Tagged in: season

Raiders to host Saints in Las Vegas regular-season debut on Monday Night Football

The Las Vegas Raiders will make their regular-season home debut Sept. 21 on Monday Night Football versus the New Orleans Saints, a match that will be simulcast on ESPN and ABC, according to the full 2020 NFL schedule released Thursday night.

The matchup will introduce the country to the Raiders’ new home at Allegiant Stadium, where they have relocated after a 25-season run in Oakland, California.

The Saints, meanwhile, are one of nine teams that will make multiple appearances on Monday Night Football. In addition to their Week 2 match at Las Vegas, they’ll also host the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 5.

The NFL revealed its full 2020 schedule in anticipation of playing a typical season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Roger Goodell told teams in a memo this week that adjustments will be made if necessary.

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“We will continue to work in a deliberate and thoughtful way to plan for the 2020 season, including with [Thursday’s] schedule release,” Goodell wrote, “and we will be prepared to address any contingencies as they arise.”

Other highlights of the Monday Night Football calendar include:

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will travel in Week 3 to play the Baltimore Ravens, the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed in 2019.

In their most recent matchup against each other, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes overcame the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson 33-28 in Week 3 of last season.

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will travel in Week 3 to play the Baltimore Ravens, the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed in 2019. In their most recent matchup against each other, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes overcame the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson 33-28 in Week 3 of last season.

Quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make two appearances, in Week 8 at the New York Giants and in Week 11 at home against the Los Angeles Rams.

Two AFC East-related appearances by the New England Patriots, who bid farewell to Brady and are on track to start second-year player Jarrett Stidham in his place. The Patriots will play at the New York Jets in Week 9 and then host the Buffalo Bills in the final Monday Night Football match of the season, in Week 16.

A Week 1 doubleheader Sept. 14 that will pit the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Giants at 7:15 p.m. ET, followed by the Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos in a 10:10 p.m. ET kickoff.

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NFL to release regular-season schedule Thursday

The NFL will release its regular-season schedule on Thursday night, the league reported Monday, as it continues conducting business mostly as usual amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The schedule will be disclosed in a three-hour telecast on NFL Network starting at 8 p.m.

Thus far, the league has not announced any major updates to its schedule as a result of the pandemic, which has brought most organized sports around the globe to a halt. NFL training facilities are closed because of the pandemic, leading to the league’s first-ever “virtual offseason,” but the league still plans to start the campaign on time while playing in teams’ home stadiums.

Opening day for the 2020 season is Sept. 10, with the season set to finish with Super Bowl 55 on February 7, 2021. The NFL also held last month’s draft on time while canceling all in-person events. The draft had been set for Las Vegas; instead, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced picks from his home.

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Should the pandemic force major changes to the season, the league is considering alternatives including empty stadiums, neutral sites and getting rid of bye weeks, league executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press last week. Any such changes would have to be approved by the players union.

Earlier Monday, the NFL announced it was moving its five matches scheduled for London and Mexico City this season back to U.S. stadiums.

The league has evaluated contingency plans should the pandemic intensify, working in conjunction with the NFL Players Association and medical experts on a set of protocols.

The league is evaluating when players can re enter team facilities. The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to keep buildings closed until every state in which a team resides lifts its stay-at-home mandate. Teams are conducting organized team activities virtually.

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Bears Decline Fifth-Year Option on QB Mitchell Trubisky, Reports Say

In a not-so-surprising move, the Chicago Bears are apparently declining their fifth-year contract option for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Trubisky, the team’s first round draft pick in the 2017 draft, could possibly become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 NFL season, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

“The team has liked Trubisky’s attitude since the Nick Foles trade, and it’ll be an open competition,” Pelissero said. “A chance for Trubisky to make himself a lot of money before his contract expires next March.”

The Bears were fast approaching a deadline to determine whether they would pick up Trubisky’s fifth year option.

By declining the option, the Bears quarterback could potentially become a free agent after the 2020 season, but if he has a successful year, the Bears still have options to keep him, as they could either re-sign him to a new extension or apply the team’s franchise tag to him, preventing him from seeking a contract with another team.

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In three campaigns with the Bears, Trubisky has compiled a 23-18-0 record, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 8,554 yards and 48 touchdowns. He has also thrown 29 interceptions and been sacked 93 times.

The 2019 season represented a step back for Trubisky, as he completed a lower percentage of his passes and threw for seven fewer touchdowns than he had in the previous season, despite throwing 82 more passes.

Earlier this offseason, the Bears sent a fourth round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire Foles, who will compete with Trubisky for the team’s starting job.

Bears G.M. Ryan Pace has drafted four players in the first round of the NFL Draft, and is now 0-for-3 on keeping players beyond their first contract. The team also declined the options on wide receiver Kevin White and linebacker Leonard Floyd, and will face a decision next season on the contract of linebacker Roquan Smith.

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NBA discusses delaying start of 2020-21 season until December

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and team owners examined delaying the start of next season until December due to complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — an idea that is reportedly gaining traction among owners.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to suspend operations on March 11. The league presently doesn’t have any specific plans to resume play. 

The NBA officially postponed both the draft lottery and scouting combine on Friday, both of which were scheduled to take place this month in Chicago. It did not delay the draft itself — which is currently scheduled for June 25 — however “there’s an increasing belief that it’s just a matter of time” before that happens, per Wojnarowski. 

There were more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 64,500 deaths attributed to the virus.

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Most sports leagues in the country, including the NBA, have considered playing matches without fans present upon return.

The idea behind delaying the start of next season, per Wojnarowski, is to allow fans to be present for as much of the season as possible. 

“If you start in December, that doesn’t mean the [fans] are coming back in December, but maybe they’re back in March,” one owner told ESPN. 

While talks occurred on Friday, there are “no imminent plans” to make any decisions about next season now. Before that plan is made, the league will almost certainly need to determine how it will move forward with the rest of the current season. 

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in March that he believes beginning the season in mid-December rather than in mid-October would eliminate competition with most other professional sports leagues. Instead of competing with the NFL and college football for the first few months of the season, the NBA would be able to dominate the winter and summer — where Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour are, for the most part, alone in the sports world. 

Doing so would push the NBA Finals to August, which would allow the season to conclude just before football begins again each fall.

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Red Sox remove interim tag from manager Ron Roenicke’s title

Ron Roenicke is no longer the “interim” manager of the Boston Red Sox. He’s now Mr. Manager — or as they call it in MLB, just the manager.

The team lifted the interim tag from Roenicke’s title Wednesday after MLB released its report on the 2018 Red Sox sign-stealing scandal. Roenicke was elevated to interim manager when Alex Cora and the team parted ways after Cora was outed as the mastermind of the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal, and Boston chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained the temporary interim tag on a conference call on Wednesday night.

“At the time that we named Ron interim manager, we explained the interim tag was necessary in order for us to respect that there was an ongoing investigation,” said Bloom. “Obviously, with that investigation complete and given the results of the investigation, that interim tag is removed and Ron is now our manager.”

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That investigation did not find any Red Sox coaches of players responsible, outing Boston’s replay operator J.T. Watkins was the main culprit. He has been banned through the 2020 season, and cannot return to his role as Boston’s replay room operator until after the 2021 season.

Roenicke is now the 48th manager in Red Sox history.

He is working on a one-year contract that expires after the 2020 season, Bloom said Wednesday night.

While there are theories that Cora may return to the Boston bench after serving his one-year suspension — which was handed down Wednesday for his action with the Astros in 2017 — Bloom said Roenick will get a chance to earn an extension this season.

Roenicke is a well-respected baseball man and well-liked in the Boston clubhouse. He served as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011-15, posting a 342-331 record over that span.

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Senior PGA Championship in May canceled

The Senior PGA, set to be the season’s second major on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, has been canceled outright because of coronavirus, tournament officials reported Thursday.

The Senior PGA was intended for May 21-24 at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.

“This was not an easy decision, we know how much this Championship means to our Southwest Michigan community, and the positive impact it has on our local economy, however the health and safety of our community is our priority” Jeff Fettig, chairman of the Senior PGA Championship, said in a statement. 

“We will miss the players and fans, who have all become welcomed extensions of our community over the years. While we are incredibly disappointed that the championship will not return to Benton Harbor in 2020, we know that this is the right thing to do.”

Tournament officials stated they explored the option of reprogramming, but said that cancellation was “the only option,” in the face of the coronavirus crisis. 

The season’s first major, the Tradition, was set for the week before in Alabama, and has been rescheduled for September. The tour has five majors per season.

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On the PGA Tour, the season’s first three majors, the Masters, PGA Championship and U.S. Open, have been postponed, with reports saying the final one, the British Open, is set to be canceled.

The Senior PGA has been held at Harbor Shores, a Jack Nicklaus-designed resort, every year since 2012, with champions like Colin Montgomerie, Rocco Mediate, Roger Chapman and Paul Broadhurst.

The tournament is signed on to return to Benton Harbor again in 2022 and 2024.

“We completely support the PGA … in their decision to cancel the championship, and we appreciate the diligent and thoughtful way in which they have handled this situation,” said Marcus Muhammad, the mayor of Benton Harbor, in a statement. “We take great pride in our city, and are looking forward to hosting the championship and showcasing all that Benton Harbor has to offer when the time is right.”

The cancellation will cost the Benton Harbor tens of thousands of charitable dollars. In 2018, the tournament raised about $175,000 for local organizations, including the Benton Harbor High School athletic department, as well as the First Tee of Benton Harbor, among several others.

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Title goes to Liverpool if season over

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says it would only be “fair” for opponents Liverpool to be awarded the English Premier League trophy if the season cannot be completed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gundogan told German broadcaster ZDF that Liverpool deserved to be crowned champions given their massive 25-point lead over second-placed City, the current holders, which has left them just two victories away from the title.

“For me, that would be okay, yes,” Gundogan said, on being asked whether Liverpool should be handed their first top-flight title for 30 years should the season not be completed.

“You have to be fair as a sportsperson,” he added, while conceding that it was a difficult decision for football authorities given the impact that the cancellation of the season would have at both ends of the table.

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“There are different opinions. For clubs who have had a very good season, it obviously wouldn’t be nice if it was cancelled now,” he stated.

“On the other hand, for clubs who aren’t doing as well and are maybe in the relegation places, an abandonment would obviously suit them.”

The Premier League season has been suspended until April 30th, but it is looking increasingly likely that the date may have to be pushed back further.

German international Gundogan also stated he would be open to taking a pay-cut should English clubs follow the likes of Juventus and Borussia Dortmund in asking their players to accept reduced wages so non-playing staff can be paid.

“Of course I think it’s okay, that goes without saying, (but) there’s been no discussion in England yet,” he stated.

“Perhaps that’s because the English clubs are a bit financially stronger than the clubs in Germany at the moment.

“I don’t know who has the final say in that decision. On the other hand, if a player says, ‘no, I don’t want that, I worked hard for it, I get my salary’, then it can go in the opposite direction.

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