NFL has plan to reopen training facilities as early as next week
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL continues to take steps toward a return to normalcy since the coronavirus pandemic.
NFL teams can begin reopening their facilities on Tuesday if state and local governments will allow it.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has issued a memo to all 32 teams stressing that they must be in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction and have implemented the protocols that were developed by league medical officer Dr. Allen Sills and distributed to all clubs on May 6. The memo obtained by The Associated Press added that clubs unable to meet these criteria by Tuesday may reopen their facilities on the earliest date thereafter on which they are able to comply.
Facilities have been closed since late March due to the pandemic.
Each team was required to submit a plan to the league for reopening its training/practice facility this week.
In other NFL news:
— The Colts now have seven of their nine 2020 draft picks under contract after signing Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, Washington quarterback Jacob Eason and Michigan linebacker Jordan Glasgow to four-year deals. Taylor became the first junior in FBS history to rush for more than 6,000 career yards. Receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and cornerback Julian Blackmon remain unsigned.
— The Browns have hired former 49ers executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their new vice president of football operations, making him the top assistant to first-year general manager Andrew Berry. Adofo-Mensah will join a new staff in Cleveland after Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam overhauled the front office following a 6-10 season.
— Former NFL linebacker James Harrison says Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not offer a bounty for an illegal hit on a member of the Browns. Harrison told former teammate Willie Colon on a podcast that Tomlin handed him an envelope shortly after Harrison was fined in 2010 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massqoui. Harrison declined to specify what was in the envelope but posted on Instagram that Tomlin never offered a bounty on opposing players. Steelers President Art Rooney II said he's “certain” the exchange between Harrison and Tomlin never happened.
— The attorney for Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar says he has five signed affidavits from witnesses that exonerate his client in an armed robbery. Attorney Michael Grieco told The Associated Press on Friday that the five witnesses attested that Dunbar was not involved in the robbery earlier this week. Police in Miramar, Florida, issued arrest warrants Thursday for Dunbar and Giants cornerback Deandre Baker after multiple witnesses accused them of an armed robbery at a party.
Simmons, Embiid mending nicely
UNDATED (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are confident they will be at full strength if the NBA season ever resumes.
76ers coach Brett Brown says stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) are recovering nicely from their injuries. Simmons had missed his eighth straight game and was receiving daily treatment for his nerve issues in his lower back when the season stopped. Embiid was recovering from surgery on his left hand and had just returned after missing five games with a sprained left shoulder at the time of the shutdown.
Brown says he's considered his fate as Sixers coach after a season of expectations to contend for an NBA championship faded to sixth in the Eastern Conference when it stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In other NBA news:
— Pistons guard Bruce Brown says he had thumb surgery last month and is ready to play if the NBA season resumes. Brown said during a video conference Friday that a ligament was placed back onto his thumb bone. He said he had been dealing with pain in the thumb this season, but it didn’t limit him much. Brown has scored 8.9 points per game this season, more than double his average as a rookie in 2018-19.
NASCAR’s Pocono race up in the air
UNDATED (AP) — NASCAR is resuming its schedule with racing at southern tracks, but it remains uncertain when the circuit can venture north.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says he’s told NASCAR officials that his state isn’t ready to make a decision on the reopening of Pocono Raceway, which is scheduled to host races June 27 and 28. The raceway sits in an area that is deemed a red zone by Wolf as the state deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
NASCAR resumes its schedule Sunday and Wednesday at Darlington, South Carolina, before the circuit holds back-to-back races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR then heads to Bristol, Tennessee, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Martinsville, Virginia, before events at Homestead-Miami and Talladega. Pocono is the first race scheduled north of Virginia and would be followed by the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— A coalition of players is urging Congress to pass a coronavirus relief bill that would provide critical funding for elementary and secondary education. Among the signers of the letter from the Players Coalition are NFL players Devin McCourty, Kelvin Beachum and Sebastian Joseph-Day. The letter asks the House and the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which would secure internet access for millions of economically disadvantaged students during the pandemic.
— WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert tells The Associated Press she is focusing on about a half dozen scenarios for the league to begin play this summer. the league is looking at playing at one site, a few possibly at most instead of at every home arena. She added that there is still no date to start the season.
— The Michigan tournament where the LPGA Tour hoped to resume has been canceled. The LPGA says the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational will not be played July 15-18. The tour did not offer any other specifics except for Commissioner Mike Whan emphasizing the long-term health of the tour is paramount. This is the only team event on the LPGA schedule. Whan says Dow has extended its title sponsor contract and the LPGA will return to the Great Lakes Bay region next year and beyond. The cancellation means the LPGA now hopes to return July 23-26 with the Marathon LPGA Classic in Ohio.
— The professional tennis tours are extending their suspensions caused by the coronavirus pandemic through at least the end of July. The total number of tournaments scrapped by the ATP and WTA since March now tops 40. Both tours say they will make further scheduling announcements in June. The top tours already had been on hold at least until July 13. That was announced on April 1 on the same day that the All England Club said it would be canceling Wimbledon for the first time in 75 years because of the outbreak.
— The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s 2020 induction ceremony for Goran Ivanisevic (ee-vah-NEE’-she-vihch) and Conchita Martinez has been canceled. So has the annual men’s grass-court Hall of Fame Open tournament. The induction was scheduled at the Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, for July 18. That is the same day the tournament was supposed to finish. But the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the suspension of all sanctioned tennis competition since March and at least until the end of July. Ivanisevic and Martinez now will be honored alongside any Class of 2021 inductees in July 2021.
— The IndyCar race in downtown Toronto has been postponed. The race was scheduled to be held July 12 on a street course at Exhibition Place. IndyCar has yet to begin its season. It is scheduled to race June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway for its opening event.
— The Belgian Grand Prix can go ahead on its original August date, but with no fans. Friday’s announcement by local Belgian authorities came two days after the Belgian government allowed outdoor training at sporting facilities to resume under a coach’s supervision starting next week. The Formula One race scheduled for Aug. 28-30 was under threat after Belgium banned all mass events in the country until Aug. 31 because of the pandemic. The track will reopen for professional practice on May 18.
— The Russian soccer league will restart on June 21 after a break of more than three months because of the pandemic. The league intends to pack eight rounds of games into just over one month to finish on July 22. All games will be held in empty stadiums. The Russian Cup will also continue with the final on July 25. That means some clubs face up to 11 games to finish the season.
— The CEO of next year's Tokyo Olympics says the postponed games might not look like what fans are accustomed to. Toshiro Muto says cuts are likely in many areas with the cost of the postponement estimated in Japan at between $2 billion and $6 billion. Muto says one target for saving money was the torch relay. He says “we are looking into every possible area” for cuts.
— Bowling Green has dropped baseball as part of a move to ease financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school says it’s reducing its athletic budget by $2 million. Athletic director Bob Moosbrugger says the school will honor scholarship agreements through graduation and will assist student-athletes who want to transfer. Bowling Green’s move came one day after Akron, another member of the Mid-American Conference, dropped three sports because of fiscal hardship caused by the virus outbreak.
Former MLB All-Star and executive Bob Watson dies
UNDATED (AP) — Two-time All-Star first baseman Bob Watson has died at 74, 24 years after becoming the first black general manager to win a World Series.
Watson was an All-Star selection in 1973 and ’75 while with the Astros. He hit over .300 four times, collected at least 100 RBIs twice and has the distinction of scoring the millionth run in major league history.
Watson was GM of the Yankees when they knocked off the Braves in the 1996 World Series. He also served in the commissioner’s office.
Watson's son, Keith, said his father died from kidney disease.
Kobe pilot had no drugs, alcohol in system
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An autopsy on the pilot in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash shows he did not have drugs or alcohol in his system.
The causes of death for Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, pilot Ara Zobayan and six others in the Jan. 26 crash have been ruled blunt trauma. Zobayan was flying in fog and climbed to get out of the clouds before plunging into a hillside.
Autopsy reports were released Friday by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Howard says mother of his 6-year-old son has died
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard says the mother of his 6-year-old son died nearly six weeks ago due to an epileptic seizure.
Although Howard has spent the NBA's hiatus dealing with the difficult task of explaining Melissa Rios' death to their son, he is also grateful for the chance to heal from the loss without the daily grind of the NBA schedule.
Howard spoke Friday about Rios’ death on a video call from his offseason home in Georgia, where he is staying with his children during the coronavirus pandemic.
Howard said he was literally texting Rios to invite her to stay with him in Georgia when he learned she had died.
Terps get Tua’s brother
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Taulia Tagovailoa (tuhng-ah-vy-LOH’-ah) is leaving Alabama and transferring to Maryland.
The 5-foot-11 quarterback will need a waiver to be eligible this season. He played five games last season as a freshman, completing 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Maryland’s Mike Locksley coached Tagovailoa’s brother, Tua, as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.