Thursday’s Sports in Brief
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL still plans to hold training camps on time beginning in late July, though contingency plans are in place.
Hours after the league canceled the Hall of Fame game that kicks off the preseason, the 32 team owners on were updated on a variety of issues, many dealing with working through the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably, according to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, the owners were told about plans to fully reopen team facilities for training camp next month.
Earlier Thursday, the league and the Pro Football Hall of Fame canceled the opening preseason game between Dallas and Pittsburgh set for Aug. 6. The hall’s induction ceremonies set for Aug. 8, and for mid-September for a special centennial class, have been moved to August 2021, when the Cowboys and Steelers will play in the game.
Team facilities were closed in late March due to the pandemic and have been reopened to limited personnel. No players other than those rehabilitating injuries are allowed at those facilities.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he’s considering kneeling alongside his players during the national anthem this season in support of the movement against racial injustice.
The first-year coach hired from Baylor previously has told his players that he will support them for expressing their views about social injustice.
In 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. His ex-teammate Eric Reid kneeled alongside him and later played for the Panthers. Both players reached settlements with the NFL after filing grievances alleging owners colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien previously has said he will take a knee alongside his players during the national anthem. Rhule, who like O’Brien is white, said he will confer with his players before making any decision about whether to kneel.
PHOENIX (AP) — Baseball’s bubble-free environment is an anomaly as the sports world tries to come back amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of bringing a group of teams to Disney World (like the NBA and MLS) or concentrating on a few hub cities (like the current NHL plan), Major League Baseball has 30 teams spread all over the United States and potentially Canada, with players, coaches and team personnel trying to stay healthy while cases are still spreading.
Needless to say, it won’t be easy.
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said he’ll be constantly reminding everyone in his organization about the delicacy of the current situation. It’s especially important in Phoenix, where COVID-19 cases have increased substantially over the past few weeks.
That means altering the way baseball players behave on and off the field.
The on-field portion is largely addressed in a hefty manual that covers everything from hotels to showers to spitting. It will be awkward and sometimes not particularly practical, but teams are vowing to do their best.
LOS ANGEES (AP) — Some people in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins organizations have tested positive for COVID-19, officials with the teams said Thursday.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on a video conference call that it’s “a delicate subject” and he declined to identify those with positive tests.
Friedman said it’s “definitely possible” some people from the player, staff or front-office ranks may be delayed in reporting to the start of spring training next week.
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Minnesota had “a few” players in the organization recently test positive. He said each player is “doing well” in self-isolation at home.
None of the positive tests came from players currently in Minnesota or in Fort Myers, Florida, where the team’s spring training headquarters are. Falvey declined to specify the exact number or whether the players were major leaguers or minor leaguers.
Prior to the recent positive tests, Falvey said, the Twins had no known cases among players or staff.
Major league players will start reporting July 1 to begin preparing for a 60-game season scheduled to start in late July.
MIAMI (AP) — A person with knowledge of the situation says Miami forward Derrick Jones Jr. has tested positive for the coronavirus, a result that came in shortly after the Heat and other NBA teams began mandatory testing in preparation for next month’s resumption of the season.
Jones, the reigning NBA slam dunk contest champion, still plans to play when the Heat get back on the floor at the Disney complex near Orlando next month, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
League officials have expected that positive tests would be inevitable, and believed that starting a testing regimen now — roughly five weeks before games begin at Disney — will give players with positive results time to recover and get back with their teams before those contests start July 30.
A small number of NBA players publicly revealed Wednesday that they had tested positive, including Sacramento teammates Jabari Parker and Alex Len and Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon. All-Star Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has also tested positive, a person with knowledge of that situation told AP on Tuesday.
ATLANTA (AP) — Vince Carter made his retirement official, announcing on his podcast that his 22-year NBA career has come to an end.
The announcement was largely a formality because the 43-year-old Carter had said many times over the course of this season that this would be his last in the NBA. His 22 seasons are the most in league history, and he became the first NBA player to appear in four different decades.
Carter appeared in 1,541 NBA games, behind only Robert Parish (1,611) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) on the league’s all-time list. He started his career with Toronto, then played for New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and spent his final two seasons with Atlanta.
Carter’s first season was the 1998-99 campaign, which was shortened to 50 games because of labor strife. His final season was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Hawks will not be part of the 22 teams headed to the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida, next month for the planned resumption of NBA play.
CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Mackenzie Hughes shot a career-low 60 to take the first-round at the Travelers Championship as the PGA Tour tried to switch its focus back to golf amid growing concerns about the coronavirus.
Hughes, a 29-year-old Canadian, had a chance to shoot the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history, but his 40-foot birdie attempt on his final hole came up short. Jim Furyk shot a 12-under 58 on the same TPC River Highlands course four years ago, the lowest score in a tour event.
It was good enough for three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland, who each shot 63 on a day of low scoring.
Phil Mickelson, paired with McIlroy in his first competitive round since turning 50, was one of six players to shoot 64. Bryson DeChambeau’s 65 was the worst score in the marquee threesome.
There were 106 players who broke par. The record for a day at TPC River Highlands was in 2011, when 111 players were 1-under or better in the second round.
Mickelson learned earlier Thursday that he was granted an exemption into this year’s U.S. Open for being in the top 70 in the world on March 15, when golf was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — The 30-year wait is over. Liverpool is champion of England again.
Liverpool clinched its first league title since 1990 on Thursday, ending an agonizing title drought without the players even having to take the field.
Instead, the Premier League crown was secured when Chelsea beat second-place Manchester City 2-1, a re sult that means City can no longer catch Liverpool with seven games remaining.
For the city of Liverpool, this has been a party three decades in the making, and even the restrictions caused by the coronavirus failed to prevent fans from gathering to celebrate outside Anfield.
Only a few dozen supporters were outside the stadium as the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge. But hundreds more quickly arrived, setting off flares and fireworks, waving flags and singing “Allez, Allez, Allez” on the steps of the stadium.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Women’s World Cup is heading to Australia and New Zealand in 2023 after a concentrated effort by the joint bidders to secure the global soccer event in the southern hemisphere for the first time.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the mother of a 2-year-old daughter who should be old enough to watch some of the action live in three years, worked the phones overnight in a bid to lobby any members of the FIFA Council who hadn’t made up their mind.
It will be the first-of-a-kind World Cup, co-hosted by members of different confederations. Australia joined the Asian confederation after qualifying for the 2006 men’s World Cup, leaving New Zealand as the largest member of the Oceania confederation.
Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged the full financial support of their respective governments, a fact not lost on the Asian Football Confederation president.