Three Impacts Covid-19 Has On Sports

Today, we are going to do something a little bit different here. Sports news still keeps on ticking over, but it is not being made nearly as quickly as when there are actual games being played. That means we need a bit of creativity here. So, let’s look at how three different sports are being impacted. Before beginning, I do note that there are many things that are changed as a result, not just what I mention here!

Let’s begin with the NFL. Despite the virus going around, the league decided that it would start its offseason calendar on time, just as planned. That meant that trades could be made and free agency would come into affect with the arrival of a new league year. However, there is one issue that you have to have along with any deal- a physical. This will effectively ‘hang up’ deals for the players in question, as they have to be confirmed to be fit and healthy before it is officially done. This will also put a damper on potential picks in the upcoming draft, as teams will not be able to evaluate how ‘fit’ they are ahead of possibly selecting them.

Pats Pulpit

In the world of the NBA, let’s talk about how the Olympics would be effecting it all. The Olympics are, let’s just finally face it, probably going to be canceled or postponed. We all know that, or sure, if we have some common sense, that is. If it does so, though, it would help the NBA. The reason why is very simple: the NBA would not have to make the choice of letting players leave to play in the Games or continuing its season. There would be no threat of the Games going on without NBA players, and there would be no possibility of the season being pushed back even further. This may not sound like a big deal, but you know the owners would love to conclude the present season before a new one is due to begin…

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And finally, in the world of soccer, it looks like a lot of transfers are also going to be impacted. Clubs from all over the board are being hit hard by this, as receipts from ticket sales are just not coming in as they are used to seeing them. Some are said to be on the verge of bankruptcy, while other clubs, even the massive ones, are also taking hits. One such club, apparently, that is seeing a conundrum of sorts is Barcelona. According to sources, they want to bring back Brazilian star Neymar to their fold. But they also want to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan. Due to the financial impact, however, it appears that they may have to only sign one. And Martinez is more affordable, so that could mean that Neymar’s return is once again not ‘doable’ at present.

Barca Blaugranes

Gurley Cut By Rams, Signed By Falcons

After a five-year beginning to his career, Todd Gurley, the 25-year-old running back out of Georgia, was released by the Los Angeles Rams.

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Since being drafted 10th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, Gurley has remained one of the marquee running backs in the league. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015, when he rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns.

As the Rams continued their rebuilding and Gurley was recognized as one of the best running backs in the league, opposing defenses began to stack the box to impose their will on the young Ram. In his sophomore campaign, he finished with 885 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Over the next two years, Gurley would produce at an MVP level. In the Rams first breakout season, which included a playoff berth for the first time in over a decade, Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017, winning Offensive Player of the Year, while finishing with 788 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The next season, the 2018 Rams Super Bowl season, Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns, while finishing with 580 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Towards the tail end of the 2018 season, Gurley had a knee injury, where rumors began to circulate that the injury, combined with past knee injuries, left Gurley with severe arthritis and degenerating bone health. The rumors were put to test in 2019, when the Rams and Gurley underperformed. He rushed for only 857 yards but scored 12 rushing touchdowns. The Rams missed the playoffs.

With the NFL free agency period in full swing, the Rams released Gurley before $10.5 million of his contract was to be fully guaranteed. The Rams will still owe Gurley roughly $7 million in roster bonuses.

The next day, the Atlanta Falcons signed Gurley to a one-year contract, bringing him back to the state of Georgia.

Although pairing Gurley with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley sounds deadly, Gurley is no longer a workhorse, every down running back. The limitations on his knee were evident last season. But pairing him with other competent running backs and using him situationally could make for an exciting team and battle for the NFC South.

Brady Signs With Bucs, Diggs Traded To Bills

It wasn’t long after quarterback Tom Brady announced his intentions to not re-sign with the New England Patriots that rumors began circulating that his contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was all but finalized.

With Brady and the Buccaneers still working on the language of the contract, the quarterback is verbally committed to the Bucs.

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Brady, who turns 43 before the start of the season, will be gifted an arsenal of weapons in Tampa Bay. The Bucs boast young talent like Mike Evans, who stands at six-foot, five inches tall, and would be the tallest receiver Brady would ever throw to. Speedster Chris Godwin broke onto the scene this past season, finishing with 1,333 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns.

This leaves into question the future of Jameis Winston, who led the NFL in passing yards this past season and created the “30-30 club”, throwing for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in one season. After his Lasik eye surgery this offseason, hopes were high that Winston could shake old habits and become the star that he has longed teased.

Brady waited until after big name free agents were traded and signed before making his final decision. Deandre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for practically nothing and Stephon Diggs was traded to the Patriots division rivals Buffalo Bills for some draft picks. Brady was clearly frustrated that the Patriots organization didn’t make a run at any of the names mentioned.

Between Brady leaving the Patriots and the leaks of him signing with the Bucs, Philip Rivers, long-time quarterback of the San Diego, now turned Los Angeles Chargers, signed a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

This leaves the Chargers as a potential home for Winston. Rumors of Winston joining the Patriots have been circulating.

Brady Leaving Patriots, Hopkins Traded

In a series of posts on Instagram, quarterback Tom Brady announced that he would not be returning to the New England Patriots.

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With the announcement, Brady said he wasn’t sure of which team he would be signing with yet, but all rumors circulating has involved the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers (it’s still weird to say that) and the Indianapolis Colts. The Bucs are the prohibited betting favorite, as their young core of stud wide receivers give Brady the perfect opportunity to prolong his career.

The Chargers similarly have young offensive weapons, as well as a powerful defense, and the team is located in Los Angeles (because team location and markets have an impact on free agency signings). The Colts are the only confusing one, as their team isn’t good enough to be a championship contender, but Brady has been linked to the organization.

In his 20 years with the Patriots, Brady won six Super Bowls in nine total appearances, being named MVP of four. He was a 14-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro, three-time MVP and won 17 AFC East titles. Brady is currently second all-time in passing yards and passing touchdowns, winning 77% of the games he started, being regarded by many as the greatest quarterback ever.

It will be weird to see Brady in a different uniform, especially if he’s on a losing team.

In other NFL free agency news, the Houston Texans traded Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for David Johnson and a second-round pick. The Texans entered the day without a first-round pick in this years’ draft, traded Hopkins, and still have no first-round pick.

The contract for Johnson alone is a question mark, as the running back was paid on the promise of his career, and not the actual production. He is an injury prone player, while Hopkins is one of the highest producing receivers of this generation. Johnson’s contract will be a cap hit of roughly $18 million over the next two seasons.

NFL Teams Make Cuts

Although all sporting events have been cancelled or postponed, the business side of sports still continues to function, including the NFL free agency.

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The Tennessee Titans were able to free up close to $10 million in cap space by releasing running back Dion Lewis and linebacker Cameron Wake. In 2018, Lewis signed a four-year, $19.8 million contract, while Wake signed a three-year, $23 million contract in 2019.

In just one start last season, Lewis rushed for 209 yards, as the explosion of Derrick Henry pushed the offense to revolve around him. Lewis, 29, rushed for 726 yards and a touchdown and had 564 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in two seasons with the Titans.

Wake only played nine games with the Titans, finishing with five tackles and two and a half sacks. In his 11 seasons, 10 with the Miami Dolphins, Wake has 364 tackles and 100.5 sacks.

The Titans are looking to place a franchise tag on Henry, while also freeing up cap space to resign quarterback Ryan Tannehill or take a chance at another quarterback.

At the same time, the Green Bay Packers released tight end Jimmy Graham, who was set as the highest paid tight end in the league, making $10 million per year. Graham, 33, finished 2019 with 447 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Although he’s widely respected, his impact on the field isn’t worth the money he was owed. Only Zach Ertz was scheduled to take a bigger cap hit than Graham.

The Packers save $8 million in cap space by releasing the former All-Pro tight end.

Two-time Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones was released by the Dolphins late Thursday. The move frees up roughly $5 million in cap space for the Dolphins, who now have $90 million in cap space entering this free agency period.

Selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, Jones was the longest tenured player on the Dolphins. The 32-year-old is in a different phase of his career than what the rebuilding Dolphins were looking for.

NBA And Other Leagues Suspend Season

After Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the Coronavirus, the NBA announced that the season would be suspended and games to resume at a later date.

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In addition to the NBA season being postponed, the NBA G-League also postponed the remainder of the season, as well as Major League Soccer. The last game that was completed was a win by the Dallas Mavericks over the Denver Nuggets. Atlanta Hawks forward Vince Carter checked in during the Hawks loss last night for maybe the final time in his career. A weird way to end a storied career.

When the Jazz arrived at the arena, Gobert was feeling fine and able to play, but tested positive for the virus. Once that was discovered, the arena was emptied, and the game was postponed. The Jazz players were quarantined at the arena, unable to leave until the middle of the night. Shortly afterwards, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus.

Players who recently played the Jazz were told to self-quarantine.

There are 259 games remaining this season, with teams fighting for playoff spots and championship aspirations, no one knows when or if games will resume.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took an initiative to continue to pay the arena employees, even though games aren’t being played. Other owners across the league have followed.

The NBA will take appropriate and timely measures moving forward, with a plan to address NBA teams sometime Thursday afternoon. This is something the league has never experienced before, with postponements of the season in the past usually because of contract disputes.

With the virus being global and ultimately deadly, the safety of everyone involved is more important than basketball games. The players have expressed concern for all fans and anyone involved.

Wizards, Nets And Rockets Victorious On Tuesday

The Washington Wizards, led by All-Star Game snub Bradley Beal, beat the New York Knicks (impressive right?) 122-115. The 24-40 Wizards are now in the ninth seed of the Eastern Conference standings but are five and a half games back from a playoff spot, as the top eight playoff teams are all but set in the conference.

In the 22nd time over the past 23 games, Beal surpassed the 25-point mark, as he scored 39 points. Since the All-Star break, Beal is averaging 36.5 points and 5.6 assists per game, while shooting 46 percent from the field and 45 percent from three. He has clearly been motivated by not being selected to the All-Star Game, where he was averaging 29.1 points per game before then.

The biggest surprise of the night came when the Brooklyn Nets upset the surging Los Angeles Lakers, after the Lakers had multiple opportunities to win the game in the final possession.

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Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets in scoring with 23 points, while Caris LeVert scored 22 points. LeBron James, who’s at the rim layup rolled out with seconds left, scored 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished nine assists. He could’ve registered his 10th assist of the night when he drove the lane and kicked a pass to Anthony Davis, who attempted the game winning three. The shot was off, and the Nets won 104-102.

The Nets are 30-35 and fighting with the Orlando Magic for control of the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers are still five and a half games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the first seed in the Western Conference.

In a 117-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, James Harden scored 37 points for the struggling Houston Rockets. Since their “microball” approach, the Rockets have been routinely outrebounded by double digits every game. The team has been able to overcome those obstacles and stay in games, but ultimately losing despite great performances from Harden and Russell Westbrook every night.

After trailing most of this game, the Rockets got desperate and amped up the level of play. Loose balls were turning into possessions for the Rockets and the team started to make shots. They pulled away down the stretch despite 28 points from newly acquired guard D’Angelo Russell.

The Rockets are fighting with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fifth seed.

Tennis Balls Are Yellow Thanks To David Attenborough

A crazy story that you may never have heard before was recently covered in Tennis Today, it is the story on how tennis balls became their unique bright yellow color. Before that, they had always been white, and the amazing part is the change came off the back of a contribution by Sir David Attenborough.

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You see at the time he was the Controller of BBC2, the channel that regularly covered all the tennis games. White tennis balls were fine during the era of black and white television, but as color became more and more mainstream; well David Attenborough knew there was going to be a problem. He put forth the idea of using yellow tennis balls as they would be much easier to see and follow on a color TV.

Older tennis fans may still remember using white tennis balls, but after a certain date, you would not even have been aware that they existed. During the 1800s when lawn tennis was really getting popular, either white or black tennis balls were used. This was the case up until the 1970s, which is when the great Sir David Attenborough came into the picture.

He had the job of introducing color television to BBC2, they had been asking the government over and over to give them color broadcasting but they had kept refusing. Until 1967 when the government suddenly changed their tune and advised they would have color television within 9 months. The idea being they wanted the BBC to broadcast Wimbledon in color for the first time in the summer of 1967.

However, the use of the white tennis balls meant it was difficult for viewers to follow the flight of the tennis ball, making it harder to enjoy and spectate the match. Finally, in 1972, the International Tennis Federation approved the fluorescent yellow tennis ball color we know today. Though Wimbledon ever trying to remain the classic of tennis took another 14 years to embrace the new color of tennis balls, continuing to use the white ones and frustrate viewers for another decade.

So that is the story of how Attenborough’s suggestion did, in fact, change the tennis ball from white to yellow, of course, some debate and argue that they are in fact green – but let’s not open up that story.

Prescott Rejects Contract, Brady News

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has reportedly rejected a contract proposal from the organization, while Tom Brady is still mulling his free agency options.

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Prescott, 26, was offered a contract worth $33 million per year and over $100 million guaranteed, placing him in the hierarchy of quarterback salaries. Prescott, who was previously searching for $40 million per season, declined the new proposal. The highest paid quarterback in the league is Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson, who makes $35 million per season.

In this past season, his fourth in the league, Prescott finished second in passing yards (4,902), fourth in passing touchdowns (30), 10th in passer rating (99.7) and fifth in QBR (71.20). Impressive numbers for a quarterback who has a stigma of being a check-down passer who can’t throw. Prescott hasn’t missed a game in his four seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice. His overall record since entering the league is 40-24.

Brady, who turns 43 before the start of the season, is currently unsure of his future with the New England Patriots. He has won six Super Bowls, four of which he was named the MVP of, and three regular season league MVPs with the organization.

In his 20th season, Brady finished seventh in passing yards (4,057) and 13th in passing touchdowns (24). He’s not the high usage, MVP caliber quarterback that he once was, but Brady is still able to maintain relevancy as a top 10 player at his position.

There are a number of reported options, with the Tennessee Titans leading the conversations. With Mike Vrabel being the head coach, Brady would be walking into a comfortable system that features the powerful running of Derrick Henry and a strong defense, one that stifled Brady in the AFC Wild Card.

On the flipside, the Patriots still have an advantage because of his past there. This is a team that always has a few tricks up their sleeve and able to make a blockbuster trade at any moment.

Lakers Best Clippers 112-103

Behind another strong performance from LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-103 to continue the Lakers run of dominance this season.

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Towards the end of a close fourth quarter, James could be found on the ground, diving for a loose ball, during his 17th season in the league. James, a four-time regular season MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP, is still showing how important winning is to him and how crucial it is for him to continue to make a statement every night.

At the end of the game, MVP chants directed towards James could be heard in Staples Center. James was able to walk off the court with half a minute left and the game secured for the Lakers, earning his applause from the crowd after leaving his heart on the court for the same fans he said is the reason why he plays the game.

Anthony Davis finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, while Avery Bradley scored 24 points. The Clippers bench didn’t step up when it mattered the most, with only Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Montrezl Harrell scored in double figures. Between Leonard, George and Patrick Beverly, there were only four registered assists. James himself, more than doubled their total assists.

In the last two days, the Lakers and James have bested the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the best record in the league and the reigning MVP, and the Clippers, who are the second seed in the Western Conference and have the reigning Finals MVP.

With his recent performances, James has secured his place in MVP discussions, especially with Giannis Antetokounmpo out for the next couple of games. The Lakers have the first seed and home court advantage all but locked up for the playoffs.