Trump lobbies Wisconsin, Michigan to open up; NFL marches on




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NFL, Mason Cox, no pads, helmets, violent clip, tackles, SportsCenter


Mason Cox sees you, and he’s not impressed.

The American AFL star, who plays for Collingwood, thinks his countrymen need a reality check if they plan on bragging about tackling each other without any protection.

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The American 7s Football League (A7FL) — a seven-on-seven competition that prides itself on competitors going to war without pads or helmets — caught the eye of SportsCenter with a promotional clip demonstrating the league’s brutality.

A7FL put out a video on social media showcasing what big hits look like in a sport that, unlike the pros in the NFL, doesn’t let its combatants wear protective equipment.

There are some absolutely monstrous tackles in the montage, to be fair, but Cox was quick to cut his fellow Americans down to size.

“That’s cute. People have been doing this for over 125 years in Australia. It’s called @AFL,” Cox wrote on Twitter in response to the video.

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You’d think with the amount of AFL players who have travelled to the States to ply their trade as punters in the NFL that Americans would have some idea about Aussie rules — not to mention the rugby league stars who have tried to make it in the US.

Jarryd Hayne famously enjoyed a season with the San Francisco 49ers while North Queensland Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes tried but failed to land a spot on the New York Jets’ roster.

Manly star Jorge Taufua’s huge hit on Cameron Munster last year made waves in the US, while ex-Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee is a loved-up AFL convert after discovering it this year during lockdown.

The former football star turned podcaster has become great mates with Cox — or as McAfee calls him, Coxzilla — and has spent plenty of time on his show raving about banana kicks and marks.



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NFL 2020: Stephon Gilmore, Cam Newton, wife denies dinner, New England Patriots


Dinner for two is off the table.

The reported dinner between Patriots teammates Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore – which surfaced after Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 following Newton’s diagnosis – never happened, according to Gilmore’s wife.

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“There was no dinner out,” Gilmore’s wife, Gabrielle, wrote on Twitter. “I’m going to help you out so you guys stop reporting false news.”

She later added, “I’ve seen it circulating a couple times and now I’m annoyed lol,” and “I need my own show if you’re allowed to do these terrible takes and still have listeners.”

ESPN first reported that Newton and Gilmore had dinner together.

Newton tested positive for the virus before an early October game against the Kansas City Chiefs and did not play.

Gilmore travelled with the team and played in the game before his positive test was revealed days after. A result which caused widespread panic after he was filmed getting close to Chiefs megastar Patrick Mahomes after the game.

Gilmore’s wife previously tweeted that her husband had four negative tests prior to facing the Chiefs.

The Patriots-Denver Broncos game originally scheduled for last weekend was moved to next weekend. The Patriots closed their facility and practised just once last week to try to limit the possibility of a team-wide outbreak, like the one that impacted the Titans.

Patriots defensive linemen Bill Murray and Byron Coward also wound up on the COVID-19 list but were not reported to be at the alleged dinner.

This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.



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LeVeon Bell released, New York Jets, contract, free agency, NFL news


The New York Jets released disgruntled running back Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday night.

Bell recently took to Twitter to express his frustrations over his usage following Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals.

The 28-year-old was in the second year of a four-year, $US52.5 million contract ($A73.3m).

GM Joe Douglas in a statement said they were unable to trade Bell.

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Bell’s release will leave $US15 million of dead cap in 2020 and $US4 million in 2021, according to Spotrac.

“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of days, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” Jets GM Joe Douglas said in a statement. “The Jets organisation appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to the team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”

Bell reacted to the news with a “prayers up” emoji.

The Jets made their impulse purchase in March 2019 when former general manager Mike Maccagnan gave Bell a four-year contract despite the objections of coach Adam Gase, who wanted to allocate that money toward offensive linemen.

Since the signing, the decision has looked worse and worse as Bell has been a bad fit, ineffective and at times a distraction.

The last category reared up again after Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Cardinals when Bell took to Twitter, his favourite outlet, to take passive-aggressive shots at the team and Gase. He liked tweets about how poorly the Jets are using him in the passing game and one about how the Jets should trade him.

If only Bell’s feet moved as fast as his thumbs these days.

This is the second time in the last two months he had a Twitter tantrum. Bell whined about being removed from a scrimmage on the social media platform in August, claiming Gase lied about his hamstring tightening up. Bell then injured his hamstring in Week 1 against the Bills and missed the next three games.

Gase said he had yet to speak with Bell about his social media pity party, but said he understood why players get frustrated, especially at 0-5. It is the way Bell chose to deliver the message that chafed Gase.

“I hate that that’s the route that we go with all this instead of just talking to me about it,” Gase said. “It seems that’s the way guys want to do it nowadays.”

This is no longer the player we watched with the Steelers who looked like he was on track for the Hall of Fame.

Maybe it was overuse in Pittsburgh or his year off in 2018 or just being a 28-year-old back instead of a 25-year-old one, but Bell is not what he was.

Eventually after you make a bad purchase, you realise there comes a time you just put it on the kerb and maybe someone will take it.

This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.



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NFL Week 5: Results and Highlights From Sunday’s Games


Sunday got off to a rocky start when the N.F.L. announced it would delay this week’s game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots because of continuing issues with the coronavirus. The decision led to a cascade of changes in the coming schedule, and is sure to be a frequent topic of conversation as teams adjust on the fly.

As for the games, there were surprising results, exciting action and a comeback by Alex Smith that almost no one predicted. But there was also a devastating injury in Arlington, Texas that appears to have ended Dak Prescott’s season.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Dak Prescott’s record-setting season is almost assuredly over. Prescott had scrambled for a 9-yard gain in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Giants when the Cowboys quarterback had his legs tangle underneath him as he was tackled. His right foot appeared to spin around and the veteran sat on the field clenching his calf as medical staff ran to help him. He was in tears as he was taken off the field on the back of a cart and was replaced by Andy Dalton, who led the team to a narrow 37-34 victory.

    Prescott, who threw for at least 450 yards in each of his three previous games — an N.F.L. first — set a record for the most passing yards through the first four games of the season, with 1,690. The outburst of productivity followed an off-season in which he failed to come to terms with Dallas on a long-term contract extension.

    No official timetable was given for his recovery, but the team confirmed that Prescott sustained a compound fracture and dislocation of the ankle and that he would have surgery on it immediately. Team owner Jerry Jones said he has “no doubt” Prescott will be back and Prescott’s brother shared a photo of Dak in the hospital smiling. But on top of an arduous recovery, the ramifications of the injury will likely affect Prescott’s contract negotiations with Dallas this off-season.

*Except when it takes more.

Browns 32, Colts 23 In October 1994, “Pulp Fiction,” “Forrest Gump,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” and “Jurassic Park” were all in theaters and the Browns, coached by Bill Belichick, were 4-1. Since then, the Browns picked up and moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season, were resurrected in Cleveland in 1999 and had 56 players throw at least one pass. But until Sunday they had not managed another 4-1 start.

Raiders 40, Chiefs 32 Not only did the Chiefs lose a game for the first time since Nov. 10, 2019, they did so at home while watching a team look an awful lot like them with the rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III using his game-changing speed to burn Kansas City’s defense for 113 yards on just two receptions, one of which was a 72-yard touchdown.

Cowboys 37, Giants 34 Dallas has to be happy that they invested in a veteran backup, as Andy Dalton may not be perfect, but he’s a lot better than what many teams would have if they lost their franchise quarterback for the season. Salvaging a win in this game was a start, but the execution will obviously need improvement.

Ravens 27, Bengals 3 Lamar Jackson had a day well below his typical standards, but Baltimore didn’t need much from its offense thanks to a terrific effort from its defense, which reminded Joe Burrow that he is a rookie by having seven players record a sack, including Patrick Queen, who had nine tackles, a sack and two fumble recoveries, the second of which he returned 53 yards for a touchdown.

Steelers 38, Eagles 29 A win is a win, but Pittsburgh should be concerned both by its secondary struggling against Philadelphia and one of the team’s top off-season acquisitions, tight end Eric Ebron, having a rough fourth quarter in which he fumbled the ball away in a key situation on one drive and got pushed out of the way for a near interception — the ball hit the ground before it was caught — on the next one.

Dolphins 43, 49ers 17 Miami had more than twice as many total yards as San Francisco, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes and Jimmy Garoppolo was benched for his own safety in a game that went off the rails immediately for the defending N.F.C. champions.

Rams 30, Footballers 10 It was hardly a perfect game for Los Angeles, but Jared Goff threw for 309 yards, the rookie running back Cam Akers returned from an injury to average 6.8 yards a carry, Robert Woods hauled in a 56-yard touchdown pass and Aaron Donald tied his career high with four sacks.

Cardinals 30, Jets 10 DeAndre Hopkins’s injured ankle appeared to be healed, as he torched the Jets for six catches, 131 yards and a touchdown, ruining Joe Flacco’s first start since Week 8 of last season.

Panthers 23, Falcons 16 Todd Gurley turned the clock way back with 121 yards (on just 14 carries) and a touchdown, Calvin Ridley had eight receptions for 136 yards and Atlanta still lost by a touchdown, at home, to a team missing its best player. It makes you wonder how this team, as constructed, could ever win a game.

Texans 30, Jaguars 14 You’d have to work hard to find a play executed more poorly than a fourth-and-1 at the opponent’s 8-yard line in which a team trailing by 13-7 (Jacksonville) did a direct snap to a running back (James Robinson), had him roll out as if he was going to pass only to have him simply drop the ball with no contact for a turnover that all but decided the game in Houston’s favor.





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NFL to penalize talking to refs without a mask


October 10, 2020

Any coach who approaches a referee without wearing a proper face covering now can be slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

A memo sent to teams Friday from Perry Fewell, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating administration, authorizes officials to throw the flags. It is a response to complaints from the NFL Referees Association about coaches and other sideline personnel pulling down their masks to yell at officials from close range.

“We have seen multiple occasions where head coaches have removed their masks to communicate with game officials during games,” Fewell wrote in the memo. “Doing so creates unnecessary, increased risk for the game official, the head coach, and others, and is inconsistent with the requirement that face coverings be worn at all times. …

“Consistent with all other individuals on the sideline, game officials are entitled to your respect as they perform their job duties during the pandemic.”

The league’s COVID-19 protocols require everyone on the sideline to wear a face covering except for players who are actively involved in the game. The referees only remove their masks to announce penalties.

The NFL fined five coaches $100,000 each — and their teams $250,000 — for failing to wear masks properly in the early weeks of the season.

–Field Level Media





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Eugenie Bouchard boyfriend, Mason Rudolph, NFL, love life


It seems Eugenie Bouchard has approved the boyfriend resume of a certain NFL player.

The Canadian tennis star, who fell to Poland’s Iga Swiatek in the third round of the French Open, is dating Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, according to TMZ.

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Rudolph, 25, most recently linked to former star of the American version of The Bachelor Hannah Ann Sluss, is said to “have gotten pretty serious” with Bouchard, 26, a source told the publication.

Rudolph, who serves as Ben Roethlisberger’s back-up in Pittsburgh, is best known in the NFL for his helmet-swinging fight with Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett last season.

Bouchard, who previously caught the eye of New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, appeared to fuel dating rumours on Instagram earlier this week.

Tagging a post from Pennsylvania, Bouchard added the caption: “Pitt stop.” Rudolph also “liked” the shot.

Back in March, Bouchard said she was flooded with “dating resumes” after tweeting that quarantine “would be a lot more fun with a boyfriend.”

Earlier this year the world No. 168 also agreed to a virtual rendezvous — then a meeting in the flesh — with American podcaster Bob Menery after he ambushed her on Instagram live and asked for a date if he donated enough money to charity.

Unfortunately, Menery’s constant spruiking of their new-found connection on social media led Bouchard into the arms of another man.

“I went on a date because of you. I just wanted to let you know that your obscene posting may be backfiring,” Bouchard told Menery on his podcast in July.

“Someone who only heard of me because you were posting about me asked me on a date and we went on a date.

“I’m not going to divulge details but I’m just saying he was like, ‘I heard about you because of Bob’.

“I was like, ‘This is so funny’. Thank you Bob.”

In May, during her Zoom date with Menery, Bouchard revealed her longest ever relationship with a guy lasted a “few years”, and elaborated on the difficulties of finding love given the demands of her career.

“It’s hard to meet people in person because I’m always travelling. Normally I’m in a different city every single week so that makes it super hard,” Bouchard said.

“What do you do? If someone knows who you are then I don’t want them to look up to me too much, I don’t want them to be a fan.

“How do you meet someone who’s not like that? It’s tough.”

With Jaclyn Hendricks, New York Post



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NFL: Tennessee Titans v Buffalo Bills & Denver Broncos v New England Patriots moved


Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has seen 23 players and staff test positive since 24 September

The Tennessee Titans have confirmed a 23rd positive coronavirus test and their game against the Buffalo Bills is one of two moved by the NFL.

The Titans have had 13 players and 10 staff test positive since 24 September.

Their match against the Bills has been put back from Sunday to Tuesday and could be rescheduled again if there are more positive Covid-19 cases.

The Denver Broncos against the New England Patriots has been moved a day, from Sunday to Monday.

“These scheduling decisions were made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts,” said an NFL statement.

Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s positive coronavirus test was confirmed on Wednesday, while quarterback Cam Newton and defensive lineman Bill Murray are also isolating after contracting the virus.

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N.F.L. Again Moves Patriots and Titans Games Over Coronavirus


For the second consecutive week, the N.F.L. has shuffled its schedule to accommodate teams that have had players and staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The league announced on Thursday that the Tennessee Titans — who have had the league’s worst outbreak, with nearly two dozen players, coaches and staff members testing positive — would play the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern time, instead of on Sunday, assuming that the team reports no more positive tests. The Titans reported two additional positive tests in their organization on Thursday.

If Tennessee and Buffalo play as now scheduled on Tuesday, the Bills’ following game, against the Kansas City Chiefs, would be moved back three days from Thursday, Oct. 15.

The league had already postponed the Titans’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, scheduled for this past Sunday, by three weeks because of the Titans’ outbreak.

The league also on Thursday moved the New England Patriots-Denver Broncos game, scheduled for Sunday, to 5 p.m. Eastern on Monday, after Stefon Gilmore, New England’s star cornerback, was reported yesterday to have tested positive. Last week, the Patriots’ Sunday game was moved to Monday because their quarterback, Cam Newton, had tested positive.

The postponements are part of the N.F.L.’s effort to manage confirmed infections, which it has said for months were expected to occur.

This week, the N.F.L. said it would use video surveillance to ensure that players and coaches were wearing proper protective equipment at team facilities.

The league is also investigating whether the Titans have violated league rules by working out after the club’s facility was shuttered because of the outbreak in the locker room. The team may be facing penalties that include fines and revoked draft picks. In the worst case, Tennessee could even be forced to forfeit a game.

The league chose not to construct a closed community or a bubble — as the W.N.B.A. and N.B.A. did — for players and coaches to live in during the season, as a way to reduce the risk of infection.

Instead, protocols were put in place to enforce physical distancing and other safety measures while the players and the team’s staff members were together. But at the end of each day, all team personnel are allowed to return home, increasing their chances of being exposed to the virus.

This strategy relies on the avoidance of unnecessary risks by players, coaches and other team employees. The league has fined coaches tens of thousands of dollars for failing to wear face masks properly. Ten players on the Las Vegas Raiders have been fined as much as $30,000 each for attending an indoor charity event where most people, including the players, were not wearing masks.



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Cam Newton tests positive as two NFL games postponed due to positive coronavirus cases


Coronavirus has forced the postponement or cancellation of games across Europe and America’s major sporting leagues this weekend as key players recorded positive test results.

Matches in the NFL, Italy’s Serie A and England’s Rugby Union Premiership have all been impacted, raising significant questions about the immediate viability of those competitions.

The hiatus for major leagues across the world caused enough financial pain to make its resumption inevitable.

And while various sporting organisations have experimented with centralised hubs and COVID bubbles amidst a range of biosecurity measures, those that have opted to maintain as normal a regime as possible are starting to feel the pinch.

The comparatively smooth ride Australian sport in particular has had since resuming operations may have given off the impression that sport’s COVID-safe bubbles are nigh-on impenetrable.

However, the reality has started to bite elsewhere around the world, with matches starting to be affected.

Cam Newton positive causes NFL chaos

New England quarterback Cam Newton is the highest-profile named player to catch coronavirus in the NFL.

His positive has meant that the NFL has been forced to postpone the New England Patriots trip to reigning Super Bowl champions Kansas City.

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A league statement said the Sunday afternoon game would now be played on “Monday or Tuesday” after “positive COVID-19 tests on both teams”.

Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was also named as having recorded a positive test.

“In consultation with infectious disease experts, both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA to evaluate multiple close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments,” the statement read.

NFL players and coaches are tested daily and are required to wear masks when visiting practice facilities and when travelling to and from games.

Players have also been given strict instructions not to engage in “high-risk activities” but are not isolated away from the general public in a COVID-safe bubble, like the NBA and NHL.

To put an Australian spin on things, the NFL is following a similar system to the NRL.

Of course, coronavirus is much more prevalent in the US than it is in Australia, and the NFL has not had the relative luxury of being able to move a team from a more high-risk area to a lower-risk location like the NRL did with the Melbourne Storm.

All of that means these positive cases are not a surprise.

The NFL’s chief medical officer, Allen Sills, said he would “expect to have positive cases” over the course of the season.

That pre-season prediction has come true, with the Patriots-Chiefs game the second to be postponed in a week.

Earlier in the week, the Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers clash was the first game to be postponed after a confirmed positive case in the Titans set up.

That one positive has turned into the NFL’s first cluster, with 16 cases currently confirmed among staff and players.

Delaying matches for any reasonable amount of time could result in a monumental fixture headache for league organisers to shift through.

After all, there’s not much wiggle-room in a 17-week season.

Major League Baseball also had to adapt to this scenario when a number of teams were forced into isolation after cases were recorded across a number of teams.

However, baseball players are used to a hectic schedule of multiple matches per week and were able to make up the games over the course of their truncated season.

The NFL though, is a different beast due to its arduous, high-contact nature.

Having one or more teams delaying their matches only to then play multiple games in a week further down the track is simply not feasible without the team on a short turnaround being at a major disadvantage.

Europe’s sports leagues fixture postponements

The NFL’s situation is being mirrored in Europe, which is grappling with the impacts of a second wave of positive tests.



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