happy that I can affect people in a positive manner that way.

With the Performance Center now being taken over for filming, what are you doing to work out and stay in shape?

A lot of my training has been a little more athletic style in terms of the way that I train. But aside from the basic things like pushup variations, burpees, squat jumps and lunges, mountain climbers, things of that sort, I also frequent a few YouTube channels like Jeff Cavalier, Mike Rashid and Simeon Panda. They have offered so much information and different exercises you can perform from home, whether you have gym equipment or not. And that’s something that’s been helpful in the creativity of my training currently. So it’s been good times actually and it’s nice and different and because it’s different, my body’s confused and it’s fairly effective. So I’m enjoying it.

Your body is confused. What does that mean?

I guess when one is training, when you get used to a style, your body doesn’t really get sore anymore. You don’t gain strength as quickly. But when you confuse your muscles by doing something different, a different type of movement, a different pace, a different weight level, a different time under tension, those things confuse the muscles and actually make the workout more effective. That’s something that’s been the case for me.

Have you thought about what it’s going to be like for that first show back with the crowd there and that energy back in the arena?

I actually have not. I’m very much a business-today type of person. So, my focus is continuing to represent as a proper champion, raise the prestige of my championship by also doing it in a manner that is still entertaining for the people under the given circumstances. And I’m sure when that day comes about, it’s going to be an enormous celebration for all. From the talent to the fans to production team, I think everyone is going to celebrate in their own way. I’ll do my best not to cry.

Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.

Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.


Voter Turnout Affects NFL CBA Outcome

 

New Chargers tackle Bryan Bulaga voices his disappointment Tuesday over how many fellow players decided not to vote on the new labor agreement with the NFL.

The CBA was approved by only a 60-vote margin (1,019 to 959) with nearly 22% of the eligible players electing not to cast a ballot.

 

 

ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 22: Mason Crosby #2 of the Green Bay Packers looks on after a missed field goal attempt in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

 

 

“I’m very confused why so many guys didn’t vote. It was a big deal,” Bulaga said during a conference call to discuss his signing with Los Angeles. He did not say how he voted.

“The CBA isn’t something we’re voting on for ourselves. It’s a big decision and to see so many guys not vote is disheartening.”

Bulaga said he liked to stay current with the progress of talks because of his friendship with Cleveland Browns center and new NFL Players Association President JC Tretter. Bulaga and Tretter were teammates in Green Bay from 2013-18.

 

 

CHANTILLY, VA – MARCH 02: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (C) leaves a meeting with NFL owners at a hotel on March 2, 2011 in Chantilly, Virginia. The NFL owners are meeting in Chantilly to discuss negotiations with the players union about a collective bargaining agreement that expires March 3, at midnight. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

 

While the new CBA increases the percentage of revenues given to players and upgrades pensions, it does include an additional regular-season game, though not before the 2021 season. Many prominent players loudly opposed the deal, including Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The new CBA is set to begin with the upcoming season and goes through 2030. Free agent safety Eric Reid is challenging the CBA’s validity due to language added following its ratification on March 15.

“Regardless of how it went it probably would have been encouraging if more guys voted. It’s interesting and unfortunate,” said Bulaga, who will be going into his 11th NFL season. “Guys are able to do what they want.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NFL Approves Playoff Expansion, CBS To Air Extra Wild Card Game

(CBS Local)- The National Football League announced Tuesday that its member clubs voted unanimously to approve an expansion of the playoff field to 14 teams for the upcoming 2020 season.

The vote, which was held remotely, follows the recommendation of the league’s Competition Committee, Management Council Executive Committee and Media Committee.

The two additional Wild Card teams, one per conference, will face off with the No. 2 seed in their respective conference on Wild Card weekend. CBS will air one of the additional games on January 10, 2021 at approximately 4:40 p.m. EST/PST. In addition to the over-the-air telecast, the game will be streamed on CBS All Access. A separately produced telecast that is more kid friendly will air on Nickelodeon.

The matchups for the Wild Card round of the playoffs will now see the No. 2 vs No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 teams square off. The last time that the NFL expanded the playoff field was in 1990 when the league moved from 10 teams to 12.


NFL Vice President Troy Vincent Reaches Out To Prospects

 

NFL vice president Troy Vincent has sent a letter to several prospects inviting them to participate “live” in the NFL draft in three weeks.

The Associated Press on Tuesday obtained the letter sent by the league’s football operations chief to prospective early selections in the draft, which will be held remotely on April 23-25 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

 

MIAMI, FLORIDA – JANUARY 30: Former NFL player, Troy Vincent speaks onstage during day 2 of SiriusXM at Super Bowl LIV on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )

 

 

“We hope that you will start your NFL journey with us as part of the NFL family,” Vincent wrote. “At this time, we are working on the plan for draft. As you can imagine, it is a bit of a moving target with all that is going on.

“We are contemplating several options that we will be communicating to you once details are confirmed. We want to ensure that you and your family stay safe while we develop the best way to give you a great experience and highlight your accomplishments as you are drafted into the NFL.”

Vincent asked the players not to publicize the invitation.

 

 

TEMPE, ARIZONA – APRIL 26: Quarterback Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals poses during a press conference at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on April 26, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. Murray was the first pick overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 

In recent drafts, first-round selections were announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Then followed hugs involving players and Goodell — some of them comical — and photo sessions with the players wearing team ball caps or even showing off team jerseys. Often their families and friends would get involved in the celebrations.

This year, with all public events at the planned site of Las Vegas canceled and the draft set to proceed remotely, players will likely be at their homes when their names are called.

 

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Gayle King To Host ‘ACM Presents: Our Country’ On CBS This Sunday

Gayle King announced earlier today on CBS This Morning that she will handle hosting duties for the upcoming ACM Presents: Our Country special coming to CBS and streaming on CBS All Access Sunday, April 5th starting at  8:00 PM, ET/PT. This brand new special will feature intimate conversations and at-home acoustic performances with country music’s biggest stars, along with clips from favorite ACM Awards moments of the past. ACM Presents: Our Country promises to be a night filled with entertainment, hope and reflection, bringing the healing power of music to Americans at a time when they need it most.

As previously announced, ACM Presents: Our Country will feature performances from Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown and John Legend, Luke Bryan, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Old Dominion, Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. Additionally, the special will honor 10-time ACM Award winner Kenny Rogers with performances by Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley and Darius Rucker.

Check back here for more updates throughout the week and be sure to tune in this coming Sunday, April 5th, only on CBS and streaming on-demand with CBS All Access. Check your local listings for more information.


iRacing Is Fun But Won’t Pay The Bills

Virtual racing has been the small saving grace for motorsports since the coronavirus pandemic brought nearly everything to a halt.

Timmy Hill’s iRacing victory on national television gave the journeyman driver and his sponsor’s exposure they would never receive during a normal NASCAR weekend.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – MARCH 29: Timmy Hill, driver of the #66 Roofclaim.com Totota, celebrates after winning the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series Race – O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at virtual Texas Motor Speedway on March 29, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“What I’ll gain from this is recognition. It’s hard to get that recognition because of the level of competition that we are in real life,” said Hill, who at 27 has bounced around NASCAR’s three national series since 2011 before making his first Daytona 500 this year.

“We just don’t have the money, the dollars, to compete at a high level. Every once in a while, we’ll get that big payday, and we can really reinvest in our race team,” he said. “This win will hopefully gain some recognition and attract more sponsors for us, maybe in the real world when we get back racing. Hopefully, it will help me in the real world.”

The real world looks grim right now: Racing and revenue have come to a halt, and it is unknown what the landscape will even look like when the crisis ends.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 13: A general view of the track and pit road at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 13, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. NASCAR is suspending races due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

IndyCar suspended its season 48 hours before it was set to open, and last week new series owner Roger Penske made t he unprecedented decision to delay the Indianapolis 500 from Memorial Day weekend for the first time in its long and storied history.

Penske’s transportation business has been hit, and he informed Penske Corp.’s 60,000 employees over the weekend that both he and the company president would forego their salaries while senior leadership is paid less. Roughly 50 employees from IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway were laid off.

NASCAR has so far cut salaries for its executives by 25% — that includes the presidents of tracks owned by NASCAR — and 20% for all other employees. Behind the scenes, NASCAR has crafted a schedule to accommodate the seven races already postponed, but series leaders have been hesitant to release details because everything is so fluid. NASCAR has officially suspended the season until May 9 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia — a state that on Monday issued a stay-at-home order until June 10 or it is rescinded by executive order.

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – OCTOBER 27: General view of racing during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2019 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Senior NASCAR executives have consistently checked in with teams and discussed future scenarios, including the development of the Next-Gen car that had been scheduled for a 2021 debut. A car meant to revolutionize the sport by improving the racing while cutting costs — a project the entire industry is deeply tied to — could be pushed back a year.

Teams are caught in financial limbo. Sponsors unsure when their logos will be seen at a race are withholding money needed to make payroll and meet operating expenses. Stay-at-home orders have left little to no work for race teams.

“Are we concerned about teams broadly and their financial health? Of course, we are,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps has said.

There are very few team owners like Penske or Rick Hendrick, who have other businesses larger than their racing hobby. The bulk of the sport is composed of racers.

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 17: Team owner Roger Penske attends the driver’s meeting prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Speedway on November 17, 2019 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Chip Ganassi owns race teams that supply the bulk of his revenue, and when his sports car program ended last year, he moved those employees to a third IndyCar team to avoid layoffs. Now he has five cars idled in two series. It’s the same all the way down the grid, for owners such as Jay Robinson, Carl Long, Rick Ware, and The Gaunt Brothers, all teams who rely on racing as their primary business. They need to be back at the track.

All the uncertainty has teams reluctant to speak publicly. Most discussions are at the ownership level, with drivers and team members waiting and wondering what will happen next.

Penske put IndyCar’s team owners at ease by ensuring the first three payments from the series’ bonus program will be paid. He acknowledges revenue will be down and was hopeful race teams might qualify for assistance from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

“We’re doing everything we can do to help (teams). They have no cost right now other than their people and whatever assets they might have,” Penske said. “But I don’t think people should think that just the people on the top are going to be fine. I mean, we all have ongoing costs. And the larger the team is, the more cost you have. When the revenue begins to slow, you’ve got to make sure you make your adjustments.”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 25: Team owner Roger Penske watches during Carb Day for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 25, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Race promoters are stuck with empty venues and no idea when their next event will be. Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage was a good sport Sunday during the iRacing event that was televised live on some Fox affiliates and nationwide on its cable channel. He used social media to treat the video game race as a real one because that’s as close to the real thing anyone is going to get for some time.

Hill was nervous for Sunday’s event, the second of six scheduled in a virtual series designed to keep fans engaged with the sport and its drivers. He practiced at least four hours a day on his simulator, which consists of an obsolete $300 wheel at a desk with a computer (Denny Hamlin won the first iRacing event in a rig he said cost upward of $40,000).

The racers have still found a way to race — IndyCar and IMSA have similar racing series up and running — and it’s all they have for now.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Timmy Hill, driver of the #66 VSI Racing/RoofClaim.com Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“For me to actually beat these guys on a level playing field, it really feels good for my driving talents,” Hill said. “It’s neat to beat up on these guys with these big, massive, expensive setups. I think for the viewers, it’s neat for them because they can understand that they don’t have to spend that huge dollar amount to get into iRacing.

“And I tell you what … I knew a lot was on the line, a lot of people watching. The rush of emotions definitely feels just like a real race.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Michigan Wolverine Isaiah Livers Declares For NBA Draft

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan forward Isaiah Livers is applying for early entry into the NBA draft.

The school said Livers is not hiring an agent and would work with the Michigan coaching staff during the evaluation and pre-draft processes. Even if a player does use an agent during the evaluation process, he can return to school without losing eligibility if he ends the relationship with the agent.

 

 

ANN ARBOR, MI – FEBRUARY 08: Isaiah Livers #2 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts to a call in the second half of the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Crisler Arena on February 8, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

 

Livers said he’d be fine coming back to Michigan, but he figured all along he’d test the waters after this season.

“If they like what they see and teams are literally saying that they’re going to draft me, then I’m pretty sure that I’m going to stay in the draft,” Livers said on a conference call. “It’s basically whatever the evaluation and feedback — however that comes — is basically how I’ll make my decision.”

Livers has started 46 games in three seasons at Michigan. He led the Wolverines in scoring this season at 12.9 points per game, although he was limited to 21 games because of injury problems.

 

 

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 14: Isaiah Livers #2 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to get a first half shot off against the Oregon Ducks at Crisler Arena on December 14, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

 

“We know Isaiah has had the desire to reach the next level of playing professional basketball, and going through the NBA draft process will give him the information he is looking for to make the proper decision,” coach Juwan Howard said in a statement. “Even with everything going on with COVID-19, myself and our staff will continue to work closely with Isaiah and his family to gain as much information as possible in the weeks ahead before he reaches his final decision.”

 

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Spartan Guard Accused Of Sexual Assault

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a Michigan State basketball player is asking the Michigan attorney general’s office to investigate, according to a published report.

 

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – MARCH 08: The Michigan State Spartans raise a banner to celebrate their share of the 2020 Big Ten Championship after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 80-69 at the Breslin Center on March 08, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

 

ESPN, citing a police report and emails obtained through a public records request, reported that Michigan State University police told prosecutors they had probable cause that sophomore guard Brock Washington raped the woman on Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent. Police referred the case to county prosecutors, who declined to file charges this month.

An MSU police spokesman told ESPN on Monday that the attorney general’s office requested the case file and the department was cooperating.

After a loss at Indiana on Jan. 23, coach Tom Izzo told reporters that Washington had been suspended. He did not elaborate.

 

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – MARCH 08: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans while playing the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Breslin Center on March 08, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Washington did not play again this season. He played a total of 19 minutes this season before the suspension.

A team spokesman did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. The AP also left messages with the MSU police.

ESPN said it attempted to reach Washington and his current attorney. A previous attorney, Peter Samouris, said he wasn’t familiar with this case but that he spoke with Washington and Washington’s father last week.

“It’s my understanding he’s not going to be charged, and he doesn’t wish to speak,” Samouris told ESPN. “He’s maintained his innocence 100% of the time.”

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said in a statement to ESPN that she did not charge Washington because the case “does not meet the burden of proof that we must present to a jury.”

The woman told ESPN she met with an assistant prosecutor earlier this month and was told that she had been “too intoxicated to prove that it (sexual contact) was forced.”

“That was the whole point of the charge, that I was too drunk to consent to what happened,” the woman said. “The prosecutor failed me completely.”

The woman told ESPN she requested that the AG’s office investigate her case.

 

 

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN – MARCH 08: Members of the Michigan State Spartans Dance Team perform during a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Breslin Center on March 08, 2020 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

ESPN, citing police records and an unidentified source, said Washington pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 2018 — under a provision allowing offenders to plead guilty without a court entering a judgment of conviction. A female student reported that Washington forcibly groped her on Aug. 29, 2017, according to ESPN.

Michigan State has been at the center of several high-profile sexual assault claims in recent years. The school was rocked by the sexual abuse scandal involving sports doctor Larry Nassar, and several basketball and football players have been accused of misconduct as well.

 

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Broncos Continue Signing Detroit Lions Free Agents

The Denver Broncos have finalized a three-year, $7 million deal with free agent punter Sam Martin, the third former Detroit Lions player signed by general manager John Elway this month.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 08: Matt Prater #5 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with Sam Martin #6 after kicking the game tying field goal during overtime against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The game ended in a 27-27 tie.
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Martin joins former Detroit teammates Graham Glasgow and Jeff Driskel in Denver. Glasgow, a guard and center, signed a four-year, $44 million deal and Driskel signed a two-year, $5 million contract to serve as quarterback Drew Lock’s backup.

Martin is an eighth-year pro who appeared in 106 games for the Lions after being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Appalachian State.

In seven seasons, he’s averaged 46 yards per punt with a 40.9-yard net average with 38 touchbacks and 175 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Martin, who also handled kickoffs in Detroit, and the Saints’ Thomas Morstead are the only two punters in the NFL to have played at least 10 games in each of the last six seasons without a punt getting blocked.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Sam Martin #6 of the Detroit Lions punts in the first half against the New York Jets at Ford Field on September 10, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Last year, Martin ranked second in the league with just 4.5 yards allowed per punt return.

The Broncos also announced Monday that they had re-signed unrestricted free agent Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year contract.

Attaochu’s deal is for $1.5 million with a chance to earn $1 million more in incentives.

Attaochu is a seventh-year pro who has amassed 99 tackles, 15½ sacks and three forced fumbles in six NFL seasons with the Broncos (2019), Jets (2018) and Chargers (2014-17), who made him a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft out of Georgia Tech.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


NCAA Approves Extra Year Of Eligibility For Spring Sports Seniors

(CBS Local)- The NCAA Division I Council met Monday to determine whether to grant a waiver for an extra year of eligibility for spring sports seniors who had their seasons canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Monday night, the Council announced that they had decided to grant a blanket waiver to those athletes to allow them to return to school.

DI Council grants waiver to allow additional eligibility for spring sport athletes whose seasons were impacted by COVID-19: https://t.co/aC03MEa5UQ pic.twitter.com/XeVaxI85Ib

— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 30, 2020

The Council released an explanation of the waiver on the NCAA’s website. In the release, the NCAA says that schools will be allowed to make the decision of whether or not to provide financial aid for athletes on a case by case basis.

“Members also adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility who decide to stay. In a nod to the financial uncertainty faced by higher education, the Council vote also provided schools with the flexibility to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that athletics aid be provided at the same level awarded for 2019-20. This flexibility applies only to student-athletes who would have exhausted eligibility in 2019-20.”

University of Pennsylvania athletics director M. Grace Calhoun reinforced the fact that the decision of how to handle each athlete’s case with regards to finances will be made at the campus level.

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Penn in the release. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that.”

The ruling on Monday came after weeks of discussions about how to handle eligibility for the seniors who had their careers cut short by the cancellation of the winter and spring sports seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ruling means that all seniors may now decide to return to campus for the spring 2021 season and compete with their teams. However, it is up to each individual as to whether or not they want to pursue the extra year and each school to determine how much to offer in financial aid.


Lions Archive: Lions Fall Short Again

Detroit’s defense couldn’t come up with the late stop the Lions needed on one end of the field. Matthew Stafford couldn’t convert the fourth-down play at the other end.

It added up to another loss for the Lions, who are quickly falling out of contention in the NFC playoff race after a promising start to the season.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions lies on the field after he was pressured by Clelin Ferrell #96 of the Oakland Raiders that resulted in Stafford throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down at the end of their game that clinched the victory for the Oakland Raiders at RingCentral Coliseum on November 03, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Matthew Stafford’s pass to Logan Thomas from the 1 was broken up in the end zone with 3 seconds remaining Sunday, sending the Lions to their fourth loss in five games with a 31-24 defeat to the Oakland Raiders.

“We didn’t convert; we didn’t score, we didn’t win the game,” Stafford said. “You can look at it all you want. Had we scored there, I wouldn’t be fielding these questions. We just have to execute the play better and score.”

Stafford did plenty of good things against the Raiders but it was a few missed opportunities that proved to be the difference.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions is pressured by Benson Mayowa #91 and Tahir Whitehead #59 of the Oakland Raiders at RingCentral Coliseum on November 03, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

There was a botched handoff to J.D. McKissic on the opening drive that denied Detroit (3-4-1) a scoring opportunity, an interception in the end zone in the second quarter when the Lions had a chance to take a two-score lead and then problems on both sides of the ball in the closing minutes after Stafford’s 26-yard TD pass to McKissic tied the game with 5:16 to play.

The Raiders managed to move the ball 66 yards on the next four plays to get inside the 10 with help of two long passes to backup running back Jalen Richard.

Then after two stops by Detroit, Derek Carr managed to scramble on a third-down play and find Hunter Renfrow on a 9-yard TD pass with 2:04 remaining to give Oakland the lead.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: Hunter Renfrow #13 of the Oakland Raiders makes the winning touchdown catch thrown by Derek Carr #4 against the Detroit Lions at RingCentral Coliseum on November 03, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” linebacker Devon Kennard. “The last few weeks have been on us defensively. I feel like if we’d play better defensively we’d be in a much better position right now. But you can’t panic. It’s halfway through the season. We’ve got eight more games left, a lot of ball to be played. I believe in the guys in this locker room. We have to get this fixed. It starts with defense, controlling what you can control. Once we do that we’ll be all right.”

The Lions still had a chance and Stafford managed to move the ball inside the 10 with less than a minute to play following a 26-yard pass interference call on Nevin Lawson.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions runs the ball toward the endzone in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at RingCentral Coliseum on November 03, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Stafford scrambled for 4 yards to the 4 on first down, was sacked by P.J. Hall on second down, and then scrambled 13 yards to the 1 on third down. With the clock running down, the Raiders called a timeout with 8 seconds left to get the right personnel on the field.

The Lions responded with heavy personnel with six offensive linemen, two tight ends and no receivers and called for a pass play.

Stafford tried to find Thomas in the back of the end zone over smaller safety Karl Joseph, but the play was broken up, sealing another loss for Detroit.

“We had a one-on-one shot,” Stafford said. “We had one of our big guys on one of their not-so-big guys and a chance to go up and make it. I have to give him a better chance and a better ball.”

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: Karl Joseph #42 of the Oakland Raiders stops Logan Thomas #82 of the Detroit Lions from catching a pass in the end zone on fourth down at the end of their game at RingCentral Coliseum on November 03, 2019 in Oakland, California. This play clinched the victory for the Raiders. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

That was the final play on a mostly productive day for Stafford, who threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns but had a hand in both turnovers as well.

Marvin Jones had eight catches for 126 yards and a TD and Kenny Golladay had four catches for 132 yards and a score.

But that still wasn’t enough because the defense struggled to slow down Josh Jacobs and the Raiders running game and the offense had three drives get inside Oakland’s 30 and end up without points.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: Josh Jacobs #28 of the Oakland Raiders runs the ball in for a 2-yard touchdown ahead of Miles Killebrew #35 of the Detroit Lions in the first quarter at RingCentral Coliseum on November 03, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

“We all have to play better,” Stafford said. “That’s everybody. We’re a team. There were plenty of plays out there that I missed that could have helped us win the game. Stuff that we all have to live with. We work so hard week in and week out, and if you don’t come out with a win, it obviously stings.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Roger Penske Talks Postponing Indianapolis 500

Roger Penske, at 83 and considered high risk for the coronavirus as a 2017 kidney transplant recipient, still makes the daily three-minute commute to his Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, office.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 25: Team owner Roger Penske watches during Carb Day for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 25, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He works 12 or more hours a day from his conference room at Penske Corp., which has a skeleton crew practicing social distancing. Penske has 60,000 employees across the world in an organization in constant flux because of the COVID-19 crisis.

That would be enough for the leader of any corporation, but this pandemic is marring his debut as the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series. His cloak-and-dagger purchase was done in six weeks last year, the sale completed in January, and the most important thing to Penske since taking over was gearing up for his first chance to host “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The Indianapolis 500 won’t be run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946 after Penske on Thursday postponed one of America’s crown jewel sporting events until Aug. 23. “I took the road that gave us the longest distance, five months,” he said. “If this thing isn’t over in five months, we’ve got bigger problems.”

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 26: Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives the pace car prior to the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It’s a rotten way to usher in a new era at both Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar, the little series that can and wants to but just can’t reach the next level. But now it has Penske, the American industrialist who turned his racing hobby into a mighty empire. He agreed last fall to become just the fourth owner of national landmark Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a deal with the Hulman-George family, which had controlled American open-wheel racing since Tony Hulman bought the dilapidated speedway on the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Avenue in 1945 at the end of World War II.

Indy was Penske’s personal playground long before Tony George offered him a chance to bid on a property everyone believed impossible to pry from the Hulman-George group. His Team Penske drivers won the Indy 500 a record 18 times, and the speedway suites and hospitality areas for decades have been the backdrop for Penske to celebrate his partners and employees.

The Captain was the perfect man to give the speedway a good cleaning and take the Indy 500 to even greater prestige in the sporting landscape. And the IndyCar Series got the right guy to help its push for relevance. Then came the pandemic, which first put the start of the season on hold and now has delayed the iconic 500.

SONOMA, CA – SEPTEMBER 16: Team owner Roger Penske looks on during qualifying for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway on September 16, 2017 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)

“It’s a shame Roger has to go through this in his first year of owning Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said four-time 500 winner A.J. Foyt, also a team owner, “but you couldn’t have a better man in charge.”

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Penske insisted his commitment remains steadfast to the speedway and the IndyCar Series as the world waits for the pandemic to end.

“This was a commitment we made not for one year; it’s a lifelong commitment for our family and the company and all of our people,” Penske said. “The disappointment certainly is there. But you know, I’ve looked at it as an opportunity to show people that we’re still committed to the sport. We want to rally the team, let them know we are supporting them.”

Penske had his heart set on opening the speedway gates in May to a glistening property he intends to make as pristine and revered as Augusta National. He’s put so much personal effort into pumping up the Indy 500 — from dumping an additional $2 million into the purse to push it to a record $15 million to upgrading the decrepit bathrooms and adding hand dryers — that giving up Memorial Day weekend and Indianapolis’ celebration of the national holiday was not easy.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 26: A view of the national anthem during the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

So why not wait a little longer and see if the country opens up, just in case the race that draws crowds in excess of 300,000 could happen?

“You have to make a decision, you just have to, with the number of people involved,” Penske said. “If we wait all the way until May to make these decisions, and you make a last-minute decision, now you don’t have a television partner because you don’t know what the Olympics are doing. Then the Olympics opened up, so I said, ‘Look, I want those dates.'”

Among other issues Penske addressed:

— Helping teams

Penske noted that North Carolina, where probably 99% of NASCAR teams are located, as is his entire Team Penske operation, is on lockdown, so there aren’t any cars to be built. He’s put a team of Penske officials in charge of exploring laws in each state to build a clearinghouse so teams from any series can determine what, if anything, they are eligible for under the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 25: Team owner Roger Penske watches during Carb Day for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 25, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He also said the full-time IndyCar teams would be paid as scheduled from the series’ bonus programs.

“We’ve committed the first three commitments through their leader’s circle to pay them. We’re doing everything we can to help them,” Penske said.

— Teaming with NASCAR

IndyCar had hoped to open its season with the road course race at Indianapolis on May 9, but that event has been moved to July 4, mere hours after NASCAR’s debut with the Xfinity Series on the same circuit. It will be an unprecedented doubleheader if it goes off as scheduled, and the idea of the two series merging on one weekend seemed a pipe dream until Penske’s announcement.

Even though NASCAR is expected to revamp its schedule in 2021, Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles, in that role for the Hulman-George family, seemed only lukewarm to sharing a weekend with stock cars. Now it’s on the schedule to happen with Penske dealing directly with NASCAR President Steve Phelps and executive Steve O’Donnell. It saved the road course race from becoming a mundane IndyCar event and instead created what could be a first of its kind as the Cup Series is scheduled to run the oval the next day.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 26: Simon Pagenaud of France, driver of the #22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet races Alexander Rossi of the United States, driver of the #27 NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Autosport Honda during the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“Everybody had their fingerprints on it one time or another,” Penske said. “Ben Kennedy came and looked at the track himself to get a look at the track before we could get Xfinity on it. Then with the coronavirus, when it looked like (May 9) was going to be in trouble, we talked about was there an ability for us to run the IndyCar race with The Brickyard? And that was the discussion with Steve Phelps and then the work with O’Donnell and General Motors. We hope we can do something really special.”

One loss for IndyCar’s Grand Prix is that Australian V8 SuperCars champion Scott McLaughlin will no longer make his IndyCar debut in that event, Penske said, because of the hectic schedule and lack of practice time.

— Rest of the IndyCar schedule:

For now, IndyCar is scheduled to start the season with a doubleheader at Belle Isle in Detroit, the one race Penske promotes, at the end of May. It can be adjusted if needed, Penske said, because Belle Isle could run later in the year. He also said he’s hopeful a return can be worked out with St. Petersburg, Florida, which had the street course built to host the March 15 season opener until the race was called off 48 hours before the green flag.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MAY 26: Matheus Leist of Brazil, driver of the #4 A.J Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet in action during the 103rd Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

“At the end of October, there’s open dates there,” Penske said. “And, you know, we’ll see how we come out at the end of the other end. But I think the one thing is the most important race that we have has at least 150 days and, you know, running that is the priority.”

— His mood:

Penske continues to work alongside “a very small group” accessing his conference room, and “we’re practicing social distance, and we’re cleaning every time anybody comes in or out.”

His transportation operations have been suspended in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K., and his race teams can’t currently work.

“We have such a commitment to 60,000 people around the world,” he said.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 25: Team owner Roger Penske watches during Carb Day for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 25, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Penske said he’ll tune in to iRacing for the first time on Saturday when IndyCar drivers and NASCAR’s seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson will stage a virtual race to give fans content. He said he’s had no exposure to esports, noting his grandchildren play hockey and lacrosse.

As to the notion that Penske will ensure that IndyCar and the Indy 500 weather the coronavirus, he’s heard the praise from fellow team owners on his conference calls and appreciates their faith.

“It was a huge relief to get something decided with the 500, not only for me but the community and the industry. It needed to be locked down,” Penske said. “Within this small group, the team owners, I’ve built the credibility with them both on and off the track. And that means more to me than the next ticket. I’ve got to use every tool I have, all the people we have contacts with, in order to help our teams make the series the best we can. It’s going to be great once we get on the track.”

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


IndyCar The Latest Series To Offer Fans Content

The walk to the starting grid for Tony Kanaan began in his Indianapolis kitchen, through the foyer, past the trophy case, up the stairs, down the hall, through the master bedroom, master bathroom, and finally into the closet.

That’s where the former Indianapolis 500 winner tucked away Saturday to participate in a full day of iRacing on a simulator in the one place his wife will tolerate the rig. Kanaan participated in two virtual races; a legends event won by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. Then he joined the first of a six-week series that launched Saturday to give IndyCar fans content during the coronavirus pandemic.

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – MARCH 28: Sage Karam, driver of the #24 Wix Filters Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet, leads the field during the IndyCar iRacing Challenge American Red Cross Grand Prix at virtual Watkins Glen International on March 28, 2020 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

IndyCar followed the lead of NASCAR and other racing series in throwing together something – anything – to fill the void created when COVID-19 brought sports to a halt. IndyCar suspended the start of its season 48 hours before the March 15 opener in St. Petersburg, Florida, and on Thursday, the Indianapolis 500 was postponed until August.

NASCAR had a successful launch of its iRacing series last Sunday, and it was the most-watched televised esports event ever with more than 900,000 viewers. IndyCar couldn’t get a television deal so its inaugural race was streamed online from virtual Watkins Glen International Speedway, the venue decided by fan vote.

YouTube streams from IndyCar and iRacing combined for about 45,000 viewers to watch a virtual race called by NBC Sports’ regular booth of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, and Paul Tracy. The invocation was done remotely, as was the National Anthem, sung by Chicago Blackhawks regular Jim Cornelison.

The field included NASCAR’s seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who made his iRacing debut last weekend in a stock car using SIM settings more suited for IndyCar or sports car. Johnson has been using his rig to prepare for potential races in other series upon his retirement from full-time racing at the end of the season. He was scheduled to test an IndyCar next month in Alabama, but that’s been canceled amid the pandemic.

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – MARCH 28: Sage Karam, driver of the #24 Wix Filters Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet, leads the field during the IndyCar iRacing Challenge American Red Cross Grand Prix at virtual Watkins Glen International on March 28, 2020 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He wore a T-Shirt honoring late open-wheel driver Greg Moore for his virtual IndyCar debut, which he streamed live on his social media channels. Most drivers tried to give viewers an inside look of their experience, including James Hinchcliffe, the popular Canadian who played the part wearing a stereotypical flannel shirt and Team Canada red hat with ear flaps. But a technical glitch stopped his SIM before the green flag and Hinchcliffe didn’t get to race, er, play, after all.

Hinchcliffe had to go to an Indianapolis-area friends’ house to participate in the race because he doesn’t own a simulator, same with Robert Wickens, who hasn’t raced since his spinal cord injury in a 2018 crash but hoped to be in the iRacing event.

Wickens struggled to find a simulator with a steering wheel equipped with hand controls so he could bypass pedals. The IndyCar community stepped in and Wickens was able to get a simulator from Cary and Todd Bettenhausen, the twin sons of former IndyCar racer Gary Bettenhausen. A steering wheel designed by IndyCar steward Max Papis’ innovation company was shipped from North Carolina, but alas, did not arrive in Indianapolis in time for Wickens to participate.

Much like NASCAR’s first event last week, the iRace had a wide range of talents because the younger drivers use iRacing as a training tool, while veterans are new to the gaming rage. Participating in the series requires having the technology – which can be difficult to not only secure in a hurry, but also have installed in a drivers’ home during a lockdown – and the desire to be a good sport for fans starving for entertainment.

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – MARCH 28: Josef Newgarden, driver of the #1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the IndyCar iRacing Challenge American Red Cross Grand Prix at virtual Watkins Glen International on March 28, 2020 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Teams also viewed it as an opportunity to showcase their sponsors at a time there’s almost no way for promotion or activation. It was important to many organizations to have their car and sponsor represented, which got Scott Speed a slot in Marco Andretti’s place when Andretti declined to participate.

Australian V8 SuperCars champion Scott McLaughlin entered the virtual event as one of four Team Penske drivers, but it is the closest he’ll get to a race now that his IndyCar debut has been put on hold. He was scheduled to run May 9 on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but those plans were scrapped when the race was moved to July 4.

The race results were not surprising as the top iRacers led the way. Sage Karam, who turned 25 in March, won the race with no prior experience at Watkins Glen. Felix Rosenqvist, last year’s IndyCar top rookie, was second.

The Penske crew of Will Power and McLaughlin were third and fourth, followed by Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew, who is 23.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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